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Britons Unconvinced on Evolution

Roblimo posted about 9 years ago | from the the-U.S.-is-not-the-only-unevolved-country dept.

Science 2035

pryonic writes "The BBC is reporting that more than half of Britons do not believe in evolution, with a further 40% advocating that creationism or intelligent design should be taught in school science classes. I'm a Brit myself, and I thought most people over here thought these views were outdated and lacked substance. None of my close friends give any credit to creationism or ID, but we're all well educated athiests so I guess that's to be expected. Maybe I've been blind to the views of the majority in this proudly secular country?"

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Et tu, Britannia? (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#14566943)

On one hand, I'm happy to see that rampant idiocy isn't a uniquely American trait.

On the other hand, however, I'm seriously troubled by this. I guess I was kinda counting on the rest of the world to bitchslap America back to sanity sooner or later, but now it appears that we can't count on the global community saving the day for rationality.

Of particular concern is the statistics quoted:

  • 22% chose creationism
  • 17% opted for intelligent design
  • 48% selected evolution theory
  • and the rest did not know.

In other words, 39% chose creationism, as there is no discernable difference between creationism and ID. Score another victory for ID, for once again successfully obfuscating the issue.

Even worse were the statistics regarding what to teach in schools:

  • 44% said creationism should be included
  • 41% intelligent design
  • 69% wanted evolution as part of the science curriculum.

Again, nice and confusing, especially when you consider that these statistics don't add up to 100%. I understand that some people would like to see more than one 'theory' taught (the old 'teach the controversy' BS), but displaying the results in this manner is misleading in the extreme. Equally confusing is the fact that the percentage of people who 'did not know' in the previous set of statistics isn't enumerated. One would assume it to be 13%, but in the light of the second set of statistics, who knows?

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (4, Insightful)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | about 9 years ago | (#14566989)

I very much dount that many people asked about ID actually knew what it really is, or how hotly debated a non-topic it is.

Grab 2000 of any random population off the streets of any city, and ask them to define "Intelligent Design" and I bet less than 17% will give you anything approaching what the proponents of this idoicy are spouting.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (1)

gowen (141411) | about 9 years ago | (#14566996)

Again, nice and confusing, especially when you consider that these statistics don't add up to 100%
Why should they? No-one is forced to opt for exactly one out of evolution, ID and creationism to appear on the syllabus. You can believe in one, without wishing to prevent the teaching of the others.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 9 years ago | (#14567025)

In other words, 39% chose creationism, as there is no discernable difference between creationism and ID. Score another victory for ID, for once again successfully obfuscating the issue.

Well there is no difference between what ID advocates believe and creationism. But ID used to have a different philosophy, one of guided evolution. This survey says nothing about which ID the respondant believe in.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (5, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | about 9 years ago | (#14567070)

>39% chose creationism

still less in total than evolution though.

one important thing (in my experience) the UK doesn't have so much of is militant fundamentalism. people might say they believe in creationism, but then lots of people still claim to believe in god. they don't do anything about it though. even if they agree it should be taught in schools they aren't taking over schoold boards for it.

basically I think the difference is that in America you have the very dangerous combination of
1. Churches are big businesses (much more so than elsewhere)
2. businesses can easily buy into politics

the ID movement is 99.9% a PR campaign.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (0)

hal2814 (725639) | about 9 years ago | (#14567104)

"Again, nice and confusing, especially when you consider that these statistics don't add up to 100%"

That's because the concepts are not mutually exclusive. Evolution certainly does happen. That doesn't mean that all life came through evolution. Sure the thoery of evolution might wrap up the beginning of life in a nice little bow-tied package, but that doesn't mean that's the way it actually happened. Nobody knows for sure how it actually happened.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567144)

On one hand, I'm happy to see that rampant idiocy isn't a uniquely American trait.

You're a complete, myopic idiot to think this in the first place. This "the USA is the only place with stupid people in the world" is astonishing in its hypocrisy. You have whole nations out there with government based on radical, fundamental theology from top to bottom. Or other ones based on outdated theories and economic systems that have been repeatedly demonstrated to be broken.

On the other hand, however, I'm seriously troubled by this. I guess I was kinda counting on the rest of the world to bitchslap America back to sanity sooner or later, but now it appears that we can't count on the global community saving the day for rationality.

Where does this come from? This sort of talk just makes you sound the like the most ignorant fool of all. What makes you and your ilk live this delusion that the world outside the USA is somehow magically enlightened and rational? Have you ever BEEN anywhere? I've been to every continent (visited Antarctica thanks to Linblad Expeditions) multiple times for my job, and the USA is a rank amateur when it comes to irrationality.

