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K H
  • K H
  • Mercer Island, WA
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According to a Pew Research Poll published on Dec. 30, 2013, only 43% of Republicans believe humans evolved over time. Why is this?

More than 60% of Independents and Democrats believe evolution. However fewer Republicans believe evolution than before. Republican belief in evolution has dropped from 54% in 2009 to 43% in 2013. I agree when the article claims that: " Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution."
Here is the article: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/

What is your opinion about this trend? What factors do you think are causing it? Do you expect this trend to continue?

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  • Jan 2 2014: I am more leaning toward evolution than toward creationism. But as a professional statistician, I am not impressed by this survey result. First of all, it is well known that Republicans are more religious, thus more of them believe in God. So what's wrong with that? But I also am a little skeptical about this estimated percentage based on the telephone survey. Most Republicans being Christians and also are in better financial conditions,(than corresponding Democrats,and Independents, and also some young and well educated Republicans), are more likely having telephones and having some one staying at home to attend to the phones. Thus, these republicans may not be a representative sample of the Republicans as a whole. For example many of the Republican college students were not likely to be included in the survey result.
    I am not saying that there wasn't a bona fide difference, but am saying that the "difference" MIGHT BE SOMEWHAT LESS THE REPORTED FIGURE. If Fritzie's figure is correct, then the 5% unexplained correlation beside the religious and ethnicity factors are not too far from random sampling error by chance.
    However, aside from the statistical razzle-dazzle, it is also not surprising to me that most Republicans are more socially conservative. I agree completely with Lawren that most Republican Governors and Congress reps are too socially conservative against my personal taste. I also believe that the current liberals don't have any fiscal discipline, they think that money can grow on trees rather than from the printing press, i e. the DEBT GENERATING MACHINE.
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      K H

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      Jan 3 2014: Pollsters have been working on controlling for challenges caused by changing IT usage trends. If your research design is well done and sampling sub-populations are well defined you can overcome these problems and obtain representative samples.
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    Jan 1 2014: The focus of the article, as I read it, was to describe carefully the clear differences in perspective based on religious affiliation combined with demographic identifiers, including ethnicity, party, and age. The sentence that said that religious, racial, and ethnic differences do not explain the difference completely was not, I think, intended to suggest that there is some important other factor at work. The statement might mean that 95% of the variation is explained by religion and demographics of the sample but that there is 5% left that is unexplained. Unexplained in statistical settings typically means that there are lots of other little things that determine the value of the dependent variable and some genuine randomness in the mix.

    I don't know from the article what proportion of the correlation is unexplained by religious and demographic factors. It could be very small. If I were guessing another factor that might matter it would be where in the country a person went to school.
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    Jan 1 2014: As a former Republican and present Christian, I'm ashamed to see what's become of the GOP.

    Evolution is simply a given fact, and the ridiculous efforts to explain the first chapter of Genesis as literal rather than poetical is an embarrassment to all of us that call ourselves Christian.

    The Creation Museum is so preposterous I want to both laugh and cry. http://creationmuseum.org/
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      Jan 2 2014: Your not alone. Here in Canada our own conservative party has also been hijacked by the small minded and their pretty prejudices and agendas. All the more reason to scape the party system and toss out the representatives who only represent the highest bidder.

      I am all for political evolution.
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      Jan 2 2014: I"m curious. Can you be both a Christian and believe "souls" are poetic metaphors?
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        Jan 2 2014: The Bible is replete with (but not entirely) allegory intended to convey meaning but not intended to be interpreted literally. Besides, there is no mention of souls in the first chapter of Genesis. I do believe souls are real, but Genesis chapter one only happened in general meaning, not in specifics. God created everything, but took billions of years to do it.
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          Jan 2 2014: But if you take evolution seriously, why do you still believe in a creator?
        • Jan 14 2014: I must take a moment to say that the discussion between Lawren and Gerald has been a very enlightening!

          Thank you both for such a wonderful exchange!
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        Jan 2 2014: I look around and I see an entire universe that runs on science. If science is God's playbook for running the universe, I've no problem believing that he/she started if off that way. Evolution doesn't take a thing away from God. God used evolution to create man. That's not an issue for me.
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          Jan 2 2014: So you believe God knew the outcome of billions of years of chaotic evolution?
          If creating humans was his purpose, isn't resorting to evolution kind of like the ape famously writing shakespeare sonnets, given enough time beating on a typemachine?
          If you disbelieve in a Shakespeare God, why bother with an Ape god? Also, what does "using" evolution mean, technically? Did God use evolution to create English too, or did it just evolve by itself?
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          K H

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          Jan 3 2014: Divine intervention assumes some kind of directionality. However, natural selection through competition and adaptation does not exhibit the kind of guidance you might expect from a all powerful creator.
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        Jan 3 2014: "So you believe God knew the outcome of billions of years of chaotic evolution?"

