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Zapp, Mike. “The legitimacy of science and the populist backlash: Cross-national and longitudinal trends and determinants of attitudes toward science.” Public Understanding of Science (2022): 09636625221093897.


Public attitudes toward science have risen for decades yet dropped in the most recent period coinciding with the emergence of anti-scientific populist discourses around the world. Controlling for a number of attitudinal and demographic factors, this study examines whether populist discourse and vote share as well as regime polity have an impact on the public legitimacy of science in the period 2005–2020. Cross-national findings suggest that populism is a consistent predictor of declining support for science across all models, regardless of the political system. While it might be too early to alert to lasting damage done by populist leaders to the public standing of science, more research is warranted to ascertain the impact of anti-scientific rhetoric in the “post-truth era.”

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.