back to article Top Spanish minister shows citizens are thick as tortillas de ballenas

A survey into the social perception of science by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology has revealed that a quarter of Spaniards believe the sun orbits the earth. Additionally, a third of those surveyed seemed to think that humans co-existed with dinosaurs, and only 60 per cent believed that science has more …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dinosaurs.

    I think this survey proves that humans are currently co-existing with dinosaurs.

  2. Electron Shepherd

    You need to see the questions for context

    For example, "over 11 per cent of people do not believe that human beings are descended from animals".

    Which animals? Current humans are not "descended from" any current animals. For example - humans and apes. Many millions of years ago, there was a single genetic ancestor, but since then, both human and ape species have evolved. Some have died out, some are still with us.

    The idea that humans evolved from the same genetic line that produced apes is correct - the idea that humans evolved from apes as apes are now is not correct.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: You need to see the questions for context

      The idea that humans evolved from apes as apes are now is not correct.

      I think everyone gets that time machines aren't involved, or the probability of them being involved is infinitesimally small.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: You need to see the questions for context

        Am I the only one who read the question and thought: "But humans are animals" ?

      2. ChrisBedford

        Re: You need to see the questions for context

        I think everyone gets that time machines aren't involved, or the probability of them being involved is infinitesimally small.

        Actually I don't think everyone gets it at all. OK not the time machine part, but that was facetiousness on your part, yeah?

        *PLENTY* of people (the creationist right-wing, I mean) think the theory of evolution means humans descended from chimpanzees, and no amount of talking sense to them is going to shake that belief.

    2. Avatar of They

      Re: You need to see the questions for context

      Well technically correct, but 80000 years ago all humans shared genetic code from one person (family). So it wasn't millions of years ago, it was much closer than that. Oddly enough all women were 80000 years ago, men were slightly less I think 60000.

      And cross breeding away from something is more a reason than evolution from something. I think there has been five distinct human species that I am aware, neanderthal being just one.

      But many years since I did my Geology degree, and science has moved on in leaps and bounds.

      And as my tutor used to tell me. Humans are closer (in time) to the T rex than the T rex was to the Stegasaurus. So we haven't been around at all in the grand scheme of things.

      1. phil dude
        Boffin

        Re: You need to see the questions for context

        the language to use is "last common ancestor". We are all, indeed related to a single individual that lived somewhere in the last 200,000 years.

        Modern molecular biology puts the Y(Adam) chromosome at 59k years, and the mitochondria (Eve) at 140 k years.

        Speciation is impossible to determine exactly from fossils. However, since the genome sequence of H. Neanderthalensis, we now know our ancestors interbred with them relatively recently. (post-African migration it is though).

        P.

  3. Thorne
    Devil

    The Spanish Inquisition

    Got rid off all the devil worshipping scientists in the place so what do you expect?

    1. Richard 81

      Re: The Spanish Inquisition

      "Nobody expects the... Oh bugger!"

      Also, where the Spanish Inquisition after Jews, specifically?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The Spanish Inquisition

      Nowadays it's the politicians which do this, having carried out 13 educational reforms since 1980 which makes about one reform every 2.6 years and cutting back scientific funding to the bone. The results can be seen in the PISA tables in which Spain ends up at the back of the list of European countries every time.

    3. Dr Paul Taylor

      Re: The Spanish Inquisition

      More seriously, during "la convivencia" of Jews Muslims and Christians under the Moors, Spain was intellectually the most advanced part of Europe. Los Reyes Catolicos put a stop to this. So far as I can gather, in the time until Napoleon abolished the Inquistion, Spaniards were quite good at collecting flowers but had not a single mathematician or physical scientist of note. The Netherlands and Switzerland - much smaller countries - had lots of them. Can anyone contradict me on this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Spanish Inquisition

        I forget the names of those involved; but while it was the Catholic, new rulers who went in for forced conversion etc., I think the "liberal" muslim leaders were seen as not muslim enough and were forcibly replaced by a purer lot, who clamped down on the liberality and so on. The refusenik Jews who refused to convert where driven out of Spain, with many moving to Constantinople (where, I believe, Ladrino - an old Spanish dialect - can still be heard). The Sultan was delighted, hardly believing his luck in getting all these scientists, artists and builders for nothing and welcomed them, resulting in a flowering of his domains. Spain took a while to recover and its eventual flowering was somewhat shorter and shallower.

