TIME Science

1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun

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A National Science Foundation study involving 2,200 participants find that about 25 percent of Americans got this question wrong: 'Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?'

Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?

When asked that question, 1 in 4 Americans surveyed answered incorrectly. Yes, 1 in 4. In other words, a quarter of Americans do not understand one of the most fundamental principles of basic science. So that’s where we are as a society right now.

The survey, conducted by the National Science Foundation, included more than 2,200 participants in the U.S., AFP reports. It featured a nine-question quiz about physical and biological science and the average score was a 6.5.

And the fact that only 74 percent of participants knew that the Earth revolved around the sun is perhaps less alarming than the fact that only 48 percent knew that humans evolved from earlier species of animals.

Here’s the thing, though: Americans actually fared better than Europeans who took similar quizzes — at least when it came to the sun and Earth question. Only 66 percent of European Union residents answered that one correctly.

We won’t know the full results of the survey—or its methodology—until the National Science Foundation delivers its report to President Obama and U.S. lawmakers. But on this evidence we may end up getting a new national holiday out of this: Spread the Word That the Earth Revolves Around the Sun Day.

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