Racism in Norway: Bad FAFO research?

May 17th Racism NorwayIs one in four Norwegian a racist? A FAFO report makes it look that way. Photo: Ryan Kelly / NTB scanpix

Rampant racism in Norway: Truth or bad FAFO research?

Norway Today, along with many other Norwegian media, issued articles based on a FAFO report on racism.
The controversial FAFO concluded that one in four Norwegians believe that race and intelligence are related. Norway Today is a very small media house, which (too often?) relies on external sources. Graham Dyson sows doubt about the quality of both the report and journalism on this matter.

Racism in Norway: Recent Research Finding Raises Questions about Quality of Research and Journalists

A couple of days ago, Norwegian media announced that the research institute connected to the Norwegian trades union, FAFO, had issued a new report. One of the findings of the report was that 25% of the respondents had agreed that people from some races are smarter than people from other races.

The media coverage and some interviews on radio and TV prodded me towards the report itself because it seemed to me that some journalists, commentators and even the person whose name is on the research report seemed to blur the line between race and culture. None of the actors I heard and saw seemed to challenge the term «race». 

Upon reading the report, I was rather shocked to find that the key question upon which the finding was based was:

«I believe that some human races are without a doubt smarter than others»  (Jeg tror noen menneskeraser rett og slett er smartere enn andre). Respondents were invited to answer agree or disagree.

I did not find any help elsewhere in the questionnaire to settle on meanings for a) smarter and b) human races. It was also not clear to me what the purpose was of adding the words «rett og slett» (roughly: without doubt or that is the way it is).

The finding which caused media attention was: “We find that a quarter of Norwegians think that «human races» exist and these can be ranked according to intelligence.”

Nearly 4500 respondents replied to the questionnaire.

Let me make it clear: I have no doubt that there are racists among the inhabitants of Norway.

This does not detract from the fact that, once again, we have experienced weak, uncritical journalism from Norwegian journalists.

There are also good grounds to question the quality of the FAFO research and the report.

PS: Just after writing this piece, my attention was drawn to a comment by sociologist Kjetil Rolness in Aftenposten, who has similar responses to mine!

Graham Dyson


One in four Norwegians believe some human ethnicities are smarter than others

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