66 thoughts on “We suck

  1. Yo, watch with the insults. I’m a Northeast American, and it shows here that we’re as rational as…well, actually, nobody outside of the US. But, hey, our fellow Americans think we’re godless. That should count for something.

  2. While Britain & Canada are better, I’m not sure they’re good either. Looks like everyone has a lot of work to do.

  3. If you reconducted the Canadian survey and excluded Alberta, we’d probably beat the UK. It’s our Texas.

    1. That’s not fair, if we excluded Scotland, Wales and defo Northern Ireland our results would be much better too.

      1. I read somewhere that Wales is the most secluar part of the UK. We win something for a change, don’t take it away from us.

        1. Yeah I wasn’t sure about Wales so I should have given them the benefit of the doubt. I know Scotland and Northern Ireland are more religious though.

          1. As somebody that lives in Northern Ireland, I can safely say that this place is worse than the bible belt.

            A few years ago, an anti-Christian metal band came to play in Belfast. It was on the news for two weeks and sparked a massive TV debate. This is the only place in the UK that has abortion prohibited.

    2. We suck too (Canada) but I was actually a bit relieved to see the acceptance of reality figure was as high as 61%. Hurray for small victories.

      1. Oops, that wasn’t meant to be a reply – sorry (although I agree with your assessment of Alberta).

    3. We’re working on Alberta…

      I’d say we’re pretty progressive in the big cities – a little more backwards (creationist-leaning) in the rural areas. Hey – for any Albertans out there (or any anyone who wants to visit) – Lawrence Krauss is coming up to Edmonton (U of A) this fall – September I think. Sorry for the plug Jerry – you can come visit too you know…

      1. Here in BC we have a couple colonies of Fundamentalist Mormons, complete with polygamy. There are embarrassments in all provinces.

        These surveys are a nice reminder that the liberal even secular life in big cities isn’t representative of the rest of the province.

        1. What’s embarrassing about polygamy? If it can be organised without oppressing women (and maybe it can’t), there is no secular objection to it – but polyandry makes more biological and economic sense. Why is that so rare?

          1. I don’t really care how consenting adults live their lives but the FLDS doesn’t just touch adults, and even they aren’t always consenting. There seem to be consistent, predictable problems when polygamy extends to a whole community.

            What’s embarrassing is how young girls are forced into marriage, trapped in unloving or abusive relationships. When the local law enforcement is a member of the church (or cozy with its leaders), opposition can be very difficult.

      2. Really? Lawrence Krauss is coming to Alberta?!! I teach evolutionary genetics at a small college in Alberta and I think that his visit will be wonderful. For me. Not for anyone else in my town, but what the hell, I can surely use the boost.

    4. Hey, the U.S. would do well if we could leave out Texas…

      …and Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, Utah, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, …

      ah hell, all of ’em…’cept maybe Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington

    5. Hey there, take the time to check the poll. Scotland has the highest number of reality believers in the UK (75%)and the fewest numpties, even with our Tartan Taleban. The fly in the UK ointment is London with only 58% accepting reality. I lived and worked there for thirty years and I can only say I’m not surprised. Without London the UK would score much better.

  4. I’d love to know the New Zealand figures. I suspect it would be better than any of you (1/3 of the population professes no religion), but probably not much better.

      1. I love the story of the Maoris were they were told if they come and listen to the evangelist they would get blankets. So after politely listening to the evangelist for a couple of hours they said “we would not dream of worshiping such an evil god now give us the blankets.”

        1. Wonderful story, I wonder if it can be verified.

          I believe it is true that in one village, after listening to both Catholic and Anglican missionaries (the Maori word for Anglican is Mihinari to this day), the chief drew a line down the middle of the village and said “Right, you’re all Cathoics and you’re all Anglicans” and so it is today among their descendents. Maori are very non-sectarian, commonly beginning a meeting with a prayer from one denomination and ending with one from another – and continuing to invoke the old gods as well.

          1. Maybe, but David’s story is definitely morally superior. Sentencing half the village to endure the pedophiles of Catholicism is very bad.

          2. I did hear the story on radio four but it was a long time ago, it does seem plausible as some Native Americans seem to have had the same attitude to Christianity. Though until some evidence come to light it will have to remain a story.

  5. It’s worrying that 16 per cent of Brits and 24 per cent of Canadians believe in a Young Earth. And those “not sure” figures are worrying. What kind of idiot is “not sure” about such a basic scientific finding?

      1. I don’t trust the Canadian figures. The truth is that if you cross-reference this against other surveys like belief in a personal god or the role of religious education we’re much closer to the US.

    1. I can sympathize with those ‘not sure’.
      My school Physics and Chemistry were excellently taught but Biology quite poorly, missing ToE altogether. I suppose I accepted it because scientists did, and I knew enough to know this would be on the basis of overwhelming evidence. I’m not sure how I would have felt had I not had that broader education.
      How many people ‘agree’ with ToE on the same basis, with very little knowledge?

    1. Good point! Most people actually don’t think much about it, since they have other things to do than just think [but I reckon thinking’s important too].

      1. I’m sure there are a large number of “apatheists” out there who either don’t understand the issues (and therefore don’t care)or who do understand and really don’t give a shit. Still, it’s a sad loss of brain power on important issues.

  6. Take heart: A greater percentage of US respondents answered “not sure” than either Canada or Great Britain (each with 15%)! That clearly shows that we’re 3% more humble and open-minded than our northern neighbors or our buddies across the pond!

  7. Interesting. Do any of those countries have an established religion? Do any of them include religious instruction and discussion in the public school curriculum? Is it possible that the NCSE and ACLU and People for the American Way and the Establishment Clause are the source of our problems rather than being our lifesaver?

