Scary statistics

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Phobos

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Just when you thought that everyone understood what we talk about here...

Poll by the National Science Foundation, c. 2002
70% of Americans accept the Copernican theory but only 33% accept Big Bang theory (5% fewer than in the 1990s) (compare that to 53% who accept the controversial theory of evolution)

Poll by the National Research Council (NRC) (date?)
When asked "How long does it take Earth to go around the Sun? One day, week, month or year?" 47% percent of Americans answered correctly. 15% thought that no answer was correct, because the Sun goes around the Earth.

(source? maybe Michael Shermer? I forget.)
60% of Americans believe that alien spacecraft visit Earth, and a large subset of those people believe the aliens are conducting sexual experiments on people or abducting them.

Well, here's an encouraging one!
In 1969, less than 50% of Americans thought the Apollo program was worth the cost. On the 25th anniversary, 66% thought it was worth it. (source: Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot)
 

FZ+

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70% of Americans accept the Copernican theory
...
15% thought that no answer was correct, because the Sun goes around the Earth.
I wonder what the other 15% believe... Flat earth? Cosmic turtles and elephants? Astronomical crystal spheres? Discworld?
 
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It's shocking to hear that our ultra-modern society is still unfamiliar on basic astronomy like the orbit of Earth around the Sun. It would be great if everyone is interested in science and human's technology would advance rapidly, and soon migrate to other planets and our moon![zz)]
 

Ivan Seeking

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Originally posted by Phobos
(source? maybe Michael Shermer? I forget.)
60% of Americans believe that alien spacecraft visit Earth.
Although I cringe with you at the rest of the examples, I cringe equally so when this is cited among them. I challenge anyone to review the material I have posted at the UFO Napster, and then to make the honest claim that no evidence exists for this belief.

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2805

Just in case you didn't know.

Edit: I am not including the abduction claim here. This is a another question altogether.
 
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Phobos

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Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Although I cringe with you at the rest of the examples, I cringe equally so when this is cited among them. I challenge anyone to review the material I have posted at the UFO Napster, and then to make the honest claim that no evidence exists for this belief.

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2805

Just in case you didn't know.

Edit: I am not including the abduction claim here. This is a another question altogether.
egad, that is a ton of stuff to read through...certainly not feasible quickly for purposes of responding to this topic. Perhaps you can point to a particularly interesting link (such as one that is non-anecdotal).
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by Phobos
egad, that is a ton of stuff to read through...certainly not feasible quickly for purposes of responding to this topic. Perhaps you can point to a particularly interesting link (such as one that is non-anecdotal).
Hi Phobos. Thanks for responding! REALLY! Many people would simply ignore my post and [edit because Phobos was picking on me ] draw the very unscientific conclusion that I'm a nut. If you look at the first two posts, you will find a total of about 2000 government files on UFOs. Of these, the easiest ones from which to get a good snapshot of the phenomenon are the first post - about Iran in 1976. Also you might read the RAF Woodbridge link at the top of the second post; and then some of the Air Force files under the link labeled "Many reports from the Military Command Center". Really though, at any of the government links in the first two posts [CIA, NSA, FBI, DOD, etc] significant reports can be found. Also, see the second page under "Event from the last 50 years" and see the "Rendlesham Forest" links. These are links to British defense files. Note that this case is confusing because it involves several British and American facilities located around Rendlesham Forest. Finally, please see also the quotes from high ranking officials and scientists listed on the first page. Although not evidence, the statements and names are often quite surprising. [minor edit here]


Edit: Even though I feel this should be a topic of science, I normally make every effort to keep UFO discussion in the PS forum. I appreciate this opportunity to bring my point of view to the discussion. :smile:
 
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LURCH

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Originally posted by Phobos


Poll by the National Research Council (NRC) (date?)
When asked "How long does it take Earth to go around the Sun? One day, week, month or year?" 47% percent of Americans answered correctly. 15% thought that no answer was correct, because the Sun goes around the Earth.

To me, the most disturbing thing in this entire post is the fact that such organizations have found ways to get their "findings" published. Less than half of the people in America know that a year is the time it takes for the Earth to go once around the sun? I know more than two Americans, and have never met one that doesen't know this. Has anyone here ever seen this 53%? What about the 15% who think the Earth orbits the Sun? Have you ever met one of them?

