Of course, if you get to write the questions, instead of using standard ones…
The level of public acceptance of evolution in the United States is now solidly above the halfway mark, according to a new study based on a series of national public opinion surveys conducted over the last 35 years.
“From 1985 to 2010, there was a statistical dead heat between acceptance and rejection of evolution,” said lead researcher Jon D. Miller of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. “But acceptance then surged, becoming the majority position in 2016.”University of Michigan, “Evolution now accepted by majority of Americans” at ScienceDaily
The paper is closed access.
But get this:
Besides Miller and Ackerman, the authors are Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education; Belén Laspra of the University of Oviedo in Spain; and Carmelo Polino of the University of Oviedo and Centre Redes in Argentina; and Jordan Huffaker of U-M.University of Michigan, “Evolution now accepted by majority of Americans” at ScienceDaily
Wait. Scott and Branch are key players in the Darwin-in-the-schools lobby (National Center for Science Educaton)! How’s that for objectivity?
And sure enough:
Before even reading the report I suspected exactly what the flaw in the study would be: it didn’t actually query people about whether they accepted something like what basically all evolutionary biologists believe in — a form of (apparently) blind and unguided Darwinian evolution, responsible for essentially all the major innovations in the history of life. Instead, it measured support for a much weaker definition of “evolution” akin to common descent or mere change over time.
Sure enough, the survey asked respondents if they agree with the following statement: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.” The authors claim in their paper that this “simple question asking whether humans evolved over a long period is a useful and clearer indicator of respondent acceptance or rejection of evolution.” Well, that all depends on how you define “evolution.” I know many proponents of intelligent design (ID), who are ardent skeptics of the neo-Darwinian and other mainstream models of evolution, but who might well answer that question with a solid yes.
Take Michael Behe, for example. Behe accepts common ancestry, and so by the survey’s standards he accepts evolution. Yet Behe gets repeatedly labeled a “creationist” by the NCSE. Don’t believe me? For one example of many see this article which says, quite pejoratively, that “Behe is a creationist…”
Do you see the disconnect? If not, here’s what’s wrong.
When attacking ID these pro-Darwin activists are very happy to use the “creationist” label in an apparent attempt to marginalize or sideline ID. But when measuring the degree of support for evolution in the culture, they’re happy to count ID proponents as not as “creationists” but as “scientifically literate” supporters of “evolution” — especially if that means the support-statistics go higher.Casey Luskin, “Survey Artificially Inflates the Percentage of Americans who “Accept Evolution”” at Evolution News and Science Today
A serious poll would be done by a pollster without links to either side.