Economy, Sci & Tech

What Americans Know About Science

What Americans Know About ScienceWhat Americans Know About Science

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that most Americans cannot answer questions about several scientific terms and concepts.

Most Americans (86%) correctly identify the Earth’s inner layer, the core, as its hottest part, and nearly as many (82%) know uranium is needed to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

But far fewer are able to identify the property of a sound wave that determines loudness. And just 34% correctly state that water boils at a lower temperature in a high-altitude setting (Denver) than near sea level (Los Angeles).

Fully 73% of Americans distinguish between astronomy and what is commonly considered a pseudoscience: astrology.

How much Americans appear to know about science depends on the kinds of questions asked, of course. Science encompasses a vast array of fields and information, and the questions in the new Pew Research survey represent a small slice of science knowledge.

These findings come from Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected US adults. The survey of 3,278 adults (including 2,923 adults online and 355 respondents by mail) was conducted from Aug. 11-Sept. 3, 2014.