May 1, 2005

Gregory Cochran on "What Education Crisis?"

Amazing Facts about American Voters: Gregory Cochran explains in new May 23rd issue of The American Conservative (now available to electronic subscribers -- try five free issues here) that education isn't getting worse: few kids ever learned much and almost nobody retains any in-depth learning from middle school and high school into adulthood:

- About 50 percent of Americans know that the Earth orbits the Sun in a year.

- Less than 10 percent know what a molecule is, while only 20 percent have some vague idea what DNA is.

- Some years ago researchers interviewed a random sample at Harvard graduation, asking them what caused the seasons. Twenty-one out of 23 interviewed were wrong, and worse yet, they all had the same wrong idea: they thought that the Earth's orbit is egg-shaped and that winter comes when we're farthest from the Sun...

- In recent years, 45 percent thought the phrase "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" was in the Constitution.

- Half thought an accused person must prove his innocence and that the president has the power to suspend the Constitution.

- Only one in seven Americans between 18 and 24 could even find Iraq on the map in 2002.

Obviously, the typical citizen votes by intuition -- or possibly by sense of smell.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

1 comment:

Pat Boyle said...

This is a new comment to an old posting. I just read this column in December 2014.

In the movie 'Agora' about the ancient female polymath Hypatia played by Rachel Weisz, the producers explain her astronomical insight into the seasons as being caused by the egg shaped orbit of the Earth around the Sun. In the film she makes an elaborate model that illustrates how when the Earth goes farther away it becomes winter.

The film has a postlude in which they brag that she developed this scientific 'insight' centuries before Kepler. The producers never seemed to have understood axial tilt at all and are quite merry in ascribing the bad astronomy to Hypatia.

Otherwise this is an excellent historical story with great acting, writing, sets and costumes.