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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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:17PM (#45823759)

    There is a statistically significant difference between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. That's just the reality of it.

  • by thatbloke83 (1529851) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:22PM (#45823815)

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

  • by couchslug (175151) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:23PM (#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 fisted (2295862) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:42PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:53PM (#45824153)

    Perhaps:

    Thirty people asked the question self-identified as Democrats, and twenty said they believed in evolution. Of seventy self-identified Republicans, thirty said they believed in evolution. Another fifty people refused to give a party affiliation or said they had none, and all fifty said they believed in evolution. That means 50/150 "rejected" it, or 33%.

    That's just my hypothesis to fit the observable data from TFS. We'd need to test it by reading TFA, or maybe the original polling data. Or we can practice bad reading comprehension and poor critical thinking, pretend we've found a flaw in the data, and reject it out of hand. Kind of like many people who don't believe in evolution.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:04PM (#45824251)

    God is the intelligent universe itself.

    Depends on your definition of god.

    Any sufficiently complex system is, by definition, intelligent.

    Trivially false.

    Congratulations, you're 0/2.

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

    by dnavid (2842431) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:19PM (#45824429)

    So you say.

    And that statement about "sufficiently complex" is an axiom of AI.

    Trivially true.

    There is no such axiom in the field of Artificial Intelligence.

  • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:21PM (#45824453)
    Is math not your forte? Here's one simple example:
    270 people were asked.
    100 of them identified as Democrats.
    100 of them identified as Republicans.
    70 of them identified as Green, Libertarian, Independent or some other affiliation.

    33% of Democrats plus 57% of Republicans would be 90 people. That's one third of 270.
  • Re:I believe it (Score:5, Informative)

    by dnavid (2842431) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:34PM (#45824581)

    The theory of relativity, the theory of evolution, the theory of causality, and theory of capitalism, all UNPROVEN, and at this time UNPROVABLE.

    Scientific theories aren't proven, they are confirmed through amassing sufficient supporting evidence. Mathematical conjectures are proven and provable. But there will exist no time in which the theory of relativity is "proven" except colloquially, because Science doesn't prove theories.

    General Relativity makes predictions, and those predictions have been demonstrated to be true to the best extent we can measure. That means General Relativity is "true" to a Scientific certainty. One day GR might be superceded just as GR superceded Newtonian gravity, but Einstein did not prove Newton wrong. Newton was basically right: objects continued to obey Newtonian gravity after Einstein published his work on General Relativity to the best extent Newton himself could have ever confirmed. Einstein demonstrated that Newton was approximately right, but not quite right in all cases, and Relativity is much more accurate. But we still teach Newtonian physics, because 400 years later its still basically right.

    Speaking about evolution specifically, the theory of natural selection states that all species arise through natural variations in generations that reward certain traits which are passed on to future generations, eventually causing different populations to distinguish themselves in ways we refer to as different species. The actual *mechanisms* of evolution are not in question: they aren't theoretical because they've been observed to function on smaller time scales and in certain situations. All of human agriculture and animal domestication demonstrates the mechanisms in action over tens, hundreds, and thousands of years, for example. That evolution is happening is not in legitimate dispute. The only legitimate dispute is whether it can account for all speciation. Believing evolution did not create all species is denying the overwhelming Scientific evidence, but denying evolution itself isn't happening at all is denying direct observational facts.

  • Age and Education (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:40PM (#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 gweihir (88907) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:49PM (#45824751)

    Well, here is one fact: Most scientific output is of very bad quality. If anything, reviewing papers for publication has taught me that. By implication, most scientists are not very good at their job. Commercialization makes this worse: The mediocre is declared the norm and actually good scientists find it hard to get funding or find that they cannot do science anymore. This great dumbing down has been vastly advanced by the "MBA plague" taking over the universities. It is getting worse. Look for example, what Peter Higgs says about his chances of having a scientific career today http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/06/peter-higgs-interview-underlying-incompetence [theguardian.com]. And he is certified one of the greatest minds in physics alive. Or think what Stephen Hawkins chances would have been if he had already been in a wheelchair.

  • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:53PM (#45824779)
    Considering in 2012 29% percent of people identified as independents [washingtonpost.com], 32% as Republican and 38% as Democrat my simple example numbers are actually pretty close to today's reality. In fact, if you look at 2004 (26 Ind, 37 Dem, 37 Rep), my percentages match up to the population exactly. Entirely plausible indeed.

