Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whoo-ee! Only a geek like me would be this jazzed about the 2006 General Social Survey data now being available online! Let's make the first dip into the data a fun one: which ethnic group in the United States is still stuck in the 15th century and thinks that the sun revolves around the earth? I'll limit the analysis to those groups with at least 50 respondents:

Percent who think the sun goes around the earth

American Indians 33.8
Blacks 24.5
Mexicans 24.1
Italians 21.8
Germans 21.8

USA 19.2

Irish 16.2
English/Welsh 12.6
Scots 4.0

An Indian might be good for helping you track game, but don't ask him for answers to the astronomy exam. And Galileo in his grave would rotate on his axis if he could see his paisanos numbers. And damn those Scots are smart. Makes me want to exaggerate the share of my ancestry.


  1. Anonymous7:32 AM

    this is depressing. please tell me the question was poorly formed or something.

  2. Anonymous8:58 AM

    And the majority of Frence people http://www.break.com/index/56-percent-of-french-people-are-stupid.html

  3. Anonymous12:14 PM

    Given that a fifth of the Scots are Irish, the Scots Scots must all have got it right.

  4. Anonymous3:00 PM

    I think many people probably misread the question.

  5. An face-to-face interviewer asks the question, and it went like this: "Now, does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?"

    Sounds clear to me.

  6. Now, a person who really knows of what he speaks is going to answer that there are no privileged frames of reference and one can look at it either way.

  7. Anonymous5:59 AM

    What was the percentage of Jews? If it's more than 5%, my only response is "oy veh!"

  8. Anonymous7:23 AM


    Could you link to the precise statistics? I can't find it and I'd love to send it to some friends.

  9. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I suspect that the Scots really said "Sun? What's that exactly?".

  10. marc: I generated the numbers here: http://sda.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin32/hsda?harcgs06+gss06. The variable is EARTHSUN.

  11. Anon: Forget "Oy veh." Try "Holy Crap!": 24.3% of Jews got it wrong!! "No religion" had the best number: 13.7%.

  12. Irish 16.2

    Ohmygod -- I'm so embarrassed. Anybody know how I can drop my membership from the Irish-American population? :-/

    What's up with the Germans? Thought they would've been smarter than that.

  13. Anonymous5:36 AM

    "Now, a person who really knows of what he speaks is going to answer that there are no privileged frames of reference and one can look at it either way."

    Well, wouldn't it be accurate to say that the earth and sun both revolve around a theoretical point representing the center of mass, but that this point is located inside of the sun?


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