HUMANITY is irrational.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567151)

In other words, 39% chose creationism, as there is no discernable difference between creationism and ID. Score another victory for ID, for once again successfully obfuscating the issue.

It's not quite as awful as it looks. ID is a name chosen specifically to mislead people into thinking it is scientific. It says more about the attention people pay to poll-taker's questions than anything -- "intelligent design... ohh... sounds impressive. I'll just say that to save me thinking about it too much". The worrying figure is the direct "creationism" result, but 22% says we aren't doing to badly. There are as many mongwits in the UK as the US (scaled for population of course), but we've managed to keep them quiet.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (3, Insightful)

terevos (148651) | about 9 years ago | (#14567169)

> On one hand, I'm happy to see that rampant idiocy isn't a uniquely American trait.

This is one of the reasons Evolution has been rejected by a lot of people. Just as ultra-right wing Christians really turn people off, this kind of statement also turns people off.

Personally, I don't believe in Evolution. That doesn't make me an idiot. I simply disagree with the theory. That doesn't mean I don't understand it, I simply don't agree with it. It doesn't mean I'm ignorant either - I know more about Evolution than most people I know.

Just as the Theory of Gravity has some problems and needs to be understood better/differently, I believe the Theory of Evolution needs to be understood better/differently - in Evolution's case I think it needs to be drastically different.

But that doesn't mean I think Intelligent Design is science, either. But neither is a whole lot that goes on with Evolution and other supporting theories that are based on something other than experimentation. Fact is, there has never been an experiment with macro-evolution - until there is, Macro-Evolution is simply a theory and, IMO, a weak one at that.

Re:Et tu, Britannia? (3, Interesting)

Cruciform (42896) | about 9 years ago | (#14567172)

I like to think of it this way:

Evolution: Shit happens. Sometimes it's good shit. Sometimes it's bad shit. We just have to live with it.

Creationism: God is all powerful and all knowing, and made everyting. He still does it wrong now and then because he's a sadist.

Intelligent Design: "God" didn't make the universe, but he enjoys meddling with it. Like a 12 year old with a chemistry set. (sure, that's not the way that the proponents really see it, but if they want to claim they're not creationists they need some way to differentiate it)

Try as I might, I'm unable to use any of these three methods to explain Baywatch.

No, people, ID and Creationism are not the same. (3, Insightful)

JeanPaulBob (585149) | about 9 years ago | (#14567180)

The difference is in common ancestry and the ages of the earth & universe.

"Creationism" generally refers to Young Earth Creationism. And, sometimes, Old Earth Creationism, which has an old Earth but says that God made life directly.

ID is about saying that there are features of the life we see that point to design, generally by saying that the features are too complex. This can include Theistic Evolutionists, if they believe that God stepped in to tweak the evolutionary process in key places. ID says nothing about common ancestry or the ages of the earth & universe.

Educate, don't indoctrinate (1, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | about 9 years ago | (#14566948)

I'm against all public education systems. I don't believe they've worked.

That being said, if we must have them, let's focus on pure education -- facts, repetition, useful classes: how to read, write and perform basic math. At most, some basic scientific theory might be OK.

Everything else -- health, PE, higher sciences, diet -- leave it to the family or to competitive higher education.

If we cut back public education to ages 6-11 and strictly teach the basics, we can return thousands back to each family in tax savings. It'll be more than enough to let a parent stay home, teach with other parents helping and they can save money to send their kids to private upper education.

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (1)

dusik (239139) | about 9 years ago | (#14567003)

Oh, I honestly don't think you can expect parents to be that responsible in our society today. But I do agree with your point about school as it is being a waste, and higher education starting at age 12 sounds like a plan.

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567016)

Yes, because there are just not enough ignorant people in the world and we really must do all we can to make more.

Are you, yourself a product of the system you are proposing by any chance?

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567036)

No, a product of the current system. Why do you ask?

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567113)

He asks because he's an asshole.

Great Idea! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567046)

Nothing like denying education to the poor and middle to exacerbate the existing social divisions.

Heck, with all that money we save we could bring back debtor's prisons as well. Everybody wins!

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567077)

I concur, if we can teach the three "R's" to a decent level, then we can consider doing other less useful things. It is difficult to train an illiterate and mathematically inept HS graduate to be able to do anything useful. I would like to believe that every student should have a well rounded education that includes music theory, the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology), history, social sciencies, and civics courses, but that can only occur if they have a strong base. What is the point in a history course if you can't write an essay about an event, or about a science course if you can't solve basic problems or understand the text? And why do high schools teach 'diet' courses? Because the students are too stupid to be able to read a "... For Dummies" book on it.

Facts, please (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Poodle (15365) | about 9 years ago | (#14567096)

I like how you crafted a well reasoned arguement, and supported your position with compelling, relevant facts.

