The Pew Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz is a simple 13 question quiz to get a very simple look at scientific understanding in society. Obviously these types of quizes are just extremely simple views, still it is interesting to see how you can do and what questions people struggle with.

graphic showing 13 of 13 answers correct

graph showing distribution of correct answers by those taking the quiz

I am surprised the fewer than 50% of the people got 2 true or false questions correct, including “Electrons are smaller than atoms. Is this statement…” Looking back at my previous post, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, in the 2009 Pew Science Knowledge Quiz it is also the case that under 50% got the are electrons smaller than atoms question right.

They also provided a breakdown by demographic factors. Men had better percentages of correct answers, for the 2 true or false questions men were correct 55% of the time while women got 40% correct. The two other true of false questions had much higher correct answer rates 77% (83% for men 72% for women) and 66% (70 for men, 63 for women).

There was also a substantial tendency for the youngest ages to do better and the performance to decline for each age group. I am not surprised by the question answered incorrectly most often (only 20% got it right), see if you can guess which it is.

Which natural resource is extracted in a process known as “fracking”? is the only question the over 64 age group was correct more often than the 18 to 29 year olds (50% to 35%). The over 64 group never beat the 30 to 49 or 50 to 64 groups. In general it does seem the younger groups did better but there are several cases where that didn’t play out exactly.

As you would expect those with more education got the question right more often (the 3 options were high school graduate or less, some college, college graduate). On no questions did a lower education level beat a higher education level.

48% of the quiz takers got 9 or more correct. Stumbling on a couple doesn’t surprise me. I do wish that the results were better though. The results are one more indication that scientific literacy is not what I would like to see in the USA.