back to article Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey

A recent poll brings bad news for those who trust in scientific consensus: over half of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory of the inception of the universe, and about four out of ten doubt evolution, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that humans exacerbate global warming, despite overwhelming evidence for all four …

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  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Breaking News!!

    Most Americans are stupid. Scientists unsure why. Congress vows to study the matter. Business leaders say educated workforce "too expensive and waste of time" and "would cost consumers in the long run due to associated costs having to be passed along." Supreme Court rules corporations more human than humans and deserve more rights.

    This story when we come from the break.

    "BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!"

    1. edge_e
      Boffin

      Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

      Yeah, just don't put it on your plants.

      What I really want to know though is:-

      Are stupid people more likely to be religious or does religion make you stupid?

      1. GBE

        Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

        > Are stupid people more likely to be religious.

        I think it's been shown repeatedly in studies that less educated people are more likely to be religious, and more educated people are less likely to be religious. Which is the cause and which the effect? Or are both effects of something else?

        Personally, I think it's a gubmint plot: the flouride in the water is making people both stupid and religious (that way it's easier to control them using the mind-control rays transmitted by mobile phone towers).

        I think it might also explain Fox News.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

          You forgot the Joke Alert icon ...

          1. John Tserkezis

            Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

            "You forgot the Joke Alert icon ..."

            It's not a joke, that's what makes it scary.

            1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
              Childcatcher

              Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

              It's not a joke, that's what makes it scary.

              Tell the joke. Be the joke. Poe-tay-toe. Poe-tah-toe. The results of this survey come across in the same vein as "Is fire hot? Dirt dirty? Pope Catholic?" to me. One obvious course of action this study points toward is to increase the overall education level of our population. Unfortunately, this is controlled mostly at the state and local level and the groups that would most benefit from better education are most resistant to funding it. Reminds me of a quote:

              Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not...

        2. P. Lee Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

          Ok, I'm curious - is the lack of religious belief in educated people confined to those in areas which traditionally conflict with religion?

          I could be very well educated in 16th Century Icelandic literature. That in no way is going to allow me to ascertain the veracity of scientific progress or the claims of many religions. Essentially, then, I'm educated but my faith in science is blind, since I'm not equipped to understand it and my knowledge of religion probably equally lacking.

          Is the rejection of the supernatural merely a cultural convention which happens to be present in the educational system which educated people pass through at an impressionable age and therefore acquire?

          There is a touching belief in these forums that it this is cause and effect rather than merely correlation.

          1. h4rm0ny
            Thumb Up

            Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

            >>"Ok, I'm curious - is the lack of religious belief in educated people confined to those in areas which traditionally conflict with religion?"

            That is a VERY GOOD QUESTION. It is good because it is one tool we can use to help tease apart correlation and causation in the subject of religion and lack of / inaccurate knowledge.

            I would say anecdotally that it often is the case, but I wouldn't want any weight attributed to that. I'd be very interested to know the answer to your question.

          2. gzuckier

            Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

            Despite the fundamentalists' (again false) belief that they represent traditional religion, it is only the religion of the Dark Ages in Europe which they represent.

            More often, traditionally, science and religion did not clash; to the scientists of the Enlightenment, Newton for example, scientific study and discoveries were another form of worship; unfortunately, I can't remember which one it was who said that nature provided another Testament, the language of which was mathematics.

            And even before that, while Europe was in the Dark Ages, the Islamic world unequivocally tied science to the glory of God, and the foremost Jewish thinker of the post-Talmudic era, Maimonides, around 1100 used as a starting point the assumption that to use scripture to try to refute either the teachings of science, or common sense, was a grievous error.

            The fundamentalists of today, no matter what particular religion they espouse, all share intellectual laziness or incompetence, the very opposite of what the great figures in religion historically represented.

        3. wolf359

          Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

          So what of people who are both? Stupidity is discounting something without doing any research. If the "more educated" were to put as much effort into reading the Bible and understanding it (googling it doesn't count), as they do reading scientific journals, this discussion would be much different. Whether the universe came from a singularity or is the result of 2 branes touching we will never know, so it is just as valid to say that a Creator was involved. As far as evolution goes, I don't see how someone could not believe in natural selection....however, the bigger question is how life began. That, no one can explain and the odds of it are so astronomical as to make it impossible. So again, it is valid to say that a Creator could have been involved. Lastly, as far as global warming is concerned.....there was a heck of a lot of warming going on at the end of the last ice age....and since I am pretty sure that neanderthals weren't using coal fueled power plants and driving SUV's, so I have to assume that global warming is a normal cycle and that we are still in an interglacial period and still warming. Back to my original point, if you don't know both sides of an issue, you have no right to discount the other.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

            >>"Whether the universe came from a singularity or is the result of 2 branes touching we will never know, so it is just as valid to say that a Creator was involved."

            We don't know what we'll never know.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ edge_e -- Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

        What I really want to know though is:-

        Are stupid people more likely to be religious or does religion make you stupid?

        Yes. Next question?

      3. John Tserkezis

        Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

        "Are stupid people more likely to be religious or does religion make you stupid?"

        Really interesting question, but after reading Freakenomics, I'm inclied to say "neither". Religion is probably the effect, rather than the cause.

        This is in strong contrast to my thinking that only nutcases believe in religion, but this clearly isn't true, as much as I would like to think it is.

        Forward thinkers separate the religion and science. And they CAN be separated, but in general - they aren't. Why? I'm thinking it's because if you're the non-forward-thinker who's easily swayed by religion, you're much more likely to stick to the documents that haven't changed in eons, rather than have to think for yourself, which is hard.

        Thinking is hard, so why argue with hundreds of year old science that told you that elecrolytes are good?

        1. John Hughes

          Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

          Yes, but it's pretty well established that reading Freakenomics reduces your IQ.

      4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

        "Are stupid people more likely to be religious or does religion make you stupid?"

        Ahh The eternal question.

      5. h4rm0ny

        Re: BRAWNDO!! IT'S GOT ELECTROLYTES!

        Or is there simply a coincidence of social factors. Note also, "stupid" is not a good term in this instance. "Ignorant" is a better term. I know at least one gifted programmer who has some stunning blind-spots when it comes to science (they reject Evolution) and despite the flaws in their starting axioms, will build some staggeringly tall and complex logical arguments to justify their belief. Enough that it takes a pretty skilled and intelligent person to cut through their crap. That's why I favour the term ignorant over stupid. It's far more accurate to what we're talking about.

        So that caveat in, does religion lead one to ignorance or being ignorant lead one to religion? I could see a case for either or both: if you believe you have the answers, or do not wish to contradict an authority, then you do not accept new facts (Evolution contradicts what I've been told so I'll ignore it). Ergo, it can lead to wilful ignorance. If you are already ignorant, you may seek answers and get the wrong ones. Ergo, ignorance can lead to religion (I don't know what causes Thunder so maybe it's Thor's chariot).

        But it's also worth noting that there's a third factor which is common societal factors pushing multiple demographics in the same direction. There have been times historically where particular religions have correlated with the less ignorant sections of society. Power shifts and with it education and opportunity. Being religious does not mean one is stupid OR ignorant necessarily.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: Breaking News!!

      Funny... but did you see the questions?

      Do you believe that global warming is real? Sure. We have evidence going back millions of years that there is a cycle.

      Do you believe that global warming is man made?

      ("Mostly because of Man Made trapped gasses...")

      Seriously.

      That's the problem.

      Junk Science at work.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: IMG Re: Breaking News!!

        ".....Junk Science at work." Worse, this is deliberately deceitful science. The whole premise is that if you don't believe in AGW then you have to be a God-bothering Reeeepublickin. Nothing displays this more than the flawed conjoining of four completely different arguments and insisting belief in any of them makes all of them undeniable.

        "....and that humans exacerbate global warming, despite overwhelming evidence for all four....." And there is the lie - man-made global warming is not the same as global warming and is there is not 'overwhelming evidence' to support the idea. I have no problem with the scientific arguments for the theories of evolution, the Big Bang, or the age of the Earth, nor do I deny global warming exists (or that we're actually probably heading for an ice age), but to try and pass off the flawed evidence for man-made influence on global warming as proven or undeniable is simply deceitful. But I'm not religious. I also know several Christians that vote Democrat that are also completely sold on the man-made AGW myth, so the 'only religious nuts deny AGW' line is, frankly, wearing a bit thin. The linking of four such disparate scientific theorems is like saying that if you accept evolution, Big Bang theory and the age of the planet then you also have to believe in Klingons - the first three bear no relation on the fourth topic.

        ".....which surveyed 1,012 American adults...." Wow, a thousand out of 350 million! I'd suggest making sweeping generalizations from such a small study group is not just bad science but deliberately bad science. It makes the whole Hockey Stick episode look like a tiny, white lie.

        And then there is the insistence that 'big, bad capitalism' is bankrolling Republican denial, neatly avoiding the money flowing out of the Left (or into the Left in the case of Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' marketing machine). IMHO, the whole articles is just shoddy forum bait.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          >".....which surveyed 1,012 American adults...." Wow, a thousand out of 350 million! I'd suggest making sweeping generalizations from such a small study group

          Wow Matt I didn't know you don't understand the basics of the field of statistics and sampling. 1012 samples will give you a fairly small margin of error even for a population of 300+ million if done correctly. Many political polls that determine where millions should be spent on ads have less samples. The key of course as always with people is getting samples that are not biased in anyway with each other.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Matt I didn't know you don't understand the basics of the field of statistics...

            I think you will find there is no depth to the trolls ignorance

            1. asdf Silver badge

              Re: Matt I didn't know you don't understand the basics of the field of statistics...

              >I think you will find there is no depth to the trolls ignorance

              Matt I don't think is trolling sadly (actually believes his BS) and I wasn't. I was just trying to explain how amazing the science of statistics is by allowing us to say things about a population we could never study in its entirety otherwise based on a remarkable small sample size if done properly.

          2. plrndl
            Holmes

            Re: IMG Breaking News!!