The only thing your argument proves is that the education system failed YOU.

You sir, should demand your money back!

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567107)

"I'm against all public education systems. I don't believe they've worked."

I tend to think that whatever passed for "education" in the public school system that I was forced to attend did indeed "work", at least in some rudimentary way, as evidenced by my ability to respond to your statement in this fashion.

What the market will bear (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567112)

The problem with your idea is the same as the problem with just about any major change in public tax policy. Market forces cut both ways.

Many people suggest that if we cut taxes in way x, y, or z that suddenly the increase in take home income will change our society in way X, Y, or Z. What isn't being acknowledged is that companies are paying people just as much as they have to for the people to do their jobs.

If you cut out the public education system then yes, some people will use that extra money to stay home and teach their children. Many who are barely making it by right now will instead say "Hey, educating the kids is no longer mandatory and I finally have the money to really get by. The kids can get a job like delivering papers, I can keep working my job, and we'll finally be secure."

People don't do this because they're cruel Dickensian taskmasters bent on exploiting their children. They do this because economic hardship tends to focus attention on short-term goals.

Companies will notice that they're able to pay their employees slightly less because the employees are making more take-home income. In many jobs companies aren't competing to keep employees from moving to another company. They're competing to keep the employees from moving to a different field. Health care is a good example of this. Nurses are paid just enough to not quit and go into a job where they don't have to stick their fingers in peoples' bums.

No company will immediately *cut* wages on this basis but inflation is always there, ready to eat up the margin when wages are not raised as fast.

All these factors would mean that the switchover to home education would happen at rather less than full efficiency. We can't afford that, because even with public education most people end up pretty ignorant. If a significant portion of the population starts opting out, we're headed right back for the Victorian class system, where the poor genuinely have no chance to learn.

Keep in mind also that the parents can only teach at home what they already know. Does your local 7-11 clerk know enough to teach his son physics? Does he understand the value of physics well enough to pay for his son to learn it? Doubtful on both counts. No way for his son to get a better life in any field his father doesn't understand.

Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (3, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | about 9 years ago | (#14567149)

"I'm against all public education systems. I don't believe they've worked."

I went to a public school (in South Central Wisconsin), and I think my high school education was excellent. I joined the military and worked in the private sector before returning to college. I wound up bumping into a handful of students I graduated high school with. None of us were upper crust material (I think I was in the 49th percentile). But Hobbs and I aced the math and physics classes, after 6 years of being out of high school.

Now, schools in the SC region of Wisconsin are some mighty fine schools. But if you head out to say, down town Milwaukee, the schools get larger and the education seems to decline. But I think this has less to do with the schools being public and more to do with class size and funding.

Public Schools aren't a failed system, over all it's a very successful system, look at the high school graduation numbers now compared to 50 years ago, look at the average literacy rates. Now, like any system, there are weak points and short comings, but we're not going to cut off your arm for a broken finger. Standards enforcing, proper funding and class sizes, and teacher reviews can all help improve the lesser schools and help educate our youth.


Re:Educate, don't indoctrinate (-1, Offtopic)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | about 9 years ago | (#14567166)

This makes me sick in so many ways--many of which have already been voiced, and I don't have time to get into it. Regardless, I really wish I had mod points right now. This comment isn't even really OT.

The Economist (5, Funny)

thefirelane (586885) | about 9 years ago | (#14566949)

I think The Economist said it best:

"Intelligent Design is something Britons read about with a smirk before they turn to the Horoscope section"

(from memory, but very close)

Finally! (4, Funny)

muellerr1 (868578) | about 9 years ago | (#14566952)

Proof that Americans don't have a monopoly on ignorance!

I love stories like this (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14566957)

All the self-righteous USA bashers (and this is something people attack the US for despit there being much more toxic religious beliefs around the world) eventually find out their countires are just as stupid as any other.

*Humanity* is a pack of low grade morons, folks. No one country or society has any lock on the Stupid Prize.

Re:I love stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567121)

That would have been more effective had you not misspelled "countries."

Re:I love stories like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567176)

Ever mispell anything in your life?

what does it matter anyways? (0)

js3 (319268) | about 9 years ago | (#14566964)

I don't understand why people get so hot and humid over this. Either way.. who cares.

Re:what does it matter anyways? (1)

jeremyp (130771) | about 9 years ago | (#14567027)

Because it's a symptom of people's general lack of trust in science. If enough people turn their back on science, we'll be heading back to the dark ages.

Re:what does it matter anyways? (2, Interesting)

wirehead_rick (308391) | about 9 years ago | (#14567084)

It represents a fundemental and very scary thing.

