1 in 4 Americans Don't Know Earth Circles Sun

Survey suggests science teachers have some work to do

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 15, 2014 6:31 AM CST

(Newser) – To put the brightest possible spin on this story is to say that three-quarters of Americans are fully aware that the Earth revolves around the sun. The downside, of course, is that means 1 in 4 are in the dark about what Discovery calls "probably the most basic question in science." The National Science Foundation asked that question and nine others of 2,200 Americans, with the average score on the quiz coming in at 6.5, reports Phys.org.

Some other results noted by NPR:

  • 39% answered correctly that "the universe began with a huge explosion"
  • Fewer than half—48%—agreed that "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals"
  • 51% knew that antibiotics don't kill viruses
Meanwhile, about 90% of respondents were enthusiastic about science, and 1 in 3 thought it should get more government funding. The poll was conducted in 2012, but the results were released yesterday at a conference. See page 23 on this PDF for the full survey, which includes older results from other countries. Or click to read about Bill Nye's recent debate with a leading creationist.

  (Shutterstock)
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