What has happened to life’s commonly known facts? As many of you know, I am a history buff, but I am finding myself alarmed by how few common facts are known by the American population. Now, I don’t expect people to be as nerdy as I am, knowing historical facts or spending days trying to glean a small detail for my research for the books I have written or am writing. Frankly, I can be a pain in my own backside. However, last week I saw a statistic that caused my jaw to drop. This article claimed that about twenty-five percent (25%) of the US population did not know that the Earth rotates around the Sun.
I think it was Galileo who mathematically confirmed this fact in the 17th Century (in 1615), and the Catholic Church denounced him as a blasphemer. This solar rotation had been speculated for several centuries, but Galileo was actually able to prove it, even though it cost him some ridicule from the Church and might have possibly cost him some time in a cold, damp dungeon. Do these American who don’t know that the Earth rotates around the Sun not get up during the day and look at that big yellow ball in the sky?
This is not the first lost fact to startle me. A couple of months ago, a survey came out that purported that just under forty percent (40%) of the US population did not know that the Affordable Health Care Act, often referred to as Obama Care, was law. What percentage of our population does not read the newspaper or listen to or watch the news? Does anybody besides me find this shocking? I mean, good or bad, this law has been discussed in the news for over two years. I am sure by now they should know about this law, considering the TV advertising campaigns. But evidently, they do not!
Lastly, I have seen various comedians send out reporters to interview the man or woman on the street, and most of these people can’t name the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. You don’t just have to watch the news to see this man—who by the way has held this office for six years. I mean, come on, even the late-night comedians have fun with this guy, whether he is on their show or they’re talking about some of his statements.
What are people doing that prevents their awareness and knowledge of these simple facts? What are they watching or listening to? Who is to blame for this? Don’t be too fast to blame schoolteachers, (my mother was a schoolteacher, so I have teacher’s backs). While school education may be part of the problem, it is not the root. I don’t blame Facebook or Twitter, either. I would guess someone on Facebook or Twitter would have announced all of these little missing facts of life, at some point, since the media has gained such notoriety as a source of news. It is the individual personal accountability that I am beginning to wonder about. Are we not curious anymore? Are we just too busy to look up in the sky and notice that the Sun has moved from one position to the other; that there is daylight and darkness during the course of the day? And, while we’re on the subject of lack of knowledge, don’t let me get started on geography!
What do you think? Am I missing something here? What are your suggestions for improving our nation’s lack of awareness of important facts and information?