– When fear spreads, we are not receptive to the opinions of others and we seek the context where everyone thinks the same. It's dangerous because it prevents conversation. Each time we raise the questions, more people begin to reflect and ask the question "How do you know that?". In the long run, it is very important for society, says Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor at Luleå University of Technology.
"How do you know that?" Is the overall theme of this year's Swedish March for Science campaign. The aim is that scientific facts should be used when political proposals are debated during the election year.
Democracy is threatened by lack of facts
Hundreds of people came to March for Science Luleå to listen to Luleå University of Technology's researchers Karl Andersson, Kristina Ek, Anna Krook-Riekkola and Leif Berglund who spoke during the manifestation in Gula paviljongen. Digital technology today allows anyone to start a blog or a TV channel, said Karl Andersson in his speach.
– At the same time there are downsides. Algorithms create filter bubbles, where election results are likely to be affected. Democracy is threatened by trolls and the community debate that we are used to is no longer obvious.
Kristina Ek, researcher in economics, spoke about the need for reflection in order not to draw too fast conclusions when exposed to large amounts of information.
– It is impossible to handle all information in a conscious and structured manner and therefore we simplify. We are more likely to address what confirms what we already believe or think. Therefore, we must be critical to our own conclusions, especially if they come suddenly.
More meeting places for conversation
After the manifestation, a well-attended panel debate was held in Vetenskapens hus with representatives from the academia, politics, industry and media. The participants Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology, Bo Krogvig, Communications Director at LKAB, Lenita Ericson, Deputy Major of Luleå Municipality, and Jeanette Gustafsdotter, CEO at Tidningsutgivarna, agreed that conversations are the basis for counteracting knowledge resistance.
– The problem today is that we only talk to those who think like ourselves. We need to recreate squares and camps where we can meet and exchange opinions with each other. Here we have to use the digital technology, said Bo Krogvig.
To distinguish opinions from scientific facts was something that Jeanette Gustafsdotter also raised. According to her, there is a misconception that the confidence in news media is decreasing, which is not true.
– On the other hand, there are several groups who want that to be true and can gain from the spread of that image. Media has a major responsibility and we should use science and research more than we already do, she said.