Profile picture Erling Eriksen

Quality data and facts have never been so important

Norstat CEO Erling J.B. Eriksen discusses the launch of Norstat Quarterly Data and why quality data is so important to promoting knowledge and understanding in today’s polarized world.

Modern society is awash in data and information. More people have better access to more information than at any time in human history. Instead of reading just one newspaper every morning, people can now read dozens. Articles link to additional sources, instantly providing more context and detail.
“It’s rather mindboggling when you consider how much information we have at our fingertips,” says Erling J.B Eriksen, CEO of Norstat.
“Unfortunately, not all of that information is good information. And that is a huge problem.”
Ironically, today’s information-rich society often leaves people feeling less certain about what to believe and more susceptible to disinformation. Rather than bringing people together around a common understanding of the world, access to so much – and often conflicting – information has instead fuelled fear and division.
“Today’s information landscape makes it easier for views built on skewed or non-representative data to gain traction and be misconstrued as representative facts,” Eriksen explains.
“An active and vocal minority can quickly flood people’s channels and give the appearance that their view is a dominant, fact-based view. Being loud and fast can end up pushing truth to the side lines.”
However, Eriksen hopes the recently launched Norstat Quarterly Data initiative can help counteract some of the misconceptions and bad decisions that stem from the proliferation of information based on low-quality data.
Launched in 2023, the initiative entails publishing Know Your People reports from 15 different countries across Europe based on high-quality survey data gathered on three themes: Society, Consumer, and Health & Wellbeing.

Why did you launch the Norstat Quarterly Data initiative?

We at Norstat believe we have a responsibility to help people make informed decisions based on facts rather than fiction. To get access to facts about different countries based on high-quality data gathered through rigorous survey methods, rather than some quick poll thrown together to support a specific agenda.
The Norstat Quarterly Data initiative allows us to showcase what we can do from a commercial standpoint. But from a broader societal perspective, we also feel we have an obligation to make it easier for people to get access to reliable facts that can help them know their world.

How can Norstat Quarterly Data give people a fact-based understanding of their world?

First and foremost, by providing a baseline of facts built on high-quality data. Quality data has never been as important as it is today. It’s the foundation of the facts that we all rely on to make decisions on how to navigate our world.
We can form our opinions and decisions based on a range of inputs: what we see or read on the news, what our friends share on social media, or our first-hand experiences with different countries and cultures, etc. This provides one more set of inputs based on high-quality, unbiased data that people know they can trust.

How do you hope people use the Norstat Quarterly Data dashboard?

I hope journalists discover it to help inform their reporting or provide them inspiration for new story ideas. I hope politicians and decision-makers consult it when considering policies meant to meet the mood or needs of a given country. And I hope that individuals and ordinary citizens who feel they are drowning in a sea of half-truths and disinformation can use it as a fact-based life raft to cling to. They can bookmark it on their browser to have an easy resource to check whether what they see or read about a given country is actually reflected in the data.
Looking ahead, as we gather data over several quarters or years, I also hope Norstat Quarterly Data can help build a common understanding or common narrative about the countries included. That it becomes a source of reliable, trustworthy information that can penetrate existing filter bubbles and help bring us closer together.

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