Evo_idiots_1I love finding disconnects in the market (i.e.,the PPI data today);

Unfortunately, the people who fail to understand what the scientific methodology entails are pressing in the political realm – rather than in the market place. We have seen they dare not try their silly little stunts in the peer reviewed scientific sphere.

If only these people were investors — we would be emptying their bank accounts!

In politics, perception is reality, and so, for the most part, the penalty for deviating from reality is de minimus.

In the stock market, you cannot create your own reality — at least not for long. Eventually, the market place comes around to the numerical facts — i.e economics, revenues, and earnings.

For example:  In surveys conducted in 2005, people in the United States and 32 European countries (The same question was posed to Japanese adults in 2001). 

Respondants were asked whether to respond “true,” “false” or “not sure” to this statement:

“Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.”

It turns out that the United States had the second-highest percentage of adults who said the statement was false — and the second-lowest percentage who said the statement was true, researchers reported in the current issue of Science. (Only adults in Turkey expressed more doubts on evolution).

What is the penalty for this belief system? Well, you probably won’t get a Science-based job — but that’s about it.

The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.

That — and the lack of any sort of financial or societal disincentive for the belief system. At least  so far . . .

>

UPDATE August 16, 2006 6:26am

Some questions in the comments require a bit of schooling: 

Understand what the Scientific Method is: It is a body of techniques for investigating natural phenomena and acquiring new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge.

It posits theories which are used until better theories come along. Example: Gravity is a theory that works so well we assume it to be a fact. And if one day a better theory of gravitation comes along that predicts the motion of bodies and interaction of masses better than the present one, well then we will throw out the old theory and replace it with the better one. 

Scientific Method assumes that its theories are subject to revision as additional evidence is acquired. No axioms are invioable, every thesis is subject to rigorous testing and peer review; Every theory is based on observable, empirical, measurable evidence, and subject to laws of reasoning.

All the acquired data are collectively called scientific evidence.

>

Source:
Did Humans Evolve? Not Us, Say Americans            
NYT, August 15, 2006               
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/15/science/sciencespecial2/15evo.html

The Evolution Debate: Complete Coverage   

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/science/sciencespecial2/index.html

Public Acceptance of Evolution            
Science, 11 August 2006:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/313/5788/765

See also: How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate         

Category: Politics, Psychology, Science, UnScience

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

124 Responses to “Variant Perception in Science”

  1. fred hooper says:

    Oh please Barry, can’t we talk about inflation and truck prices?? Had any good wines lately? How was Vail?

  2. Interesting. So are you suggesting (at the end) that belief is just a response to incentives, Freakonomics style? Am I going to church on Sunday and believing in an Afterlife mostly because of some incentives that are presented to me by the portion of the world that I am exposed to? Oh, the philospophy! And there heresy! I love it!

  3. sw says:

    The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.

    Dont forget our poor educational system. A few whackos aside, evolution is in the curriculum of our public schools.

  4. Leisa says:

    “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.”

    Is is just me or does anyone else have any quibble with the statement’s wording? Heck, I believe in evolution, and I’m not sure how I would answer this question. What does “as we know them” mean? Sounds like a trick–a red herrring phrase! And…”developed from earlier species of animals”….that’s a little unclear. Some folks might be okay with our evolving from monkey’s but not quite bought into the fish from water story. So they may be quasi evolutionists. Drawing any conclusions, scientific or otherwise, from such a poorly crafted question with only the bifurcated choices of true/false, is, well, unscientific.

  5. I wonder if the evolution statistics coorelate over time with Bush/Republican approval ratings. Since the later has gone down down down lately, has belief in evolution done so too? If there is a coorelation, it would have some serious implications…

  6. Cherry says:

    All the Atheist must live in Iceland.

  7. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:


    All the Atheist must live in Iceland.

    And universities.

  8. scorpio says:

    re the link betw Evolution/Creationism and Bush popularity: Kansas voters just threw out the Creationist majority on the state’s school board. happy days are here again

  9. Tristram says:

    …and in spite of the failure to acknowledge evolution by a significant portion of the American population, it is (arguably) the most successful, free and innovative nation on earth.

    Perhaps belief in evolutionary theory is a drawback rather than a benefit to a society.

  10. Darin says:

    I still cannot believe that so called educated people subscribe to ‘evolution’ as a scientific ‘fact’. First and foremost because it seems rather ignorant to associate scientific findings with inexorable truths, or in this particular case, demonstrable facts. Evolution is merely a theory, from the Greek ‘to see’–an educated point of view that just so happens to fail the most basic scientific test: that of being reproducible (go read Sir Francis Bacon’s book if you don’t get this). While admittedly it has been very productive, it is neither internally coherent nor is it conclusive. The joys of skepticism, something that I had thought you enjoyed yourself, Barry, would lead to a contrarian position. The better question, I maintain, is not whether the theory of Evolution is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, accurate or inaccurate, but rather what is it preventing us from seeing?
    In addition, for the unlearned among you, I think that it is important to keep in mind that theories are explanatory narratives for perceived behaviors that attempt to align causes and effects. In the end, just as David Hume ( make my day; try reading this one) pointed out, since cause and effect are not sensations that we can actually experience, they don’t really ‘exist’. Thus, in the end, both science and economics can wield theories that prove more or less accurate in their respective forecasting, they can never be correct all of the time; it is always a question of degrees of accuracy, never accuracy as such.
    Finally, I just want to comment on the following: “In the stock market, you cannot create your own reality — at least not for long. Eventually, the market place comes around to the numerical facts — i.e. economics, revenues, and earnings.”
    I can hardly believe you of all people could write this! What would you say about going off the gold standard? Fractional Reserve Banking? Inflation? LTCM??? The ground that you have attempted to lay for the markets here, that there is indeed a cause and effect relationship within the market itself, is ridiculous. If it were any other way, than you would never loose money, now would you? The irrationality of the market, its inherent instability, the market’s inability to correctly price capital correctly ALL OF THE TIME is precisely the greatest vehicle for making money known to man. Still think you have the best site out there though…

  11. semper fubar says:

    Who needs evolution when a chimp can get elected President of the United States?

  12. fred hooper says:

    Good stuff Darin! Especially your query “What would you say about going off the gold standard? Fractional Reserve Banking? Inflation? LTCM??? ”

    Did you see that great little post I wrote on US debts and bankruptcy? Wanna talk trucks and inflation? Had any good wines lately? I’m into gold, freeze dried foods, guns and ammo. How about you?

  13. Y’all who are interested in the “intelligent design” issue should listed to Kurt Vonnegut’s NPR interview from January if you’ve never heard it. He makes some interesting comments.

  14. Craig says:

    This is simple.

    If you are interested in solutions to various health and reproductive issues, or perhaps in profiting from companies located in places where experts in these fields may be located, you can be sure it won’t be in the good Ol’ U.S. of A, but in one of the countries at the top of the list.

    The point is this: The markets will decide this question too. Maybe it isn’t as immediate as not getting a job as a geneticist or genetic engineer, but over time the countries that don’t confuse repeatable science with faith will win that race in the marketplace. Their quality of life will increase as will their return from investment, while those who do not invest in science because they confuse science and faith will repeat the same pattern we see in the Middle East.

  15. Brian says:

    There are a lot of good reasons to invest overseas. I’m about 60% overseas myself. Stuff like this isn’t the biggest reason but is one of them.

  16. BDG123 says:

    Ok, where’s Byno? I expected him on here by now to debate the posters blowing holes in evolution.

    I really don’t think many people believe God showed up and POOF there were people. I’m sure of that regardless of what they say. Someone who goes to church weekly is going to repress their doubts, which nearly everyone of every faith has and answer with their heart not their head. So, these polls are useless bullshit. It doesn’t mean Americans are stupid or mystics or driven by fundamentalist wackos. What it might mean is Americans are more hopeful than the rest of the world. There is no doubt in my mind that there is truly something special about this country with all of its political problems and blathering by permabears we are going under.

    There is absolutely no place else on earth sans maybe Canada, the fifty first state, where people truly accept all comers IN GENERAL. Europe is steeped in deep racism and ethnic classes for immigrants unable to truly assimilate and the rest of the world is devoid of the melting pot concept.

    So, view it for what it more likely is. America is truly a land of hope. Hope springs from the heart. Culturally, we would answer the question differently.

    Oh, and while I have said in our philosophical debates that I believe in evolution, that is such as simple answer. The really intriguing question is why? The question scientists and philosophers ask every day. One in one hundred billion billion? There is much we do not know AND I AM NOT defending the kooky intelligent design right wingers but it is an intriguing question. At least for me.

  17. Craig says:

    “Interesting. So are you suggesting (at the end) that belief is just a response to incentives, Freakonomics style? Am I going to church on Sunday and believing in an Afterlife mostly because of some incentives that are presented to me by the portion of the world that I am exposed to? Oh, the philospophy! And there heresy! I love it!”

    Actually, yes, unless you somehow avoided parental indoctrination until about 8 years old, then YES, your belief, like most of us, was a result of incentives (“THIS is our house and you will go to church MISTER”, or variations on that theme) to get along in the world presented to you by your parents. Unless your parents spent your first seven years discussing their a-theism and their lack of an explanation. This could have happened but isn’t usually the norm.

