Well, at least we beat Turkey

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Miller et al. 2006, Public Acceptance of Evolution, Science Magazine

Science magazine has just published the results of international polls assessing public acceptance of evolution around the world: Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto (2006) “.” Science Aug 11 2006: 765-766 (Supporting Online Material)

The results are at left. Only one country beats the U.S. in the race to the bottom: Turkey, probably the only country in the list with more severe fundamentalism vs. modernism issues than the U.S. But the people in the U.K. can take heart – a BBC poll this spring (which was widely cited by creationists to support the idea that U.S. antievolutionism is not weird), said that less than half of Britons went for evolution. That result is strongly contradicted by this survey, where the U.K. ranks near the top in accepting evolution (as well they should, Darwin is on the money there).

One nice thing about this paper is that it points out the dramatically different results one gets in polls, depending on the exact questions asked (Note: I still have issues with some of the questions; the various national polls were done by a variety of groups and agencies over a number of years, so the authors of this paper did not pick all of those questions. The mouse question below is scientifically confusing IMHO, and any question that mixes God and evolution together is going to get ambiguous results from the half of the country that is pro-God and pro-evolution. Grumble.).

From the supplemental material: Table S2. Acceptance of selected scientific constructs, United States, 2005. N = 1484.

True Not sure False
Over periods of millions of years, some species of plants and animals adjust and survive while other species die and become extinct. (T) 78% 16% 6%
More than half of human genes are identical to those of mice. (T) 32 47 21
Human beings have somewhat less than half of the DNA in common with chimpanzees. (F) 15 48 38
The earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. (F) 28 22 51
Human beings were created by God as whole persons and did not evolve from earlier forms of life. (F) 62 2 36
Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals. (T) 40 21 39

From these results, it appears that support for young-earth creationism is much weaker than the standard Gallup poll question (Humans were created in the last 10,000 years) leads people to believe. On the other hand, it is also clear that the big issue in the U.S. is not evolution in general, but common ancestry of humans and apes in particular.

It appears that the blogs are already doing meta-analysis on the results. One early report says that country evolution acceptance correlates with country happiness, but the statistical significance and causal connection of this result remains unreported.

PS: Press release and LiveScience story where multiple people are quoted and Bruce Chapman shills the lame old DI Pathetically Mild Dissent from Darwin List. When asked to comment on the DI list, I basically noted that it was long on people with irrelevant scientific research and expertise and incredibly short on people with relevant research and expertise. I should note that I did mention to reporter Ker Than that Stanely Salthe is the one guy on the DI list that might be an exception to my generalization, because he did do real work on evolution, before he got involved in semiotics and the other weird stuff he describes on his website here. I also mentioned Project Steve, which, sadly, did not make the story, even though the Steve list is still longer (S=750 according to the Steve-o-meter) than the DI list despite a systematic international campaign by the DI to gather names (NCSE recently received a fax of a letter they are evidently sending out to a large list of scientists, a list the DI presumably purchased).

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Nick Matzke tells the story on The Panda's Thumb, Science magazine has just published the results of international polls assessing public acceptance of evolution around the world: Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto (2006) “.” Scien... Read More

Boy Are We Stupid from The Two Percent Company's Rants on August 12, 2006 12:14 AM

And by "we," we mean the United States. Take a look at the results of this disheartening poll — it's like a brisk splash in the face with liquid nitrogen: A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the... Read More

175 Comments

There’s also this: WorldNetDaily poll on the age of the universe. That says a lot more about the readership of WND than it does about the state of science education in this country.

At least… I HOPE that’s all it says.

no wonder our friends across the pond so often ask what all hoopla is about. I’m envious; they made it to the top 10.

Why Iceland?

Where’s Canada?

I was wondering the same thing. Canada is honorably mentioned in the Supporting Online Material pg.6 under “Attitude toward science and technology.”

You would think we would secure a position on the graph. :-(

Well this just goes to show the affect of godless evolution ideology. Just look at that list of economically troubled countries filled with unhappy people engaged in all sorts of wickedness and crime. Why, my understanding is that morality was finally purged from the UK in late 1993. Compared to the US, their society is rife with murder, mayhem and chaos. At least, that’s the message I get from Ken Hamm.

