A lot of people have basic misconceptions about astronomy and science in general. Many seek out information, whether it be by reading magazines and newspapers, watching science programs on TV, or attending talks, like the symposium on religion, intelligent design, and evolution that I attended last night. The majority of Americans may be scientifically illiterate, but sometimes I think it's not due to an unwillingness to learn, but rather lack of ability to filter out the crap.
Case in point - this last weekend, the USA Today Weekend Magazine supplement, which appears in many papers nationally, published an article on how the newly discovered possible tenth planet "Xena" might affect your horoscope. Not tongue-in-cheek. Devoid of sarcasm. And listed under the subject heading "Science". So let's say John Doe wakes up on a Sunday morning and decides to educate himself in current events in science, so he opened up his newspaper, and pulled out this article. Didn't he do his part? Didn't he try?
Or he could sign up for a class at his local community college and walk into a room where a mousy mid-thirties chick attempts to debunk astrology as the pseudoscience it is. Who carries more sway - the nationally syndicated newspaper or me? I'm not claiming that this has happened, but rather use this example to illustrate my point. Misconceptions are being perpetuated by what we consider to be legitimate information sources. Sigh. I guess this is why I do what I do.