Something sweet in Sweden (not intelligent design)

January 20, 2007

Swedes entertain skepticism much better than U.S. residents do, or they attain much better understanding of science.

That conclusion can be deduced from the results of a poll showing that 23% of Swedes think astrology is scientific.  Most poll results show more Americans put stock in their daily horoscopes than the 23% of Swedes, but not a lot more.

Swedes really doubt intelligent design:  Only 14% think there is any science there.

The poll was conducted by the Swedish group Vetenskap & Allmänhet (Public and Science) (VA).

So, contrary to the recent efforts of Seattle’s Discovery Institute to make inroads in Europe, their push for intelligent design is just more than half as credible as Sidney Omar and other fortune tellers.

The poll found support for science and hope for good results from research very high among Swedes:

Nine out of ten people have high confidence in the potential of research to develop more effective and environmentally friendly sources of energy. A smaller but increasing proportion believes that research can contribute to reducing segregation in cities.

Seven out of ten people believe that there is a strong possibility that research will help increase economic growth, which represents a marked increase since 2005. Six out of ten believe that there is a strong chance that research can help reduce climate change.

The poll also hints at a way scientists can more successfully argue against crackpottery and crank science, such as intelligent design:  Emphasize the benefits people get from applied research.

Research areas that are currently in the news tend to be viewed by many as important. Most people would like to see support for research that people can benefit directly from, says Karin Hermannson, Research Manager at VA.

Scientists in the U.S. should spend more time explaining how their research is used in the real world.

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