Survey Says…
Public Doesn't Know

A national survey by the California Academy of Sciences and polling agency Harris Interactive shows that many Americans lack basic knowledge of science.

Out of more than 1,000 Americans surveyed, less than half knew that the Earth takes a year to revolve around the Sun, or knew the ratio of land to sea. * And only a little more than half answered correctly that humans never lived among the dinosaurs.** Nearly 20 percent answered all of the questions wrong.

The survey emphasizes the need for Americans to understand science at a time when the major science-related issues of today-genetic mapping and manipulation, global climate change, habitat loss, and energy use-affect our daily lives so profoundly.

Table:  Impact of science knowledge in daily life

* Water covers about 70% of the Earth's surface.**Dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. The earliest known human ancestor occurred between 4 and 4.5 million years ago.

Table:  Who do you trust most as a source of reliable information about the environment and natural world?


Pie chart of answers: True or False?  Humans and dinosaurs co-existed?

The survey also showed that most people (64%) trust scientists for reliable information far more than any other group (teachers were second with 15%). And the vast majority believe knowing more about science would help them make better health, consumer, and voting decisions.

The Academy, the only institution in the United States that combines an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum under one roof, is in a unique position to unite the natural sciences and explain that space, ocean, and land are all one large system. Plans to redesign the Academy (starting in 2003), including new research facilities, state-of-the-art exhibits, and a new aquarium, will further integrate these sciences.

models:  dinosaurs planetarium