Evolution, Big Bang Polls Omitted From NSF Report
by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee on April 8, 2010 4:16 PM
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.
The board member who took the lead in removing the text was John Bruer, a philosopher who heads the St. Louis, Missouri-based James S. McDonnell Foundation. He told Science that his reservations about the two survey questions dated back to 2007, when he was the lead reviewer for the same chapter in the 2008 Indicators. He calls the survey questions "very blunt instruments not designed to capture public understanding" of the two topics.
"I think that is a nonsensical response" that reflects "the religious right's point of view," says Jon Miller, a science literacy researcher at Michigan State University in East Lansing who authored the survey 3 decades ago and conducted it for NSF until 2001. "Evolution and the big bang are not a matter of opinion. If a person says that the earth really is at the center of the universe, even if scientists think it is not, how in the world would you call that person scientifically literate? Part of being literate is to both understand and accept scientific constructs."
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."
Lanzerotti told Science that even though the board had been aware of concerns about the two questions since before the 2008 survey was conducted, officials had not had a chance to alter the questions because the volume of work that goes into producing the Indicators is "vast," unlike "writing a 2000-word news article." However, both Lanzerotti and Lynda Carlson, director of NSF's statistical office that manages the survey and produces Indicators, say that it is time to take a fresh look at the survey. Last week, less than 48 hours after his interview with Science, Lanzerotti asked the head of NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate to conduct a "thorough examination" of the questions through "workshops with experts."
Miller, the scientific literacy researcher, believes that 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."
[ Source ]
Congratulations, America! It appears that the vast majority of you are so fucking stupid and ignorant that the intelligent minority of us are now having to cover up for you. Hiding the responses to those questions strikes me as not at all unlike an upper middle-class family hiding their retarded alcoholic uncle in the basement. The only problem with that analogy is that, in reality, the retarded fucking morons of this country represent the majority (and greatly so). So maybe a more apt analogy would be to describe it as the one socially normal girl in a family of retards having to lock her parents and siblings down in the cellar when her date arrives, otherwise she'll never get a man!
Yes, America, well over HALF of you are the retarded family members that the rest of us have to hide and be ashamed of. The fucking National Science Foundation is so HUMILIATED by your very being that they're trying desperately to sweep your stupid asses under the rug and smile sheepishly when the rest of the world looks at them wondering what the fuck their problem is.
I must say, I particularly LOVE the bullshit excuse they gave. Most especially the way they worded it.
...the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.
I sincerely hope you dumbshits didn't miss out of the obviousness of what was just stated. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? Of course you missed it, YOU'RE STUPID! Let me draw you a picture like I always do:
Notice how YOU (the majority of the American people) exist in your own little box completely seperate from reality? Yeah... that's pretty accurate.
More than HALF of Americans do not "believe" we evolved from other animals. Well, guess what, this isn't a rant about evolution, it's a rant about how fucking stupid you are and ya know what isn't going to help that? If I explain evolution to you. So let me just put it in more simplistic terms that you can MAYBE grasp onto with your chubby little greasy hands: Evolution = FACT. It's reality. It's not a "guess" and it's not somebody silly notion and it's not some communist plot to destroy God. There is as much evidence for the theory of evolution as there is for fucking GRAVITY, you moron (actually MORE evidence).
"lol then why's it just a THEORY, Galen?!"
I don't know, why is the "Theory of Gravitation" just a theory? Or the "Germ Theory" of disease? Why don't you go swim in an AIDS-infested pool of shit and then jump off a building since those things are "just a theory?" You see, stupid little scientifically illiterate average American, this is one of those areas in which your STUNNING IGNORANCE shines like a bright little beacon. The common usage of the word "theory" is not the goddamn same as the scientific usage of the word "theory!" PROTIP: "theory" does not mean "lol we guessed." It means "we're pretty fucking sure about this one, dude, and if you think we're wrong, you better have some serious shit backing you up."
Only one-third of Americans "believe in" the Big Bang. Well, ok, I mean I could sort of understand this one. I mean, evolution is one thing, but the Big Bang? I mean, really, it's not like we can just observe the universe around us and see that everything's flying away from everything else. And it's not like we could see that shit right there with our own fucking eyes and calculate that it all started at the same point roughly 14 billions years ago. I mean, it's not like science is advanced enough to actually LOOK AT WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR FUCKING FACES, right? Shit, that's just stupid! It would be like seeing an explosion and then just ASSUMING that that means something must've exploded! How arrogant of those scientists!
But, of course, none of these silly little things like EVIDENCE and REASON mean anything to you. No, Kirk Cameron says God created the world and he wouldn't fucking lie to you. Of course he wouldn't! And just because the odds are high that he's part of the vast majority of IGNORANT Americans, well that surely doesn't mean that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about, right? I'm sure Kirk Cameron has a wonderful understanding of biology and cosmology, with which he has used to examine all of the available evidence. Just as I'm sure you have too.
HA! Ok, I have to stop the sarcasm now, it's killing me. You're fucking idiots, you don't know what in the hell you're talking about because you've never BOTHERED to LEARN! Why would you? Preacher man says "God said let there be light!" and why question that? God said it, it must be true!
I'm glad to see the National Science Foundation finally being as fucking embarrassed by all of you jackasses as I am. I'll leave you with this quote from one of my personal heroes, Professor Neil DeGrasse Tyson:
The world looks very different when you're scientifically literate.
Ain't that the truth....