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Peter Achterberg 1

Peter Achterberg

NIAS Individual Fellow

Project title

The scientific confidence gap in advanced knowledge societies

Project description

Studies conducted in the United States and The Netherlands have revealed the existence of science confidence gaps, wherein individuals exhibit trust in scientific methods but simultaneously express distrust in scientific institutions and experts. While it is uncertain whether these gaps are larger or smaller in more or less developed information societies, the concept of ‘science deficits’ proposes that these gaps are largely absent in advanced information societies. Conversely, theories of ‘reflexive modernization’ and ‘schooled societies’ suggest that these nations may have wider science confidence gaps.

Peter Achterberg aims to trace the root cause of some of the resistance to science and show how the advancement of even more scientific reason and information will ultimately cause apparent problems with its legitimacy to fade out altogether.

Selected publications

Achterberg, P., & Houtman, D. (2009). Ideologically Illogical?: Why Do the Lower-Educated Dutch Display so Little Value Coherence? Social Forces, 87(3), 1649-1670.

Achterberg, P., De Koster, W., & Van der Waal, J. (2017). A science confidence gap: Education, trust in scientific methods, and trust in scientific institutions in the United States, 2014. Public Understanding of Science, 26(6), 704-720.

Makarovs, K., & Achterberg, P. (2018). Science to the people: A 32-nation survey. Public Understanding of Science, 27(7), 876-896.