This is about a week old, but nonetheless worth promoting to the limelight over and over and over again. From the 11 August issue of Science (sorry, you gotta be registered):
In surveys conducted in 2005, people in the United States and 32 European countries were asked whether to respond “true,” “false” or “not sure” to this statement: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” Here are the results:
Well, at least we beat Turkey. (Actually I would have expected Turkey to do better.)
The study also collected a bunch of other related data. Science reported from the study:
The total effect of fundamentalist religious beliefs on attitude toward evolution (using a standardized metric) was nearly twice as much in the United States as in the nine European countries, which indicates that individuals who hold a strong belief in a personal God and who pray frequently were significantly less likely to view evolution as probably or definitely true than adults with less conservative religious views.
The evolution issue has been politicized and incorporated into the current partisan division in the United States in a manner never seen in Europe or Japan. In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as a part of a platform designed to consolidate their support in southern and Midwestern states. In the 1990s, the state Republican platforms in seven states included explicit demands for the teaching of “creation science”.
To all people who are Republican because they are fiscally conservative (a point I can understand), can you please take back control of your party away from these religious zealots! And, if only we could have more science education in our schools….perhaps then we could aim to do better than Cyprus next year.