News Item: “A third of millennials believe the Earth is flat” says a British company of Americans (not everyone on, well, Earth) after a survey.
Still, not quite, as Science Alert clarifies. The survey found that 2 percent of adult Americans say — when paid to take the survey — they believe the Earth is flat, while 7 percent of those in the age range of 18-37 (roughly, “millennials”) have “always thought the earth is flat.” Yes, that is pretty bad, but it’s not “a third” by any stretch. Also, as Science Alert points out, “it’s tricky to say how much of that is because they’re laughing at it, not with it.” Or because they’re getting through the survey quickly to get whatever reward they were promised.
When you drill down into the results, there are more interesting things to glean. Of those who do say they think the Earth is flat, most (52 percent) consider themselves “very religious,” and the majority of those who think it’s flat (no matter their religion) earn $40,000/year or less. The number I wanted to see but didn’t find: how levels of education factored in.
The bottom line is, look at the results yourself, and consider possible biases in the survey methodologies, before you believe the headlines.
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Randy Cassingham is best known as the creator of This is True, the oldest entertainment feature on the Internet: it has been running weekly by email subscription since early 1994. It is social commentary using weird news as its vehicle so it’s fun to read. Click here for a subscribe form — basic subscriptions are free.
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