        No I do not. God created a universe in which intelligent life could evolve, and left it to time to do the rest. When, where, or in what shape that life finally took was entirely up to chance.
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          Jan 3 2014: Thank you for explaining this. I understand. But if you've gone that far, why not suppose that universes don't need a Creator?
          Do you disagree with the Universe-from-nothing argument made by modern astrophysicists?
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        Jan 3 2014: You're right that my worldview doesn't require a creator. I don't believe in one because I must - simply because I choose to, and, as we've discussed, I don't find a conflict between a creator and the scientific worldview.

        I think the Universe-from-nothing argument is very intriguing. Since I don't require my creator to be a gray-bearded old man in sandals to speaketh in middle English saying "Lo! Come forth, thou Heavens and firmament." to create my universe, I say what the hey. If he made the universe from random quantum fluctuations, I'm good with that.
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          Jan 3 2014: But if physics tell us that there is no room for intervention at the begining of the universe, just as there is no room for angels in the equations of other phenomena, what's the difference between believing God "made the universe from quantum fluctuations" and God makes water hot when I push the button on the boiler?
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        Jan 3 2014: I'm not sure what would qualify as 'intervention' or for that matter, what qualifies as the beginning. We're getting into the strange and beautiful world of quantum physics which I'm wholly unqualified to comment on, but here's an idea to consider:

        Might not God have created a universe in which, at some random time later, a universe might come into existence from random fluctuations in the quantum state, without any further intervention on his part? If God makes a... what shall we call it... a possibilty?... for a universe to randomly occur on it's own, and enough time for it to do so, could my definition of a creator be satisfied?
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          Jan 3 2014: What do you mean by "makes" in "God makes a possibilty" ?
          Isn't that an oxymoron?

          This is the biggest challenge for my understanding of religious philosophy : If this level of understanding is as precarious as you admit it is, then why not just leave it as that? Why jump to any conclusion about a Creator?
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        Jan 4 2014: What's precarious is the discussion of quantum mechanics and pre-time.

        As I've already said, there is no need or reason to imagine a creator, I simply choose to do so. And since such a belief (as I hold it) doesn't affect or interfere with the scientific worldview, where's the harm?
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          Jan 4 2014: There is no harm. But where's the good, if there is "no reason to imagine a creator"?
          I suppose you like the idea, and that it adds colour to your reality. But so do other stories, do they not?
          I think everybody mixes science with poetry, fiction, mythology. This is how our minds work. What I don't understand is why you need this or that story to be true. The great novels I've read are part of my reality, even though I don't believe the stories to be true or the characters to exist.
          Why believe?
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        Jan 4 2014: Why believe? The story asks me to. Beyond that, it's hard to elaborate without sounding preachy and using a lot of Sunday school language ("salvation" and so forth) which are such a put off for most readers.

        I think most everyone believes in things which can't be proven to exist. Free will is the most common example. I can use all the logic we've discussed concerning a creator and apply it to free will (it's simpler to do without, there's no proof, there's no reason, where's the good, etc.), but most people choose to believe in it anyway, because it improves their life experience. That's about all the explanation I can give to religious faith.
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          Jan 4 2014: I don't have a problem with free will. The problems arise from its fuzzy definition. "Does free will exist?" is a question that sounds a lot like "Is this art?" to me.
          If we agree on what Art is or should be, then we can establish what art is and what it isn't.
          Perhaps God is such a concept. Do you have a good definition of the term?

          I think I understand what you mean, "the story asks me too". Every story asks me to believe too. I'm a believer when I sit in the dark throughout a movie, even a bad one. Even if I know it's not a true story, even if the movie starts with credits of all the people responsible for this fiction, and even (as it happens a lot nowadays) if I know everything in the background is computer generated. I believe because I want to, because it improves my movie experience.
          But then... I walk out into the sunlight.
          As I already said, some of the movie I'll carry home, adding a few characters to my personnal mythology. I'll use that when facing existencial/emotional/identity questions. You seem to get a little more from your story, and I can't figure out what that is.
          I don't blame you if you're tired of answering my endless questions, but please don't expect your elaborations to put off this reader.
          Thanks
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        Jan 6 2014: You ask very intelligent and probing questions, all of which I've had to ask myself at some point in the past.