    Usually we get the full compliment…God in some form, Santa (or?) Easter Bunny,Tooth Fairy, etc. all before seven, and magically they all get explained (or embarassed) away around seven years old. Well, almost all of them.

  18. M.Z. Forrest says:

    While this is a topic that will get most people labeled a kook, I have to agree with Darin. For a good old fashioned atheistic debunking, Richard deMille wrote a piece for National Review about 7 years ago.

  19. S says:

    From the shrill blond harpy one herself:

    “Throw in enough words like imagine, perhaps, and might have — and you’ve got yourself a scientific theory! How about this: Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don’t accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat. That’s basically how the argument for evolution goes.

    This, my friends, is what makes its way onto the New York Times best seller list.

  20. trader75 says:

    Just say no!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist…

    It is indeed an intriguing question B, but not one that popular religion cares about answering. Especially in the US. Hate to say it, but the poster boy for American faith is this guy. Stuart Smalley, Tom Vu and Dr. Phil all rolled into one.

  21. BKE says:

    Barry: Being or becoming?

    But we’ve come to see that life is both, no?

    What am I on about? This comment: “In the stock market, you cannot create your own reality — at least not for long. Eventually, the market place comes around to the numerical facts — i.e economics, revenues, and earnings.”

    I’m thinking about Soros’ REFLEXIVITY. And Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Poincare resonances and activation of dormant characteristics of DNA.

    The comment smacks of a Newtonian model that is but a specific case in more general theories.

    Short and squeezed, hoping market does not create it’s own reality but recognizing it can and does.

  22. tyoung says:

    Barry
    Why did ya have to bring up evolution? Didn’t ya know truthiness would always win?

  23. trader75 says:

    The better question, I maintain, is not whether the theory of Evolution is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, accurate or inaccurate, but rather what is it preventing us from seeing?

    Come on man… that may be a better philosophical question, but it isn’t exactly good science, or any kind of science at all for that matter. Evolution is accepted by many well-educated people as fact because the evidence is so wide-ranging and interlocking as to be deeply compelling.

    To say that evolution fails the test of reproducibility is a ridiculous charge; all theories of that which happened in the distant past are irreproducible. Any possible alternatives to evolution would be irreproducible too.

    It’s good that you mention Hume and the sense in which cause and effect don’t exist; thus you demonstrate the danger of nihilism in dismissing a body of evidence because the conclusion is not to one’s liking. It’s possible to be skeptical about literally ANYthing, including cause / effect and logic itself, and this makes arbitrary skepticism a copout mechanism. Whether you agree with evolution or not, the decision should be based on a reasonable assessment of available evidence, not an impossible standard of irrefutable proof which, as Hume showed, doesn’t exist for anything.

    Your reminder that all scientific theories are ‘just’ explanatory narratives applies to some pretty useful stuff–like the theory of gravity for example, or theories used in engineering and medicine to build buildings and save people’s lives. Again, the nihilist problem: all knowledge, at some point, is just a string of explanatory narratives. So what, we can’t go around doubting everything. That way madness lies. But nor should we pick and choose what to believe based on personal whim; that way inconsistency lies.

    Evolutionary theory has demonstrated its worth in the real world too, by way of confirmed predictions and useful application at the molecular biology level. If we figure out how to cure cancer and alzheimers, or manufacture organic fossil fuel replacements with no carbon dioxide component, I guarantee you evolutionary theory will play a helpful role in the process. If that’s not confirmation of value, I’m not sure what is.

  24. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:


    an educated point of view that just so happens to fail the most basic scientific test: that of being reproducible

    So you believe ‘irreproducibility’ is indistinguishable from ‘reproducibility over geologic time’?

    Let’s say an unbroken line scientists document their observations over 3 million years, and during this time they clearly establish a number of speciation events; in what sense do you maintain that this has not reproduced the essentials of evolution?

  25. T.R. Elliott says:

    I love how the fundemantalists come out of the closet, exposing themselves as relativists and post-modernists when it serves their fancy. The arguments we see above, about cause-and-effect, theories, Hume, etc are (a) true and (b) applicable to every darn theory or scientific idea that has been developed through history.

    The fundamentalists, most of whom are christian fundamentalists–since even the pope accepts evolutionary theory–argue incessantly against relativism and post-modernism until they need some ammunition to throw at evolutionary theory.

    Is the theory of gravity blinding us to alternatives? Are any theories blinding us? Of course, any theory or predilection can create blinders. But that’s not a reason to argue against theories that work.

    Evolution is a done deal folks. ID is nonsense. There are no alternative theories. Evolution works in the micro, short-term and it provides enormous explanatory power for the long-term. There are no significant theoretical holes.

    Those posting here against evolution are clearly scientifically illiterate. I’ve read the philosophy of science, I’ve read popper, etc etc and there is only one conclusion: they are scientifically illiterate.

    I’m trained as a physicists (BA, MS) and worked for years as an engineer. I’ve always been amazed at how many Americans avoided the hard sciences and engineering in order to pursue softer fields (in my mind) like business and–yes–economics.

    That graph showing American views on evolution fits exactly with the reason that my company hired so many engineers from India, China, and Eastern Europe: that’s where the scientific literacy is available..

  26. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:

    I’d love to ask the folks who reject evolution what they think about M-theory; I’m sure their deep scientific insights would prove invaluable to those losers at Cornell, MIT, and Princeton.

  27. whipsaw says:

    per Darin:
    “In addition, for the unlearned among you, I think that it is important to keep in mind that theories are explanatory narratives for perceived behaviors that attempt to align causes and effects.”

    Thanks for the reminder of how useful the internet can be in giving the learned a voice with which to readily address the unlearned. As principal theologian of the Conformist Marmite Church, I of course agree with everything that you said, along with what you didn’t say about the wisdom of The Decider.

    But can you explain to me why, of the countries polled, heavily Catholic ones like France and Italy seem accepting of blasphemous science, while the U.S is only exceeded by Islamist Turkey in its lust for Magic? I wonder what the results would have looked like if Israel and the assorted fundamentalist Muslim nations had been thrown into the mix? My guess is that we’d be neck and neck still.

  28. Cherry says:

    You see, God IMO told us about and explained evolution in the bible, but the problem is, we humans were very very stupid on how this evolution worked at the time, so God told it to us in a very very child like manner, how it worked.

    Yet, people continue to doubt evolution. That makes them heretics. Because God confirmed evolution in the bible!!!!!

  29. Trance says:

    As long as 1+1=2, electrons and protons have different electrical charges, and the periodic table of elements is still in place I’ll still believe in evolution.

    And for those going along the lines of Kant’s “Critique of pure reason” I’ll say: so what it’s all a Truman Show orchestrated by God or whoever your favorite cartoon character is, but at least I’m using my neurons for something more useful than believing that the cartoon character will guide my life. Figuring out cause and effect is not done by going and singing Halleluiah in the church.

  30. Lee says:

    “That graph showing American views on evolution fits exactly with the reason that my company hired so many engineers from India, China, and Eastern Europe: that’s where the scientific literacy is available.”

    You hire them because they are cheap.

  31. Bob A says:

    Isn’t it amazing there are even more turkeys in the United States than in Turkey!

  32. moose says:

    Just to begin, a quick defense of evolution; the very fact that certain strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics is absolute proof of evolution my friends, and replicated many times over. Talk to a nurse in some major hospitals about the increasing intensity of certain bacterial infections and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics.

    As for you Darin, I wonder: a) have you attended any college level science classes, and b) is your head stuck in your ass? I myself have a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics, so let me school you a bit my wayward son.

    For starters, dismissing Evolution because it is a theory shows your extreme ignorance and bias against science. In the jargon of scientists, the term Theory means “the best logical construct based on a lot of supporting evidence and facts”. For instance, the science behind the TV (particularly the cathode ray tube) is called “Electromagnetic Theory”, do a search on Amazon, you will see. Not convinced yet about the term Theory? The science behind the semiconductors in computers is called “Quantum Theory”, uh-oh, I just dropped the big T-bomb, I hope you can handle it.

    So if you can’t handle the term theory, then you don’t believe computers exist, but how did you post your comment??? How often do you watch TV?

    Second, if you so vehemently disagree with Darwin, then I would imagine you have read “The Origin of Species”, right? Judging by your ignorance I bet not. If you aren’t still at the level of a monkey, crack it open and read it. In it you will see that he never denies the existance of God. In fact, he regularly uses the term “Creator”, even capitalizing it, suggesting his reverence for the divine.

    So I ask you Darin and all others, actually I guess the majority of Americans who can’t handle the truth of the world they live in, what is so scary about evolution???

    Evolution and science never deny God, in fact, there is no reason why God couldn’t have created the universe and Earth and then started the original life on this planet, which later evolved into man.

    In closing, compare these two scenarios.
    1) God put man on Earth. God, who is ominpotent, made an intelligent creature that is capable of living peacefully with all others around him, but chooses to be selfish, greedy, and willing to kill others for petty things like oil, money, or difference of religion.

    or

    2) God created the universe and Earth and created the original microbes. Over a 1.5 billion years, those microbes evolved, some died, some changed, evolved more so, died, evolved, died, etc. And through trillions of tiny changes, that microbe began man. This sequence of events had to happen perfectly, otherwise man would not exist. This long sequence of events is statistically improbable to happen the way it did!!!! The existance of man is meaningful because he statistically should not be here. But here he is.

