Aaaargh!! New Gallup Poll on Creationism

At the website of the Gallup Organization they’ve posted about the results of a new poll. Their article is titled: Four in 10 Americans Believe in Strict Creationism. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.

Well, let’s look on the bright side. Although the situation is horrible, they say it used to be even worse. We posted on earlier polls a couple of years ago: Opinion Polls on Evolution and Creationism. Actually, this next excerpt from today’s article indicates that the situation is considerably better than before:

A small minority of Americans hold the “secular evolution” view that humans evolved with no influence from God — but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today. At the same time, the 40% of Americans who hold the “creationist” view that God created humans as is 10,000 years ago is the lowest in Gallup’s history of asking this question, and down from a high point of 47% in 1993 and 1999. There has been little change over the years in the percentage holding the “theistic evolution” view that humans evolved under God’s guidance.

They also break the responses down by education, concluding:

Americans’ views on human origins vary significantly by level of education and religiosity. Those who are less well educated are more likely to hold a creationist view. Those with college degrees and postgraduate education are more likely to hold one of the two viewpoints involving evolution.

They have a table for that data which we can’t easily reproduce here. Ah, they also break it down by political party. The hard-core creationists are 52% Republican, and 34% Democrat. Embarrassing for both parties.

There’s a lot more information in the article. Click over there and read it. You know that the next crop of political candidates and their advisers are already aware this information. Well, they’ve always known that most voters are idiots, so nothing much is likely to change.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Aaaargh!! New Gallup Poll on Creationism

  1. HOLY [MOLY]! Did I see that right? 22% of POST-Graduates are creationists? What the hell did they get their post-graduate degree in? Idiocy?

  2. I looked at the question. I would have answered, “None of the above,” but that’s just me.

    Look, it bothers me, but on the other hand, so does the fact that (purely anecdotal) a large percentage of the people I know think that if you put your PIN in backwards at the ATM, the police will be immediately notified. One person, when given the facts, said, “Well, I didn’t think it was true, but I’d do it anyway if I were afraid of being robbed….just in case.” He’s a college graduate.

  3. “Those who are less well educated are more likely to hold a creationist view.”

    Well no surprise there.

    You know, there’s lots of intelligent or even average people who don’t give things like evolution much if any thought at all, because it has no impact on their real, day-to-day lives. If it is easier for them to “go along to get along” and they were raised religiously conservative they’ll say that they believe in creationism because that keeps them in good standing with their fellows and costs them nothing.

    If having a correct and well informed opinion about evolution were as important to everyday people as knowing how to balance a checkbook or how to fill out a tax return, you can bet that these poll results would be very different. But it isn’t important, so people just regurgitate what the people around them believe.

    Which shows the problem inherent in democracy: it really doesn’t matter what someone’s opinion on a subject is if the subject has no bearing on them. It only becomes a problem when you have ignorant people making important decisions based on misinformation. And in theory a democracy is supposed to work by having people make intelligent choices about public policy based on good information.

  4. If you exclude the “have the cake and eat it” theistic evolutionists, and extrapolate the stupid and not stupid lines onwards, it will be 2060 ish before there are more evolutionists than creationists in the US.

    2060!!!!!!

    Ah well.

    Still…it means you have a lifetime job ahead MrC, and a lifetime of belly laughs for me 😉

  5. Trends don’t go in straight lines, though. We could see a rapid acceleration in people moving into the “evolution is a fact” camp, especially with better education and more scientific advancements.

    Discovery of life on other planets, for instance, or discovery of “abiogenesis in the laboratory” would go a long way in convincing some people in the middle, as will continuing advances in biological sciences (genetic engineering, etc) that are all ultimately based on the fact of evolution. As we better understand how life actually works at the cellular and genetic level, there will be fewer places for the God of the Gaps to hide.

    It won’t convince the True Believers, of course, but they will see their numbers shrink over time. The only thing that could bring about a resurgence in their numbers would be total civilizational collapse which will mean we’ll have much bigger immediate problems to worry about than what people think about evolution.

  6. Its not exactly a Like For Like comparitor but this is what the picture is this side of the Great Divide:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2009/mar/02/belief-map-uk-creationism

    Bit of a difference eh?

    Lurker:

    NO amount of evidence ever will change that picture bro…its just a matter of evolution in education. We could discover intelligent silicon based life forms and the God Squad would flippity flop their way over the barrier.

