The reason that I enjoy these tweets in particular is that the tweets are accessible and engaging to non-scientists — the “general public.” In order to build trust and instill a love of science in those who are not currently scientist, science communication can not be full of jargon.
Let me just say that some percentage of Twitter users are going to believe that you can figure out Saturn’s age by counting its rings.
That said, asking why scientists are mistrusted by the public while politicians are trusted is a BS question on two fronts. First, politicians are not trusted. Second, modern partisan politics is about tribalism, and scientists have found themselves caught in this struggle. One tribe — we’ll call them the fascists — wants to destroy education and, in doing so, undermine the foundations of science. Why? Because fascists want to be the authority, and science is a threat to that authority. Science can cut through illogical appeals to authority by demonstrating how reality works. This is not new to the Trump regime — merely magnified and on full display — but it has been going on behind the scenes since the Koch Brothers first figured out how to contribute to political campaigns, and almost certainly since well before that.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to communicate any science to people who are politically predisposed to disregard everything you have to say; scientific fact will find no purchase with an uneducated general public that has bought into the lies of charismatic fascist leadership and the corrupt media that spreads them.
Scientists who want to take a stand against this, who want to bridge the gap between the general public and the class of professional scientists, need to get out from behind their twitter accounts, leave their lecture halls and laboratories for a little while, and take it to the streets, the same streets that the general public is currently marching in. They need to infiltrate the media. They need to get elected to office. They need to stop selling out to corporate money. They need to realize that science needs champions and that scientists are best suited to be those champions. Neil deGrasse Tyson may be wrong from time to time, a right to which all scientists are entitled, but at least he is out there fighting the fight. He’s not just a communicator, but also an advocate and activist. Instead of taking potshots at the guy, ask him how to get involved and change the future for the better.
This administration has declared open war on facts and science. They have installed the most anti-science Executive Branch imaginable, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. The gap between scientists the general public is only going to widen in this type of political climate, and the pool of potential future scientists will shrink, thereby compounding the effects of this widening gulf for future generations.
Until this is addressed head-on, scientists will know only frustration. No amount of science communication is going to make a dent when nobody is listening.