        What makes the story unique (for the Abrahamic religions, at least), is that it asks you to believe in the truth of it, and to act on that belief. You either do or you don't, but either way, once you hear the story, you must decide. By default, perhaps, but you've decided before you move on.

        "I believe because I want to, because it improves my movie experience." Likewise, I believe because I want to, and it improves my life experience. I think it's very much like the question of "What is art?" If it has value to you, you absorb it. If not, you reject it. Most Christians I know have concocted some sort of reason that the story must be believed. Somehow they need one, but no such reason exists.

        Having explored the "Where's the good?" question, I want to return to the other. If there's harm in believing, then certainly we would certainly want not to. I think the objection most thoughtful people have to religion is the ridiculous things uttered by people of faith. Those objections are valid, and a rarely hear religious statements that don't make me wince. Most objectionable of all (and the most incorrect) is that you can't have both religion and science. That's certainly true if you insist that Genesis One is literal. The proposal that it's poetic is not original to me, as I heard it thirty years ago. I might go into a deeper discussion of the hypnosis in a later response, as it will be lengthy and detailed. For now, I find it interesting that all the reasons to believe it's poetic are reasons of logic, and all the arguments against it are emotional.

        If we accept that Genesis One is poetic, then we can have a creator that not only runs the universe on science, but began it that way, which removes the science versus faith problem.

        And I see I've run out of room for this post. I'll let you reply, if you wish to, then we can continue.
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          Jan 7 2014: I can't argue against the points you make because I can't seem to grasp what your basic idea of God is. Is it something you can define?
          Please explain this before going any further into the poetic argument.
          thank you!
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        Jan 7 2014: I can't define God I envision in a single sentence, but I'll do so in as short a space as I can.

        As I write this, I find myself needing a pronoun to refer to the creator, and a capitalized 'He' seems too much Stained-Glass Language for my purposes, as well as being unnecessarily misogynistic. So, for lack of a better alternative, and without meaning to scandalize anyone, I'm simply going to refer to the god being as 'it.'

        As a creator, God must necessarily exist beyond the physical universe and beyond Time. That takes a lot of believing, and I don't know how to discuss or define such a dimension as "beyond space and time," so that much, I think, has to be taken at face value. If we can accept a being that exists this way, saying that it's omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent doesn't seem like a further stretch.

        The question that follows is, "Why would such a being create a universe at all? For that. imagine that you could pull some sort of a Jedi mind trick to make that girl from college like you. That would be swell for a moment, but a person of conscience knows that it's ultimately more valuable to have a person of free will choose to like you, when she could freely choose the alternative.

        This is think is why the creator has made a universe - making a space that would give rise to intelligent beings of free will that could, by choice, acknowledge and honor its existence, or not. For another similar expression of this idea, I recommend "God's Debris" by Dilbert's Scott Adams. Mr. Adams has made it freely available for download on the web if you're interested. In any case, free will is essential for my concept of God. I think god is a being (or beings) that are interested in the development of intelligence in the universe it's created.

        Beyond that, God needs a way to interface with us on a level we can understand, therefore the simplified concepts of Father, Heaven, Hell, etc., come into play.

        That's as complete a definition as comes to mind at the moment
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          Jan 7 2014: Let's see if I understand this. God is much like a person, with feelings and intelligence, conscience and exists in another dimension from ours.
          We don't know what else exists in its dimension because God is the only thing there interacting with us.
          He is able to interact with us because he is responsable for our reality, much like novelists are responsable for their characters' reality.
          Some of the characters enjoy investigating their world, looking around and building hypothesis about how it all holds together and how it possibly came to be. Of these, certain characters are satisfied with all of it existing all by itself, because all of it makes sense (as it should in good fiction). Others have the feeling that they are characters written by an omniscient writer, because the Novel does hold a few clues to whom cares to look for them.
          Since the characters are part of a world that is coherent, it makes perfect sense to discard the supernatural and go on living one's life.
          But for those who believe the world to be a novel, they can enjoy their parochial lives while ALSO enjoying the writing and admiring the writer. That provides extra meaning and makes their lives even more enjoyable.

          ?
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        Jan 8 2014: I can agree with all of that, yes.

        "Since the characters are part of a world that is coherent, it makes perfect sense to discard the supernatural and go on living one's life."

        Yes, that is the Occam's Razor argument. And I agree, it's simpler to not have a creator than to have one.
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        Jan 8 2014: I am a Christian, but a very unusual one, to be sure.

        The funny thing is, there's nothing I believe that contradicts anything in the bible. It's those other Christians, rather, whose limited interpretations (limited imaginations) are neither supported by biblical writings or the most lenient logic.
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          Jan 8 2014: Do you believe the Bible to have been written by man?
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        Jan 8 2014: Certainly. Most of the time, we know who the author was.