            @asdf

            Having spent several years in market research, I can tell you emphatically that market research always produces the result desired by the organisation that pays for the research. Companies that do not abide by this simple rule go out of business rapidly.

          3. Benchops

            > have less samples

            Not disagreeing with your sentiment but it's fewer samples

        2. asdf Silver badge

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          Gallup by the way for a lot of their polls doesn't use much over a 1000 sample size of people either.

          "with a random sample of 1,026 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

          For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level."

          Good enough for opinion polls.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: IMG Breaking News!!

            Doh right in the article itself.

            which surveyed 1,012 American adults 18 or older in late March, and reports a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 per cent at a 95 per cent confidence level.

            Smaller population size than who Gallup considered I guess due to Gallup having a new better different population estimate.

            1. Getriebe

              Re: IMG Breaking News!!

              "Smaller population size than who Gallup considered I guess due to Gallup having a new better different population estimate."

              Not necessarily

              If you work out your sample error as you go along you can see the error become asymptotic with the error axis and can reasonably decide to not to talk to any more corn feed Iowans

            2. h4rm0ny
              FAIL

              Re: IMG Breaking News!!

              It also attempts to put on an equal footing the mindsets of two different approaches to belief. A Creationist is likely to say that have no doubt at all that the world was made in six days some millennia ago. Someone like myself may well think the Earth could have been formed 4bn years ago, but we're not likely to claim certainty. We're likely to think in terms of "the current evidence we have available suggests this to be the most likely". Ergo, you can't look at the midpoint of the bellcurve of a confidence scale and draw simple conclusions about the portioning of beliefs.

              Real scientists are going to tend toward the middle more than non-scientist because the opposite of "I'm certain X is true" is not "I'm certain X is not true", but rather "I'm not certain".

          2. magnetik

            Re: IMG Breaking News!!

            I personally don't see how that can be considered accurate. Really you're talking about around 20 people representing the views of an entire state (on average). Would you consider a random poll of 20 people in Belgium to represent the views of the Belgians?

            Yes, I know they have the same language, TV etc. but there's still a big diversity in beliefs and lifestyles and so on between states. 20 people per state just doesn't seem enough to me to be statistically relevant.

        3. Leslie Graham

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          There is no doubt that the more religious an American is the more likely he is to be a climate change denier.

          There are literaly dozens of surveys which prove this.

          Sure - not *every* climate change denier is a religious whackjob but just about every religious whackjob is a climate change denier.

          And I don't have a dog in this fight - it's just a proven fact.

          And I think you need to read up the definition of a "Representative Sample" before you make any more vacuous remarks about sample size.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: vacuous remarks

            Hey!

            you leave matts first amendment rights alone!

            if he cant be vacuous he'd have to be silent

          2. gzuckier

            Re: IMG Breaking News!!

            "There is no doubt that the more religious an American is the more likely he is to be a climate change denier.

            There are literaly dozens of surveys which prove this."

            Kind of funny; the idea that an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator screwed up on making the climate, but luckily by burning all the fossil fuel we can, a byproduct is that we will improve the climate.

        4. Naughtyhorse

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          should you be writing on teh godless intertubes at easter?

          grab a book on statistics and crawl back under that rock

          ahh matt bryant, the touchstone for dumb, should have guessed

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: IMG Breaking News!!

            Ahh 2 downvotes.

            I seem to have riled the troll sufficiently for him to use his other account to dv me 2wice.

            if it makes the purple vein in bryants temple go 'blomp blomp blomp' I must be doing something right

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          "there is not 'overwhelming evidence' to support the idea"

          There most certainly is overwhelming and long term observable evidence that global warming itself is happening and that man is at least a partial cause. There is also a high probability approaching 3 sigma that man is the primary cause.

        6. h4rm0ny

          Re: @Matt Bryant

          I find it amusing (and positive) that we are having a furious argument about state religion and ethnic exclusivity on another story, but I agree with everything you write above so much. Voted you up for all the difference it will make in the shower of downvotes. ;)

          >>"Wow Matt I didn't know you don't understand the basics of the field of statistics and sampling. 1012 samples will give you a fairly small margin of error even for a population of 300+ million if done correctly. Many political polls that determine where millions should be spent on ads have less samples. The key of course as always with people is getting samples that are not biased in anyway with each other."

          You can certainly extrapolate from small samples when the data is not Complex. But the demographics of the USA are very much a complex data set. Trying to extrapolate from a dataset which has fewer members than factors you have to control for, is extremely difficult.

          I don't think anyone is saying that the principles of extrapolation are not well-founded. It's a comment that the degree to which they're being taken here is pushing it. I'm not even saying the results are wrong, just that the margin of error here is way too wide to accept this as something other than just being suggestive.

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IMG Breaking News!!

          and 1... 2... yep, 37% again! damn, that survey is right on the money.

      2. Leslie Graham

        Re: Breaking News!!

        The current rapid warming has got nothing to do with past natural cycles.

        Your's is just another variation on the wearisome "The climate's changed before" (TM) meme.

        Well no **** Sherlock. Who would have thought it?

        And who told you anyway? Oh yeah - those same thousands of climate scientists who are also telling us that the current warming has nothing to do with any natural cycle.

        ALL the natural forcings and cycles are currently in the negative. ALL of them.

        The Milankovitch cycles - both orbital and axia.

        The sun's TSI cycle - now at the lowest for a century and falling since 1950 while temperatures soared.

        The aerosol global dimming - now at it's highest thanks to China and India.

        The PDO - in the negative since 1998.

        Volcanic activity - slightly higher than average - should be having a cooling effect.

        And yet the Earth is still warming with the Arctic and the oceans warming fastest of all.

        In the past every time a Milankovitch Cycle triggered an outgassing of CO2 the Earth warmed.

        Every single time.

        The laws of physics dont care WHERE the extra 40% of heat-trapping gas has come from - they just do their thing anyway.

        CO2 levels rise - the Earth warms.

        Always has - always will.

        If you have a scintilla of evidence of some magical invisible 'natural' forcing cycle that tens of thousands of scientists can't see but - amazingly you can then tell us - WHAT IS IT?

        You could be on for the Nobel Prize and global hero status if you can show us.

        1. Slawek

          Re: Breaking News!!

          " CO2 levels rise - the Earth warms."

          * No, it is Earth warms -> CO2 rises.

          * Computer models used by warmers produce high correlation between the temperature and CO2. The CO2 concentration has been rising very fast in the last 15 years, while the temperature is almost flat.

          * The models do not model clouds and therefore the feedback mechanisms. They are almost always wrong on the warmer side http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013.png

          * Climategate emails showed how any dissent is supressed

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Breaking News!!

            "* Computer models used by warmers produce high correlation between the temperature and CO2. The CO2 concentration has been rising very fast in the last 15 years, while the temperature is almost flat."

            But still within the statistical variation of the previous recorded data - and this doesnt take acccount of higher levels of warming in the arctic - or of the warming of the oceans.

            That global warming continues in the longer term is not realistically in doubt by any respected scientific source.

          2. John Hughes

            Re: Breaking News!!

            Ding! wrong again.

            Earth warms -> CO2 rises -> Earth warms *more*.

            Thank you for playing.

          3. gzuckier

            Re: Breaking News!!

            " CO2 levels rise - the Earth warms."

            * No, it is Earth warms -> CO2 rises."

            Sure, if you ignore the known IR absorption of CO2, and the big dent in the earth's radiated EM energy, right where CO2 absorbs

            http://clivebest.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/nimbus-satellite-emissions-infra-red-earth-petty-6-6.jpg

            https://24.media.tumblr.com/f89a8bab132b46121d5e77089db217ab/tumblr_n11kv8guXp1t4esr2o1_500.jpg,

            and conservation of energy, and the earth's temperature being 33 degrees C warmer than it should be purely from the sun's radiation at this distance (take the moon for example), then sure, the earth wouldn't warm proportional to the log of the CO2 concentration. On the other hand, if you accept all these, and as the earth warms, CO2 rises (which seems to be true), then we are kind of entering a bad period. Much as the Australian colonists experienced, without having to debate whether the number of baby rabbits rose after the number of adults, or was it that the number of adult rabbits rose after the number of babies?

            " Computer models used by warmers produce high correlation between the temperature and CO2. The CO2 concentration has been rising very fast in the last 15 years, while the temperature is almost flat."

            Just like it was almost flat from Jan '70 to Nov '77, Nov '77 to Nov '86, Sep '87 to Nov '96, Mar '97 to Oct '02, and Oct '02 to Dec '11 yet, that didn't seem to signal the end of the 42-year warming trend nearly linear from Jan '70 to Dec '11 (which you need, to explain your "Earth warms -> CO2 rises" and " CO2 concentration has been rising very fast in the last 15 years"). Denialists are like an ant climbing a staircase, who repeats "Whew, glad the climbing part is over" every time he gets to the flat part of a tread.

            "The models do not model clouds and therefore the feedback mechanisms"

            Well, yes they do, they always have. However, the IPCC has always stated that cloud feedbacks were the most uncertain of the modeled effects. Spencer et al used to rely on the hope that these effects would be negative. But that argument was valid 10 or even 5 years ago, not today.

            http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v505/n7481/full/nature12829.html

            http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6108/792

            http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3666.1

            http://www.sciencemag.org/content/325/5939/460.abstract

            "They are almost always wrong on the warmer side

            http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013.png"

            So, you and Roy Spencer, as shown by his graph you linked to, admit that it IS warming, about 2-3 degrees C per decade, but not 6 degrees per decade? Well, that's a start. However, it's clear from the graph that he has displaced the "actual" temperatures to make them appear lower, by picking an alignment point to just this effect, i.e. a peak in the actual temps to a valley in the model, rather than aligning them to maximize closeness, as would be the logical and/or honest basis.

            http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2014/02/roy-spencers-latest-deceit-and-deception.html

            " Climategate emails showed how any dissent is supressed"

            Not according to every investigation. You don't seem to have had problems finding such dissent. Or did you get Spencer's web page via some underground telegraph?

