Friday, February 13, 2009

Age and accepting evolution


In honor of Darwin's birthday, Gallup conducted a poll and found all sorts of discouraging things, like how only 39% of Americans accept the theory of evolution. I'd rather focus on the positive part that younger people are more likely to believe it than older people. There is an 18 point gap between the youngest and oldest groups.

I can see this in my own family. Despite my best efforts, both parents are skeptical, but all the kids accept it. On the other hand, I get a lot of resistance in the classroom from students. Many students don't deny it's true, but they make yucky faces if you use it to explain human behavior.

10 comments:

Lover of Wisdom said...

Do you think there could be some other reasons why your students make yucky faces? I know that many people I talk to only think evolution is false because they falsely believe that evolution is incompatible with traditional Christianity.

Jokah Macpherson said...

As Lover says, I think a lot of the correlation between religious attendance and skepticism of evolution is due to unfamiliarity beyond the vague notion that evolution is incompatible with traditional Christianity.

I would be interested in seeing a more in-depth poll of people's understanding of evolution. If you polled church-goers on their beliefs in quantum mechanics, they might be more ambivalent, if not necessarily knowledgeable, since nobody sticks mockeries of the ichthys fish on their cars incorporating the name Schroedinger and the wave function.

Peter the atheist jew said...

The notion of "belief" in a scientific theory is in itself an indication of the absence of science.

Scientists have expectations which can be supported or refuted by testing. "Belief" that must be defended harkens back to religious faith. Why else do defenders of anthropogenic climate catastrophe orthodoxy rely so much on ad hominem arguments against heretics -- many of them far better educated and informed than themselves?

Science is about trying to tear down beliefs. Evidence may support a certain theory, at least fail to refute it. For now.

Scientific theories are always subject to future modification or revision and elaboration beyond recognition.

Anonymous said...

Ron Gunhame,


Kids make "yucky" faces because accepting evolution is true makes them accept that we have "evolved" from lower primates, and henceforth some of us are (obviously) a bit more "evolved" than others.

This is the first conclucsion one makes when they accept evolution. The fact that aboriginals have invented so little, while white men have invented so much, seems obvious and natural thereafter. This of course is #RACIST# on today's campuses, and #RACIST# is the absolutely worst thing you can be, and if you are tarred and feathered as a #RACIST# you will be socially excluded and socially isolated by professors and fellow students. Kids are afraid of evolutionary conclusions and do not want to talk about it.


There are other reasons people dont want to ascribe to evolution. If you are a thin, very plain guy, with little muscular development, and accept evolution............then you "evolved" that way, while two or three of the good looking jocks in the class that the girls can't keep their eyes off of, "evolved" in the way they did, and are just so much genetically BETTER than you, that a young girl would be doing a evolutionary injustice by even contemplating breeding with you----even though you are very well-read, smart, funny, empathetic, involved in charities, likely to have a great career. None of it matters, because you "evolved" to be physically unfit to pass on your genes. Small breasted-average-looking girls may feel the same way. "We've been evolving for eons, and I still look like this.............wtf was up with my lousy ancestors".


Codes of ethics and honor, derived from JudeoChristianity, would no longer apply if people ever *really* accepted evolution also. It invalidates Genesis, and therefore Judeo-Christianity, and then we are all simply beings acting on our own self interest with no hell to burn in for heretofore "bad" behavior. Kids actually WANT disciplinary parameters, and evolution threatens traditional margins of acceptable behavior, hence why so many seemingly fear it.

Lover of Wisdom said...

"Science is about trying to tear down beliefs."

That is a very narrow understanding of science. The scientific discipline also involves ultimately developing a body of knowledge.

Lover of Wisdom said...

"Codes of ethics and honor, derived from JudeoChristianity, would no longer apply if people ever *really* accepted evolution also. It invalidates Genesis, and therefore Judeo-Christianity."

That's nonsense. You're only right if you take evolution in conjunction with philosophical naturalism. But evolution isn't necessarily conjoined to naturalism. One could be true while the other false.

But even if evolution is necessarily conjoined with naturalism, you can still have objective ethical propositions. To say to the contrary implies that you must let your epistemology dictate your metaphysics, which is a philosophy 101 no-no.

Peter the atheist Jew said...

When it comes to science that can be taken seriously, the narrower the better.

In the real universe there are no laws, there is no static knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh, methinks I'm going to get all the atheist Jews, agnostic Lutherans, nonbelieving Hindus, and secular Serbian Orthodox people mixed up.

What if someone believes in using experimental evidence to try to understand the world? Should science try to tear that down?

What exactly is the whole speed of light thing? A guideline? An executive order? A recommendation?

kurt9 said...

I do not see how anyone playing the dating game cannot believe in evolution. People like to say that we are 3% reason and 97% non-reason and that is why libertarianism cannot work. What has been obvious to me since I played the dating game in SoCal 20 years ago is that 97% of human behavior that is not based on reason can only be explained by sociobiology. There is no other explanation for the non-rational part of human behavior. Since sociobiology is based on evolution, that pretty much makes evolution an obvious reality.

Blode032222 said...

What has been obvious to me since I played the dating game in SoCal 20 years ago is that 97% of human behavior that is not based on reason can only be explained by sociobiology. There is no other explanation for the non-rational part of human behavior.

I tend to agree. What worries me is the number of people who believe the other 97% to be random.