        The Inquisition investigated any not seen as the right kind of Catholic, possibly harsher against the wrong kind of Christian even than they were against Jews. As we see later, despite some brave, intelligent and thoughtful Catholics, the most conservative sort got the upper hand and exercised it in Spain, South America, the Lowlands and so on right up to Franco's time.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: The Spanish Inquisition

          What makes you think it stopped after Franco? Half of the current cabinet are Opus Dei followers.

      2. Irony Deficient

        Re: The Spanish Inquisition

        Dr Paul Taylor, that would depend upon your definition of “of note”. José Celestino Mutis was both botanist and mathematician, a priest who defended Copernican heliocentrism and Newtonian mechanics before the Inquisition. He was known well enough during his lifetime to have been elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

        1. Dr Paul Taylor

          Re: The Spanish Inquisition

          Defending Copernicus during the life of Euler does not make someone a Mathematician. Botany was not a Science until Wallace and Darwin, whom I'm sure the Inquisition would not have allowed on their patch. I made the challenge to smoke out the Exception that proves the Rule. I completely agree with the comments about the Cathar genocide (I have been to Montsegur and pointedly wear a T-shirt with a Cathar Cross every time I go to Leicester). However, my point here was not about the Inquisition as the Crime against Humanity that was but that it also cut Spain out of the game as far as Science was concerned, despite being the Superpower of its age.

          1. Irony Deficient

            Re: The Spanish Inquisition

            Dr Paul Taylor, I didn’t claim that defending Copernican heliocentrism made Mutis a mathematician; would you please explain how you came to that conclusion? Eighteenth century Spain, like ancient Rome, was more interested in applied mathematics, such as those found in Tosca’s Compendio Mathematico; see here for one list of 18th century Spanish mathematicians. Since you don’t consider botany to have been a science before Wallace and Darwin (which happens to exclude any botanical work done by Spaniards while the Spanish Inquistion was active), how would you describe the botanical work of, say, Linnaeus?

      3. John Sanders
        Facepalm

        Re: The Spanish Inquisition

        The Moors pillaged Spain for aprox 500 years, the "la convivencia" is an invented leyend from people who haven't read much, people who for example do not know that "The Spanish inquisition" as the killing machine they know it, was a only a mere propaganda image made by the protestants of the time.

        And yes, the moors were so "Civilized" as to conquer the Spanish peninsula by the force of their armies, impose the Jizya on all non-muslims, the usual rape of anything female and killing as many Jews as they could.

        The majority of the "old culture" and heritage in Spain came from the Romans and the later Wisigoths, the number of monuments and Roman vestiges in Spain is enormous, in its majority civil engineering, roads, bridges, irrigation infrastructure, etc. The Arab heritage is barely a few dozen palaces and their corresponding little bridge.

        The majority of the Spanish language is of Latin origin except for a handful of words and the names of a few places.

        Famous Spaniards (Spain as such did not exist, Hispania was its name)

        Spanish by birth, Marcus Ulpius Trajan was the first Roman Emperor of a non-Italian origin, he became one of the most outstanding emperors of ancient Rome.

        I'm afraid that I do not know much about the middle-age Visigoths kingdoms to tell you any names.

    4. Bloakey1

      Re: The Spanish Inquisition

      But do not forget that the French did the rapid prototyping for the inquisition. They hounded harried and killed the poor Cathars and the Spanish took note of what was happening on their borders and followed suit a bit later.

