August 11, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

National Crisis: USA Ranks Nearly Last in Evolution Belief!

Eugenie Scott and colleagues at the National Center for Science Education presented findings of a survey on acceptance of evolution, and found that the USA trails far behind European countries – second from last only to Turkey.  In 20 years, acceptance of evolution dropped from 45 to 40 percent, but firm rejection of evolution also dropped from 48 to 39 percent – while those unsure increased from 7 to 21 percent.
    The primary cause of the low acceptance of evolution in some countries was attributed to fundamentalist religion (particularly, in the USA, that of Christianity and literal belief in Genesis) and the “politicization of science in the name of religion.”  In European countries and Japan, acceptance of evolution scored as high as 78 to 80 percent.
    Mixed in with the survey about evolution acceptance were questions on literacy about genetics, which also found the USA ranking low.  The statistics were published in the August 10 issue of Science.1
    “These results should be troubling for science educators at all levels,” the paper states.  “Basic concepts of evolution should be taught in middle school, high school, and college life sciences courses and the growing number of adults who are uncertain about these ideas suggests that current science instruction is not effective.”
    The news media were quick to pick up on this story.  “Only Turkey ranked lower,” Ker Than quipped in LiveScience (echoed on Fox News).  See also National Geographic News and a press release at Michigan State about Jon Miller’s input to the article.

1Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott and Shinjo Okamoto, “Policy Forum: Science Communication: Public Acceptance of Evolution,” Science, 11 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5788, pp. 765-766, DOI: 10.1126/science.1126746.

Eugenie took heart in one statistic that showed that more people were now unsure about evolution.  “That 21 percent we can indoctrinate educate,” she said.  Anyone believe she will teach the controversy?
    There are so many problems in polls like these.  The NCSE clearly has an agenda, to start with; it’s their business to scare everybody about creationism behind the ID mask.  Science magazine, of course, always gives free reign to the liberal atheist studies without ever allowing a knowledgeable opponent to counter the claims (though Ker Than, bless his Darwin-loving heart, did give a few words to Bruce Chapman before allowing Nick Matzke to fire the next shot).  Comparing the rejection of evolution to illiteracy about genetics is intended to suggest a correlation (see association in the Baloney Detector); does anyone doubt that it would be just as easy to correlate acceptance of evolution with increased abortion, crime, drug abuse and hopelessness?  How about correlating it with low birth rate, or with geographical latitude? or even with lack of ambition for a scientific career?  Now, wouldn’t that make a nice piece for Science.  The chart begs the question whether acceptance of evolution is bad.  Turn the chart around, and the USA is leading the world in discernment about evolution.
    Notice how the LieScience heading “Politics and the Flat Earth” does its dirty work without need for a brain.  “Only Turkey ranked lower,” Ker Than snickered.  Oh, horrors, yawn.  (The scary thing would be if the USA ranked as high as Holland, where they kill people without their consent.)  Would you have thought that Iceland would be #1?  Is Eugenie proud of that?  Noticeably lacking on Scott’s chart is Iran, North Korea and all the Muslim countries; it was important to make America look bad, so Luxembourg had to be in there to beat out the Americans, and Malta, too.  Naturally, LieScience used the occasion to trot out its favorite graphics, the Top Ten missing links, vestigial organs and creation myths.  Oh well, if they want to celebrate their fascination with straw men, they may as well set up all the scarecrows they have.
    Consigning one’s intellectual opponents to the funny farm is the tactic of those on the chicken farm.  It’s only scary when there is power behind it: rounding up the undesirables, shutting them up into a ghetto, or herding them onto railcars and sending them off who knows where.  Big Science, unfortunately, has power and is routinely exercising it to shut off debate, ridicule, categorize, marginalize and silence any frank discussion of the problems with naturalism and evolution.
    Despite the unfair fight, the Darwin-doubting Visigoths (cartoon) would really like to talk.  “What are you so afraid of?”, they ask.  “Let’s lay the evidence on the table and follow it where it leads” (see next article).  “All these propaganda gimmicks are so unnecessary.  We are reasonable men; let us in, and will restrict our weapons to logic, history and scientific evidence.”  Such an appeal is terrifying to those in the Darwin Party Castle.  It only makes them pull the drawbridges tighter and boil more oil.
    The noble-minded Visigoths, recall, are quite sophisticated, cultured and erudite (05/09/2006).  They quote John Donne, “He drew a circle that shut me out – Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout; But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in.”  This approach usually works well except when the first guy packs heat.

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