Dump people in numbers can believe stupid things and will follow dump leaders.

It tells us that we have not moved forward in progression from the Roman Crusades. We have not moved forward from burning or drowning accused witches. We have not moved forward from what happened to the Germans who allowed the Nazi Party to rule and successfully exterminate 6,000,000 people under their noses and in their own backyard. It tells us any of these awfull scary things could happen, TODAY.

Is there anything else more scary than a large mis-guided and dump population? If you want to be _real_ scared read Carl Sagan's book - Demon Haunted World. Some of the most scary stuff I ever read.

Re:what does it matter anyways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567147)

Also read The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Religion is bad for humanity.

Not surprised (4, Insightful)

Cyphertube (62291) | about 9 years ago | (#14566971)

This seems to happen everywhere. Mostly people think that a certain idea, that perhaps has little scientific basis, should be taught in school, when they support the idea.

I believe in a creator. Sure. But should creation be taught in a science class? No. Why?

Because I know that somehow my religious beliefs that I want to teach to my children will not be taught according to how I believe. Worse off would be if they were completely opposed, like someone teaching creation by that damn spaghetti monster.

Keep science to science. Start teaching classes that encourage people to look at other viewpoints and learn to see the downsides of their own arguments. Only then will a generation gain the wisdom to not think this is such a great idea.

Re:Not surprised (5, Funny)

mrjb (547783) | about 9 years ago | (#14567066)

Damn spaghetti monster? BLASPHEMY!!!!

Re:Not surprised (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567085)

Don't worry, he'll be forever damned to a heaven without strippers or beer volcanos.

evolve your spelling genes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14566972)

Shouldn't an educated atheist know how to spell atheist?

Re:evolve your spelling genes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567071)

There should be a hyphen in "well-educated," too.

Re:evolve your spelling genes (1)

moronikos (595352) | about 9 years ago | (#14567142)

I guess he doesn't believe in spelling either.

Athiest (3, Insightful)

feagle814 (640886) | about 9 years ago | (#14566984)

I don't understand why everyone feels it's necessary to misspell "atheist" by reversing the I and E.

Well-educated? Sure.

Re:Athiest (1)

dusik (239139) | about 9 years ago | (#14567056)

Maybe he just didn't have typing class as part of his curriculum ;)

Re:Athiest (2, Funny)

pryonic (938155) | about 9 years ago | (#14567090)

Lol, you're right their. I was a stupid typo. Thing is I get really annoyed when people make spelling mistake in stories. Talk about hypocracy!

Re:Athiest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567078)

The same idiots that spell Voila as "viola" and receive as "recieve". You know, l33t d00dz.

Proudly secular? (5, Informative)

Snamh Da Ean (916391) | about 9 years ago | (#14566987)

You mean that country in Europe where the head of state is also the head of the state's established church? And where you can't be head of state unless you're a member of the established church.

Re:Proudly secular? (2, Informative)

pryonic (938155) | about 9 years ago | (#14567067)

Yes I agree that Britain has very religious roots, and yes the Queen is the head of the Church of England. But there's no requirement for our Prime Minister to be Christian, or any of our MPs. I don't have to swear my allegiance to God at school every morning.

You're right about the Royal Family and religion, it all stems back a long way into our history. But the vast majority of modern Brits, religious or not, believe that the church has no right intefering in state affairs. Hence why we're one of the most secular states in Europe.

Ambiguity (4, Insightful)

tyler_larson (558763) | about 9 years ago | (#14566988)

Believing in evolution is something of a vague concept. If I believe in the concept of natural selection (which is readily observable), do I have to believe that life came from a chance encounter of amino acids in some primordial soup a gazillion years ago? How much am I agreeing to?

Re:Ambiguity (2, Informative)

jshine (321403) | about 9 years ago | (#14567122)

As I understand the terms, evolution usually only refers to the process by which one type of living thing changes into another type of living thing through natural selection. As for the origin of life (the chance encounter of amino acids or RNA nucleotides or whatever), that would not fall under the term "evolution."

This just begs the question... (1)

Caspian (99221) | about 9 years ago | (#14566991)

Is there any corner of the English-speaking world left for a liberal atheist/agnostic to turn to?

America is, well, America. Canada just took a turn rightwards. The UK is evidently just as much into Creationism as the US. Australia seems to have the same sort of draconian DRM as the US. South Africa... well, South Africa is mired in crime, so I wouldn't want to move there. Not sure about New Zealand...

Re:This just begs the question... (1)

Caspian (99221) | about 9 years ago | (#14567019)

Of course, there's always Nigeria. They speak English there, and I could rename myself Joseph Kumalo, or Ibenze Ubugu, and send emails to American "investors".............