        I think the question you're asking is "Was the Bible written ONLY by man, and not inspired by God?"

        I believe the various texts of the Bible were initially inspired by God. How well we've preserved and interpreted some of those texts - I have questions about. Especially some books of the Apocrypha and some parts of Genesis.
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          Jan 8 2014: If there's nothing you believe that contradicts anything in the Bible, how do you reconcile the parts of it that, indeed, seem inspired and spiritual, with the parts of it that deals with parochial rules of conduct, say "how to properly punish a cheating spouse".
          And I don't think you're homophobic, nor do I think you value tribal warfare.
          So I'm all the more surprised by this claim. Please explain.
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        Jan 9 2014: You have to understand that the first 70% of the Bible is the Old Testament, which is Hebrew law and history, and not part of Christian doctrine. You can't just crack open a Bible and at point and say, "This is what Christians believe." The New Testament claims that the old one is useful for history and discussion, but is not to be observed as law. We certainly don't stone cheating wives or disobedient children. We don't circumcise. We don't observe the Sabbath day (4th Commandment). And we don't sacrifice livestock, among other differences.
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    Jan 20 2014: Conservatives' brains are wired differently from those of open-minded folks. Change is a foreign concept to them, and the essence of Evolution is change. The irony of conservative thought is that there is only one true constant in life, and that is change!

    There have been studies done that show this- shop around and take your pick.
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    Jan 14 2014: Successful religious indoctrination, particularly related to intelligent design pseudo science.

    perhaps also a failure of education, letting religious interests exert inappropriate influence.

    ultimately the power of religion and flawed human cognitive processes and social, psychological, tribal tendencies that religion keys into.
  • Jan 11 2014: Like any poll, I wonder how the question is phrased. The phrasing can skew the result. Also, how the sample is selected and how large the sample is.
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      Jan 11 2014: I thought that it said so quite clearly in the article?
      • Jan 11 2014: 1. 2 questions were asked, were they always 1 and then 2 or randomly order
        2. was curious how the sample set was selected, how many answered to how many refused.
        3. were the democrats/republicans registered or self announced

        this was off the top of my head
  • Jan 2 2014: I just copied a part of the original report by The Gallop Poll citing more survey results to as early as 1982. The report below is extracted from it which at least represents the trend BEFORE THE COMPARISON BY K H using only the difference or the "trend" between 2009 and 2013.

    June 11, 2007:
    More Americans accept theory of creationism than evolution
    by Frank Newport GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

    *Column headings in the table are: 1. Date Developed, 2. with God guiding (%), 3. Man developed, but God had no part (%), 4. God created man in present form (%), 5. Other / No Opinion (%).

    2007 May 10-13--- 38 -----14 -----43 -------4
    2006 May 8-11----- 36-----13------46--------5
    2004 Nov 7-10------38-----13------ 45------ 4
    2001 Feb 19-21-----37-----12 ------45------ 5
    1993 Jun 23-26----- 35-----11-------47------ 7
    1982 Jan--------------38 ----- 9-------44-------9

    The results above included the answers by all the Americans. Now just look at the result for 1982. The proportion of the population of both parties surveyed who agreed with evolution concept was only 18%, even include those expressed "no opinion". This longer trend is exactly opposite to the trend cited by you.
    (The percentages of accepting the theory of evolution in the 1980s and 1990s were uniformly lower, even lower than that of 43% you quoted for 2013. The percentages for Republicans couldn't be that much higher than these % figures for the all Americans. Another point you can see is that if you guess what was the %age of belief 100 years ago, I would have to say it would be no more than 2% of the Republicans agree with the Darwin's evolution theory. So, it was a trend of drastically up, then down. My theory is perhaps the 'reverse' is caused by the recent change of the members' shift toward more religious orientation in the Republican party)
      • Jan 2 2014: Thanks, Jimmy. The TED format doesn't accept tabular form, so I had a lot of trouble in copying the tables onto the posting.
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          Jan 2 2014: The TED format doesn't accept anything... ʇnq ǝɹǝɥʇ ǝɹɐ llᴉʇs sʎɐʍ punoɹɐ ʇɐɥʇ¡ OR Ⓑⓤⓣ ⓣⓗⓔⓡⓔ ⓐⓡⓔ ⓢⓣⓘⓛⓛ ⓦⓐⓨⓢ ⓐⓡⓞⓤⓝⓓ ⓣⓗⓐⓣ...

