Do We Trust Science or the Scientist?

The Covid pandemic has learned us that we have to rely on science, at the same time when scientists appear in public they are often criticized and mistrusted. In this interview, Roberto Gronda (University of Pisa, Italy) explains why this is: operating as a scientist in the context of a university or laboratory renders more trust than a scientist doing consultancy where the scientist has to show more qualifications, like being media savvy. A lot of scientists work in big groups, so they need to trust each other because they do not have all the skills necessary to assess every bit of knowledge. The old idea is that there is a scientist who has enough skills to build everything from scratch, to know everything about his field of research to be completely autonomous from all the other people. That's not possible anymore. So lay people need to trust a scientist. But the relationship between laypeople and scientists is a relationship of inequality. As for what knowledge is concerned, there is no chance that laypeople can know things better than scientists in their field of research.