Many people are familiar with surveys that claim that only a small percentage of Americans "believe" in Evolution. Surveys have come out in the past showing as that creationism is in the Majority.
This month the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology have an editorial around their a survey that gives a somewhat more optimistic view, and suggests that politicians claiming to support Creationism may have hitched their cart to the wrong Equus caballus
First they asked these two questions
Some people think that all living things have evolved over time. Others think all living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Which comes closest to your view?
Some people think that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Others think that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Which comes closest to your view?
The results are as follows :
Even at the most biased, less then half of the population believed in creationism. These numbers are still shockingly low compared to the rest of the world - some of you may remember the survey a few years back that ranked the United States 2nd last, beating only Turkey - but not as low as many people have claimed in the past.
As an interesting followup, then they asked the following three questions to gauge the respondants level of scientific literacy :
Please state true or false to the following statements
The continents or land masses on which we live have been moving for millions of years and will continue to move in the future - TRUE (79% answered correctly)
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria - FALSE (43% answered correctly)
The earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs - FALSE (53% answered correctly)
Here is the graph for the people who got 0 or 1 correct next to the graph for the people who got 3/3
As scientific literacy grows, belief in Creationism plummets. It's almost like there was some once-secret plan to destroy scientific literacy in the United States in order to promote creationist beliefs.
In closing, the FASEB editorial describes the solution :
There is a clear need for scientists to become involved in promoting science education. Challenges to teaching science undermine students’ understanding of the scientific method, how scientific consensus develops, and the distinction between scientific and non-scientific explanations of natural phenomena. If our nation is to continue to develop the talent necessary to advance scientific and medical research, we must ensure that high standards in science education are maintained and that efforts to introduce non-science into science classes do not succeed. Failure to reach out effectively to a public that is supportive of science and open to information from the scientific community is not just a missed opportunity, it is a disservice to the scientific enterprise.