  33. T.R. Elliott says:

    Lee: You are absolutely completely wrong. My company–an S&P 500 member–paid salaries based upon comps for the industry. We hired a large number of non-Americans because there just were not that many Americans coming out of the computer science and engineering programs. It’s as simple as that. They weren’t there. Or we would have hired them. The problem is that engineering is a respected pursuit in most countries. In this country, many of the students seem to consider college as a place to (a) party and (b) network.

    Repeating: you’re 100% wrong on this. If you have experiences to indicate otherwise, please let us know. But as an engineer who probably interviewed 1,000s over, say, 10 years, and hired 100s (the company grew by about 10,000 employees while I was there), I find no truth in what you are saying.

  34. rebound says:

    Before y’all do the scientific equivalent of the SNL Church Lady’s superior dance…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Lady

    … better stats might better serve the argument.

    ‘Respondents were asked whether to respond “true,” “false” or “not sure” to this statement.’

    Where is the ‘not sure’ bar on the chart?

    Also, the chart is not as telling as it could be because it does not list the actual percentage values for each row. Why does the other 50% for Iceland LOOK like, say 5% (per the size of the bar) ??? Do the remaining 45% believe in Unicorns or Storks? Of course not. Leaving out the “I’m not sure” data makes the chart misleading and our eyes assume a lot.

    Does the info-graphic itself (gasp), which only provides an actual NUMBER for the first row, require faith in order to pan down to the bottom with your eyes and deduce / comprehend some meaningful percentage?

    Edward Tufte would have a lot to say about this info-graphic

    http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_visex

    (His books make great gifts for the nerds in your family)

    Finally, is the sizable “not sure” category even more interesting than the “yes” or “no” groups? Why couldn’t these people make up their minds? I’m not sure.

  35. M.Z. Forrest says:

    Take another pet theory of academics: EMT (Efficient Market Theory)

    You can’t disprove it. Any disproof will be considered an anomaly that can naturally occur.

    EMT and Evolution are examples of myths, in the original sense of the word. The basic test of whether something is a myth or a scientific theory is if it is falsifiable. Keep in mind, evolution is not the theory of survival of the fittest or natural variation; it is a theory of origins. More properly, it is a myth of origins. Either it is true in totality or it is not.

  36. rebound says:

    BTW: The Efficient Market Theory is not satisfactory because the market is not currently efficient. However, due to EVOLUTION the market will become more and more efficient (due to increased information flow) until it is ALMOST perfectly efficient. But it will never quite get there because it can’t.

    It’s like trying to get to absolute zero. So close but yet so far.

    Not being efficient, at any scale, might provide plenty of room for psychology to continue to sway markets in a big way. Regardless, free markets work remarkably well, thank goodness.

  37. JackB says:

    Evolution is not a scientific fact because it does not meet the conditions of such: it must be boservable & repeatable; evolution is neither

  38. diogenes says:

    Hello all.

    I have never posted here, but read this blog from time to time. I took noted tonight, as i had posted the following comments to the same chart which appeared at another site:

    I am amazed at those who assert that evolution is a FACT.

    It is my contention that is not, because there is NO EVIDENCE to prove that it is, at least from the point of view of the “ORIGINS OF LIFE”.

    Darwin wrote about the “ORIGINS OF SPECIES”, which is two entirely different things.

    The claim that all living things come from other living things is valid and can be oberved. To postulate that the EXTINCTION of former species proves evolutionary changes is too much of a stretch for me. It isn’t PROVED. Just postulated.Nor has there been any “experiment” to show evolution, which is why I say it is not really scientific, but more religious because of its beliefs.

    Darwin postulated that if the theory were TRUE, then the FOSSIL RECORD would prove him out. IT HAS NOT.

    Aside from FRAUD by folks like the LEAKY’s, and the interesting creative drawings used in the Scope’s Monkey trial which depicted an entire prehistoric “caveman” family (still used in scientific textbooks today),which was drawn from the TOOTH of a PIG, not a “man” at all…………an later debunked,

    There are NO intermediate species, fish-birds, or cat-flies, or any other variation of species. Just EXTINCT bioforms.
    Which lately has been a big concern, but really shouldn’t be as we should expect more to evolve in the future.

    Due to this lack of “EVIDENCE”, rather than accept that the theory may be flawed, you have adjusted the theory from………it takes MILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF years to something more like Quantum Physics.
    Once we get lifeforms, they multiply rapidly and evolve into huge biodiversity. Nice try.

    The more the theory is explored, the more it falls apart. Just based on random chance, the probability of “life” from “livelessness” by random interaction of various chemicals is ZERO. I don’t have the DNA strand calculations handy, but i have read them, and it’s not possible. At least if you accept FACTS.

    There are more interesting tidbits. When my BIO CHEM professor began studying rototory left/right polarizations, he expected 50%/50% forms to exist. Didn’t happen. The world is not “RANDOM”. It has DESIGN.

    It bothered Darwin too. You recall how he puzzled over the EYE. Very complex. Cellular life…very complex…..which of course takes us to the creationists view of irreducible complexity. I favor this view, as it favors probabilities.

    There is also the problem with DEVOLUTION. Something to do with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Things are not becoming more complex. The world is breaking down. Energy is dissapating. Change to organisms are usually cancerous and leads to further extinction.

    While i would accept the “survival of the fittest” viewpoint for a change in species (larger to smaller, black to white moths, etc), because there is evidence to support this, cross-species genetic modifications don’t show themselves in the record.

    Archaeologists and palentologists are still looking for the MISSING LINK> I don’t think they will find one. Even more progressive minds are now of the opinion that Neanderthal man was a contemporary of modern man. No link there.
    But the assent of man stages shown in textbooks make nice indoctrination to fragile minds. They also provide a living for creative artists.

    I could go on ad infinitum about the “problems” with the Abuse of Darwin to support an atheistic world view, but you have to be willing to be fair with the facts. In true science, when the facts don’t support the theory, you must discard it or modify it until you can develop sufficient proofs.

    But what disturbs me most about your condescending view of people who accept creation is that you have created your own religious world view, based on faith, not facts, but refuse to admit it.

    I would suggest you research the facts more thoroughly.

  39. Bob A says:

    The notion of evolution is fraudulent and NYT’s purpose is to make America look bad. My we are getting deep tonight eh?

  40. Trance says:

    I don’t think it’s junk statistics… the essay has been published in Science for your information. As about the comment that the 50% bar does not show up, they modified the graph probably because of copyright restrictions. For those with access to Science you can get the full content here
    The sampling as well as some more detailed statistics from 2002-2003 are in the supporting material.

  41. Bob A says:

    “It must be both observable and repeatable…”
    Like microbes that mutate and evolve virtually before our eyes to become resistant to more and more antibiotics, so does the HIV virus which mutates/evolves so quickly it takes at least three different antivirals in combination to control it. This is both observable and repeatable and that is evolution happening before your eyes, if they are open.

  42. BDG123 says:

    I’m not sure how Barry’s post about beliefs turned into Americans are idiots and only engineers from abroad are capable but that is the biggest crock of ignorant bullshit I have read in a long time.

    Because people in the US don’t all graduate as physicists or mathematicians or engineers or molecular biologists doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being such. In an advanced society there is more opportunity beyond being a motorhead. Being an artist may have zero prestige in a developing country but may be appreciated in another culture. And, as someone who has administered aptitude tests, I can assure you there are many artists who are as brilliant as any scientist.

    I was just at my mom’s house and the neighbor boy graduated from Carnegie Mellon on a full ride and he’s good old American pure white trash. I worked with a team of distinguished researchers, or should I say I carried their bags, which was dripping with so much talent many were recognized as THE world leaders in computer architecture, analog circuit design and vector processing.

    There are alot of technically oriented people on this board and I don’t know if they are brown, white, yellow or purple or whether they are accountants, ditch diggers or organic chemists but they are American. There is no lock on intelligence regardless of where you were born or educated. And, because you chose to be a doctor, lawyer, factory worker or physicist doesn’t mean you could not have been something else.

    There’s alot of talent globally but to get on this ridiculous rant that Americans shy away from the hard sciences is without fact or basis. We still graduate more scientists from universities than any other country including China. They all aren’t from abroad. The same old whining America is full of idiots and we are going under argument.

  43. Trance says:

    Crossing a donkey with a horse to get a mule… Having mixed kids…it’s all evolution baby…silently doing it’s work.

  44. DavidB says:

    Sometimes I think you throw out those firecracker comments Barry just to see what kind of explosion you’ll make on the comment board. You are worse than a 12 year old kid (:

    Is this some kind of experiment in reactional behavioral psychology or something?

    I better start reading those books you recommend on psychology to see what you are getting at with this (:

  45. T.R. Elliott says:

    BDG123: I certainly didn’t say American’s were ignorant or anything near to that. What I did say is that I spent years interviewing people at Universities across the US and Canada and a significant percentage of the people who showed up for interviews were Indians or Chinese who had gotten their Master’s degrees in the US in engineering or computer science.

