back to article Science-boosting thickie questionnaire backfires

A new survey has apparently proved that American scientific organisations, when it comes to scientific knowledge, are operating at roughly the intellectual level of cheese rind. The latest watch-out-thickies-or-economic-doom-will-befall-us-all effort comes from the California Academy of Sciences. In a telephone poll of US adults …

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Paris Hilton

Chris C: Epoch Fail

"Since we're talking so many thousands/millions of years, it's safe to say that we don't know."

That may be the dumbest comment I've read all year. What is that, the latest "talking point" from the Discovery Institute?

Ow, I actually feel stupider just from reading that.

/Paris, because even she knows that science doesn't always require "eye witnesses"

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Alert

i can haz pie - @npupp

*votes for pi to 10dp to be on questionaire instead*

Not a problem you just guessed my WEP key.

Your welcome to use it anytime you like...

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How do we know?

@ Chris "would guess that ZERO percent know that. Unless they're saying that 59% of the people surveyed were among those "earliest humans"

Do you really belive that the only knowledge is direct, personal knowledge? That deducitive and inductive reasoning doesn't lead to knowledge? How do you cope with IT? in any case, your assertion that the science of paleontology is based on guesswork is simply ridiculous. The reason we know that humans and dinosaurs didn't live together is that dinosaur fossils occur only in strata which are more that 60 million years old and that human fossils occur only in strata which are less that 5 million years old. All the evidence about this points to humans and dinosaurs not living together, and there is no evidence whatsoever which points to a different conclusion.

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Coat

What?

===

Those who don't study the past...

By Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 12th March 2009 17:10 GMT

Joke

Only 59% of adults know that the earliest humans and dinosaurs did not live at the same time.

Yah, everyone knows it was together about 6K years ago. Come on, mates; what's up with that question?

===

Are you sure? I'm quite certain I saw some dinosaurs in the office just the other day!

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Go

I like the later question about whether evolution is still going on...

Answers

a: Yes

b: No

c: No, there's no such thing as evolution

d: Not Sure

I'm not going to make fun of merkins being daft as we have plenty of our own morons over here in Blighty.

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Happy

Actchully...

I think everyone is overlooking the imprecise definition of "covered with water". To me that means how much of the Earth's surface has some water on top of it? And given that we're including ice as water, we'd better include the vapour phase as well.

So this makes the answer damn close to 100% given how much water there is in the atmosphere. I guess if you were being picky (heaven forbid) you might want to reduce the atmospheric content by allowing for the relative humidity or the vapour pressure or whatever, but I basically can't be bothered to work that one out.

The Merkins may be more ignorant than us Brits, but we're way more nit-picking and lazy any day! Overall, though, I think cheese comes out on top.

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Unhappy

Same problem with "Fresh water"

They have the same problem with their "Fresh water" question - How much of the Earth's water is fresh - 1-3%, 4-10%. With the answer as 3%, it's hardly surprising that less than 1% of respondents got that one right. (I thought it was around 4%)

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Silver badge

It's all about errors .....

Statistics is all about errors -- and there is a glaring error in their methodology here. The water question was, frankly, loaded.

Depending who you ask, the proportion of the earth's surface which is covered by water is somewhere between two thirds and three quarters. The bands ought to have been chosen so as to put the accepted answer in or near the middle of one of them, because any random guess is by definition as likely to be "over" as it is to be "under". As the question was presented, if you guessed even slightly "over", you'd be marked wrong; whereas you could guess seriously "under" and still be marked right.

That's just not good.

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Tom
Silver badge

The question on Evolution is particularly telling

Not, "According to accepted scientific theory", simply do you BELIEVE in evolution.

There is no wrong answer to that question, because it doesn't matter whether evolution is real or not, if I don't BELIEVE in evolution, that is the correct answer to the question. In point of fact, I don't believe in evolution, but if asked "According to accepted scientific theory" I will correctly answer the question. I can even describe a fair chunk of the so-called theory, even though as science it is utter crap, despite being "accepted scientific theory."

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Boffin

RE: conceptualising the question

"Given that the diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles, if you plot the position at which the sun is directly overhead at the equator, roughly how fast does this move?"

Your question makes it sound like the sun goes round the earth. No wonder they were confused.

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Stop

Why bother?

We already know the average IQ in the USA is 98*

The stupidity of creationism is just a symptom of a stupid nation, educating people about evolution won't magically make the nation smarter.

*'IQ and the Wealth of Nations' by Dr. Richard Lynn

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Alert

Statistics

Who was the infamous Minister of Education who said that "for all school-children, we should be aiming to increase their average IQ above 100"?

