Company. Platism, astrology, creationism… Young people’s doubts about science are increasing

The Earth is flat, the Americans never went to the moon, the pyramids were built by aliens, the Capitol was attacked… An Ifop survey published this Thursday for the Jean-Jaures Foundation warns of conspiracy theories. and more irrational beliefs are on the rise among 18- to 24-year-olds.

In 1972, 55% of 18-24-year-olds believed that science does more good than harm, but today only 33% of young people think so. “It is clear that the beneficial effects of scientific research on society are less and less perceived, especially by people who see science as a threat to their profession (for example, 29% of employees) or their religious dogma (27% of employees). Muslims, 24% Protestants and evangelicals),” notes the Jean-Jaures Foundation.

Lies with the wind in their sails

Thus, young people are increasingly turning to “alternative truths” such as conspiracy theories, climate-skepticism, vaccine skepticism.

27% of 18-24-year-olds think humans were created by a spiritual force rather than the result of a long evolution, 20% think Americans have never been to the moon, and 16% think it’s possible for Earth to be like that. not flat and round and 19% pyramids were built by aliens. “Quite logically, creationism finds overwhelming support among self-identified religious respondents,” the Foundation notes.

On the health side, the picture is less promising, in a context where the health crisis has contributed to the rise of conspiracy theories. Thus, 32% of young people believe that mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 produce toxic proteins, and 25% believe that abortion with herbal products is safe.

Politics is also affected by these lies: 31% of young people think that the result of the 2020 American presidential election was distorted at the expense of Donald Trump. Regarding the war in Ukraine, 26% of young people believe that the massacre of civilians in Butcha was organized by the Ukrainian authorities.

The environment is not immune to scientific disinformation among young people. 30% of them think that organic food is useless, and 29% believe that global warming is primarily a natural phenomenon and nothing can be done about it. These two lies are only supported by the elderly more than the young. All the rest are rejected en masse by the oldest.

What’s more, 69% of 18-24 year olds, or more than two-thirds, believe at least one of the above lies.

More and more young people are looking at astrology as a science

The proportion of young people who believe that astrology is a science has increased significantly: 49% of young people think so, which is 5 points more than in 1999. Also, young people are much more likely to believe in predictions, numerology, predictions than the elderly. hand lines or cartomancy.

Occult superstitions (spirits, evil eye, reincarnation, ghosts, etc.) are more common among 18-24 year olds than their ancestors.

Social networks are a breeding ground for lies

Conspiracy theses and alternative truths mainly find their followers among intensive users of social networks, especially microblogging networks (Instagram, TikTok, etc.). For example, 53% of users of social networks where photos and videos are shared believe that astrology is a science, and 46% of those who have never been there. The Jean-Jaurès Foundation notes: “The record for secret superstitions is even higher: 67% of daily heavy users adhere to at least one superstition, compared to 42% of non-users.”

Among TikTok users, the proportion of young people who adhere to at least one of the above lies is also very high (74%), compared to 67% among those who never visit this network.

Finally, the Jean-Jaurès Foundation notes that people who say they are believers and religious “are more likely (85%) to believe at least one of these lies than people who call themselves atheists (62%). The poorest, workers, young people without a higher education diploma and supporters of the National Rally are among the categories with the highest proportion of young people who believe at least one scientific lie.

(1) The survey was conducted with a sample of 2,003 people, representing the population aged 11-24, living in the French capital. Interviews were conducted from October 28 to November 7, 2022 using a self-administered questionnaire.there is representation of example there is summer was assured through the method of quota for review of criteria demographic (sex, age), socialcultural (status of school, level of diploma), professionals (situation in issue employment, category socio-professional of the no one is asked) and geographic (region, category agglomeration).

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