    We hired the best we could, and those who applied, and the fact is that many many of those were of Asian decent.

    Take a look at UC Berkeley. I’ve not looked at actual statistics, but my perception from spending time there is that the engineering programs are full of people of Asian origins–one way or another.

    It’s a cultural thing in my mind. Engineering is considered a highly respected occupation in India. This is what I’ve heard, and my experiences have proved that to be the case as well.

    As far as evolution, it is a theory just as is special relativity, general relativity, the theory of black holes, the quark theory of matter, and similar theories. It’s the best we’ve got and there aren’t any alternatives. It works quite well. We have yet to explore a black hole, and we’ve yet to have fundamentalists race around screaming bloody murder when their children are taught about astronomy. The problem is simple: the god of the gaps and the interpretation of religious texts. If there are gaps, those of a religious bent find god in it. And if a religious text says X, and science says Y, it usually takes religion a while to finally accept that science is probably going to be right, and the religious text wrong.

  46. David says:

    It would be all the more interesting–unless I missed it–to see other non-white nations like those in Latin America, Asia ex-Japan and Africa in such a survey …

  47. David says:

    It would be all the more interesting–unless I missed it–to see other non-white nations like those in Latin America, Asia ex-Japan and Africa in such a survey …

  48. Trance says:

    In my previous comment the mule case does not hold, mules cannot reproduce. And it’s “its work” not “it’s work”.

  49. larry says:

    Re “the very fact that certain strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics is absolute proof of evolution my friends, and replicated many times over. Talk to a nurse in some major hospitals about the increasing intensity of certain bacterial infections and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics.”

    It is still possible, that evolution is a major, but only “one among many” factor. One can argue that nature can be more complex than a set of genes. Or a gene is more complex than we think. and so on ad infinitum. Science is evolving process. Scientists are never completely right.

  50. noname says:

    Jesus H. Christ! are we still “debating” evolution? arguing with anti-evolution types is like trying to have a meaningful discussion with wingnuts (I suppose in most cases they’re one and the same):

    you have to put up with strawmans — “seems rather ignorant to associate scientific findings with inexorable truths…”

    your red herrings: “….because there is NO EVIDENCE to prove that it is [fact], at least from the point of view of the “ORIGINS OF LIFE”.

    your blatant ignorance: “evolution is not the theory of survival of the fittest or natural variation; it is a theory of origins.”

    And of course you get a heavy dose of stupidity: re the raccoon flatulence/origin of life nonsense — gee, I wonder, how did the raccoon come into existence if it’s gas passing was the origin for life?

    I actually have a question for the “Evolution is merely a theory” crowd, would you support a total ban on the application of said theory? Now, I don’t mean just a ban on teaching evolutionary concepts, but also actually banning research relying on this “no evidence” theory?

    In case it did cross your mind to answer “yes” to the question, here’s what you can expect as a consequence: life science research will cease to exist, that means no hope ever of a cure for your son’s diabetes, your daughter’s leukemia, your wife’s breast cancer, your mother’s alzheimer’s, your father’s parkinson’s, and your cousin’s HIV infection.

    you’ll just have to pray.

  51. republican_dreams says:

    smfh,

    Are you sure you’re not reacting purely out of partisanship?

    >> “Let’s see, as a pollster I could 1) collect some unbiased, but boring, data OR 2) I could tailor my sample to create a controversial result.

    You present these as mutually exclusive. Is it not possible for this to be an unbiased controversial result?

    And why should newspapers report “boring” data? What do you define to be “boring” data? Is it data on subjects everyone agrees on? Reporting on controversial subjects is *more efficient for democracy* than reporting on noncontroversial subjects. What boring subjects, pray tell, should the NYT report on and how much good will those do us?

    >>Oh hey, mainstream media are commies and love writing about how America sucks… so why don’t I release “findings” that Americans are stupid and uneducated!

    “Commies”? Who’s advocating state control over the economy these days? Are you referring to Big Government GOP?

    But, seriously, if you (and many but not all right-wingers) are so well-trained to immediately dismiss uncomfortable data points on account of source, how will you ever know that *your* sources might be painting a wrong picture for you?

    Aren’t Americans, by other measures, losing its high tech edge? (Actually, knowledge of evolution and science are important not just for filling high-tech jobs but for life in general.) E.g., don’t American companies hire foreigners because too many Americans don’t know enough math and science? (American companies will do fine. It’s the creationist morons who grow up here who maybe won’t.) Isn’t this another data point confirming that trend? Isn’t it important?

    -Repub

  52. brion says:

    spooky. That 50% belief factor in the u.s. seems to eerily mirror the political split in the country.

    maybe religion IS the opiate of the masses.
    Makes it a bit easier for Bush to blow smoke up everyone’s ass.

  53. T.R. Elliott says:

    Repub: you raise good questions. I certainly don’t know the answer. I do agree that American companies have and will probably continue to have an edge. They hire the best and fire the worst. I’m not that worried about the American company. American companies will maintain their edge, by and large, and outsource that which can and should be outsourced in order to be competitive in this globalized environment.

    This country has always thrived with the help of foreign talent that moves here. I think in particular of the large influx of Jewish talent in the sciences and many other fields that migrated here from Europe. And culturally, when I look at the Jewish and the way their culture pursued knowledge and science, I see similarities with what I’ve experience in the Asian cultures (Indian, Chinese) in the past twenty years.

    What I did experience in my own college education, at least to a degree, were many kids of American origin who had absolutely no interest in engineering or the sciences because (a) it was too hard, not worth the effort and (b) didn’t pay well enough.

    I think the growth of technology companies (and stock options that came with them) helped change the perception a bit, but at least in my neck of the woods (Del Mar, CA) good engineers, fairly senior, can probably make $250,000/year, but the lawyers and doctors and investment gurus and real-estate movers and shakers in the area are probably pulling down at least $500,000/year if not more.

    Is the pushback on evolution hurting us? Probably not. What’s hurting is fundamentalism, whether of christian or islamic origins. To me, that’s why the US find itself with Turkey and, most likely, Saudi Arabia and similar countries: fundamentalism.

    Fundamentlism is anathema to science. If holes are found in general relativity, or evolution, I’ll be the first to admit. But fundamentalists cannot accept that the truth–the true theory–may change with the evidence. At one time, creationism seemed like a great idea. Right now, other than speculation about what happened before the big bang, creationism has no place. No role. Nada. And even with the big bang, there are good scientific theories that argue for a universe such as ours coming into existence.

    Creationism is magic. Or fundamentlism. And that could be hurting us. Whether fundamentalist christians, or new age spirituality–both are anathema to sound scientific thinking.

  54. kaan says:

    As a Turkish citizen who spent 3 years at US graduate school, the results of this survey did not suprise me at all. Although Turkey is a secular country evolution was avoided in the secondary schools to appease fundamentalist islamists who are holding power. These people received US support and blessing to come to power. Fundamentalist jews, christians and muslims are in a unholy alliance against reason and enlighment.

  55. Cherry says:

    Watch it, Magic is nothing more than Pagan nonsense!!!! You will go to hell if you believe in it!!!

    Evolution IS magic IMO. One of the greatest magical theater there is. Science is religion, religion is science.

  56. Trance says:

    For your enlightment crystal ball gazers and believers:
    “Teach your child how to think” by Edward de Bono
    “Causality” by Judea Pearl
    “Being Logical” by DQ McInerny

  57. Marc says:

    I would be happy if the lay person would begin to understand that the word ‘theory’ when used in a scientific context has a very differrent meaning than when used in a general context.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory

  58. jkw says:

    Engineering is respected by people in this country. It just isn’t respected by businesses. Why would someone want to spend 10-15 years from undergrad through getting a PhD in some science field when the result will be begging for money for most of their lives? Do you know how much time professors spend looking for funding? If you’re going to end up doing management anyway, you’re better off spending 6 years at school to come away with an MBA. Then you can get an easier job that pays more.

    To the degree that science is falling out of favor in this country, it is mostly because practicing science is not rewarded. Over the past 20 or so years, the meritocracy of this country has been destroyed. It is no longer the case that the people who do the most useful things are paid the most. Now your level of pay is determined by how much money you control. So CEOs, bankers, and lawyers get paid more than people who actually do something. Even doctors no longer do anything productive – they just walk around from patient to patient signing off on what the nurses and med students have done. Half the time they don’t even seem to know what’s going on.

    The CEOs of this country have put a lot of effort into offshoring any job that requires talent. So now if you have productive talents, you can expect to be unemployed fairly often. And then you can go online and read comments by the very people responsible for this complaining about how Americans have no interest in spending over a decade training to have talents that they won’t be rewarded for.

    So here I am, working on a PhD in rocket science, but spending time learning how the stock market works because I have no expectations of job security. So I have to figure out how to make money when I don’t have a job.

  59. Bynoceros says:

    What did Mark Twain say about teaching a mule to dance, B? Hence the lack of input.

    Suffice it to say that anyone who denies evolution’s truth at this point is either:

    A) A huckster with an agenda (see Behe, Gish, Dembski, etc.)
    B) Scientifically illiterate
    C) An idiot

    *Oddly enough,* it is the same people denying global warming (nevermind its cause) and gene therapy ( embryos in trash can = ok. Embryos in experiments = mortal sin) who have a problem with evolution.

