July 10, 2009
– Comments (36)
Survey Shows Gap Between Scientists and the Public
By CORNELIA DEANPublished: July 9, 2009
When it comes to climate change, the teaching of evolution and the state of the nation’s research enterprise, there is a large gap between what scientists think and the views of ordinary Americans, a new survey has found.On the whole, scientists believe American research leads the world. But only 17 percent of the public agrees, and the proportion who name scientific advances as among the United States’ most important achievements has fallen to 27 percent from nearly 50 percent in 1999, the survey found.And while almost all of the scientists surveyed accept that human beings evolved by natural processes and that human activity, chiefly the burning of fossil fuels, is causing global warming, general public is far less sure.Almost a third of ordinary Americans say human beings have existed in their current form since the beginning of time, a view held by only 2 percent of the scientists. Only about half of the public agrees that people are behind climate change, and 11 percent does not believe there is any warming at all.According to the survey, about a third of Americans think there is lively scientific debate on both topics; in fact, there is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution and there is little doubt that human activity is altering the chemistry of the atmosphere in ways that threaten global climate.
It found that at least two-thirds of Americans hold scientists and engineers in high regard, but the feeling is hardly mutual.
It all comes back to the Bible. "The great book" that teaches you to be dumb to all facts because it is a sin to think and that the world is here for you to use as you please with no thought or respect for anything else that lives on it.
For me personally the holes in evolutionary theory make it hard to believe. That is probably not the problem that most Americans have with it, but I'm glad to hear that everyone has not moved over to the evolution belief system.
Science is a religion when it comes to evolution. It's all about belief, not proof. There is no proof now and there isn't any plan to prove it in the future. The answer is permanently buried in the past. The scientific evidence available doesn't speak to the issue of whether God intervened and created man or if he didn't. Science (the religion) says he didn't. Other religions say he did. So you're left with something that will permanently rely on belief rather than proof. That's pretty much the definition of religion. Could we even go so far as to call it a scientific fact?
Besides, from a pure scientific standpoint, you can't "threaten" the global climate. Change, even radical change, can't be "good" or "bad" in a purely scientific sense. If the earth heats up 20 degrees, science can tell us that many people would die. But science can't tell us that's bad. So you need some sort of non-science "religion" to tell us that's bad. In a purely scientific sense, it is fine if all life dies out and the universe shrinks to a single point. It just doesn't matter one way or the other because in pure science there can be no good and evil. Those concepts have to come from outside of science. That's a scientific fact.
Then you factor in the idea of economics into science. Would science benefit more from proving global warming exists or proving that the idea is total BS and nothing to worry about? "Oh, so you proved the idea is total BS, so we plan to increase your funding so you can study it further and make sure." Oh, but scientists wouldn't be swayed by funding of course. Hmmm. That might not be quite as scientific as some of the previous things I've mentioned. As a matter of fact, I can scientifically call it a lie. Exiting the realm of science, I'd call it a damn lie.
I'll take whatever the scientific community says with a 1 mg crystal of sodium chloride.
It is up to scientists as well to take opportunities to speak to the public (much like Carl Sagan did), as well as just interact with their neighbors, friends etc.
Evolution can be seen anytime you grow bacteria in a petri dish and select for resistance using an antibiotic. You can do this experiment at home, order the ****-ing reagents online, if you want. Its pretty easy to do.
If you think evolution is a bad theory, tell your doctors that you don't believe in antibiotics and won't use them in the future, please.
Evolution as a theory is not about saying Christianity is a crock, etc. Its meant to be a useful, practical theory that can make scientific predictions. Among these predictions that evolution makes is that selective pressures (like antibiotics) will lead to complex adaptations over time.
You can trace the history of species evolution quite well now with the ability to sequence chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA. We can see the paths that mankind spread across the world, we can see the relationships between species (regardless of whether they are human, bacteria, monkeys, cats, dogs, wolves, etc). You can build large genomic trees.
Notice I say *you*. Much of this DNA information is available only, Jstegma. If you take the time to educate yourself, you YOURSELF - could start making YOUR OWN biological trees and start tracing out evolution.
If you don't believe the data, YOU can collect your own. Science is great like that, you just have to learn some basic skills, read some papers and follow their methods to reproduce their results (if it is good science).
Seriously, if I was a professor of biology, and a student walked in and said that "They don't believe in evolution", I would give them the same speil. In this day and age, where it is easy to have access to information and do you own research - it is quite sad as a researcher to still hear people (mostly in the US) say that "I just don't believe in evolution" or "Evolution is a scientific religion". Evolution is a theory that makes predictions.
Christianity's story of Adam and Eve is just a story. It won't make any **** predictions about what happens when you give bacterial an antibiotic that provides selective pressures. It won't provide an explanation of why we have shared DNA sequences among species that differ with geographic distances and migration patterns. It won't provide an explation of why humans and apes have highly similar DNA, but humans and corn don't.
In .... Much of this DNA information is available only..