Stats can say whatever one wants them to say. Much as we may hate the fact, numbers do lie.
 
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Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by LURCH
To me, the most disturbing thing in this entire post is the fact that such organizations have found ways to get their "findings" published. Less than half of the people in America know that a year is the time it takes for the Earth to go once around the sun? I know more than two Americans, and have never met one that doesen't know this. Has anyone here ever seen this 53%? What about the 15% who think the Earth orbits the Sun? Have you ever met one of them?
you probobly share company with a more intellectual group than most. inner cities, rural towns, etc., typically have less scientifically modivated people.



Stats can say whatever one wants them to say. Much as we may hate the fact, numbers do lie.
stats can, oddly enough, come out differently, depending on the statitian, but numbers themselves do not lie. only after human tamporing and biasing do distictions appear.
 
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While that is true, we have to take into account other considerations as well. The 15% will not be equally distributed throughout the nation. It could be that there are certain clumps of such people that tend to remain closely knit (indeed complexity theory would indicate this as well since they all have common beliefs). And I must say, I have met one person who does not know how long it takes for the earth to go around the sun. It was very discouraging.
 

Phobos

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Re: Re: Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
Hi Phobos. Thanks for responding! REALLY! Many people would simply ignore my post, and in a very unscientific manner, label me a nut.
I'll be sure to use a full latin-based genus/species moniker in order to keep it scientific. :wink:
But seriously, thanks for pointing me to that info...I will try to take a look soon. A good skeptic/scientist does not dismiss the possibility. This is not a subject I have studied and I've been relying on the scientists who say the evidence is not in (well, that plus a few hokey UFO shows on TV and a few oddball claims from people I've talked to have kept me satisfied with the mainstream position).
 

Phobos

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LURCH - Indeed, statistics are a tricky thing and it is wise to ask questions about the database (who was polled, how many people responded, what was their education level, how was the question phrased, etc.).

I find the numbers a little surprising/suspect too...but not impossible (seems to be a typical trend I've seen from other polls).
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by Phobos
I'll be sure to use a full latin-based genus/species moniker in order to keep it scientific. :wink:
But seriously, thanks for pointing me to that info...I will try to take a look soon. A good skeptic/scientist does not dismiss the possibility. This is not a subject I have studied and I've been relying on the scientists who say the evidence is not in (well, that plus a few hokey UFO shows on TV and a few oddball claims from people I've talked to have kept me satisfied with the mainstream position).
Thanks. I hope many others will also. There is so much hype that finding facts is very difficult; for either side of the argument. Beware; many skeptics are as unreliable as "true believers". For this reason, I have tried to post links to good [albeit somewhat biased] information. I am not sure just what is going on, but after nearly twenty years of research - as a hobby - I can no longer ignore the conclusion that something real is happening. In my mind, a remote possibility still exists that a very strange EM phenomenon could be responsible for the most credible encounters, but this hypothesis requires that we ignore information from events that otherwise have high credibility. So, even though I am not crusading for ET, I do think that something(s) often called UFO(s) are very real; and that it should be a subject of science. Of course, if it is ET, well, I can only imagine the significance.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: scary statistics

Originally posted by Phobos
I'll be sure to use a full latin-based genus/species moniker in order to keep it scientific. :wink:
I almost let this one slip past me.
Actually, I can live without the label in Latin or otherwise. But if you must, then please use Latin. At least in this way I can sound like a sophisticated nut; and not just your average nut.
 

LURCH

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I Stand Dejected...

Well, being a scientific person by nature, I decided to engage in some empirical research. Today at the factory, I asked several people (4) how long it takes the Earth to go once around the Sun, and not one of them got it right. Two of them said "one week", one of them said "a day", and one said, "I think you've got that backwards, don't you? Doesn't the Sun go around the Earth?".

I found this shocking and very depressing. These are people who know how many hours are in a day, how many days are in a year... information I find far more difficult than the question at hand.

I just don't get it.
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: I Stand Dejected...

Originally posted by LURCH
Well, being a scientific person by nature, I decided to engage in some empirical research. Today at the factory, I asked several people (4) how long it takes the Earth to go once around the Sun, and not one of them got it right. Two of them said "one week", one of them said "a day", and one said, "I think you've got that backwards, don't you? Doesn't the Sun go around the Earth?".

