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Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-let-the-rest-of-the-world-know-how-stupid-we-really-are dept.

Education 495

cremeglace writes "In an unusual last-minute edit that has drawn flak from the White House and science educators, a federal advisory committee omitted data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the Big Bang from a key report. The data shows that Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang."

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Warm, salty, gritty... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796050)

First Post.

Re:Warm, salty, gritty... (5, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796090)

Yes, your post is primordial slime. It's not like it was intelligently designed.

What would be the reason, from NSF? (4, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796058)

Shame? It's a not bad starting point...

So? (-1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796080)

Look, the education system in America hasn't exactly been seen as the 'cream of the crop' for a while. Just because they omitted data about our knowledge of the 'Big Bang' and 'Evolution' doesn't mean we didn't learn it, it just means some asshat within the White House didn't learn how to edit properly.

I still now that the 'big bang' was that hominid Lucy getting laid, resulting in the first darwinian instance of 'natural selection' whether the WH admits it or not.

Not the White House. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796126)

The explanation doesn't appear to have soothed White House officials, who say that the edit—made after the White House had reviewed a draft—left them surprised and dismayed. "The Administration counts on the National Science Board to provide the fairest and most complete reporting of the facts they track," says Rick Weiss, a spokesperson and analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Re:Not the White House. (5, Insightful)

ldconfig (1339877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796188)

Looks like stupid and pissed off is the new cool. Science and facts just get you cussed at ... its sad.

Re:So? (-1, Offtopic)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796146)

I still now that the 'big bang' was that hominid Lucy getting laid, resulting in the first darwinian instance of 'natural selection' whether the WH admits it or not.

Dude, yeah our education system sucks but where the hell did you go to school?!

Her name was Henrieta.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796160)

Wrong. They asked the questions and did not like the embarrassing answers America gave. Like our child mortality rate, our scientific literacy rate is not something to be proud of. The majority of American do not believe in the big bang or evolution. You may, but most do not, whereas in the rest of the first world, most people do believe in these things.

Where are you getting 'asshat within the White House' from? The National Science Foundation is not located in the White House. Why blame the President for this? This was not an editing error. The questions were asked, but the answers were deliberately omitted.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796238)

The majority of American do not believe in the big bang or evolution

Good. I don't either. I merely accept them as models that make useful predictions and which are subject to amendment in light of experimental evidence. Mind you, that might be because I'm a scientist and not a priest.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796336)

See, this is why I like Electrical Engineering. Everything I work with is invisible, nobody can explain how it works (there aren't even any good theories*), and it can kill you if you forget to turn it off. Even if it doesn't kill you, it might give you cancer or muck up your offspring. The behaviour of any given device is erratic at best, taken for granted, or just plain whacky.

But for some reason, nobody comes up with a "God did it" explanation. Sure, we've got the magic smoke explanation, but nobody takes that seriously except the Rastafarians.

*No, really. Look at the quantum level, but try not to think about it or you'll go blind.

Re:So? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796378)

You clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

Re:So? (2, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796482)

nobody can explain how it works (there aren't even any good theories*)

Quantum electrodynamics produces results that agree with experiment to thirteen significant digits. It is probably the most accurate, successful theory ever devised.

Re:So? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796486)

Having a degree in Electrical Engineering and also a second major in applied physics and time in grad school for nuclear engineering and physics, let me illuminate this subject a bit.

Engineers don't really delve into the why of things. The learn the basics and then hammer on the practical applications. You get just enough theory to get by.

Physics is more or less the opposite. They work with lots of theory and theoretical models. The applications they leave to the engineers ...and the applied physicists. Applied physics tends to be in the middle; they test the models in the real world and they try to find useful applications for the data/model/results.

The point is, though, engineers aren't taught things like high-level theoretical models because they wouldn't really be useful for them. There are certainly theories and models that explain 99% of what goes on in EE.

If you're asking what are fundamental forces like electricity, magnetism, and gravity... Well, people are working on that too, although progress is slow.

Re:So? (5, Insightful)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796404)

The above is the most important point in the thread. Science is not about belief -- it's about evidence. And the another important difference between belief and science is that science can change based on evidence and beliefs do not. They act as filters on new information instead.

Re:So? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796508)

The above is the most important point in the thread.

I thought the post about banging Lucy was pretty important to the discussion.

Re:So? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796390)

I've never understood this, of all the people I've known closely, the only two that didn't believe in evolution, the origins of Man and the creation of the Universe were both radicals.

One is a radical Catholic who is a pharmacist. Not sure how someone who has to take a load of science classes can be so far off reality.
The other is a radical American Indian activist. Testing off the charts, brilliant guy, raised by AIM activists and just flat out refutes the evolution of man, migration across the Bering Straights Land Bridge or any other migration theories and evidence. He has a Ph.D in something from CU, he studied under Ward Churchill.

