April 16, 2007
Finally, the country gets to grips with
astronomy astrology astronomology:
People in the U.S. know more about basic science today than they did two decades ago, good news that research-
ers say is tempered by an unsettling growth in the belief in pseudoscience such as astrology and visits by extra-
In 1988 only about 10 percent knew enough about science to under-
stand reports in major newspapers, a figure that grew to 28 percent by 2005, according to Jon D. Miller, a Michigan State University professor. He presented his findings Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The improvement largely reflects the requirement that all college students have at least some science courses, Miller said. This way, they can better keep up with new developments through the media.
A panel of researchers expressed concern that people are giving increasing credence to pseudoscience such as the visits of space aliens, lucky numbers and horoscopes.
In addition, these researchers noted an increase in college students who report they are “unsure” about creationism as compared with evolution.
More recent generations know more factual material about science, said Carol Susan Losh, an associate professor at Florida State University. But, she said, when it comes to pseudoscience, “the news is not good.”
… Belief in abduction by space aliens is [on] the rise, Losh said. “It’s not surprising that the generation that grew up on `Twilight Zone’ and early `Star Trek’ television endorsed a link between UFOs and alien spacecraft,” she said.
… Raymond Eve of the University of Texas at Arlington had mixed news in surveys of students at an unnamed Midwestern university.
The share that believed aliens had visited Earth fell from 25 percent in 1983 to 15 percent in 2006. There was also a decline in belief in “Bigfoot” and in whether psychics can predict the future.
But there also has been a drop in the number of people who believe evolution correctly explains the development of life on Earth and an increase in those who believe mankind was created about 10,000 years ago.
Miller said a second major negative factor to scientific literacy was religious fundamentalism and aging.
Unfortunately the fundies aren’t ageing anywhere near fast enough.
[Recycled post: I’m traveling. Originally published on February 17th 2007.]
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