I came across some data from the National Science Foundation in the US. They surveyed ~2000 members of the public in 2012 (but there is also data going back to the 1980s) with some simple questions assessing basic science knowledge. Here are some of the questions and the proportion of respondents getting them right:
|Question||% answering correctly|
|How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun: one day, one month, or one year?||55%|
|Electrons are smaller than atoms.||53%|
|Lasers work by focusing sound waves.||47%|
|Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.||51%|
|Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.||48%|
Given these were either true/false or 3 options one might expect a random answer to be correct 50% or 33% of the time. I guess this summarises a dismal failure in the education system.