Re:This just begs the question... (2, Funny)

FooGoo (98336) | about 9 years ago | (#14567058)

Try Cuba, the weather is nice, great cigars, and beautiful women. It really is a nice place...well...except for that one guy.

No it doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567118)

This just begs the question

No it doesn't beg the question, but it certainly raises it.

Re:This just begs the question... (1)

the-amazing-blob (917722) | about 9 years ago | (#14567152)

"There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not."

Why can't we just teach evolution as an idea based on scientific fact? Darwin knew those darn birds were similar, but slightly different to do different things. We've proven that their genes are close. We have no real evidence for evolution occuring (that everyone would accept), though. So why not just state the facts?

You're not the same as everyone else (2, Insightful)

elcheesmo (646907) | about 9 years ago | (#14566994)

You and your friends are well-educated Atheists, but I'm sure that most people aren't as educated, and even more aren't Atheists. You're less typical than you think.

Re:You're not the same as everyone else (1)

moorley (69393) | about 9 years ago | (#14567127)

Don't feel too bad. The author of the BBC article couldn't master Pennsylvania.

Maybe they ought to have a poll concerning dictionaries. Might tell us more about our culture and times.

For myself, I would be more interested in the reasons or motivations behind those that choose creationism/id. Is this just fear of the future?

Re:You're not the same as everyone else (1)

pryonic (938155) | about 9 years ago | (#14567145)

This was kind of my point. Looking back on my heading I almost sound like I'm on my high horse and speaking down to people, but this wasn't my intention at all.

As I said, I consider myself quite well educated, and I'm certainly an athiest as are the majority of people I socialise with, but I think reading this article was a good way to show me that not everyone is like me. I'm very proud of the secular qualities of the country I live in, I now just wonder if everyone else is.

But for the record, I can't think of a single person I know who actually goes to church. So maybe more people just say they are religious than actually are?

Evolution education (0, Flamebait)

cocoamix (560647) | about 9 years ago | (#14566999)

I see the state of evolution education in the UK seems to parallel their state of dental hygiene. :)

Re:Evolution education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567179)


Why do so many Americans associate vanity surgery with dental hygiene?

All Hail The... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567004)

What's even stranger they're one of the only first world countries that still believe that someone's bloodline can grant them some sort of economic, political and social status.

This just in... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | about 9 years ago | (#14567008)

British Parliament repeals Law of Gravitation; Britons now forced to float around on the breeze. Tony Blair is said to be "put off."

I'm unconvinced too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567015)

Personally, I see both the evolutionists and the IDers as overstating their respective positions. As far as I can tell, I haven't seen enough conclusive evidence on either side. For now, my official position is that I don't know what the origin of the species was.

Re:I'm unconvinced too (1)

MikeDataLink (536925) | about 9 years ago | (#14567165)

Now this is the sign of a truly intelligent person. Admit you don't know is step one. Step two is to try to find out.

I am in the same boat. I don't know for sure either, but I do know that there is compelling evidence on both sides and until someone can undeniably prove it either way I will keep my mind open.

Brit TEETH are sort of Neanderthal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567017)

Brit TEETH art sort of Neanderthal, so no evolution in that regard. Stems from all the royal in-breeding, I'm told, with a trickle-down effect.

It's typical to think one's typical (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 9 years ago | (#14567018)

I think we all like to assume that other people think and believe as we do, kind of a solipsistic "assume the best about them".

Or maybe that's just my own misconception about you all. {wry grin}

From what I hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567020)

Is it proudly athiest or proudly agnostic?

I thought only Americans were decisive enough to be social athiests.

Genius (4, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 9 years ago | (#14567023)

None of my close friends give any credit to creationism or ID, but we're all well educated athiests so I guess that's to be expected.

Wow. Fantastic deduction.

Species Evolve (5, Insightful)

krgallagher (743575) | about 9 years ago | (#14567028)

I am always confused by the fact that everyone thinks the theory of evolution is a theory about the creation of life on earth. The theory of evolution can be summed up in two words; species evolve. Sure there is all that subtext about natural selection, but in essence, the theory is that species evolve.

I do not understand how anyone can deny the truth of this. We see it in action time and time again. There are species that were introduced to Hawaii in modern times that have since evolved into new species. I saw one of the best arguments for evolution here on /. as a sig. It said "If you do not believe in evolution, why are you worried about the bird flu?"

Re:Species Evolve (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 9 years ago | (#14567160)

I think the Intelligent Design/Creationism advocates have done a superb job obfuscating this. I don't know whether it's intentional conspiracy or unintentional ignorance.

