Most academics believe that US universities are among the best in the world - of the top 20 fully 17 are supposed to be in the US. Yet in many respects American society is ignorant. It is a paradox that presumably reflects a divide.
In late 2006 fully 55% of Americans believed in Creationism. Of the remainder 27% believed in God-driven evolution while only 13% believed in Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Low income people and Republicans dominate in the stupidity stakes.
Moreover, America seems to have a monopoly on Creationist stupidity. A British Survey of 103 Christian religious ministers showed that 97% did not believe the world was created in 6 days and 80% did not believe in the existence of Adam and Eve.
If Americans hold foolish religious beliefs I guess it doesn't matter much. But on climate change issues only 18% of people believe that climate change is real, human-caused and with serious consequences. Troubling since, at least until recently, the US was the world's largest Greenhouse gas emitters.
I was puzzled at the AEA meetings in Chicago in 2007 that so many participants disbelieved the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis. Maybe these same people believe that we are all around because of a sinful fornication between Adam and Eve.