  4. Yag
    Facepalm

    Seen worse in France...

    http://clubzetetique.free.fr/media/question2.JPG

    Yes, 56% of the audience thinks that the Sun is orbiting Earth.

    1. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Seen worse in France...

      "Yes, 56% of the audience thinks that the Sun is orbiting Earth."

      To be more precise, 56% of a French audience thinks that the Sun is orbiting France.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Seen worse in France...

      The sun is orbiting Earth. And vice-versa.

      -A.

      1. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Seen worse in France...

        Well strictly speaking, the sun, earth and the other planets orbit the centre of mass of the solar system. However since that centre of mass is actually within the sun itself it's a bit or a hair splitter.

        http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/08/technically_the_earth_does_not_orbit_the_sun.html

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seen worse in France...

      I had a plasterer working in my house not long ago, who - it transpired during our conversations - believed utterly that the Earth is flat. An no I eventually realised, he wasn't taking the P.

      I decided not to try to persuade him otherwise, as upsetting a man of his size and build on theological matters he held dear would be rather unwise.

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge
        Joke

        Flat earth?

        You should have pointed to the plastermaster that the earth is concave - why else do the soles of shoes wear out only below heel and toes?

  5. Crisp

    Breaking News! People are idiots.

    And they can vote...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Breaking News! People are idiots.

      Sorry about the down vote. I hit the wrong button and can't work out how to change it.

      1. dogged

        Re: Breaking News! People are idiots.

        Upvote. This cancels your downvote and adds an up.

        There is no way back to "no vote".

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Breaking News! People are idiots.

        Considering the comment he is responding to I hope the AC is attempting humour. It certainly made me laugh, have an upvote

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: Breaking News! People are idiots.

          I'm not sure if I should upvote you or downvote you so, have both...Oh bugger

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Boffin

    Not necessarily thick...

    Just poorly educated. And that can be fixed if there's the political will to do it.

    Aye, there's the rub.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Not necessarily thick...

      Considering how widespread internet access is these days there is not much excuse for not self-educating.

      1. ChrisBedford

        Re: Not necessarily thick...

        Considering how widespread internet access is these days there is not much excuse for not self-educating.

        What! The Internet that is full of inaccuracies, lies, far-right conspiracy theory websites, far-left conspiracy theory websites, bigots, rubbish e-mails, IS Jihadists, and downright loonies? That Internet? You really think it's a good place for a higgerant ill-eddicated backwoodsman to learn stuff?

      2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Not necessarily thick...

        The trouble here is that seekers after truth (it must be true, its on the Internet) invariably give most weight to the truths they find that support their various, preexisting prejudices.

  7. dogged

    Alternative suggestion

    Spanish polltakers take piss out of pollsters.

    Hey, I would.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are no thicker than Americans, they have identical results 25% believe the sun orbits the earth.

    1. Sokolik

      What You Said, almost.

      I was going to impute such ignorance to those in Flyover Country.

      -- Arrogant Flaming Liberal Left-Coast Colonist

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: What You Said, almost.

        Not just the flyover states. When I was in grade/high school here in central Florida, I was banned from computer activities because I disagreed with the "science" "teacher" about creationism and evolution.

        Granted, the computers were TRS-80s and the school only had one for a while, but my mother retaliated by buying me my own.

    2. ChrisBedford

      They are no thicker than Americans, they have identical results 25% believe the sun orbits the earth

      And the earth orbits Amurrica.

  9. Stephen Horne

    Pedanting...

    The sun *does* orbit the Earth. By Newtonian mechanics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Because the Earth is orbiting the sun, the sun wobbles. Of course that's a tiny orbit that doesn't enclose the Earths orbit, but still, it depends how you define "orbit" - by the definition given in [the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbit) the suns wobble is a "gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space". While the Earth isn't at that central point, that's not so unusual (e.g. the mutual orbits of stars in binary systems).

    Next, it seems very likely that humans co-existed and continue to coexist with small flying feathery "dinosaurs" (well, their descendants at least). Also, although crocodiles and alligators are IIRC from a group that predates the dinosaurs and aren't true dinosaurs, confusion on this point is understandable.