My mix of friends and family are either far-left, moderate or moderate right.

Re:So? (4, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796552)

Like our child mortality rate

...which is measured differently than pretty much every other First World nation on the planet.

We count babies as "born" which most countries end up counting as "stillborn," which hits a different category in the stats. For that matter, we have premature births which end up with nice, healthy babies - that most countries can't even keep alive - or won't even try...

Some European countries don't count a baby death as "infant mortality" until the baby reaches three days (they don't issue birth certificates until then, and the infant mortality stats use birth certificates for generating that statistic).

First Post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796088)

Fake and Gay......fddsfs......... .....fsfsdf

They explain why (5, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796094)

in the article.

Re:They explain why (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796120)

Sometimes I just don't understand how the hell we've made it to superpower status... really... wtf fellow Americans?

Re:They explain why (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796138)

Because it always hasn't been like this. The Neo-Cons are using their power to constantly force religion on people and cut taxes so more and more people remain ignorant.
They call it "Choking the Beast."

Re:They explain why (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796196)

I thought "Choking the Beast" was some sort of Republican sex act, like the "wide stance" or the "lesbian bondage club."

Re:They explain why (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796338)

I thought "Choking the Beast" was some sort of Republican sex act...

It is, that's what immediately precedes Santorum - e.g., Ann Coulter was totally choking the beast last night, the santorum has never tasted sweeter.

Re:They explain why (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796360)

I thought "Choking the Beast" was some sort of Republican sex act, like the "wide stance" or the "lesbian bondage club."

Of course not. It was printed on a few of the receipts left in the drawer of the Oval Office desk after Bill Clinton moved out.

Re:They explain why (2, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796406)

Republican sex is just like Democratic sex, but with Republicans theres less same-sex and a desire for lower taxes.

More BDSM in Republican circles.

Re:They explain why (3, Insightful)

aliddell (1716018) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796332)

Yup. Cutting taxes makes people ignorant all right.

Re:They explain why (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796140)

Between blinds, the one-eyed is king.

Re:They explain why (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796208)

Between blinds, the one-eyed is king.

Unfortunately not. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is locked away in an insane asylum because he talks about things no one else can even conceive of.

Re:They explain why (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796212)

Lots of cannon fodder. That's the answer.

Re:They explain why (1)

Dunx (23729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796234)

You make it sound like superpower status was recently achieved.

Re:They explain why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796448)

1945 or so is "recent". The US was not a superpower before that. An important power, but not super.

Re:They explain why (1)

noodler (724788) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796484)

... or upheld.

Re:They explain why (5, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796270)

Are you just proving you didn't read it either? It sounds like the NSB/NSF was choosing scientific method OVER politics and religion in this case.

Quote: "National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), says it chose to leave the section out of the 2010 edition of the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs."

They were badly formed questions for a literacy test. Instead of asking if they agree with the statement "The universe began with a big explosion", they should have asked something to determine IF people had a firm grasp of what the big bang theory WAS. Sure, personally I think that is by far the most likely theory (and that evolution is clearly fact at this point), but literacy is about comprehension, not belief.

It's like asking in a classics survey whether "Prometheus shaped man out of mud to be brought to life by Athena". No, I would have to answer I don't believe that. Does that mean I am not literate in Greek mythology?

Re:They explain why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796438)

That's only sensible on a metaphysical level for people who believe nothing and don't want to decide what to believe. Or a blatant attempt to discredit an opponent, but let's not expect the worst.

The VAST majority of people doesn't work that way. The belief one or the other.

Re:They explain why (1)

noodler (724788) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796464)

Ooh yeah?
  well 01001001 00100000 01101010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01110101 01110011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01110010 01100001 01101110 01110011 01101100 01100001 01110100 01101111 01110010 00101100 00100000 01110011 01100101 01100101 00100000 01101000 01110100 01110100 01110000 00111010 00101111 00101111 01101000 01101111 01101101 01100101 00110010 00101110 01110000 01100001 01110101 01101100 01110011 01100011 01101000 01101111 01110101 00101110 01101110 01100101 01110100 00101111 01110100 01101111 01101111 01101100 01110011 00101111 01111000 01101100 01100001 01110100 01100101 00101111 00100000 01101001 01100110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110100 01110010 01101111 01110101 01100010 01101100 01100101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100100 01101001 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00101110 00101110 00101110

Re:They explain why (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796166)

Nice try, but I'm not getting suckered into RTFA that easily!

No they did not. (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796226)

From TFA:

The board member who took the lead in removing the text was John Bruer, a philosopher who heads the St. Louis, Missouri-based James S. McDonnell Foundation. He told Science that his reservations about the two survey questions dated back to 2007, when he was the lead reviewer for the same chapter in the 2008 Indicators. He calls the survey questions "very blunt instruments not designed to capture public understanding" of the two topics.

That explains nothing.

And ...

