According to the Pew Research Center in a study conducted in association with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), as a profession, American scientists are not performing well in terms of public engagement. Their study found that while scientists support active engagement in public policy discussion in overwhelming numbers, the scientists themselves are not out there in the public eye.
I believe that the precipitous rise of the anti-vaccine movement has been enabled by a vacuum in public engagement by scientists. We’re too focused on our grants and papers and have not allowed ourselves to devote time to public lectures, social media, blogs, print and electronic interviews, and other forms of public outreach. Similar reasons may also underlie the collapse of public support for aggressively addressing climate change and other timely scientific issues.