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View Diary: Breaking: Americans Find Something Else Not To Effing Believe In. (299 comments)

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  •  That poll had poor questions (12+ / 0-)

    The question "how confident are you that the universe the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang"  calls for making two judgments.  The first relates to the big bang, whereas the second is regarding the timing.

    As a scientifically literate person, I can answer the first part "yes" with a lot of confidence.  As to the second part--less so:  is it 12 billion? 13.8?  14?  What's the range on those estimates?

    A better question would have been,"how confident are you that the universe the universe began with a big bang billions of years ago."

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:49:27 PM PDT

    •  Although there is quite a lot of data (7+ / 0-)

      pointing to the start date.

      "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

      by LaFeminista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 01:52:00 PM PDT

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      •  Yes but the question asked (7+ / 0-)

        how confident are you....?

        A lack of confidence could mean a lack of belief or a lack of knowledge.  I have a PhD in Biology.  I know that there is substantial evidence for a Big Bang and no reason to doubt that one happened.  I accept it.

        However I have to confess that if you had asked me the estimated date of the big bang I wouldn't have had any idea prior to reading this diary.  I'm sure I have been exposed to it several times but the exact number is relatively meaningless to me personally.  I would have been sure it was more than 10 billion and less than 20 billion but beyond that I wouldn't have had a clue  So I wouldn't have been very confident.

        In other words I agree with OKGL.  It was a bad question that conflated general knowledge of importance, specific knowledge of less importance, and acceptance.

        "To see both sides of a quarrel, is to judge without hate or alarm" - Richard Thompson

        by matching mole on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:26:05 PM PDT

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        •  The question may have been poorly worded (0+ / 0-)

          but the reply is consistent when science is involved at the moment.

          "I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity." Nadezhda Mandelstam

          by LaFeminista on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:29:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          While I am confident that the Big Bang is an acceptable theory for the origin of the universe, I am not sure whether the current estimate is 13.4 billion years or 13.7, etc.  I knew it to be in that range, but I would have difficulty stating how confident I was that the number was one or the other, rather than "around" 13.8.

          I suspect that the authors of the question were contrasting 13,800,000,000 with 6000- but to anyone with a literal or scientific mind, the question immediately raises questions of error bars, confidence limits and statistics.

          That said, I also suspect that the majority of those who felt unconfident of the statement did so because they believed th earth was only 6000 years old.

          As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

          by BPARTR on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:22:30 PM PDT

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        •  You gotta watch (0+ / 0-)

          more Big Bang Theory. :)

          The theme song says "Nearly 14 billion years ago...", so if you can sing along, you'll remember the number.

          I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

          by trumpeter on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:38:01 PM PDT

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    •  yeah (3+ / 0-)

      They're probably off by a little, so I'd guess that most of the answers that say they don't believe are probably due to that.  

      Hah.  

      I know you weren't really saying that.  I just thought it was funny to consider that there would be that many poll respondents who even had half an idea about the issue.  

      Streichholzschächtelchen

      by otto on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:32:20 PM PDT

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