        2. dan1980

          Re: Breaking News!!

          @Leslie Graham

          "And who told you anyway? Oh yeah - those same thousands of climate scientists who are also telling us that the current warming has nothing to do with any natural cycle."

          My feelings exactly and I had this same argument in another thread.

        3. doctariAFC2

          Re: Breaking News!!

          The very things ignored by the "Scientists", because no amount of control or money can change these things, so it doesn't fit the agenda of "we have the answer, now let's find the questions - and your money".

          Things ignored = Solar Activity - 90% of our climate on this planet is rooted in solar activity, yet, because scientists compare solar activity against the sun's own benchmark, it appears trivial in variation. I have yet to see any comprehensive and purely scientific studies on the minor variations of the sun and its energy output variations' actual impact on the Earth. Also ignored is geological/ gravitational factors, which the bulk of the balance of our climate. Winds, temperature mixation in water currents, etc, all driven by gravity. Large seismic events, such as the Indian Ocean earthquake and the pacific Rim of Fire Earthquake changed the shape of the lanet and its wobble on the axis. Again, very minor in terms of the shape iof the Earth, degrees of wobble, as compared to the planet itself, hence let's ignore it. However, change the shape of the spinning rock, even a couple centimeters, and you alter orbital consistency, much like a very minor flinch of less than 1/4 of a centimeter will impact a rifle shot's accuracy downrange. The further the downrange travel, the larger variation of accuracy results. Angle/ wobble of the planet certainly alters how solar energy strikes the planet, and where. Gravitational changes due to centrifical force changes alters tidal currents, jet stremas etc.

          None of this is factored in, yet is the bulk of where our climate comes from. Since no amount of taxing and spending can credibly be claimed will "fix this problem", these very large factors are ignored. But atmospheric, which is the least impactful on the climate factors? Well, we can make up anything we want, construct a computer model to "prove our answer is right" - aka, create the question, and voila, you have your playbook for mass deception. Stupid people will swallow all of this tripe when sweetened with a healthy dose of guilt trip.

          Further, stupid/ ignorant people abound, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof. I can say this, however. Religious people seem to exhibit more humility and a lot less arrogance than non-religious. And it is our arrogance that is troublesome. We cannot control everything, we do not impact many factors we claim we do, and, like the scientists claimed back in the 1920's when the US Army Corps of Engineers were dumping hundreds of thousands of metric tons of contaminated sludge into the Great Lakes, stating that science tells them the waters are so vast that the pollutants would dilute and not impact anything, coupled with the sludge would just remain where dumped, so no problems, was the scientific definitive statements of the day, which resulted in our waters of life becoming seas of neverending poison, including Lake Erie being declared dead in 1971, and you seek to question why some are skeptical of the white labcoat wearing cadre?

          REALLY?

          Let teh bashing from you arrogant pukes begin. I tell the truth, and I have ALWAYS been validated, thus far. And I do work closely with Natural Resources, policies, conservation, etc., and I ain't been wrong yet, even when told I am wrong, a few years later, when work is actually done to disprove what I say - they wind up confirming in spades what I state all along. That isn't ever going to change.

        4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @ Leslie Graham .. Re: Breaking News!!

          I hate to burst your bubble, but a volcanic eruption put out more CO2 and debris in to the atmosphere in 1 day than all of man did in a year.

          But what you never talked about genius is the shift in the magnetic poles of the earth. (Hint: Why is there a magnetic north and a true north and why are they different.)

          Also ask yourself what happens when the magnetic poles flip? (And yes its happened.)

          There's more, but your puny human brain can't handle the truth.

          Man has done a lot to damage the earth... but global warming isn't one of them.

          I could demand that you prove it... but that would be like asking a priest to prove that God exists.

        5. gzuckier

          Re: Breaking News!!

          it's all a hoax! just like forest fires! there were forest fires long before there were humans, so obviously the argument that humans cause forest fires is nonsense! Just a hoax by Smokey the Bear, to keep up his lucrative government grants.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "Junk Science at work."

        You must be American. That AGW is happening and is primarily caused by man hasn't been in any serious doubt for at least a decade now...

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @AC Re: Breaking News!!

          Funny, you post as an AC which suggest you're afraid to stand behind your opinion.

          The fact is that the climate science has been debunked and the emails have shown how corrupt the junk science has become in order to make their point.

          Temperatures are rising, but nowhere as near as fast as the 'models' had predicted.

          There's more, but your puny human brain can't handle the truth.

          Puny Human! Hulk SMASH!

      4. h4rm0ny

        Re: Breaking News!!

        >>"Do you believe that global warming is real? Sure. We have evidence going back millions of years that there is a cycle. Do you believe that global warming is man made?"

        Yep, another one here - I certainly believe the climate is changing. The degree to which human activity is a primary factor, I do not know. Similarly I put down low confidence on the Earth being 4.5bn years old. It sounds like it could be right, but I have to be honest and say it's a long time since I learned about the history of the planet and for all I know it could be 6bn or 3bn. No doubt that would be read as my being a Creationist but actually it's just scientific honesty in that I don't remember. A good survey should have trick questions like this on there for control. It reads quite a bit like they know what they want to find out. Also, although I'm fine with extrapolation as a principle, approx. 1000 people surveyed for this sounds far too low for a population in the hundreds of millions.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Breaking News!!

          Similarly I put down low confidence on the Earth being 4.5bn years old. It sounds like it could be right, but I have to be honest and say it's a long time since I learned about the history of the planet and for all I know it could be 6bn or 3bn.

          Agreed. The study methodology isn't very good, and the article is worse. "over half of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory of the inception of the universe"? I'd certainly hope so. I doubt it. It appears to be the most plausible theory anyone's advanced so far, but there certainly aren't any logical grounds for believing it without reservation, since it's not tautologically true.1 I'm happy to assume it's true for most purposes, particularly since that assumption has no practical consequences for me, but I don't hold it as an article of faith.

          Rik needs to do a bit of critical thinking about what "doubt" means. Substantial evidence, or even "overwhelming" evidence (a dubious term), should not banish doubt.

          1As opposed to purely formal truths, i.e. mathematical theorems, which are tautologically equivalent to the axioms they're derived from. Of course, per the Cartesian Evil Genius argument, even with mathematics we can never be sure that our thought processes haven't been deranged by some outside influence, and so what we believe follows from a series of formal propositions may in fact be illogical.

          1. Michael Dunn
            Thumb Up

            Re: Breaking News!! @ Michael Wojcik

            "Of course, per the Cartesian Evil Genius argument, even with mathematics we can never be sure that our thought processes haven't been deranged by some outside influence, and so what we believe follows from a series of formal propositions may in fact be illogical."

            Nice Line.

            Rember Russel's quote: "Mathmatics is the subject in which we neither know what we are talking about no whether what e say is true."

            This after completion of Pribcipia Mathematica with Whitehead.

      5. John Hughes

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "Do you believe that global warming is real? Sure. We have evidence going back millions of years that there is a cycle."

        Yup, and we're in the cooling phase of the cycle.

        Odd that the temperature is going up.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Breaking News!!

          Odd that the temperature *was* going up.

          There. Fixed it for you

      6. Uffish

        Science Denial Alert

        I'm tired of all this tediousness, do you think global climate climate change is manmade. Y/N ? Then we can put you in the 60% or the 40% category.

        Meanwhile, Slashdot has an article about enlarging the holes on American golf courses. "A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more," says García, who shot a six-under-par 30 for nine holes in the exhibition.

        60% stupidity level, 15" holes in golf - yee-hi, only in America, go Cowboys, go!

        With apologies to the 40%.

      7. MondoMan

        Re: the questions

        Very poorly written, so you've got to wonder about the skills of the authors of this survey, or whether they were trying to get a certain response.

        For example, "The average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases". While it's true that we are emitting an ever-rising amount of these gases, which should lead to more heat-trapping according to simple physics, it's also true that even the IPCC in its latest report has admitted that the average world temps have not risen during the past 10-15 years. So, the IPCC (and I along with them) would have to answer "Not at all confident" on this one.

        Or, for a question supposedly designed to focus on the Big Bang: "The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang." Now, I'm a believer in the Big Bang theory, but have no idea whether the current estimate of the age of the universe is 10 billion years, 13.8 billion years, 15 billion years, or some other number in that general ballpark. I'd have to answer at best "Somewhat confidant" just because of the specific age issue.

        Bottom line: good survey questions isolate a single issue at hand in each question -- they don't jumble multiple facts/issues as was done in many of these questions.

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "Do you believe that global warming is man made?

        ("Mostly because of Man Made trapped gasses...")

        Seriously.

        That's the problem.

        Junk Science at work."

        Let's see.... 37%.... that's about 1/3..... 1, 2, ... yup, right on schedule.

      9. gzuckier

        Re: Breaking News!!

        ("Mostly because of Man Made trapped gasses...")

        Yeah, that's not exactly what they, or the theory, says.

    3. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Breaking News!!

      Most Americans: Big Bang Theory huh? OMG I love that show!!!

    4. Leslie Graham

      Re: Breaking News!!

      It's not that Americans are any more stupid than any other race - it's that they are poorly informed.

      We need to greatly improve science education at every level and keep religion and supertitions out of the classroom.

      Some of the more extreme religious indoctrination of young children is nothing short of child abuse.

      Children should be kept free of religious dogma until they are of an age when they can make informed decisions about whether Jesus rode dinosaurs and suchlike claims.

      Toddlers will accept just about anything their parents tell them and in America - it shows

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Breaking News!!

        >Toddlers will accept just about anything their parents tell them and in America - it shows

        Except thankfully the one thing Millennials in the US have going for them is they are not very religious at all.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Breaking News!!

