Saturday, January 31, 2015

So, who are we to believe?

Who ya gonna believe: some dayem scientist or the Texas Board of Education? OK, that's a bit cheeky; opposition to science extends far beyond the halls of the Texas "school" system, as we see below (which bears passing similarity to the actual article).

Views on evolution among the public and scientists
Whereas nearly all scientists say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, only two thirds of the public agrees, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Asked which comes closer to their view, "Humans and other living things have evolved over time" or "Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time," 98% of scientists responding chose the "evolved-over-time" option and only 2% chose the "since the beginning-of-time" option.

65% of the public respondents chose the "since the beginning-of-time" option, and 31% chose the "evolved-over-time" option. 4% perhaps responded, "huh?". 66% of the public, however, believed scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time.

Digging deeper, those who chose the "evolved-over-time" option were then asked whether they preferred "Humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection" or "A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today."

90% of scientists preferred the "natural processes" option, and 8% preferred the "supreme being" option.

35% of the public preferred the "natural processes" option, and 24% preferred the "supreme being" option, indicating, perhaps, 59% of the 31% of the public believing in "evolved-over-time" agreed with free choice processes.

Three-quarters (75%) of college graduates believe that humans have evolved over time, compared with 56% of those who ended their formal education with a high school diploma or less. As a religious refugee from Texas decades ago, Guambat is inclined to believe that the number of Texans "educated" by the Texas Board of Education who believe humans evolved is statistically insignificant.
Don't take Guambat's word, though. You can read the summary of the report here.

The summary makes the observation that 79% of adults say that science has made life easier for most people, but only a majority is positive about science’s impact on the quality of health care, food and the environment. 61% say that government investment is essential for scientific progress, while 34% say private investment is enough to ensure scientific progress is made. 

Guambat reckons this 34% correlates somehow with the fact only a majority is positive about science's impact on the quality of life. But Guambat, being no scientist by any stretch of evolution, lacks the tools to test the hypothesis, and is terrified of tests anyway.

As an aside: Texas finally approves history textbooks amid religious and political concerns

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