    This is as simple as I can state it: Evolution is so easy to disprove it’s almost comical. The fact that, 150 years on, it still hasn’t been done speaks voumes. Whether or not you “believe” in evolution is as immaterial as whether or not you “believe” in gravity, the only difference being that non-belief in evolution will not cause your untimely death.

    Finally, a list of questions my wife and some of her other elementary school teachers made up as a spoof of creationism. Keep in mind that by correctly answering any of these questions you are contradicting the Bible and therefore on a one-way trip to hell:

    1. ______ are responsible for visible light.
    2. The earth is a ______ (shape).
    3. T or F: Plants could survive in sub-zero temps.
    4. Moonlight is reflected from _______.
    5. Without the ______, photosynthesis would be impossible.
    And many more…

  60. M.Z. Forrest says:

    noname,

    your blatant ignorance: “evolution is not the theory of survival of the fittest or natural variation; it is a theory of origins.”

    Did you actually think before you wrote?

    In case it did cross your mind to answer “yes” to the question, here’s what you can expect as a consequence: life science research will cease to exist, that means no hope ever of a cure for your son’s diabetes, your daughter’s leukemia, your wife’s breast cancer, your mother’s alzheimer’s, your father’s parkinson’s, and your cousin’s HIV infection.

    We have had medicine for over 2000 years. Animal husbandry we’ve had for over 2000 years. Mendel did his peapod experiments 150 years ago, the precursor to current genetics. “Origin of Species” came out in the same time frame.

    I would do a more thoughtful reply, but you’re a waste of my time.

  61. Craig says:

    I am at a loss to understand how anyone could think this overall example of ignorance of basic science could NOT have an affect on our lives and future. If this list is an example of the raw material our schools have to educate, we are in DEEP trouble. We have simpletons that can’t seem to understand the difference between science and faith.

    Barely one person cites Mendel, Mendellian ratios, or the centuries of genetic manipulation by *SELECTIVE* pressure by MEN to alter the evolution in various animals once wild, NOW DOMESTIC. NO, instead we have to read the limitations of those who haven’t even read “Origin of the species”, or as we have now seen, taken an elementary genetics course. Apparently no one has seen domestic livestock and their wild cousins.
    Seems some of these folks have been tripping over the wolf genotype under their feet in the form of a Poodle or Pekinese and missing the point. Right under their feet!

    Men have been practicing compressed evolution on various animals (and himself) for some time now. It not only is observable (we certainly SEE phenotype and can now measure and quantify genotype) but repeatable many times over, and has been.

    MEN *evolved* cattle that produce almost freakish quantities of milk, turkey breasts the size of wild turkeys, chickens that lay more eggs, little toy dogs from wolves, and now we are using DNA screening to avoid various genetic mutations that cause disease.

    The problem is one of exposure. Very few of us ever get ON the farm anymore. We don’t experience large numbers of animals, plan matings, use genetics on a daily basis to increase productivity, reduce disease, save labor. We don’t SEE evolution or genetics, the mistakes, the overall system. NO, we see little slices of one human generation where the system is unobservable.

    Want to see evolution? You need numbers. Breed mice (I did) Rats (I did) Rabbits (ditto) Sheep, (yep) and dogs (plenty). I presently use several genetics programs and utilize semen banks and Artificial/surgical Insemination veterinary services. I can hear the reaction to this now! LOL!!! YOU WHAT?????

    We have a doozy right now. Some breeds of dog carry a mutation that causes an inherited eye disease that results in blindness. In dogs this disease is called Progressive Retinal Atrophy. The recessive mutated gene causing PRA has been identified and a marker associated with it that can be detected with a simple blood DNA screening. We can now breed dogs without the mutation, and these dogs cannot go blind.

    The kicker? Ready Mathematicians? We could develop this test and came up with the funding because the same mutation is located in the same place in humans and causes the **exact** same disease, called Retinitis Pigmentosa.

    Now, what are the mathematical chances of two seperate species having the exact same mutation located in the same locus causing the same exact disease, unless they are related?

    Hmmm…..how would they be related?

  62. How much crap is in your head?

    Barry from Big Picture is reporting that Americans came second to last among civilized nations in answering the simple question:
    Is that true that Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals?

    As you can see t…

  63. Get Long Vega says:

    In grad school I was into Evolution. Chicks totally dug my act! It was awesome! I mean that. But my roo-moo wasn’t so much into it. He was a big ID guy. Man! Can you believe that? Crazy, I know, right. So we’d get into it and I would positively go ape$hit over his totally stupid point of view. I mean, it’s all there, right? You can see how we evolved from tiny one-celled organisms, right? How we might have been fish and then birds and then maybe even mountain lions, but then how we morphed quickly into chimps and then gorillas and then took a step back to fish again, but how we somehow, through the sheer will of indomitable sticktooitiveness (‘Go Ricky Bobby, go! Drive it like you stole it!’) made it to our current most excellent selves. Right?

    Forget for a moment that no one in Kansas or Arkansas or any of the real religious states (CHORUS: Oh happy day?) believes in Evolution. Forget that. Forget that they might just be right for reasons they might not consciously understand NOW. Forget that because it may make you feel BAD knowing there’s a chance you could agree with them about something, about how the cue ball may not hit the eight ball into the corner pocket, but how instead it’s kinda interesting to wonder just WHY the pool table is there in the first place. Ahem.

    Okay good. Now I’m not SAYING that species don’t improve and adapt and grow. Or that the weak don’t die and that the traits of the strong don’t get passed on. Or that I secretly LOVE (Effing LOVE, man!) draft Bud Lights but feel compelled some of the time to mix it up and order a Heiniken. In fact, I do.

    But maybe there’s more going on than most people realize? I know, I know. String theory and Brian Greene and Jane Roberts and ‘The Biology of Belief’ and ‘How-the-hell-is-there-any-way-possible-that-we-are-all-connected?’ and Seykota’s ‘Intentions = Results’ and that crazy ‘What the Bleep do we really know?’ movie and all those killer coincidences (did anybody out there think ’2001 – A Space Odyssey’ was a little too trippy at the end?).

    Yes, stars are responsible for visible light and the earth is a sphere and plants certainly do survive in sub-zero temps and moonlight is reflected from my big-white-arse and without the green stuff photosynth would be impossible. But how does that have anything to do with ID? Surely science is evolving as much as we are, no? I mean, the sun used to rotate around our flat earth and Galileo was just one very confused Italian, right? Stuff changes, stuff evolves, so does science. But that pool table, why is it here?

    It’s your choice, folks. It’s your day, your life, your decision to make. And maybe traditional religion is a metaphor for the YCYOR of ID?

    But my sister has cancer and my cousin is a Jew-hating Arab and my neighbors won’t shut up and I always get tagged by airport security and the slow line is MY LINE at the grocery store and my wife is gaining weight like a baby elephant and my hair is GONE and Hunter S. Thompson has died and gone to heaven and George Gurley won’t stop writing about his girlfriend and The Decider has us in a whole mess of trouble and Lieberman now goes both ways and porn is ubiquitous except in my house and I have one leg and McDonald’s is bad for you and the drug industry wants us all to eat SOMA for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everyone, EVERYONE, just gets so OFFENDED by different opinions. No?

    See, we ‘know’ more than any group of people who’ve come ‘before’ us. Yet at any point along that curve folks have looked back and (probably) said the same thing.

    The science is changing, folks. The evidence is there. It’s the NEW idea that will totally change EVERYTHING. The notion that YCROR (‘But my life SUCKS!’) is ripe for the tasting (‘Maybe it’s your beliefs that really suck? Maybe it’s your beliefs that drive it all?’)

    Someone out there tell me how the past, present, and future are not totally happening at the same ‘time.’ Someone tell me how your intentions don’t create results. Someone tell me how when we die, that’s it, it’s all over, you’re here once and that’s it. Tell me how ‘All This’ is made possible by an old man who is very wise, who answers to the name ‘God.’ Ha-ha. God! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    ‘But I believe in God, I really do.’

    Well, so do I, but maybe a little differently than you.

    So go to Central Park and see the people waking up in the morning on the benches, filthy. And then see the birds flying and the ducks quacking and the grass growing. And look up and over to the east and give Mary Tyler Moore’s husband the okay for realizing the error of his ways because Pale Male is just as much a part of the gestalt of God as the ducks and grass and me and you.

    That’s it, that’s all I got. In short, it’s our choice, our life, our reality to choose. What do you want to learn, what do you need to learn? Maybe those questions shape the reality we choose. Maybe there’s much more to reality than our immediately identifiable personalities and lives. Maybe there’s more.

    P.S. I’m still bearish!!!!

  64. jkw says:

    1. ______ are responsible for visible light.
    2. The earth is a ______ (shape).
    3. T or F: Plants could survive in sub-zero temps.
    4. Moonlight is reflected from _______.
    5. Without the ______, photosynthesis would be impossible.

