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

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  • by jwkane (180726) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:08PM (#45823667) Homepage

    Is anyone actually surprised by these poll results?

  • by Ragzouken (943900) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:09PM (#45823683)

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

  • by ElementOfDestruction (2024308) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:13PM (#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.
  • Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sable Drakon (831800) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:17PM (#45823767)
    At least 33% of Americans are fucking morons, so why should this be any sort of surprise?
  • 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 Rockoon (1252108) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:27PM (#45823865)
    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 @08:35PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:36PM (#45823959)

    I sort of wonder what the science books should say, according to slashdotters.

    "Though we have no observable evidence, and every single possible paleontological find manages to fly in the face of its hypotheses, the matter is 100% settled that humans descended from Neanderthals... wait, no, we were contemporaries with them, but not DESCENDED FROM THEM (ridiculous), except maybe some of us, or something, like halfbloods, but we were descended from chimps? No... they're current contemporaries, but we share a common ancestry that dates back to a tailed monkey! Until the next find that places us squarely back to having a common ancestry dating to carnivorous plants, or something. Anyways, because you don't have to go to Sunday School if there is no God, the science is settled! Any critical questions must be answered with condescension, ad hominem attacks, and canned responses from philosophers that call themselves scientists. If anyone disagrees with you, it is because they are stupider than you. Oh, and please don't ask why dinosaurs took a hundred million years to evolve and humans managed to do it in like... 60,000 years. You're stupid to ask a question like that. You obviously don't understand evolution as well as I do if you have to ask a question like that. It has to do with heat and competition and.... life expectancies and that stuff. Also don't ask about idioglossia, any questions about human sexuality, or our naturally-superfluous knowledge capacity, because that will only expose your own ignorance holes. For any further questions, please refer to the fiction section where a writer named 'Dawkins' cashes in on telling you how smart his readers are and how stupid everyone else is, without resorting to basic manipulation patterns."

  • Re:I believe it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:40PM (#45823995)

    Most of the really smart people are aware God ... [isn't] real

    Do you have a cite for your assertion that most "really smart people" are atheists?

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

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:42PM (#45824021)
    Obviously both Democrats and Republicans are devolving at an alarming rate.
  • Re:I believe it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:42PM (#45824025)

    it's self-evident. if you believe in unprovable things your brain is defective.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:45PM (#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 @08:50PM (#45824123)

    A lot of people are not democrats neither republican. Stop thinking in binary terms.

  • Re:I believe it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sideslash (1865434) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:52PM (#45824137)
    I think you're defining things in such a way that everybody's brains can be considered defective.
  • by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:59PM (#45824195)

    '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.

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

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:04PM (#45824257)

    Neither did Richard Feynman and James Crick.

  • by Darby (84953) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:11PM (#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?

  • Much worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:26PM (#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".

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

    by gweihir (88907) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:41PM (#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 PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:56PM (#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: I believe it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bjohnson (3225) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:18PM (#45824969)

    Yes. because degenerate primitive theocracies have ALWAYS been very nice places to live.

  • Re:I believe it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mikeiver1 (1630021) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:21PM (#45824989)
    Yah and we are all going to be paying the price for the stupid they are perpetuating on their children for a very long time. On the one had we have an Everest of irrefutable evidence in support of the theory of evolution and on the other hand.... Well we have a text written by a very, VERY small number of middle eastern men a few thousand years ago and "edited" and "interpreted" to suit the "needs" of the various religious groups in power along the way. Oh and lets not forget the countless translations from one language to another etc. So now I pose the questions thusly. Do you believe that the text is the result of some divine spirit that chose those very same men above from one particular part of the planet, and only them, to reveal his grand plan to? Or is it the results of voices in the heads of a few like minded crazies? Taken that you are in the minority, do you actually believe that "God" would only chose this very few "men" from this very specific geographic area of the planet he "created"? Why not tell these very same stories to others in say South and North America, Australia and New Zealand, and Africa and Asia for instance? If you take the above to be true as well, then how is it that "we" are all "Gods" children if he favors one very specific group from one very specific geographic area above all others? Isn't he suppose to love all "His children" equally? I am really glad that I made the choice to not reproduce. I would not want my children to be raised in the dark future that they are going to have to navigate. I personally find it impossible to get my head up may ass to see things from the perspective of the religious believer and I feel sorry for the children being indoctrinated to feed the greedy and self aggrandizing heads of modern churches.
  • Re:I believe it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vux984 (928602) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:24PM (#45825021)

    thinking god isn't real and being an atheist isn't the same thing.

    Uh... yes, they are.

    Someone might follow a faith for the moral story and community, while not believing that the deity actually exists.

    Then they are an atheist who agrees with the morality of a given religion and to be part of the community.

    They could also be agnostic/non-religious, which isn't the same thing as atheism.

