Scientific Illiteracy: A National Problem, Localized

by Nick Zanetti
Senior Reporter

According to an informal poll by Elon professor Tony Crider, one of every 10 astronomy students do not believe the moon landing ever happened.

While talking to Tony Crider, chair of the physics department, this week about the National Science Foundation grant Elon University recently received, he was telling me about how the United States has fallen behind in science and math education. He went so far as to say that the United States is one of the most scientifically illiterate countries in the modern world. Then he told me an astonishing statistic: Over the course of about five years, he had found that one of every 10 students in his astronomy classes believed the moon landing had never occurred.

This profoundly shocked me. We have all heard about how the United States is falling behind in math and science, but a statistic like the one Crider gave me changed my view of this phenomenon. The scientific illiteracy of the United States became not just white noise in the media, but rather something very real that could have significant consequences. We live in a society that depends so much on science, math and technology, and we are increasingly ignorant of theses things. Science education might be more important than ever, and I am proud that Elon has been given so much money for a cause that is more pertinent than ever.

For more information about the NSF research grant, pick up a copy of The Pendulum next week.

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