    Faith heads actively ignore evidence….we over here in Darwinland term that Willfull Ignorance. Its a nasty cancer that the US is slowly excising through education and the actions of men like MrC who fight like pit bulls the ignorance and stupidity of Yee Buckle Hattes like AIG and the filthy legal leeches at the DI.

    The final bullet in the magazine is of course the increasing childishness and stupidity of the evangelical brigade and their happy clappy snake oil heresy. Their hate crimes and stupidity made dogma make more and more non believers every day. The same slow creep is happening in Iran with the younger generation there who are sick of being opressed and bullied by fundy theocratic loons.

    Its a slow process…..like evolution really 😉

  7. Welcome aboard, lurker.

  8. I have always hated that the same question covers “whodunit” (God or Nature) and “what happened when”. Nevertheless, what might make it slightly more encouraging, though still completely unacceptable, is that some of those who chose “God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago” think that the Earth is billions of years older. Some of them think that othe species have been around for billions of years too. And some of them think that humans share common ancestors with those other species, but read the question as referring to “souls,” not “cells.” Other polls, with different wording, suggest that those who believe the Earth itself is only 1000s of years old, and that evidence supports it (as oppose to those who will admit that no evidence will change their minds), is only on the order of 10%.

    Nevertheless, there’s massive public confusion, and I bet that half of that 40% is capable of changing their minds if science could ever compete with the cool, but misleading anti-evolution sound bites. My biggest concern, which at least one other poll shows, is that there’s an increasing tendency over the last few decades for people to answer “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

  9. Larian LeQuella: “What the hell did they get their post-graduate degree in? Idiocy?”

    A small consolation is that the % must be smaller for degrees in science, and smaller still for degrees in biology. What I can’t emphasise enough, and yet few people know, is that those biologists would have to most to gain if evidence actually supported some “kind” of creationist “theory.”

  10. What’s important in these polls is that the trend is moving in the right direction. Progress is being made. I’m a bit surprised by that, actually, given the prominence of creationists in the political debate in recent years.

  11. Ed: “Progress is being made.”

    It’s still near the margin of error. But even if the increase is significant, it’s no reason to celebrate. Most of these people have no clue what they’re accepting or why.

    As I wrote above, another poll from 2-3 years ago, which has an option of “unsure” shows that to be steadily increasing, accompanied by roughly equal decreases in those who choose the “creationism” and “evolution” answers. Given how much more evidence there is for evolution than just 2-3 decades ago, and how much more accessible that information is to nonscientists, I think there would be much more acceptance were it not for the efforts of the anti-evolution activists. The increase in “unsure” may well be a result of the ID scam. Such people are likely to vote that it’s “fair” to “teach the controversy” even if they find evolution more convincing than creationism. And that’s all the IDers need to keep the scam going.

  12. “NO amount of evidence ever will change that picture bro…its just a matter of evolution in education.”

    That was sort of my point, more or less. I wasn’t claiming that the True Believers would ever be convinced, but I do think their overall numbers, and their influence, will steadily wane. Time is not on their side. It all dovetails with other trends: decreasing religiousness; more people willing to label themselves non-religious, secular, or atheist; better access to information (oh how I would have loved to have access to the Internet when I was young), etc. Better science education would help speed things up, though. There are plenty of people in the middle who are open to the facts, but they aren’t being well served either by public school science education or by the mainstream news media which can’t seem to do anything more than “cover the controversey”.

  13. Lurker: “That was sort of my point, more or less. I wasn’t claiming that the True Believers would ever be convinced, but I do think their overall numbers, and their influence, will steadily wane.”

    I’m not as optimistic that the % of “True Believers” will wane. But from what I can tell from various data, only ~1/4 (IOW only ~1/2 of the “creationist” % in the Gallup poll) are “True Believers,” whereas ~1/2 reject evolution or are unsure (they say things like “I hear the jury’s still out”) and another ~1/4 accept evolution (usually a caricature of it) but think it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in science class.

    It’s that other ~1/2 that I think we eventually can, and must, win over. I all but ignore the “True Believers” except for the small % of them who are committed anti-evolution activists. And for them too, it’s not a matter of changing their mind (many appear to privately accept evolution anyway but are on a misssion to save the world), but to show their audience that they are perpetrating a scam.