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CNN headline: Survey finds few in U.S. understand science (1 Viewer)

Joseph S

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55% believe lasers work by focusing sound waves?? After 10 million reports on Anthrax this past fall, 50% think Antibiotics will also work on virii. I just love listening to all the baby boomers complain today's education system. Obviously, this hasn't been a short term issue. :)
 

ChrisMatson

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Stories like this make feel like a genius. I used to think that the Leno street interviews were fake:

Q: In what city did the Boston Tea Party occur?

A: Uhh...Philadelphia?
 

Bhagi Katbamna

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I'd like to know if they did similar surveys for other non-westernized countries. How would China or India fare? Or Egpyt? The countries in the middle east? Just for the sake of perspective.
I don't know about other countries but have known Indian highschoolers who thought (US) college level calculus was easy.
 

Scott Strang

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This is no surprise. For some reason our culture tends to look upon science and the interest of as being "uncool".

When I was in elementary school I'd read Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and every stereo magazine I could get my hands on. Some thought I was weird although I also read the other magazines of general interest like Cycle, Dirt Bike, Four Wheel Drive and other publications and some others that were popular at the time.

I've always admired people that are well versed in science and technology.
 

Jeff Kleist

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FIRST PART OF POST DELETED BEFORE ACTUALLY BEING WRITTEN

AS IT VIOLATES HTF RULES

But I cringe when I hear phrases like "You think too much for your own good". And that's one of the reasons why US people are so behind.
 

RobertR

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It would appear that that people not only check their brains at the door of a movie theater (as we are so often advised to do with movies), but they also check them when getting out of bed.
 

Jack Briggs

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And thus, is it any suprise that such garbage as Fox's "alien autopsy" and ABC's "communicating with dead" presentations can do so well with today's audiences?

Not long ago, I was playing headgames with a woman I used to work with. I asked her this question: "Tell me, Erin, can a rocket work on the surface of the Moon--you know, where it's a near-perfect vacuum?"

She paused for a few seconds and, with a hesitant look on her face, answered in the negative.

Neil Armstrong would have been surprised to learn that "fact."
 

TheoGB

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Oh come on. 225000 people in the U.S. and they survey 1500ish? And where did they find these people?

You can't trust a lot of these surveys. For one thing we have no idea about how the test was administered and how the test takers were acting. Maybe they just couldn't be bothered with it.
 

RobertR

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You can't trust a lot of these surveys. For one thing we have no idea about how the test was administered and how the test takers were acting.
I'm not sure what your objection is, Theo. Are you questioning whether this particular survey used sound methodology, or are you questioning the science of survey-taking in general? If the latter, that would be rather ironic.
 

MickeS

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It doesn't matter to me whether people in other countries (be they "westernized" or "Third-world" or whatever) would answer the same.

The thing is that the US prides itself on being "the greatest nation on earth", and is basically the world leader in most areas of science and technology (even though a huge chunk of that knowledge comes from the fact that american corporations and research institutions simply have enough money to get the best people from all over the world). That's why reports like these are very disturbing (and also why the education system in the US needs major reworking).

48 percent answered "false" to the statement that dinosaurs and humans co-existed at one time. If that means that 52% bleieved that they DID... well, I don't know what to say.

Even worse, only 54 percent answered correctly when asked how long it takes the Earth to orbit the sun!!

These aren't some obscure facts that only scientists should know, it's basic knowledge...

/Mike
 

TheoGB

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Robert, it is totally correct to question the nature of a survey until you know where it comes from. I don't know why you consider it ironic that I would question how easy it is to effect bias with statistics. But I am questioning this survey in particular, and such surveys in general.

The point is that much of this site's membership are well-read individuals who therefore prize knowledge. But not everyone does.

Just because Jack can ask someone whether a rocket can work in a near vacuum (and I'm presuming he didn't leave it ambiguous enough to include a fireworks rocket!!) and they answer incorrectly means very little. Some people just don't care about science.

But as there aren't unlimited jobs in the science industry you'll find that this is the way of the world. It's about as much use as complaining that more of the country isn't made up of professional athletes...
 

RobertR

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But I am questioning this survey in particular, and such surveys in general.
Are you saying that NO survey, not even one with a well chosen sample and proper methodology, can EVER accurately gauge the attitudes of a larger population?
 

Daren Welsh

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Only 54% of those surveyed understood that the Earth goes around the Sun once per year
/me thinks these are the same people that buy those packages in the grocer's dairy case with cereal and milk all in one "convenient" unit. When did it become so difficult to buy milk and cereal and then combine them manually?!?

Seriously, though, does anyone have a link to the survey in its original form? When I see questions about whether the universe started from a Big Bang or about evolutionary theory, I have to wonder whether this was a survey of facts or beliefs. You can't simply ask whether people think the Universe "began from an immense explosion" and then grade them because there is no known true or false answer. Even the scientists who believe it's a non-theistic occurance can't agree on whether the Universe will expand forever, or stop expanding and then collapse for another Big Bang event.
 

Jack Briggs

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Well, Daren, good science is about asking more and more questions, sifting through the evidence, and reaching a tentative conclusion based on all the known facts. The more we learn, the more we realize the need for still more information. Healthy science means healthy skepticism and an open, trained mind.
 

Daren Welsh

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Huh? That was specifically ambiguous ...

I'm just saying that a survey that asks whether people believe that the Universe began with a Big Bang might not be taking into account that some people believe there is more to it than a chance occurance, be it theological or purely scientific. The Big Bang is a highly debated topic (with many variations), not something we know very well to be a fact, like the period of our Earth's rotation around the Sun (aka "year").
 

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