Friday, January 10, 2014

Underachieving America

Recently, I've been seeing many study results that do not leave me feeling good about the future of my country. Some may seem trivial, but others are very disconcerting. Lets drive right in...

A study done by the U.S. Mint found that only 7% of Americans can name the first four presidents in order. Some may question the importance knowing that our first four presidents were Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. But it's something that I consider to be basic knowledge. Not knowing this isn't necessarily indicative of what else you know. But it is worrisome to me, that our history is seeming to be less and less important to the youth of America.

Newsweek also tested Americans and found that only 27% knew we 'fought' the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Additionally, another study found that over 25% of Americans didn't know that we gained our Independence from Great Britain! Seriously? We have a holiday every July 4th to celebrate that very fact. Of those 25%, those who answered incorrectly thought the US fought China, Japan or France for independence. Please tell me this is a joke...

On the topic of evolution the news isn't great either. 33% of Americans still believe that humans and animals were created in their present form. Sadly, 25% of those that accept evolution believe it is guided by a 'supreme being'. Unsurprisingly, acceptance of evolution is lower among the religious, but the trends when you look at political affiliation. In 2009, 64% of Democrats accepted evolution. Today, 67% do. However, with Independents, it has slid from 67% to 65%. And far worse, Republicans have gone from 54% to 43%.

It's sad that in this day and age, one of the most foundational and well evidenced theories in science
still struggles for public acceptance due to religion and teachers allowing their personal beliefs to dictate what and how they teach. And don't tell me 'it's just a theory'. By doing that, you are telling me that you don't know much about science or evolution. Evolution is a theory in the same way that gravity is. A theory in science is not just a guess or shot in the dark. A scientific theory is an explanation that best fits all the evidence. Evolution is a theory in that manner. it is rather sad that the US ranks 33rd out of 34 countries on acceptance of evolution. That is something that desperately needs to change.

Finally American students are lagging behind in math, science, and reading when compared with other countries. The US placed a dismal 30th in math, 23rd in science, and 20th in reading. With only the 23rd best science program, is it any wonder that evolution isn't getting the acceptance it should? In a day of cutting budgets, education is one are that needs more money, and desperately. I say cut money from defense, and reassign that money toward an investment in America's future... education! Yes, the system needs to be reformed, and easier tests is not an answer. But the last thing our education system needs is a cut in funding. Especially in light of our poor international results, and the poor example being shown at home.

-Brain Hulk

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