Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A little knowledge is....a little knowledge

Remember that Gallup poll about creationism in America?

Gallup has asked Americans to choose among these three explanations for the origin and development of human beings 11 times since 1982. Although the percentages choosing each view have varied from survey to survey, the 46% who today choose the creationist explanation is virtually the same as the 45% average over that period -- and very similar to the 44% who chose that explanation in 1982. The 32% who choose the "theistic evolution" view that humans evolved under God's guidance is slightly below the 30-year average of 37%, while the 15% choosing the secular evolution view is slightly higher (12%).

Well, it ain't that America is full of Tea Party loonies and fundamentalist know-nothings.  It seems

The NSF conducts the poll on some basic science facts every two years, The Atlantic reported. The foundation said there has been little change in the percentages of correct answers since 1992.

Generally, U.S. residents showed a knowledge of science comparable to those of other countries with high levels of education, including Japan, the European Union and South Korea, the NSF said. In fact, they did better than EU residents on the question about whether Earth moves around the sun.

The most recent survey of more than 2,200 people was conducted in 2012 and just released.

On two controversial questions, whether the universe began with a large explosion and whether humans are descended from other species, fewer than half in the United States said those are true.

The Atlantic said those percentages go up by a significant amount when the questions are rephrased to ask if the big-bang theory and evolution are scientifically accepted.

No other polling data or methodology details were reported.

You could say it's a wonder tall trees ain't layin' down.  Or you could realize that this is about as far as education reaches, no matter where you live on the globe, or when, You can also take heart that we're doing better than the EU.

Me, I think of all the atheists I've met online who mock Christians who don't know anything about Christian doctrine. Seems to me every American spends more hours of their young life in science class than in Sunday school.

Maybe it depends on how you phrase the question.....


  1. I wonder how knowledge of evolution compares with, say, knowledge that time is diluted according to relative speed or the presence of a stronger gravitational field. These are ideas now accepted for over a century, with no religious objections, but I suspect they would be strange, and doubted by most, simply because of a lack of eduation.

  2. Call it the" theory of relativity," no one would blink. Describe it as you did, some would probably reject it.


    BTW, my 4yo knows the Earth orbits the Sun, and can almost say 'heliocentric' (heeyeeohdentric). He also knows Earth is rotating, which is why we have day and night and the moon "changes shape."

  4. BTW, my 4yo knows the Earth orbits the Sun, and can almost say 'heliocentric' (heeyeeohdentric). He also knows Earth is rotating, which is why we have day and night and the moon "changes shape."

    My takeaway from this is that most people learn this, at least in the EU, US, Japan, South Korea: but it doesn't matter that much to their daily lives whether the solar system is heliocentric or geocentric.

    So they stop thinking about it; and go with what seems logical based on personal experience (the sun rises and sets, after all. We still say that, even though Buckminster Fuller pointed out it was complete nonsense to do so, and we really should stop.)

    And the world spins on.....:-)

  5. It would be very odd if we didn't talk about the earth as stationary.

    "So, did you see the other vehicle prior to the accident?"


    "Was it moving?"


    "About how fast?"

    "Oh, I would say, at this latitude, about 800 miles per hour."

    "And the earth, how fast was it moving?"

    "I would say, roughly, 790 miles per hour."

    "And what direction was the car moving."

    "Toward the west."

    "So, in relation to the earth, how fast was the car moving."

    "Ten miles per hour or so."

    "Thank you. Your witness."

    "Mr. Jones, are you utterly ignorant of the fact that, in addition to its rotation, the earth revolves around the sun?"

    Oh, the possibilities for a slashing cross......

  6. And they spend a lot more time in front of a TV or computer screen than they do in either Sunday school or regular school. If Americans are supposed to be so ignorant, as they loves to tell us on the TV and radio, it's because they spend so much time on TV and some on radio that isn't telling them anything except that they are stupid and it's OK if they're stupid and buy our sponsor's products.

  7. By the way, our sponsors are.....

  8. it doesn't matter that much to their daily lives whether the solar system is heliocentric or geocentric.

    Don't make me bring up Wittgenstein.


  9. Adding, just for fun:

    "What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

    - Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet


  10. well, you see, I don't think the "Dark Ages" were so solidly dark, nor the Enlightment so completely enlightened.

    25% think the system is geocentric? Is, as I say, that ignorance, or simply disinterest? That 25% of any given population is not interested in what what the other 75% is interested in doesn't really surprise me.

    I mean, I'm a liberal Christian living in Texas. The only thing I agree on the majority with is the supremacy of Tex-Mex.

    Good Tex-Mex, mind you.

  11. It surprises me, because I think everybody should be interested in what I am. Interested in. I mean.

  12. One of the funniest things about the "enlightenment" is how really, really bad at history it is. Another one is the way that they all believe that they aren't anthropocentric when everything from their neo-"humanism" to their scientism take man and his inventions as the measure of all things. As if we've ever seen echinodermata or tunicata doing calculus and Bayesian statistics.

  13. You know, if this were a certain blue blog, we'd have 300 comments by now. 95% of which would be about how your favorite music sucks.

    *sips coffee thoughtfully*

  14. Your favorite coffee sux.

    And the biggest problem with the Enlightenment was a complete lack of good Tex-Mex.

    Poor bastards didn't know what they were missing.

    *chugs giant swig of very hot, very black coffee. chokes. spits. wipes screen and replaces ruined keyboard*