Much of this DNA information is available online..
RonChapmanJr (99.81) wrote: For me personally the holes in evolutionary theory make it hard to believe
What holes? As rofgile points out, we can verify the existence of evolution in other species over several generations. That is a fact.
I don't know why people have such trouble believing that we descended from monkeys. Monkeys are actually pretty smart. And what is more, they are free of prejudices.
A very interesting article on the subject I read in the NYT earlier this week:
Micro evolution is a fact. Macro evolution is not. BIG difference there.
Micro evolution / macro evolution? WTF.
You either can have small genetic changes that provide selective advantage, or you can't.
If you can- then this small occurence can occur many times, sequentially resulting in new functions at the smallest level (individual proteins) to better functioning single cells to better functioning multicellular organisms.
If you don't think genetic changes that provide selective advantage can occur, you had better think of a new theory that can explain the processes of antibiotic resistance developing in bacteria, that can explain the formation of human cancer cells, that can explain why the sickle cell anemia phenotype is more prevalent in african countries (where it provides a beneficial effect against malaria) but this sickle cell anemia is less common among europeans.
Micro vs Macro is an arbitrary distinction.
I am not sure what you don't understand, rof.
Micro evolution - bacteria develop resistance to medicines.
Macro evolution - bacteria turning into anything other than bacteria.
Please point me toward the experiment that shows bacteria evolving into something other than bacteria. I may have just missed it.
Blake303 - This article does present some of the holes I believe evolutionary theory has. Sorry if it is not scientific enough for you.
Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. It unites all the fields of biology under one theoretical umbrella. It is not a difficult concept, but very few people -- the majority of biologists included -- have a satisfactory grasp of it. One common mistake is believing that species can be arranged on an evolutionary ladder from bacteria through "lower" animals, to "higher" animals and, finally, up to man. Mistakes permeate popular science expositions of evolutionary biology. Mistakes even filter into biology journals and texts. For example, Lodish, et. al., in their cell biology text, proclaim, "It was Charles Darwin's great insight that organisms are all related in a great chain of being..." In fact, the idea of a great chain of being, which traces to Linnaeus, was overturned by Darwin's idea of common descent.
For the rest of the information - a good read
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately (I would say) - you can't put a mouse (or monkey) under a UV lamp or feed them uranium and create a mutant species like some 50's scifi movie.
The progression of multicellular species to diverge into new species is a slow process. If you want to find support for these changes (which are predicted by theory of evolution, just like your "micro" evolution in petri dishes) - read about species that live on islands that are geographically distant from other species - and how the species on the islands have diverged in interesting ways from the mainlands. This is a more complex topic that I can't defend in a blog reply, but if you are so inclined you could educate yourself with your own research. Read about the galapagos islands for example. You could read about fossils we've unearthed in europe that show the changes in human bones. You could read about the rise of agriculture - its hard to compare modern species of wheat to what mankind had found around it in the wild. Similar for most animals that have been around mankind like cows, which have been domesticated. These processes took time - but if you looked at what we started with 40000 years ago and what we have now, these are pretty good examples of the selection process. Evolution as a theory is interesting in that way, as so many aspects of human living tell stories which are well explained by the theory.
Again, Adam and Eve is a terrible explanation for agricultural domestication or geographical differences in species, etc. This is not about Christianity vs. Evolution, my only point is that Evolution is a theory that makes predictions which are testable, while Christianity does not make predictions about these aspects of reality (its a religion, not a theory).
RonChapmanJr, if you want to disbelieve something or not learn about information that is available, that is sadly, your loss. Nothing I can say or do would help you. Good luck, I hope you get more curious about these things and have fun reading about them.
RonChapmanJr - Please point me toward the experiment that shows bacteria evolving into something other than bacteria. I may have just missed it.
Here you go, Ron. I apologize in advance for the scientific content. I would also suggest reading up on prokaryotes and eukaryotes. I'm pretty sure they are not mentioned in Genesis, so you may need to pick up a more reliable book.
One early and important discovery in support of the SET occurred in the laboratory of Kwang W. Jeon, a biologist at the University of Tennessee. Jeon witnessed the establishment of an amoeba-bacteria symbiosis in which new bacterial symbionts became integrated in the host amoeba (Jeon 1991). In 1966, when the bacteria first infected the amoebas, they were lethal to their hosts. However, as time progressed, some of the infected amoebas survived and became dependent on their newly acquired endosymbionts within a few years. Jeon was able to prove this dependency by performing nuclei transplants between infected amoebas and amoebas lacking the bacteria. If left alone, the hybrid amoebas died in a matter of days. Yet if he reinfected these hybrids with the once-lethal bacteria, the amoebas recovered and once again began to grow (Margulis and Sagan 1987). This discovery served to demonstrate that endosymbiosis could provide a major mechanism for cellular evolution and explain the introduction of new species (Jeon 1991).
UKIAHED makes a good point:
No currently existing species is an end-point.
