Many in U.S. think Earth the center of solar system

The Earth, seen here in a Christmas Eve 1968 photo from the moon, is not center of the universe or even the solar system, experts say. (NASA image)

The Earth, seen here in a Christmas Eve 1968 photo taken from the orbit of the moon, is not the center of the universe or even the solar system, experts say. (NASA image)

Copernicus’ grave would be revolving around the 16th Century astronomer if he read the results of a new report on Americans’ understanding of basic science.

NPR has a few lowlights from the National Science Foundation report (PDF):

  • 26 percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth.
  • Only 39 percent believe “The universe began with a huge explosion,” despite the popularity of “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom.
  • Less than half (48 percent) believe “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”
  • Slightly more than half knew antibiotics are useless against viruses.

More intel I dug out of the report:

  • Slightly more than half of Americans think astrology is unscientific.
  • Men answered correctly more often than women on physical science questions. Women performed the same on biology questions.
  • Americans are less concerned about climate change than other countries, and more tend to believe it is a naturally occurring cycle than a man-made event.
  • Americans are less concerned about genetically-modified crops than other countries.
  • Two-thirds of Americans now support aggressive drilling for fossil fuels, up from about 50 percent in 2010.

The good news? Americans have never scored higher on the science and technology survey, scores are slowly improving and 80 percent says they are interested in “new scientific discoveries.”

In 2012, Americans were able to correctly answer 65 percent of science questions, up from 63 percent in 2010.

Those who had not completed high school answered on 45 percent of the nine science questions correctly. Those with a bachelor’s degree answered correctly 78% of the time.

Curiously, 44 percent of Europeans, who are alleged to have a better educational system than the U.S., thought the Earth was the center of the solar system. When it comes to evolution, however, 70 percent of Europeans and 66 percent of those surveyed in China were believers.

Some of the data points above shocked me, and, once again, I questioned how other people can be so wrong about what I presumed were basic facts.

Are schools to blame? Parents? Children? Society?

It is easiest to blame schools, the largest taxing authority in most of our lives, but if your kid is in high school and believes the Earth is the center of the solar system, you need to look in a mirror and/or pick up a book yourself.

The New York Post has a somewhat related story about a “fail factory” teacher that taught every subject imaginable.

NYC teacher Alexis Pajares taught “algebra, biology, chemistry, Chinese, English, Spanish, earth science, economics, government, health, history and law” to 475 students in one semester, the Post writes.

He was able to teach that many students because all of the classes were online. Students take all their tests at home and some reportedly pay other students to take tests for them.

After the Post story ran, administrators at the school encouraged students in the “blended studies” program to email complaints to the newspaper, which gleefully published the grammar-filled abominations.

One student wrote: ““What do you get of giving false accusations im one of the students that has blended learning I had a course of English and I passed and and it helped a lot you’re a reported your support to get truth information other than starting rumors . . .”

Another said online classes are better than traditional class work and “you can digest in the information at your own paste.”

Maybe the teachers should have written the letters?

Or maybe those are the teachers?

I’m starting to see why homeschooling is so popular.

More news plucked from the Interwebs:

42 comments Add your comment

James Alford

February 24th, 2014
11:06 am

Many don’t realize that Copernicus was a Christian Priest, that got his revelations from prayer and devotions. Funny as much as many scientists try to distance science from faith.


February 24th, 2014
11:29 am

We have been dumbing this nation down ever since the Christian Right packed school boards with their members in the 80’s. That’s why so many boneheads in this country think the world is only 6000 years old. SMDH.

The Hammer

February 24th, 2014
11:35 am

With the Theory of Relativity, there’s no observable evidence that the Earth either *IS* or *IS NOT* at the centre of the universe, so it is a completely plausible model in which to believe.

Fred ™

February 24th, 2014
11:36 am

Do you allow name jacking George lie occurred on your last blog entry?


February 24th, 2014
11:52 am

@Hammer – Not too bright are you? Go look up what The Solar System is before opening your mouth. Hint: Not the same thing as the universe.

Fred's Obese Wife

February 24th, 2014
12:09 pm

Fred, where did you put the boxes of girl scout cookies? I just ate lunch but I’m still snacky!

Fred's Obese Wife

February 24th, 2014
12:09 pm

Enter your comments here


February 24th, 2014
12:09 pm

Before one makes statements they should realize many early scientists who discovered cosmological facts were in fact christian priests an scientists. Harvard and other Ivy league universities began as seminaries for priests. I’m a christian myself and have always enjoyed looking at the stars and reading about the universe. Do i believe God made the world in 6 days? yes. If he’s God he can do anything and isn’t bound by “laws” of science or he wouldn’t be God. Just because people don’t understand it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Someone has more knowledge and power that you do.

On another note. Say it isn’t so BUT after watching Jay Leno do his segment “jay walking” on the tonight show asking people on the street simple questions they should know I’m not surprised. If anyone is dumbing down americans where everyone is the same level of stupidity it’s the liberal agenda and equality. Watch or read Harrison Bergeron for an idea of what an “equal” society looks like.


