“Much of what researchers believe about the public and effective communication is wrong.“
Actually I suspect public trust in science has been largely eroded and this is so because media sensationalize (Doom! -scientists), institutions publicize (science by press release) and activists manipulate (alar, biotech, chemical du jour, global warming… ). The public are tired of the hysterics and rightly so
Scientists in the United States and Europe have long been concerned with how well the public understands science, whether or not the media adequately covers science, and how the public reaches decisions on complex science-related policy issues. Given the norms of our profession, however, it is ironic that many of these debates about how to best communicate science with lay populations are driven by intuitive assumptions on the part of scientists rather than the growing body of social science research on the topic that has developed over the past 2 decades.