Romanians, among the most religious and superstitious Europeans, report says

The Romanian adult is one of the most religious and superstitious in the whole of Europe, Bucharest Faculty of Sociology and Social Work report says.

In Romania, you can find one of the highest levels of religious belief and practice, of trust in pseudo- and para-sciences, in horoscopes and superstitions, according to findings of a research report prepared in the context of the STISOC project – ‘Science and society. Interests and perceptions of the public regarding scientific research and results of research’ – released by the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work of the University of Bucharest on Friday. The conclusions of the report point in three main directions. The first one shows the Romanian public has one of the largest deficits of scientific knowledge in Europe. In other words, just one in ten Romanians has a consolidated and active scientific culture..

In a European context, Romanians are less ‘alphabetised’ from a scientific point of view. The cognitive-scientific deficit of the Romanian public is one of the highest in Europe. The 2009 scientific knowledge index rose from 5.6 to 6.5, but was still below the EU average, the report says. The cited document indicates the fact that, through answers given, at least one in three Romanians is: creationist, geocentrist and with precarious knowledge of genetics, physics or medicine. Even if those answering that the Earth revolves around the Sun represent a majority (52 per cent), a remarkable fact is that, to 42 per cent of Romanians, the Sun is the one that revolves around the Earth. A major share of the Romanian public (36 per cent) embraces creationism, reckoning that the assertion ‘Human beings the way we know them today have evolved from age-old animal species’ is false.

Good elementary knowledge seems to be mainly contained with geology. The best scores were reported with the questions on the source of oxygen (89 per cent gave the correct answer that is produced by plants) and over 79 per cent answered correctly a question on the permanent movement of continents, according to the report by the Faculty of Sociology of the Bucharest University. Romanians also have poor genetics knowledge, with 34 per cent being unaware of the fact that it is the father’s genes that determine the gender of the foetus.

The results of the research indicate a low general public knowledge in the area of health. In 2005, only a quarter of Romanians knew that antibiotics destroy viruses, compared to three quarters in Sweden, for example. The situation is all the more so concerning as the Romanian pubic is the first one when it comes to buying antibiotics without a prescription – 16 per cent compared to an EU27 average of 3 per cent. The level of correct information on health risks varies substantially according to the theme approached. The biggest rate of wrong answers is associated with the possibility of getting HIV/AIDS by drinking water after an infected person; only 60 per cent of the interviewed people gave correct answers and 5 per cent said they didn’t know, the report shows.

The same study also dwells on a different aspect – religious beliefs and superstitions. In a European context, Romania is among the first five European countries as percentage of people going to church at least once a month and the first in terms of percentage of people who pray every day. Romanians perceive to a lesser extent the church as a spiritual corps and more as a place of warship. There are four factors that have a notable influence on the high individual religiosity: the feminine gender, the poor baggage of scientific knowledge, accentuated superstitiousness and old age, the authors say. The prevention of evil eye effect using a red item and the saying ‘an itchy left palm means one will be getting money’ are the most widely spread superstitions among Romanians.

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