The Science of Stupid: Galileo is Rolling Over in His Grave


So here’s a fine howdy-do for Galileo Galilei: Exactly one day—one flipping day—after the great man’s 450th birthday, on Feb. 15, 2014, a study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) revealed that one in four Americans does not know that the Earth orbits the Sun. That’s roughly 78 million people, or six times greater than the entire population of Galileo’s native Italy in 1632—the year he was sentenced to life under house arrest for advancing that heretical belief. Yet somehow, four centuries later later, 25% of us still haven’t gotten the word. If there’s any comfort at all to be taken from the study—and there is, but only in that I’m-not-the-dumbest-one-in-the-class sort of way—it’s that the European Union fared even worse, with 36% flunking the heliocentrism part of the science test.

It’s a reassuring truth of human history that wisdom is eternal. Our greatest accomplishments and insights in…

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