From my reading, it seems that the majority of people don’t have a problem with the concept of evolution (78%). But when the question involves humans, a lot of us in the US have trouble accepting it.

I think they got the wrong segment of the Netherlands, only 12th… Shame on my country.…

Alas, though, it’s not just attitudes towards evolution. When it comes to virtually any topic, whether science, math, hisotry, geography, whatever, the US as a whole ranks very near the bottom.

We are, in effect, a nation of heavily-armed uneducated morons.

King Aardvark asked:

Where’s Canada?

And I’d like to know how Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East fair. Turkey will probably look good next to Iran.

Reason I’d like to know is if you can link anti-science to terrorism.

Iceland (gosh, only one slip of the finger away from Idland, and yet there at the top the anti-ID scale): one could just argue that they are a homogenous population, ethnically, culturally, and religiously, so that whatever attitude they hold about topics like this is likely to be widespread. The converse of some of the above is that there is a lack of the cultural and religious fault lines that fracture our more-diverse populace (and, of course, that same lack of diversity could potentially foster much more troublesome attitudes to science, and other things, as it has done elsewhere in the world).

Likewise, one might note that Icelanders are highly literate, strongly motivated to wean themselves away from a purely extraction-based economy, and that–like most northern European countries with high nominal affiliation to one of the Protestant versions of Christianity–they have also become highly secular (though, again, in other circumstances that same strong one=main-religion trend could cut against secularism).

But here’s my highly-speculative pet theory: a long-running genealogical research study has been taking advantage of that very high degree of Icelandic ethnic/genetic homogeneity (and of well-documented church, family, and government records of marriages, births, and deaths), which makes it “easy” to cleanly isolate genetic diseases (and trace them back to the ancestor with the founding mutation, chromoosome mismatch, or what have you).

Virtually every Icelander is familiar with this study and the underlying (that is to say, common descent with variation) rationales for why it works and why it’s important.

Anyway, that’s my hypothesis and it’s sticking to me.

I’d like to see a version of that bar chart sorted on the red/false data. It looks like it would stack up a little differently, although the US position probably wouldn’t change. I figure it is the blue and … is that yellow? … people we need to be talking to about how evolution is taught in public school science classes. The blues need to get active. The yellows need to be brought on board and their education in this area updated.

More than half of human genes are identical to those of mice. (T)

I don’t think we can really support this as being true unless someone has a very strange idea of what “identical” means. I think “identical” means having the exact same nucleotide sequence. Using that standard, the statement is most definitely false.

Now the vast majority of humans genes have equivalent genes in the mouse genome would be true.

Thus I think that this question is very badly worded.

I have one question for you…

Where is Canada?

I don’t think we can really support this as being true unless someone has a very strange idea of what “identical” means. I think “identical” means having the exact same nucleotide sequence. Using that standard, the statement is most definitely false.

Now the vast majority of humans genes have equivalent genes in the mouse genome would be true.

Thus I think that this question is very badly worded.

Clearly. In truth, I suspect 0% of our genes are literally identical to mouse genes. What they are trying to say is that over 50% of mouse genes correspond to homologous human genes (or even one-to-one, same function correspondance). I think this question came from a genetic literacy survey which was devised for broader purposes, and then was correlated with the evolution results in this study.

But it makes you worry if the genetic literacy survey has problematic questions like this. You could ask 1000 PhD. geneticists and most of them would probably give the “wrong” answer to that question.

Thus I think that this question is very badly worded.

Clearly. In truth, I suspect 0% of our genes are literally identical to mouse genes. What they are trying to say is that over 50% of mouse genes correspond to homologous human genes (or even one-to-one, same function correspondance). I think this question came from a genetic literacy survey which was devised for broader purposes, and then was correlated with the evolution results in this study.

But it makes you worry if the genetic literacy survey has problematic questions like this. You could ask 1000 PhD. geneticists and most of them would probably give the “wrong” answer to that question.

Geography isn’t my strong point, nor is geopolitics, but it appears the graph shows only EU and EU candidate countries + the US and Japan.

Geography isn’t my strong point, nor is geopolitics, but it appears the graph shows only EU and EU candidate countries + the US and Japan.

Sorry for double - got a failure to reach IP address message the first time.

Sam’s got it right: this poll is heavily biased toward industrialized nations. 34 countries out of (last i remember) 196. It omits countries that together constitute the vast majority of the world’s population: Asia (except Japan), Africa, South and Central America and even (!!) Australia.