          "Toddlers will accept just about anything their parents tell them"

          except "don't put stuff you pick up from the floor in your mouth", "electrical cords are not toys" etc etc

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "It's not that Americans are any more stupid than any other race - it's that they are poorly informed."

        No, they really are stupid and not just stupid, but proud of it!

        1. gzuckier

          Re: Breaking News!!

          "It's not that Americans are any more stupid than any other race - it's that they are poorly informed."

          "No, they really are stupid and not just stupid, but proud of it!"

          I submit that they are extremely well informed, however the information they are being informed with is manufactured to sell a political opinion, as thoroughly and efficiently as the majority of the information they are informed with regarding any particular fast food outlet, for example, is manufactured to sell them burgers.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Breaking News!!

        Quote: Toddlers will accept just about anything their parents tell them and in America - it shows

        It's not just America that it shows. Look around the world a bit. It's everywhere.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          @Mark 85

          "It's not just America that it shows. Look around the world a bit. It's everywhere."

          Perhaps so yet in other countries with other religions some how the religion doesn't seem to get in the way of a technical education.

          IOW It's science and religion rather than science or religion

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            @ John Smith 19

            "Perhaps so yet in other countries with other religions some how the religion doesn't seem to get in the way of a technical education."

            Your kidding yeah? Totally joking with absolutely no attempt of honesty? Please I beg that you did not say that with any conviction.

            The middle east was a wonder of scientific advancement, until its current status as religiously crippled. Religion used as justification or an excuse for the attacks on people particularly women. Of course Christianity wouldnt be so bad except in Africa where belief causes interesting conflicts of thought vs religion and women are baby making machines. I mention these particularly as they are coming here for jobs and a better life.

            So there goes the large chunk of the world. If you are a supporter of Palestine then you will probably oppose Israel on religious grounds too although they do seem to manage technical brilliance alongside belief.

            And if your in the UK have a look around. See the amazing development of ethnic and religious clusters. Look at the recent scandal over schools being subverted to Islam at the expense of education. Of course the US has been racked plenty over its religion on here already.

            This is an interesting world for an atheist.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

              Re: @ John Smith 19

              ""Perhaps so yet in other countries with other religions some how the religion doesn't seem to get in the way of a technical education."

              I think you conflate hatred of the West with a hatred of technology. If I were brutally honest I'd say the Palestinian / Israeli conflict is a land war that persists due to the massive funding of exterior parties for their own reasons. Large personal fortunes (either made or being spent) and efficient lobbying (to continue US involvement on the "right" side) make this a very difficult problem to resolve. Whenever a bad situation never gets any better follow the money.

              Antisemitism has very little to do with this issue.

              The effective theft of $13 T from the Iraqi economy might have upset a few Iraqis as well. "My enemies enemy is my friend" is a principal the US has long followed (like the CIA's support of Bin Laden back in the day. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?)

              Hatred of the West didn't stop the Afghans down loading unencrypted drone video or building cost effective IED's.

              You might like to look as the addresses of some of the papers in various scientific journals.

              And of course there are the home countries of all those work visas coming into the US.

              Japan, China, Singapore, S. Korea etc.

              Not known for their Christianity, are they?

              1. MondoMan

                Re: @ John Smith 19

                You wrote a last throwaway:

                "And of course there are the home countries of all those work visas coming into the US.

                Japan, China, Singapore, S. Korea etc.

                Not known for their Christianity, are they?"

                Actually, South Koreans are well-known for the speed and intensity with which they have embraced Christianity.

    5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Breaking News!!

      >Most Americans are stupid.

      Compared to a country that chooses it's leaders from the same heriditory class that went to a couple of boys-only schools and then studied politics at one university. Where not a single minister has any technical background and who fire science advisors if they fail to agree with the Daily Mail.

      A country with a monarchy that is more of a meritocracy than the governing party !

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "A country with a monarchy that is more of a meritocracy than the governing party !"

        At least the Limeys have some part of their grey and soaked country that has a meritocracy. That's a hell of a step up from the US of A.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Happy

          @Trevor_Pott

          "At least the Limeys have some part of their grey and soaked country that has a meritocracy. That's a hell of a step up from the US of A."

          Now Trevor you know the US of A has the best down democracy that money can buy.

        2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: Breaking News!!

          @Trevor Pott

          It's also the Canadian monarchy, you might have added.

          Whereas others, arguably stupid as per other comments, seceded.

        3. Jaybus

          Re: Breaking News!!

          Well, that depends upon one's view of what constitutes merit, doesn't it? But I suppose in the interest of abandoning terminology having religious connotations in favor of modern, politically correct terminology, it wouldn't do to think of the monarchy as ruling by "divine right". And of course it sounds so elitist, if not racist, to think of the monarchy as ruling by "right of birth". So let us use the term "meritocracy", albeit without delving into the meaning of merit. Yes, that will be much more modern, I think. Quite the step up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Breaking News!!

        "Compared to a country that chooses it's leaders from the same heriditory class that went to a couple of boys-only schools and then studied politics at one university. Where not a single minister has any technical background and who fire science advisors if they fail to agree with the Daily Mail."

        And we still end up with smarter, better, more liked and more competent leaders than yours.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Breaking News!!

          "And we still end up with smarter, better, more liked and more competent leaders than yours."

          Speak for yourself.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Breaking News!!

            Wasn't it recently established that you get better government by randomly picking names from a phone book than from ANY of the diluted flavours of democracy currently practiced?

            1. gzuckier

              Re: Breaking News!!

              "Wasn't it recently established that you get better government by randomly picking names from a phone book than from ANY of the diluted flavours of democracy currently practiced?"

              Yes, I think you could make the argument that running for office should be enough to label a person as unfit for office.

              1. David 18

                Re: Breaking News!!

                "Yes, I think you could make the argument that running for office should be enough to label a person as unfit for office."

                Have maintained that for years. I think government should be like jury service.

            2. Michael Dunn
              Happy

              Re: Breaking News!! @ Naughtyhorse

              "Wasn't it recently established that you get better government by randomly picking names from a phone book than from ANY of the diluted flavours of democracy currently practiced?"

              You've read Chesterton's "The Napoleon of Notting Hill"?

        2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

          Re: Breaking News!!

          @ AC

          "And we still end up with smarter, better, more liked and more competent leaders than yours."

          But they WEREN'T necessarily smarter, better, more liked, or more competent when you were the dominant world power, as the U.S. is now. Seriously -- need we mention how successful you were at ingratiating yourselves to the Africans, Indians, and Chinese in the 19th century...? Now that they no longer have to answer to your government's whims, they like you a lot more. When we are no longer trying to prove anything OUR leaders will magically become smarter, better, more liked and more competent, too.

          <signed>

          Neither Anonymous nor Coward

        3. gzuckier

          Re: Breaking News!!

          "Compared to a country that chooses it's leaders from the same heriditory class that went to a couple of boys-only schools and then studied politics at one university. Where not a single minister has any technical background and who fire science advisors if they fail to agree with the Daily Mail."

          And we still end up with smarter, better, more liked and more competent leaders than yours."

          It's the money. There are huge profits to be made by manipulating the media in America.

      3. Chris Parsons

        Re: Breaking News!!

        To be honest, though I am absolutely still going with the 'Americans are stupid' theme, he does have a point. We seem to be following rather quickly in the 'science is for nerds' stakes.

    6. StimuliC

      Re: Breaking News!!

      I live among them and the majority of them don't believe anything unless it comes from a Pastor or Priest or the Tea Party!

      I've even been told that we, the English (British), stole the English language from American's and that we are horrible people.

      I just shrug my shoulders and smirk at their ignorance and walk away. There is no point in trying to reason with Stupid!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Breaking News!!

        I live among them and the majority of them don't believe anything unless it comes from a Pastor or Priest or the Tea Party!

        Oh? And how large is your sample size?

        It's no harder to be insulting if you don't rely on idiotic generalizations. For example: you're an ass, but I can say that without claiming the majority of English (or British, which the last I checked was not at all the same thing) people are asses. Indeed, my anecdotal experience suggests otherwise, though I admit I haven't surveyed a sufficiently large sample to have a decent confidence level.

    7. MacGyver

      Re: "It's got what plants crave!"

      Pretty much shows why IQ tests are designed to have 49% of the population in double digits.

      It all comes down to education and as long as we as a people don't focus on education, we will suffer the consequences from ignorant people doing stupid things. (like allowing a mumps or measles outbreak in a wealthy country in 2014)

    8. Jim 59

      Americans == totally thick

      ...and they've got the Nobel prizes to prove it.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Americans == totally thick

        "Americans == totally thick

        ...and they've got the Nobel prizes to prove it."

        If a dog has four legs and a cat has four legs....

        You know you just gave yourself away, right?

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Breaking News!!

      Truely shocking levels of ignorance. No wonder they make such a mess of pretty much everything outside of the US that they get involved with...

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Dig

    Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

    The question is "mostly because of man made heat trapping gasses" I think most non-experts would say they are not sure because they don't know the other causes or what percentage.

    I know the world is old but is it 4.5 Billion or 3.5 billion, the question doesn't say this is what is scientists hold as a fact and do they agree with it, it doesn't event say approximately 4.5billion years.

    And due to the half life of facts things like the big bang could be replaced by something else in 50 years time so you would be right to be doubtful if you don;t follow the latest cosmological discoveries.

    Is a preamble to the questionnaire missing saying theses statements are currently regarded as the truth by researchers in the respective areas?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

      I'm not attacking you with this, I promise. While you're absolutely correct the assumptions and headline aren't really a good match, we've now got a really big problem in the fact that you've pointed out the issue.

      It's fine if you want to run about and be all smart, but we really can't have you putting stuff like this out in the public domain. For Christ's sake man, children can access this site. It's people like you who ruin it for everybody else. How do you expect antagonistic link bait headlines to draw in advertisers if you go around suggesting that people separate the headline and the content and actually consider if they belong together, and if they don't, why are they together.

