It turns out that, apparently, one in four Americans did not pay attention in fifth grade science class. According to a recent study by the National Science Foundation, it is unknown to one in four Americans (or at any rate, it was before the survey informed them) that our planet Earth revolves around the center of our Solar System, the Sun.
The question, which was simply phrased as, “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?”, left 26 percent of Americans stumped. This one fourth of the American population was completely unfamiliar with the man named Nicolaus Copernicus who lived in the 16th century and came up with the theory of the Heliocentric model, or that the Sun is the center of all of the planets, and that the planets all circle it in orbit.
The Heliocentric model came in opposition to the earlier, (and somewhat egocentric) Geocentric model by Greek philosopher Aristotle and Greek astronomer/astrologer/mathematician/geographer Ptolemy, which maintained that all other celestial bodies orbited us and our Earth.
The survey collected data from 2,200 Americans in total, quizzing them with questions about both biological and physical science. The outcome was only 6.5 answers correct as an average score.
While the notion of that the Earth revolves around the sun was unknown to one in four Americans, 74 percent of Americans did know the answer to the question. However, when it came to evolution, it was a different story. Less than half (48 percent) of the Americans surveyed answered that they were familiar with the theory that humans evolved from an earlier breed of animals (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution).
Also, when asked the question, “Did the universe begin with a huge explosion?”, only 39 percent of Americans answered yes to this question regarding the Big Bang Theory. In addition, just over half of the survey participants answered that they knew that antibiotics do not work to fight viruses.
A question in the survey also asked the participants about astrology, a belief based on the notion that there is a correlation between astronomical events and the events that occur in people’s lives. In 2010, 62 percent of Americans did not believe in astrology, maintaining that it was “not at all scientific”. That number dropped to 55 percent in 2012, showing that there has been an apparent growth in the belief in astrology in recent years.
According to The Telegraph, a report by the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators said that, in total, 42 percent- or almost half- of the Americans in this recent survey about the Earth and the Sun said that they believe that astrology is “very scientific,” or “sort of scientific.” This is a major spike in the popularity of astrology from ten years ago in 2004, where 66 percent of Americans thought that astrology was “nonsense”.
The fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun is unknown to one in four Americans is apparent; however, the survey did not release data about the religious beliefs of the participants they surveyed. Because of this, it is not known if, perhaps because of a belief in creationism, that less than half (48 percent) of Americans, answered that they did not think humans evolved from an earlier species, as 73-80 percent of Americans identify as Christians.
By Laura Clark