First, please read this post and then this post.
Very simply put, in this age of information, the unwashed masses are fed a steady diet of pablum. The bane of our existence is the media. Both print and television continue to take stories and bastardize them. This is especially true of anything relating to science. They take away any big words so that a five year-old can understand them. They add a touch of sensationalism to keep people's interest. And the worst part, they know that their audience will not go out and independently validate the so-called facts.
On the local news a few days back, there was a story concerning the high amounts of sodium in processed foods. Foods like frozen dinners will have 30% to 50% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium in one serving. The FDA was looking at ways to crack down on this. But the twist was how the news outlet presented the facts. They stated that one should consume about one teaspoon of sodium a day. But most people are getting 4000 milligrams a day instead. This was a graphic on the screen with the 4000 in a larger font. The voice over then said that this was about twice what one should consume. This confusing graphic is exactly what I am talking about. Yes, too much sodium will lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. But, there was no need to sensationalize the point in such a confusing way.
In Scott Adams' post about fossils and evolution, and in John's post about global warming, the science part of the stories are glossed over. Assuredly, the media outlets feel that the average person (the aforementioned five year-old) would not understand the science involved. And they have achieved the self-fulfilling prophecy.
The good news is that there is intelligent life still on this planet. We must be vigilant in our efforts to educate ourselves and our children. You cannot take any bit of information as fact. You must validate and decide for yourself. Nothing from the media can be taken at face value. Except for maybe sports scores.