    Based on your comment, I would guess that you haven’t ever read the bible. The bible does not actually adress any of these questions. Remember that most fundamentalists don’t read the bible either. If they did, they would realize that their leaders are misquoting it all over the place and making ridiculous claims. Fundamentalism is the opposite of science, and the most forbidden thing is asking questions. Having followers that actually know what they are talking about would topple any fundamentalist leader very quickly.

  65. Bob A says:

    And lest we not forget, the same types now preaching creationism, in not so distant history, were burning people at the stake for daring to speak aloud that the world was round.

  66. Bynoceros says:

    JKW,

    Usually I appreciate your posts, but your most recent comment leaves much to be desired.

    Having read the Bible more than once (in addition to other sacred texts), it is quite clear that the Bible, both explicity and implicity, addresses these very issues.

    Right off the bat Genesis says that light is independent of stars. And that plants are created before the sun. And that the moon “rules” the night.

    And throughout, the Bible is a flat-earth book. How else can every eye see Jesus come back, Jesus see every kingdom of earth, and wind come from the four corners of the world?

    The Bible is incompatible with elementary school science. Mainstream denominations can rationalize all they want, but these stories were written as gospel truth in the 1st millenium BCE.

  67. Craig says:

    Honest answers can’t be the result of purposely kicking the thesis can further down the road.

    If this whole thing needed to be created and required a super-natural being (God) to do it, then we MUST ask (and answer) each question resulting from this conclusion.

    If it takes a super-natural being to create the universe, WHAT must be required to create a super-natural being? That would require an even more super-natural being wouldn’t it?

    AND, if it required a super-super-natural being to create the super-natural God, what must it take to create all of the now required super-super-super precursors, ad nauseum? This is creationisms fatal flaw. A question cannot be answered with a question or endless string of questions.

    Science by it’s very nature admits all of the information may not be immediately available and HONESTLY kicks the can down the road with the available observable and measurable info until the ability to observe, measure and prove each resulting answer is further revealed in time.

    Science has not explained our origins nor has science claimed to. They have only explained (and proven)some of the mechanisms for change/evolution as we know it now. We are learning more daily.

    It is religion that claims to have the answers, past future and present, based on faith, without one shred of evidence. That’s why it requires “FAITH”.

  68. trader75 says:

    Men have been practicing compressed evolution on various animals (and himself) for some time now.

    It is further ironic that religion itself is a cultural organism subject to the basic tenets of natural selection. Religion has evolved, in the same way that societal structures and business structures have evolved, to maximize its fitness landscape.

    Consider Jonathan Edwards’ (the theologian, not the politician) famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” That sermon wouldn’t draw a very big crowd now that sensitive baby boomers populate the pews. But back in Edwards’ day, it was all the rage, because Puritanism was the dominant cultural meme. Similarly, stoning homosexuals or post-conflict genocide or menstrual discrimination wouldn’t exactly fly, so they’ve been edited out of the program. Slavery and spouse domination, both condoned in the NT: same story. As a cultural organism, religion evolves to mirror present-day social mores.

    One wonders why so many hucksters populate the pulpits; it is because the hucksters are the ones most willing to engage in the most successful strategies for propagating their flocks. Why are seeker sensitive mega-churches doing so well? Why are guys like Joel Osteen packing the pews? Because they are filling felt needs and planting seeds. They have figured out how to press their flock’s sociobiological buttons in the most effective ways.

    Bill Hybels, the guy who started the whole seeker sensitive mega-church movement with Willow Creek, quite literally went on an evolutionary quest. He put on his marketing hat and went around with a clipboard asking people what they wanted out of their church, just like Procter & Gamble doing research for a new product. Through iterations of trial and error–doing more of what works, less of what doesn’t–the American mega-church has evolved into its present day amazingly profitable state, complete with publicly traded corporations that advise churches on how they can grow as quickly as possible… all for the glory, of course. This is natural selection and guided evolution at work, folks.

    The evolution of cultural organisms has gone on behind the scenes for quite a long time–in myriad forms, not just religious ones. Cultural organisms, like living animals, develop survival strategies and propagation strategies and self defense mechanisms. They fine tune themselves through a process of natural selection. The goal of the cultural organism is to propagate its memes, rather than its genes, but the ultimate interactions effects are very similar.

    The problem that religion runs into as a cultural organism, though, is that its highly successful propagation strategy is tuned toward maximizing the inputs of intuitive emotion and minimizing those of reason. The carrot and stick offerings of religion are designed to appeal to one’s gut rather than one’s head; overtly rational responses are thus toxic. Even with the great thinkers of the church, there has always been a tension between intellectual curiosity and fealty to the faith; every time, fealty has won out. Sometimes with sad results: Isaac Newton, one of the most briliant men who ever lived, is estimated to have spent two thirds of his working life on theology and alchemy, and only the remaining third on calculus and physics.

    Those deeply religious folks who practice rationality in their chosen field must inevitably erect a huge partition in their heads. Clarity in work results, good; clarity of theology texts, sinful to ask for. Hard-nosed evidence demanded at work, good; hard-nosed evidence demanded at church, sinful to ask for. And so on.

    Though in this case, the amazing plasticity of the human mind works in favor of religion. Because the mind is both flexible and survival-focused, it is entirely possible for people to walk around with two completely conflicting views of reality, and conflicting methods for assessing reality, co-existing between their ears. People are willfully irrational as a survival strategy–it saves the enormous energy expenditure required to wrestle through huge problems of congitive dissonance.

  69. Bob A says:

    very well spoken Trader75… Very much the same survival mechanism that mercifully lets us not notice our own body odor, so that we don’t have to commit suicide because of the smell. And that allows people to overlook all kinds of inconsistencies in theology because of the knowledge that theologians are inclined to either exile or kill anyone that disputes the dominant family/group theology.

  70. jkw says:

    Are you suggesting that light is not independent of stars? Have you ever seen a lightbulb? Lit a candle? Used a computer monitor? How many stars are lighting up your computer screen?

    Now I’m curious what you think the answers to your questions are. I would answer them as:
    1. photons or electromagnetic waves
    2. sphere or oblate spheroid
    3. true
    4. the surface of the moon (this question doesn’t really make sense as phrased)
    5. chlorophyll

    The alternative to 4 would be that the moon reflects whatever light hits it. Some moonlight is reflected from the sun, some is reflected from earthshine (which is reflected from the sun), and some is reflected from stars.

    If you think the bible says the world is flat, you should learn Hebrew. As for every eye seeing Jesus come back, how many people watched the Apollo 11 moon landing? It might be a bit of a stretch to say every eye saw it, but it would be a reasonable figure of speech. The modern version is “the whole world watched.”

  71. diogenes says:

    Bynoceros,

    You are quite wrong about the Bible.
    There are four corners of the Compass and this reference works quite well for navigation and direction.

    There are NO flat earth references in the Bible.
    In fact, one of the Old Testament prophets claimed that the earth was a sphere that “hangs on nothing”, to paraphrase. A better description of the earth I have never found.
    I believe this was Ezekial, but may have been Daniel, which would have been I believe is about 800 years before Christ. I don’t have my Bible handy to give you the reference, but I Know it is written as such.

    The reference of the Moon ruling the night seems very appropriate as this is our main source of light during night-time. The Bible does not say that this light is not reflected from the Sun.

    I tried for many years to “disprove” the Bible. The more I studied, the more amazed I was about it’s “truths”. I can’t say the same for “evolutionary theory”.

    Every reference on this chat goes to species adaptations to the environment. The is NO EVIDENCE that species MUTATE into other SPECIES. And Science has not shown this….it is just a belief by Secular Humanists who wish to proclaim their concepts as “true”.

    I will get the exact reference to the “ROUND WORLD” later today if this string is still up and running.

  72. babycondor says:

    trader75: I want to have your baby.

  73. Craig says:

    That is correct, light IS NOT independent of stars.

    Light bulbs, computer monitors and candles derive ALL their energy directly or indirectly from the sun, which is a star.

    One star is lighting all of these devices and more, on earth. All of the light is from stars, either from our solar system or from others.

    The whole world cannot watch. The world is round, so some of us can’t see some stuff at times….like some eclipses. Unless you are using that solar star powered TV. But something tells me they didn’t televise Jesus coming back…..

  74. BDG123 says:

    Craig;
    What must be required to create a supernatural being? Well, funny you mention it. Science actually states there is no such requirement. Rigorous science. Byno and others may take known science as the incontrovertible truth and thus have no beliefs other than what is known. That is there prerogative but I find that rather incomplete. In addition, all science can explain the how but not the why. And, maybe the answer of why is randomness or some anticlimactic answer but nothing is inconsistent with little green men, God or some time of life force we don’t understand existing with astrophysics.

    Forget about God and forget about religion. Astrophycists has a clear answer to your question as defined by the space time theorems of relativity. This is the problem with these types of discussions and why many great discoveries are made by those in their youth. As we get older we come to limit our thinking and our beliefs tell us something is impossible. I posted this point on here during a prior fun thread but I’ll post it again.

