In an NPR article Here on a National Science Foundation science survey, shows, among other interesting results, that 26% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth!! How can this be? How many times is a student told the truth about the earth revolving around the sun before the third grade? How can a quarter of the population believe in Ptolemy’s geocentric model from more than 2000 years ago that was debunked by Copernicus 600 years ago?
The survey was taken in 2012 and was released recently at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. The survey also indicated that 39% were aware of the universe starting with a Big Bang and less than half knew of evolution of the human species. US respondents did better than Chinese and EU respondents on the astronomy question, but, by contrast, 66% of Chinese and 70% of EU residents were aware that humans had evolved from earlier species.
Just half knew that antibiotics were not effective against viruses.
In an increasingly complex world, it is very important that citizens be properly and accurately informed on scientific matters. This survey indicates that the basic scientific literacy is lacking and the ability to analyze scientific claims is badly impaired. This leaves the country open to scientific charlatans who would impose policies that injure the nation.
Our educators are urged to “ramp it up” with regard to basic scientific education so that the people have the knowledge necessary to make correct decisions on economic and political issues.