Friday, August 10, 2007

One quarter of women believe the sun goes around the earth: As a follow-up to the analysis of ethnicity and belief about the sun revolving around the earth, let's look at gender. According to the General Social Survey, 24 percent of females but only 15 percent of males believe the earth is at the center. That's not double the number of men, but it's 60 percent more. And the difference can't be explained in terms of females not being given opportunities. This is the sort of information that is everywhere, and all people have heard the answer, but some people are more interested and spatial stuff is easier for some people. More often than not, those people are guys.

This reminds me of an old joke. A guy asks his buddy what kind of girlfriend he wants. The buddy answers that he wants to find a girl who is bad a math so he can convince her that 4 inches is really 8.

18 comments:

tommy said...

I honestly think it may be an issue of people not paying sufficient attention to the question. You ask "Does the Sun go around the Earth?" and people think "Yes, of course, the Earth goes around the Sun! What a stupid question!"

Anonymous said...

The relatively high number of people who still believe the Sun goes around the Earth disturbs me. This is basic, elementary school science.

Gary said...

Depends of the age of the female, I would think. I know plenty of 18 year olds who think the world revolves around them.

hicsto said...

Sherlock Holmes didn't know the earth went round the sun either. He defended himself on the ground that the fact was utterly irrelevant to his work. It's also utterly irrelevant to women's work, which is relationships and the manipulation thereof.

Ron Guhname said...

tommy: The interviewer asks which is the case.

tommy said...

tommy: The interviewer asks which is the case.

Well then, ouch!

tommy said...

Can you tell us what percentages of white, black, and Hispanic females believe this?

Ron Guhname said...

tommy:

white females 22.0%
black females 31.5
Hispanc females 32.3

RobertHume said...

I think some people think that if the earth revolved around the sun sunrise to sunset would take 365 days. So they figure that the sun must revolve around the earth. They don't realize that another answer is that the earth revolves on its axis once a day. I know it's hard to believe, but I think this sort of confusion is at the heart of things.

There is also the fact that something like 50% of Harvard undergraduates believe that its warmer in the summer than in the winter because the earth is closer to the sun in the summer.

They don't realize that the earth is tilted on its axis, etc., so they come up with the only other explanation they can think of.

tommy said...

Thanks, Ron.

tommy said...

I think some people think that if the earth revolved around the sun sunrise to sunset would take 365 days. So they figure that the sun must revolve around the earth. They don't realize that another answer is that the earth revolves on its axis once a day. I know it's hard to believe, but I think this sort of confusion is at the heart of things.

In other words, they confuse revolution with rotation. That could be possible.

Ron Guhname said...

roberthume: I knew I had married the right woman when she knew the correct answer to that Harvard undergraduate question.

SFG said...

So is it more valuable to know the earth goes around the sun, or to be able to use your feminine wiles to seduce a man into working for you and buying you lots of presents?

Jun said...

Oh lord -- first I have to be embarrassed on behalf of Irish people -- and now this. Sheesh.

Here's one -- try explaining to someone who doesn't know/understand that we see (nearly) the same face of the moon from here on Earth all of the time ... and why ....

Jun (aka Miss Anne Thrope)

dexplorer said...

There is also the fact that something like 50% of Harvard undergraduates believe that its warmer in the summer than in the winter because the earth is closer to the sun in the summer.

Oh come on, that's an entirely different kettle of fish.

It's not implausible. The orbit is somewhat elliptical. The actual answer is not emphasized much in science classes and probably isn't given at all in some / many. It's not an historical / cultural issue, even at refined elite levels, the way whether the sun revolved around the earth or visa versa was in the history of science and science/religion clashes in Western Civ. Instead it's a factoid. Yeah one I know, but still.

I actually don't completely remember the correct answer myself. Ok, I'm not going to look it up online which would be an incredibly easy cheat.

It has to do with the sun in the summer in the N. Hemisphere (reverse S. of the Equator, little diff at the equator) shining (being over the horizon) more hours a day, and also being more directly overhead (which promotes more penetration of solar energy and less reflectance from the atmosphere) as opposed to off at more of an angle to the south. As it is in the winter and to a lesser degree the transitional seasons of fall and spring.

So what causes THAT? Ok, now I remember, the tilt of the (north and south pole) rotational axis of the earth relative to the sun. That causes the part that's tilted towards the sun to be in summer and that away, in winter, with are or course 1/2 year/rotation around the sun separated in the two hemispheres.

So why would this change through the course of a complete rotation around the sun (one year)? It wouldn't change if one hemisphere of the earth were always tilted more towards the sun. It would if

Buckaroo said...

Here's one -- try explaining to someone who doesn't know/understand that we see (nearly) the same face of the moon from here on Earth all of the time ... and why ....

If memory serves, a nice explanation for this can be readily had in Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon". Put a chair in the center of a room. Then circle the chair, while facing it the whole time. As you may have guessed, you are the Moon and the chair is the Earth. After one complete circle, you will have seen every side of the room, indicating that you have effectively rotated around your own axis once but the chair still got to "see" only one side of you.

Fortunately our schools have liberated the poor tykes from such antiquated and irrelevant literature.

Jun said...

From France's "Who wants to be a millionaire?":

Qu'est-ce qui gravite autour de la Terre?
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=674e3003ae

The contestant didn't know, so he asked the audience -- 56% thought it was the sun....

Anonymous said...

Wow.

That is an incredibly depressing factoid. We seem to be regressing, despite scientific and electronic advances made by others. In many ways, we really are getting to be a bunch of damned monkeys sitting at keyboards, ourselves stupid, but with great technology at our fingertips.

The world can be an amazing place. Look at what is "hot" in entertainment: Jessica, Britney, and other cohorts of talentless fools who are pretty and can't write a song, read music, or even play an instrument............yet there they are with innumerable record sales. They have made more money and have achieved more acclaim in the entertainment world than Beethoven or Mozart did in their entire lifetimes, yet they suck, and whats more.........we all know they suck. And deep down in their narcissistic little concsiousness, they know they suck too. You'd think that a society that had one third of its population (Hispanic females) who thought the sun revovled around a small planet wouldn't even have cars or telephones yet.

Stupified.