Tim Dunlop is complaining about the prevalance of creationist ideas, and notes that it is not just a US problem:
Speaking completely anecdotally, I have a cousin who is a geologist and who was doing surveys in NSW a few years back. He said he had to speak to a lot of property owners in order to get permission to do his work and that in explaining what he was doing–checking out the fossil record, dating the rocks–he often got a response along the lines of impatient dismissal. He was regularly told that the earth was only 6,000 years old.
In a similarly anecdotal vein, Rob Corr didn’t have any trouble unearthing a number of creationist commenters when he discussed the topic recently, people who saw acceptance of the theory of evolution as a matter of faith rather than of scientific investigation.
Ignorance of science is apparently a big issue when it leads to political consequences. But widespread scientific ignorance is by no means confined just to biology. Consider the Theory of Relativity. Try to summarise what the Theory of Relativity says. What does the equation e=mc ² actually mean? (atomic bomb is not the actual answer).
I managed to get through a 1980s education without the foggiest notion of what these things were all about. Thankfully these days there is the Internet, where autodidacts like me can find these things out for ourselves.
But the next time they do one of these surveys about the prevalance of creationist ideas, I’d love to know what else people do not know as well.
What does this say about the state of our education system? I’m not sure. It is quite possible to have a happy, productive, and fulfilling life in ignorance of the Theory of Relativity, just as many people clearly are happy to disregard ideas by Mr. Darwin. However, I would like to think that any nation which wished to have a well educated citizenry would have an education system which ensured people graduated from it with a reasonable grasp of the scientific principles which explain how the world actually works.