          However I haven't been able to find a way of adding tabular forms...
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      K H

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      Jan 3 2014: Bart, thanks for adding some longitudinally to the discussion. I was only referring to the two time periods in the report. There is a very similar 2011 Gallup poll that confirms the Pew numbers. On January, 2nd NPR also conducted an analysis of the Pew survey. They note that this result is in line with other polling on science related topics which shows that a growing number of Republicans are challenging the basic assumptions of empiricism and scientific method on all fronts. Again, I think a major reason for this is that most of the stuff they read bashes science. The assault on the global warming hypothesis is another example. The prosperity of America is becoming more and more dependent on science and technology, not less. The attack on science could end up destroying our economy and our environment. The pool of talented scientists will shrink as more and more people put their heads in the sand. We will become a nation of burger flippers.
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    Jan 2 2014: So I see some critique in this Conversation of the statistical uncertainty. so I decided to do a Google search of this (isn't it amazing that there is a thing called a search engine that you can use if you want to find results?).

    I have not checked the articles myself since I've already done my research on the support for evolution in the US and I don't need to look at newspaper articles to further crush my faith in humanities way to think critically.

    But I'll just share some of the Google results, now if anyone can point to research contradicting this I would be very interested to see those results.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/33-of-americans-dont-believe-in-evolution-2013-12
    http://news.yahoo.com/percentage-republicans-believe-evolution-shrinking-210550242.html
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/40-of-americans-majority-of-republicans-reject-evolution/
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/four-americans-believe-strict-creationism.aspx
    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2013/12/31/3108741/republicans-evolution-demographics/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/20/40-of-americans-still-bel_n_799078.html

    Also, there's an interesting Wiki on the level of support for evolution that everybody should read, rather read it before reading the other articles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution#United_States

    On the upside atheism is rising in the US, people are finally daring to come out (which is really hard for many as they are cast out, just like LGBT people) and maybe someday in a distant future the US will have at least one senator who openly don't believe in God... That will be the day.
  • Jan 2 2014: Ignorance prevails in all its glory to undermine the strong and elevate the ignorant. (someone famous) It could be said that Democrats can be replaced by pretty much any third party or independent party because nothing differentiates them from the common good. 60% is good enough to say once the old FDR -Johnson Democrats are no longer with us, that, that political party can be considered obsolete. That's a good thing to happen.

    Republicans are unique in that they have beliefs and or opinions that differ from the mainstream. Political systems need less mainstream parties who agree in mass to every pie in the sky idea regardless of its merits so long as it's correct for the the belief system.

    The environmental movement 50 years ago was about cleanup.Now everyone's on board. The enemy has become not doing enough. Most of the replies here won't be able to pull out of the primordial slim of agreeing or disagreeing with the Pew Research it's just worth noting. Good Republicans bad democrats for vice versa. Explaining partisan differences in beliefs is like believing certain events and the lies that followed these events are insignificant. One side might believe they are criminal acts the other just political evolution and attacks.

    and in 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 ___________
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    Jan 2 2014: To believe is to see. To see is to believe.That works for everyone.
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      Jan 2 2014: That is not how it works for me... I need statistics and hard core research to form an informed opinion, I think that there's a real danger when people just think that they "see truly" because they simply believe in something.

      If I close my eyes and let my imagination drift away I can see Bigfoot riding a Unicorn in the back of the house, do I believe that it is so? No!
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        K H

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        Jan 3 2014: Jimmy, I am totally with you on this one. In order to make sense of the world we need ways to aggregate the disparate impressions of individuals so we can make generalizeable statements about entire populations. We can't make public policy based on the emotional impressions of a few individuals. You will almost certainly create policies that fail to generate outcomes that serve the general good.
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        Jan 3 2014: You are talking about blind faith and you way of forming your opinion.

        "I need statistics and hard core research to form an informed opinion."
        Good for you then. But don'f forget that the information you take in can be influenced by the time,space,mass cultures etc. which are defined in specific circumstances ,understandings,beliefs,and customs ,limiting your experiences and influence your thinking pattern.

        How do you get information? How reliable are them,do they ever change? How do you decide what infromation to select to form an opinion?Can a opinion get evoloved into a belief?(rhetorical questions )

        "I think that there's a real danger when people just think that they "see truly" because they simply believe in something."

        Yes, it could be dangerous.I think it depends on what people makes out of his/her belifs due to various reasons.