When Science asked Bruer if individuals who did not accept evolution or the big bang to be true could be described as scientifically literate, he said: "There are many biologists and philosophers of science who are highly scientifically literate who question certain aspects of the theory of evolution," adding that such questioning has led to improved understanding of evolutionary theory. When asked if he expected those academics to answer "false" to the statement about humans having evolved from earlier species, Bruer said: "On that particular point, no."

So the guy pushing for the removal cannot maintain a consistent argument for that removal.

Re:No they did not. (2, Insightful)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796490)

So the guy pushing for the removal cannot maintain a consistent argument for that removal.

Not how I see it. People interpret yes/no questions very differently; hence his "blunt instrument" remark. In general, I (background -- statistics) would probably answer yes to a binary question if I felt it to be mostly true. My wife (background -- philosophy) would probably answer no or "i don't know" to many of the same questions.

The problem with accurately designing surveys often boils down to understanding how people react if they have qualms about giving a yes/no answer but really feel in the middle. What this guy is saying is that there are people who are ignorant about the topic and fall somewhere in the middle, and some who are very informed and thoughtful about it but have some reservations and thus fall somewhere in the middle. So, frankly, I think his argument is consistent unless you ignore the subtleties.

Also, note the double negative:

When asked if he expected those academics to answer "false" to the statement about humans having evolved from earlier species, Bruer said: "On that particular point, no."

It seems that not answering the question is an option for these people.

I think you misread that. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796554)

It seems that not answering the question is an option for these people.

Really? From the way it seems to be phrased, he said that they would not answer "No".

Not that they would not answer.

What this guy is saying is that there are people who are ignorant about the topic and fall somewhere in the middle, and some who are very informed and thoughtful about it but have some reservations and thus fall somewhere in the middle. So, frankly, I think his argument is consistent unless you ignore the subtleties.

What are the specific "subtleties" here?

You seem to be trying to argue generalities in a very specific instance.

Re:No they did not. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796626)

[T]he National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), says it chose to leave the section out of the 2010 edition of the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.

I'm not really sure that a third alternative exists -- certainly evolution has been both directly and indirectly observed, and the big bang is the most consistent model -- but I concur that the questions should be phrased objectively and limited to knowledge rather than opinion. E.g.:

The common term for the beginning of the universe as described by scientists is:

a) Big Bang
b) Neutrino
c) Accretion
d) Pop Rocks

Re:They explain why (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796434)

You seem to be quite confused. They do not explain why in the article.

The guy most singly responsible gives his public excuse as to why, but it isn't intellectually consistent and completely fails to address why this change (allegedly in the works for years) would have been left alone for all the drafts then changed between the last draft and the release.

"It's faith questions, not science questions" isn't an answer, it's an excuse. Why feel compelled to change it now when other countries are leaving it alone and if it's so useless, just include it and the people reading the results will ignore it. And, if it is a good thing to exclude, why wait until after the last draft to make the change?

It stinks of a political or religious move, not a scientific one. The real science one would be to leave it in and put an asterisk at the end saying *These results are faith oriented and should not be considered science questions." Or, at the very least, not "lie" by releasing drafts knowing they will lead to a misconception of what will be in the actual report.

jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796102)

If people don't accept the big bang theory it is christians' fault.
if people do, it's christians' fault. No, rly. Look. http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/bang.html?q=bang.html [whatreallyhappened.com]
(btw often WRH is food for thought even if propaganda is probably there)

Now, us Christians have a lot of more serious accusations to deal with, and I think our organization has do take more serious steps on those things. Let science decide if big bang was feasible, it's their domain.

Wikipedia is for bastards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796104)

A fat bastard hipster faggot neckbeard loser called peter symmonds reverts all my edits and rangeblocks all my IPs.

Please do not use wikipedia. Also dferg is a cocksucker.

Wikipedia is for bastards ON WHEELS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796424)

A fat bastard hipster faggot neckbeard loser on wheels called peter symmonds reverts all my edits and rangeblocks all my IPs.

Please do not use wikipedia. Also dferg is a cocksucker on wheels.

RTFA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796130)

National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), says it chose to leave the section out of the 2010 edition of the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.

Slashdot is nearly as bad as mainstream media, constantly trying to sensationalize everything...

Re:RTFA (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796456)

It is actually quite sensational that the majority of the people in "the leader of the world" pay so little attention to science.

But it is sooo simple to understand (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796134)

There was nothing in the universe. Not one atom. All of a sudden a tiny thing showed up (out of thin air) and exploded and gave birth to the physical universe.

Who cares that the most basic laws of physics say that there is absolutely no possible way the physical universe should be here. There should not be ONE SINGLE ATOM in the universe. But there they are.

Then ... life popped up all over the place.

Yeah I feel sooo dumb for wondering why the physical universe could not have just popped into place from thin air for no reason.

