Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Politics Science

New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution 1010

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the vorlons-did-it dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that thirty-three percent of Americans reject the idea of evolution and believe that 'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time' rather than evolving gradually through a process of natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. Although this percentage remained steady since 2009, the last time Pew asked the question, there was a growing partisan gap on whether humans evolved. The poll showed 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago. 'The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time,' says Cary Funk. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants topped the list of those rejecting evolution, with 64 percent of those polled saying they believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution

Comments Filter:
  • by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:07PM (#45823661)

    The average IQ is 100, after all...

    • by linatux (63153)

      Average IQ of Republicans vs Democrats?
      Average IQ of believers vs non-believers?

      Will I get to toast my marshmellows over the embers?

    • Re:I believe it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by savuporo (658486) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:31PM (#45823901)

      Look, if you have been denied the opportunity to participate in evolution, wouldnt you lose a bit of faith there, too ?

      There is this great documentary [rottentomatoes.com] about this part of the population.

    • Re:I believe it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:40PM (#45824655)

      Really smart people are exceptionally good at rationalization.
      And highly effective at self-delusion.

    • Re:I believe it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StripedCow (776465) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:59PM (#45825279)

      Even if you do believe in evolution, it might be more advantageous to believe not in it.
      Why? Well, the brain evolved (no pun intended) with religion. It is rather silly to think you can eliminate such an important part of your psyche without introducing an imbalance of some kind. The brain is too complex, and the unconscious mind is too powerful.

  • Is anyone actually surprised by these poll results?

    • by Ragzouken (943900) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:09PM (#45823683)

      yes - a third of the american population don't have a basic science education

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JWSmythe (446288)

        They should. It's taught in grade school.

        Of course, there are "teachers" who prefer to believe the mythology over facts, who will blatantly lie and teach the mythology until they're eventually caught. It's hard to get caught doing it, if everyone in the area accepts it as fact. {sigh}

      • by couchslug (175151) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:23PM (#45823817)

        Many people reject science and education in general. Make no mistake about that.

        I had the misfortune of attending school with such trash (until rescued by boarding school), and rejecting science was the least of their problems. Such folk are why schools are Hellmouths. They are stupid, base and want to stay that way.

        • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:56PM (#45824811)

          Many people reject science and education in general.

          That is a tough spill to swallow for a lot of people who blame schools for everything. There are kids in school who just don't want to learn. No amount of shiny iPads or newfangled courses will change that. Ask some college kids why they are studying there, and most will answer:

          I need to get a college degree to get a job.

          . . . not many will say:

          I'm here to learn.

          This even goes right up to the top of the heap. I've heard premed students complain:

          I hate organic chemistry . . . but I need a good grade in it to get into medical school

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rockoon (1252108)
        33% of the population are age 50 and over, where a significant portion had to suffer through "new math" and "bauma reading" during their school years, rather than actual math and phonics.
      • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:35PM (#45823943) Journal
        Actually, I thought it would be higher than that, somewhere around 50% don't believe in evolution.

        Although honestly I find the wording somewhat awkward, if someone asked me if I believed in evolution I would probably glare at them. Believe? I certainly find the evidence supporting that theory convincing, but what does it have to do with belief?
        • by beelsebob (529313) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:05PM (#45824265)

          Part of the problem is that even the question is badly wrong. You would have to a complete idiot, and ignore the facts to not "believe" in evolution. We can observe evolution happening right in front of our eyes every day, by staring at bacteria, we can observe it on a larger scale by observing how different species of dogs (because they are by now different species thanks to their size differences making it impossible to interbreed some dogs) have split away from wolves.

          Evolution happens. Period.

          The real question is "did humans evolve from some lower primate, and eventually from some soupy goop, or was there some other starting state?"

        • by Ardeaem (625311) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @07:55AM (#45827875)

          Although honestly I find the wording somewhat awkward, if someone asked me if I believed in evolution I would probably glare at them. Believe? I certainly find the evidence supporting that theory convincing, but what does it have to do with belief?

          I see this particular stupidity come up whenever evolution is discussed. It needs to stop. If you find the evidence convincing -- and you are convinced -- then by definition you believe in evolution. The role of evidence is to provide good grounds for belief. There's no sense in denying that evidence has nothing to do with belief, because to do so would require that there is some "knowledge fairy" that somehow drops the knowledge in your head, bypassing belief, when the evidence in sufficiently strong.

          If you are rational, the role of evidence should be to shift your beliefs. Weak evidence should shift it weakly; strong evidence should shift it more strongly. The problem with creationists is not that they believe in creationism, but rather that evidence does not shift their beliefs at all. That's why they are irrational. Rationality is not about what you believe but in your beliefs' response to evidence.

