We can blame the state of public education for this, but there is something willful in it. A lot of people exposed to facts and theories during their education simply decide not to store the facts and theories in their internal hard drives. Which is not an entirely surprising decision given the affordability of ignorance in a wealthy democracy. There's a lot you don't need to know in a complex society that as a matter of founding principles encourages you to mind your own beeswax. Ignorance about science no more hampers daily life than ignorance about art, religion or Chianti; it may impoverish it, but that's another story. You don't need to know whether a particle is subatomic to charge your cellphone, and if you think a year is most accurately described as the time between your birthdays, so what?