I was arguing with a former coworker about how absurd it is to doubt evolution. I said, "If there isn't evolution, how do children inherit physical traits and diseases from their parents? How did cows get to be domesticated? How do people breed new variants of fruit flies or create new breeds of dogs by selective breeding?" His response was that those things aren't evolution. (!) Somehow he thought that natural selection, genetic drift, and the combination of DNA from two parents in sexual reproduction was totally unrelated to the theory of evolution. In his mind, that was totally separate from the idea that humans evolved from predecessor species.

I wonder how many opponents of teaching evolution theory would switch sides if they actually knew the correct definition.

Unproven Theories (-1, Troll)

Aielman (735065) | about 9 years ago | (#14567030)

Schools shouldn't teach one way or another as fact, as they are all unproven theories. There is scientific evidence supporting one way or another, depending on how you interpret it, and there should, perhaps, be a lecture or elective class on that. I think the main controversy today is that many schools have been passing evolution off as a fact, rather than encouraging further thought and interpretation.

None of science is fact (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about 9 years ago | (#14567120)

If evolution should be taught with a disclaimer .. that cavet should be stated at every science class .. from chemistry to physics.

Everything in science is a theory: The sun rose today, yesterday, and the day before, so it's likely it will rise again tomorrow.

While I agree in principle, I think that a general understanding of the process of science and an explanation of the basis of how the theory came about is enough to reinforce that evolution is not "fact". Only a fool would think it's factual then (in which case we might win some of the ID "theorists" :) ).

Re:Unproven Theories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567132)

That's just bull. Creationism isn't a theory. It's a religious belief. Faith isn't theory.

And evolution is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory. We may not have it completely nailed down, but there is no doubt about it.

Hmm... (1)

incom (570967) | about 9 years ago | (#14567032)

I wonder which demographics voted which? For instance, did the elderly vote heavily for the religious standpoints? What did the vast numbers of muslim immigrants vote? The poor vs. the rich(hence educated)? Was this a telephone poll, as certain demographics are pretty much switched over to cell lines this could make a difference. It's important to know which demographics need further educating.

"believe" ? (1)

artg (24127) | about 9 years ago | (#14567034)

No-one who understands evolution is going to 'believe' in it.
If they accept it as a theory, then they could only be said to 'agree' with it.

This story probably means that 40% of britons don't have the foggiest idea what science is and think evolution is a faith-system. Of course, it's really based on proven facts, not the interpretation of evidence, isn't it ?

Let it die (1)

Locarius (798304) | about 9 years ago | (#14567039)

Can this topic not just go away?

I mean seriously... do we all need to stroke our egos and remind everyone else how smart we are?


Regardless of how much evidence there is for something, someone else will be stubborn and ignore it.

Cool tech story (1, Offtopic)

jav1231 (539129) | about 9 years ago | (#14567041)

This should spark some great debate on technology.

Staggering (1)

ctid (449118) | about 9 years ago | (#14567044)

I am British and I am totally shocked by this. I always associated this sort of thing with the US and other deeply religious countries. Overt religious observance is rather unusual among Christians in the UK. I am just astounded and appalled by this report.

Issues with the British Community (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567047)

There are massive problems with the creationist/intelligent design ideas within the UK. And depending on how the statistics are gathered will very easily be skewed. For example There are large jewish and muslim communities within the UK that have separate schools. Those schools more than often teach these alternative/mainstream ideas. There has been several fairly high profile documentaries that cover these exact topics on several different channels. Personally I know only muslim people that believe in creationism everyone else I know believe in evolution.

So wait... what? (1)

TheNoxx (412624) | about 9 years ago | (#14567052)

I'm horribly confused now. Brits are more into ignorance than us Americans...? When did this happen? Oh, wait, they must assume it's *fashionable* to be idiotic, what with Paris Hilton and the other celebrity abominations against evolution.

And Canada just elected a conservative prime minister? Australia's turning against consumer rights? Where the fuck am I supposed to live?

That's it! I can't take anymore. I'm going to buy an island somewhere in a delightful climate not too far from Japan and name it "Slashdotte-upon-GoodReasonne". You are all invited.

Brits? (1)

Hebb (949649) | about 9 years ago | (#14567150)

Last time I checked, Jolly Old had its own boonies and country-folk. The farther you get away from civilization the more you find loonies running around making up Gods from the Machine. I am not shocked that someone can take the MAJORITY of Americans (living outside of the major cities) and show them to stupid - nor do I believe that the Brits are impervious to idiots in the hills.

Stupidity does not stop at international borders (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 9 years ago | (#14567053)

What more is there to say. The US may have a groundswell of fundamentalist nitwits, but ignorance and stupidity are human traits no matter where you live on Earth. People believe weird shit wherever they live and their own lack of critical facilities means they'll cling tenaciously to bizarre notions no matter how much evidence you fling at them that says otherwise.

