Yesterday, as many Americans know, it was Abraham Lincoln's birthday. However, there was another birthday that was not mentioned as much; Charles Darwin, the scientist most famous for promoting the theory of natural selection, and was overall a key contributor to modern evolutionary synthesis.
While 98% of scientists associated with the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) believe in the theory, 38% of Americans still believe in creationism, the idea that human beings and other species were created in their present form, either 6,000 years ago or 4.6 billion years ago. While this number is low, this does not bode well for the future necessarily when it comes to science literacy.
This extends to other scientific theories as well. A good example of this is the Big Bang Theory; in 2014, an AP Poll showed 51% of Americans either were not that confident or not confident at all that the Universe began 13.8 billion years ago. That same poll showed that 36% of Americans also were not too confident in the accepted age of the Earth.
Hell, a Pew Poll showed that 22% of Americans struggled to distinguish astronomy from astrology, a pseudoscience. None of this looks particularly good, but some things Americans DO accept in regards to science is also alarming.
For example, the National Consumer's League reported in 2014 that 33% of American parents of children under 18 believe vaccines are or could be linked to autism. 6-10% of ALL Americans believe vaccines cause autism. Furthermore, many (though I do not have numbers) believe in astrology, one of the epitomes pseudoscience where people believe stars and their orientation can affect their lives. Then there's belief in ideas such as flat earth, which, though a fringe movement, have been promoted by people such as B.o.B., who even released a diss track about the eminent physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Again, this is 2018.
Acceptance of science and open discourse about science is a hallmark of an educated public. We should desire attainment of high levels of scientific literacy across society. Imagine what this could produce; a new generation of doctors, engineers, chemists, biologists, all at the forefront of discoveries that could change American and global society.
Plus, it improves American society for the better to promote the prevailing theories and consensus' reached by scientists. Changing this at a basic level would be fantastic; more presentations, more encouragement, more open discussion predicated on furthering scientific knowledge, etcetera.
Though scientific literacy is at best average in America, there is hope. A lot of those numbers mentioned above are (for the most part) trending downward, which means that acceptance is surely increasing.
And while these beliefs most likely will never go away, they can surely decrease as a proportion of society.
And while religious acceptance is certainly an issue, new discoveries can always change our understanding of our various texts and can change as a result. Regardless of this, acceptance of science is a must, and scientific literacy is important.