February 24th, 2014
12:20 pm


What is your issue with the fact that people believe climate change is a natural event? It is a natural event. Our climate has been alternating between hot and cold periods for millions of years. In fact, based on the global temperature charts available, we don’t even appear close to some of the warmest periods during those cycles.

The question should have been, “Do human behaviors impact and possibly accelerate climate change?” If it was asked that way, the question might have some validity and accuracy.


February 24th, 2014
12:24 pm

Fred ™

February 24th, 2014
12:34 pm

How absurd …. I am the center of the solar system!


February 24th, 2014
12:34 pm

Take a model of the solar system with the Earth revolving around the Sun. Now, pick up the model by holding the earth between your finger and thumb. You will have just made the Earth the center of the solar system. The math just got much harder to describe it.


February 24th, 2014
12:37 pm

Too many students are only learning to pass tests, and are not retaining knowledge. Students move on to the next test, and that’s all that’s important. Fast food-drive thru education….doesn’t provide adequate nourishment. Let teachers teach.

Jack ®

February 24th, 2014
12:43 pm

Speaking of grammar-filled abominations…..

Al Gore

February 24th, 2014
12:46 pm

No Fred ™, you are not center of the solar system. I AM.

I Invented the Internet and Global Warming. Obese people ™ with copius amounts of gas are destroying planet Earth.

Knowledge is Power

February 24th, 2014
12:49 pm

•26 percent of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth.

LOL :) ok, really?

Is there anyone out there really surprised of these results.

Just ask ask any High School student to point out the state of Montana (other than Montana HS students) on a blank map of our own country and they would not be able to point it out.

Now you asking folks about the location (and what surrounds our planet) of our planet in the universe?

We’ve lowered our expecations of our children – but can we lower them even more….. :) CRAZY…


February 24th, 2014
12:52 pm

Religion and our poor public education system are to blame. I have grandmother who does not believe in evolution, she even thinks dinosaurs never existed. She is 89 and has lived in Georgia all of her life, and is very much of old southern ways. She does however believe that everything written in the Bible is completely true. To my further astonishment, my own father also doesn’t believe in evolution. Just the other day hey went on about how people are crazy to believe in UFO’s, but everything in the Bible is completely plausible.

I’m not down on religion, as I too am a Christian. However, I do realize that evolution has occurred. If Adam and Eve did exist, then what race were they, and how did we get so many different race’s around the world? How is the big bang theory not acceptable as an act of God?


February 24th, 2014
12:53 pm

We have been dumbing this nation down ever since the Christian Right packed school boards with their members in the 80’s. That’s why so many boneheads in this country think the world is only 6000 years old. SMDH.@ cc

I don’t think you have it quite correct; the schools are run by for the most part liberal teachers and administrators constantly being jerked around by the government ruling class. The Christian right could never be as effective as the liberals have been in the dumbing down of this country. I bet you blame everything that goes wrong on those dastardly Christians.

Knowledge is Power

February 24th, 2014
12:55 pm

@Brace4impactz “Too many students are only learning to pass tests, and are not retaining knowledge. Students move on to the next test, and that’s all that’s important. Fast food-drive thru education….doesn’t provide adequate nourishment. Let teachers teach.”

Is not the teachers fault….I don’t blame them… I blame the parents.

IPADS, IPODS, SMART PHONES, INTERNET, and GAMING Systems. I kids don’t READ anymore. The ability to read and understand what your are reading. Is the fundamental building blocks of learning.

Our kids are LAZY – why should they read a novel – when all they have to do is google the book on-line and read the summary of it.

We now have the technology to build SMART ROBOTS… Imagine we will have a race of machines that will be so intellectually advanced – they will be a hell of a lot smater that the folks that created them.


It sad really…………..

Knowledge is Power

February 24th, 2014
12:59 pm

For the grammer police…please excuse my errors…..



Don't Tread

February 24th, 2014
1:00 pm

When people can’t spell, use the right word in a sentence, or correctly calculate a percentage of something, it’s really no surprise that they think the sun revolves around the earth. :roll:

Ron White was right: you can’t fix stupid.

On My Way

February 24th, 2014
1:02 pm

It’s only a theory. A theory allows for various interpretations and one interpretation should not be taken as a fact based on its own merits. Isn’t that right Cobb county?


February 24th, 2014
1:13 pm

The Internet and social media are making people stupid.


February 24th, 2014
1:15 pm

I remember a few years ago, Jay Leno was doing man on the street interviews questioning people about Biblical history. One woman thought Jesus built the Ark.


February 24th, 2014
1:17 pm

Just look at the growing voter base. Quantity vs quality. The dumbing down of Merica.

Creflo $

February 24th, 2014
2:10 pm

TBone We have been dumbing this nation down ever since the Christian Right packed school boards with their members in the 80’s. That’s why so many boneheads in this country think the world is only 6000 years old.

