When I was young, conservatives and liberals had equally high levels of trust in science. And it was high. Only progressives thought science was not a force for public good.

In the 1980s, President Reagan wanted to fund a lot more of it, while Democrats in Congress wanted student loans to be unlimited. What happened next was unexpected to Republicans. Armed with basically unlimited funding, formerly moribund colleges suddenly had a giant pool of wealth. New buildings and larger salaries followed. The demographics shifted and were no longer representative of America. What was once a kind of 'starving artist' field - academia - became lucrative. Government began to advertise to college students that they should stay at universities and compete for government funding. Just like career government employees, they like being in the government machine, which means they were not going to be Republicans.

Today, many fields of science are not just skewed politically in leadership, they are low- and mid-90s percentile on the left. The people on the right are often older and just haven't been replaced yet. Hiring committees use increasingly cultural selection criteria to select people like them. That's been great for people who want to engage in social engineering, by grooming the young to their political values, but disaster for the reputation of researchers.

Now, only liberals still have trust in academic science, conservatives do not, libertarians do not, and progressives still do not, they only say they do if it matches their other beliefs. Only just above half of the public thinks they can trust science.

Why will the public trust science when scientists don't call out epidemiological food survey garbage like this? 

We can blame COVID-19 being divisive, or climate change activism, or blatant partisan rhetoric about stem cell research in 2004, but whatever we blame those examples show this decline is not new. We have seen it coming for decades while scientists in the clique insisted the effects weren't real. Or meaningful. Decades ago if a political appointee stated "I represent science" the science community would have disagreed. With Dr. Fauci, they circled the wagons around him, because it was an election year. And they wanted their guy to win.

Scientists need to accept that the impact of political bias on their side is real, unless they want their work to be just for Democrats. If that happens, they will be in the same position as journalism - the public will stop paying attention because employees are making it about their cultural issues, and not the work. And they will stop getting funding.

Writing at Genetic Literacy Project, esteemed thinkers Henry Miller and Stan Young note that the “Einstein Effect” - people will believe in nonsense like time travel, the multiverse, and cold fusion if they're told a scientist said it - has evaporated and that is a harbinger of the credibility gap. The problem is certainly journals - they don't want to discourage scientists getting paid by everyone else to stop sending them studies they get to copyright for free - but also scientists.

Government caused inflation in academia for decades just like they did again in all of America in 2020, so scientists need to publish. If a scholar says a weedkiller turns frogs gay they'll publish it because it is a 'positive' finding, and journals and media love those. Even though such a nonsense claim has never been replicated, it won't be retracted. 

That encourages unethical authors to manipulate data, and even if scholars admit it on their deathbed the papers may not get retracted.

"That can't be right" is my nomination for the most important sentence in science. Yet in a grant-driven environment, truly exploratory basic research is rare. The scientist who was trying to advance an mRNA vaccine had to work as a glorified post-doc rather than have her own lab. A government committee wants to fund positive outcomes. 

That means government funding leads to evolutionary advances rather than revolutionary. Human embryonic stem cell technology had to be funded outside federal funding because President Clinton had banned it. The NIH refused to fund an Ebola vaccine but threw the $10 million a company with a promising candidate needed at a video game about obesity. A game that never got completed.

How can science get back to true basic research and regain public trust? Start by stopping hiring committees that covertly block out anyone who isn't in lockstep with their politics. 

Then stop treating every cultural issue like it's a crisis that scientists have to solve. That mentality aged out with the public 10 years ago while academics who got a lot of attention screaming about Republicans loved the attention and think it will come back. It won't. Their side won't trust you if you do that, and neither will yours.