Pablo's Corner

Dinosaurs and humans living together – a (very) special Eurobarometer

2024 will be EU election year and the 50 anniversary of the Eurobarometer. Some sources say it started in 1973, but we will follow the “official line”. To celebrate it, we are sharing with you a bit of EU history: the (possibly) best and first Eurobarometer ever published.

Polls and politics have always gone hand by hand.

They are a channel for expression of public opinion. They are also a tool for governments to justify their own policies. When elections are coming, they can be used as an instrument to influence voters.

But if we take a look at polls and communication the equation is simple: if the results are positive for “us”, we communicate them. If they are not, we do not make efforts to make them visible.

Also, for decades, politicians, the media, and “other” powers have funded public opinion studies in order to influence, through their publication, public opinion and political climate – to favor their interest.  Something perfectly legal… as long as the results are not manipulated.

And in that mix, we have the Eurobarometer. Initiated by Jacques René Rabier, Head of Cabinet of of Jean Monnet between 1946 and 1952, it was the first real attempt to have a EU wide vision of public opinion in a variety of topics.

Jean Monnet and Jacques-René Rabier (from left to right)
Copyright: European Communities, 1973

Today, we have Standard Eurobarometers (twice a year), Flash ones (ad-hoc thematic surveys related to EU policies), special Eurobarometers (in-depth thematic studies) and then…very very special ones that we do not really know the actual objective beyond measuring our level of ignorance and how easy is to manipulate us–

How does the Eurobarometer works?  Easy: the team put out some statements and respondents have (in general) three options: true, false, I do not know.

The statements made this one a very very special one. Opinions of Europeans still valid, as it is the last one published on the topic (dated 2021). Here some examples –

  • The earliest humans lived at the same time than the dinosaurs (20% of Europeans agree)
  • Human beings, as we know them today, developed from early species of animals (23% of Europeans disagree)

Read it in full here

But worry not. We are better than 30 years ago. The Eurobarometer team asked some of the same questions in 1990.

On the dinousaurs one, 29% of Europeans agreed with. So we have seen a drop of 9% in 30 years. Not bad.

Some of the questions of the 1990 Eurobarometer on Science

Bonus track:

As promised, the Eurobarometer number 1 here below. With some interesting data.

In 1974, a majority of Europeans considered the ‘increase in prices’ and ‘Energy’ as the main problems of their time. With the protection of nature coming 4th.

Enjoy the read.

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