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A quarter of Spaniards believe Sun orbits Earth

Jessica Jones · 24 Apr 2015, 10:25

Published: 24 Apr 2015 10:25 GMT+02:00

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A third of Spaniards think that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs, according to a new study, while a quarter are under the impression that the sun orbits the earth.

Although the figures are surprising, they have actually improved since the last such study was carried out in 2006.

The survey into the Social Perception of Science (Encuesta de Percepción Social de la Ciencia) was carried out by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundación Española para la Ciencia y La Technologia) and was presented on Friday morning by Carmen Vela, minister for research, development and innovation.

Vela emphasized that the level of scientific understanding among Spaniards has actually risen considerably since the last survey, in 2006. Nine years ago, Spaniards answered, on average, 58 percent of questions correctly, whereas in the latest study they answered an average of 70 percent.

Despite that, the survey revealed some serious gaps in Spaniards’ scientific knowledge.

Over 11 percent of people do not believe that human beings are descended from animals, a belief that could stem from the time the Catholic Church forbid any mention of evolution on Spanish television. Back in 1971, under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, a Catholic priest who was a consultant to Spain’s public broadcaster, forbid any mention of evolution on television.

When it comes to fracking – the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside – 24 percent are against it and 17 percent for. Although 43 percent of Spaniards admitted that they have no idea what the term means.

As for interest in science, there is a clear gender divide, with double the amount of men (20 percent) citing it as an interest, than women (10 percent).

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"This gap could be due to the lack of visibility of female scientists, including in prizes, the number of women who win scientific prizes is barely 5 percent," Carmen Vela told Spanish daily El País.

On a more positive note, 60 percent of Spaniards now believe that science has more benefits than downsides, compared to 53 percent in 2012.

But some are still a little bit muddled with what exactly constitutes science; 27 percent of Spaniards described homeopathy as "very or quite scientific" while 12 percent said horoscopes are a science. 

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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