    The general definition of time is a DIMENSION in which effects follow causes. Thinking in terms of mathematics or physics, time can be viewed as a plane with a length and a width. It is conceivable that there could be multiple planes of time never intersecting. It is also possible that planes could intersect at the point of the big bang, a scientifically proven fact, which also supports creationism within our universe. It is also perfectly conceivable and scientifically definable that there could be planes of time without beginning and without end. ie, Planes of infinity. So, who could have created God isn’t the correct question necessarily. Something our small minds simply have a difficult time understanding is there doesn’t have to be a beginning. Nor does there have to be an end. What does the Bible say about God? I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. ie, I am infinity.

    And, I have read the Bible many times and have not drawn the conclusions Byno, as an example has. Part of that might be because there are multiple definitions of the original words in the Bible. Part might be that it is not known whether the Bible is simply a parable. Or one of a thousand different points. ie, One can always find evidence to support theri position in the Bible.

    Believing in evolution is in no way inconsistent with the possibility there are life forces or many things man does not understand and may never understand. Hell, we can’t even cure the common cold so I would continue to be open minded. Especially when science supports it.

  75. Bynoceros says:

    I sure am glad those bronze age peoples knew about television and lightbulbs. And, last time I checked, fire and light are two different words in the hebrew language. My favorite part, though, is how you ignore the other biblical passages (not related to the ancients foreknowledge of television, of course) referencing the world being flat.

    1. Genesis is specifically talking about visible light. Not photons, not fire not EM waves. Humans can see light from only a handful of sources, all of which involve some form of combustion. And unless you’re suggesting that god seperated fire,CRTs, chemo or bioluminescence or lightbulbs (which emit most of their light in the infrared) from darkness (in which case why am I even writing this), you are wrong for all intents and purposes.

    2. The earth is a sphere. Congratulations. You are now going to hell. The Bible says the earth is a circle in one place. It also says the earth has four corners in others. And on the second day of creation, god creates the sky in the fashion of a dome placed over a flat surface. The Bible is now 0 for 2

    3. Plants, and I’m using a pretty broad term here, die almost immediately at nearly absolute zero temps, and they cannot be reanimated. And even at subzero temps, not too many plants are hardy enough to regrow quickly or consistently. Remember, we
    re talking about third graders here. Frost kills their mom and dads’ geraniums and orange trees.

    4. The moon, at least the lightside, is lit by the sun. Earthshine lights the dark side of the moon, but the ancients wouldn’t have known this given that Da Vinci was the one to explain it. And even given this technicality, the moon does not create the light we see from earth. Genesis is now 0-4.

    5. The answer is, once again, the sun. Without the sun, chlorophyl would not matter, as it needs light to lose the electron necessary for photosynthesis to occur. Granted, there is step two – the light-independent reactions – but most elementary school students aren’t ready for the Calvin-Benson cycle and RuBisCo. And step 2 isn’t a photosynthetic reaction anyway
    Bible 0-5, JKW 1.5-5.

    There are many more questions, but given your abysmal performance on a sampling of questions given to 8-11 year olds, I will not tax your mind any further.

  76. trader75 says:

    Diogenes,

    How bout 1 Kings 7:23: And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

    Ten cubits in diameter, thirty cubits in circumference, so Pi = 3?

    Or Joshua 10:13: And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

    Eh?

    p.s. Both of those verses are the one and only KJV translation, which, as you know, is endorsed by Bob Jones himself.

    p.p.s. Of course one can find ‘answers’ to objectional verses like these; they just won’t be very good ones. Verses like Lev 27:28-29 and Judges 11:29-39, which clarify God’s acceptance of human sacrifice, are even less easily explained.

  77. BDG123 says:

    Craig;
    What must be required to create a supernatural being? Well, funny you mention it. Science actually states there is no such requirement. Rigorous science. Byno and others may take known science as the incontrovertible truth and thus have no beliefs other than what is known. That is there prerogative but I find that rather incomplete. In addition, all science can explain the how but not the why. And, maybe the answer of why is randomness or some anticlimactic answer but nothing is inconsistent with little green men, God or some time of life force we don’t understand existing with astrophysics.

    Forget about God and forget about religion. Astrophycists has a clear answer to your question as defined by the space time theorems of relativity. This is the problem with these types of discussions and why many great discoveries are made by those in their youth. As we get older we come to limit our thinking and our beliefs tell us something is impossible. I posted this point on here during a prior fun thread but I’ll post it again.

    The general definition of time is a DIMENSION in which effects follow causes. Thinking in terms of mathematics or physics, time can be viewed as a plane with a length and a width. It is conceivable that there could be multiple planes of time never intersecting. It is also possible that planes could intersect at the point of the big bang, a scientifically proven fact, which also supports creationism within our universe. It is also perfectly conceivable and scientifically definable that there could be planes of time without beginning and without end. ie, Planes of infinity. So, who could have created God isn’t the correct question necessarily. Something our small minds simply have a difficult time understanding is there doesn’t have to be a beginning. Nor does there have to be an end. What does the Bible say about God? I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. ie, I am infinity.

    And, I have read the Bible many times and have not drawn the conclusions Byno, as an example has. Part of that might be because there are multiple definitions of the original words in the Bible. Part might be that it is not known whether the Bible is simply a parable. Or one of a thousand different points. ie, One can always find evidence to support theri position in the Bible.

    Believing in evolution is in no way inconsistent with the possibility there are life forces or many things man does not understand and may never understand. Hell, we can’t even cure the common cold so I would continue to be open minded. Especially when science supports it.

  78. Bynoceros says:

    B,

    As we’ve discussed before, this has nothing to do with God.

    And nothing to do with incontrovertible proof.

    However, it does have to do with believing in a literal interpretation of something that is demonstrably false. For all their shortcomings, fundamentalists understand this intuitively: if the Bible is just a fairy tale on matters such as Creation, The Flood, the sun standing still, etc, what else is a fairy tale?

    There’s the rub.

  79. BDG123 says:

    Didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. I remember asking you on here what your beliefs were and your answer led me to believe our existence was an act of randomness. No?

  80. Get Long Vega says:

    It’s a metaphor. There’s humor in it, too. Like some old magazines a bunch of people thought important enough to save an hand down for 2,000 years. And just like the BLS’s payroll data, it has most certainly been tainted by those with alternative agendas. But, don’t forget: it’s a metaphor. Just like Jesus himself. A metaphor for what all our inner-selves really are capable of. And of course there are millions of people who mistake the Bible for it’s literal meaning. But come on, they’re just stories to illustrate what’s possible in us all. And, to be accepted, those stories most certainly had to incorporate the myths and ideas of the times when first written.

    But ID and adaptation of species certainly aren’t mutually exclusive. Though evolution and the idea that I’m the result of a one-celled organism mutating to a fish to a bird to a lion to a chimp to a gorilla to a fish again then to me is not likely. Someone tell me how something as complicated as the pituitary gland or eye or bone marrow just ‘evolved’ from nothing billions of years ago?

    The science is evolving, ha-ha-ha. Just give it 20 or 50 years. String Theory and the Biology of Belief will bear out the notion that all matter, whatever it is, is a form of consciousness, that ‘outer space’ is our unconscious, and that if E = MC^2 there is quite a bit more going on with regards to our simple reality than meets the eye.

  81. Alex Khenkin says:

    “You hire them because they are cheap.”
    No we are not. In fact, you can’t hire a “cheap” engineer on an H1B, the DOL won’t let you. Learn some basic immigration procedures before spewing noncense.

  82. Craig says:

    If all is possible, then why simply plug-in ANY answer, or resort to a super-natural explanation.

    It seems to me that most here would do better with no explanation at all instead of filling the knowledge gap with a BS filler.

    In that sense I’m an atheist. MEANING, I don’t have an answer to the God question or our origins and i’m honest enough to say so. Atheism isn’t COUNTER or opposite to belief in god, it is the abscence of a belief.
    If I don’t know, i’m not going to mislead myself or others into thinking my placefiller is gospel or knowledge.

    Who was it that said atheism was “refuted”? How does one refute a non-answer? Clealry it is those who claim to have an answer that need to prove their assertions.

  83. Bynoceros says:

    Hey B, no harm no foul. You didn’t put words in my mouth, but I can see how the point I was trying to make could be convoluted.

    As far as my personal beliefs, yeah I guess I do think that our existence is pretty random. During the NCAA tournament, I heard Billy Donovan say that if you started the tourney over, you probably would have a very, very different bracket. And that’s with only 65 teams. Imagine trillions of variables at play during the course of evolution and there are so many different possible outcomes you could spend your whole life thinking about it.

    For example, I was watching the History channel, and the discussion involved temperature fluctuations and their impact on human history. I’ve read Collapse, so much of the content was familiar, but the moral is just as sobering: Climate change leads to all sorts of nasty things, often involving massive, random extinction. Is there a rhyme to why the ice caps melted 14 tya? I know the reason, but what’s the great lesson, other than the ever-abiding Nature always bats last rule?

    As for Vega’s questions about eyes and pituatary glands, The Blind Watchmaker is the most layman- friendly discussion of these issues I am familiar with. I’d also recommend The Ancestors’ Tale while you’re at it.

  84. trader75 says:

    And for those who feel annoyed or bamboozled by popular religion, yet find atheism leaves a bad taste in the mouth, deism is another way to go…

    From Wikipedia: It must be understood that defining the nature of God is up to the individual Deist and not a collective effort. This is because the true nature of God is beyond human comprehension at this time in our development. As such, Deism does not define God but each individual does which leads to different views of God based on Reason that all fall under the umbrella of Deism.

