Poll: 1 in 4 Americans Don’t Know the Earth Revolves Around Sun and a Few Other Things

1653841_10152227370352489_2098550265_nDoes anyone remember the game show that was on about a decade or so ago called Street Smarts?  The basic premise was that they’d randomly ask people on the street questions and the contestants in the studio had to determine whether or not the person answered correctly.

You’ve seen late night talk shows do something similar.  They’ll go out, ask people on the street questions (usually things that should be common knowledge) and usually what ensues is absolutely hilarious because it showcases how ignorant much of our society is with the most basic of facts.

Well, one night while watching that show they asked three different people who fought in the Civil War – only one of the three answered correctly.  How the hell does that even happen?  This is something that’s taught all throughout school, has been featured in movies, countless documentaries and is often a common subject matter between peers.

How in the hell could someone be a grown, American adult and not know who fought in the Civil War?

Maybe some of you read the article I wrote a while back about the poll that was done in Louisiana asking conservative voters who was to blame for the response to Hurricane Katrina.  Well, in that poll one-third of those who responded blamed President Obama – not President Bush.  In fact, within that poll a higher percentage of conservative voters blamed President Obama than President Bush.

Even though Hurricane Katrina happened over three years before President Obama became president.  Meaning that either these people had no clue what year it was, they had no idea how long President Obama had been in the White House or they had no idea when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.

Well, a new poll done by the National Science Foundation trumps all of that.  In their poll of 2,200 Americans, twenty-five percent weren’t aware that the Earth revolves around the sun.

Just let that sink in for a moment.  One in four respondents weren’t aware of a basic, common and indisputable scientific fact.

Which means that out of the 2,200 people they polled, 550 weren’t aware that the Earth revolves around the sun.

That. Is. Shocking.

What do these people think then?  That the sun rotates around the Earth?  Do they still believe the Earth is the center of the universe?  Hell, do they still think the Earth is flat?  Or do they just not think at all?

I’m going with that last part.

Now in less “indisputable” territory (though still widely scientifically accepted) only 39% said the universe started with a huge explosion.  Only 48% believed that humans evolved from another species and only 51% knew that antibiotics don’t kill viruses.

In more positive news, 90% were actually enthusiastic about science and 1 in 3 believed science needs more government funding.

But the fact that 25% of Americans apparently aren’t aware that the Earth revolves around the sun is just something I can’t wrap my mind around.  I get people can be very ignorant at times, and that our educational system is in dire need of repair, but something as simple as Earth’s rotation around the sun is a “question” I thought we had put to bed a long time ago.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make a stiff drink.  After writing this article, I desperately need one.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • TaxPaying American Voter

    Was this poll taken in North Texas!?

  • thesquire1

    Id does explain why some people keep voting for people like Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann !
    Sad but its largely religion that has to bear the blame.

  • Tom Birmingham

    Remember on the IQ curve, 100pts is the mean. So 50% of populations falls to the left of that. Meaning 157.5 million Americans have an IQ of 100. 106million with an IQ between 85-100 and 43.8million with an IQ of 70-84….So am I surprised that the 25% of the people answering the survey answered like this? No, sounds about right to me. I’d also btw like to do an analysis on the population they polled and dig a little deeper.

    • JGN

      Good idea, but knowing that fact is not a matter of IQ, There is no imagination in that, no reasoning, no judgment in knowing such a thing. It is like knowing that very very hot water burns. But it is sure confusing when we ear everyday that the sun rises 😉

    • Avice

      IQ is the score on a particular test at a particular time compared to what others did on that same test. People don’t have AN IQ. Mine varies by as much as 30 points depending on the test, the day, my mood, and the weather. People who say my IQ is X don’t have a clue.

      • Mason

        Well, of course no one can say what *your* IQ is if your performance is so erratic. Others, like me, perform reliably even under less than ideal circumstances. I’m well into the 99th percentile regardless of the weather any day of the week.

      • Chester Davis

        Yay! Nobody cares!! Also, your personal experience tells us exactly as much as that other guy’s personal experience – nothing. If you were so fucking smart, you would have caught that and not wasted time posting useless drivel here.

  • Matthew Reece

    “Well, a new poll done by the National Science Foundation trumps all of that. In their poll of 2,200 Americans, twenty-five percent weren’t aware that the Earth revolves around the sun. Just let that sink in for a moment. One in four respondents weren’t aware of a basic, common and indisputable scientific fact.”

    The Earth does not revolve around the Sun. All objects in the solar system orbit the barycenter of all objects in the solar system, adjusted for the time it
    takes for gravity to propagate to each object’s distance from the barycenter. Planets, asteroids, and comets only appear to orbit the Sun because the Sun is so massive that the barycenter is always near (and frequently inside) the Sun.

