Science Fact or Fiction: Britons Struggle to Differentiate Truth from Myth

Science Fact or Fiction: Britons Struggle to Differentiate Truth from Myth

…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media. Science Fact or Fiction: Britons Struggle to Discern the Truth


A recent study commissioned ahead of New Scientist Live reveals that half of Britons find it challenging to distinguish science fact from fiction.

Participants were asked to identify the real facts from a set of science-related statements, with 48% providing incorrect answers overall.

The findings shed light on prevalent misconceptions and highlight the importance of scientific literacy.


Analyzing the Science Misconceptions: The study presented participants with 15 statements to determine their accuracy.

Here are some of the statements and the percentage of participants who believed them to be true:

  1. The sun travels around the Earth: False (41% believed it to be true).
  2. Lemmings control their population by jumping off cliffs: False (36% believed it to be true).
  3. Applying urine to jellyfish stings eases the pain: False (68% believed it to be true).
  4. The Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space: False (55% believed it to be true).
  5. Men and women have the same number of ribs: True (43% believed they don’t).
  6. Goldfish have a memory of at least two months: True (66% didn’t believe it).
  7. Global warming is caused by the hole in the ozone layer: False (63% believed it to be true).
  8. Cows can be tipped over while they are sleeping: False (47% believed it to be true).
  9. Lightning never strikes the same place twice: False (26% believed it to be true).
  10. It is the father’s genes that decide if a baby is male or female: True (48% didn’t believe it).
  11. AI technology was invented in the 21st century: False (46% believed it to be true).
  12. Mushrooms are not plants: True (38% believed they are plants).
  13. Vaccines do not protect against bacterial infections: False (51% believed they don’t).
  14. You swallow spiders when you are asleep: False (46% believed it to be true).
  15. Humans only use 10% of their brains: False (54% believed it to be true).

Misconceptions, Impact, and Scientific Literacy: The study highlights various misconceptions held by participants, with significant percentages believing in inaccurate statements.

From the misconception that the Great Wall of China is visible from space to the belief that humans use only 10% of their brains, these findings underscore the need for improved scientific literacy among the general population.

The Importance of Curiosity and Evidence: Prominent physicist and presenter Professor Jim Al-Khalili emphasizes the importance of questioning and demanding evidence in science.


He warns against accepting ideas that may sound scientific but lack evidence.

Curiosity and critical thinking are essential for navigating the vast amount of information available to the public.

Knowledge Gap and Social Media Influence: The study also reveals that a significant portion of the population lacks confidence in discussing science and has seen a decline in their scientific knowledge since leaving school.

Furthermore, a notable number of individuals turn to social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok for fact-checking, raising concerns about the reliability and accuracy of information shared through these channels.

The Role of New Scientist Live: New Scientist Live offers a unique platform for distinguishing science fact from fiction.


The event brings together live experiments, talks by renowned scientists, and demonstrations of cutting-edge technology.

Attendees have the opportunity to engage with experts and expand their understanding of scientific concepts.

Conclusion: The study’s findings emphasize the need for improved scientific literacy and critical thinking skills among the public.

Addressing prevalent misconceptions and promoting evidence-based knowledge can help individuals navigate the complexities of scientific information.

Events like New Scientist Live play a crucial role in fostering curiosity and providing reliable scientific insights to a wide audience.



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