A new poll shows that a majority of Americans are unsure of whether the Big Bang theory accurately explains the origin of the universe.
According to The Associated Press
, which conducted the poll in conjunction with Gfk, people are more likely to express confidence in scientific facts and theories that are closer to our current bodily experience, like smoking's connection to cancer, than more abstract theories like evolution.
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Unlike other polls that test the participant's knowledge of scientific facts, the new poll asked people to "rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine." The results ultimately gave researchers insight into Americans' proclivity to be skeptical of differing scientific subjects.
The results? There was broad acceptance for statements like "smoking causes cancer" — of which only 4 percent of respondents felt skeptical — "mental illness is a medical condition," and "there's a genetic code in our cells."
When statements about phenomena like global warming were made, respondents tended to be more skeptical.
For the statement "humans caused global warming," roughly 40 percent said they weren't very confident that was the truth or said it was incorrect, the AP reported. Participants responded similarly to the assertion that "Earth is 4.5 billion years old" and that "life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection."
The No. 1 thing 51 percent of those surveyed said they were skeptical of, however, is that the universe began with the Big Bang.
Top scientists were largely depressed at this news.
"Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts," said one 2013 Nobel Prize winner at the University of California, Berkeley, the AP reported.
Some said that misinformation spread by politicians was to blame, while others pointed to religion. Others, however, said genuine lack of knowledge may leave many without the tools needed to form informed, confident opinions on the subjects surveyed. The latter theory is somewhat confirmed by the poll, which found that people were much more confident in things they were likely to have direct knowledge of, such as cancer.
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