Who are the creationists? (by the numbers)

By Razib Khan | May 17, 2010 8:19 am

My post last week about Creationism by region set off a fair number of follow up questions. I’ve actually probed the GSS evolution related variables a lot in the past, but I thought I would put it together in one post in a simple fashion for new readers. I used the SCITEST4 variable since its sample size is the largest. The question asked was: ” Human beings developed from earlier species of animals.” It was asked between 1993 and 2000.

There are four answers, definitely true, probably true, probably not true, definitely not true. I put the frequencies in a table below, but I thought it would be useful to have one number to summarize the propensity toward creationism in a demographic. Therefore, I created a simple “index of creationism.” The formula to create it is pretty obvious:

Index of Creationism = (% “definitely not true”) X 3 + (% “probably not true”) X 2 + (% “probably true”) X 1

If the Index of Creationism for a demographic was zero, that means that everyone in the demographic accepted that evolution was definitely true. In contrast, if it was three, that means that everyone in the demographic believed that evolution was definitely not true. The bar chart below has the Indices of Creationism sorted. Below it is a table with the frequencies as well (unsorted, clustered by demographic kind).


creationindex

HUMANS DEVELOPED FROM ANIMALS….

Demographic Definitely True Probably True Probably Not True Definitely Not True Creationism Index
Male 19.3 33.4 15.8 31.5 1.6
Female 12.1 32 17.7 38.2 1.82
White 16.4 33.2 16.2 34.3 1.69
Black 9.8 29.2 19.8 41.3 1.93
Non-College 10.7 31.5 19 38.8 1.86
College 30.2 36.3 10.3 23.1 1.26
Stupid 9.6 31.9 22.6 35.8 1.85
Average 10.7 32.4 18 38.9 1.85
Smart 29.2 34.2 11.9 24.9 1.33
Low SEI (17-37) 11.9 32.5 19 36.6 1.8
Middle SEI (38-67) 15.2 32.1 16.7 36 1.74
High SEI (68-97) 26.1 33.2 12 28.7 1.43
Atheist & Agnostic 41.6 39.2 12.4 6.7 0.84
Higher Power 33 48.7 10.8 7.6 0.93
Believe in God (Doubts) 20.7 46.6 21.3 11.4 1.23
Know God Exists 9.7 25.2 16.8 48.9 2.06
Protestant 10.2 27.5 16.5 45.8 1.98
Catholic 18 41.3 18.9 21.8 1.45
Jewish 39.5 41.5 8.6 10.5 0.9
No Religion 31.7 40.3 13.5 14.5 1.11
Southern Baptist 6.5 23.9 11.7 57.9 2.21
United Methodist 14.2 39.8 18.6 27.4 1.59
Bible Word of God 6.1 20.8 16.9 56.2 2.23
Bible Inspired Word of God 13.3 36.9 19.5 30.4 1.67
Bible Book of Fables 35.7 44.4 13.4 6.5 0.91
German American 14.1 31.9 18.9 35.1 1.75
Irish American 20.1 33.1 14.4 32.4 1.59
Italian American 23.5 37 15.5 23.9 1.4
English American 17.5 31 10.4 41 1.75
Scandinavian American 15.4 31.5 18.6 34.5 1.72
“American” 5.8 27.9 31.6 34.5 1.95
18 to 40 17 34.7 17.8 30.5 1.62
Over 40 14.1 30.9 16 39.1 1.8
Liberal 26.8 36.2 15 21.9 1.32
Moderate 11.4 35.8 19.5 33.2 1.74
Conservative 11.5 27.1 15.3 46 1.96

Update: I forgot to add the variables for the GSS query:

Row: sex race degree(r:0-2″Non-College”;3-4″College”) wordsum(r:0-4″stupid”;5-7″average”;8-10″smart”) sei(r:17-37″low”;38-67″middle”;68-97″high”) god(r:1-2″atheist & agnostic”;3″higher power”;4-5″Believe in god with doubts”;6″Know god exists”) relig bible age(r:18-40″18-40″;40-*”40+”) polviews(r:1-3″Liberal”;4″Moderate”;5-7″Conservative”)

Column: scitest4

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Creationism, Data Analysis
MORE ABOUT: Creationism, GSS
  • http://www.federalistpaupers.com Tom Meyer

    Curious that Jews are less Creationist than the non-religious. Wonder what to make of that.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Tom, Judaism is a complicated identity. Many people who self-identify as Jewish do so in a cultural fashion. Many also engage in the basic religious rituals without necessarily subscribing strongly to any of the theology. Moreover, in general Conservative and Reform Judaism have officially no problems with evolution at all.

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  • miko

    I’m surprised that “conservative” captures this more than “stupid.”

  • http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts Matt Springer

    Interesting that there’s so little difference between Average and Stupid. I was going to say I was surprised “Bible is Word of God” scores so high given that this is nominally the belief of pretty much all Christian denominations including ones who accept evolution, but the GSS wording is “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word” which is a much more restrictive statement.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Who created God?

  • Rich

    To answer bioIgnoramus’ question: “Who created God?”- Answer: the same person that created the universe (or multiverse depending on which camp you’re in). “Well, no one created the universe- it is self existant!” some might maintain. Great! God is the same, God was not created….God is.

  • Rose

    What is SEI?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    sei = socioeconomic index.

