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Science in crisis: from the sugar scam to Brexit, our faith in experts is fading

This is a Foundation Essay for The Conversation Global. Our series of Foundation Essays provide an in-depth investigation of a particular global challenge. In this piece, Andrea Saltelli asks what’s behind the worldwide crisis in science.

Worldwide, we are facing a joint crisis in science and expertise. This has led some observers to speak of a post-factual democracy – with Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump the results.

Today, the scientific enterprise produces somewhere in the order of 2m papers a year, published in roughly 30,000 different journals. A blunt assessment has been made that perhaps half or more of all this production “will not stand the test of time”.

Meanwhile, science has been challenged as an authoritative source of knowledge for both policy and everyday life, with noted major misdiagnoses in fields as disparate as forensicspreclinical and clinical medicine, chemistrypsychology and economics.

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