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August 31, 2005

Scientific America

American adults in general do not understand what molecules are (other than that they are really small). Fewer than a third can identify DNA as a key to heredity. Only about 10 percent know what radiation is. One adult American in five thinks the Sun revolves around the Earth, an idea science had abandoned by the 17th century.

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[...] While scientific literacy has doubled over the past two decades, only 20 to 25 percent of Americans are "scientifically savvy and alert," he said in an interview. Most of the rest "don't have a clue." At a time when science permeates debates on everything from global warming to stem cell research, he said, people's inability to understand basic scientific concepts undermines their ability to take part in the democratic process.

Now I understand why the alleged merits of Intelligent Design can even be debated in that country. It is because millions of Americans have no clue what science is, don't know what a theory is, and cannot judge the merits of one theory vs another. This is why they can consider the untenable theory of ID along the same lines as the provable Theory of Evolution.