Quickies

Skepchick Quickies, 11.8

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Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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13 Comments

  1. The pictures in the “10 strangest things” post are great, but I wonder what’s wrong with me that I a) read through all the comments, and b) was tempted to reply to the one year old reply to the three year old comment by a creationist.

  2. To be fair, witches actually do exist although their powers obviously don’t actually work. I can believe in the existence of Christians without believing that prayer works, and I can believe in the existence of witches without believing that their powers actually work. However, most of the people in that study probably didn’t make this distinction.

  3. In Dumb things Amercans believe, I think the one that amazes me the most, and for which I have trouble imagining a cause, is the claim that “20 percent of Americans were still sure in 1999 that the sun revolved around the Earth”. Mind boggling ignorance. Are those folks allowed to vote? Have children?

    The pic of Saturn in the The 10 strangest (real) things in space is gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

  4. @John Greg: I don’t know about this survey in particular, but I have seen similar results in the past where the question had been a little tricky.

    It was usually along along the lines of: It takes 365 days for;
    A. The moon to go around the earth
    B. The sun to go around the earth
    C. The earth to rotate on its axis
    D. The earth to go around the sun

    So do the subjects not know that the earth goes around the sun, or are they just not paying attention to the answer?

  5. I wonder how the pollsters weed out:

    – people who don’t care if they answer correctly or not
    – people who think it funny to give a bunch of wrong answers
    – people who misunderstood the question.
    – absent minded

    The last one I was guilty of yesterday. In the list of authors, I wrote Genevieve Bujold (actress) instead of Lois McMaster Bujold (author). When I spotted the error, I decided to leave it as a tiny monument to whatever it might signify.

    @here_fishy: Those clips can be funny, but they are easy to make. Offer twenny bucks to passersbye if they will give a bonehead answer, and you likely wouldn’t even get your feet cold on a winter’s day. If you don’t mind some duds you can edit out, you wouldn’t even have to script it.

    I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of ignorance embodied in the typical person-on-the-street. I’m wondering how accurate such polls are at measuring it.

  6. @Skepotter: No doubt, but I suspect that a lot of the time, Rick catches people unaware and the fact that they’re being put on the spot in front of a TV camera throws them off and makes them give idiotic answers. I’m sure that loads of those people went home and had a total *facepalm* moment when they realized what they agreed to. I’m terrible for being easily influenced when put on the spot – I remember giving a conference talk and at the end, an audience member proposed an alternate explanation for the results of my research – I totally blanked and went, “um.. yeah… I guess that could have happened”… and 5 minutes later I remembered the reason why that totally couldn’t have happened and I had to go hunt the guy down to correct myself.

  7. Sure, but then you might have to interview 40 or 50 to get 8 or 10 you can use for your comedy clip.

    I, too, have a time delay before my brain kicks back in in situations like you describe. I want to shout at their retreating backs “I’m really not that stupid. Honest!”

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