Americans Were Asked A Simple Science Question, Their Answers Will Make You Laugh…Or Cry (VIDEO)

A new report by the National Science Foundation has found some alarming truths about the state of science education in the U.S.

Researchers asked 2,200 Americans a very simple science question:

“Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?”

Shockingly, 1 in 4 believed that the Sun orbits the earth.

To put this level of scientific understanding in perspective, the idea that the earth and planets revolve around the Sun has been accepted by scientists and much of the civilized world since the 16th century. Over four hundred years later, a quarter of Americans still haven’t found this fact out.

According to a press release about the survey, many participants failed to an answer even the most basic astronomy and science questions. The worrying findings include:

  • 61% refute the Big Bang, answering “false” when asked if “The universe began with a huge explosion,”
  • 52% oppose evolution, denying that “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,”
  • 70% felt government funding for science was adequate or too generous.

While the survey was carried out back in 2012, the results were only presented on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Held in Chicago, the meeting is conducted every two years and issues a National Science Foundation report to President Obama and lawmakers.

At the same meeting, a comparison of the views of scientists and members of the public on key issues such as energy, GM foods and vaccinations revealed an astonishing gulf.

Image via Pew Research

Image via Pew Research

It is little wonder that this is the case, with the rise of the Christian Right in America and the politicization of scientific education.

Schools across the country are bringing God into the science classroom.

In Florida, at least 164 state schools teach creationism.

The Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner,” specifically theories regarding “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” The Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank, provides the “supplemental textbooks” to crowbar creationism into science class, and also helped write the bill.

In 2012, Tennessee joined Louisiana with a similar law which permits public school teachers to teach the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories that can “cause controversy,” specifically citing evolution, global warming, and cloning. This law provides legal cover for teachers who wish to indoctrinate children with creationist pseudo-science.

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin all join the growing list of states where creationist schools are butchering the science curriculum in the name of religion.

A map showing the number of schools teaching Creationism in the U.S. (image via Slate)

A map showing the number of schools teaching Creationism in the U.S. (image via Slate)

The danger is not just the current gap in scientific understanding. We will not know the impact of this Christianization of the education system for another generation – but teaching pseudo-science today is surely not conducive to creating a world-leading scientific community tomorrow. The continued politicization of scientific education could well produce a generation of Americans less capable, less informed and less scientifically curious than any in the last century.

That same generation needs to develop cleaner and more sustainable fuel sources; revolutionize farming, agriculture and food production in order that we can safely feed a growing population; address the pace and impacts of climate change; and face further scientific challenges of which we are not yet even aware. They need all the education and inspiration they can get – a thousand Bill Nyes and Neil deGrasse Tysons fighting their corner. The Christian Right has made science a political football, and in doing so, puts the future of American endeavor at stake.

For an idea of how tough the battle for American science has become, you can watch the February 2014 debate between creationist Ken Ham, and Emmy Award-winning science educator and CEO of the Planetary Society Bill Nye below:

Featured Image via Odd Stuff Magazine