Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report

We're still #1! Oh wait, actually we're still #2. Behind Turkey.

The deleted text notes that 45% of Americans in 2008 answered true to the statement, "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." The figure is similar to previous years and much lower than in Japan (78%), Europe (70%), China (69%), and South Korea (64%). The same gap exists for the response to a second statement, "The universe began with a big explosion," with which only 33% of Americans agreed. [...]

"Discussing American science literacy without mentioning evolution is intellectual malpractice" that "downplays the controversy" over teaching evolution in schools, says Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that has fought to keep creationism out of the science classroom. [...]

Miller, the scientific literacy researcher, believes that removing the entire section was a clumsy attempt to hide a national embarrassment. "Nobody likes our infant death rate," he says by way of comparison, "but it doesn't go away if you quit talking about it."

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9 Responses:

  1. tiff_seattle says:

    i wonder how much different those figures would be if you excluded dumbfuckistan

  2. hadlock says:

    I think this study more accurately shows the theological leanings of people who a) still own a landline and b) still answer their landline c) will sit on the phone to answer a survey

    Clearly, God-fearing folk have more time on their hands than others

  3. freiheit says:

    I'm reasonably scientifically literate, and if the question was "The universe began with a big explosion", I might answer "no" despite believing the Big Bang is our best available theory. An explosion is a sudden energetic expansion of volume (a given amount of matter suddenly occupying more space); the big bang was a sudden energetic expansion of space itself. Big difference between something suddenly using more space up and something suddenly being more space.

    It's entirely possible other anal-retentive know-it-alls like myself skewed that item by some miniscule fraction of a percentage point.

    • skington says:

      Unless the USA is the only place where anal-retentive know-it-alls have the Internet, I doubt this was a major factor.

    • fnivramd says:

      Similarly, if you ask "does the Sun go around the Earth?" then you get several reasons for just two answers from laymen:

      1. People who believe in geocentrism say "Yes"
      2. People who remember a textbook picture and little else say "No"
      3. People who remember the picture but get confused easily say "Yes"
      4. People who learned about heliocentrism but not relativity say "No"
      5. People who look up at the sky and think say "Yes"

      It's easy to present a result from such a survey as "Geocentrism still popular" even if most of your answers were from groups 2 and 3, who were just trying to answer it as a trivia question, like "Was Ringo in the Beatles?". They have no investment in the answer. The most important fraction are the people who got it wrong AND who are very invested in their false belief on this issue. Those people are going to be a problem. For the rest you can fix it with one memorable TV advert, or a catchy song.