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Monday, February 17, 2014

Astronomical Survey -- scientific illiteracy or not

1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says
"To the question "Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth," 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly."
Interesting AAAS study. What this study may show is not what it seems to show. Since I have taught astronomy/physical science/physics, I submit that most know the answer. The numbers of slower thinkers who can't remember the answer probably number less than 1 in 20. Twenty-six percent is way too high. This may call into question this method of surveying (or at least increasing the margin of error). Possibilities may have caused the respondents to...
  1. Lie (question may have insulted or pricked respondents to impishness)
  2. Get confused by the wording. Both answer-choices have a similar pattern of response, which has a tendency to confuse the mind: "Wait, I knew the answer, but right now I can't tell which is which."
  3. Accidentally choose the wrong answer. Sometimes we know the wrong answer and think, "I know it's not B," and we select B.
  4. Lose focus on the survey, distracted by TV, life, troubles, or something else.
  5. [insert your own possibility here].
One reader pointed out that mathematicians would state that it's your frame of reference that decides what's circling what. This would be an example of impishness.

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