Is That Your Final Answer?… Really?

79 percent of American adults are unable to answer three basic science questions correctly

How long does it take the Earth to revolve around the sun? Did the earliest humans and dinosaurs live at the same time? What percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered with water? Think you know the answers? Well, if you’re an American adult you may be frighteningly alone.

According to a national science survey commissioned by the California Academy of Sciences, very few of us retained what we learned in school. No way, really? Doesn’t one of these polls come around every few years to make us chuckle at how stupid we are? Well, my fellow ignoramuses, apparently this survey has a higher purpose. Its intent seems to be drawing attention to the widely held belief that long-term solutions to many of the world’s most pressing issues must include a transition to a more knowledge-based economy, including a focus on science, which is a major driver of innovation and industry.

“There has never been a greater need for investment in scientific research and education,” said Academy Executive Director Dr. Gregory Farrington. “Many of the most pressing issues of our time—from global climate change to resource management and disease—can only be addressed with the help of science.”

Although the survey proved, once again, that we don’t know squat, it also revealed that we’re at least aware of the importance of science in our world. About 4 in 5 adults think science education is “absolutely essential” or “very important” to the U.S. healthcare system (86%), the U.S. global reputation (79 percent), and the U.S. economy (77 percent).

What can you do? Start by taking an abbreviated survey here, then go stare at the Discovery Channel until your head explodes.