I'd like to see the questions they asked (5, Insightful)

arevos (659374) | about 9 years ago | (#14567057)

I'd like to see the questions they asked for the survey. It's all too easy to get the results you want with carefully worded questions. I can't think of anyone I know who believes in such nonsense, so I'm taking this with significantly large grain of salt.

Say what? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 years ago | (#14567064)

we're all well educated athiests

That's your credential. To others it's a bone of contention. You might like to keep your bias in check. Just because you are atheistic doesn't mean you are well educated or vice-versa, if you get my drift. Consider people have the right to their belief, challenging them based upon education isn't very fair, because education has standards (of all sorts.)

ID != Christian creationism (-1, Troll)

MikeRT (947531) | about 9 years ago | (#14567069)

If taught correctly, creationism does not necessarily imply one religion. It implies intelligent design meaning God, gods or advanced aliens. And why shouldn't it be taught? If evolution is scientifically sound, can't you present sufficient evidence in the classroom to prove it? Or are you worried that *gasp* some people might prefer to continue to adhere to their faith? Growing up in America, I could never decide who had a greater missionary zeal: the Southern Baptists or the evolutionists, most of whom were not even fit to be called amateur biologists.

Re:ID != Christian creationism (5, Insightful)

cyclop (780354) | about 9 years ago | (#14567137)

If evolution is scientifically sound, can't you present sufficient evidence in the classroom to prove it?

Yes. Any molecular biology textbook is full of factual proofs of evolution.

"No one I know voted for him!" (2, Insightful)

Reverend Darkness (826202) | about 9 years ago | (#14567080)

None of my close friends give any credit to creationism or ID...

... the famous defense of a short-sighted individual.

C'mon... no matter what the arguement, when are people going to realize that there are a few million other people out there that may have a differing opinion than their own little group of friends?

I myself am a Pagan, and I believe in Intelligent Design and evolution. My beliefs are different that 95% (est.) of the rest of the U.S., but I at least give a little credence to the opinions of others...

There goes that theory. (1, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | about 9 years ago | (#14567081)

There goes the theory that the U.S. has a monopoly of idiots.

Well educated... (1)

theJamAbides (947551) | about 9 years ago | (#14567092)

"but we're all well educated athiests".

As opposed to the dumb creationists?

I'm tired of atheists thinking they have the upper hand on us faithful believers.

Maybe it's God's intention to test our faith after we've been 'educated' by the world.

Really, your education could be just as wrong as our education could be.

Well educated? (1)

SoTuA (683507) | about 9 years ago | (#14567094)

but we're all well educated athiests

Well educated indeed.

Well educated means you must be an atheist? (0, Flamebait)

kuwan (443684) | about 9 years ago | (#14567097)

we're all well educated athiests

So the obvious implication is that if you're "well educated" then you cannot believe in God and must be an atheist. I think many "well educated" people would disagree.

BTW, does being "well educated" include misspelling atheist?

Hate Speech dressed up as an Article (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567099)

"None of my close friends give any credit to creationism or ID, but we're all well educated athiests so I guess that's to be expected."

Wow, never thought I'd see a comment like that get posted in an article summarry on the front page. Thank you, Slashdot, for giving me a dose of religious bashing with my morning cup of coffee.

To the article submitter:
Funny how your "education" doesn't allow you to see the irony in your own viewpoint, let alone your mis-conceptions.

1. Education has nothing to do with faith. There are plenty of educated people (more so than you) who believe in God, and plenty who don't.
2. No amount of education will allow you to disprove (or prove) the existence of God or creationism. Saying your education allows this is blatantly wrong.
3. Creationism and ID are not the same thing.

Creationists believe in evolution... (1)

Anonymous Rockstar (624854) | about 9 years ago | (#14567101)

Creationists believe in evolution, but they just believe in micro evolution. This part of Science has been observed. They don't believe in macro, cosmic, and other base parts of evolution. Most science professors and teachers teach micro and then lump all the other kinds of evolution into it.

I call major bullshit (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567117)

As an Englishman in my late 30s I call utter bullshit on this article. These are the fanciful lies of someone with an agenda. I don't know where they pretend to have got their research from, but it's patently untrue. I never met a single person over here who even heard of "intelligent design" (a USA manufactured nonsense) and seriously nobody believes in creationism, even really old people. A more interesting question for me is, why would someone make up such an obvious pack of lies and for what reason?

Have we evolved into believing in an almighty God? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | about 9 years ago | (#14567119)

That was a sample from 0.0033% of the population [cia.gov] of the UK.

I was wondering if the numbers would differ if the survey could evolve into one that samples a larger number of people?

