Basic scientific facts eluding more Australians, report finds


Do you know it takes a year for the Earth to orbit the sun? Or that humans never shared a planet with living, breathing dinosaurs? If not, you are a symptom of Australians' declining scientific literacy, according to researchers.

A new study, conducted by the Australian Academy of Science, has found that just 59% of Australians know that the Earth's orbit of the sun takes a year, or a fraction more than 365 days.

Three in 10 people aren't aware that evolution is still occurring, with a similar proportion of the public dismissing the idea that humans influence evolution in other creatures.

On all of these measures, Australians' knowledge has declined in the past three years, when the academy last polled the public. The survey, undertaken by Auspoll, questioned 1,115 people.

The retrograde step in scientific knowledge is most pronounced in young people, with 12% fewer 18 to 24-year-olds knowing that Earth's orbit time compared to three years ago.

Written By: Oliver Milman
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  1. With nearly eleven years of John Howard’s anti public education policies, and Xtians infiltrated through State Govts and Depts of Ed, looney religious schools allowed to develop and home schoolers, what exactly does anyone expect to happen?

  2. Many people in the UK are proud of their ignorance of science and mathematics. This includes the classically educated civil service, most members of the parliament and the government.
    Science is to do with “geeks”, “egg-heads” and “boffins” – it’s not understood as an important part of culture and the only reliable source of information about our “world”.

    The difference in the meanings of the simple terms “in Earth orbit” and “in Earth’s orbit” are not understood – this could be mixing up the poor Aussies. The BBC can even write to complaining university scientists that “the principle of conservation of energy is suspended in nuclear reactors”.

  3. In reply to #5 by Blackaddera:

    so based on interviewing 1.1k out of 21 million they say that 41% of Aussies don’t understand basic science? Srry but that is quite a brave statement.

    Assuming they took standard precautions to insure a random sample, then yes!. A sample size of 1040 would accurately reflect a population of 21 million with a confidence level of 99% and a margin of error of +/- 4.

    Kudos, if your post was meant as ironic commentary on an article about ignorance of basic scientific concepts. [See [statistical sampling](

  4. My son once told me that 70% of Americans didn’t know the sun was a star!
    I must say that ignorance with respect to basic general knowledge is appalling .
    I would love to see science education delivered from the pulpit and within the madrassas in order to make the world more civilised.

    • In reply to #9 by hawksy:

      Our brightest have been busy to uncover the inner workings of ‘arbitrarily rotating spherical projectile’ The Ashes are on. We have our priorities.

      Yes, but.. I was watching the cricket the other day and the camera panned on to David Cameron, bad enough, but then on to John Howard. I freaked out and threw my boot at the telly.

  5. A new study, conducted by the Australian Academy of Science, has found that just 59% of Australians know that the Earth’s orbit of the sun takes a year, or a fraction more than 365 days.

    I wonder how many of the other 41% “KNOW” that fossil fuel burning is not causing global warming – and how many will confidently proclaim that climatologists have got their models wrong, and do not understand the temperature changes of the planet??

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