    Homeopathy is, to some degree, scientific. Science has studied homeopathy and found it to be, in effect, a placebo. No claim is unscientific so long as it's possible to refute that claim. Many claims about homeopathy have been repeatedly refuted, so those claims were clearly scientific (and wrong).

    Humans not descended from animals? Well, we *are* animals - we have not left the kingdom of animalia to become plants or whatever - so the apparent implication in that "descended from animals" claim that we're not animals ourselves is false.

    There's no point to this, of course, but even so - surveys that treat people like idiots can provoke rebellious answers. And when some surveys have trick questions seeking pedantic answers, yet others don't anticipate pedantic reasoning and reject too-clever answers as incorrect, even non-rebellious respondents are faced with a guessing game.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedanting...

      Whereas I really enjoyed your post, I bet you are a PITA at dinner parties. :)

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: Pedanting...

        "Whereas I really enjoyed your post, I bet you are a PITA at dinner parties. :)"

        Particularly when he has got the "Horne" <sic.>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedanting...

      That's the sort of comment on here that makes my day.

    3. Charles 9

      Re: Pedanting...

      "Next, it seems very likely that humans co-existed and continue to coexist with small flying feathery "dinosaurs" (well, their descendants at least)."

      But avians are different enough to be distinct from reptiles, of which dinosaurs are members (just as humans are different enough to be considered distinct from apes). All avians are warm-blooded and have feathers and wings as a standard feature. The subset of dinosaurs that became avians and thus weren't predominantly cold-blooded, scaled, and groundbound, constituted a tiny minority of the whole.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth
        Boffin

        Re: Pedanting...

        No, as far as can now be told, homeothermy looks to have been an ancestral trait for dinosaurs, with heterothermy evolving later. Feather-like structures have been found in all dinosaur groups except for sauropods (the adults of which were likely too big to need them). Dinosaurs look to have been physiologically and behaviourally different from reptiles, even if they were superficially similar in their skeletons.

        Theropods merely took the pre-existing dinosaurian traits and amplified them a bit; as predominantly fairly small dinosaurs, theropods would have tended more to the homeothermic end of the scale anyway and birds merely take this to an extreme.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pedanting...

          I've often associated Homeopathy and dinosaurs......

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Pedanting...

        >>"just as humans are different enough to be considered distinct from apes"

        When did that happen? I was always taught (and considered) humans to be part of the group named "apes". Is that no longer accepted as standard view?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedanting...

      "only 60 per cent believed that science has more benefits than downsides"

      Has anyone actually produced a comprehensive list of both the benefits and the downsides, and therefore determined which list is longer?

      Should every benefit and every downside be equally weighted?

      Is it asking for the effects on the individual answering the question (e.g. my grandfather was saved by a medical breakthrough / blown up my the Hiroshima bomb), or is the individual being asked to weigh up the benefits and downsides to humanity as a whole?

      This is just a ridiculous question.

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: Pedanting...

        Well really though...

        What is the main tangible benefit to us for any 'advance'?

        Some might posit that staying in the dark ages, fighting and killing each other with pikes and maces would mean that the Earth was in no danger of failing to support life as we know it and that the life it supported was as diverse as it could be because humans wouldn't proliferate to the exclusion of other species in quite the way we have.

        Most might agree that the advances in science have led to huge increases in the quality of life for many, many people. The life expectancy has also dramatically increased for a huge percentage of the massively increased population.

        Many think that this is a golden age, it certainly seems like we have it better than at any time previously. Imagine the Nepal earthquake when the last big one occurred - almost no outside help would arrive in any useful time scale, no rescue helicopters, everyone fending for themselves, a higher death toll (as a percentage if not as an absolute figure) would be a near certainty.

        I suspect that the time prior to climate change awareness and post anti-biotic invention could be viewed as pretty sweet (if you could consider a life without the WWW as pretty sweet).