    Let’s see, is there any other country in the West in which the government tries to be more secular than the population? Oh, yeah. Turkey. Wonder how well they do on this kind of survey?

    1. Paradoxically, England has a state religion, although the majority has only a historical interest, as a colorful tradition.

      1. Along with our government the state religion (Anglican church) “don’t do god.” It’s best not to mention god as it puts us cynical Brits off religion. We just like seeing men in frocks, viz: see also our most popular celebrities.

  8. When these results came into open, we had to do some soul-searching, if that is the right expression:



    How it it possible that while the Finnish system of comprehensive education is ranked in PISA-studies
    as the best in the world, we are lagging behind other Nordic countries: Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway?

    Well, judging from the more detailed data provided by a follow-up study in Finland, the situation may not be that alarming, after all. To be sure, only 66% of the population accepted that humans have evolved from other and earlier species. And while the number of denialists in the follow-up study had dropped from those above 20% numbers to 13%, this may be due to some of the polled being reluctant to reveal their true beliefs.

    However, the Finnish educational miracle (if that is the right word to use here!) started only with the Comprehensive School Reform in late 60s, coinciding with a very dramatic social change from a still rural and agricultural country into a modern post/industrial society.

    So, if we look at the numbers among the younger generations, among those who are living in cities and have participated the educational revolution (if that is the right word to use here!), the numbers become what we should expect: more than 80% accepts human evolution and the share of denialists shrinks clearly to below 10%.

    So, here is a realistic goal for American friends. You need a national program to get the acceptance of human evolution to 80% and to shrink the number of denialists to 10%. Of course, the numbers should be almost 100% vs 0%, but I am talking about a goal that has achieved in many developed countries, not about ideal state of affairs.

    Looking at your actual numbers, I come to the conclusion that only a cultural revolution having many social, economic and political aspects can achieve the goal. And that seems a rather distant prospect.

    But I leave you with a positive (if that is the expression to use here!) note. The increasing intertwining of science and modern technology, including biosciences and biotechnology, into modern economy, will help the cause.

    On the other hand, your existing legions of scientifically illiterate and aggressively irrational people may just make transformation to that modern economy an uphill struggle in USA…

  9. Oh bloody dear!! What an appalling statistic. I have no way of evaluating the methodology but somehow, it looks about right.

    As governments pull back on spending, my (and others) big fear is that scientific research money will be reduced.

    It seems to be that all our hard won scientific advances will be sidelined while faith schools are given bigger grants.

    I am afraid that other developed western countries are following a similar route.

    I hope not. Juha is optimistic and it is good to read. I haven’t looked at the other results but I know that Australia is evangelising at a faster rate of knots than I could have ever imagined. Horrific!!

    Jerry – I am sure you are horrified by your own country’s seemingly growing religiosity.

    The UK (where I now live) is experiencing a madness in multicultural growth – to the point of adopting parts of Shariah lsw into the UK legal system.


  10. I blame the scientists for being too strident about science and for not accomodating enough superstition.

    Seriously, the British level of Creationism is bad enough.

  11. I can’t begin to say how depressing these numbers are. As one occupying the trenches (I teach AP Biology in high school) I must gird myself every autumn for the long uphill battle against this entrenched mentality. It is seriously wearing me down.

  12. No, I believe that the current human gene pool evolved gradually via natural selection (and drift and genomic viruses and some lateral transfer and a dash of epigenetics) from ancestral populations for billions of years, none of this “less advanced” and “millions” jibba jabba!

  13. Shocked that 16% of Britons are so backward… I am sure this is increasing with the rise of so-called ‘Faith Academies’ & immigrants from less enlightened lands. Depressing.

    1. As with waistlines and income inequality, I fear my adopted countrymen seek to equal Americans in scientific ignorance one day soon. And a glorious day that shall be!

  14. Considering how much time christians put into spreading lies to the uneducated maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems.

    There are some good teachers and folks like Jerry writing books. I suppose I should find some different ways to help too.

  15. I’ve seen this (or perhaps a similar) survey, and we really didn’t come in last. We nudged out Turkey.
    Woo-hoo! We’re number 47! We’re number 47!

  16. One wonders how Darwinism might’ve fared without the straw man of Biblical Creationism and, well, the enthusiastic support of the Ruling Class. In short, would it have *survived*?

    1. The great thing about scientific theories is that they can be rediscovered. If the bible is lost and forgotten, YEC will be dead forever but evolution and natural selection will still be there waiting. That’s the only kind of survival worth a damn.

  17. I can understand the difficulty of not being able to get your head around the idea of a Big Guy who oversaw creation but there’s real trouble in getting people to understand that we evolved from apes etc. There’s a sort of visceral objection to this.
    The wise old fella with the white beard is such a part of our culture and won’t be easy for those who don’t see him as either being there or being necessary to think otherwise.
    Feeling ‘safe’ is a need for most people and hell, they say, we don’t feel safe accepting this audacious theory of not needing him at all.
    I am a great fan of the film “2001” and believe we did have a seminal moment when the penny dropped and in one sense I believe that there had to be a first principle. Maybe it all goes in an endless loop?

  18. I agree with blue. Isn’t it incorrect to say that we evolved from “less advanced” life forms? I seem to recall Dawkins specifically bemoaning this interpretation in The Greatest Show. Maybe pedants are taking those poll numbers down.

  19. You fellows should create another blog and call it “Evolution: Why Nobody Cares”. One thing that’s often overlooked is that whether evolution is true or not, it has almost zero impact in the real world lives of most people. It can’t make me a better welder or get me out of bed in the morning. If you think the average person invests a great deal of their time thinking about evolution you’ve missed the boat. So it really has nothing to do with teaching skills.

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