Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Darwin, Evolution, and Birthdays

In a couple of days it'll be the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin. Today's NYTimes had a long set of stories about evolution and Darwin and all the rest. Made for great reading. Everyone is in the act, including the good people at Pew who do so many terrific public opinion surveys. A new report includes:

Opinion polls over the past two decades have found the American public deeply divided in its beliefs about the origins and development of life on earth. Surveys are fairly consistent in their estimates of how many Americans believe in evolution or creationism. Approximately 40%-50% of the public accepts a biblical creationist account of the origins of life, while comparable or slightly larger numbers accept the idea that humans evolved over time. The wording of survey questions generally makes little systematic difference in this division of opinion, and there has been little change in the percentage of the public who reject the idea of evolution.

Read the study and poll findings. Few things really piss me off more. I'm a fairly even-tempered guy. But in a population already littered with scientific illiteracy it's sad to see so many people, even religious people (I go to church every Sunday, thank you very much) who simply don't understand what evolution means, how it works, and why everything we understand about biology relies on it in some fashion. Hell, if you don't believe in evolution, for God's sake please don't reproduce.

And don't even get me started on the crazies devoted to creationism, intelligent design, and the Easter bunny.

Please, nut cases, learn what a theory means in science, what overwhelming objective evidence means, and keep your religious beliefs out of the classroom.

Sorry for the vent. In all else political I'm a radical moderate, but this one -- jeez, we're far enough behind the world in science education as it is, don't make it worse by failing to recognize simple scientific fact.


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