      Your need to go waving your brain around could very easily undermine decades of behavioral management techniques and jeopardize the entire online advertising industry. I'll be you're in the paper or forest products industry aren't you? You want them to take away the Internet so you can sell more paper don't you? If not paper, then who are you representing with your seditious activities?

      Maybe you should just stop.

      1. h4rm0ny
        Joke

        Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

        >>"For Christ's sake man, children can access this site"

        Wait, we're not all children here? That's just made all the fanboy warring here soooo much more depressing. :(

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

      I had absolutely the same reaction: Several questions I would never truthfully answer "extremely confident". I might answer it after gauging the intent of the survey, mitigating the "OMG! USAians are EEJITS!" headlines.

      How confident are you that the universe 13.8 billion years old? Not confident enough to come up with the number --- something between 12 and 15 I thought. If numbers are revised to 11.7billion or 17.1billion, my world view is not going to be shaken in any way whatsoever.

      Similarly, how confident are you that childhood vaccines are safe? Not extremely confident: There can be a contamination discovered a few months from now, for the injection I'm now approving for my toddler. And for every few thousand lives saved, some vaccines kill or maim a few extremely unfortunate kids through complications/allergies/... (presumably slightly more than get killed in the car driving towards their vaccinations). So do I think on balance that they're a good idea to use? Yes, I'm extremely confident.

      [There cannot have been a preamble about scientific viewpoints, as the 'creator' question is not a very scientific viewpoint though held by 50ish% of American physicists, AFAIK.]

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

      Not only that Dig, the actual wording of the questions is designed to get the results the people commissioning the poll want.

      1. Dig

        Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

        You just reminded me of this

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

        Old but always relevant.

      2. Jaybus

        Re: Questions do not tie up with the headline assumption

        >> "Not only that Dig, the actual wording of the questions is designed to get the results the people commissioning the poll want."

        Ironic that it was one of those morons in the US, Samuel Clemens, who summed up this principle very nicely when he wrote "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."

  4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    The big bang?

    Makes it sound like the giant flying spaghetti monster created the universe when he farted.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The big bang?

      You mean he didn't?!

      I'm crushed!!

    2. Uffish
      Facepalm

      Re: The big fart

      Go drool somewhere else Mr. Sixty percenter.

  5. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Fake Corporation science

    Tobacco is not the only example of companies suppressing or confusing scientific evidence for short term profit. There was also lead in paint and gasoline as well where pet scientists and propaganda was used to hold off the ban of leaded paint and fuel.

    If two scientists say different things, there are lots of people who will just go with what they want to hear without looking at the actual science.

    If people still believe Wakefield (and even think he is a victim) there is not much hope.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      That list is endless.

    2. Charles Manning

      Fake sceince science too

      While you focus on corporations being hostile to science in the interests of profit, you can just as well apply that to anyone with a vested interest.

      That includes scientists.

      Pretty much all scientists have a vested interest in their area of research, because that's where their funding comes from and at the end of the day that is what puts food on the table and a car in the driveway. It is ridiculous to expect scientists on a pedistal. They are the same as any of us.

      While the scallywags at the EAU Climate Research Unit show this in spades, we see this in pretty much all areas of research.

      Two days ago I listened to some research scientist spouting on about unlocking the honey bee's genetic code to make pesticides that kill everything but the honey bee. Sounds good to the people that believe the honey bee is the thing that pollinates all our food. The scientist, an entimologist, must surely be aware of the truth: many different insects pollinate our crops - honey bees are just one of many. Killing off other insects is as bad as killing off the honey bees.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Fake sceince science too

        Yeah too bad the Koch Brothers alone probably make more profit from their private energy company than the total amount of all climate research done in the US in a year.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: Fake sceince science too

          Yep they do at least public research money wise.

          For the US government, spending on climate research across 13 different agencies (from the Department of State to NASA) is tracked by the US Climate Change Science Program. The group has tracked the research budget since 1989, but not everything was brought under its umbrella until 1991. That year, according to CCSP figures, about $1.45 billion was spent on climate research (all figures are in 2007 dollars). Funding peaked back in 1995 at $2.4 billion, then bottomed out in 2006 at only $1.7 billion.

      2. asdf Silver badge

        Re: Fake sceince science too

        >Pretty much all scientists have a vested interest in their area of research, because that's where their funding comes from and at the end of the day that is what puts food on the table and a car in the driveway.

        It tends to not do so any more if they start slanting research towards personal gain. The energy companies only hire a small number token nay sayers after all.

      3. John Tserkezis

        Re: Fake sceince science too

        "It is ridiculous to expect scientists on a pedistal. They are the same as any of us."

        Correct, but science is peer-reviewed. What you say is looked at by a bunch of your peers, it's taken apart, it's compared with other studies, and you're rightly ridiculed if you get it wrong. You sway views here with facts, figures, and repeatable results done by different teams.

        General belief on the street is not peer reviewed, and appears tied to each particular person - with no study, no comparisons, just gut feelings. You can usually sway their view if you manipulated them the right way. This is the basis of product marketing and government votes.

        Religeon is even worse. My way is the right way and everyone else can get fucked. No correspondance can be entered into because the judges who reptutedly wrote the documents don't have them revised, and don't actually exist.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Fake sceince science too

          > Correct, but science is peer-reviewed.

          Just like the openssl code...

          Nature reckons that 70% of what they publish turns out to be rubbish. That's an awful lot of science in one of the premier publications which just isn't true. If if we know 70% is wrong and only 51% are unsure if you're right, you've got much more support than you should expect.

          As it is, didn't Hawking talk about the big bang as "before the laws of physics were formed"? In my book, that means it doesn't have to conform to physical laws - it's "supernatural." How is a physicist going to tell you what went on after he admits that its outside his field of expertise? That sounds like religion to me.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Fake sceince science too

            >> Correct, but science is peer-reviewed.

            >Just like the openssl code...

            No, the problem with the OpenSSL code was that it wasn't properly reviewed.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fake sceince science too

        "you can just as well apply that to anyone with a vested interest.

        That includes scientists."

        Indeed. First hand info here - few years ago, add "to research the effect on climate change" in a paper - get funding... Sad but true.

      5. Don Jefe

        Re: Fake sceince science too

        Charles, nobody is going to believe you're not American if you keep making posts that should appear as intro text for an Americans are stupid poll. Instead of picking your entire post apart, I'll just hit the two high points, everything else is too dangerous to read again.

        The overwhelming majority of scientific researchers give exactly zero fucks about their findings jiving with any preconceived notions. Know why? Because the number of scientists researching their own projects is a single digit minority of the scientific population. The other 91% of scientists are just like any other worker bee (Ha!) and go to a 9-5 job where they work on whatever their boss tells them to.

        Most of that 91% will never be the lead author on a paper that wasn't part of their PhD and first post doc job, just like most business majors won't ever make any significant business decisions and most engineers will never have a senior management role. They'll never apply for funding for their own project because, like most other workers, that paycheck is tied to getting their work done, not to creating proposals that are no different than any startup company business plan. It's outside their realm of desire and ability.

        When you apply for a grant the grant tells you what needs to be done, they're just hiring scientists because they need somebody who understands the accepted procedures for proper research, they don't get to pick the research, or even the methodologies, they just know how to do those things. No different than hiring a contractor in any other field.

        In government research, like with USDA or even DARPA, private industry tells the government what they're wanting researched and the agencies do the research and changes to industries are made, or not, depending on the results. For example, some of the most advanced research the USDA does is aquaculture and intensive breeding programs to create cold and cool water fish breeding stock that's more resilient to higher water temperatures so aquaculture farms don't have to spend 20% of their budget chilling water so you can have affordable, non poisoned trout at Applebee's (bees again Ha! x2). Same with USDA corn. Most of those programs are related to aquaculture, intensive hybridizing programs to create non GMO corn that makes up for vitamin decencies in trout that have had both sets of their DNA so selectively bread for warmer water that they don't process food the regular way.

        Sure, there are some pet scientists in any industry, but if you'll note, once they've crossed over to the Dark Side they're no longer published in actual scientific journals. They move to the land of industry science, where everything is bullshit. Therefore nobody wants to publish their junk science. It's why free journals don't have significant impact factors and why research published there isn't allowed into more serious, advanced research. The industry scientists only matter to their industries, but again, almost none of them get to create their own projects.

        Know why so much research is done at universities? It's because you can get free labor and don't have to buy common equipment like centrifuges, microscopes, sequencing systems, ovens and explosion proof refrigerators. That's pretty important because the average research grant is about $35k (2013) and acreage project length is 26 months. So you've got $35k to pay for everything over a more than two year period and that includes any conferences you get invited to to discuss your work. That money doesn't go far and it's gone with the end of the project, so there's really no point in doing anything other than good science, because that's what your funding is actually tied to. Fuck it up once and you'll never, ever get to make it past the application stage of future grant offerings.

        You're out of your fucking mind if you think scientists make anything but shit for money. My wife is a rather accomplished geneticist and is on the Board of one of the journals that El Reg frequently uses to mangle abstracts from. At the height of her career she was running a large lab in Northern Virginia and made a whopping $103,000 annual. Sounds pretty good until you realize she had 123 staffers, in five time zones and worked 14 hour days, for nine years. That's less than my receptionist makes and she's got a degree in fuck all, works 6AM-2PM, no weekends and gets three weeks paid vacation and enough benefits to sink a ship. Plus nobody calls her at home.

        There's no money in science unless you're crooked or selling lab equipment. Better money being a secretary or policeman. There's no continuous flow of money to any one person, from any one group, for anything because that's not good science. Occasionally you'll have somebody come back from the dark side, but usually only after they've already sold their soul and have been offered a prestige job somewhere.

        Instead of learning about science from El Reg comment sections I recommend doing some research into the matter yourself. It'll be time consuming, as it's very complex, it'll be expensive, because you can't email everything and might need to travel, and it'll be thankless with little or no pay. But you might really like it anyway. That's the world scientists live in and they do it because they love it, not because there's money in it.