        And I also think it's not helpful to leave an opinion unexamed and dismiss whatever go against it and cherrypick the info to support it's own and that again creates "realities "(information to reinforce again).
        • Jan 11 2014: More deeply, custom and cultural bias can define what specific questions are deemed worthy of "statistics and hard core research".
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    Jan 2 2014: K H

    Science-thankfully- is not decided by polls. When most people believed that the Earth was flat...well it wasn't. It is however encouraging to me that at least in probabilistic way America's view of evolution by Natural Selection is turning a corner.Better readings that some as such polls in the past.
    A probable factor for a skew towards science may be due to the gaffs of such illustrious characters as Rep. Akin and his statements on "Legitimate rape" or Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia "insightful comments on evolution, embryology and the big bang as "lies straight from the pit of hell." or Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who claims that God himself has declared the whole global warming scare to be a "hoax". Thus maybe Republicans want to distance themselves from such arcane thinking, while a portion still holds tight to God and their favorite blond haired blue eyed Jesus, white Santa Claus and their trusty S&W.
    A possible negative impact is in education and healthcare as some groups in America will have us believe that The Flintstones is based on facts and that should thus be instructed in our public schools(but that is another debate). Or stem cell research,abortion same sex marriage etc. The driver behind it is the imposition of religious values of one particular group over thee rest of the population.

    Cheers Happy 2014!

    " The greater our knowledge increases, the more our ignorance unfolds"
    President Kennedy
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    Jan 2 2014: Well George W Crazy was the best of the best not once but twice so, go figure.
  • Jan 1 2014: I'm not sure anyone could make any hard and fast judgements from the results of this survey.

    According to the US Census Bureau, the estimated population of the US in 2012 was 313,914,040. Now, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that the number of people who would call themselves Christian, go to church, etc. would be well over 1%. However, if we're really generous and exclude 99% of people because they may be children, non-Christian, etc. then you're still left with a qualifying sample size of well over 3 million. The actual sample size was a tad over 4000 out of a possible 3,000,000+. That means, unless I've made a HUGE error, that the sample size was 0.13%

    Whilst I understand there are ways to allow for errors when compensating for large differences between population and sample sizes, there is such a huge difference here that a 3% +or- degree of accuracy seems way beyond optimistic!

    Now, if at some point 100% of a population was asked a question, you could then compare the results from a complete (100%) survey and see how accurate your partial survey has been, then have some degree of confidence when compiling results from future partial population surveys. 50% would still be a good place to be sample wise. 10% would still give a level of accuracy. I think a 1% sample size is really limiting, what with (as the survey compilers admit) so many variables that might be affecting the results, and no way of comparing whole population results with partial population results to see if there is a reasonable degree of accuracy.

    If we imagine that the survey is correct in it's said conclusions, have the population changed their views or have a number left the population leaving more of the sample group holding a particular view? I'm not sure it's possible to tell from this survey whether views have changed, part of the population has changed/left the sample group, or more people have joined. Too large a group with too many variables and little helpful information.
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      K H

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      Jan 3 2014: A typical national poll samples around 1,500 participants. We can actually compare polling results to actual voter preferences. More often than not the predicted results are within the margin of error when compared to voting results.
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    Jan 1 2014: Religion, creationism.
  • Jan 1 2014: Personally I wouldn't pay much attention to any statistic based on telephone interviews like those presented in this article, people usually lie on this kind of polls, I am sure in a sample of 4006 people, a minimum of 400 of them gave at least one false or inaccurate answer unintentionally, and about 800 lied intentionally in one or more answers, with that in mind I think a 3% error margin is extremely optimistic.
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      K H

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      Jan 3 2014: The art of scientific sampling is quite well developed. Pollsters picked the winning candidates in the great majority of races in 2012. This certain did not happen by chance.
      • Jan 3 2014: The art of scientific sampling is quite well developed, however it is also a true fact that unsolicited telephone interviews are very unreliable sources of data.
  • Dec 31 2013: Educated groups in the modern age usually have higher rates of believing in evolution, and also tend to espouse a higher percentage of liberals. Make of that what you will.
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      Jan 1 2014: "Educated groups ... tend to espouse a higher percentage of liberals."

      Thirty years ago this was not the case. I hate to see what's become of the Republican party, which I can no longer identify with. I switched to Libertarian a few years back.
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        Jan 1 2014: Sadly neither choice is really good, have you chosen what you think is right or between the lesser bad?. You're being forced into believing in a broken democratic model.
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          Jan 1 2014: I've chosen what I believe is right. While I agree with liberals on most social issues, I cannot agree with them on most economic issues, where the liberals are too socialist for me. I believe private enterprise is almost always preferable to large, government-run programs.
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          Jan 2 2014: did I hear someone muttering about Direct, or Participatory, or Liquid Democracy in the background?

