Science and Society: My analysis of the Eurobarometer (1)

So I finally finished gathering my data and did my plots. Before I get into specifics about what exactly did the Greek sample say, I want to mention four things that I found striking:

  1. there was significantly more emphasis in the Greek answers: Even though, in most questions their beliefs appear to be similar to those of other Europeans, their answers were more “emphatic” i.e. their answers were less divided compared to other EU countries. I noticed this by eye, and in an effort to “quantify” it, I ranked all European countries according to their responses using the graph charts presented in the Eurobarometer report. In these graphs, the countries were plotted in descending order, according to the value of the majority and minority percentages in those questions. The country on the far left was thus ranked “1” since it showed the greatest majority percentage. Similarly the country on the far right was ranked “28” (the average of all 27 EU countries was included in the ranking).

In the following graph I present the distribution of rankings of the EU27 average:

As expected the average of “EU27 average” (as calculated in the report) rankings was 15, i.e. in the middle. The EU27 average rankings ranged from 11 to 19.

I did not calculate the rankings for all countries – that would be too much work I am afraid. I first calculated them for Greece and the UK, given that these are the countries I am comparing here. I also calculated them for Italy (as an example of another Mediterranean country), Germany (a central European country with a strong science base and a long history of science communication, to make sure that there is no “UK vs the continent” bias) and Denmark (as an example of a country widely known for being very technologically advanced and innovative).

I could have chosen other countries for these comparisons. For example, I could have chosen Cyprus as the Mediterranean example, but a lot of the answers of the Cypriot sample were too similar to the Greek sample. I found this also very interesting (is this an example of how culture shapes people’s relationship with S&T?).

Here are the equivalent to the above plot for each of the countries mentioned above:

When the graphs above are compared, one sees that the majority of the Greek sample’s rankings tended to be a lot higher, whereas the  majority of the UK sample’s rankings tended to be lower compared to the other countries. The average ranking for Greece was 9 and for UK was 17, whereas for Italy was 16, for Germany was 14 and Denmark was 14.
The Italian, German and Danish ranking ranges look very similar – spread out over the whole range.

  • they replied a lot more than the EU average: the average “Don’t Knows” for Greece was 2% whereas for the EU27 averages was 5%. Thus, Greek people seemed more sure about what to reply compared to all other Europeans. I calculated this to look at the “ignorance” factor, which could have lead to the above emphasis. I.e. it could be that the results in point 1 above were so striking because Greek people did not know what to answer. But this does not seem to be the case.
  • the Greek sample seemed a bit confused on what they feel about S&T: in many questions Greek people were positive about S&T but in even more questions they were negative about it. This is striking given the emphasis with which the answered these questions. More on this point in the following posts and in my concluding post.
  • the difference in the rankings of Greece and UK were striking: in most questions they were on the opposite ends of the plots!
So these are some general conclusions I drove from the whole analysis. In the following posts, I will look at those questions on which the answers were most interesting.

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