        As far as honeybees, Jesus man. Of course other animals pollinate things too. But what you're talking about is like removing all the white people from the US and expecting the super tiny, itty bitty minority populations to do the same amount of work as the few hundred million people that just went missing. That's just fucking stupid.

        1. RobHib

          @Don Jefe --- Re: Fake sceince science too

          "There's no money in science unless you're crooked or selling lab equipment."

          Unfortunately, you're correct. Employers have always played on the fact that techies of all sorts will work for peanuts when given the opportunity to work on science and technology that they truly enjoy doing.

          I know for a fact that I'd be much better off financially had I worked in other fields such as banking and finance. Instead, I mostly enjoyed doing comparatively low-paying work in fields that interested me. (When at school and uni I cannot once recall thinking that I would aim to enter a high-paying career--the discipline itself was always paramount.)

          These days, kids are very much more attuned to what careers pay than when I started, thus many give science and technology jobs a wide berth (and they often start doing so at school by opting for either no science or the absolute minimum). In turn, this has produced a society that's less knowledgeable about science than it was years ago. And less knowledge usually means less interest.

          Today, science also suffers from its high degree of specialisation, thus after years of training, some job-hunters cannot get jobs--or have difficulty in moving jobs due to their years of having specialised in one particular field.

          Essentially, science and many technology jobs just don't have the glamour they once did, thus even gifted students often make pragmatic decisions to enter careers that ideally wouldn't be their first choice.

          As I see it, these issues are serious problems confronting both science and society (they underpin and often trivialise many of today's scientific problems such as climate change, nuclear power, etc.).

    3. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      "Fake Corporation science"

      Here's your upvote, just for the title ..

      When I took Physical Chemistry, I was promised that if I never assumed more than 2 significant figures I would be minimally beaten and occasionally fed. Apparently educational methods have changed some since then.

      Corporations claim to abhor "uncertainty" but secretly love it to death when it allows them to claim that they can't possibly know what they did while all the time claiming to know what they are doing.

    4. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      I'd have added a few more superstitions to the list. Whackjob beliefs like:

      Markets are rational and efficient

      CEO and banker pay is based on talent and performance

      Western countries are healthy, vibrant meritocracies

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      I totally agree with this, and sugar is the next big example of this.

      On a seperate point, I am surprised that the pseudoscience of intelligent design has not been mentioned anywhere on these threads. This is perhaps the most insidious aspect of the growth in ignorance. By wrapping belief systems in the smoke and mirror of a mythical science continues to move the argument away from scientific proof to faith based supposition, and attempt to give them equal weighting.

      1000 years ago the sun orbited the Earth, and you were burnded for thinking otherwise; that was the FAITH. Now the faith is that evolution is an aspect of the grand plan and is obviously designed in. The slippery nature of the evolving argument means that there will never be a resolution.

      As we explore for more exoplanets, and we reduce the uncertainty around the existence of other life on other plantes, I am sure the circle will be squared in respect to how we are now ALL made in God's image... just keep ajusting the equation enough to keep your theory from being negated.

      There is a mathematical term for that that escapes me right now.

    6. Don Dumb
      Boffin

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      @Tom35 - If two scientists say different things, there are lots of people who will just go with what they want to hear without looking at the actual science.

      If people still believe Wakefield (and even think he is a victim) there is not much hope.

      You've hit on one of the major problems - lesser qualified people being given the same weight of argument to discussion as relevant scientists. Wakefield was (at best) a part-time scientist, he was a GP doing 'some' research but didn't have a doctorate, nor did he have any research qualifications. He used his title 'Dr' because that was his professional title for being a qualified GP, which he has now lost. Despite that, Wakefield was given a equal say on the matter of MMR to that of the relevant Professors of Immunology.

      News broadcasters generally inverview at least two differing sides of a discussion, to give 'balance'. However, balance isn't as simple as two opposed sides and this principle gets corrupted far too often. In debates on scientific subjects far too frequently, a scientist, highly qualiifed in the field of discussion has to debate with a politician or representative of a pressure group. To the viewer it seems like there is a reasonable side to either argument but in truth it is scientific fact arguing against opinion. It gets worse when news companies aren't even trying to be fair.

      The science radio program The Infinite Monkey Cage often points out that in discussions on astronomy, people write in upset that the 'point of view of astrology' has been dismissed "arogantly" and the presenters have to painfully point out that there isn't a scientific 'point of view' for astrology.

      People are trained to think that there is science and then there is 'another view' and so why would they think there is anything wrong with having the other view. We have to look out how science, or as I prefer to see it - authoritative understanding is criticised and debated in the public.

    7. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Fake Corporation science

      I guess everybody's favourite should be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Midgley,_Jr. --- he who helped invent a lead-based anti-'knocking' compound that was marketed as 'Ethyl', carefully not mentioning 'lead' anywhere.

      There were grave concerns about its safety in general and hazardous work conditions in particular (what with employees falling dead with lead poisoning, left right and center); he showed how safe it all was by painting his hands in the stuff and inhaling its vapours etc for the assembled press (reminds me of ministers eating beef after Mad Cow scares). Then he silently went to Europe to recover from acute lead intoxication.

      There was last week a BBC article on the significant correlation between atmospheric lead concentration and crime levels --- it seems neurological damage around birth can lead to criminal lifestyles around your 20s (presumably, mental impairment causing unemployable school dropouts).

      Having contributed massively to atmospheric pollution, he decided to up the ante and invented CFCs, like Freon for fridges, and succeeded in creating the hole in the ozone layer. A man for all seasons, truly.

  6. 100113.1537

    So what?

    Repeat the survey anywhere and you will get the same kinds of "stupid people" responses. Remember that people have have very different schooling and life experiences - especially in the US where a good proportion are immigrants often from countries which have political/religious educational systems. Even in the UK, a significant number of children attend non-state schools run on religious principles and compared to the US the UK is totalitarian state with regard to educational content.

    I would also caution against the "scientific facts" used in the survey as these were obviously chosen (or quoted at least) to show up a fundamentalist bias - and including the AGW question together with these makes me think this is just another attempt to paint anyone not buying into climate alarmism as a nut-case.

    Just another "survey" set up to promote a cause.

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  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lefkowitz is just another conspiracy theorist and political activist. There's a huge publicly funded campaign to persuade world + dog that catastrophe is just around the corner unless you cede all freedoms to a special elite group who will tell you how to live in a "carbon free world"; there's no organized campaign to oppose that. Instead there are a few individuals struggling to help people separate the science from the hype and rent seeking.

    As for the rest, maybe it does represent in some cases a healthy skepticism, not just believing what you are told ? Vaccines, I accept that the current vaccines are safe, having been fairly exhaustively researched and tested, but I don't accept that all vaccines are necessarily safe per se. It would certainly be possible to prepare a vaccine that inadvertently did significant harm, hence the need for thorough and comprehensive testing regimes. Big Bang, what if the String Gas cosmology theory better fits the latest results from BICEP, would that lead to a revision of peoples belief in how the "big bang" evolved (it is an alternative to "inflation") ? Or maybe it is a case of simply thinking it beyond reasonable comprehension to know to the point that one would be "confident" ?

    Usually with these sorts of surveys the intention is political, it is another tool to label one's political opponents "stupid" or "anti-science" or something like that. Interesting ? Yes, vaguely, useful, only to political activists.

    1. Dan Caugherty

      You're an American, aren't you?

  9. Chris 3

    Possible problem with the questions, rather than Americans.

    Much as a nice bit of America-bashing is fun? Don't the questions look a bit off to anyone else?

    Am I sure that the universe began with a big bang well yes - or was it inflation?

    Am I confident that it started 13.8bn years ago? Of course not. I know it's meant to be about 13, but if I was asked on the street whether it was 13.8 I would certainly say I was "Not at all confident".

    How many of you would actually say you were confident, without looking it up?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Possible problem with the questions, rather than Americans.

      HIggs boson.

      Maybe you've heard of it?

      1. Steve Crook

        Re: Possible problem with the questions, rather than Americans.

        Can't help feeling that the headline figures should also have included the somewhat confident people. After all they still think it's likely that the theory is true, but they may just not know enough about the subject to express a string degree of confidence.

        Just seems to me to be another stupid survey and press release designed to make a point that really doesn't need to be made.

        After all, the universe is currently thought to be 13.8 billion years old, but wasn't not so long ago that they added a few hundred million years. We didn't have dark matter, now we have dark matter, we didn't have dark energy, now we do. But that's the beauty of science...

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. albaleo

    I probably have more respect for those who are very confident that the world is 6000 years old than those who are confident that vaccines are "safe and effective". The former group's beliefs are based on fantasy. Weird, but not so worrying. The latter group seem to be straight out of some Brave New World where we believe what we're told. If they'd asked if they were "generally safe and effective", I might have felt able to answer the question. But surely anyone with any respect for science is not going to accept any absolute claim about anything.

    Anyone labelling me an antivaxer will make 100113.1537's point.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I probably have more respect for those who are very confident that the world is 6000 years old than those who are confident that vaccines are "safe and effective". The former group's beliefs are based on fantasy. Weird, but not so worrying."

      I see - you don't find it even slightly worrying that these individuals are trying to have their surreal delusions taught as fact in science classes in any state where they can exert influence? That they are passing this, and far more damaging 'facts' on to their children, and to try and force the states to teach it to other people's children?

      "The latter group seem to be straight out of some Brave New World where we believe what we're told. If they'd asked if they were "generally safe and effective", I might have felt able to answer the question. But surely anyone with any respect for science is not going to accept any absolute claim about anything."

      Actually, I think we're expected to apply empirical reasoning, not blind belief, but I see your point. 'Generally safe and effective' might be one approach - or how about something weighing the risk of vaccination against the risk of contracting the condition it should prevent?

