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← Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report

Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report - Comments

Roland_F's Avatar Comment 1 by Roland_F

removing the entire section was a clumsy attempt to hide a national embarrassment. "Nobody likes our infant death rate," he says by way of comparison, "but it doesn't go away if you quit talking about it."

That sums it up nicely, but with Sarah -IQ84 - Palin as next US president who can be conerned about the national ebarrassment about basic science knowledge of the public.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:42:00 UTC | #457496

VanYoungman's Avatar Comment 2 by VanYoungman

When will the day come that the US will finally face its monstrous ignorance problem?

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:54:00 UTC | #457500

sara g's Avatar Comment 3 by sara g

They appear to be trying to falsely inflate scientific literacy in the US. They are claiming that intentional ignorance does not count as illiteracy. This has the danger of legitimizing that ignorance.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:58:00 UTC | #457503

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 4 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Scary that America is the world's superpower.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 14:59:00 UTC | #457506

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 5 by Cook@Tahiti

Having so much of its population ignorant hasn't stopped the USA being the dominant superpower of the last 60 years and the leader in the exploration of the solar system, technological innovation, and exporting its culture.

It must give pause to those who assume that the population must be science-literate to prevent it from collapsing back to the stone age.

It seems a country can do quite well with a tiny elite who are scientifically literate making the decisions, while 90% of the masses watch WWF, Nascar, pray in church, etc.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 15:05:00 UTC | #457510

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 6 by Agrajag

5. Comment #478118 by Rtambree on April 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm

It seems a country can do quite well with a tiny elite who are scientifically literate making the decisions, while 90% of the masses watch WWF, Nascar, pray in church, etc.

What happens when the 90% elect decision-makers who aren't so scientifically literate?
Can you say "Welcome to the third world"?
Steve

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 15:27:00 UTC | #457526

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 7 by Chris Roberts

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.

In the same way that scientific belief overshadows superstitions, old wives tales and ancient myths of all description.

Surely the best measure of a population's scientific understanding is indicated by how the general populace can shake of these non-factual positions based on traditions and belief without evidence?

Good point by Rtambree, I wonder how many Americans think tha WWF(E) is real fighting?

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 15:27:00 UTC | #457527

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 8 by huzonfurst

One of my fondest hopes is that there is a secret program working on the development of an IQ-specific sterility drug that can be sneaked into the water supply.

Anyone who has ever been to a scientific conference (the Beyond Belief series or TED, for example) knows what a world consisting of nothing but smart people would be like. Not perfect and not without controversy of course, but one where superstition and ignorance are *gone*, allowing people to lead productive and exciting lives free of the worst evils of the past.

The jokes are better, too, and never have to be explained ;>).

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 15:38:00 UTC | #457531

mikeybates's Avatar Comment 9 by mikeybates

One of my fondest hopes is that there is a secret program working on the development of an IQ-specific sterility drug that can be sneaked into the water supply.


Take any sterility drug, put it in coke/pepsi, sell it as "super coke" at monster trucks, wwe, etc.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 15:55:00 UTC | #457540

George Lennan's Avatar Comment 10 by George Lennan

Scuse picky... and probably wouldn't change the results much but... the universe didn't exactly start with a big explosion did it? In fact that word conjures up precisely the sort of destructive image that creationists love to lampoon.

The conditions at T=0, although in some respect expansive, were so completely outside our evolved capacity to understand them that 'explosion' is as meaningful as 'creation'.

Says me.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 16:13:00 UTC | #457547

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 11 by Dr. Strangegod

...the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.
Yes, exactly. What's the problem?

I have to say though, that given a true/false dichotomy about the fact that the universe started with a big band, I'd feel weird about choosing either. Is there a spot for "maybe" or "most likely" or "that's what the most current science seems to suggest"? Because the big bang is waaaaaaayyy more of a guess than evolution, which is unquestionably true. A good guess, but still a guess.

EDIT: George Lennan - Yep. I mean, a sudden and random quantum change in the fabric of reality (about which there was an article posted here once) isn't exactly a bang.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 16:18:00 UTC | #457549

Kmita's Avatar Comment 12 by Kmita

Without having read the entirety of the article (and no, I won't finish it), it seems to me that it's VERY possible that they recognized their poll to be faulty. If the poll forces individuals to choose between evolution and creationism, it tends to leave out those nitwits who believe god is the primary mover of evolution. I would agree with them then that if the poll only had two options concerning evolution it would be a false dichotomy and would need to be revised.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 16:25:00 UTC | #457551

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 13 by aquilacane

"because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs."

WTF?

