David Warren, a stalwart hack of the Ottawa Citizen, derides a recent Economist article, “Untouched by the hand of God: How people in various countries view the theory of evolution” (Feb 5th 2009), which allows us to know,
IT IS 150 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which suggested that all living things are related and that everything is ultimately descended from a single common ancestor. This has troubled many, including Darwin himself, as it subverted ideas of divine intervention. It is not surprising that the countries least accepting of evolution today tend to be the most devout. In the most recent international survey available, only Turkey is less accepting of the theory than America. Iceland and Denmark are Darwin’s most ardent adherents. Indeed America has become only slightly more accepting of Darwin’s theory in recent years. In 2008 14% of people polled by Gallup agreed that “man evolved over millions of years”, up from 9% in 1982.
Well, let’s see: The United States is the world’s science leader, Iceland is on life support, and Denmark? Well, a brave little country if you go by the Mohammed cartoons episode, but these days, they would be better off praying for divine intervention than subverting it. Classically, for Darwin enthusiasts, basic facts mean nothing; only the attitude means something.
Anyway, Warren had pretty much the same reaction, and writes to say about the article:
1. It wantonly confuses two issues: whether evolution happened, & whether Darwin’s explanation of it is true. (Darwin hardly “discovered” evolution.) I would myself have to agree “Yes” to the proposition as stated, though I would almost certainly VOTE “NO” since I would spot the game.
2. It implicitly accepts a choice between “faith” & “science,” while explicitly denying that any such mischief could ever be intended. The very evocation of the choice is scientistic.
3. Like Darwinism itself, it reduces great complexity to pristine simplicity, by removing from consideration every detail except the premise from which it begins.
The Economist itself did not used to play these cheap-hit media games. That is why I used to subscribe to it (decades ago), & read it attentively every week — back when it served a much smaller audience of businesslike people who were averse to the sort of pony-doo that is smeared through the liberal newsmagazines. Today it is only slightly better than Newsweek or Time, & full of exactly the sort of progressive posturing & “attitudinizing” that it used so roundly to condemn.
But David, that’s precisely what we should expect to happen when people confuse the mere attitudes of science celebrities and the pop science media for actual evidence and achievement.
I think I will order the Economist another jug of Kool-Aid. It seems to be taking effect, at last. I wasn’t sure if it would really work, but one must learn to be patient in these matters.
Also just up at the Post-Darwinist:
Intelligent design and high culture: Ben Stein bounced from commencement ceremony! (Yanks late again!)
Podcasts and video in the intelligent design controversy
Wintery Knight: Also, some LIKE it cold