      1. albaleo

        "I see - you don't find it even slightly worrying that these individuals are trying to have their surreal delusions taught as fact in science classes"

        I was commenting on whacky beliefs. There was no question in the survey asking whether creationism should be taught in science classes. I understand that as many people worldwide believe in ghosts as believe in gods. I view both ideas in the same way.

        "or how about something weighing the risk of vaccination against the risk of contracting the condition it should prevent"

        Sure, but it would be a slightly different question. "Vaccination is generally safe and effective." versus "The benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks." The first is more in line with the survey's theme - the second is more a comment on policy than scientific understanding. Someone might agree that vaccines are generally safe but not always accept that the benefits outweigh the risks - for example, the chickenpox vaccine.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes. Not sure about which is worse, the ones who believe in Intelligent Design or the ones who believe whatever authority-figures-we-ought-to-be-able-to-trust-in-an-ideal-world tell us. Off the top of my head I think the Creationist imbeciles are worse because the world they want to bring into being (like Saruman creating an Uruk-hai) is more likely one in which we who can decide for ourselves won't have the chance to influence. Like they're the ones more likely to gravitate to putting intellectuals to death. But maybe the others are also likely to do that; kind of like the difference between the Nazis and the Soviets? You know, the one is obviously off their trolleys right from the start, while the other is slightly more subtle about it. One commits murder in a psychotic frenzy; the other in cold blood.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, yes & yes

    Americans = stupid = very confident.

    Just walk into a burger chain and order a non-standard burger ( eg a whopper without the meat) and enjoy the panic/reactions/uncertainty/disbelief/ on the poor sods' faces. They have been too dumbed down genetically by now to even think beyond whats mentioned on the big board behind them in numbers. Sir, do you want number 19 or 20? (nothing else exists in their limited world vision).

    This from repeated personal expereinces.

    1. asdf Silver badge

      Re: Yes, yes & yes

      Careful generalizing about 300+ million people from minimum wage slaves. I think if you look at Nobel Prizes you will find the USA is represented at the top end fairly well.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Yes, yes & yes

        The inertia of sarah palin and michele bachmann's special brand of stupid more than offsets ALL merkin nobels.

        oh and no 2 on that list?

        the UK, 50 million people with socialised education!

        Most nobles per capita?

        norway

        go figure!

        rather that some half assed prize giving committee I would refer you to the comments of statistics made elsewhere

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes, yes & yes

          "Most nobles per capita? Norway

          go figure!"

          Norway has a feudal system?

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: Yes, yes & yes

            Doh!

            er yes!!

      2. doctariAFC2

        Re: Yes, yes & yes

        The charlatain Algore and the winner for doing nothing Obama notwithstanding, correct?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You may fire when ready, but...

    I'm not ashamed of my country because some of its inhabitants are stupid. Dummies abound.

    I'm ashamed because the idiots who choose unproven faiths over proven, data-driven conclusions are proud of their ignorance. It's a badge of honor to be unswayed by pesky data or (gulp!) facts.

    And the clods are too dumb to notice that they've been tricked with the same old tactics, over and over again: Cherry-picked results ("this one scientist out of a bazillion agrees with us"), killing the messenger ("but of course they're one of *those*, so..."), conspiracy theories, false equivalency, regarding all expressed opinions (not matter how well-researched or not) as having equal merit, and good old fashioned fear ("but they'll take our guns away!!").

    So, yeah: Go ahead and America-bash. We need to change our ways, we have it coming, and contrary to what we believe, we're really not number one. But honestly, I'd really appreciate it if you managed to try something effective instead.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: You may fire when ready, but...

      "Cherry-picked results ("this one scientist out of a bazillion agrees with us")"

      And why would a red blooded, patriotic American trust or believe some bloke from some 3rd world south american banana republic claiming to be a scientist anyway?

  14. mememine69

    The next time you look your own children square in the eyes and tell them to "believe" the science then "believe" that science has been 95% certain for 32 years and have never "believed" as much as you do. Your eagerness for this misery to have been real is uncivilized and absolutely sickening.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Were you trying to say something?

    2. asdf Silver badge

      And the next time you give your kids antibiotics that may well save their life you can tell them see look what science did for us.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "believe" the science

      Unlike religion, you're not expected to "believe the science". You are being asked to trust a data source. Usually based on experience. If you don't trust the data source, try a different source. Or repeat the experiment yourself if you really want to. Or wait while others do so and see if they get the same or different results. Try doing that with religion.

    4. Florida1920 Silver badge

      You can examine the science and the peer-review process. You can't examine religious faith, which is its one and only card to play. They can't produce "God," explain resurrection or loaves and fishes, or prove there's an afterlife. And still they brag about their impotence!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        brag about their impotence!

        Not getting at you but just a genuine question, did you mean impotence or omnipotence?

  15. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Not surprising

    Somehow, the results of this don't surprise me. First this: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2014/04/17/killer_robots_dna_tampering_and_peeping_cyborgs_the_future_looks_bright/ and now this one.

    We're a nation who puts more faith in the brainpower of celebrities than science. Elections are won and lost on the number of celebrities on a candidates side, not the strength or logic of the issues and answers. Even for those following the religious right deal with the mindless celebrity bit. We've dumbed down our schools so much because "we can't leave any child behind" that rational thinking and logic have disappeared and been replaced with "feel-good" subjects.

    Meh.... my fellow citizens sometimes disgusts me.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising

      The matter of "No Child Left Behind" raises a very important moral question. If we don't follow this principle, children WILL be left behind, resulting in societal rejects.

      The moral question is, "What does our society do with the rejects (for the hopeless ones for which there's just no place in our society)?"

  16. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    THAT'S NOTHING

    "Our" politicians believe that UKRAINE IS OURS ("we’re going to lose eastern Ukraine", Sen. Bob Corker (R – TN)) and that WHAT'S GOOD FOR ISRAEL IS GOOD FOR THE US (no citations needed) and "our" economists (as well as the Fed Chairman) believe that PRINTING MONEY UPS GDP AND THERE WILL BE FULL EMPLOYMENT BY 2016. This is what Yellen actually said!

    Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, agreed with Lefkowitz that such campaigns are a challenge, but suggested that they could be overcome with sufficient public pushback, as was done with smoking and its link to cancer.

    Please not. I have had it with the progressive social engineering experiments. They always end in tears and unintended consequences.

  17. Someone Else Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Science ignorance is pervasive in our society," said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California at Berkeley, "and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders leading bigmouth demagogues with a political agenda who prey on ignorance and want more of it are openly antagonistic to established facts."

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  18. Marshalltown

    Hmmm

    As I recall a poll in the mid-70s discovered that while a minority of Brits believed in God, a large majority believed in the devil, so it its pretty clear where us 'mur'cans inherited our approach to learning from. Not being religious myself, I am at a loss what the aitch-ee-double-broomsticks "belief" and "consensus" have to do with science. As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on the Big Bang, there are too many contending modifications from MND to String Theory being advanced to handle the original theory's short comings to think otherwise. Nor is there a handy guide to what properties the universe should have IF the Big Bang were wrong and Hoyle's steady state were really correct.

    Concerning global warming, well of course, and laboratory experiments show quite clearly that CO2 traps LWIR energy and slows its departure from the planet. That might well constitute warming if, in the process of taking up the LWIR, the energy is converted to sensible heat. But, consider geological history and GeoCarbIV. How is it that vastly higher levels of CO2 in the past have not already triggered the apocalypse, or is someone going to insist that "man made" CO2 has magical properties that the natural stuff never had? The empirical evidence flatly disproves the hypothesis of anything seriously anomalous going on that never happened before. If CO2 were really as scary as the government funded types liked to make it out to be, we would be living on a planet that resembled Venus. Science is not about friggin' consensus and belief. It's about empirical reality, data, debate, argument and discussion.

  19. ewozza

    Climate change? Really?

    According to Hans Von Storch, one of the giants of climate research, 98% of climate models cannot be reconciled to observations. In a few years, if the world doesn't start warming, this will rise to 100%. All of the models are running too hot, predicting warming which simply has not happened.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-hans-von-storch-on-problems-with-climate-change-models-a-906721.html

    Yet people still run the vicious smear that doubting the theory of anthropogenic climate change, which has an abysmal track record of prediction, is the same as doubting evolution, which has a long history of validated predictions.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Climate change? Really?

      Von Storch, if you read the ariticle properly, confirms his continuing support for the basic theory and actuality of warming, the role of CO2 and Man's role.

      He points out that, as with all scientific models, adjustment, sometimes major is part of their development and improvement, if only because it is extremely rare to know, understand and be able to include all the factors in a system.

      Of course, it is still possible that every model and almost every scientist across a range of disciplines will be proved wrong or flawed. However, now, the consensus is overwhelmingly in favour of the theory global warning and the human element being correct.

  20. J to the S

    "over half of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory of the inception of the universe, and about one in four doubt evolution, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and that humans exacerbate global warming, despite overwhelming evidence for all four."

    If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

    1. dan1980

      @J to the S

      "If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

      That argument only really works if the 'evidence' is properly understood by the 'we' that is/are(?) debating it.

      I, personally, don't understand a great deal of it. I dare say that neither you, nor the vast majority of this site's readers and writers understand it either. It gets simplified for consumption because in many cases a full and accurate understanding may require years of diligent study - study that the general public neither have nor will put in. That simplification means that we can all digest the general gist, which is good, but also means that we can end up believing that we understand it when really we don't.

      This is natural (we all like to think we understand everything) but tends to lead people to believe things that reinforce their existing biases.

      There is still a big enough debate amongst the general public over the age of the earth - whether it is 'young' (~6000y) or 'old' (~4.5by). Does that mean the evidence isn't overwhelming? No, because it is.

      Likewise for the 'big bang'. Sure, it may not be true but it is currently the best fit for the evidence gathered. If you (not you, specifically) do not accept that then you are either choosing to agree with a minority position that is not the best fit for the evidence or you have some new evidence - in which case I am sure the scientists who have made it their life's work studying the origins of the universe would be very interested to see it.

