From the sugar scam to Brexit, our faith in experts is fading

In recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in public trust in experts. From the sugar scandal that shook the nutrition community to the divisive aftermath of the Brexit referendum, instances of misinformation, failed predictions, and controversial decision-making have contributed to a growing skepticism toward those considered authorities in their respective fields. This erosion of trust poses significant challenges to society, governance, and the pursuit of evidence-based decision-making.

The Sugar Scam:

One notable event that fueled skepticism towards experts was the revelation of the sugar scam. For decades, nutritional experts and health professionals advocated for low-fat diets, emphasizing the dangers of dietary fat over sugar. However, emerging evidence pointed to the role of sugar in various health issues, including obesity and diabetes. The shocking revelation that the sugar industry had funded research to downplay the health risks of sugar raised questions about the integrity of experts and their ability to resist external influences.

Brexit and the Failed Predictions:

The Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom further contributed to the decline in trust in experts. Economists, political analysts, and international relations experts made predictions about the economic and social consequences of leaving the European Union. However, as events unfolded, it became clear that many of these predictions were inaccurate. The failure to foresee the complexities and nuances of the situation fueled skepticism, with some perceiving experts as out of touch with the realities faced by ordinary citizens.

The Role of Media:

The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception of experts. Sensationalism, biased reporting, and the amplification of conflicting expert opinions have contributed to the erosion of trust. The tendency to present complex issues as black-and-white, coupled with the rapid dissemination of information through social media, has created an environment where misinformation thrives. Public discourse is often polarized, making it challenging for experts to convey nuanced perspectives without being misunderstood or misrepresented.

Populism and Distrust of Elites:

The rise of populism around the world has also fueled a general distrust of elites, including experts. Populist leaders often portray themselves as champions of the people against the so-called “establishment,” which includes experts and intellectuals. This narrative resonates with segments of the population who feel left behind by globalization and technological advancements. As a result, experts are sometimes perceived as part of an elitist system that neglects the concerns of ordinary citizens.

Rebuilding Trust:

Rebuilding trust in experts requires a multi-faceted approach. Transparency in research, acknowledgment of uncertainty, and a commitment to ethical conduct are essential. Experts must also engage with the public in a more accessible manner, fostering open dialogue and addressing concerns directly. Media outlets play a crucial role in this process by promoting responsible journalism and avoiding sensationalism.


The decline in trust in experts, from the sugar scam to Brexit, is a complex issue with far-reaching consequences. Rebuilding this trust requires introspection within the expert community, responsible reporting by the media, and a commitment to transparency and ethical conduct. As we navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the role of experts in guiding informed decision-making remains crucial, making it imperative to address the factors contributing to the current erosion of trust

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