LORD OF ALL I SURVEY: HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SCIENCE & RELIGION?
(TAKE THE QUIZ BELOW, IT'S FUN :D)



[How much do you know about science and religion? Illustration by Shutterstock/ollyy]

MANILA, MAY 5, 2013 (SLATE.COM) By Phil Plait - Last week, a couple of online surveys came to my attention. Both were from the Pew Research Center (a non-profit, respected group); one was about public knowledge of science, the other about religion.

If you havenít taken them, they are very short (13 and 15 questions each) and will literally only take a couple of minutes for you to fill outóthey donít ask for any specific personal info, and the questions are very simply stated. So please, go take them both before you continue reading here.

<sound of ďJeopardy!Ē theme>

OK, all done? How did you do?

Bragging time: I got all the answers right, on both quizzes. But, apropos of a test on religion, I have a confession: I guessed on the last religion question; Iím not all that clear on the First Great Awakening (though I knew it wasnít Billy Graham, so my odds went up to 50/50 for my guess).

I found the questions and results interesting. Iíll note the religious test was given out in 2010 (32 questions were used in the phone survey; only 15 are listed online), but I didnít find the questions particularly dated.

Not surprisingly, I was pretty confident in the science test, and knew my answers were right. I was shakier on some of the religious questions; I have a broad knowledge of many religions, but specifics not so much. Still, I did well.

Also not surprisingly, Americans didnít fare so well in the science test (maybe we should make members of Congress pass both tests before being allowed to sit on the House Science Committee).

But more interesting is which questions were answered incorrectly, and by what percentage; Pew reports the results.

For example, only 20 percent of the respondents were correct in answering that nitrogen is the most abundant element in our atmosphere (over three times more abundant than oxygen, which Iíd guess is what most people think makes up the majority of our air).

I think people should know that, in that I think people should have a broad working knowledge of basic science and its principles. On the other hand, itís not critically important that people know that. It wonít directly impact their lives, for example.

On the other hand, only 58 percent knew that carbon dioxide causes rising temperatures.

Global warming is a fantastically important issue, even if you think (incorrectly) itís not real. Either way, itís a big political topic, and one our economy (and our very lives) depends on. Yet 42 percent of Americans donít know the single most basic fact about it.

Thatís terrifying.

What I found most fascinating, though, are the percentiles of the overall surveys; that is, how many people got how many correct total.

By getting all the science questions right, I did better than 93 percent of the people surveyed (only 7 percent got all 13 questions right).

By getting all the religion questions right, I did better than 99 percent of the people surveyed (only 1 percent got them all right).

Mind you, only a few thousand people were surveyed, there was probably no overlap between the two groups, and itís a small number of questions.

Still, this implies something interesting: people know less about religion than science!

Iím not sure how strong an inference to take here.

How do you compare the two questions? After all, most Americans are supposed to get a basic science education, but I expect itís extremely unlikely that most will get a firm basic knowledge of religions other than their own (and sometimes not even then). Iíd even bet thereís a bias against it, in fact.

So I wouldnít read too much into this. Itís just interesting. I suspect the real impact of this survey is personal. What did you get right? What did you get wrong? How important is the distinction to you?

I think thereís always room for more learning, and if these surveys spur that on, even a little bit, then thatís a pretty good thing.

FROM THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE

 

Take the Quiz

 

 

Take our short, 15-question quiz, and see how you do in comparison with 3,412 randomly sampled adults who were asked these and other questions in the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey. This national poll was conducted by the Pew Research Centerís Forum on Religion & Public Life from May 19 through June 6, 2010*, on landlines and cell phones, in English and Spanish.

When you finish the quiz, you will be able to compare your knowledge of religion with participants in the national telephone poll. You can see how you compare with the overall population as well as with people of various religious traditions, people who attend worship services frequently or less often, men and women, and college graduates as well as those who did not attend college.

For a full analysis of the findings of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, read the full report.

Take our 13-question quiz to test your knowledge of scientific concepts. Then see how you did in comparison with the 1,006 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine.

 

Take the Quiz

 

Take our 13-question quiz to test your knowledge of scientific concepts. Then see how you did in comparison with the 1,006 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian magazine.

The analysis of the findings from the poll can be found in the full report. (No peeking! If you are going to take the quiz, do it first before reading the analysis.)


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