Increased belief in conspiracy theories in Norway

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-18 22:34:43|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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OSLO, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- A recent survey in Norway showed increased distrust in researchers' work and growing belief in conspiracy theories among Norwegians, newspaper Aftenposten published Monday.

The survey, conducted by Kantar, a company that deals with media analyses, has alarmed the the Research Council of Norway, a government agency responsible for promoting research and science.

The results showed that 46 percent interviewed Norwegians agreed that research results are often purchased by industry or government and thus can not be trusted.

A total of two out of five believe research results are largely influenced by the researchers' own opinions and views, while half agreed that media and journalists only present research findings that support their own views.

Only one in five interviewed considered themselves well informed about research development and the same number of people think that they would manage to detect false or inaccurate research in news reports.

According to the survey, less than one in ten interviewed people said it was likely that Norwegian authorities had a secret chemtrails program to send harmful chemicals into the air.

One third believed in paranormal phenomena that could not be explained by science and every fourth Norwegian expressed belief that one will never know what "really" stood behind the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Everyone should be alarmed. It is extremely important to take this seriously. It shows that we are unable to convey the complexity of research -- that research rarely has only one clear answer," John-Arne Rottingen, director of the Research Council, told Aftenposten.

"We must acknowledge that research on difficult political areas and processes with a lot of social debate often rises suspicions," he said, adding that there were no indications that prove researchers to be influenced by their own opinions.

Rottingen said it is important that researchers clearly distinguish between conveying of research findings and their own expressions in the community debate.

Morten Jodal, biologist and writer of the book "The Environmental Myths", told Aftenposten that it must be possible to ask questions about all the established theories.

"But in the politicized science fields, where large-scale research programs have been established with a lot of money, it can be completely impossible to get funds to research something that goes against the established thinking," he said.

Jodal also pointed his finger on media in Norway, which, according to him, "do not capture that the width of the research results is much greater than what is written about."

"You only convey a part of reality. Then no opposition is revealed and that is terribly dangerous," he said.

Rottingen was also critical of the way media convey research results.

"Too many research news reports are presented uncritically and unilaterally. The media and journalists must be able to refer more to the sources as well as research communities that have different opinions. In retrospect it may turn out that minority communities were right," he said.