A new poll out this week shows that Americans only tend to believe what they can actually see. It's why there is not universal belief in the Big Bang Theory (even though the Hubble Telescope has given us a glimpse into the earliest days of the universe on numerous ocassions). It's why there remains doubt about global warming (just look at the winter and the spring we had in most of the country--and the forecasts that show below normal temps for at least the next month). And it's why so many doubt Evolution (all of those animals look the same as they did years ago).
Obviously, religion plays a major role in some of that disbelief in science. If you were like me, you were given the Biblical explanation for creation from your earliest days as a child and then the actual scientific reason for most things was given to you later. Eventually you had to make a decision--do I go with what I learn in church (which is based on the writings of 14th century monks, or do I go with reasoned explanations provided by modern learning (and risk going to Hell)?
Politics plays a role in disbelief as well. That is the excuse given for the doubt in MAN-MADE global warming--politicians are interfering with the dissemination of scientific data. I always laugh at the accusation that I am a "climate change denier" because I will readily admit that the Earth is getting warmer. I just prefer to begin my "global climate change" graphs at the end of the last Ice Age--which provides a very steady increase in average temperatures--as opposed to the "hockey stick" graph that takes into account a much shorter time period and produces a much "scarier" upturn in temps. What I also question is how spending trillions of dollars and limiting the growth of human economic evolution is going to fix the problem.
And this "I'll believe it when I see it" mentality is why the Obama Administration is never going to convince people that the Affordable Care Act is "working"--so few of us have actually seen any benefits. The number 8-million sign ups is celebrated as a victory--but the vast majority of those are people who had insurance but the policies were cancelled due to ACA requirements. That leaves about 2-million "newly insured" (and nobody can confirm that either). Millions more were put into Medicaid programs--but we don't know those numbers either. So that leaves at least 300-million people who only know that the ACA brought them another 8% increase in their insurance premiums this year (which apparently passes for "affordable" nowadays) and that the website that was four years in the making that still didn't work right.
Perhaps we should consider changing our motto from "In God we trust" to "The Show Me Nation."