Table 7-9
Correct answers to factual knowledge questions in physical and biological sciences, by country/region: Most recent year
(Percent giving correct answer)
 
Question United
Statesa
(2010)
(n = 1,932)
South
Korea
(2004)
(n = 1,000)
EU
(2005)
(n =16,029)
Japan
(2001)
(n = 2,146)
Malaysia
(2008)
(n = 18,447)
India
(2004)
(n = 30,255)
China
(2007)
(n = 10,059)
Russia
(2003)
(n = 2,107)
 
Physical science                
The center of the Earth is very hot. (True) 84 87 86 77 66 57 49 NA
The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move. (True) 80 87 87 83 44 32 44 40
Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around Sun) 73 86 66 NA 72 70 78 NA
All radioactivity is man-made. (False) 67 48 59 56 14 NA 40 35
Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True) 51 46 46 30 33 30 22 44
Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False) 47 31 47 28 16 NA 20 24
The universe began with a huge explosion. (True) 38 67 NA 63 NA 34 22 35
 
Biological science                
The cloning of living things produces genetically identical copies. (True) 80 NA 68 NA 53 NA NA NA
It is the father's gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.b (True) 61 59 64 25 40 38 55 22
Ordinary tomatoes do not contain genes, while genetically modified tomatoes do.c (False) 47 NA 41 NA NA NA NA 22
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria. (False) 50 30 46 23 8 39 21 18
Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (True) 47 64 70 78 NA 56 69 44
 

NA = not available, question not asked

EU = European Union; data not available for Bulgaria and Romania

aSee appendix table 7-9 for U.S. trends.
bChina and Europe surveys asked about "mother's gene" instead of "father's gene."
cRussia survey asked about "ordinary plants" instead of "ordinary tomatoes."

SOURCES: United States–University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey (2010); South Korea–Korea Science Foundation (now Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity), Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology (2004); EU–European Commission, Eurobarometer 224/Wave 63.1: Europeans, Science and Technology (2005), and Eurobarometer 224/Wave 64.3: Europeans and Biotechnology in 2005: Patterns and Trends (2006); Japan–National Institute of Science and Technology Policy/Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Survey of Public Attitudes Toward and Understanding of Science and Technology in Japan (2001); Malaysia–Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre/Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Survey of the Public's Awareness of Science and Technology: Malaysia (2008); India–National Council of Applied Economic Research, National Science Survey (2004); China–Chinese Association for Science and Technology/China Research Institute for Science Popularization, Chinese National Survey of Public Scientific Literacy (2007); Russia–Gokhberg L and Shuvalova O, Russian Public Opinion of the Knowledge Economy: Science, Innovation, Information Technology and Education as Drivers of Economic Growth and Quality of Life, British Council, Russia (2004).

Science and Engineering Indicators 2012