          Stop claiming that scientific evidence has nothing to do with belief. It makes you look almost as dumb and unsophisticated as creationists.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:45PM (#45824061)

        yes - a third of the american population don't have a basic science education

        If it was only about education. Unfortunately it isn't about the extreme religious types being ignorant. They know about evolution, the debates have been made, the evidence has been brought fourth and the facts presented time and time again. But it is not the answer they want.

        I have on two separate occasions debated with close relatives about religion and evolution and after coaxing the same answer from them both it is clear that they and other like minds embrace a delusion. They wanted answers to two questions that they absolutely felt must have answers. Questions about where we go when we die and why we were put on Earth in the first place. Not only did they need, and I mean absolutely need these answers, but they had to be good; like their is a heaven, and life has a divine purpose and a plan and its all sunshine and butterflies. They wouldn't even allow the conception that other possibilities could exist because that would shake the sanctity of the delusion that they embraced. To them if their was not heaven or divine purpose and god didn't lay everything out in this nice little plan for us then their was no meaning or purpose and what's the point. ....And this was not something I came to the conclusion by analyzing what was said to me from those arguments with family members. Those were literal statements, not the exact wording, but the idea was the same. So they willingly embrace a delusion and want, and I do mean want, to kill any facts, evidence or arguments that challenge their worldview. They would rather embrace a fantasy and believe they can make it real by closing their eyes and clicking their heels.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:24PM (#45824475)

          Yeah, it's at those times I sort of start to get Cypher from the first (or, for many, the *only*?) Matrix movie. Some people just *want* to live in the Matrix, even if it's just an illusion.

          Don't get me wrong, we all do it. Concepts like fairness and justice are entirely made up -- we willingly buy into them, much like currency or economics. To paraphrase Pratchett's Death in Hogfather, you won't find a single atom of justice in the entire Universe and yet we believe in it, or that it should exist somehow. The difference here is that with some of those delusions, it actually makes us better (on the whole) or at least tries to nudge us in the right direction.

          Religion used to be like that (with many notable exceptions, of course). Lately it seems we're getting two camps: those that hold onto their beliefs while making allowances for what we slowly learn from the Universe around us; and those that hold onto their beliefs so tightly that they *refuse* to make allowances for anything that might jeopardize their carefully constructed world view.

          It's a losing war. Sadly, it's an artifact of most religions that they're based on very old notions and precepts put in place at a time where average knowledge beyond the practical and empirical (and even there...) was virtually zero, so when you truly believe that *everything* written down in a book largely authored thousands of years go is sacred and True, it becomes very difficult to reconcile that with modern life.

          Honestly, I think this is the larger issue here -- cognitive dissonance. And the fact that we're constantly reaching new highs as to the level of cognitive dissonance the human species can achieve. Watching the way some pundits talk sometimes, I fully expect one of these days we'll see one of them literally blowing their heads out on national TV -- I mean, there *has* to be a limit on the amount of cognitive dissonance you can force on your brain, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

        'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time'?
        If this is really how they presented the question, then I dare say that a good amount of those 33% did not understand what was being asked here.
        Someone who has no preference on the topic, or in science in general, would not necessarily make the connection to evolution, or even biology with such an abstract wording.

      • by OhPlz (168413)

        Some people believe in religion. Some people do not. Why do you feel so strongly about it that you have to condemn a significant portion of the population by belittling their beliefs? This reeks of the grand double standard. Be tolerant, but not of things you don't agree with. Schools aren't supposed to be indoctrination centers.

        The responses that topics like this receive here are really disappointing. It doesn't speak well of the technology crowd.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rmdingler (1955220)

      Is anyone actually surprised by these poll results?

      If by that you mean, mathematically, how 33% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans could be one third of a total number of polling participants unless no Republicans were selected....

  • That's okay (Score:5, Funny)

    by tpstigers (1075021) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:12PM (#45823709)
    33% of monkeys don't believe in it, either.
  • by ElementOfDestruction (2024308) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:13PM (#45823727)
    Republicans are such a perverted facsimile of what used to be a very reasonable party. If 6 years of Obama has taught us anything, it's that the empty can gets the grease. USA Politics desperately needs the GOP to fork into two factions - there are enough independents currently voting "D" to jump over to make a center-right candidate feasible. Center-right by US Standards, that is.
    • by schwit1 (797399)

      The Republicans are currently in an upheaval. You've got the corporatists(big banks, conglomerates and security/military industries) on one side that wish to maintain the corporate welfare state and too-big-to-fail conglomerates, and the tea party on the other that wants a federal government that is much smaller, almost libertarian.

      Unfortunately the money is with the corportists.The real energy though is with the tea party.