I found this shocking and very depressing. These are people who know how many hours are in a day, how many days are in a year... information I find far more difficult than the question at hand.

I just don't get it.
My in-laws, be they very sweet people whom I think very highly of, once struggled to remember and then concluded that the earth goes around the moon. The fact is that this information, and much that we refer to here, has little of no impact on peoples lives. Quite frankly, many people just don't care. I have struggled long and hard to understand and accept this fact.
 
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Re: Re: I Stand Dejected...

Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
...concluded that the earth goes around the moon...B]

At first when I read these statements, I was amused to think that someone actually thinks that. I haven't done any empirical work myself, but I will be very surprised if I come across someone who says that. Clearly, the law of universal gravitation tells us the the Earth is attracted to and thereby orbits the Sun. However, isn't the whole point of relativity that we cannot know whether the Earth goes around the Sun or the Sun goes around the Earth?
 

Ivan Seeking

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Re: Re: Re: I Stand Dejected...

Originally posted by StephenPrivitera
At first when I read these statements, I was amused to think that someone actually thinks that. I haven't done any empirical work myself, but I will be very surprised if I come across someone who says that. Clearly, the law of universal gravitation tells us the the Earth is attracted to and thereby orbits the Sun. However, isn't the whole point of relativity that we cannot know whether the Earth goes around the Sun or the Sun goes around the Earth?
I think the correct answer is no. You refer to SR which first requires that no gravity fields [forces] be present. Also, in the case of circular orbits, since we have centripital force we know who is moving around whom. However, just as the earth goes around the sun, the sun also goes around the earth just a little. This wobble is how we identify other suns that have planets.
 

Phobos

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Re: I Stand Dejected...

Originally posted by LURCH
I found this shocking and very depressing. These are people who know how many hours are in a day, how many days are in a year... information I find far more difficult than the question at hand.

I just don't get it.
Well, there you go. Sorry for the shock, but I'm glad you did that survey. Too many people are ignorant of basic science...not because they're bad or dumb, but just because it doesn't play into their lives. Such people can be totally brilliant in other areas of life...it's just of a matter of interest and education. (well ok, some people aren't working on full wattage) Back in school, I was excellent at calculus, but now I've pretty much forgotten it all because I don't need it in my job. Sad but true.

If it doesn't matter then who cares? To paraphrase from Sagan..."We have set up a society based on science and technology and arranged it so almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This mix of power and ignorance is a clear prescription for disaster."

I'm big on science education. Perhaps that's why I spend too many hours chatting in science forums like this.
 
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Here's a fun one for you, along the same vein... in highschool, our nutball (technical term) teacher showed us a video of a society of people who believed that the earth is and has always been flat and further more, when one reached the 'edge' of the earth, one is instantaneously transported to the other edge by passing through a region of 'no space'. They had all kinds of explanations for things like the Shuttle pictures and so on. The people were dead serious! With people like that running around, I, for one, am not too shocked (though more than a little disheartened) to discover people don't know the Earth goes around the sun, much less how long it takes! Oy.
 

Ivan Seeking

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I once had a guy tell me that you can buy levitating skateboards down at Walmart. [as in the movie Back to the Future]. When I suggested that this technology does not even exist he wanted to argue about it.
 
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As far as Relativity is concerned, its not that we can't differentiate whether the earth orbits the sun or the sun orbits the earth, but instead we can't say for sure whether the Earth moves at all, or its stationary and the Universe orbits the Earth. But lets not confuse people any more than they need to be:smile:
 

Phobos

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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
I once had a guy tell me that you can buy levitating skateboards down at Walmart. [as in the movie Back to the Future]. When I suggested that this technology does not even exist he wanted to argue about it.
next time, sell him one (just say it takes practice to make it levitate properly)
 
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chroot

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The Earth does not orbit the Moon -- nor does the Moon orbit the Earth. Both bodies orbit their common center-of-mass.

- Warren
 

Ivan Seeking

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Originally posted by chroot
The Earth does not orbit the Moon -- nor does the Moon orbit the Earth. Both bodies orbit their common center-of-mass.

- Warren
Which orbits which is a qualitative interpretation of the relative position of that center of mass. The same could be said about the sun and the earth.
 

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