        None-the-less, without nit-picking over a decade or two, the likes of me are doing fine and we number in the billions. I have never had to fight a war without a choice of taking part for instance as many, if not all men at least would have had to do in times past. Women may still have tough times in many places but things have improved for most.

        I like to think that circumstances will cause even the stupidest humans to mitigate future warming, perhaps not enough, perhaps requiring a sea-change in how we live (like, no personal car ownership).

        But, I think that these changes will not be seen as a reduction in 'quality' of life and very possibly, increased equity across the planet may make people feel that they live in better times.

        It is akin to wishing one lived in the 50s USA, having a massive gas-guzzling Cadillac convertible with a real record-player installed in the dash - the height of decadence and the greatest quality of life perhaps but still, a Mondeo with an average music system these days gives a better ride and better sound - whilst also being able to choose from more music, including everything that they thought was great too.

        Sounds optimistic although I am pessimistic about humans very often, they let you down all the time after all. People follow leaders and leaders often do the right thing when the brown stuff hits the rotating object.

        Here's hoping and enjoying the bounty that most of us we are most fortunate to have - the ability to speak to tens of people with a tap of a keyboard.

      2. Eddy Ito
        Coat

        Re: Pedanting...

        "only 60 per cent believed that science has more benefits than downsides"

        Has anyone actually produced a comprehensive list of both the benefits and the downsides, and therefore determined which list is longer?

        TBD, it depends on whether we co-exist with dinosaurs. Now then, I've ordered some T-rex DNA from a 'mr goodbytes' on ebay. Does anyone happen to know where I could get a fresh ostrich egg?

    5. P. Lee

      Re: Pedanting...

      >Humans not descended from animals? Well, we *are* animals - we have not left the kingdom of animalia to become plants or whatever - so the apparent implication in that "descended from animals" claim that we're not animals ourselves is false.

      Since evolution basically compares similarities and builds a "tree" based on that and we share 60% of our DNA with bananas and plants came first, it would seem that from an evolutionary science point of view, humans descended from a healthy, if possibly spider-infested, breakfast for apes and humans, in a time-travelling-paradox-producing way. Are we eating our parents?

      Methinks science and pollsters think too much of themselves. Let's face it, the pollsters were engaged in original research which gets collated into stats and has been presented as "fact" about what people believe. It may be useful to reinforce prejudice regarding johnny foreigner, church goers and nazis but I'd go out on a limb and suggest that just because someone did research and collected data it doesn't mean that data reflects reality. As has been pointed out, other researchers have reproduced the same results in multiple studies, but even with consistently produced results like this, I'd be willing to bet, they doesn't reflect reality. If we take the scientific "consensus" approach to truth, if enough studies produce the same results, then it is fact, regardless of reality.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Pedanting...

        Are we eating our parents?

        No, just our cousins. Unless, of course, there's something you want to own up to...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Pedanting...

        "Methinks science and pollsters think too much of themselves."

        Yes, upvoted particularly for that paragraph. It's nigh on impossible to create a "poll" without biasing it towards the required answers. Pollsters will claim they put in opposing questions to "balance" the results, but the wording and order of questions will always bias a poll even if they are trying to be honest. But since most polls are commissioned by interested parties, it's in the interest of the pollster to do "a good job" to encourage repeat business.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pedanting...

      Of course the sun orbits the earth. If it were otherwise it would catch the earth's edge and flip us over.

    7. Bunbury

      Re: Pedanting...

      "The sun *does* orbit the Earth"

      Well said Stephen. Some might say the earth orbits the sun, or their common gravitational point. But that is purely dependant upon frame of reference. And since the observer is usually standing on the earth, from that point of view, the sun orbits the earth.

      Granted, our understanding of gravity is such that the heliocentric model is easier to explain, though perhaps less simple and stable than was once thought. I imagine an observer at the centre of the galaxy would suggest that the main orbit of the earth is around the galactic centre and there's a slight wobble around the sun as well.