      The evolution issue will get fixed with time.

      • by Darby (84953) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:11PM (#45824341)

        Unfortunately the money is with the corportists.The real energy though is with the tea party.

        I find it bizarre that you don't understand that these are the same side.

        The shrinking of the federal government the tea baggers keep pushing is only in those areas designed to reign in the corporatists.

        The tea party is primarily funded by the corporatists for exactly this reason.

        Are you honestly so out of touch that you don't grasp this?

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Bush was a "small government" guy on paper as well. Think about how that worked out the next time you get your balls squeezed at the airport or hear about Homeland Security raiding a toy shop due to unlicenced Rubiks Cube knockoffs (wierd but it happened).
        "Small Government" is mostly just code for "nobody to catch me being offered bribes or to see me raiding the till". In that form it's a cry from crooks affiliated with any branch of politics.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What 6 years of Obama has taught the world is that there really isn't much difference between the parties when it comes to governing.

  • If time started less than 10,000 years ago, then sure, we've existed since the beginning of time. Time periods longer than that are very difficult for people to wrap their heads around.
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sable Drakon (831800) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:17PM (#45823767)
    At least 33% of Americans are fucking morons, so why should this be any sort of surprise?
    • by savuporo (658486)

      The not so surprise is that these morons tend to increasingly more have a certain political affiliation.

  • ...is that it's true whether or not you believe it.

    • by fisted (2295862) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:42PM (#45824031)
      No. Science doesn't directly deal with reality, but with models of reality. A theory can perfectly and correctly describe a model, yet it might turn out the model doesn't model reality quite accurately [or not at all].
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      Oh really? what fraction of scientific beliefs that were "true" 150 years ago are "true" now? Science certainly seeks to understand and categorize the nature of reality, but makes no claim to absolute "truth". Most "laws" of science are (useful) approximations.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:24PM (#45823827)

    There is a big difference between what someone believes and what someone says they believe. The main cause is needing to belong. Someone may say they believe something to fit into the mold they want even though they actually believe something quite different.

    • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:46PM (#45824063)

      Not only that, but I would bet you what almost any Republican would answer yes to the following series of questions:

      Do you believe that certain traits can be inherited?

      Do you believe that traits regarding socio-economic fitness can be inherited?

      Do you believe in survival of the fittest?

      The first is pretty much a given. The second and third tie into the social darwinism that's common in the Republican platform. And yet the logical conclusion of the three is evolution. Peculiar, isn't it?

      The whole thing is just politics. Even the religious stuff is just politics - that first point was scientifically proven by an Augustinian (ie. Catholic) monk. It's only when it got to humans no longer being the special soul-endowed divinely-created masters of the universe that anyone had a problem with it, and you can easily interpret all of scripture in a way that fits with evolution (believe me, as a former Catholic who never had a problem with evolution, there's plenty of ways to rationalize it).

  • There are roughly an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, so 54/64 to 43/67 means the score should have dropped by 3% rather than remain steady.

  • Evolution is the observation - that's the part we know is true because we actually observe it in the fossil record and elsewhere.

    Natural selection was the part that was theory.

    • Re:Funny thing... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:41PM (#45824667)

      No, it is not. It is a model that fits the observable facts pretty well and far better than all other serious competing models, and hence it is promoted from a hypothesis to a theory (also called a "standard model"). A theory is by no means a fact. Here is a competing hypothesis, that could well be true: All this evidence was planted as an intelligence test for the human race by some aliens. As that hypothesis has zero supporting evidence, it does not get to be a "theory". It could be the truth though.

      What Science does here is to use Occam's Razor: If you have a well-supported theory and no serious competitor, assume the theory is likely the truth as basis for further scientific study. As such, assuming Evolution is right is just a way to allocate research resources rationally and efficiently. As long as the Scientific Method is in continued use down that path, it will either find more supporting evidence (a win for Science) or it will eventually find enough contradictory evidence that allows the formation of a new theory that is consistent with all known evidence (a win for Science as well). The thing about Science is that it works, no matter how bizarre the circumstances. Sometimes, it seems to indulge in runaway complexity though, see, for example, Quantum Theory. Whether that one is a good model of reality seems to be highly doubtful to me. Still the best one we have at this time.

  • by fishb0ne (1190195) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:32PM (#45823919) Journal
    Oh, you mean a SCIENTIFIC theory? Then in that case it's a conspiracy of mass proportion. My god trumps your heathen lies.
  • by retroworks (652802) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:43PM (#45824039) Homepage Journal

    Read the article... and the big change is 10% fewer people "believe in evolution" than (expressed) belief in evolution in 2007. Did 10% of Americans REALLY change their views in 5 years?