  • ass dan

    Razib, can you explain why southern whites are dumber than northern?
    http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/visualizations/estimated-white-iq-by-state-us

    is it culture since they’re the same race? self selection (smarter people move away) ?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    ass dan, i think it is probably culture or self-selection. i actually checked by ethnicity, and southern english are dumber than northern english (and germans and irish). also, southern climate might have higher pathogen load, tarding people out in early development. the self-selection part is because the massachusetts bay colony was pretty strict about literacy and skills for the migrants. the non-new england colonies let anyone show up if they could pay boat fare (e.g., the scots-irish were basically poor peasants, and many of the lowlanders came as indentured servants).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    btw, northern whites have lower SAT scores on average than southern whites. at least they did a generation ago. the easiest explanation for this is that only the creme of the southern whites expected to go to college, while in the north higher education was more conventional even for middling students. that points to a deep structural cultural difference.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    also, in the 19th century, there was a huge difference in public school funding in states settled by yankees, and those settled by northerners. michigan had hundreds of public schools in a period when arkansas had none, despite similar populations and time of founding. the difference was that yankees invariably set up communal institutions which they funded, and literacy was a prized basic skill. but also, southern whites were disease infested pretty intensively until the early 20th century.

  • dan

    ah! all very juicy info. thanks for the explanation and you got me laughin’ pretty good at the “tarding out” part:)

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Razib, is there any evidence that the difference in parasite load is large enough to matter? That seems like a surprising claim.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Razib, is there any evidence that the difference in parasite load is large enough to matter? That seems like a surprising claim.

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2009/09/25/segments/133980

    it is pretty obvious that one reason southerners were perceived to be lazy inbred tards is that they had endemic parasite infections. even if you clear up the parasite issues (which i suspect there’s still some difference despite modern medicine and public health), the long term impact on cultural values may remain.

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  • http://haquelebac.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/my-fossil-railroad/ John Emerson

    GNXP people tend to be skeptical of culture, but “culture” includes everything non-biological: political institutions, economic organization, family organization, land ownership, law. It’s not just things like religious beliefs, poetry, music, and local customs.

    Around 1985 a Brit said to me: “The Irish have been successful every where they went — Canada, the US, Australia — but not in Ireland.” Even then it wasn’t quite true, and by now it’s not true at all, but when the Irish were second class citizens under British rule, bedeviled by a hidebound, reactionary Catholic Church, and trapped in a virtually third world agricultural economy, they didn’t thrive. And even in the US they started at the bottom, but within a few generations they were on a par with other Americans.

  • Mary

    “Who created God?” Philosophers have devoted their lives contemplating the question. The concept of Ein Sof as put forward by the Kabbalists of the 12th century is as satisfactory an explanation as I’ve come across. It’s as close to a description of ‘nothing’ as is possible in human language. A poetic effort to describe the existential abyss.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    Thanks, that’s very interesting. I had no idea there was that much evidence for the claim.

  • Melykin

    …the self-selection part is because the massachusetts bay colony was pretty strict about literacy and skills for the migrants. the non-new england colonies let anyone show up if they could pay boat fare (e.g., the scots-irish were basically poor peasants, and many of the lowlanders came as indentured servants…

    Why would a self-selection that happened 200 years ago be noticeable today? What about regression to the mean? Why would the descendants of poor peasants be any less able than the descendants of richer people? Furthermore why do assume that poor peasants were less intelligent than rich people, 200 years ago? They certainly were not living in a meritocracy.

  • Eric Johnson

    Regression to the mean is partial, not total. Degree of meritocracy is nonzero at all times, though higher now than it once was.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Why would a self-selection that happened 200 years ago be noticeable today?

    because most yankees are descended from 20-30,000 immigrants who arrived at this point.

    What about regression to the mean?

    learn something about evolution before bringing this up. this is a retarded point. seriously retarded.

    Furthermore why do assume that poor peasants were less intelligent than rich people, 200 years ago?

    i didn’t say anything about rich people, did i? i meant middle class (as i’ve said in other comments about this particular migration) as for why i assume that, greg clark’s book farewell to alms lays the case out. and in any case, i didn’t say that the selection was for intelligence necessarily, but cultural traits more broadly. mass bay colony was the world’s first universal literacy society. PLEASE DON’T REPHRASE MY COMMENTS IN THE FUTURE, I MIGHT GET VERY ANGRY IF I FEEL I’VE BEEN MISCHARACTERIZED. as i am now.

    btw, you bringing up regression to the mean like that certainly means am going to be skipping your comments. you shouldn’t bring up something like that when you clearly don’t understand it by the way you’re using it. am i being a dick? yes. are you wasting my time with stupid points? check to that too. you might want to change your handle if you comment in the future.

    as a public service to readers which are curious why i point to melkyn’s comment about regression to the mean as retarded, if you’re reading this weblog you should be interested enough in evolution to understand that if regression to the mean magically make selection effects disappear than evolution by natural selection couldn’t occur. read this post about the breeder’s equation:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2007/05/breeding-the-breeders-equation/

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    and to reiterate, still floored by the regression to the mean comment.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i’m not having a good few days with commenters who i perceive are not too bright. if you think my response above was out of line, please never comment again. seriously.

  • Bob Calder

    Razib, you need to look at a distribution map of SAT takers by state by percent. It’s not at all N vs S. There are plenty of Northern states that have weirdly low numbers of kids taking the SAT.

    Average score statistics are affected by higher numbers of low SES students taking the test year over year.

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This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

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 http://www.razib.com

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