Evolution is a signal for real Republican populism

By Razib Khan | August 19, 2011 9:53 am

New York Magazine has a rundown of the attitudes of some of the G.O.P. candidates for the nomination in regards to evolution. Remember, this is an issue which is split down the middle in the American populace, but elites have a strong skew toward accepting evolution. This is probably why despite a majority Creationist primary electorate in 2008 the majority of Republican candidates still agreed with the evolutionary position. In 2012 it looks like the Creationism or semi-Creationist contingent is going to get larger.

In the General Social Survey they asked in the late 2000s whether respondents accepted that “humans developed from animals.” The response was dichotomous. Here are some results for various population groups:

Accepts human development from animals
Democrat 59
Independent 53
Republican 42
Liberal 69
Moderate 52
Conservative 39
White 54
Black 35
Hispanic 52
No high school diploma 42
High school diploma 46
Junior college 53
Bachelor 63
Graduate 72
New England 81
Mid Atlantic 60
Great Lakes 52
Upper Midwest 54
South Atlantic 46
East South Central 29
Southwest 38
Mountain 53
Pacific 64
Protestant 35
Catholic 65
Jewish 79
No religion 79
Age 18-34 58
Age 36-64 51
Age 65-* 43

MORE ABOUT: Evolution, Politics
  • Darkseid

    wow, i’d have to say then that the stereotypes i have about those groups aren’t really stereotypes. they’re basically just facts.

  • dave chamberlin

    I really want to be an optimist, really I do, but the sorry truth is the world is packed with delusional fools. Give the average a choice and they choose magic that makes them feel better over logic, I mean WTF.

  • Clark

    Which of the candidates other than Romney and Huntsman expressed belief in evolution? (I know both of them have – Romney did it in one of the main debates last time around)

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

    to my surprise, gingrich has in 2006 (to discover). though he mouths a lot of implicit ID points too. romney and huntsman have been pretty full-throated and unequivocal, just short of scientific materialist evolution.

  • Darkseid

    I’ve started calling religious people “illiterate.” technically, they are scientifically illiterate, correct? I’m hoping to make it uncool to be anti-science.

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

    #5, so are you saying gcochran is illiterate? :-) just sayin’

  • Nick

    I think Razib has mentioned before that most people really don’t think too much about this stuff and take their cues from others. A couple of examples from my own experience:

    * I recently had an email exchange with an intelligent, well-educated conservative friend of mine and I mentioned in passing I wasn’t too pleased with Rick Perry’s appointing creationists to the Texas school board. He replied with something along the lines of “Well, I don’t have a problem with evolution, but I don’t see any problem with teaching both sides.” Like many people, the guy’s got kids, a career, no background in science, doesn’t read Discover blogs, etc and isn’t about to invest the considerable time and effort needed to form a coherent, rational view of what to think about all this.
    * My dad is a scientist, and a very good one at that. He’s also a staunch conservative. Around the time “Expelled” came out, he made some comment expressing possible interest in it. I informed him what a loan of b.s. it was of course, and he came around, but the point is that biology may as well be a foreign country to him. Now, if Ben Stein had been saying that, say, covalent bonding is a myth and only Nazis believed in covalent bonding, my dad would have instantly dismissed him as a crank. But biology? Meh–he’ll go with the flow on that one.

    Some people are open to reason on this, especially if they haven’t thought about it much. As for the rest, I don’t know.

  • Clark

    Romney and Huntsman are Mormon though so that makes sense. There actually are a lot of pro-evolution Catholic theologians so that’s not too surprising about Gingrich given he converted to Catholicism. I’d say I’m surprised he kept the position this time around given the (surprising to me) rise of social conservatism as so significant. However he’s run a pretty astoundingly incompetent campaign so I’m not that surprised. Still it’s nice that some of the non-Mormon Republicans are embracing evolution. Especially given the place of Gingrich in populist conservative thought. Wish we had more people embracing science publicly.

    I do wonder how we can get these signals (evolution and global warming) changed in the party. I know that as signals they don’t matter too much. (And evolution is primarily an issue at the state level) Personally I blame Al Gore for a lot of this. Before Gore did his campaign to raise awareness of global warming it wasn’t nearly the signal it is today. (And ironically Rick Perry at the time was Gore’s state campaign director in Texas as I recall)

  • Darkseid

    what?? Greg is religious? wow, i knew he was kind of “fringe” so i guess i shouldn’t be surprised but that is still quite surprising. anyway, yes, he is technically illiterate in my book then. too bad – no exceptions for the religious since it makes no sense.

  • Justin Giancola

    I could be wrong but I think Razib was implying that gcochran is scientifically illiterate; if he is the person I’m thinking of with the humans came from america stuff.

  • Sandgroper

    No, Greg ridiculed that theory.

  • dave chamberlin

    You’re thinking of the one, the only, German Drivel, Justin. Well maybe I misspelled his last name.

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

    #9, yeah, greg is methodist. i would personally warn you against platonism :-) doesn’t seem fruitful in finding new ideas. a significant minority of regular readers are after all theists even on this weblog.

  • Daniel J. Andrews

    I’ve started calling religious people “illiterate.” technically, they are scientifically illiterate, correct?

    No. Not correct. You’re conflating two different things and assuming a religious belief of some type is equivalent to scientific illiteracy. It does seem rather strange to call people like Newton and Dobzhansky scientifically illiterate as well as modern day folks like Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller. There may be other things you may wish to label* them with, but scientifically illiterate is not right.

    *Labeling others can lead to problems in that it leads to lazy thinking–rather than take each case individually, just slap a label on them and you don’t need to do much more thinking about it. Respectfully, I believe this is what you’ve done here by labeling them scientifically illiterate.

  • Darkseid

    Ok, thanks dad.


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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 http://www.razib.com


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