Where would the US reside on the complete list?

I also wonder about bias in sampling individuals: how were they chosen? Some were phone polls; some were individual interviews. Depending on where and how the pollers found their subjects, the results might differ significantly (remember “Dewey defeats Truman!” ?)

Also, if you examine the supporting online material (SOM), there is a puzzling discrepancy: in the US, the authors claim to have interviewed at least 7500 adults over 10 separate years (the number may be as much as 20,000, but the methods statement is ambiguous), yet the n given on the chart is 1484. A similar shortfall occurs for other countries: eyeballing n in the chart, I get about 25000, yet the SOM suggests that ca. 44000 were interviewed. Contrast this with the observation that in Japan, n in the chart is exactly equal to the number given in the SOM!

There’s something more going on here than mere opinion. Most people who were ‘interviewed’ refused to participate (except POSSIBLY Japan, but perhaps the tally of ‘interviews there only included those who responded).

Before I make my concluding statement, let me point out that I am not a US citizen, and that I accept evolution absolutely.

In the face of my observations, this survey should be ‘subjected to critical analysis.’

I think our very own PZ Myers was quoted in a Fox Snooze article?

Paul Meyers, a biologist at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the study, says that what politicians should be doing is saying, “We ought to defer these questions to qualified authorities and we should have committees of scientists and engineers whom we will approach for the right answers.”

(I assume “Paul Meyers” is PZ. His last name always seems to get misspelled).

Sam’s got it right: this poll is heavily biased toward industrialized nations. 34 countries out of (last i remember) 196. It omits countries that together constitute the vast majority of the world’s population: Asia (except Japan), Africa, South and Central America and even (!!) Australia.

Where would the US reside on the complete list?

Despite my living in Australia, I would seriously want to know what the results would have been for Vatican City. They’d probably be able to survey all the permanent residents there.

I have one question for you…

Where is Canada?

Reporter: “How did you find America?” Lennon: “Turn left at Greenland”

It’s because we’re a resource-based third-world economy and don’t rank as a truly industrialized country.

I can’t understand why it’s easier for people to accept what appears to be an abstract concept like evolution over a great period of time, but not the relations of humans to the other apes.

Have they even seen a chimpanzee? You can’t spend more than five minutes watching how they interact with each other, their gestures and the way they look to realise that there’s something fundamentally very similar about us. I think the solution is to take all schoolchildren to zoos where chimpanzees are, watch them for a while, and explain that we’re related. If anyone has any trouble after that, I think it’s probably a level of indoctrination that no teacher can change.

As for that poll about evolution in Britain, I think the results can be quite misleading. People over here really aren’t familiar with the term ‘intelligent design,’ so they probably thought they were answering the question to mean ‘theistic evolution’ - still accepting evolution, but thinking that a god somehow put its mechanisms in place.

I can’t account for the 22% of people who chose ‘creationism,’ but I really wouldn’t be surprised if many didn’t know that it usually implies a young earth with no instance of evolution. I live in a part of the country where science education standards are comparatively low, and I can count on one hand the amount of people I’ve met who in any way subscribe to a form of creationism.

As for that poll about evolution in Britain, I think the results can be quite misleading. People over here really aren’t familiar with the term ‘intelligent design,’ so they probably thought they were answering the question to mean ‘theistic evolution’ - still accepting evolution, but thinking that a god somehow put its mechanisms in place.

I can’t account for the 22% of people who chose ‘creationism,’ but I really wouldn’t be surprised if many didn’t know that it usually implies a young earth with no instance of evolution. I live in a part of the country where science education standards are comparatively low, and I can count on one hand the amount of people I’ve met who in any way subscribe to a form of creationism.

Mephisto Wrote:

I can’t understand why it’s easier for people to accept what appears to be an abstract concept like evolution over a great period of time, but not the relations of humans to the other apes.

Have they even seen a chimpanzee? You can’t spend more than five minutes watching how they interact with each other, their gestures and the way they look to realise that there’s something fundamentally very similar about us.