It is a mistake to think, for example, that mankind is some pinnacle of evolution that every led up to.
Nope. We are just one of billions of species that are all continually under the selective pressures of the environment.
Check back on the world in the year 200,000 AD. No species will look the same (assuming we still have species and the world is still containing life).
Ugh. I hate it when people think I have not read the information they are presenting or do not understand it. I already know the information you are presenting. I was a psych major at Harvard which meant that I had to take alot of biology classes. I have read extensively about the theory and still find holes in it.
Given how fast bacteria reproduce and how simple (relatively speaking) their DNA is, I personally don't think it is crazy to want to see an example of macro evolution coming out of them. Again, please point it out if you know of an example. Otherwise, micro evolution is as far as I will believe.
harvard is a funny place ...
Rof said - "Check back on the world in the year 200,000 AD. No species will look the same"
Wouldn't fossil records and current day examples of Coelacanth argue against this point?
you can't put a mouse (or monkey) under a UV lamp or feed them uranium and create a mutant species like some 50's scifi movie.
Yeah - but you know a small part of you wants to ;). Think of the reality show - the posiblities are...endless :)
I gave you an example, Ron. You can choose to ignore it in lieu of your ridiculous conspiracy theorist websites, but do not pretend that the evidence was not provided to you.
I do agree with your point about the Coelacanth though.
I have read extensively about the theory and still find holes in it.
That's funny. I went to catholic shool (8 years). I've read the bible front to back (multiple times). I still find holes in it as well.
The world must be full of holes - now if I could only find my shovel...
1. That is your example of bacteria evolving into something other than bacteria? Does that mean that symbiosis is the mechanism through which all macro evolution takes place? I assume you aren't saying that which makes that study weak in my opinion.
2. Go be condescending to someone else. You aren't smart enough to do that well, so feel free to stop. I have in fact read many books other than the Bible, it just happens to be my favorite. :)
UKIAHED - What holes have you found in the Bible? I am sure there are alot of people that would be willing to examine them with you if you were truly interested.
Port - I'm not sure "funny" is an accurate word to describe Harvard. I usually go with "interesting" when people ask me about my time there.
I think what we are missing here is that while Adam and Eve might just be a "story", so is evolution of human beings from monkeys in the ancient past. They are both stories that someone told you. They might be true and they might not. But the point is that you don't really KNOW. You just believe. Hence, religion.
Let's look at an idealistic science experiment and see if it solves our problem.
1. I purchase some bacteria and stick 'em in a pitri dish.
2. After a while I start to nice a few trees growing in the dish, along with a few lions and tigers and maybe a monkey or two.
3. The next day I am startled to find several humans living in the dish having evolved from bacteria.
Hmmm...looks like Adam and Eve was BS, huh?
Not so fast. So now we agree that humans CAN evolve from bacteria. But that doesn't prove what happened back in the day.
The Bible says God created Adam and Eve, and that's what I believe. I guess God could have rambled on with a bit of fine print that although humans can evolve from bacteria, He chose to create them otherwise, but He just didn't.
Now did I say I specifically disbelieve evolution? Nope. But I don't take it as scientifically proven either. It's just something you either believe or you don't. You can study up on all the science you want, and you'll still be stuck with belief.
So I haven't studied up on enough science to make an intelligent conclusion about whether to believe in evolution or not? Okay, so have you gone and spend years studying the Bible and the ancient texts and whatnot? Probably not. But that doesn't mean you can't draw your own conclusion about the Adam and Eve story. It's about belief, not knowledge.
If anyone tells you they KNOW Adam and Eve is true or if anyone tells you the KNOW that humans evolved from monkeys, you KNOW they are full of it. Otherwise it's just a belief. Faith is involved.
#1. Yes, that is the first step. You cannot have "macro evolution" without that step because as far as I know, multicellular organisms are comprised of solely of eukaryotes. Better check with the Harvard Biology Department to be sure.
#2. Oh no! Did one of the more condescending CAPS members not like a taste of his own medicine? Don't dish it out if you can't take it. You may not be as good at it as you have led yourself to believe.
As much as I love neverending arguments with the stubborn, I'm off to conduct my own research on the consequences of happy hour drinks on brain cells. Have a good weekend.
What holes have you found in the Bible? I am sure there are alot of people that would be willing to examine them with you if you were truly interested.
No thanks - 8 years (of people "helping me") was enough. If the book cannot stand by itself - well, I suspect that you know where I am going with that...
I'm happy with the path that I am on - as I hope you are.
UKIAHED - How old were you when you finished Catholic school? Perhaps the Bible was full of holes because you weren't old enough to understand it. Even with people helping you I would imagine that fully understanding the Bible as a child/teenager would be difficult, if not impossible.
I am happy with my path, thanks.
Porte: sorry for diverging your blog.
The conversation kinda goes with your post though, about diverging between scientists/engineers and general public on issues/converstaions...
Wish you the best,
a guide to my blog posts can be found in the comment section to this post
(should be or should be close to the last comment)