The general public doesn't start "witch hunts" as you're portraying it to be. The most the general public does with their views on scientific matters (and whether or not they choose to agree with it) mostly just effects how it gets applied. It doesn't effect the science itself, because that simply speaks for itself. There really isn't ant main group or think tank that drives this view one way or another. Politicans can and do do this to some degree, but not the general public. They're really at the end of the information chain.
It's also not entirely fair to be angry and fault the public. I feel a little strange saying this because I get all kinds of bent out of shape over the general public being idiotic on major scientific points, but it's the truth. The fact of the matter is being able to understand and interpret scientific information is hard, and it takes a lot of concerted time, effort, and focus. Most of which most do not want to do. I didn't really learn how to read, understand, and objectively view scientific publications and results until I was in graduate school for a few years. It's kind of funny to look back at who I was when I was in college thinking I was able to interpret things I thought I had the ability to do. Boy was I wrong. Even then, there are some fields where I fully acknowledge are outside of my ability to grasp and understand well, and will often then defer judgement to the opinion of the experts on this when that happens. The crux of the problem is the general public thinks they can understand things, when they don't. They wrongfully disregard experts in place of themselves which is where many things go wrong.