The people aren't always right: Alabama & Creationism

By Razib Khan | May 12, 2010 10:48 am

Carl Zimmer asks “Will Anyone In Alabama Speak For Evolution?” The story is that a Republican candidate for governor in Alabama is being accused of not being a Creationist, and he is asserting that he is a Creationist. Some people might be surprised by this, but this is Alabama. It is famously well known that the general public tends to split down the middle in regards to evolution, and that there is a class aspect to the division. But what’s the breakdown by region? The GSS can help.

Let’s look at two variables:

SCITEST4: In your opinion, how true is this? Human beings developed from earlier species of

REGION, which you can see on the Census Division map below:


And the chart below shows the responses by region:

Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi are in the “East South Central,” and that’s the most Creationist region of the country. To come out and support evolution in that region you need to either be a Yankee, or the president of Auburn university!

MORE ABOUT: Alabama, Creationism
  • steve

    It would have been interesting to see this breakout by state. I presume that Georgia weighted the answers in the South Atlantic, for example, and by that I am assuming that higher poverty areas were more superstitious.

    For that matter, it would be interesting to see educated vs. non educated.

    The question as asked implies that we are somehow no longer animals. Why?

  • Razib Khan

    i’ve done a lot of blogging on the GSS variables. use the search box “evolution” and “GSS” might help you find them.

  • steve

    Found it Razib, thanks. (I am new to your blog.)

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  • XXL

    Not surprising. We have the Creation Museum here in Kentucky.

  • Dennis

    Hooray for New England!
    I would have expected longer green and yellow bars though – there are quite a few creationists in VT, NH & ME.

  • Carl Zimmer

    It doesn’t help matters that the teachers’ union is apparently behind the attack ad, using this distrust of evolution as a political weapon against a candidate they don’t like for entirely different reasons.

  • Mary

    I’m sort of shocked that we in the east north central are the second stupidest people in the country, with our cluster of urban areas and universities. Oy. Depressing.

  • kirk

    As outrageous as this is, it’s actually sorta predictable:

    1. It’s Judge Roy “big ole 10 commandments statue” Moore.
    2. He doesn’t have any money (he only raised $300K)
    3. He cannot afford to go after the Teabagger in 1st place.
    4. He’s throwing his pennies away going after the guy he’s tied with for last place.
    5. He will only get 3 extra hillbilly votes from this stunt.
    6. This destroys both candidates chances (and neither was going to win anyway).

    that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

  • Doug from Dougland

    I have to admit i’m rather disappointed but not entirely surprised in my Midwest East North region cohorts. I remember having an off the cuff conversation years ago with my then high school counselor and talking about evolution and having him tell me he hoped I’d get better. Like not believing in magic was an illness.

  • Jones

    You need to check your grammar on that last sentence. What are you trying to say there?

  • Art

    Only in one region do a majority of the people believe in evolution beyond a doubt. I’d almost be as embarrassed to live there than in the region that believes to the contrary. Such confidence in something that can’t be proven seems pretty arrogant for anyone.

    What percentage of people are deists? What would you call someone who believes matter was created, and, subsequently, physics and chemistry created life- as there is no answer to the question “where did the dense, hot cloud come from”, or “where did god come from”?

    I’m not religious and I’m not trying to argue, but I just find it unsettling that people can be polarized in an argument that will probably never be settled definitively.

    “Something” came from “nothing” regardless of how you feel about religion.

  • Doug Watts

    Several years ago, when Maine had one of its never-ending statewide referenda to make discrimination against homosexuals illegal, the Bangor Daily News produced a fascinating town by town map showing how the residents in each town voted. Invariably, all over the state, the vote broke down by geographical proximity to a university or college. The farther the town was from a university or college, the stronger the vote was against gay rights; the closer the town was to a university or college the stronger the vote was for gay rights. The towns and cities in which universities or colleges were located had the strongest majorities for gay rights. The geographic correlation was far too massive to not be causative.

  • Rob

    I suspect that Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia more closely track the views of the Middle Atlantic region (and are often included in that group in other surveys), given the high percentage of college graduates and professionals who live there. This wouldn’t much change the results for the Middle Atlantic region (if included in that region), but does help explain the slightly higher percentages in the South Atlantic region.

  • Ben Snyder

    Oh wonderful glorious GSS, is there anything you can’t do?

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  • Jack Newman

    Would love to know the breakdown by religions.

  • Yoav

    Hi, I’m a bit concerned about the statistical data and the conclusions from the survey results. You should pay attention to the fact that although 53,043 people participated in the survey, only 3673 have answered this very question!
    I’m not a statistics expert, but it seems hardly enough for region slicing. Don’t you agree?
    I mean, in all of New England (population over 14 million, right?) merely 160 people have answered to this question. How can we say that the results are statistically significant?

  • StacyC

    Interesting analysis, but as a side note, the author(s) need some serious cartographic remediation, these graphics are horrible.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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