Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report
By YUDHIJIT BHATTACHARJEE - SCIENCEINSIDER
Added: Thu, 08 Apr 2010 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Justin Van Kleeck for the link.
In an unusual last-minute edit that has drawn flak from the White House and science educators, a federal advisory committee omitted data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the big bang from a key report. The data shows that Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang.
They're not surprising findings, but the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF), says it chose to leave the section out of the 2010 edition of the biennial Science and Engineering Indicators because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.
"Discussing American science literacy without mentioning evolution is intellectual malpractice" that "downplays the controversy" over teaching evolution in schools, says Joshua Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that has fought to keep creationism out of the science classroom. The story appears in this week's issue of Science.
Board members say the decision to drop the text was driven by a desire for scientific accuracy. The survey questions that NSF has used for 25 years to measure knowledge of evolution and the big bang were "flawed indicators of scientific knowledge because responses conflated knowledge and beliefs," says Louis Lanzerotti, an astrophysicist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who chairs NSB's Science and Engineering Indicators Committee.
The explanation doesn't appear to have soothed White House officials, who say that the edit—made after the White House had reviewed a draft—left them surprised and dismayed. "The Administration counts on the National Science Board to provide the fairest and most complete reporting of the facts they track," says Rick Weiss, a spokesperson and analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The deleted text, obtained by ScienceInsider, does not differ radically from what has appeared in previous Indicators. The section, which was part of the unedited chapter on public attitudes toward science and technology, notes that 45% of Americans in 2008 answered true to the statement, "Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." The figure is similar to previous years and much lower than in Japan (78%), Europe (70%), China (69%), and South Korea (64%). The same gap exists for the response to a second statement, "The universe began with a big explosion," with which only 33% of Americans agreed.
Alex Strangwayes-Booth - BBC News 78 Comments
"... if you disestablish the Church and disconnect the Church from the monarchy, it gives the impression there are almost no values we share in common at all."
Chris Michaud - Reuters 91 Comments
Nearly 15 percent of people worldwide believe the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012.
Michael Gryboski - The Christian Post 7 Comments
Survey: Millennials' Religious Unaffiliation Similar at Faith-Based and Public Colleges
- - The Pew Forum on Religion &... 23 Comments
More See "Too Much" Religious Talk by Politicians - Santorum Voters Disagree
Al Webb - The Washington Post 52 Comments
Atheists likely to outnumber Christians in England in 20 years
Andy Borowitz - Borowitz Report 25 Comments
Poll: Given Choice Between Romney and Santorum, Most Voters Choose Suicide