    I think the survey measures something else. Something even more disturbing, perhaps - the growing willingness to express falsehood as a demonstration of political purity. The last Republican primary showed even very educated Republicans willing to state opinions they didn't really hold (and I doubt Democrats are much different in that regard). It's expressed in immigration law reform, in budget reform, climate change... It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, you show your value as a teammate by expressing the teams' view loudly and forcefully. Did 10% of American change their views about evolution? No. They just taking cues from people who think "denial" is a "philosophy"?

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      I think the survey measures something else.

      It probably measures a lot of dying American creationists. This would hardly be surprising: It was 1968 before the US Supreme Court struck down state laws prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools, so older Americans are much more likely to have been taught creationism in their science classes than younger Americans.

  • by Yaztromo (655250) <`yaztromo' `at' `mac.com'> on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:51PM (#45824129) Homepage Journal

    That's okay. Personally, I don't believe in Republicans. Indeed, I'm pretty confident at this stage in my life that "Republicans" and "Americans" were things my Dad invented for bedtime stories when I was young to scare the crap out of me and keep me on the straight and narrow.

    Yaz

  • by dlenmn (145080) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:23PM (#45824467) Homepage

    It's odd that proponents of the free market (with its "invisible hand") can reject evolution -- suggesting that only intelligent design (or straight up creationism) can explain how life got this way. The market and evolution are both amazing examples of "survival of the fittest"; why not accept the same mechanism/explanation for both?

  • Much worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:26PM (#45824509) Homepage

    About a quarter claim to believe in evolution, but say it is divinely controlled. The whole point of the theory of evolution is that speciation and adaptation result from natural selection rather than design. So "divinely controlled evolution" is really a longer way of saying "creationism".

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:39PM (#45824643)

    I am originally from Europe and now living in the US. I have an 8 yr old son and am appalled at the low standard of education he is receiving here, even in supposedly top schools.

    I am therefore not surprised that 1/3 of all Americans are so scarily ignorant that they have to rely on superstition to understand even the basics. I see this as just more confirmation of how dangerously powerful churches in the US are, and how broken the US education system is, even compared to most 3rd world countries.

    The US approach reminds me of the Eurpoean dark ages, when cartographers used to write "Here Be Dragons" on parts of the map to avoid admitting that they didn't actually know what was there at all.

    • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:58PM (#45825275) Homepage Journal
      Where exactly do you live? Not all schools in the US are created equal. I live in Massachusetts and our schools are rated some of the best in the world. Granted the rest of the country uses pejoratives like "Taxachusetts", commie liberals, the list goes on.. They laugh about how much money we spend on our schools, universal health care, etc. However they usually stop laughing when they notice that we have one of the lowest rates of unemployment and one of the highest levels of education in the country. At last check eighty six percent of adults in Massachusetts have a bachelors. Massachusetts is one of the innovation centers of the world.

      Please don't judge the entire US merely on the poor experience in your state.

      As to your second point... yes, churches are dangerously powerful. I feel in the last election many states crossed the line and participated directly in fundraising and coordination efforts.

      I disagree with your assertion that the US system is broken compared to most 3rd world countries. Just like there are lots of variations in the wealth of 3rd world countries, their educational systems vary greatly as well. We could have a lengthy conversation just on the many different education systems in Africa, some pubic, some for profit, some that are good and some that are horrifyingly mindbogglingly bad.

      As to your last point, yes there are many people in this country who think that their ignorance is a sign of reverence. They've come to a place of cognitive dissidence in regards to the world. Their lack of education, combined with their incomplete and poorly contrived belief system has backed them into a corner.

      I'm proud to say I work every day to make that corner smaller and increasingly uncomfortable.
  • Age and Education (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:40PM (#45824657)

    Age and Education are the interesting findings here, not political views:

    Age:
    - 18-29 age group - 68% evolution, 27% existed, 4% don't know
    - 65+ age group - 49% evolution, 36% existed, 15% don't know

    Education:
    - College grad - 72% evolution, 24% existed, 4% don't know
    - Some college - 62% evolution, 33% existed, 5% don't know
    - High school or less - 51% evolution, 38% existed, 11% don't know

    Side note: Kudos to the survey methodology being described in detail. Looks like it was properly designed.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:26PM (#45825871)

    Before the gloating sets in, you have to put these numbers into perspective: a significant fraction of Europeans also do not believe in evolution; here is data from the UK:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/feb/01/evolution-darwin-survey-creationism [theguardian.com]

    In addition, although scientific literacy is low in both Europe and the US, American adults are generally better informed on science than European adults:

    https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-public/science-literacy-us-college-courses-really-count [sciencenews.org]

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe

Working...