The atheists of this age are a wonderful irony. Elitist simpletons who simultaneously think they are genius yet have no ability to think for them self.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796210)

I think you forgot to mention how Al Gore and the Internet made all of this possible. I'm sure Apple had something to do with it, too, but that's another thread entirely.

Let's face it, atoms do show up out of thin air. How else can you explain the weight I've put on lately? Damn new heavy elements. I sure wish those scientist types would stop discovering them.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796394)

Thin air is made of atoms.

It's where plants get the carbon that they turn into, well, plant material. (Yep. Giant redwoods are mostly distilled air.)

So from the evidence you present, I deduce that you are a plant.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (1)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796244)

1. Galaxies all Red Shifted, Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. How does your theory account for these observations?

2. Evolution is the explanation for the variety of species that exist on Earth. It has nothing to do with life from non-life. Why is this so hard to understand?

3. Why am I feeding a troll?

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (0, Troll)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796348)

Are you seriously asking the poster to EXPLAIN how it was done?

Would you care to try, sir? Please leave out no detail, no matter how insignificant it seems, for we cannot be sure just what small thing was the crux of all of this, or if it all was crucial.

Like the poster said, atheists do tend to go with the flow, especially if it avoids critical thinking. Contemplating the ludicrous notion that the Universe sprang into existence from nothing would leave any thinking person asking the most obvious question - 'what was there before?'.

I do not know how 'before' came into existence, but at least I have a theory, every bit as good as any that Science has to offer on the subject. Yours? Step up to the plate, have a swing. Worth a try, eh?

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796562)

Wait, you're say that *atheists* avoid critical thinking. God, now that's funny. You can now go back to your prayers to the invisible man and his zombie son. And I'm sure your idiotic "theory" isn't testable. Scientific ones are.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (3, Insightful)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796372)

At least the scientists try to understand what actually happened. If they find out that the big bang didn't happen like they though, they will revise the theory, like most of the theories were revised as proof was found. Classical mechanics (you can accelerate up to infinite speed) -> relativity (actually, you can only accelerate up to c, but never reach it) -> quantum mechanics (electrons do not behave as tiny spheres with a charge after all, they behave as tiny spheres with a charge and waves at the same time) is one example.

On the other hand, religious people do not revise their holy books, they just say that whatever proof to the contrary exists, it must be false/created by devil/etc.

Also, I really like when religious people argue that their religion is the only true religion when using the same arguments as all the others - "It's written so in the book". For example, why are Christians right and Muslims/Scientologists/Ancient Greeks/FSM believers/etc wrong?

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796388)

There was nothing in the universe. Not one deity. All of a sudden a tiny thing showed up (out of thin air) and exploded and gave birth to faith.

Who cares that the most basic laws of observation say that there is absolutely no possible way faith should be here. There should not be ONE SINGLE DEITY in the universe. But there they are.

Then ... religions popped up all over the place.

Yeah I feel sooo dumb for wondering why religion could not have just popped into place from thin air for no reason.

The faithful of this age are a wonderful irony. Elitist simpletons who simultaneously think they believe the absolute truth yet have no ability to think for them self.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796436)

There was nothing in the universe. Not one atom. All of a sudden a tiny thing showed up (out of thin air) and exploded and gave birth to the physical universe.

Who cares that the most basic laws of physics say that there is absolutely no possible way the physical universe should be here. There should not be ONE SINGLE ATOM in the universe. But there they are.

Then ... life popped up all over the place.

Yeah I feel sooo dumb for wondering why the physical universe could not have just popped into place from thin air for no reason.

The atheists of this age are a wonderful irony. Elitist simpletons who simultaneously think they are genius yet have no ability to think for them self.

So you think the "invisible man in the sky" explanation is more credible than what science has come up with so far?

Let's not forget that it wasn't so long ago that our knowledge didn't even go back as far back as the Big Bang. As recently as the period leading up to the renaissance we weren't all that sure how the Earth fits into the neighbouring planets and the local star, to say nothing of how old or big the universe was. Just because science has frontiers now or because you don't understand the science (which you clearly don't) doesn't make it all bunk.

"Simpletons" indeed!

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796454)

Wow. Basic Science. PLEASE take some.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (1)

Slur (61510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796550)

You seem to imply there's an easy answer to the origins of this universe which "science" is just too stupid to conclude. What might that answer be? If your assertion is that it had to be created from "outside" then the latest physics is tending to agree with you. It has begun to see this universe as only one small bubble in a continuum which is much larger...

Science is nothing more than our closest and most carefully-recorded observations of the cosmos, and a set of methods for direct inquiry regarding the questions arising from our observations. The questions opened up by science extend into the philosophical, the ethical, and demonstrate the limits of inquiry by sensory observation.