    If they are agnostic they "don't think god isn't real" so they are outside the scope of your argument.

    If they are non-religious, that tells us nothing about whether or not they believe in god or not, so it too falls outside the scope.

    But if they "think god isn't real", then they are an atheist.

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

    by schnell (163007) <meNO@SPAMschnell.net> on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:39PM (#45825565) Homepage

    This is a sad reflection on our education system.

    This has absolutely zero to do with our education system. It has only to do with people who want to believe a certain thing leveraging typical human traits like confirmation bias and a disinterest in critical thinking to arrive at the desired conclusion. You can subject someone to three years of advanced biology classes and if they don't want to believe in evolution, they won't. I'd like to think that critical thinking skills can be taught, but - as reading Slashdot reminds me so frequently - people who pride themselves on their critical thinking skills about one topic (e.g. evolution) can throw those same critical thinking skills out the window when it comes to a different topic they want to believe in (e.g. conspiracy theories).

    The bottom line is that all the education in the world won't do any good for someone that does not want to believe in what is being taught. If this is a failure of anything, it's a failure of humans in general to be willing to listen to reason when it interferes with their biases - something which has remained more or less constant over time.

  • by CanadianMacFan (1900244) on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:40PM (#45825569)

    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.

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

    by Uberbah (647458) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:42AM (#45825985)

    I think you're defining things in such a way that everybody's brains can be considered defective.

    Nope. It's about testability vs non-testability. We don't understand everything there is to know about evolution or gravity or electromagnetic fields. Doesn't matter, because those things are testable. As opposed to an invisible sky man, which is no more testable than Last Thursdayism [rationalwiki.org], and never will be.

  • by anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @01:45AM (#45826321) Journal
    ugh... I'll feed this troll.. and take a shot at the traditional "Just a Theory" canard..

    Even people that claim to be "educated" fail at science.

    Last I checked, "Science" and "The Scientific Method" had numerous requirements. If you wish to claim that humans evolved from other primates, or dogs evolved from another species, or cats from another, we lack proof. This is why "Evolution" is called a "Theory".

    Actually, no. An idea without proof is a "hypothesis." When you get evidence that confirms the hypothesis, it becomes a theory. No matter how much evidence piles up, it never graduates to anything else in practice. A scientific theory is only upheld if it is a way of explaining a set of observations. the more observations a theory fits or "explains", the more powerful and well supported the theory is. In this case, the facts are that people keep digging up fossils out of the ground. They can date those fossils by using many dating techniques, and can determine that they are very old. that the younger fossils show up higher in the strata than the older ones. When they put some of the fossils together to get a good idea of the animals they came from, it seems the animals are different at different times (the remains and fossils you find at different depths are from different kinds of animals.) There are for examples, many identified versions of dog-like animals, that aren't exactly dogs in the fossil record ( http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/otherprehistoriclife/a/Prehistoric-Dogs-The-Story-Of-Dog-Evolution.htm [about.com] ), cats that aren't exactly cats ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felidae#Fossil_felids [wikipedia.org] ) and yes different types of monkeys/gorillas/humans that aren't exactly like the ones we see walking about today ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fossil_primates [wikipedia.org]. ) These different types of animals show up in the same place at different times, based on their depth in the fossil record.

    There is also that in many parts of the world there are species that are similar to, but different from other species which are in neighbouring areas but separated by barriers such as mountains or large bodies of water. Classic example here is the Galapagos Finches. They don't look like finches from the mainland, they are all different on each island, with the differences suiting type of food available. There is also the fact that humans have been able to make dog breeds over relatively short periods of time, selective breeding clearly can alter skeletal characteristics.

    There is also the strange poverty of designs in large animals. They have the same types of skeletons, same number of appendages and limbs, and innumerable common features that lead to groupings of animals into hierarchies of similarity. Once genetics were discovered, these hierarchies of similarity were found to be reflected in the degree of similarity of species genomic variation. Humans have genes that are 98% identical to those of chimpanzees, but only 50% identical to those of bananas.

    but we can go beyond fossils, taxonomies, and genetics into innumerable examples from the living world that make perfect sense through an evolutionary lens. take a look at this: ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22848088 [nih.gov] ) where it shows how there are hundreds of different species of fig, and each one or two has a corresponding single species of wasp that pollinates it. Or the fact that our eye design (same design used in all animals with a backbone) is "backwards" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye#Evolutionary_baggage [wikipedia.org] ) in that nerve fibres pass in front of the retina and all go to the centre whe

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

    by CrankyFool (680025) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @02:11AM (#45826421)

    Some very smart people are known for not being very good at standardized tests.

    And a whole lot of dumb people.

  • Re:I believe it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @05:57AM (#45827177)
    No, I can not test if my brain is merely living in a vat. Which is why I do not believe that my brain is living in a vat.
  • by Ardeaem (625311) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @08:55AM (#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.

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