Chris Mooney quotes from the National Science Foundation’s just-released 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators study that indicates that there appears to be a rise in the number of Americans who believe in astrology and think that it is science.
Over the years, the GSS and other surveys have asked Americans a recurring question: “Would you say that astrology is very scientific, sort of scientific, or not at all scientific?”
In response, a substantial minority of Americans, ranging from 31 to 45 percent depending on the year, say consider astrology either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific.” That’s bad enough—the NSF report compares it with China, where 92 percent of the public does not believe in horoscopes—but the new evidence suggests we are also moving in the wrong direction. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who say astrology is scientifically bunk has been declining ever since a high point for astrology skepticism in 2004, when it hit 66 percent.
He looks further at the disaggregated data. Most disturbing is that a majority of younger Americans aged 18 to 24 consider astrology at least ‘sort of scientific’, going from around 40% in 2005 to close to 60% today.
This is especially puzzling given the rise in the number of young people who are unaffiliated with religion. Further studies will have to tease out the reasons.
Interestingly, the NSF report also says that 92% of the Chinese public does not believe in horoscopes. NPR had an item this morning that says that the fortune cookie that is a staple of Chinese restaurants in the US are a US creation, like many of the dishes served here.