Here's an interesting Salon.com take on how popular culture has something to do with America's ignorance about science:
What do we learn from this curriculum about science? Well, just ask America's kids. Researchers who have studied the stereotypical views of scientists held by American schoolchildren report that when they encounter real-life scientists who visit their classroom, the kids think someone's pulling their leg, because the scientists aren't anything like the big-screen version — mean, male, gray haired and mad. As one study author explained to the magazine Nature: "They might say the person was too 'normal' or too good-looking to be a scientist. The most heart-breaking thing is when they say, 'I didn't think he was real because he seemed to care about us.'"