    So that makes neither math, nor English nor research your forte.
  • by Sique (173459) on Monday December 30, 2013 @09:58PM (#45824833) Homepage
    Yes, the ancestry of Homo sapiens is still somewhat unclear, we don't even know right now, if many of the human fossils we currently attribute to different species like Homo erectus, Homo rudolfensis, Homo habilis etc.pp. don't belong to a single species, and we just found the remainings of very differently looking persons. If we look at today's Homo sapiens L., we have also very different phenotypes, and we still count them into a single species.

    But today, we can't easily determine if all those specimen formed a single, continious procreation community, or if they were actually separated by time and place. There is just not enough of the fossil record right now to give a definite answer, we just have some hypotheses, that make more sense to us than others. But we are looking at a single genus (Homo) with several species and subspecies, which are very closely related. And we are looking at a time frame of 2.5 to 6 mio years (not 60,000 as you stated).

    Dinosaurs are a very different kind of beast -- in the literal sense of the word. First, dinosaurs are not just a species or a genus, they cover two orders (Ornithischia and Saurischia), which would be comparable to analyzing the orders Primates and Dermoptera (colugos, batlike mammals from Southeast Asia), which are closely related and part of the superorder Euarchontoglires. The last common ancestor of the colugos and Homo sapiens lived about 80 mio years ago, which means that the evolution of the Homo sapiens from a comparably encompassing group than the dinosaurs took 80 mio years until today.

    And then the time frame from the last known common ancestor of crocodiles and dinosaurs to the dinosaurs as we know them today took much less than 100 mio years. The Crurotarsi (modern crocodiles and their ancestors and related, but extinct groups) split about 270 mio years ago from the Ornithodira (pterosaurs, dinosaurs and today's birds), and the first dinosaurs appeared about 245 mio years ago (Prorotodactylus).

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

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Monday December 30, 2013 @10:06PM (#45824899) Homepage
    There's actually evidence for this sort of claim. For example the majority of American scientists are atheists or agnostics, and over the numbers for members of the National Academy of Science are even higher. See http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html [stephenjaygould.org]. There's other data that suggests a similar pattern in terms of education. The GSS data shows that more educated people are less likely to believe in God. Curiously, there is evidence that people who don't self-identify as atheist or agnostic but don't identify as religious (e.g. "spiritual but not religious" or believe in God but no particular religion, or just don't care, etc.) know less about religion than most other groups, even as atheists and agnostics are some of the highest knowledge groups. See http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/ [pewforum.org].
  • Re:I believe it (Score:5, Informative)

    by crutchy (1949900) on Monday December 30, 2013 @11:30PM (#45825513)

    IQ tests are really good for figuring out how good someone is at doing IQ tests

  • Re:really (Score:4, Informative)

    by meglon (1001833) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:05AM (#45825721)

    really? i wonder why 1. energy and or matter cannot be created or destroyed. 2. there is no know process of turning inorganic matter into organic matter 3. there is no know process of turning organic matter into a life form.

    #1 - This has relevance for what reason?
    #2 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea [wikipedia.org] You are incorrect, it's been done since 1828.
    #3 - http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703559004575256470152341984 [wsj.com] You are incorrect, again. This is just one example of continuing research.

    My suggestion is that you quit listening to whomever it is that's been filling you head with bullshit, and perhaps start learning some basics of chemistry and biology.

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

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:14AM (#45825775) Journal

    The main evidence I have against evolution, in favor of some sort of creation, is speciation. I observe that within a species, there is a continuous spectra of traits within that species - I am sure I can find every gradient of dog somewhere between a German Shepherd and a Chihuahua if I had to. However I do not find any gradient part dog, part cat. Same within the plant species. I hold that if evolution were true, I would expect to find gradients across the entire living ecosystem, yet that's not what I see.

    There is a great deal of popular science writing on the topic of evolution that explains why your expectation is not practical, and why it is actually fulfilled to the extent that it is practical (look up "ring species" on Wikipedia for one example). Seriously, before claiming to form a rational opinion, why not spend at least a few hours reading up on what the mainstream scientific consensus on evolution actually is?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday December 31, 2013 @12:20AM (#45825829) Journal

    the tea party on the other that wants a federal government that is much smaller, almost libertarian.

    Except when it comes to teh gays, that is.

    Or in those rare cases where they do genuinely want the feds to be out of the business of regulating private sexual lives of citizens, it's only so that the states can do so instead.

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