          I hope so because this so-called representative system is a lost cause and a political evolution seems to be necessary.
      • Jan 1 2014: I said liberal, not democrat/republican. Not at all the same thing.

        This bipartisan system the US has going is a right mess. Say someone is against abortions, but socialist in their leanings? Or the other way around? Pro nuclear and anti religious? Against deploying troops abroad, but also a diehard environmentalist? Neither party is even a close fit.
        Democrat and Republican are two packaged deals that means voting for one, you're almost bound to vote for things you don't like along with it.

        Unfortunately, the system has also been carefully set up to make it practically impossible for third parties to ever enter the scene.
        If I wasn't speaking through text, this would be the point that I'd roll my eyes and mutter something along the lies of "democracy at work".
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          Jan 2 2014: An excellent distinction Nadav. I would go even further and suggest that those old labels no longer apply. Politics, especially in the so-called democracies, has shed its camouflage and now fully displays that it is all about power and control and the labels are only there for show and the diehards.
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          Jan 2 2014: William,

          You caught my mutterings perfectly!
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        Jan 1 2014: Lawren,

        As you say you are a bit torn between the choices, both have their perks and faults. And that Is what I mean by broken democratic model, we are not really able to choose what we think is right, we're forced to do trade-offs.
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      K H

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      Jan 3 2014: Nadav, regarding your comment about education and evolution, it seems that the positive association between these two variables is breaking down. Educated people who only get their information from certain (erroneous) sources that confirm their worldview will educate themselves accordingly. Its the trash in trash out effect.
      • Jan 3 2014: In the states maybe, where atheist is still a dirty word, and you need to at least pretend to be a practicing christian to get elected.

        In most of the world, belief in evolution is on the rise, especially in educated circles. Something about empirical evidence just has a certain charm to it that "its in the holy book, you're not allowed to question it" doesn't have.
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    Dec 31 2013: K, In you article the most important part is the very last sentence: " In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls."

    I once worked in analysis. I can make the outcome meet what ever you want it to be.

    We all believe the polls we want to believe. We disregard the ones we don't want to believe.

    The most interesting part of the survey was the differences in Catholics. There is not a lot of wiggle room if you are Catholic. They are all taught the same. I know ... a low down Republican must have swayed the results.
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      Jan 2 2014: Wouldn't the republican have to high up to change the results, not low down?
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        Jan 2 2014: That would be in the opinion of the speaker. Since I am an Independent I will leave that to liberals and conservatives.
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    Dec 31 2013: At least we now recognise we are dealing with a 'belief', rather than the scientific fact as espoused by the more anxious adherents to evolution.

    :-)
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        Jan 1 2014: Jimmy, this is just a very long list of people who "believe" in evolution.
        Millions of folks believe Jesus is God; that doesn't make it true. Now; if there was "evidence" that he rose from the grave, then we may have something. Faith is still required, but not blind faith.
        There is an amount of evidence for evolution, most however has alternative explanations, so it comes down to what an individual deems the most likely. Personally I put no faith in the popular vote; after all most folks run Windows.

        :-)
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        Jan 1 2014: There is no dissension on gravity. The evidence is compelling & there are no counter theories. Most folk believe in gravity. Straw man.

        :-)
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          K H

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          Jan 3 2014: The consensus on evolution is not far behind gravity. It spans every field of the natural sciences. There are hundreds of thousands of peer reviewed articles that corroborate the basic evolution hypothesis. How many peer-reviewed articles written by credentialed scientists question it?
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        Jan 3 2014: Hi KH
        Many scientists have found that 'coming out' against Darwin costs them dearly in reputation amongst the mainstream scientific community. Peer review among a hostile peer group obviously won't work too well, even so some have succeeded.
        There is considerable dissent however, eg
        http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org & others.

        :-)
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          Jan 4 2014: Gee, I wonder why it costs them greatly, maybe because they've ridden themselves of all credibility when it comes to biological science!?

          What you provided Peter, was JUST a long list of names who did not support the theory of evolution. What I provided before was at least more then simply a list of names.

          Every single one of these professors either is or has had a creationist upbringing.

          Are you even trying to listening to the mainstream science or are you just such a hipster that you chose to believe what other's don't?

          Give me some HARD SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE Peter and we shall discuss your perspective.

