Not my stats homework, I swear
February 15, 2014 10:10 AM Subscribe
An NPR blog
cites an NSF study which claims that 26 percent of Americans asked answered that the Sun goes around the Earth, rather than vice versa. Believing that 1 in 4 of my fellow citizens doesn't know that the Earth circles the Sun is hard enough. But thinking about that number, it seems worse than that: if 26% got a 50/50 question wrong, wouldn't another 26% have answered correctly just based on chance rather than knowledge? That would mean that roughly half of Americans didn't know (and then split evenly on their guess). The idea that half of Americans don't know seems intuitively ludicrous to me. Am I missing something in how I think about this? Please help my statistically challenged brain...
posted by tyllwin to Science & Nature (17 answers total)
The study itself may be nonsense, of course, but my first thought, that people were confused about "revolve," can't be it. The question asked was, ""Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?"
So, is it an untrustworthy study, or my assumption that "for every person who gets it wrong, there's a person who got it right by sheer luck" that's to blame, or what?