Americans score a 'D' when it comes to science, says new study

Report suggests 20 per cent confuse astrology and astronomy

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The Independent US

Americans developed the nuclear weapons, dispatched a man to the moon, and for many years worked hard to secure a scientific and technological advantage over rival nations.

But a new study suggests that most Americans struggle with science.

The report by the Pew Research Centre, revealed it had asked a representative sample of US adults on geology, physics and astronomy, among other topics. Out of 12 questions, the test-takers on average answered 7.9 correctly. That’s a score of 66%.


“Most Americans (86%) correctly identify the Earth’s inner layer, the core, as its hottest part, and nearly as many (82%) know uranium is needed to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons,” said the report.

“But far fewer are able to identify the property of a sound wave that determines loudness. Just 35% correctly answer amplitude, or height. Some 33% incorrectly say it is frequency and 23% say it is wavelength. And just 34% correctly state that water boils at a lower temperature in a high-altitude setting (Denver) than near sea level (Los Angeles).”

Around one in five people confused astrology and astronomy.

More than one in five (22%) of those taking the test said astronomy was “the study of how the positions of stars and planets can influence human behaviour.”

When The Independent attempted to take the test, the Pew centre’s website displayed an error message.