1. Joined
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    14 Feb '14 17:581 edit
    At first I thought this must be a joke but this doesn't look like a joke! :

    http://phys.org/news/2014-02-americans-unaware-earth-circles-sun.html

    "...Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.

    The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

    Ten questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score—6.5 correct—was barely a passing grade.

    Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.
    ..."

    Oh come on, that means 26% don't know this? really? what, do 26% think the sun orbits the Earth!?
    I hope that isn't really true because that's really shameful if true!
    And there is yet more shameful ignorance revealed:

    "...

    Fewer than half (48 percent) knew that human beings evolved from earlier species of animals.

    The result of the survey, which is conducted every two years, will be included in a National Science Foundation report to President Barack Obama and US lawmakers.

    One in three respondents said science should get more funding from the government.
    ..."

    This is just appalling!

    But the link at least then gives a tiny bit of consolation with:

    "...Nearly 90 percent said the benefits of science outweigh any dangers, and about the same number expressed interest in learning about medical discoveries.

    ..."
  2. Subscriberjoe shmo
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    14 Feb '14 21:20
    Originally posted by humy
    At first I thought this must be a joke but this doesn't look like a joke! :

    http://phys.org/news/2014-02-americans-unaware-earth-circles-sun.html

    "...Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.

    The survey included more th ...[text shortened]... ers, and about the same number expressed interest in learning about medical discoveries.

    ..."
    26% of the 2,200 people...seems like a small sample to make a claim that 26% of the entire population would get it wrong.

    Also, where was the sample taken?

    I imagine the truth would be disappointing about how many actually do not know that information, but 26%...no way.
  3. Standard memberfinnegan
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    14 Feb '14 21:33
    Originally posted by joe shmo
    26% of the 2,200 people...seems like a small sample to make a claim that 26% of the entire population would get it wrong.

    Also, where was the sample taken?

    I imagine the truth would be disappointing about how many actually do not know that information, but 26%...no way.
    So what per cent of Americans (or Brits or chess players etc) understand how statistical sampling can provide credible information about the whole population?
  4. Subscriberjoe shmo
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    14 Feb '14 21:58
    Originally posted by finnegan
    So what per cent of Americans (or Brits or chess players etc) understand how statistical sampling can provide credible information about the whole population?
    I assume that you are saying that sample is adequate for a population of 300,000,000?
  5. Subscriberjoe shmo
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    14 Feb '14 22:19
    http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

    because according to this site, with a confidence interval/levels of 95% they should have sampled around 11,000
  6. Joined
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    14 Feb '14 23:57
    From the Link : The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

    How many of these people were US citizens? How many were educated in the United States? What was the socio-economic make up of the group?
  7. Joined
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    14 Feb '14 23:58
    Originally posted by finnegan
    So what per cent of Americans (or Brits or chess players etc) understand how statistical sampling can provide credible information about the whole population?
    Why would you assume that the sampling gave a credible representation of the US population? What do you know about the sampling?

    Why question?
  8. Standard memberSoothfast
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    15 Feb '14 04:511 edit
    Originally posted by joe shmo
    http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

    because according to this site, with a confidence interval/levels of 95% they should have sampled around 11,000
    Not actually. For a population of 300,000,000, if you want 95% confidence in being within 3 percentage points of the true percentage of the population that does not know the Earth revolves around the Sun (a true-or-false question), you will need a sample size of 1067. Of course this is assuming your sample is truly random (and presumably there is a lower age limit for respondents). This jibes with political polls, incidentally. Polls of voters that ask whether they intend to vote for Candidate A or B usually have a margin of error of plus/minus 3 points when the sample size is somewhere north of 1000.
  9. Cape Town
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    15 Feb '14 07:06
    Originally posted by humy
    At first I thought this must be a joke but this doesn't look like a joke! :
    As others have said, I think the methodology needs to be checked thoroughly before drawing any conclusions. How was the question phrased? How were the respondents answering? How many took the survey seriously ie how many actually read the questions before responding?
    It would be interesting to interview some of them and see what they really think in more detail.