And yet I’ve been told by straight-faced creationists that the evolutionary distance between humans and chimps is insurmountable, while all fish (sharks, rays, guppies, batfish, grouper, flounder, eels, etc.) could have evolved from salmon. The kind of mind that can accept neon tetra and whale sharks as being evolved in a few hundred years (post flood, tops) while denying humans and chimps could evolve from a common ancestor in millions utterly baffles me. What? Our brains are BIGGER! Our skin is LESS HAIRY! EVILutions can’t make things bigger or less hairy!

I’d like to see the correlation between the responses to these questions and the question recently asked in a Washington Post poll: “in what year did the 9/11 attacks occur?”

Can there be any doubt that the 30% of Americans who didn’t know the answer would be in the “don’t accept evolution/don’t know” categories?

As for that poll about evolution in Britain, I think the results can be quite misleading. People over here really aren’t familiar with the term ‘intelligent design,’ so they probably thought they were answering the question to mean ‘theistic evolution’ - still accepting evolution, but thinking that a god somehow put its mechanisms in place.

I can’t account for the 22% of people who chose ‘creationism,’ but I really wouldn’t be surprised if many didn’t know that it usually implies a young earth with no instance of evolution. I live in a part of the country where science education standards are comparatively low, and I can count on one hand the amount of people I’ve met who in any way subscribe to a form of creationism.

The article refers to a paper called “.” How post-modern! Are you trying to say the article has a point? :-)

In order to make Lenny a liar, you’d have to show that the FINDINGS were peer reviewed, not that they were published in a peer reviewed journal.

Lenny’s only a liar if he knowingly told a falsehood, but there’s no evidence that he did. I do think that his statement was technically wrong, because the Behe/Snokes paper (not the Meyer paper) was not a review article, was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and was peer-reviewed, but it’s clear enough what he meant, which was a peer-reviewed article that actually supports ID, not just is authored by an ID proponent. As I wrote earlier, “what is relevant is that no peer-reviewed articles by IDiots support IDiocy”.

Oddly, while Discovery Institute has a multimillion dollar budget (much of it coming from billionnaire nutter Howie Ahmanson), NONE of DI’s money goes to scientific research. Not a dime. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Not one dime.

Instead, ALL of it goes to lobbying and political PR. Indeed, when the Templeton Foundation asked DI to submit a proposal for scientific research into “design theory” for them to fund, DI ***refused to submit any***, leading Templeton to conclude that DI is just a political organization, with nothing scientific to offer.

It reminds me of the time when the tectonic theory was criticised by mainstream scientists, such that the tectonic theorists had to run a massive multimillion dollar lobbying and political PR campaign to get the theory accepted by mainstream geology.

Anonymous_Coward Wrote:

It reminds me of the time when the tectonic theory was criticised by mainstream scientists, such that the tectonic theorists had to run a massive multimillion dollar lobbying and political PR campaign to get the theory accepted by mainstream geology.

Yeah, people forget about that. The bad old days when the entrenched fixed-earth materialists denied opportunity for plate tectonics in the marketplace of ideas. Tectonicists knew better than to try to convince them with science or evidence (which is all irrelevant anyway), so instead got congress to pass laws putting plate tectonics into the classroom. Once children were forced to memorize meaningless objections to fixed-earthism, they then grew up and went out and found evidence to support the beliefs instilled in them. That’s how science is supposed to work: Conclusion, then evidence!

And they had all the activist judges on their side, too.

it’s clear enough what he meant, which was a peer-reviewed article that actually supports ID, not just is authored by an ID proponent. As I wrote earlier, “what is relevant is that no peer-reviewed articles by IDiots support IDiocy”.

Not to mention that, as the IDers themselves now tell us, there simple IS NO SCIENTIFIC THEORY OF ID. None. At all. Not a one. There is, quite literally, nothing at all whatsoever for any such peer-reviewed article **to** “support”.

And if our new fundie friend disagrees with that, then I ask him to pleaseplease please pretty please by all means, go ahead and SHOW us this scientific theory of ID. (And TRY to do better than “something intelligent did … um … something intelligent”).

From Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary:

Arabize

1 a: To cause to acquire Arab customs, manners, speech, or outlook; b: to modify (a racial or national stock) by an admixture of Arab blood.

It is a historical fact that such things occurred in the countries in question. Thus, I used the term correctly.

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sniff sniff .…ahh the distinctive smell of bubbling pond scum.…holds wet finger up.…no its the breath preachings of one of the Hydra’s unsevered heads.

