Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Was One Of These, Though Not American

AFP through Yahoo News:

1 in 4 Americans unaware that Earth circles Sun

AFP – Fri, Feb 14, 2014
Source: Copernicus,
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, 1543
Via Wikipedia
Chicago (AFP) - Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.

The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

Nine questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score -- 6.5 correct -- was barely a passing grade.

Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Fewer than half (48 percent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

I'm pretty sure that sound I just heard was my late science teacher father's ashes churning in his urn...

Heliocentrism (science-based as opposed to myth-based) goes back at least to Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543. Nonscientific speculation on heliocentrism goes back to 4th century BCE and several of the ancient Greeks. So there's not a lot of excuse for a person living in a science-oriented 21st-century society like ours not knowing what revolves around what. Even Sherlock Holmes dismissed the fact not because it wasn't true but because he had no need of it... and we have only Dr. Watson's word for Holmes's ignorance on the subject; I find it implausible myself.

If you are about my age (within, say, ±15 years of my age 65, you lived in what may come to be thought of as America's golden age of science. I am beginning to think perhaps it was merely gold-plated. I can't say that's a comforting thought.


  1. Oh I can believe it. I was nearly expelled from Catholic school for insisting the the Holy Mother would have had to go into orbit after the ascension because of the laws of gravity



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