Web Extra     November 21, 2001


Poll reveals low public understanding of science

More than half (53 percent) of all American adults do not know that  Earth orbits the Sun once a year. Forty-eight percent do not know the percentage of water covering Earth. And 42 percent cannot answer correctly when asked if the earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. These are the results released this week of a national survey to study the public's understanding of science developed by the California Academy of Sciences and the polling organization Harris Interactive.

The good news, finds the poll, is that while the public's scientific understanding ranks low, its interest in and desire to learn more about scientific topics rank high. More than 90 percent of those surveyed said they were either "very" or "moderately" interested in environmental issues, the future of energy resources and scientific discoveries.

The Harris poll sampled a nationwide cross section of 1,011 adults over the telephone. Pollers collected the data using a Random-Digit-Dial method, in which they generated telephone numbers at random to include all households with listed as well as unlisted numbers.

For complete survey results, visit:

Lisa M. Pinsker

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