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Both the Muslims and the Christians worship precisely the same deity.

To which R. O’Brien answered: Wrong. Tell me, Lenny, did you get your degree from Patriot Bible U?

Which explains why they are both called Abrahamic religions and Mr J. Christ is called a prophet in the Koran. And the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron which is sacred to both Islamic and Jewish belief. It has one door for Jews and one for Moslem’s since to enter through the same door would be a sin worse than death.

I can see it would be pointless to examine the fact that your so called Christian Church which was actually the tool ,pure obscurantism, used by the Absolute Monarchs of the day as a means establishing law and order, shut down the last of the Greek Pagan schools in Athens (Christian Emperor Justinian CE 529) when the authority of their ‘One true word of god’ was being questioned by a tradition of philosophical skepticism among which placing the sun at the center of the solar system invited a distasteful competitor for the divine rule of the Emperor and his agents of god, the priests.

A small hiccup giving us a 1000 years of the dark ages until the renaissance which saw the church brought kicking and screaming into the beginnings of the enlightenment.

As for the concept of zero, your considerable scholarship sums to an equivalent amount.

Posted by Robert O’Brien on August 16, 2006 12:51 AM (e)

‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank wrote:

Both the Muslims and the Christians worship precisely the same deity.

Wrong. Tell me, Lenny, did you get your degree from Patriot Bible U?

It would seem an organisation (and I use the term loosely) such as the Patriot Bible University would be one of those which, if they had proper campuses and staff, would be teaching that Christian and Muslim theology are totally unrelated.

Not terribly bright, are you, O’Brien . …

Slow down on the little creatures AC, even I’m having trouble making sense of that, considering the original jibe would have produced O’Brien’s world view rather than Lenny’s

There is no need to completely bamboozle O’Brien, I think he’s doing a fine job of that by himself.

even I’m having trouble making sense of that

Of my own words or of the quote? I’m too lazy to quote things properly.

But, being an evil atheist out to destroy the world with my immoral views, I actually have no desire to drink alcoholic drinks. Otherwise, I will pull something like what happened with Mel Gibson, but with my own hidden biases:

“The fundies are responsible for all the ignorance in the world! But that’s okay! As long as you’re not forcing your beliefs on others, I don’t care what you think!”

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Is this your (vain) attempt to come off as intelligent? The “Dark Ages” is a historical misnomer, and anyone who still uses it as a synonym for Medieval Civilization is stuck in the Dark Ages of historical scholarship. I suggest you read some books on Medieval Scholasticism and the Byzantine Empire (or, more appropriately, have them read to you.)

Yes, k.e.

Don’t be an idiot.

The Dark Ages are NOW where Christian fundies rule the roost (or are trying to).

Robert O’Brien, instead of diverting attention with your ad hominem logical fallacy against k.e, why don’t your respond to the criticism of your Dark-Ages denial of Islam as an Abrahamic religion?

I love the continental drift beard-tugging, AC. :-)

Grey Wolf Wrote:

Have you considered that one of the biggest turk cities in the world (if not the biggest) is actually Berlin, Germany?

This is obviously not true.

Grey Wolf Wrote:

The Turk population of Germany is *huge*.

About 3%, I think.

Well, Mr O’Brien, since you’re apparently a linguistic genius, you do, I presume, have the capability to determine what name Arab Muslims use to refer to god, and what name Arab Christians use to refer to god . …

Ever wonder why they’re, uh, the same?

It always amazes me how completely utterly crashingly pig-ignorant the fundies are about the history of their own religion . … (sigh)

And if our new fundie friend disagrees with that, then I ask him to pleaseplease please pretty please by all means, go ahead and SHOW us this scientific theory of ID. (And TRY to do better than “something intelligent did … um … something intelligent”).

Alas, our fundie friend seems to have done what *every* IDer does when asked to put up or shut up — they shut up.

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Alas, our fundie friend seems to have done what *every* IDer does when asked to put up or shut up —- they shut up.

You’ve just been proven wrong. Robert O’Brien diverted.

When asked to put up or shut up… he diverted.

So, is that like one of those cryptoquote puzzles in the newspaper?

Henry

Are these spambots or a very bored creationist?

yeah turkey!

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on August 10, 2006 6:06 PM.

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