Science may not be able to tell us how absolutely everything began, or why anything exists at all. By all appearances, it looks like the multiverse has always existed, and creating little finite universes like ours is just what it does by nature. Furthermore, science has proven that "things" don't really exist (per se) at all. Things seem to dissolve into merely potential things until they interact. To all appearances, it seems as though the substance of the universe is nothing more than pure information.

Science does nothing to preclude serious inquiry into the nature of the self and one's relationship to the eternal. And in fact, it strongly supports the psychological and social benefit of rituals, rites, and practices. Humans are socially wired to share stories, to teach wisdom, and to explore the dissolution of the personality.

Immanuel Kant and other philosophers perceived the limits of external experience as a way of knowing in regard to metaphysics or questions of self. Our knowledge about the interactions and relationships of composite things only puffs up our sense of world mastery and involves us in the requirements of survival. Inquiry into questions of selfhood, identity, the nature of the eternal, and so on, requires contemplation, meditation, and other methods inherent to the mind.

In the modern age, people increasingly reject the literal interpretation of ancient writings intended to instruct and guide. It is clear that there are no gods creating, intervening, or punishing. Our superstitions concerning demons, deities, and messiahs evolved from the mythology and imagery of tribal teaching. But in modern times we no longer need them. We are fully aware of what is beneficial or non-beneficial to us, and it is wholly in our own hands to choose the future we want. The way has been prepared.

Science doesn't exalt mankind, it's true. But it exalts creation and it exalts life. The mathematics show us how truly precious we are. The physics and biology shows us how truly blessed we are to be able to live in and explore this universe. Appending an "amen" does nothing to enhance the sentiment. Nature itself is luminous, energetic, and aware. Everything the sincere and serious seeker is looking for is right here, right now.

Re:But it is sooo simple to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796564)

There was nothing in the universe. Not one atom.

Fundamentally and completely wrong.

There was no universe before the big bang (at least not as we know it). This is much deeper than you think it is. It doesn't mean there was an empty universe. It doesn't mean there were no atoms. It means our universe wasn't there for atoms to exist in.

Was there something "before" the big bang? We don't know. We don't know what caused the big bang, and we probably never will. That's not the point. The point is something caused it, and we can trace our history to it. The point is the origin of our universe was the big bang, and we can trace our history no further back. Everything we know about the universe can be traced back to the big bang, but no more. In information theoretical terms, we have no information about what, if anything, happened before the big bang, because our universe, the one we can observe, was created with the big bang. As far as we're concerned, our timeline began at the big bang; time itself as we know it didn't exist before it.

For example, a plausible explanation for the big bang is that a prior universe contracted to a single point, which then became our big bang, in essence "rebooting" the universe. We can't prove whether this is the case or not, because we fundamentally have no information about anything before the big bang.

Yes, it makes no sense for a huge explosion to show up out of thin air and create matter. Unfortunately for your point, no one is claiming that is the case. Educate yourself better next time.

WWJD (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796136)

Talking about evolution or big bangs makes the baby Jesus cry!

Re:WWJD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796312)

Because there's no better scientific method than sarcastic wit.

Nowhere is religion mentioned as the cause of the skepticism.

I've spent plenty of time studying the prevailing theories, and I am not yet suitably convinced that we evolved from lesser species, despite the best efforts of evolutionary missionaries to convert me.
There simply isn't enough evidence at this point to make such a conclusive statement. There are plenty of theorists claiming that we did, but as with all science, theories are simply explanations someone cooked up that haven't yet been disproved.
As has happened in many generations past, all of the scientific knowledge that we now have could one day be replaced by something that is found to be more accurate.

I have to admit that I find it odd that with religion, people place the burden of proof on the religion to prove its claims true, yet with some scientific theories (like evolution from lesser species), the burden of proof is placed on OPPONENTS of the theory to disprove it, rather than on the theorist to prove their claims true.

One thing that I find religious zealots and evolution zealots to have in common is the idea that their philosophies are fact, common knowledge even - and that if you don't wholeheartedly agree, you must simply be an uneducated simpleton or a heathen.

Perhaps the real conclusion to be drawn here is that americans are more prone to be skeptical of absolute assertions based on prevailing theories.

Re:WWJD (4, Insightful)

init100 (915886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796590)

Perhaps the real conclusion to be drawn here is that americans are more prone to be skeptical of absolute assertions based on prevailing theories.

While being decidedly unskeptical of absolute assertions based on a 2000 year old fairy tale.

What was the question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796154)

So what was the question asked in this poll? If the question was something like Do you believe that God created the universe, or do you believe in the big bang theory... Then I can understand why the results look so bad in scientific terms.

Fucking moron (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796286)

You're too lazy to read even halfway through the article, but you will still post your idiotic blather here?

Well, I guess you fit in well around here, anyway.

What is TFA trying to say? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796184)

When TFA says "data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the big bang", that suggests it's a measurement of Americans' awareness level of the existence of the topics.

But when the TFA says "Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang", that suggests it's a measurement of American's agreement level.

