The latest Eurobarometer survey on the scientific literacy of Hungarians has some interesting lessons: according to the results reviewed by Qubit, Hungary, along with Romania and Italy, has the highest proportion of people (31%) who think that the earliest humans lived on Earth at the same time as dinosaurs.
But there are other tidbits, the news site telex.hu points out: more than 40% of Hungarians believe the claim that 10 billion people already live on the planet is true, and compared to people in other EU countries, Hungarians are much less aware that oxygen is largely produced by plants. Similarly, it is thought-provoking that roughly the same proportion of Hungarians believe that climate change is not caused by human activity as know that this claim is false (47 vs. 48%). This is very far from the EU average, with only 26% of EU citizens believing this false claim (that natural cycles rather than human activity are causing climate change).
The report ‘European citizens' knowledge and attitudes towards science and technology’ explores the knowledge and perceptions of science and technology among EU citizens. Hungarians are ahead of all other nations in believing that we have no choice but to trust those who control science and technology (68% of respondents said this).
The publication shows not only that Hungarians are in many ways below the EU average in terms of knowledge, but also that they are too well off for people who are cocking conspiracy theories. That there is a cure for cancer but it is hidden from the public because of market interests is believed by 48% of the Hungarian population, with only Cyprus (58%) and Greece (52%) more likely to believe the theory. 43% of Hungarians believe that viruses are produced in government laboratories to limit our freedom. The EU average here is 28%, but Hungary is not quite at the end of the line: seven other countries are ahead of Hungary, with Romania in the lead (53%). Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark have less than 10% of the population who believe this.
A piece of good news is that Hungarians were by far the most likely in the EU to know (78%) that the methods used in the natural and social sciences are equally scientific.
All in all, this survey shows that 9 in 10 EU citizens (86%) think that the overall influence of science and technology is positive. They expect a range of technologies: notably, solar energy (92%), vaccines and combatting infectious diseases (86%) and artificial intelligence (61%) to have a positive effect in the future. Results reveal a high level of interest in science and technology (82%) and a desire amongst citizens to learn more about it in places like town halls, museums and libraries (54%). Respondents most often mention health and medical care and the fight against climate change when asked in which areas research and innovation can make a difference.
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