Table 7-8
Correct answers to factual knowledge questions in physical and biological sciences, by country/region: Most recent year
(Percent giving correct answer)
 
Question United
Statesa
(2012)
China
(2010)
EU
(2005)
India
(2004)
Japan
(2011)
Malaysia
(2008)
Russia
(2003)
South
Korea
(2004)
 
Physical science
The center of the Earth is very hot. (True) 84 56 86 57 84 66 NA 87
The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move. (True) 83 50 87 32 88 44 40 87
Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around Sun) 74 NA 66 70 NA 72 NA 86
All radioactivity is man-made. (False) 72 48 59 NA 69 14 35 48
Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True) 53 27 46 30 32 33 44 46
Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False) 47 23 47 NA 32 16 24 31
The universe began with a huge explosion. (True) 39 NA NA 34 NA NA 35 67
Biological science
It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.b (True) 63 58 64 38 29 40 22 59
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.c (False) 51 28 46 39 33 8 18 30
Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (True) 48 66 70 56 76 NA 44 64
 

NA = not available, question not asked.

EU = European Union; data are not available for Bulgaria and Romania.

a See appendix table 7-9 for U.S. trends.
b China and Europe surveys asked about “mother’s gene” instead of “father’s gene.”
c Japan survey asked about “antibodies” instead of “antibiotics.”

SOURCES: United States—University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2012); China—Chinese Association for Science and Technology/China Research Institute for Science Popularization, Chinese National Survey of Public Scientific Literacy (2010); EU—European Commission, Eurobarometer 224/Wave 63.1: Europeans, Science and Technology (2005), and Eurobarometer 224/Wave 64.3: Europeans and Biotechnology in 2005: Patterns and Trends (2006); India—National Council of Applied Economic Research, National Science Survey (2004); Japan—National Institute of Science and Technology Policy/Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology in Japan (2011); Malaysia—Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre/Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Survey of the Public’s Awareness of Science and Technology: Malaysia (2008); Russia—Gokhberg L, Shuvalova O, Russian Public Opinion of the Knowledge Economy: Science, Innovation, Information Technology and Education as Drivers of Economic Growth and Quality of Life, British Council, Russia (2004); South Korea—Korea Science Foundation (now Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity), Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology (2004).

Science and Engineering Indicators 2014