Awareness != Agreement != Acceptance

For example, while I might be FULLY AWARE of and understand the reasoning behind Christianity, that does NOT mean that I accept the notion as true.

TFA seems to be suggesting that if you disagree with some topic, that you simply do not understand the topic, which is a complete fallacy.

Re:What is TFA trying to say? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796354)

Awareness != Agreement != Acceptance

I'd like to make you aware of my agreement with your equation that evaluates acceptance.

Wrong. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796362)

TFA seems to be suggesting that if you disagree with some topic, that you simply do not understand the topic, which is a complete fallacy.

No. Not in regards to scientific issues.

You can refuse to accept that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, but that DOES mean that you do not understand the SCIENCE behind it.

Re:Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796474)

TFA seems to be suggesting that if you disagree with some topic, that you simply do not understand the topic, which is a complete fallacy.

No. Not in regards to scientific issues.

You can refuse to accept that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, but that DOES mean that you do not understand the SCIENCE behind it.

WHoa1!!! One step at a time there! What is with the Earth not being center of the Universe???

Not so bad (2, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796186)

Big Bang is, well, Big Bang, and only some religious fundies would have issues since the rest of us don't really care one way or another.

Sharing ancestors with apes, well, bit less so.

Evolution: now this is different since it's a demonstrated fact.

And this is crazy because...? (0, Flamebait)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796194)

...we just happen to know for a fact that this is the case? We don't know shit. We just theorize.

The universe didn't begin with a big bang. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796200)

The Big Bang wasn't big, as it happened at a single point.
The Big Bang wasn't a bang, as there wasn't anywhere for sound waves to propagate.

Something I've noticed... (2, Interesting)

cirby (2599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796236)

When it comes to this sort of polling, there's a little thing that slips by the people who comment on them.

When people from other countries take this sort of test, we get a solid mix of answers, taken seriously.

When people from the United States take them, a regular sample of about 33% hit the "funny answer button."

You get high school students who will, given the chance, answer "Who was Martin Luther King?" with "D. A famous dentist."

You get people on the Internet who answer "what is evolution?" with "D. A clever fiction thought up by some guy."

Yeah, we have more people who really do believe in some things, but we also have a massively higher number of folks who get handed a "no points toward your final grade" test, fill in "D" for all of the answers, and spend the next 45 minutes staring off into space, because the results DO NOT AFFECT THEIR LIVES IN ANY RATIONAL FASHION...

Re:Something I've noticed... (5, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796588)

Where is the evidence that that happens more in the US than elsewhere?

Re:Something I've noticed... (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796592)

Do you have a reason for assuming Americans are intrinsically different then everyone else on Earth. or are you making shit up?

Knowledge != Belief (2, Insightful)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796240)

To the average layman/Joe/Jane "knowledge" of the truth of the Big Bang and Evolution is really tantamount to believing that they are true (that is, valid explanations of our reality). If you go off of a high school education, what do teachers really tell you aside from a few weeks' lecture (at best) and showing some pictures in a book? How does that equate to knowledge of these things aside from "my teacher told me it was true". Perhaps we're just doing a horrible job of managing our credibility on topics such as these. People in all walks of life both deny and affirm the validity of these two theories, yet they seem to appear everywhere (and are wildly [un]successful at their pursuits). Widespread belief in the (in)validity of these two things does not denote the working value of a high school level education, if not even a higher education outside of the areas relevant to these theories. In my opinion, of course.

Re:Knowledge != Belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796462)

I agree with you, and would add, does it really matter if you know the big bang ?
I would even say, does it really matter if you agree with evolution - how does this affect your day to day life ?
(I think even the most rabid creationist are comfortable with micro evolution, to explain bacterial antibiotic resistance, and human directed evolution of crops and farm animals)
It is certainly a lot less important then knowing the alternate rout for your morning commute.

Thanks, America (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796242)

Thank you so much, America, and especially you, Bible Belt, for being a bunch of ignorant cunts and making the rest of us look bad, too. They of course had to leave that information out of the report because of how fucking embarassing it is, but the truth came out now didn't it? Pull your head out of your bible-thumping ass, USA, and get with the program.

Unsurprised (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796246)

I've seen more than enough bad science and outright anti-scientific posts here at Slashdot; I can't imagine how depressed — and depressing — the numbers must be among the general populus.

Luckily it's Friday afternoon, and the bar is close by.

Cue dozens of dilettantes (2, Interesting)

BitHive (578094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796258)

"The prevailing theories in science might one day be overturned so why shouldn't I remain ignorant?"

These are the same people who will insist that using anything more abstract than C means you're not a real programmer.

At the end of the day, thinking for them is more about ego-defense than actual synthesis.

Re:Cue dozens of dilettantes (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796410)

So is this thing about calling out the dilettantes with vague, demonizing similes.