In other words, we don't want to admit that we are complete idiots.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 16:31:00 UTC | #457554

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 14 by phasmagigas

Having so much of its population ignorant hasn't stopped the USA being the dominant superpower of the last 60 years and the leader in the exploration of the solar system, technological innovation, and exporting its culture.


maybe just a few innovators are needed, the ignorant beliefs of many doesnt stop them from working technical positions.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:03:00 UTC | #457560

Analytical's Avatar Comment 15 by Analytical

I like the way this quote spotlights the fundamentalists' arguments that: "If there are any gaps, errors or disagreements it's all wrong"


When Science asked Bruer if individuals who did not accept evolution or the big bang to be true could be described as scientifically literate, he said: "There are many biologists and philosophers of science who are highly scientifically literate who question certain aspects of the theory of evolution," adding that such questioning has led to improved understanding of evolutionary theory. When asked if he expected those academics to answer "false" to the statement about humans having evolved from earlier species, Bruer said: "On that particular point, no."

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:16:00 UTC | #457565

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 16 by gr8hands

George Lennan, you are confused about the word 'explosion':

Main Entry: ex·plo·sion
Pronunciation: ik-ˈsplō-zhən
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin explosion-, explosio act of driving off by clapping, from explodere
Date: 1667
1 : the act or an instance of exploding (injured in a laboratory explosion)
2 : a large-scale, rapid, or spectacular expansion or bursting out or forth (the explosion of suburbia) (an explosion of red hair)
3 : the release of occluded breath that occurs in one kind of articulation of stop consonants
So, yes, the Big Bang, while being incorrect in terms of an actual 'bang' happening, did involve an explosion.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explosion

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:18:00 UTC | #457566

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 17 by Steven Mading

Rtambree said:
It seems a country can do quite well with a tiny elite who are scientifically literate making the decisions, while 90% of the masses watch WWF, Nascar, pray in church, etc.

The biggest advantage of technology is how it multiplies the usefulness of the expensive effort it takes to learn science. It allows very large numbers of people to reap the rewards of the hard work of a comparatively small number of people. Ironically that's also it's biggest weakness. You don't have to know the first thing about electromagnetism, computer programming, the chemistry of silicon, and so on in order to put a post on Twitter from your mobile phone. But some people somewhere had to know those things.

It is in this way that a largely ignorant population can ride the coattails of its small percentage of less ignorant people.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:30:00 UTC | #457571

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 18 by Steven Mading

If I understand the complaint of the people who stripped the data out of the report, they were complaining that the questions on evolution did not ask people if they knew the information. It only asked if they believed it, which is a slightly different question. It doesn't differentiate those who disbelieve evolution out of plain scientific ignorance of what the theory even says in the first place versus those who are not scientifically ignorant of what the theory says, but still choose not to believe it. Since the test is attempting to test scientific literacy, it should really only be measuring the former, not the latter. An example of a good question might be "Do evolutionary biologists make the claim that humans evolved from chimpanzees?" If they answer "yes", then that shows their ignorance of what the science is even claiming in the first place. An example of a bad question would be "Do you believe that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor?" (as opposed to "does the current understanding by evolutionary scientists claim that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor?", which is a better question because it tests only scientific literacy, not necessarily agreement with what science is saying.

Before you claim that this is a wrong approach, let's imagine if the tables were reversed and we were being surveyed on whether or not we were ignorant about the Bible? For such a test, the questions should not require agreement with the Bible's claims - just awareness of what those claims are. We shouldn't be marked down on our biblical literacy just because we think the bible is incorrect.

I still believe that a lot of the creationists would end up being very ignorant of the claims of evolution if the tests were properly designed to test ONLY that. But until they are, we can't measure the difference between ignorance of evolution and rejection of it with full knowledge of what's being rejected.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:43:00 UTC | #457575

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 19 by Mr DArcy

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.


Wow, difficult choice, but as I have no religious beliefs, I'll have to go with the facts.

You don't have to know the first thing about electromagnetism, computer programming, the chemistry of silicon, and so on in order to put a post on Twitter from your mobile phone. But some people somewhere had to know those things.



Fair point, but even the techies rely on others for their food, housing, clothes, electricity etc. We are all reliant upon other people we don't know and will never meet.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 17:57:00 UTC | #457580

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 20 by glenister_m

RE: "One of my fondest hopes is that there is a secret program working on the development of an IQ-specific sterility drug that can be sneaked into the water supply.

Take any sterility drug, put it in coke/pepsi, sell it as "super coke" at monster trucks, wwe, etc. "

I brought something similar up in my science class when we discussed eugenics: "What if the government put something in the water supply that prevented pregnancy, and that if you wanted to have kids you would apply, and if you were deemed good parent material you would be given the antidote£"

I had hoped to get an interesting debate about choice, who decides who is a good parent, etc. Instead most of the class thought that was an excellent idea.