  85. RW says:

    BR, your description of the scientific method is reasonable but one quibble: Theory and repeatable observation (usually translated into “laws”) do overlap because all observation is to some degree theory laden but theory is primarily explanatory, laws are primarily descriptive (theories don’t ‘turn into’ laws). To use your example of gravity, Newton’s laws describe quite clearly what happens to an object in a given gravity field or between two objects of given mass but do not provide an explanation of what gravity _is_ much less connect it to a larger conceptual framework; that had to wait for Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

    In the context of this discussion that means the facts, the evidence that there is change in species over time — fossil record, radioactive dating, plate tectonics, genetics, animal and plant morphology (analogous structures), animal husbandry, horticulture, bacteriology, medical research, etc. — all describe evolution in their respective ways. Darwin’s explanation unifying all those descriptions was one theory (natural selection of inherited traits) which has now been expanded and modified into the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution (natural selection + genetics + population dynamics).

    The real problem with Intelligent Design (ID) theory, at least as reconstructed by young-earth creationists (YECs), is they deny facts already in evidence, assert facts not in evidence, and then construct a theory that can not be falsified even if this collective body of putative knowledge were contradicted. Your point that there is no immediate penalty for this kind of delusion is right on: If YEC-IDiots had to pay to ante up in the marketplace of ideas it might help cure the problem, assuming they had anything left after tithing of course.

    OTOH discussing ID with philosophers who accept the facts of science and even the theories as far as they go but who believe those theories unduly constrain what humanity is — e.g., reducing our own coming into being into an exercise in mechanics — can be downright fascinating and not infrequently illuminating.

    Okay, I’m hooking up my I.V. again, bye now.

  86. Craig says:

    Evolutionary selective pressure is NOT random. Random would suggest all outside pressures and the environment don’t exist, which they clearly do.

    Thus we have polygenetic expression which requires interaction with the environment and involves sets of genes.

    The word random is used to suggest stuff just happened by itself which we all know can’t and doesn’t happen. We know there is cause and effect and that in this world the environment supplies the “cause”.

    Basic junior high genetics kids…….

  87. jkw says:

    Light existed before stars according to modern cosmology. The early universe had so many photons that everything was a plasma. It wasn’t until things spread out and cooled down a bit more that Hydrogen could form. So light has to be independent of stars.

    1. The question was not about the bible, it was about light. Stars are not responsible for light, photons are. Photons can come from many sources, not all of which depend on stars. The bible does not have any information about what causes light. Nothing in science can address the statement that God created light because it is not a testable claim.

    2. Learn Hebrew for a better understanding of what the bible says about the shape of the Earth. The word for “known world” is translated as though it referred to the planet. This is a translational problem.

    3. Sorry, I thought this was for elementary school children. Plants do die at temperatures well above absolute zero, but I thought you meant 0F or 0C, not 0K (and the sub-zero implies that you didn’t mean absolute 0, because then the question is sort of meaningless). If you think plants die at 0C, you will have to explain how my lawn survives being covered in snow for two or more weeks every year. If plants died at 0C, it would be impossible for trees to survive in most of Canada. Anyway, what does this have to do with the bible?

    4. Do you know what the dark side of the moon means? Earthshine by definition cannot reach the dark side of the moon. And DaVinci explaining something does not mean ancient people didn’t know it. Ancient people thought the world was round and generally had a good understanding of science. This was forgotten during the dark ages, so many things were rediscovered. That does not mean nobody had ever known it before.

    Again, what does this question have to do with the bible? The bible at most claims that the moon is a source of light at night. If you take the moon away, it will be darker at night, so most people would agree that the claim is correct. The bible never says that the moon shines with its own light.

    5. People grow plants without using the sun. Artificial lights work fine for many plants. I don’t understand how you can expect people to answer a question about photosynthesis if they don’t know what chlorophyll is. I also don’t know why you think the bible talks about photosynthesis.

    The bible mostly can’t be disproven. It is mostly a history book. The evidence suggests that it is at least as accurate as any other history book covering the same time period. It rarely mentions any science topics, except for when an omnipotent God is involved. Once you throw an omnipotent God into the story, science throws up its hands and gives up on proving or disproving anything.

    There are many fundamentalist interpretations of the bible that do address specific scientific concepts. Those can be proven or disproven. But it’s a waste of time, because fundamentalists don’t care about proof or reason.

    Science and religion are entirely compatible. The problem is that fundamentalism isn’t compatible with anything else. And fundamentalism is devouring the world’s religions. Fundamentalism is a plague on society, and it might be strong enough to destroy all of humanity.

  88. albiegf13 says:

    I thought that the whole Adam’s Rib theory was scientifically sound. How can anyone not be convinced after counting their own ribs… Let’s see, one, there’s two… Oh man…! I’m getting a little heavy, I’m having trouble feeling my ribs under this layer of disgusting fat… Okay..! I give up, I’m convinced, you sold me, we evolved from Pigs….

  89. BDG123 says:

    Come on! Someone else post something. Run this thread above 100 posts.

  90. noname says:

    MZ Forrest,

    by god you’re a dense one aren’t you?

    your blatant ignorance: “evolution is not the theory of survival of the fittest or natural variation; it is a theory of origins.”

    Did you actually think before you wrote?

    what exactly seems to be the problem here? Is it not supremely ignorant to state that “evolution is not the theory of survival of the fittest or natural variation,” when in fact those are the essence of the theory?
    Please do enlighten me.

    As to your other point about medicine predating evolution theory, I don’t know about you, my obtuse friend, given the choice, I would much rather be sick in a world where evolution is accepted as scientific fact than the alternative (what IS the alternative anyway?). Whether they recognize/acknowledge or not, every life scientist, particularly those researching causes and cures for diseases rely on evolutionary principles, from discovering new antibiotics to designing RNAi strategies and stem cell therapy for a host of diseases. Like it or not, that is a scientific and medical FACT! It’s been stated before on this thread but bears repeating, this “mere” theory is the best one we’ve got and it has and is serving us quite well.

  91. trader75 says:

    Come on! Someone else post something. Run this thread above 100 posts.

    How bout drunken monkeys, dating orangutans and wacky whales! Woo hoo!

  92. BDG123 says:

    Ok,
    So what I want to know is if monkeys respond as humans do while drunk. Are they cans of courage? Amorous aprhodisiacs? Do the monkeys shag afterwards?

    I already knew monkeys drank like people because my cousin is a monkey.

  93. M.Z. Forrest says:

    Noname,

    You keep pretending that genetics and host of other physical sciences are dependent upon evolutionary theory when such a claim is objectively false. If evolution was just about natural selection, yada, yada, it wouldn’t have amounted to a hill of beans, because this was known before evolution. The bold claim of evolution is that new speciation is a natural occuring process originating with the most primitive, a single celled organism. How this bold claim is essential to genetics blows my mind, because genetics is not dependent upon evolution. You would still have DNA if evolution were false. In fact, evolution is dependent upon genetics; if genetics were proved false, evolution could not exist.

    BTW, I have never made the assertion that evolution was mere theory my dim-witted friend.

  94. kckid816 says:

    99

  95. Craig says:

    “The bold claim of evolution is that new speciation is a natural occuring process originating with the most primitive, a single celled organism. How this bold claim is essential to genetics blows my mind, because genetics is not dependent upon evolution. You would still have DNA if evolution were false. In fact, evolution is dependent upon genetics; if genetics were proved false, evolution could not exist.”

    OH you are SO close!!! Hang on that final sentence for a minute, because it is true.

    Now, put it in reverse and ask why the genetic process of selection exists. What is the purpose of almost all life using a selection system with varying modes of inheritance, dominance, recessives, partial penetrance, and an infinite variety of possibilities/probabilities, some of which can’t survive in the current environment and some of which we share segments amongst one another?

    Why would this incredibly complex system of matching functional variables to the environment exist?

    Why do we have segments of other animals DNA in our DNA?

  96. lentils says:

    Perhaps the chart suggests that being a creationist is practicing the art of contrary thinking.

  97. noname says:

    Forrest,

    You’re absoulutely right, it would be dimwitted to suggest that genetics is dependent on evolution and not the other way around. Please find where I made this dumb assertion and I will gladly apologize for my idiocy.

    If you want to be taken seriously, stop wasting time shooting down arguments nobody made.

  98. Steve Kuntz says:

    Hello all!

    I don’t believe in evolution. But, I do believe Barry descended from apes. However, no one would have to know if he would let his barber get to work on those eyebrows.

  99. Jim Bergsten says:

    One hundred and three comments in, I must say I could care less about evolution versus creationism (how does this argument improve my life (or anybody else’s for that matter) at all?).

    What ARE of interest to me (in increasing order of interest) are:

    1. What does the original study (if any) that these data are based on really say? What was its purpose? Who exactly was asked? How many?

    2. What was the reason for the article in the NYT (or wherever it was)?

    3. What was Barry’s reason for this post? Is there a blog contest for the most comments on a single topic?
    Or just to rouse the rabble? Is this just another step on the path to media fame and fortune?

    Aw, whatever.
    Jim B.