Re:Cue dozens of dilettantes (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796504)

At the end of the day, thinking for them is more about ego-defense than actual synthesis.

You're describing Apologetics, right?

You know, this idea explains a lot why American society is so prone to "cognitive dissonance". People refuse to recognize hypocritical beliefs on their part, simply because they fail to actually produce their own synthesis of their own thoughts. They're perfectly fine mapping out completely opposing beliefs given the argument at hand.

Re:Cue dozens of dilettantes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796614)

Everything in the universe is an abstraction.

We all exist and live our lives at different layers of abstraction.

Call me when they find the TRUE fundamental building block of the universe.
In other words, don't call.

P.S. - using anything more abstract than C means you're not a real programmer.

Big Bank and Evolution (3, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796272)

Sorry, these two theories are not on a level playing field. Evolution is a ridiculously strong theory, it's really hard for anyone to not "accept" it unless they do so based on entirely irrational beliefs.

I might think, if not say, someone who doesn't "believe" in evolution is an idiot. I would not say the same thing about the Big Bang for various reasons, among them the fact that the Big Bang does not explain the state of existence at T(Big Bang) - 1. It does not explain creation, and in fact creation is inherently inexplicable unless one resorts to "Magic" of one form or another.

Re:Big Bank and Evolution (1)

Velodra (1443121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796470)

the fact that the Big Bang does not explain the state of existence at T(Big Bang) - 1. It does not explain creation

Neither does evolution, relativity, quantum electrodynamics, or any other scientific theory. Do you suggest we shouldn't trust them either?

Big Bang is not meant to explain creation, it simply explains that the universe was at one point very small and very hot, and explains how it developed from there. It does a very good job of explaining our universe based on the model that it was once very small and hot. It is in fact the basis for much of modern astronomy. If you're not convinced, try taking a look at some of the evidence [talkorigins.org] .

Big Bang is a ridiculously strong theory, it's really hard for anyone to not "accept" it unless they do so based on ignorance.

Re:Big Bank and Evolution (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796472)

Who is to say there was any state of existence before the Big Bang? Einstein has taught us that space and time are part and parcel of the same thing, that is the universe. Without the Big Bang there is no universe and therefore no time, and T-1 is a null pointer error. Hawking and Hartle have actually shown how time can emerge into existence during a Big Bang. cf. quantum cosmology.

From a philosophical point of view it can be argued that asking what happened before the Big Bang is the same thing as asking who created God. It is the same problem in a somewhat different context.

Einstein and Hawking have dealt with the question in a naturalistic setting, in this century Augustine of Hippo dealt with the question from a religious point of view some 1500 years earlier.

Re:Big Bank and Evolution (1)

noodler (724788) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796560)

Big Bang theory was formulated to explain the observation that everything we can see is moving apart and seems to originate from the same point in space.
Once formulated it predicted new observations that were indeed made.
So it is in its own way also a pretty strong theory.

Re:Big Bank and Evolution (0)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796586)

And I, being from physics, would say the opposite. At the end of the day, both basically say -- "here's the evidence, what's the closest model to what we have that's theoretically sound." Trying to answer more than that, without holding onto uncertainty reasonably well, causes tons of problems. My general rule of thumb? People always underestimate the uncertainty in theories. True for the Big Bang, true for evolution, true for financial models, etc. '

There is a lot of consistent evidence for a type of big bang happening, along with space and time beginning, but saying anything about what happened before that goes beyond all current models and is merely speculative. And most physicists, being reasonable, don't lump such things in with the big bang. Saying a theory is less believable because it answers only the evidence at hand instead of your subjective questions is ludicrous.

On the other hand, much about evolution is, I think, less certain than most people make it. We have only a few observations, compared to the number of observations relevant to the big bang. Much of the "well, we've demonstrated that it could have worked this way" types of results are presented to people as gospel truth. Just like the climate debate, the naysayers -- who often don't or are unwilling to understand the intricacies in the science -- make actually putting the uncertainties on the table for discussion really tricky.

Flawed questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796274)

The questions are basically "Humans evolved from an earlier species: True/False" and "The universe started with a big explosion: True/False"

From a strictly scientific viewpoint, neither of those have been definitively proven. I couldn't answer the questions because there is no choice of "Maybe," or "as best we understand."

more proof? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796284)

"The data shows that Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept ... "

We are truly on our way to becoming a third world country.

Gawd! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796320)

All the idiotic thumpers in this country are taking us right down the tubes.

Re:Gawd! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796428)

But when we fielded some honest tube-thumpers [lasvegashype.com] , everyone said it was lame:

Thats what happens when you dont enforce secular (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796382)

education.

under the guise of 'practicing our faith', innumerable religious sects and groups pump youth with bullshit.

this is just the opening stages though. just keep it that way for a few decades more, you may see even the most basic scientific rules and laws getting challenged.

