A poll from the National Science Foundation report released this week has some alarming information about the level of scientific knowledge of Americans.
To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.
The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012.
Other findings in the the survey:
Thirty-nine percent say, “The universe began with a huge explosion,” and the NPR piece identifies this as true. A similar statement was asked about human beings: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” to which 48% agreed.
Notably the results were different when the previous questions were asked another way:
A survey experiment showed that 48% of respondents said they thought it was true that “human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” but 72% gave this response when the same statement was prefaced by “according to the theory of evolution.” Similarly, 39% of respondents said that “the universe began with a huge explosion,” but 60% gave this response when the statement was prefaced by “according to astronomers.”
The difference suggests the strength and influence of Americans’ religious beliefs.
Another finding from the survey shows that Americans are interested in new scientific research, with four out of five Americans saying so.
Where are people getting their information about science and technology? The survey found that the internet surpassed TV as the primary source of information.