    I do think the US education system is more streamed than most other countries so it is easier to get through school without a good science foundation. I have met Americans with remarkably poos science knowledge that would not be acceptable in most other countries.
  10. Germany
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    15 Feb '14 07:48
    Originally posted by Eladar
    From the Link : [b]The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation.

    How many of these people were US citizens? How many were educated in the United States? What was the socio-economic make up of the group?[/b]
    Generally pollsters attempt to take a sample which is representative of the population they are sampling.
  11. Cape Town
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    15 Feb '14 08:39
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    Generally pollsters attempt to take a sample which is representative of the population they are sampling.
    I for one have seen many very poorly conducted surveys. However this particular one was conducted by the National Science Foundation, so one would think they did it correctly.
    Still, I would want more detail before putting too much into the results. For a start, what we are reading is the reporters interpretation, which in my experience tends to exaggerate findings and leave out the bits where the researchers qualify their statements.
  12. Cape Town
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    15 Feb '14 08:41
    Lets do our own quick poll. Every poster who is American, interview several of your friends and find out how many don't know that the Earth goes around the Sun.
  13. Joined
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    15 Feb '14 09:374 edits
    Originally posted by joe shmo
    26% of the 2,200 people...seems like a small sample to make a claim that 26% of the entire population would get it wrong.

    Also, where was the sample taken?

    I imagine the truth would be disappointing about how many actually do not know that information, but 26%...no way.
    26% of the 2,200 people...seems like a small sample to make a claim that 26% of the entire population would get it wrong.

    You seem to have poor judgement of the mathematics of probability.
    Assuming the survey was not in some way done erroneously (by, for example, phrasing the question in a way that confuses some people ), if 26% of 2,200 completely randomly chosen people from various geographic location over United States (taking into account population densities and distribution ) didn't know the Earth revolved around the sun then that would mean there being a 'low' probability of there being, say, either less than 25% or more than 27% of people of the United States not knowing the Earth revolves around the sun.
    I am not going to show all the equations here but if you just do the mathematics you will see what I mean.
    Although we could always do with a bigger sample size to increase confidence, I would say 2,200 people would be 'adequate' for this purpose.
  14. Subscriberjoe shmo
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    15 Feb '14 11:572 edits
    Originally posted by humy
    26% of the 2,200 people...seems like a small sample to make a claim that 26% of the entire population would get it wrong.

    You seem to have poor judgement of the mathematics of probability.
    Assuming the survey was not in some way done erroneously (by, for example, phrasing the question in a way that confuses some people ), if 26% of 2,20 ...[text shortened]... mple size to increase confidence, I would say 2,200 people would be 'adequate' for this purpose.
    Well, nothing is said about how the sample was collected (as someone said it was conducted by the National Science Foundation so you would hope it would be performed correctly) , and the poll is being delivered to the president, so it could be intentionally biased for increased attention from politicians.

    BTW, it should be expected that I have a poor judgement of the mathematics of probability and statistics... I'm American.
  15. Joined
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    15 Feb '14 13:365 edits
    Originally posted by joe shmo
    Well, nothing is said about how the sample was collected (as someone said it was conducted by the National Science Foundation so you would hope it would be performed correctly) , and the poll is being delivered to the president, so it could be intentionally biased for increased attention from politicians.

    BTW, it should be expected that I have a poor judgement of the mathematics of probability and statistics... I'm American.
    and the poll is being delivered to the president, so it could be intentionally biased for increased attention from politicians.


    I think this would be unlikely in all but the most trivial ways else that would mean deliberate deception or scientific distortion which many honest scientists, including some involved in the survey, would surely spot and cry foul!
    This is coming from the National Science Foundation; have they got a reputation for dishonesty?
    It is plausible that the survey may be erroneous for other reasons but unlikely, I think, because of deliberate bias or deception.
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