Knowledge and belief (4, Interesting)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796400)

If your beliefs separate you from knowledge, then you lack knowledge. Their polls are about measuring knowledge. Removing it because some beliefs keep people intellectually backwards is a shame.

It doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

not-my-real-name (193518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796412)

Why are we concerned if people, in general, accept the big bang theory or evolution? Why not worry about general relativity and quantum mechanics?

For the vast majority of people, it simply does not matter. Will it pay my mortgage or put food on my table if the sun revolves around the earth or the other way around? If not, then why should they care?

We're all (sometime I wonder though) nerds here, so we care, but most people don't. I know that the operation of my GPS navigator depends on both general relativity and quantum mechanics, but it works whether I believe them or not. How many other people know or care?

A better question would be to ask if they believe that the scientific method is a valid method of seeking the truth. Another question would be if the scientific method was the only valid method of seeking the truth.

I want my old America back... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796418)

Goddammit America - You used to be this shining beacon in the world of leadership, democracy and sensibility. Now you're just descending into some kind of nutbar crazy JesusLand. Every week there's another story like this one.

What the hell happened? I want my old America back... Can't you level-headed Americans (there must be *some* of you left...) do something about it?

Re:I want my old America back... (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796530)

The first long term settlements in America were by extreme religious groups like the Pilgrims and Puritans. The idea that America didn't used to be particularly religious is not historically accurate.

i am american (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796492)

i understand how we could figure out evolution, but understanding the universe is another matter.

Superstition Triumphs Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796548)

So they pulled the questions at the last minute because they said that it conflated knowledge of scientific facts and the acceptance of scientific facts, and that the study should only talk about knowledge of, not acceptance of scientific facts. As the redacted section pointed out, "correct" responses to the questions about evolution and the Big Bang increased when prefaced with phrases as "according to the theory of evolution..." and "according to astronomers...".

That reasoning is flawed. It's the acceptance of scientific facts that is paramount for a modern and educated society. Just because I can correctly say, "Psychics cast magic spells and consort with the devil," doesn't mean I believe it. In fact, if a society that does believe that [cbsnews.com] , that's deeply troubling and backwards. If a society does not accept scientific facts, it is an superstitious and backwards society, and deserves all the derision it gets.

But no. The religious right didn't want these findings published because they want to perpetuate the idea that religious beliefs (specifically, their beliefs) are sacrosanct. This is a country where people want science books banned [cynical-c.com] , because they contain *gasp* science!

Times like this I'm reminded of Douglas Adams' take on criticizing religion. "You can't talk bad about religion. Why not? You MUST not. That's why."

Fuck that shit.

These are flawed questions. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796580)

Failure to accept an assertion is not the same as failing to understand that an assertion has been made

Evolution and the big bang are not a matter of opinion. If a person says that the earth really is at the center of the universe, even if scientists think it is not, how in the world would you call that person scientifically literate? Part of being literate is to both understand and accept scientific constructs.

Those are not, in any practical sense of the word, facts. Whether or not they are literally true, speculating about what might have happened millions of years ago is of little real importance to people living today.

Am I to believe that the scientific construct a used to make a scientific discovery is as important as the discovery itself? It isn't. Scientific constructs have no intrinsic value.

Big Bang for the Buck (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31796582)

Religious dogma aside, this Big Bang theory seems dated. The idea that the Universe might be finite has been challenged and, frankly, seems less likely as more is learned about quantum gravity and string theory. I am of the mind that there may have been a bang, perhaps many, but not just one big one. As some are monotheistic and others are polytheistic, I rebuke one big bang and claim to believe in many bangs. Just like thinking we are the only ones in the Universe, I doubt if this vastness could only come from one, 15-billion-year-old bang. Way beyond 15 billion light years might be a fireworks of bigger and better bangs. Our perspective is much too small to rule it out this soon.

As for evolution, I have questions as to its accuracy. For example, I think it is more likely that apes ascended from man. Evolution does not necessarily lead out of the jungle and into a Burger King.

Echo chambers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31796594)

From the deleted.txt file:

In response to another group of questions on evolution asked by Gallup in 2008, 43% of Americans agreed with the statement that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so,” while the 52% agreed with either of two statements compatible with the theory of evolution: that human beings developed over millions of years either with or without God’s guidance in the process (figure 7-12). These views on the origin of human beings have remained virtually unchanged in nine surveys since the questions were first asked in 1982 (The Gallup Organization 2008c).

In other words, significantly more than half of Americans know very well that the Christian creation story is a fable, and this has been the case for nigh on 30 years, at least. Headline: Genesis believers are minority in US.

Enough with the incessant navel gazing about this; the widespread and growing religious fanaticism you use to rationalize your loathing for your culture is a fiction. Secularism is (thankfully) firmly in control of the governance of the US, has been for several generations and shows no sign of abating, despite what you're being told inside the hysteria filled echo chamber of your choice.

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