Science literacy

A recent science literacy survey is floating around, noting particularly the lack of knowledge about how long the Earth takes to orbit the Sun, and whether dinosaurs and people existed at the same time. While great fodder for jokes and superficial talk about science education, I'd prefer some more pressing, and perhaps more probing, questions be asked. here are some examples:

  • Open-ended question: Should government policy be guided by public opinion or scientific evidence?
  • Open-ended question: If a policy or initiative of the government does not involve you, should you care about whether it does what it was intended to do?
  • Open-ended question: Is investment in alternative energy sources important?
  • Open-ended question: Do you think it is more important to remember specific information and concepts, or be able to effectively search for and evaluate specific information and concepts?
  • Do you think there is scientific consensus that global climate change is primarily driven by human activities? [answer: yes]
  • Approximately how many Australians require food relief each year? [answer: 2 million]
  • Are water quality problems in the Great Barrier Reef catachment area and climate change two of the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef? [answer: yes]
  • What percentage of the world's asylum seekers does Australia take? [answer: 1-2% of asylum claims, 0.2% of refugees]
  • Is there evidence that prohibition of illicit drugs does not work, and that other approaches may be more effective? [answer: yes - NZ is the latest country to test this]