Friday 15 June 2012

Read 'Em and Weep. Gallup's 2012 Poll on Christianist Beliefs

A tip o' the hat to Jaime Ullinger of the BioAnthropology News group on facebook, and to Katha Pollitt of The Nation, for bringing this to my attention. 
     Each year the Gallup organization polls the US public on their beliefs with respect to evolution. The question, asked each year, offers three alternative 'takes' on reality.   
I'm pretty sure anyone reading this here would agree... There's nothing very hopeful here. The clear winner is that 'God created humans in present form ... within the last 10,000 years or so.'
     Astonishing. No?
     If you add up the two alternatives with 'God' in the mix, there has been an almost imperceptible fall-off over the past 20 years. But essentially the viewpoint of the American public is unchanged in that time. The [for me] ultimate response is to alter only slightly the words of a bumper sticker I remember seeing a long time ago. 
Beam me up, Scotty. There's less intelligent life down here than we thought.
Seriously? Between 44% and 47% of a cross-section of the US population are young-earth Christianists. I'm no math whiz, but that's a scary lot of WHACK-Os walking the streets. As Ms. Pollitt points out in her editorial, it's no wonder the right is able to pull the wool over the eyes of their supporters on so many issues linked to the clear rejection of science on the part of half the voters. The author of the Nation piece quotes a perspicacious politico with a lovely turn of mind.

“Sea-level rise” is a “left-wing term,” said Virginia state legislator Chris Stolle, a Republican, successfully urging its replacement in a state-commissioned study by the expression “recurrent flooding.” 
So, get going all my subversive friends! Forget talking about global weirding and start talkin' 'bout the next flood! That'll get their attention!

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  1. I believe the the results are similar when Americans are asked if they believe in ghosts, UFOs, ESP, telekinesis, etc. Half to two-thirds do. So it's not just Christianism that scientists are up against.

  2. I can fudge these numbers to find something hopeful. If you lump together all the responses that involve god, the trend line is clearly negative, but the r-squared value is only 0.2. If you lump together all the responses that include evolution the trendline is clearly positive and the r-squared is 0.33. By my reckoning the numbers will be about equal in 2117. Does the Maya calendar go beyond that?
    I do not know how to copy the graph into this, but I will send it to Rob.

  3. @Spawn. Sadly, you're right. And don't forget faeries, leprechauns, zombies and vampires. If I can paraphrase the old real estate mantra, the answer is Education, Education, Education. As long as the corporatists are running the place, education will always take a back seat to the almighty buck.

  4. @Iain, you clearly have too much time on your hands! I'm dyin' to see the graph. Oh, and, just in case our readers don't already know, 2117 is the next time that Venus transits the Sun. Coincidence? I hardly think so...

  5. @ Iain: If you retrocast that regression, does 100% belief in God-forcing appear at 4004 BC? Another informative benchmark, perhaps.

  6. I am afraid you are wide of the mark Spawn (if I may call you that). The date when no one thought that evolution was the driving force behind the presence of humans was 1548--the year before the publication of the Book of Common Prayer. It was, of course, almost as big an influence on the English language as the King James Bible.
    For the date when everyone thought god was involved you get back to a much more interesting date. I swear I did not fiddle this in the slightest, but you are not going to believe that the date was so recent. It was 1859. I'm not sure that that has had much of an influence. Oh, hang on, isn't that the date of publication of "On the origin of species"? Say it isn't so. To quote a great Research Scholar from the Ronin Institute: Coincidence? I hardly think so.

  7. Spawn E. hits on something very important. Those polls do tend to dredge up stats that are pretty eye-popping no matter what the question sets are. The answers most likely reflect who they're actually polling and where they conduct the survey more than they show a representation of American beliefs.

  8. Here is Iain's regression chart
    Nice choice of colours, Iain. Another coincidence? I think not. Rebublican blue and Democratic red. Positively poetry!


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