There is no question in my mind that the high quality of life experienced by Americans today and the dominant position in the world which the United States currently enjoys are in large part due to the nation’s leadership in science and technology.
But despite the importance of science today, and its relevance in maintaining this favorable status quo for America tomorrow, Americans show a bizarre lack of understanding of basic science. This manifests itself in a more serious way in the the sheer number of individuals who believe that evolution and creationism are equivalent in validity and/or who believe that vaccines cause autism — both are quite wrong; both are testament to how little many Americans comprehend of science; and both are signs that this lack of understanding has real political impacts.
On the less serious side, however, this also manifests itself in a number of odd “scientific” beliefs which, although oftentimes having no basis in reality, are actually widely held (from: LiveScience)
Top 10 Most Popular Myths in Science
- Humans use only 10% of their brains.
- The Great Wall of China is the only manmade structure visible from space.
- It takes 7 years to digest gum.
- Yawning is “contagious.”
- Water drains backwards in the Southern Hemisphere due to the Earth’s rotation.
- There is no gravity in space.
- Chickens can live without a head.
- Eating a poppy seed bagel mimics opium use.
- A penny dropped from the top of a tall building could kill a pedestrian.
- Hair and fingernails continue growing after death.
And now you are enlightened. Go forth and spread your newfound scientific “wisdom.”