Wednesday, January 02, 2008

At the risk of boring The Exterminator...

...who said in a comment on my last post "By the way, though, I'm now officially bored with the "controversy" between evolution and Genesis", I have something to add that I hope we can all take some hope from!

Exterminator cleverly suggested a few things we could ban creationists from participating in for as long as the claimed their beliefs to include a 10,000 year old earth void of evolutionary biology - "should not be allowed to (1) purchase any products not mentioned specifically in the bible, (2) do any jobs not mentioned specifically in the bible, (3) participate in any activities not mentioned specifically in the bible, (4) use any health care products or avail themselves of any medical services not mentioned specifically in the bible, and (5) vote in any elections (since democracy is not mentioned specifically in the bible, and, in fact, is implicitly disfavored.)"

I have another suggestion. It is simply to continue educating people. Not everyone will get on board. But when you reach a critical mass of about 2/3 it really marginalizes all of the wackos and prevents them from enacting legislation that adversely effects the large majority of rationalists.

Fairly recently (certainly within my lifetime) all poll results indicated that the majority of Americans believed the Universe had been created as is by a supreme being. While I don't think science operates via polls, I do accept scientific polls as an indicator of peoples' understanding of the natural world, which is very important.

This is the latest poll results, which I actually was pleasantly surprised at: 61% of Americans accept evolution as a reality. The article says:

Respondents also were more interested in hearing about evolution from scientists, science teachers and clergy than from Supreme Court Justices, celebrities or school board members. A key finding from the survey: There is a relationship between people's understanding of science and their support for teaching evolution.

Respondents were asked three science questions: one related to plate tectonics, one related to the proper use of antibiotics and one related to prehistory. Those who accurately answered questions on these subjects were far more likely to support the teaching of evolution in schools.


Scientists accept evolution as the best and only theory that accurately explains how humans and other species came to be so diverse. The theory is supported by many studies in many different fields of science. Intelligent design is a thinly veiled creationist argument designed to make the public doubt the theory of evolution, according to nearly all scientists and a 2005 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Anyway, I found it hopeful based on my life-long experiences of the lack of understanding on the part of my fellow Americans. If this has changed a little, it means that those of us in the rationalist movement have made some headway and can make even more. Let's keep doing what we do best, and hope for the best.


bjkeefe said...

That survey is a nice bit of hope. Of course, it also illustrates that polling on issues is sensitively dependent on how the questions are worded.

But at this point, I'll take what I can get. If only the headline gets spread around, maybe it'll convince a few more people to think for themselves, and be a little skeptical about what the fundies are selling.

John Evo said...

Brendan says: If only the headline gets spread around, maybe it'll convince a few more people to think for themselves

Yes. It's often unfortunately true, but in this case I'll take it. People don't like being in the minority. That's why I'm concerned with "numbers". The more who accept evolution, the more the snowball effect kicks in. It's not a "good" reason for accepting a scientific fact, but if you get them to that starting point (by whatever means) it can lead to seeing the entire world in a more rational way.

The Exterminator said...

Sheesh, Evo, you're sure sounding like Pollyanna today. That 2/3 critical mass, if reached, will still mean that one out of three Americans is pig-ignorant. That sure makes me feel proud.

I'm taking this post with a grain of salt. I'll be interested in hearing your opinion of that brilliant entity known as the American public if Mike Huckabee wins the Iowa caucuses.

John Evo said...

That's Polly-Evo to you!

Huckabee could get the nod in Iowa with 20% of the REPUBLICAN VOTE! That doesn't tell you much about the entirity of American public opinion.

I predict Huckabee will lose in a landslide in the general election against ANY Democrat.

The Exterminator said...

If Huckabee even comes close to getting the nomination, every American should be ashamed of him- or herself. We've given credence to morons for far too long in this country.

PhillyChief said...

So out of 1000 people...
• 110 feel all living things evolved naturally
• 195 feel all living things evolved with a god's help
• 85 feel humans evolved naturally
• 180 feel humans evolved with a god's help
• 195 feel all livings things were created as is
• 235 feel humans were created as is

That's only 195 people out of 1000 who felt there was no god involvement in any way.
430 felt things were created as is by their god.
375 felt their god guided things along.

Still sounds shitty to me.

John, you might be interested in hearing the Point of Inquiry podcast from 11/16 where Neil deGrasse Tyson is interviewed.

bjkeefe said...

The Ex and PC are correct to point out that the survey results illustrate that we still have a long way to go. On the other hand, the results, if believable, at least indicate movement in the right direction. As I said, a small sign of hope. That's all.

Anonymous said...

This is a move in the right direction, which is probably why the ID-iots have their panties in such a twist these days. There's still a long way to go though.

John Evo said...

@ Philly - despite your breakdown of the stats (which I fully expected based on reading the article), I'm still encouraged. Then again, I'm Pollyevo.

Again, a few decades ago, the majority of Americans rejected the idea of evolution. Now 61% accept it. Even if a sizeable chunk of that number are people that think a higher power was the driving force behind that evolution.

I fully agree with Chappy and Brendon that this is the "right direction".

PhillyChief said...

Well, I suppose Evolution* is better than creationism, but I'd like to get more people to remove that "*".