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April 27, 2007

Unevolved Extremism  Politics  Religion  Science/Technology

This is disheartening, putting it mildly. The graph below shows public acceptance of human evolution in 2005. You'll find the US at second-to-last.

From National Geographic's description:

Adults were asked to respond to the statement: "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

A study of several such surveys taken since 1985 has found that the United States ranks next to last in acceptance of evolution theory among nations polled. Researchers point out that the number of Americans who are uncertain about the theory's validity has increased over the past 20 years. [Emphasis added]

Note that the question was just whether humans evolved from earlier animals. It said nothing about evolution being by purely natural means, via natural selection, or without participation by a deity. It's just: "did humans evolve?"

It would be hard to overstate how clueless you have to be to say no.

The study also found — no surprise here — that evolution deniers in the US tend to be Republicans:

The team found that individuals with anti-abortion, pro-life views associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party were significantly more likely to reject evolution than people with pro-choice views.

The team adds that in Europe having pro-life or right-wing political views had little correlation with a person's attitude toward evolution.

The researchers say this reflects the politicization of the evolution issue in the U.S. "in a manner never seen in Europe or Japan."

"In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as part of a platform designed to consolidate their support in Southern and Midwestern states," the study authors write.

Miller says that when Ronald Reagan was running for President of the U.S., for example, he gave speeches in these states where he would slip in the sentence, "I have no chimpanzees in my family," poking fun at the idea that apes could be the ancestors of humans. [Emphasis added]

It would be funny, in a sick sort of way, if it weren't so downright scary, considering the belligerence and military power of the US. People who have flipped the mental switch that lets them ignore the evidence of physical reality so they can be accepted by the herd are people who can be led into all sorts of mischief. And they're armed to the teeth. Superstitious primates with guns.

Posted by Jonathan at April 27, 2007 05:31 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


So, erm, in southern and midwestern states, do the natural history museums have to censor themselves, or do they just not exist? Do they in fact have scientists there? I find the whole thing just totally unfathomable - in fact, it would make a great PhD research programme...

Posted by: Jason at May 1, 2007 07:37 AM