New Issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach

| 9 Comments

T. Ryan Gregory flags the availability of the newest issue of “Evolution: Education and Outreach” a few days ago. The main emphasis is on ‘tree thinking’ and there are some very good resources available there. However, of interest to me was Mazur’s article on the relationship of religiosity, political conservatism, education, and acceptance of several scientific propositions about evolution, plate tectonics, the Big Bang, and heliocentrism.

9 Comments

Uh oh, we’re in for some “conservatism doesn’t make you creationist” from JK.

Just Bob said:

Uh oh, we’re in for some “conservatism doesn’t make you creationist” from JK.

No, we’re not. I’m cranky, dealing with chemotherapy as I am, and will stomp stuff like that; I am not in the mood for political BS. Conservatism is statistically associated with creationism and science denial in general. Period. Fact of life. No causal hypotheses are posited, only the statistical linkage.

And that, among other things, is what we love you for!

A true gentleman and scholar!

Fre thinking? From the evolution censors?! Is this a trick? yes AMEN to free thinking! Why not start in the house of thinking. Schools. In order to think about origin ideas or origin contentions one must have full access to all ideas in order to freely think. In short the censorship of public institutions must be ended. I suspect, as I always note, that these people just want the prestige of claiming to be free thinkers but are not in reality. Establishments , in the wrong, never welcome free thinking. Not in Canada anyways,.

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Robert Byers said:

Fre thinking? From the evolution censors?! Is this a trick? yes AMEN to free thinking! Why not start in the house of thinking. Schools. In order to think about origin ideas or origin contentions one must have full access to all ideas in order to freely think. In short the censorship of public institutions must be ended. I suspect, as I always note, that these people just want the prestige of claiming to be free thinkers but are not in reality. Establishments , in the wrong, never welcome free thinking. Not in Canada anyways,.

Tree not free. Maybe you have some of them in Canada afterall.

Robert Byers said:

Fre thinking? From the evolution censors?! Is this a trick? yes AMEN to free thinking! Why not start in the house of thinking. Schools. In order to think about origin ideas or origin contentions one must have full access to all ideas in order to freely think. In short the censorship of public institutions must be ended. I suspect, as I always note, that these people just want the prestige of claiming to be free thinkers but are not in reality. Establishments , in the wrong, never welcome free thinking. Not in Canada anyways,.

There are numerous problems with your suggestions: One is that Creationism is nothing but lies in the form of religious propaganda, and in the United States, it happens to be technically illegal to teach religious propaganda in place of science in a school. Another problem is that Creationists, themselves, hypocritically abhor free speech (and the very idea of people educating themselves), hence their constant harassment of people who disagree with them.

Thirdly, you don’t teach a complicated scientific concept to children by wasting time with throwing anti-science religious propaganda and anti-science lies in the hopes of brainwashing them into your cult.

Seriously, how come none of the admins don’t care to take a cue from PZ Myers and ban this idiot? I mean, if they don’t want us feeding the trolls, why do they let the trolls constantly disrupt threads?

RBH said:

Just Bob said:

Uh oh, we’re in for some “conservatism doesn’t make you creationist” from JK.

No, we’re not. I’m cranky, dealing with chemotherapy as I am, and will stomp stuff like that; I am not in the mood for political BS. Conservatism is statistically associated with creationism and science denial in general. Period. Fact of life. No causal hypotheses are posited, only the statistical linkage.

The paper does hypothesize a reason for this and if true gives us some clues on how to be more effective in outreach to evangelicals, particularly young ones, as I will show below.

Why should well-educated political conservatives, who are not committed to a literal Bible, be especially prone to reject central principles of modern earth science? The answer, I think, lies first in realizing that most educated people do not thoroughly understand the biological, geological, and astronomical evidence that makes scientifically unassailable cases for the evolution of life and the expansion of the universe. Most nonscientists accept (or reject) these concepts largely on the word of authorities whom they respect or on views that are current in their circles (Ruse 2005). Furthermore, in American politics during the last few decades, there has been increasing left–right polarization on a number of “hot button” issues including abortion, the Iraq war, immigration, climate change, and teaching “intelligent design” in public schools. Citizens leaning toward each extreme tend to adopt the issues of their fellow extremists (Hetherington and Weiler 2009). Conservatives with no particular interest in the Bible tend to accept the positions vigorously espoused by their coalition mates on the religious right. There is no reason to doubt that this is a symmetrical effect, working as well on liberals.

What’s happening is extremists are hanging out with other extremists and are making each other even worse. This paper notes the bad effect religious conservatives have on non-religious ones and I’ve observed the opposite effect of the bad effect the Tea Party has on religious conservatives. Currently almost all the extremism is happening on the right but as the last sentence notes I don’t think conservatism per se is the issue. It’s the extremism.

What I’ve observed is once you get an evangelical out of the white hot political arena they are more able to listen, absorb, and accept the evidence produced by mainstream science. If you don’t take that crucial first step you get the paranoid rantings we have already observed on this thread. As scientists we are used to having the evidence win the day but that doesn’t happen in the world of politics.

Furthermore, one of the most often cited reasons young people leave the evangelical church is the politicization. It’s no wonder that it’s the young evangelicals who are most open to the scientific evidence. If the evangelical church doesn’t get this real fast they are going end up like the Crystal Cathedral, an empty, expensive building. Depoliticizing is good for science and it’s good for the church and it’s something on which we should have common ground. Right now we are far away from this goal but in the mean time I will go back to being a voice of one crying in the wilderness.

Solely on statistical grounds, Mazur’s analysis is flawed. His regression coefficient of 0.64 shows that there is a lot of variability in the data. What he should have done - and he does not mention that he did this - was to use some kind of data transformation (e. g. logarithmic (base 10), natural logarithmic (base e), square root) that would have transformed the polling data into one more closely approximating a normal distribution. Data transformations of the kinds I have described are standard statistical practice and, in fact, were stressed to me when I took introductory biostatistic courses in graduate school.

Of course this also begs the question as to whether ordinary least squares linear regression analysis was the best statistical technique used; even Mazur acknowledges that probit analysis would have been more accurate.

Since Mazur’s statistical analysis is flawed, I don’t think it is necessary for me to comment on the predictors he found (Betas) or how he has interpreted them.

Maybe you can explain your most astute observation to Federal Judge John Jones (who presided over the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial), Rolling Stone contributor (who also writes for The Weekly Standard) P. J. O’Rourke, National Review columnist John Derbyshire, and, before I forget, former University of Virginia Provost and former Director, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Dr. Paul R. Gross, who co-authored with historian and philosopher of science Dr. Barbara Forrest, “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design”:

Just Bob said:

Uh oh, we’re in for some “conservatism doesn’t make you creationist” from JK.

Out of respect for RBH and his ongoing chemotherapy (Get well RBH, I have lost too many relatives to cancer and my father has had chemotherapy at least three times in the last twelve years; fortunately he seems to be on the mend now) I won’t comment further.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on November 22, 2010 11:59 AM.

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