Someone goes by TBone has a LOT of nerve calling someone a bonehead. My followers are very educated. We offer Earth Centric 101 classes as well as Entitlement Cheat 2014. The flock pays good money for our Sabbath education.


February 24th, 2014
2:36 pm

I see no reason to change. After all, if there were no dumb people, who would I take advantge of? One can make millions separating the idiots from their money.

Chris Salzmann

February 24th, 2014
3:35 pm

What do you expect from a group of people who think evolution is just a “theory” and open to all sorts of interpretations because of a book written thousands of years ago by semi literate peasants? What do you expect from people who think climate change is part of the “natural” process? 98% of scientists agree with Climate Change, yet these guys deny it. These are also the same folks who believe in “trickle down” economics which has been disproved time and time again in practice and by the brightest minds in economics yet they still believe.

And they pass their ignorance on to their children. Don’t blame the schools or teachers for their ignorance. My 9 year old daughter comes home from school and talks about the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy and our place in the universe. She watches documentaries about space and wonders why the universe is still expanding and when it will stop expanding. We continue her education at home and encourage her to be curious, be critical and ask questions.

That’s what’s missing here. You have parents who take little or no interest in continuing their children’s education and broadening their minds when they come home from school. For them, school is just glorified day-care.


February 24th, 2014
3:37 pm

“The good news? Americans have never scored higher on the science and technology survey…” is one of the scariest facts reported in this story.

Fred ™

February 24th, 2014
4:19 pm

Yo asshat, I hope you think your funny, my wife died two months ago you jack ass. Aren’t you a real man.

Ayn Rands Medicare

February 24th, 2014
6:31 pm

yes, now to all those that believe this,
BE SURE to vote on November 9th


February 24th, 2014
6:40 pm

I dunno Fred. I may have to call shenanigans on your last post. :) A week ago you were giving an accounting of your father in law passing away and the mother in law being alive, but you failed to mention your wife having passed??? Looks like that might have been pertinent information in the post last week since the topic had to do with wives.

Fed up with Fred

February 24th, 2014
6:47 pm

Fred is full of crap and just playing the sympathy card. He is just a troll with nothing better to do than come here and stir the pot. What kind of nut case uses a deceased wife as an excuse for being a cyber asshat? He is well known here for his histronics behavior. Poor little fat man thinks the World revolves around him.

Hidden Agenda

February 24th, 2014
6:55 pm

Obama thinks he is the center of the universe and millions of his “followers” do too. Why should the solar system be of any concern to those folks? They think the sun shines out his a** too. During the last administration just as many republicans thought the same about emperor Bush.


February 24th, 2014
7:35 pm

No evidence at all in the data about the source of the stupidity about science. Not that a lack of evidence keeps the progs from confident assertions about why people got questions wrong. Come to think of it that absolute certainty in the absence of data is a hallmark of progressive “thought”. That and personal vile nastiness. For some reason the two things just seem to go together.

Wilma ™

February 24th, 2014
8:05 pm

Fred ™ is telling the truth. Two weeks ago I was gravely injured when I was sucked up by our prehistoric elephant vacuum cleaner.

Fred ™

February 24th, 2014
8:21 pm

Unlike you asshat, I never have to resort to insulting family members. Whatever I am has nothing to do with my passed wife. But then I’m not a complete ass hole like you. I can make points based on logic and content, not on insulting a man’s family like Rush does.

You are some cool Dave Richards, that is why you were removed from the Forsyth COunty board. You too TD you fine Christian man. Jesus is so proud of you. He wants YOU to be his poster boys for the new world order nazi version of the Southern Baptist Church of Jesus.

You ass holes are completely disgusting.

Earth to Fred

February 24th, 2014
8:53 pm

Who the heck are Dave Richards and TD and why do you think they are targeting you on this blog? And you called into Limbaugh’s show and told him your wife was dead? I have not seen one ounce of logic and / or content in any of your postings today. Try taking your meds before commenting.

PS RIP Wilma


February 24th, 2014
9:34 pm

Fred, could you provide us a link to your wife’s obituary? You seem to have no trouble using her as an excuse for your bizarre behavior. So either put up or shut up. You started this pissing contest full of lies so you can only blame yourself for the misery you created for yourself.

Hidden Agenda

February 24th, 2014
9:48 pm

I see absolutely no reason not to blame the failed government “education” (more accurately propaganda/prison) system for this situation. Supplement it with a liberal dose of government-controlled media via TV and radio and there you have it. Idiots who worship the all-knowing state and haven’t the faintest idea about their place in the universe. Welcome to Amerika 2014.


February 25th, 2014
7:35 am

Many in the U.S. Do not THINK,either…


March 1st, 2014
9:43 am

Yes and Fred Flintstone had a pet dinosaur too. Really many in the USA pride themselves on being ignorant.

Lets all go to Charter schools, steal taxpayer money and learn that some man behind the curtain created the whole thing.