Noting that this is a change from previous years and decades, Gordon Gauchat, the report's author, indicates that scientists have become increasingly politicized. Summarizing him, the L.A. Times wrote that, in the past,
the role science played was mostly behind the scenes, creating better military equipment and sending rockets into space. But with the emergence of the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, scientists began to play a crucial and visible role in developing regulations.
The voters began to see scientists not as doing science, but as doing politics - as authoring arguments to support various political views.
The study also found that Americans with moderate political views have long been the most distrustful of scientists, but that
such distrust was now spreading to other parts of the political spectrum. The study suggests that the public sees a disconnect between science and scientists. This perception is fueled by the fact that funding for various types of research has become increasingly politicized, by the fact that an increasing percentage of this funding is from the government, and by the fact that scientists are seen as mouthpieces for political views rather than agents conducting neutral inquiries into the nature of the universe.
Scientists have come into conflict with science in recent years in the climate debate about "global warming", in the debate about embryonic stem cell research, in debates comparing different sources of energy, and in debates about whether there are genetic causes for deviant social behaviors.