How the Public Views Science 2006 – Summary

Summary of VA’s opinion survey 2006

What do the Swedes think of researchers and scientists?

The latest opinion study from the Swedish organisation Vetenskap & Allmänhet reveals some surprising results.

Nearly a quarter of Swedes, 23% consider astrology to be scientific. Fourteen per cent consider that Intelligent Design is a scientific subject. At the same time, more than half dismiss these as completely unscientific. This is according to a new opinion study from the Swedish organisation Vetenskap & Allmänhet, VA (Public & Science).

VA has carried out an annual survey into the public’s attitude to science and researchers since 2002. The aim is to gain knowledge of the public’s thoughts and attitudes in this area as well as to monitor trends and changes in these attitudes – in other words to act as a science barometer.
The 2006 survey focused on the following topics:

  1. Attitudes towards science and researchers
  2. Belief in the potential of science
  3. Knowledge about science
  4. Views on how the media reports science

The most important conclusions from this study are as follows:

  1. A large and stable majority consider that scientific and technological developments have made life better for ordinary people
  2. The public have high trust in researchers, but this trust is diminishing.
  3. An increasing proportion believes that science and technology are too hard to understand, reversing the trend of previous years.
  4. Nine out of ten people have great confidence in the potential of research to develop more effective and environmentally friendly sources of energy.
  5. A small but increasing proportion believes that research can contribute to reducing segregation in cities.
  6. Seven out of ten people believe that there is a strong possibility that research can contribute to increased economic growth. This shows a marked increase since 2005.
  7. Six out of ten people believe that there is a strong possibility that research can contribute to reducing climate change. This proportion has increased significantly since 2003.
  8. An increasing number of people, now over 8 out of 10, want research into gene technology for the treatment of diseases to be supported.
  9. Medicine has continued to hold its position as the area considered most scientific by the general public.
  10. A full 23% of the public, a higher figure than in previous years, consider astrology to be scientific.
  11. Intelligent design is considered to be a science by 14% of the population.
  12. Nine out of ten people believe that research results should be confirmed by further investigations before being presented to the public. This figure represents an increase on the previous year.
  13. A stable two-thirds majority think that too many alarmist reports are published.

The survey was carried out between September 27th and October 1st 2006 in cooperation with Synovate Temo. Over 1000 telephone interviews were carried out with a representative sample of the adult (age 16 and upwards).


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