I guess it would also solve the overpopulation problem, teen pregnancy, and welfare abuse, but IQ would still be an issue. That is probably a good thing though, if everyone had an IQ of 120 or higher, then there would be a lot of very unhappy people having to ask "Do you want fries with that£", etc. unable to find a challenging career.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:04:00 UTC | #457583

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 21 by mordacious1

16. Comment #478176 by gr8hands

Paul Heckert, Phd. Professor of Astronomy and Physics disagrees with you, as I think most Cosmologists would. The word "explosion" is an unfortunate choice here. Heckert discusses this here:

http://astrophysics.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_universe_and_the_big_bang

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:22:00 UTC | #457590

Sciros's Avatar Comment 22 by Sciros

if everyone had an IQ of 120 or higher, then there would be a lot of very unhappy people having to ask "Do you want fries with that£", etc. unable to find a challenging career.
Nah, there'd be a lot of people maintaining electronic robo-cashier stations that in turn would ask "do you want fries with that?" ^_^

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:24:00 UTC | #457592

Trixie Goforth's Avatar Comment 23 by Trixie Goforth

I AM AN AMERICAN!!!!

AND I AGREE: WE'RE A BUNCHA DUMB AYSES!!!

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:28:00 UTC | #457593

Redfingers's Avatar Comment 24 by Redfingers

That question is impossible to conflate with belief....

Human beings descended from animals....this is the consensus scientific view, and moreover does not directly contradict the new age Christian apologetic that God used "whatever means" (read: not Genesis) to bring us here.

Creationists, and by that I mean the people that believe everything was created instantly, deserve ridicule. The theory of evolution should be a barometer of scientific literacy indeed. Someone who believes something alternate to what the theory of evolution says is conflating facts with belief.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:32:00 UTC | #457595

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 25 by Carl Sai Baba

I also don't like "the universe began with a big explosion". I take "the universe" to mean absolutely everything, but the "big bang" explosion is only the initiation of the current expansion. Don't we still think that the universe has "no beginning in time, no edge in space, and nothing for a creator to do"?

It also isn't on par with the structure of the evolution statement, which only asks people to acknowledge the change from previous states.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:34:00 UTC | #457597

EvidenceOnly's Avatar Comment 26 by EvidenceOnly

#1 Roland_F

You refer to "Sarah IQ84 Palin".

Since she burst on the national scene, I have called her "Sarah Room Temperature IQ Palin".

In the US this is 68 (in Fahrenheit) but 20 (in Celsius) in the rest of the world which more accurately reflects the much lower opinion of her than the in the US.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:01:00 UTC | #457605

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 27 by bachfiend

I'm still a little uncomfortable as to how the cosmology question was worded. Ethan Siegel in "Starts with a Bang"
http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2010/04/did_the_universe_start_from_a.php
notes that with the inflationary model, the Universe didn't start with a singularity, unless you go back to infinity in time, so the Universe didn't actually have a beginning. It could have been worded better.
Explosion implies something is expanding into space, but it is space that's expanding.
Mentioning big explosions; there's a new Australian film coming out "Beneath Hill 60" which deals with the largest human caused explosion up to then, on July 7, 1917, a record held until the French cargo ship Mont-Blanc fully laden with explosives exploded in Halifax harbour on December 6, 1917. I love big explosions.

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:27:00 UTC | #457612

blitz442's Avatar Comment 28 by blitz442

if everyone had an IQ of 120 or higher, then there would be a lot of very unhappy people having to ask "Do you want fries with that£", etc. unable to find a challenging career.


Just speculating here, but it would be probably be awesome if mean human intelligence was raised one standard deviation.

Most menial jobs would probably be reduced significantly. Fast food joints and other unhealthy sources of food would probably become much less prevalent. As the ability to think scientifically would now probably be the norm instead of a rarity, scientific progress and acceptance of scientific knowledge would increase at a faster rate, and thus plenty of new industries and occupations would come about to keep people busy.

Popular religion as we know it would wane considerably. People would vote more responsibly and our government policies would reflect that. Quack medicine, superstitions, gambling, etc. would all decrease.

If this is correct, it's almost enough to make one a proponent of eugenics. However, I'm not (the policies that would have to be put into place and the rights that would have to given up to achieve this result would probably cause a lot more harm than good, to put it mildly).

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:31:00 UTC | #457614

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 29 by Mr DArcy

What has Sarah Palin's IQ got to do with anything? I don't believe that people and dinosaurs lived alongside, but that doesn't make me a genius. If an idea is wrong, then it's wrong. It's the WRONG IDEAS that need attacking, not the their messengers. (Yes I know it's difficult at times, when thoughts, like that of Ray Comfort and his banana, spring to mind).

Einstein had a high IQ, but he got quite a few things wrong. Sock manufacturers will never forgive him!

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:41:00 UTC | #457619

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 30 by Philoctetes

"we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

When and why did masses of the population decide that the "difficult thing" was not worth the effort?

What made the celebration of stupidity so cool that a film like Forrest Gump could become iconic?

Fri, 09 Apr 2010 20:42:00 UTC | #457629