      If we had evolved on the moon, it would probably have been held at one pooint that the earth orbits the moon. Would it have taken longer to disabuse ourselves of that notion?

    8. Thomas 6
      Holmes

      Re: Pedanting...

      Well played, sir.

    9. Indolent Wretch

      Re: Pedanting...

      >> The sun *does* orbit the Earth

      It's a bad sign when a post titled "pedantry" starts with a clearly inaccurate statement.

      If we are going to be pedantic, neither orbits either. They both orbit a center of mass which is massively closer to the suns center than the earths. It's exact location varies according to where the planets are in their orbits but normally/often it is within the sun itself.

      >> Next, it seems very likely that humans co-existed and continue to coexist with small flying feathery "dinosaurs" (well, their descendants at least)

      No not descendants actual dinosaurs. The scientific consensus is that birds are a group of theropod dinosaurs that evolved in the Mesozoic era, but we all know what a person immediately thinks of when given the word "dinosaur". The % answer to that question does refer to the people who think "1 million years BC" was a documentary. The streets of Spain are not populated with people who almost said no, heard a bird going "peo peo" in the distance (that's the Spanish onomatopoeia for birdsong, yes it is wrong), and then thought "hang on it's a trick question! we DO live with dinosaurs, I claim my prize!".

      >> Homeopathy is, to some degree, scientific.

      No. Homeopathy is in no way scientific to any degree. It just isn't. No. Wearing a white coat does not a scientist make. It is about as scientific as astrology, possibly less so, it may drape itself in some of the trappings of science and use a test tube from time to time but it is based on a completely untested and illogical series of statements with no evidence behind them. The field is littered with statements which have no scientific or observational basis such as "like cures like". The (bewilderingly) ongoing work that real medicine has to do which shows it to be a nonsense can be scientific although it doesn't have to be.

      >> so the apparent implication in that "descended from animals" claim that we're not animals ourselves is false.

      I think for the purposes of a quick survey you are reading between lines that do not exist. The statement "descended from animals" has a clear and obvious meaning and the number of members of the public who would think "hang on wait a minute! we're still animals" and/or be so triggered by that as to give a nonsense answer deliberately would likely be statistically insignificant.

      Up shot of all this, pedantry or no, is that people are thick.

      1. Queasy Rider

        Re: Pedanting...

        I wish I could up vote you repeatedly. I have a cousin that would contradict every phrase(no exaggeration, every phrase) I uttered. No hair was too small to split. Haven't seen him for 30 years, but my blood still boils at the thought of some of his inanities. Worst of all, some of that disputativeness rubbed off on me, so now I find it difficult to impossible to bite my tongue in conversation. I feel sorry for my onlooking friends when a similar personality orbits into our conversations. Raised voices etc.

    10. DavCrav

      Re: Pedanting...

      "Humans not descended from animals? Well, we *are* animals - we have not left the kingdom of animalia to become plants or whatever - so the apparent implication in that "descended from animals" claim that we're not animals ourselves is false."

      But if you are being pedantic, there is no implication in "are you descended from animals?" All animals are descended from animals, except for the first one, including humans, birds and the three-toed sloth.

    11. ChrisBedford

      Re: Pedanting...

      surveys that treat people like idiots can provoke rebellious answers. And when some surveys have trick questions[...]

      Indeed. We also don't know if the results were cherry-picked to make the out come better (or worse) - I have seen some (YouTube, I guess) video "survey" answers to questions asked of American's on the streets, that made them look like utter idiots (insert obvious jibe here) but I have also seen the exact opposite: people stopped on the street who have given intelligent, informed, articulate answers. Depends who you ask, and how you ask it, and how (or if) you use the answers.

  10. John Savard

    Reading

    I was just re-reading Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. And that reminded me of the importance of teaching people critical thinking. And that's sadly neglected today even in most free nations, but naturally it's avoided in dictatorships because the last thing their rulers want is people who can see through their lies.

