In an age where all the knowledge from the dawn of humanity is available in the palms of anyone’s hands who carries a smartphone, a recent survey that indicates one in four Americans think the sun revolves around the Earth has created highly disturbing implications for America. This is an age where a congresswoman can be cut off mid NSA report because the news of Justin Beiber’s DUI arrest somehow takes precedence. This is also an age where 67 percent of Americans believe that God either guided evolution or that evolution just does not actually exist at all.
In short, this is an age where the collective wealth and knowledge of all of humanity is easily accessible to everyone, yet petty distractions and unreasonable ideas such as Creationism still have a disturbingly large stronghold on far too many people. As the sun survey has revealed, one in four Americans who do not understand the basic premise that the Earth revolves around the sun has disturbing implications for a nation that prides itself as being a world leader.
This issue suggests one smaller part of a significantly larger problem; the issue of scientific literacy. Actually, not only scientific literacy in America, although that is absolutely a part of it. The sun survey was not only about the sun. It also clarified that 60 percent of American families visit zoos and museums and 48 percent think humans evolved over time. On an uplifting note, it also revealed that 90 percent of Americans indicated they are either “very interested” or “moderately interested” in continuing to learn about new medical innovations.
It is these numbers, which provide more hope and a brighter outlook towards the future. This scientific interest becomes evident when simply looking at the number of viewers who watched the recent and highly publicized Bill Nye versus Ken Ham debate. According to Ham’s organization, Answers in Genesis, 750,000 people were watching the debate from their computers and an additional 900 people were in the audience. To date, the YouTube video of the event has accumulated almost two million views, which is a pretty clear indication that people are interested in these issues regardless of which side they are taking.
Another number on the survey indicated that 42 percent of Americans believed astrology (the study of Zodiac signs) to be either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.” In 2004, 66 percent of Americans believed Astrology to be false but that number has been shrinking since then and the amount of believers in the subject who are living in America today are higher. By contrast, 92 percent of Chinese citizens believe there is absolutely no scientific value in the subject.
Back to the sun survey, the facts that were presented here and have disturbing implications for America might be cause for concern, but it does not spell the end of the world. After all, the high regard held and maintained for science (which incidentally, is a higher percentage in America than in Europe) is promising. As long as the desire for knowledge outweighs the easier option of casting it aside, then there is still plenty of hope for the future.
Editorial by Jonathan Holowka