Irish have below average interest in science

21 Jun 2010

A Europe-wide survey on science and technology has found that while 79pc of the average EU citizen has some interest in these subjects, only 71pc of Irish persons do in comparison to 89pc of the Dutch and 87pc of those in the UK.

The Eurobarometer report June 2010 on the average EU citizen’s attitude towards science, technology and general knowledge of these topics and opinions on the responsibilities of scientists and policy makers found that Europeans tend not to trust scientists who depend on money from industry.

While almost three in five Europeans (58pc) agree that “we can no longer trust scientists to tell the truth about controversial scientific and technological issues because they depend more and more on money from industry” this attitude was markedly different here in Ireland where we had the lowest rate of agreement on this statement at 36pc.

In order words, the Irish tend to put considerably more trust in scientists despite having less interest in science and technology than the average European citizen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, only 37pc of the Irish feel that private funding limits our ability to fully understand scientific and technological research while the EU average is 50pc and countries including France and Germany scored even higher, indicating they do not trust private industry to contribute to public understanding of science as much as us and again, unsurprisingly, France and Germany have more interest in new scientific discoveries than us.

Overall EU attitudes towards the role of science and scientists in society was interesting: 33pc felt it was not important in daily life to know about science and 38pc feel that we rely too much on science and not enough on faith.

These attitudes coincided with 44pc believing that scientists should experiment on animals, including dogs and monkeys, if it can help sort out human health problems and 53pc of EU citizens on average agree with the statement that scientists, because of their knowledge, have a power that makes them dangerous.