    So it isn't just Franco's preference for conservative Catholicism that's to blame here.

    1. DocJames
      Devil

      Re: Reading

      So it isn't just Franco's preference for conservative Catholicism that's to blame here.

      It's also the Catholic church in Spain's preference for fascism that's to blame. Along with wanting to do everyone else's thinking for them, just like all those with untrammelled authority throughout (and presumably before) human history.

  11. fandom

    That rule not to mention evolution didn't last long, after all in 1978 they aired the series "Once Upon a Time… Man", whose first episode explained evolution.

    At the time there were only two tv channels in Spain, and only one in some places, so 'everybody' watched it.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Franco died in 1975. The first elections were then held in 1977 and a new constitution was formalised in 1978. The new constitution was unequivocal in separating church and state, so it's hardly surprising that the law was dropped.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Einstein told us "everything is relative"

    Therefore it could be considered true that the Sun orbits the Earth as does the Moon. Relative to the Earth, both are orbiting it.

    The other planets however are very definitely not orbiting the Earth, and neither are the other stars we see in the night sky. That is where early astronomers primarily got it wrong in that insisting that as the Earth was the centre of the universe, everything must orbit it: Yes, we can call it the "centre" but it does not mean everything revolves around it.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Einstein told us "everything is relative"

      Einstein also say "God doesn't play dice". He was wrong about quantum mechanics, so he wasn't infallible....

      1. DropBear

        Re: Einstein told us "everything is relative"

        "He was wrong about quantum mechanics, so he wasn't infallible"

        Lucky for us then that science isn't based on the belief that anybody in particular is infallible.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Alien

    Fools, everyone knows man was generically engineered by aliens - maybe I have insider knowledge :-)

    1. cambsukguy

      Is this Tom Cruise? Is that why you never seem to look older?

      Should I become a Scientologist, will it help?

      I for one welcome...

  14. Alan Denman

    This is the Bubonic Age

    The quantum ecstacy theory says people will start injecting the bubonic plague if you give it an E.

  15. jake Silver badge

    Religion really fucks people up, doesn't it?

    Just saying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Religion really fucks people up, doesn't it?

      It might, but it rarely gets the chance before itself being fsckd up by the prevailing local culture that co-opts it to justify existing cultural & social practices.

      Of course if the opposite to your statement is also true then we can conclude that what really fscks up people is (other) people.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Religion really fucks people up, doesn't it?

      Really?

      I think you'lll find that 99.9% of theists are completely normal.

      In a Godless universe the other 0.1% would probably stab you anyway for owning a PS4 and not an Xbox (or vice versa before anyone gets uppity)

  16. GitMeMyShootinIrons
    Joke

    Sun orbiting the earth? Impossible.

    I'm on Earth (at least physically) and the sun shines out of my ass, so how can the sun possibly orbit the Earth? I mean, I'm not fast enough to achieve orbit for one thing....

  17. gnasher729 Silver badge

    What was the exact question?

    The sun circling around the earth is a simplification that serves us very well in daily life, even though it is just an illusion caused by the earth rotating around its axis so many times a year. (Do you know how many times a year? Many people think it's 365 times, but it is actually about 366.25 times a year). And actually, what we observe there would be exactly the same if the sun circled around the earth. After all, the behaviour of the moon as a normal person on the ground observes it is almost exactly the same.

    So what was the exact question? I am sure you can pose the question so that many people will give the simplified answer. If you just use the words "sunrise" and "sunset" that can be interpreted as the meaning that the sun orbits around the earth.

  18. Stevie

    Bah!

    These same figures were recently quoted for the USA, though, maddeningly, I cannot remember where.

    I suspect some ecological data recycling is going on.

  19. silent_count

    "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

    - Sherlock Holmes

    I believe the above quote is relevant anyone who sneers at result like this.

