Americans average a D when it comes to science, says a new study. Though the U.S. is known for a host of scientific breakthroughs in nuclear weaponry and space technology, very few Americans can score an above average in a science quiz.
According new research by Pew Research Center released Thursday, most Americans score just a “D” in basic science. The researchers quizzed 3200 adults on basic scientific questions. The questions ranged from high school physics to biology, geology and astronomy.
Results indicated that from the 12 questions, those who took the test averaged 7.9, just 66 percent.
A majority of those polled could identify the earth’s core as its hottest part (86 per cent) and also identify uranium as the chief element used in the making of nuclear weapons (82 per cent).
However, only 35 per cent could identify amplitude as the factor chiefly responsible for determining the loudness of sound. A lesser 34 per cent correctly figured that water boiled faster at higher altitudes than at sea level.
More shocking was that one in five Americans confused astronomy with astrology. More than 22 per cent defined astronomy as “the study of how the positions of stars and planets can influence human behavior.”
According to American Association for the Advancement of Science chief executive Rush Holt, “It may not be important to know that the core of the Earth is hotter, but it is important to know the difference between astronomy and astrology. It is important to know that science is based on evidence and that their daily decisions on daily life can also be based on evidence.”
Holt said what he found truly troubling was the demographic performance breakdown. Men scored higher than women, people with college degrees scored two points higher than those with only a high school education. Whites fared better than blacks and Hispanics, people aged between 30 and 49 scored the highest while those below 65 scored lowest.
Westerners performed the best while Southerners were the worst performing. On average, Republicans scored half a correct answer more than Democrats. Not a single group got 12 or even 11 questions correct.
Americans have failed in basic science even though the nation prides itself in being one of the top technological hubs on the planet. What is clear is that more emphasis on science is needed to make more Americans involved in the field.