Of course, I do understand that getting people to respond to surveys is so hard that you almost need Divine Intervention.

There's something wrong here (4, Informative)

goodEvans (112958) | about 9 years ago | (#14567126)

I really have difficulty in beleiving this. Even here in god-fearing catholic Ireland, everyone I know thinks that creationism is bunk. The only thing I can think of is that they stood in the middle of the street and shouted, "Anyone like to give their views on Creationism and Intelligent Design?" That way they would only have got the religious nuts who espouse this pre-enlightenment throwback. Even the Vatican says that Intelligent Design is not science [com.com] .

Since When? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567129)

Since when is England any different than most other countries? The Prime Minister's wife is one of the biggest pseudoscience, psychic friends nutsos out there. The country is obsessed with talking psychically with Princess Diana. Homeopathy is just as popular in Englang as everywhere else even after being disproved so many times. I think maybe you just need to come off you high horse and stop believing that England is any safer from ignorance than anywhere else.

Food for thought... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567136)

At the risk of offending the "highly intelligent and well educated athiests" out there...

I would say that it is unfair to lump faith into the "ignorant" category. Sure, intelligent design is a lame concept, but if any of you have taken Philosophy 101, you can't argue with the leap of faith. Sooner or later you have to believe in something--whether it's your own conclusions or a supreme being.

Unfortunately, the loudest of the Christians are the most ignorant so please don't assume that they are all Pat Robertsons. I'm not trying to convert anyone into believing in Creation or arguing that it should be taught as "science"--I'm just asking for some respect for the millions of Christians who don't force their belief system on you.

Save the bashing for the Scientologists :-)


ID shouldn't be taught in science class because... (1)

EngrBohn (5364) | about 9 years ago | (#14567139)

ID isn't science. Personally, I have no problem with it being taught in a philosophy class, though apparently others do [chron.com] when it's a philosophy class in a government-funded high school.

Does it really matter? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 years ago | (#14567140)

I agree with the theory of evolution myself , but does it really
matter if most of the , shall we say, none too bright members of
society don't? Some of them can't even read or write any better
than a pre-teen (no I'm not exaggerating). Do we really expect or
care whether these morons understand evolution, quantum physics
or even how to boil an egg? I know I sound like a terrible
intellectual snob but the vast majority of a population of any
country simply makes up the numbers , they contribute nothing to
the scientific or cultural advancement of the country or humanity
in general and simply follow what everyone else does. Frankly they're
opinions on anything are pretty much irrelevant as they can easily
be swayed one way or another anyway. Witness the lowest common
denominator approach of most political campaigns.

It's not about IF you talk ID in school but WHEN. (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 9 years ago | (#14567156)

I don't mind ID/Creationism taught in schools. What is important is that it isn't taught in science . Evolution is science, and it's the best scientific theory we've got. It's by no means perfect or undisputed, but no other scientific theory really comes close.

ID/Creationism are not scientific theories, and so have no place in a science class. In a philosophy or religion class for example, I think these subjects can be openly discussed.

The main issue with this type of question is that people simply don't know what science is. That is not so scary when we are talking about J. Average in the poll, but quite scary when you realize that the people who decide what is to be taught in science class don't have a basic understanding of what science is.

If someone explained to these people what science is, and what qualifies as science, then perhaps a compromise could be reached if ID/Creationism would still taught in another class? The public however I can't really see comprehending the difference between science and non-science anytime soon. The reason of course being that science class obviously doesn't teach that.

I am a Christian (1)

codefool (189025) | about 9 years ago | (#14567159)

Fundamental belief that God created the universe does not preclude or invalidate the fact of evolution, or vice versa. The fossil record is irrefutable - species evolve from one state to another.

One is a statement of faith, the other is a statement of fact. Facts should be taught in the public schools. Faith should be taught in the home. The very idea that students should be confounded by faith-based ideas while trying to understand the complexities of the universe is a stunning [jargon.net] concept. Parents desiring that their children be taught faith-based ideas along-side facts should put their children in private faith-based schools. I see this as just another cop-out by those folks who want the government to raise their children for them.

Chuck Norris (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#14567173)

There is no theory of evolution -- only a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

Mixing science with religion (2, Interesting)

vandenh (224583) | about 9 years ago | (#14567178)

I have no problem with people believing in ID but I do have a problem with representing this as science in school. What is wrong with teaching pure Darwninian evolution? The people who are religious will have no problem combining pure evolution with the existence of god. Why do people insist on trying to teach religion and science mixed? Both can live together IMHO and religious people should understand that the teaching of pure science in no way threatens their religious beliefs. The fact that some *are* threatened is a whole different topic... those people want to force religion on other people.
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