    For most people, most 'scientific' knowledge is irrelevant. Does knowing whether the earth goes around the moon improve the code which I write? Does knowing how many planets are in our solar system improve the work of the guy who services your car? Or that of guys who build your house?

    Don't get me wrong. The scientific method is the humanity's best tool for understanding the universe and for testing our understanding thereof. However, it's simply not necessary to remember every irrelevant detail. Do you know the mass and age of the star third nearest to our sun? Or how many chromosomes your pet dog has?

    Sneer all you like but you'd better write your own software (all of it), service you own car, and build your own house while doing it. And solve your own crimes too.

    1. Indolent Wretch

      Well that's just dumb isn't it. The whole point of the survey was to get an idea as to how many people had a grasp of some basic scientific principles.

      Whether or not for most people 'scientific' knowledge is irrelevant is irrelevant.

      If the survey didn't ask the damn questions it wouldn't really be worth it.

      Do you know the mass and age of the star third nearest to our sun? Or how many chromosomes your pet dog has?

      No and no... But I know the big fiery thing is in the middle and I know the Flintstones isn't a hard hitting social drama.

      >> Sneer all you like but you'd better write your own software (all of it), service you own car, and build your own house while doing it. And solve your own crimes too.

      What does that mean? Because I need someone to build a house and they don't need to know any science, we shouldn't try and improve our education systems so that they know some anyway? Maybe you would prefer a "builders sub-species" where all the offspring are builders too.

      1. silent_count

        "What does that mean?"

        It's easy to think of people who don't share your areas of knowledge as less intelligent. My point is that while they might not be as knowledgeable about certain things a you, it may well be because they've chosen to focus on other, no less valid, branches of knowledge.

        "Because I need someone to build a house and they don't need to know any science, we shouldn't try and improve our education systems so that they know some anyway?"

        And again, that's my point. You're equating "doesn't know astronomy" with "doesn't know science". There's a great deal of science that goes into constructing a modern building, it's just not the kind that gets taught in an astronomy lesson.

        A carpenter, just to pick an example, does need to know science but they don't need to know if the earth goes around the sun or if our ancestors lived next door to a brontosaurus. And, according to the article, these are the questions being used to gauge scientific knowledge.

        1. h4rm0ny

          >>A carpenter, just to pick an example, does need to know science but they don't need to know if the earth goes around the sun

          Your value of need is quite different to my value of need.

  20. captain veg Silver badge

    homeopathy was "very or quite scientific"

    It is. A model of the scientific method, in fact, when first proposed by Dr. Hahnemann.

    Completely wrong, though, like phlogiston and the aether. That's science for you.

    -A.

  21. Frumious Bandersnatch

    science, bitch

    By Toutatis, If it stops the sky from falling on our heads, I'm all for it.

  22. W. Anderson

    Maybe money is not the cure for civilized education

    The USA is getting some competition from an unlikely source -Spain, on the percentages of it's population that have whacky ideas such as in science - astromony and evolution, and in other areas.

    Apparently the Spaniards spends proportionately less on public education than does USA, but gets no better results as far as educating it's citizens in areas of academia that are factual and proven. Or is that USA spends considerably more on education and it's citizes are just as ignorant as those in Spain.

  23. Mark 85

    How old is the earth?

    The best and stupidest response has been.."oh.. two thousand and fifteen years... the calendar says so.".... I worry about a the future of humankind.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. virhunter

    Look ma, it's not just the Americans!

    Where does Spain rank on those international math and science stats that always place the Koreans and Japanese at the top? I'm sure I've seen a few of those western European countries ranking surprisingly low.

  26. tojb

    Reg commentards not as clever as they think they are

    The Sun and Earth orbit the barycentre of the solar system. The the position of this centre of mass does not, as some have asserted, depend on your frame of reference. It happens to be inside the sun, or nearly so, for most of the time.

    Rotating reference frames are *not* equivalent to each other, if you change between rotating frames you must add in coriolis or centrifugal forces to compensate. There is a unique centre of mass of the solar system and it is well-defined.

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