National Science Foundation Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 paints a grim picture of jurors

Many a time I have scratched my head baffled at juries, prosecutors, and even judges who just seemingly hate science. I am not talking about competing legitimate theories rooted in science, but rather intentional ignorance or flat-out denial in favor of the unsupported or pseudo-scientific.

The National Science Foundation just released its findings about scientific knowledge and attitudes in the United States. It also compared the US to other countries. The National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 highlights some major developments in international and U.S. science and technology (S&T) as well as tracking trends and beliefs. The results are really scary.


  • Only 73% of the US believes in a heliocentric solar system?
  • Only 38% of us believe in the Big Bang Theory?
  • Only 47% believe in evolution?

Yet incredibly, when they are in the courtroom jurors and judges accept forensic science blindly. Go figure.

Source: Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Understanding.

One response to “National Science Foundation Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 paints a grim picture of jurors”

  • I have to believe that heliocentric question was misunderstood. I am also inclined to think the Big Bang question is also badly phrased. Why didn’t they ask, “The universe began with a Big Bang” instead? I think that would have boosted the response by 25-30%. People probably thought the question was designed to trick them, parsing between a cosmological “Big Bang” and just a “huge explosion.” Though, I suppose it does demonstrate a question as to their comprehension… I just don’t believe that 9% who understood the evolution question and got it right wouldn’t also have gotten the Big Bang right as well, without over thinking it.

    As to the rest? Yeah… we’re in a spot of trouble, aren’t we? Though I love the “All radiation is man made” one. I’ll have to use that one.

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