Friday, March 31, 2006

Heliocentrism


Here’s something I’ve pondered occasionally: what fraction of the U.S. population is aware that the Earth orbits the Sun and not the other way around? A recent Washington Post poll has finally provided an answer: yes, a majority of us are on board with Copernicus, but not as many as one might hope. According to the poll, 74% of respondents believe that the Earth goes around the Sun, 4% don’t know which goes around which, and a full 22% believe that the Sun goes around the Earth. These figures do vary with educational achievement, but even so, 9% of college graduates and 18% of those with “some college” still believe in an Earth-centered model. (From these figures we might extrapolate that 50% of colleges offer Astronomy only in the senior year.)

But you know, I think that 22% is on to something. After all, heliocentrism is only a theory--why aren’t we teaching the controversy?

2 comments:

  1. What about the percentage of people who think that the earth revolves around me? I suppose that could be called Jennchucentrism. I like that.
    ~JC

    ReplyDelete


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