    • Guile Williams

      The definition of orbit is “a path described by one body in its revolution about another.” Since the earth does physically “Orbit” the sun I argue the earth does indeed revolve around the sun. I also argue that since the definition of Barycenter is “The center of mass of two or more bodies, usually bodies orbiting around each other, such as the Earth and the Moon” describes two body masses “Orbiting” each other and we have already established that an Orbit is one body revolving another. So again in conclusion, the earth does revolve around the sun.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      matt: u are a well schooled fella but need to NOT just take one story. read the below post to you by guile W

    • Ian Osmond

      If the barycenter is inside one of the objects, the other object orbits the object containing the barycenter. That’s why the Moon orbits the Earth, rather than the Moon and the Earth being a double planet system. We’re CLOSE to a double planet system, since the barycenter of the Earth-Moon system is a lot closer to the surface of the Earth than the center of the Earth, but it’s nonetheless within the Earth, and therefore, the Moon orbits the Earth.

      The barycenter of the Earth-Sun system is well within the Sun; the Earth orbits the Sun.

  • Daniela Haughton

    In the words of Bill Engvall…”Here’s your sign”!

  • ClearThinker

    Way to go union teachers! “Educating” our future!

    • Michael Varian Daly

      Always some TP jackoff pushing the Corporatist Talking Points that keep making things worse.

  • Sandy Greer


    And yet, we are teaching Creationism in public schools, funded with our tax dollars.

    Should we be surprised when some remain steeped in Ignorance?

    • buricco

      Geocentrism goes hand in hand with creationism – if you’re a hard-enough dyed-in-the-wool fundie you’ll probably be geocentrist as well as creationist.

  • R.Young

    The Dummer americans are the more they will believe that they need a Bigger Government to save them and their World from themselves!

    • Guest

      I recommend you revise you sentence to make it more comprehensible.

    • Jennifer Read

      If you spelled dumber correctly and capitalized Americans, your statement would gain merit..

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      so we should all allow the white trash tea party scumbags let REEEEE-LIGION guide us in government?

  • Edward Krebbs

    Well, you can use either frame of reference, but if you claim the sun rotates around the earth the math gets horrendously complicated real fast. But I’m talking way above the head of the 25% found in the poll.

  • Amy

    2200 people really isn’t a great representation of the population as a whole. There are over 300M people in the US. How can you think that polling less than 0.001% of the population is a good measure of how the population thinks? And where was the polling done? It wouldn’t surprise me if the survey was done anywhere in the south, but if you polled the northeast or the west, I bet you would have far different results.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      kinda like a FOX “news” poll showing that conservatism ( SEE: regressives) is on the rise in the USA
      poll? where? Alabama/Louisiana/ Tennessee?

  • Mr President Sir!

    I still cannot wrap my mind around this at all. I have learned that polls can be biases due to the way they are worded. Before I will accept this as fact I will need more background on how the questions were worded and the polling set up.
    We know this can happen heck Fox News Entertainment are experts at it.

    • Jahfar

      Exactly. There’s a lot of confusion over the word “revolve”. If you used the word “orbit” in the question instead, I think a lot more people would get it right.

      • E. Freed

        Exactly my point, well said.

  • moe/larry & curly keys

    I bet more ‘americans” think JEEEESUS died for their sins ( yeah right; some bright guy wants to dry out on a cross after getting tortured) and still “think” GOD is THEIR GOD–no one elses.
    screw the white trash in the south—and IM WHITE LIVING IN SOUTH FLORIDA!

    • AlbertCat

      Screw the white trash is the West and the North and the Heartland too. The South is not the problem. (It used to be, but not any more)

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        agreed,,,but still the south is the leader in low IQ regressive white trash

  • AlbertCat

    Now ask them how long it takes for the Earth to make one revolution around the sun…..

    • E. Freed

      365 and 1/4 days approximately.. next question?

    • Rachael Arruda-Silvestri

      Their head might explode

  • E. Freed

    Guess I’m just a stupid conservative but here it goes. It can be logically inferred that the poll indicates that 25% didn’t know the intended definitions of revolve and rotate while knowing that the earth does travel in orbit fashion about the sun.

    Many rough conservatives work on and understand engine basics. One such basic is RPM (revolutions per minute) which is actually rotations of the piston shaft per minute. Do you see how the terms can be manipulated in the form of a question?Had the question asked, simply, does the sun go around the earth of does the earth go around the sun then I’m sure you would get different results.

    I could design a question that would make those inhabitants of any large urban bastion of enlightenment (sarc intended) look quite the fool as all of you who cherish this so called study.

    • Rachael Arruda-Silvestri

      I’m sorry but ignorance of the word revolve is not an excuse, that just
      makes it worse…

  • buricco

    “Geocentrism. Teach the controversy.” >_>

  • It does explain why some people believe in voting for corporate sponsered representitives…The Iraq war… And the classic that burning jet fuel can vaporise structural steel and concrete even when it does’nt actually touch it. A scared people armed to the teeth……someone should tell them the truth !