You are here

Well-Informed Citizens Increasingly Rare


I really wanted to put this one under humor, even though it\'s more sad than funny. The National Science Foundation released a report, \"Science and Engineering Indicators 2000\", in this report, \"more than 70% of the people knew that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around\", so... that means about 30% didn\'t know that? Is this even possible? Other interesting results-
-16% could define the Internet
-13% could accurately describe a molecule
-30% thought they were poorly informed The LA Times has the Full Story on this report.

\"These discouraging data fit with other patterns in Americans\' knowledge about things, like current events. In 1997, researchers at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington said, \"An analysis of public attentiveness to more than 500 news stories over the last 10 years confirms that the American public pays relatively little attention to many of the serious news stories of the day.\"

After a steady series of breakthroughs in information technology,\" wrote David Shenk in his 1997 book \"Data Smog,\" \"we are left with a citizenry that is certainly no more interested or capable of supporting a healthy representative democracy than it was 50 years ago, and may well be less capable.\"

Improving education is the most common knee-jerk plan of action for perceived deficits in American understanding and knowledge, especially in math and science. No doubt there is vast room for improvement in U.S. education. But as political philosopher Benjamin Barber of Rutgers University has pointed out, young people tend to learn what society teaches them to value.