Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Creationism is deliberate ignorance

David Kidd pointed me towards some fascinating research about scientific literacy amongst Americans.

And if you're interested, the raw data and actual questions asked can be found here.

One thing I found striking while digging through the results was that for most questions, often only around 10% provide the wrong answer (some of my favourites being that the sun doesn't shine at the south pole; the earth takes a month to go around the sun and all radioactivity is made by humans). That's actually quite heartening.

However, the big spanner in the data was the question about evolution. Here we have an almost 50/50 split between those who believe humans developed from earlier animals, and those who believe they didn't. What this says to me is it's not a case of lack of scientific literacy, it's a concerted attack on evolution by the religious fundamentalists. It appears as though there are individuals who are otherwise scientifically competent, except for their dogmatic rejection of one particular theory.

Now, I know it's all too easy to point one's finger at religious fundamentalists and wonder how they could be so misguided. I don't want to get into any discussions or commentaries about how ludicrous it is that the world's scientific leader can also have around half its population rejecting possibly the most powerful and sublime scientific theory ever concocted (I think I've said enough right here - and there's plenty more around if anyone wants to delve deeper). But it is worrying to think this is not a matter of lack of education. It's a deliberate ignorance. And I find that deeply troubling.


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