Did you know that 26 percent of Americans don’t know that the Earth orbits the sun? As George Takei would say, Oh my. Have we been somehow magically transported back into the dark ages? After all, it was Renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus who popularized the theory of a heliocentric solar system (where the planets revolve around the sun), and Galileo Galilei who faced the Roman inquisition for promoting the view (he was finally cleared by Pope John Paul II in 1992). Lets hope this is not the case, although it’s not the first time that many Americans got some basic astronomy wrong, as a similar survey found that 45% of Americans don’t know the sun is a star.
Surely it can’t be right that 1 in 4 Americans don’t know the Earth orbits the sun?
Regrettably it is. So what actually happened for this result in the survey? Was the sample too small, or was conducted in some back woods settlement that has had no outside human contact for the last 500 or so years? I*’m afraid not. The survey of 2200 people was conducted by the National Science Foundation and featured a nine question quiz about physical and biological science. The average score was only 6.5.
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If you thought that 26 percent of Americans not knowing the Earth revolved around the sun was bad, the same survey also revealed that 52 percent of respondents didn’t know that humans evolved from earlier animal species. This shouldn’t be too alarming as many people still subscribe to the creationists view and believe evolution s folly, despite the Catholic Church, of all religious demonimations adopting the official position of believing in evolution.
But despair not America. If you think it’s bad that 26 percent of Americans don’t know the Earth orbits the sun, a similar survey conducted in Europe found that a whopping 34 percent of those who took part in the survey didn’t know the Earth revolved around the sun.