          Bible is not science or evidence.
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        Jan 4 2014: Most of these guys are just working away as normal. What they believe is irrelevant to their job, but they lose their job because of what they believe. What is taking place in the scientific arena today may well take place in the political arena tomorrow. Many regimes have banned beliefs, I would rather not live in one. Thankfully (for me) it is not so prevelant in the UK as in the USA, but the danger exists, largely unchallenged. At any rate, a scientific establishment that bans thinking outside the box is in a dead end street as far as new discoveries goes.
        Hard Scientific Evidence.
        I love this stuff. Fossils are predominantly creatures buried rapidly. If they weren't then they would rot before they fossilised. Rock strata typically have smooth transitions from one layer to another. There is typically no weathering or erosion to suggest a long period from one layer to another. Just to emphasise this fact, there are many fossils running through more than one layer.
        Question :- If the fossil bearing layers, & the layer transitions, are rapidly deposited, then why would we think that the layers took billions of years to form ?

        :-)
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        Jan 9 2014: Somehow I thought you'd say that, :-)
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      Jan 2 2014: belief and science and especially facts need not be in opposition nor do they have to disagree. So I lean towards those theories that embrace science, fact and belief together rather than any one over the other.
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        Jan 2 2014: Well argued!

        But you should be very aware that Peter is a Young Earth Creationist. So he does not share this viewpoint.
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          Jan 2 2014: Alas, as a Harry Nielson song opines "we see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear".

          I try to resist reasoning with the unreasonable preferring to direct my energies towards more fulfilling endeavours
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        Jan 2 2014: Hi William.
        Just for the record YEC's do embrace science, they sometimes just have different interpretations of results. Eg. Fossils exist in rock layers that is scientific, there are two possibilities as to how they got there. 1) Slowly over millions of years, 2) Rapidly during a worldwide flood. Neither 1, nor 2 can be scientifically verified, so both are opinion. 1 does not become scientific because it has more adherents.

        :-)
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          Jan 2 2014: It is true Peter that ad populum is not a good argument.

          But science is and there's a science called Geochronology and one called Chronostratigraphy that perfectly explain the age of the earth to be about 4.6 billion years. Or do you have other sciences that would be a better alternative than Geochronology and Chronostratigraphy?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geochronology
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronostratigraphic

          None of them show any evidence of YEC's perspective.
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          Jan 2 2014: Also, since we're on the topic of science.

          There's no plausible explanation to how the whole world would have flooded, sure massive floods occur but they are regional, not global. The water amount itself for a world flooding does not exist as is shown by sea levels.

          And to continue, lets take things like Radiocarbon dating into account, it can date back to about 60'000 years, and radioactive decay is very easy to prove and measure. So there goes your YEC perspective again.

          You do understand that I could continue this for a while I think. But I'll let you respond first.
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          K H

          • +1
          Jan 3 2014: Jimmy, well said. The evidence supporting geochronology and chronostratigraphy is overwhelming.
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        Jan 2 2014: Having complex names for studying science is no indicator of truth either. The actual science is what matters. Much of it is just common sense aka
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3PY0zzh8G3c&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D3PY0zzh8G3c
        I don't expect you to be convinced, but many of us are.

        :-)
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          Jan 2 2014: I'm sorry for the complex names, I did not name the sciences.

          I guess "rock studies" was already taken and they didn't think that it described what they were actually doing.

          But you do know about Carbon dating right?? It's used in forensics (is that also a complex name?) all the time for example.

          You spoke of science, so I argued with science, please do the same back!
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        Jan 3 2014: Hi Jimmy,
        You obviously haven't studied the Flood Hypothesis. Popular highlights as follows :-
        1) there was one landmass, probably low lying, & one Ocean.
        2) Rapid tectonic action released subterranean water which overwhelmed the splitting landmass.
        3) The thicker parts of the crust rose up & the thinner parts were pushed down by the weight of water.
        4) massive runoff formed features like monument valley, & continental shelves.
        5) Tectonic activity continues, but has all but exhausted it's energy.
        Interesting assides :-
        If the earth was smooth the global water depth would be over a mile & a half.
        Erosion at current rates will reduce the continents to sea level in 12-15million years.

        C14 dating is a bit much to go at here, however I have thought about it.
        Eg. http://www.answersingenesis.org/media/video/ondemand/new-answers-dvds/carbon-14-disprove-bible

        YECs are just folks who've looked carefully at both sides of the argument & formed a contrary opinion. I find many advocates of Darwin have little idea of the contrary arguments & believe the Redneck Bible-Thumping stereotypes. You may be right & I may be wrong, but this subject is too important to dismiss without a thorough examination of both sides.

        :-)
  • Dec 31 2013: The real reason? The one that you don't want to hear?

    It simply doesn't matter on a day-to-day basis what one believes about evolution, so people are free to let their biases dictate their beliefs in this matter. Evolution is simply irrelevant to daily life.