For one in five young French people, Americans have never been to the Moon

Posted Jan 12, 2023, 1:54 PM

Is the relationship of trust between young people and science falling apart? An Ifop survey for the Reboot Foundation and the Jean-Jaurès Foundation is interested in the question. “Between platism, astrology, creationism, witchcraft and vaccinophobia”, the study, in which 2,003 people aged 11 to 24 participated, “shows the secession of part of the youth with the scientific consensus”, alerts the foundation. Jean Jaurès.

First lesson: young people display a much more critical posture than in the past with regard to science. According to Ifop, today only 33% believe that science brings “more good than harm” to man. They were 55% in 1972.

Conversely, 17% of young people think that science brings humanity “more harm than good”. A sharp increase in proportion compared to 1972 (6%). “It is clear that the beneficial effects of scientific research on society are less and less well perceived”, notes the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.

Platism and medical fake news

Several reasons can explain this distrust: the professional category -29% of workers thus see science as a threat -, the average income, religious affiliation, or the use of social networks, advances Ifop. “This mistrust […] goes hand in hand with a vision of the world that is less and less subject to the intellectual framework imposed by established scientific truths”, abounds the survey.

To illustrate its point, Ifop tried to measure the degree of belief of young people in alternative truths “very significant in the rejection of scientifically supported theories”. And their adherence to these “alternative truths” is far from marginal. 20% of 18-24 year olds think that Americans have never been to the moon, 25% believe that it is possible to abort without risk with herbal products such as mugwort tea, or 16% to think that it is possible that the Earth is flat.

Doubts about the Boutcha massacre

On international news, distrust is also in order. Young people are thus 26% to estimate that the Butcha massacre in Ukraine was a staging of the Ukrainian authorities, or 31% to think that the result of the American presidential election in 2020 was distorted at the expense of Donald Trump.

The Covid crisis has also undermined public confidence in the scientific community. The effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19 is thus now recognized by a quarter of young people aged 18 to 24 (25%). And this despite scientific studies who question this claim.

Ultimately, if adherence to each of these “alternative truths” remains a minority among young people, “rare are those who reject all of these theses”, warns the study. Thus, 69% of young people aged 18 to 24 believe at least one of the statements tested.

Social networks as a source of information

The survey also notes that young people are more sensitive to parasciences and the occult than their elders. Thus, 49% of 18-24 year olds believe today that “astrology is a science”, compared to 43% in 1999. They are also more superstitious: 23% of young people believe in ghosts compared to 4% of those aged 65 and over. .

The study establishes a clear link between the use of social networks and adherence to these “alternative truths” and/or parasciences. She also points to the fact that young people are massively appealing to social networks to get informed. 69% of them use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat as a source of information. On the other hand, only 23% get information at least once a month by watching a newspaper or major television channels.

Young people are also not critical of what they read online. One in three young people claim to have confidence in social sharing networks. On TikTok, 41% of young people also believe in the idea that an influencer who has a large number of followers tends to be a reliable source of information.

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For one in five young French people, Americans have never been to the Moon

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