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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2010/02/19

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A new poll on the acceptance of evolution in Texas, a virtual book
party at AIBS, and five reasons why evolution is important.


A new poll suggests that a slim majority of Texans reject evolution,
according to a story in the Texas Tribune (February 17, 2010), which
also noted that "[n]early a third of Texans believe humans and
dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time." David Prindle, a
professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin, who
composed the questions, quipped that the poll confirmed the comedian
Lewis Black's claim that a significant proportion of the American
people think that The Flintstones was a documentary.

Among the questions on the poll was the standard Gallup question --
"Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the
origin and development of human beings?" -- with the choices (1)
"Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced
forms of life, but God guided the process"; (2) "Human beings have
developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, and
God had no part in the process"; and (3) "God created human beings
pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago."

In the Texas poll, 38% of respondents chose (1), 12% chose (2), 38%
chose (3), and 12% chose a fourth option, "Don't know." Comparing the
results with a national Gallup poll conducted in 2008, in which 36% of
respondents chose (1), 14% chose (2), 44% chose (3), and 5% offered a
different or no opinion, it might seem as though Texans are slightly
less inclined to creationism than the nation at large -- but the
explicit presentation of a "Don't know" option in the Texas poll and
not in the Gallup poll is probably responsible for the discrepancy.
(Also, the Texas poll was only of registered voters.)

By omitting any reference to humans, a different question in the Texas
poll in effect tested whether human evolution was especially
problematic. Apparently so: only 22% of respondents chose "Life on
earth has existed in its present form since the beginning of time";
15% chose "Life on earth has evolved over time, entirely through
'natural selection,' with no guidance from God"; 53% chose "Life on
earth has evolved over time, entirely through 'natural selection,' but
with a guiding hand from God"; and 10% chose "Don't know."

Respondents were also asked whether they agree or disagree with "Human
beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of
animals": 35% agreed, 51% disagreed, 15% didn't know. In a national
survey conducted in 2005, as Jon D. Miller, NCSE's Eugenie C. Scott,
and Shinji Okamoto reported in Science, 40% of surveyed Americans
agreed, 39% disagreed, and 21% were unsure. Among thirty-two countries
discussed in the Science article, the United States was second only to
Turkey in its rejection of evolution.

Unsurprisingly, the views of Texans in general are not reflected in
the views of Texas's scientific community. As a report of a survey of
Texas biologists conducted by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund
in conjunction with Raymond Eve summarized, "1. Texas scientists (97.7
percent) overwhelmingly reject 'intelligent design' as valid science.
2. Texas science faculty (95 percent) want only evolution taught in
science classrooms. 3. Scientists reject teaching the so-called
'weaknesses' of evolution, with 94 percent saying that those arguments
are not valid scientific objections to evolution."

For the Texas Tribune's story, visit: 

For the Gallup poll from 2008, visit: 

For information about Miller, Scott, and Okamoto's article, visit: 

For information about the poll of Texas scientists, visit: 


The American Institute for Biological Sciences is celebrating the
launch of its new webstore with a virtual book party, featuring Chris
Mooney and Carl Zimmer, at 2:00 p.m. EST on February 25, 2010. Mooney
will discuss his and Sheril Kirshenbaum's Unscientific America: How
Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future (Basic Books, 2009), Zimmer
will discuss his The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
(Roberts and Company, 2009), and both will participate in a discussion
on the public understanding of science. Plus copies of their books
will be given to two lucky participants! Registration for the virtual
book party is free but space is limited, so register now.

For information about the book party, visit: 


Writing at the Huffington Post (February 12, 2010), NCSE's Steven
Newton offered, in honor of Charles Darwin's 201st birthday, a list of
five ways in which evolution is important to medical practice:
improving the understanding of H1N1 and emerging diseases, HIV,
vaccines, antibiotic resistance, and drug development. "There are a
host of other applications of evolution -- agriculture, forensics,
bioengineering," he concluded. "But the importance of evolution
extends beyond its practical side; evolution explains the diversity of
life on this planet, shows us our connection to other living things,
and reveals profound insights into the processes of nature. Today, on
Darwin's 201st birthday, take a moment to reflect on the importance of

For Newton's essay, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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