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@ dinosaur=terrible lizard=crocodile

uhm, no, a crocodile is not a type of dinosaur. Even the ones that are exctinct. Dinosaurs (and birds), pterosaurs, and crocodiles are Archosaurs. Archosaur =/= dinosaur.

Don't pay too much close attention to the literal meaning of scientific names- if my pet bearded dragon shits on the carpet i might call him a terrible lizard, but that does not make him a dinosaur. Or a dragon, for that matter.

Your pet budgie, however, is a dinosaur, whether it shits on the carpet or not. Modern cladistics likes monophyletic groups (all decendants of a common ancestor). Although strictly sticking to these rules results in your budgie also becoming a reptile =)

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Boffin

Re: RE: conceptualising the question

[quote]"Given that the diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles, if you plot the position at which the sun is directly overhead at the equator, roughly how fast does this move?"

Your question makes it sound like the sun goes round the earth. No wonder they were confused.

[/quote]

Uh, no it doesn't.

Of course, it would be more understandable to say "Given the diameter of the Earth is approximately 8,000 miles, and rotates once every 24 hours, how fast does a spot on the equator move?" Having the sun directly overhead is irrelevant, and only happens twice a year anyway.

After 20 years experience with giving "story problems", I can pretty much guarantee the same percentage of students will get it wrong. The ability to convert words to numbers has pretty much vanished. Even when the words are essentially an equation "out loud". Oh, the stories I could tell...

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Paris Hilton

@ TeeCee

Peeing in the street will get you put on the sex offenders' register. If this happens, expect your computer to be confiscated by the authorities -- and the press to receive an anonymous tip-off regarding your status on the sex offenders' register and the seizure of computer equipment from your home. Expect further that they will put two and two together and get six hundred and ninety-one.

Paris, because if she got caught short, she'd just claim squatters' rights.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mike

At least we're not stupid enough to let our government photograph and film every waking moment of our lives, let them jail us for reading the wrong web sites, and ban video games for adults because they're not appropriate for infants.

And that goes for Sean's 'nanny state' bit, too - the US, a nanny state worse than the UK? Do tell...

Oh, and one other thing - the 'average IQ' will -always- be about 100, because 100 is defined as average intelligence! Yikes.

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Silver badge

@What's with the tides?

"Tides are generated by the gravitational effect of the Moon, right?"

Nope. Tides are caused by the earth & moon revolving around a common gravitational center, with the sun adding a third measurable component. Land masses affect water movement, making tides non-intuitive ... Consult your local tide tables before venturing out on the beach.

"So, wherever there's a high tide on one side of the planet, there's a low tide on the other?"

Nope. When there is a high tide on this side, there is a high tide on the other side, too. The low tides are in between. See:

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/tides/media/supp_tide06a.html

"So doesn't that mean that on average, there's probably not much difference in planetary water coverage due to tides?"

Over 24 hours (+/-) it's a wash.

"It's easy to poke fun at people isn't it."

Yep.

"Watch out Reg, don't make the articles too hard or the advertisers will think you've only got thickos as readers."

Advertisers?

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Paris Hilton

sad yes, but-

Are there any studies on science education in other countries? I am well aware of the international math and science tests that always put Japan and Taiwan at the top, but I have never seen the results of a questionnaire like this one with regard to other countries.

I would guess that France would not score very high on such a questionnaire, just based on this video-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmLwnSXNpFU

(There was one a while ago that had subtitles and was not just someone pointing a camera at his television, but I can't seem to find it now (>_<)).

Do you think Paris could have answered that one?

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@David Wiernicki

>>>At least we're not stupid enough to let our government photograph and film every waking moment of our lives, let them jail us for reading the wrong web sites, and ban video games for adults because they're not appropriate for infants.

You are such a numb nuts; (nothing to do with the article but OK) there's lots of CCTV, so? the US is way ahead on this front (if it's a problem for you), as for laws..... it's only recently that the law was stopped (Georgia?) that would put a woman in jail for 20 year for giving her husband oral sex in the privacy of her own home, do you want another 100 examples? Just because you *think* you live in the land of the free doesn't mean you do, keep with the blue pills my friend.

>>>Oh, and one other thing - the 'average IQ' will -always- be about 100, because 100 is defined as average intelligence! Yikes.

Yes..... average, as in the US is below average (UK, about 100 so not great but on the water-line), compared to the rest of the world, the US is lacking (50th), so my point was - Americans are dumber than most, this means a boost in education (generally) is required, not specifically science.

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Anonymous Coward

@virushunter

<quote>I would guess that France would not score very high on such a questionnaire, just based on this video-</quote>

true - they also have an average IQ of 98, mind you on millionaire it's commonly known that some of the audience deliberately chose wrong answers.

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