      There is significant debate amongst lay people over the 0.99999... = 1 identity. There is no such debate amongst mathematicians.

      I am not having a go at you, just pointing out that the existence of debate in the general population, unlearned and unskilled in a particular field, is not necessarily proof or even indication of a similar level of debate and uncertainty amongst professionals in that field.

      1. ewozza

        The climate facts are not that complex

        The climate models are predicting warming which isn't happening. We've released a gigantic amount of CO2 into the atmosphere since the late 90s, and it has done diddly squat to global temperature.

        Until climate scientists produce some models which work, and stop calling critics rude names, their discipline deserves the same respect as ESP research or UFOology.

        1. Slawek

          Re: The climate facts are not that complex

          I disagree. If you spend some time reading ESP research you will conclude that people who do it try to do a real science with an open mind (even if subject is difficult to deal scientifically) - quite opposite to "climate-change scientists".

        2. dan1980

          Re: The climate facts are not that complex

          @ewozza

          ". . . it has done diddly squat to global temperature."

          No, that is an unscientific conclusion from incomplete, cherry-picked data.

          What you are referring to is more accurately rephrased as: "a single climate indicator of truncated scope* has shown that the mean surface temperature has indeed risen over the last two decades but has done so less than the same indicator rose during previous periods."

          A dozen or more other indicators - such as Arctic sea ice extent, sea level rise, ocean heat content, near-surface air temperature, lower tropospheric temperature, stratospheric cooling (yes, cooling), glacier mass balance, etc... - are taken into account when attempting to form an accurate picture of climate change and the majority of these (indeed all of the above-mentioned) show changes in accordance with the models and predictions.

          * - Not taking into account the Arctic, or deeper sea measurements for instance.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The climate facts are not that complex

          "The climate models are predicting warming which isn't happening. We've released a gigantic amount of CO2 into the atmosphere since the late 90s, and it has done diddly squat to global temperature."

          It is happening. You might want to read

          http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/feb/12/global-warming-fake-pause-hiatus-climate-change

          and

          http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/~/media/shared/documents/policy/Climate%20Change%20Statement%20Addendum%202013%20Final.ashx

      2. J to the S

        First off I would like to say thank you for the polite and well thought out response. The issue isn't so much as to whether or not the 'evidence' is properly understood so much as the intent behind the individual(s) presenting the evidence. Let's use Al Gore as an example. He left the government in 2001 reporting a net worth of less than $2 million. Since then his personal net worth has grown to $300 million. This massive accumulation of wealth all started with his power point presentation on global warming and steam rolled from there. Now if you believe he is a virtuous human being and he truly believes in global warming then fine but what if he isn't? What's in it for him to make you believe that global warming is real? Money of course! It doesn't matter if he believes in it as long as you do.

        So why do people believe or disbelieve in global warming? I believe the primary reason comes down to party affiliation. If you are a democrat more than likely you believe it's real and if you are a republican you probably don't because if that's what your party believes in you are supposed to believe it too, otherwise you aren't a loyal party member.

        The only person I trust on this issue is myself and my own personal experience. In January it's cold and in July it's hot and this has been the case every single year i've been alive. Not once have I stepped outside and said to myself, "It sure does feel like the earth is getting warmer". If that day ever comes i'll change my tune but i'm not going to believe it just because someone tells me to.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      If there was overwhelming evidence for global warming we wouldn't be having a debate now would we?

      you'd have thought so.

      We just can't shout louder than the voices in your head

  21. Slow Joe Crow

    With science and economics the right wing mantra is always "I know what I know, don't confuse me with facts!" Paul Krugman just had a good NY Times column on this http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/on-the-liberal-bias-of-facts/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body Interestingly right wing views of "what everybody knows" are very much like the affinity fraud.

    1. ewozza

      Left Wing success stories

      ...

      Still waiting.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Left Wing success stories

        Michael Moore taking 911 rescuers abandoned by HMO's to CUBA for free heathcare

        little pissant island 90 miles offshore and you have been trying to take it down for 1/2 a century, and failed miserably.

        yet still the best of you get treated for free

        winning

        anything else i can put you straight about while im here?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Left Wing success stories

        188,00 Dead in Iraq

        480,00 US death per annum by smoking

        4,329 Coalition deaths in Afghanistan

        There you go, Left Wing success stories, oh sorry, these are some of your best Right Wing success stories aren't they? Contempt for you to follow shortly...

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Left Wing success stories

          Many of us on the Right were heavily opposed to the invasion of Iraq and very vocal on the subject. Also against the bombing and regime change in Libya more recently. You'll find that the Tea Party members were / are very often against America getting involved in outside affairs, being quite isolationist in their mindset. And it was Tony Blair (may he die in shame) who dragged us into that debacle over here.

          Right Wing != In Favour of War.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Slow Joe

      "With science and economics the right wing mantra is always "I know what I know, don't confuse me with facts!"...." With the Left it's "I've been told what I know by such exceptional scientists, economists and medical professionals as Kevin Spacey, Diane Keaton, Susan Silverman and Jenny McCarthy."

      1. Uffish
        Devil

        Re: fact free diet

        @ Matt Bryant

        I haven't downvoted you but you do appear to be exclusively addressing an easily confused, right wing audience.

  22. HildyJ
    Angel

    It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

    Schizophrenia is a mental disorder where sufferers cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. This, in a nutshell, defines religious belief of as well. Specifically, true believers seem to suffer from the Grandiose form. To quote the DSM-IV: "Grandiose Type: delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person." They believe they have been chosen by god, can work miracles through prayer, and have been given the true knowledge through the bible. They are crazy.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

      It's Idiocracy.

    2. Michael Thibault

      Re: It's Not Stupidity, It's Insanity

      >They are crazy.

      If you put your faith in the DSM-x, sure.

  23. RobHib
    Unhappy

    Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

    Years ago, someone said to me that we're only a generation or two away from a Dark Age. I believed it then and I'm even more convinced now. Thus this table is just a reaffirmation.

    What I find so very disconcerting is that since about the early 1980s I've noticed this increasing scepticism in science and the rational myself. I've no doubt that the rise of post-modernism and the anti-science movements etc. is largely to blame. What is harder to explain is why scientists and educators lost the plot and let modern-day witchdoctors take over much of the public discourse.

    These figures ought to be a wakeup call.

    BTW, whilst the US leads the pack in ignorance and illogical beliefs, most of the English-speaking world isn't far behind it. (Although it's interesting to speculate why the uptake of these wacky ideas hasn't promulgated quite as fast elsewhere).

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

      The title alone says it all and is a fact.

      Upvoted.

      1. RobHib

        @ecofeco -- Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

        If you want an excellent example of how science's esteem has slipped in mainstream cultural thinking over recent decades then take a quick look at this 1955 doco for teenage school kids (≈11 mins) about why they should study science:

        Why Study Science?

        When I entered high school in the '60s, the values and sentiments expressed by the parents of these teenagers was pretty much the norm everywhere. The adults in this doco echo almost exactly what I experienced throughout my childhood and teenage years--even my grandmother who was not educated in science thought this way!

        It's difficult to comprehend that such strongly ingrained beliefs in science across most walks of life can descend into such scepticism in less than one lifetime. It's almost proof that a new Dark Age could descend if the scientifically-literate are not more vigilant.

        1. DocJames

          Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

          Rob - that video is incredible for exactly the reasons you say; thanks for the link.

          1. RobHib

            Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

            Right, more should see it.

            People like me crap on about this subject all the time and most of the younger generations just say we're exaggerating. Fact is, there's the evidence!

            As I've done, tell others about it.

          2. RobHib

            @ DocJames -- Re: @ecofeco -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

            ...Forgot to make this observation. It's worth noting that comment by the father about travelling to the moon may be "quicker than we think" was pretty prophetic. 1955 was 14 years before the moon landing and more than half a decade before Kennedy announced that the US was going to the moon.

            I recall when Kennedy made the statement about going to the moon that most of us most of us treated it with considerable incredulity. For that reason alone, it's an impressive doco.

      2. Uffish

        Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

        The 'Dark Ages' weren't all that dark, it's just that, the Romans having gone home, there were fewer people around with a culture of writing. Aural culture doesn't store well. Given that the three R's are prety well ingrained now, and given that people don't suddenly get stupid, I think the current civilization would survive.

    2. doctariAFC2

      Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

      Which is exactly the purpose of this "survey"....

      Or, in other words, how are we doing indoctrinating people, and removing their free will, as well as their freedom for self-determination.

      As we can see from the posts/ comments, those successfully indoctrinated come up with all sorts of ways to demonize and attack, while conveniently avoiding any questioning of the survey itself. As some have pointed out, the questions appear to be leading at best, invalid at worst. Those answering as the survey crafters desired are somehow uplifted, while those answering contrary to the goals of the survey are demonized....

      This thing is a charade, like man made global warming, cooling, climate change - or whatever term du jour is used to fool the masses. The questions concerning religion is a disguised measurement to see how many people have been "enlightened" to lay all their trust (aka faith) in man and government, and how many place their faith in something out of man's reach, control, realm.

      Once we believe that man is almighty, we look to other people for our answers, our comfort, our direction, which means we are more easily dictated to by someone claiming to be smarter, wiser, more special than ourselves, forgetting the simple fact that every person puts their pants on one leg at a time.

      Having faith in a higher power, whatever that religion may define as such, puts your faith above the frailties and imperfections of man, limiting said control one man will have over another.

      This is all hogwash, and is aimed at gauging success and progress to indoctrination. Nothing more, nothing less.

      1. RobHib

        @ doctariAFC2 -- Re: Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

        1. I'm not going to debate the methodology or purpose of the survey except to say that if the same questions were asked 50 years ago to a similar group of people then the results would be significantly different. The difference would be that this earlier survey would be much more pro-science to the extent that those being surveyed would think that many of the questions were wacky and made little sense.

        Why do I say this? It's simple really, I recall what it was like back then and I assure you that attitudes towards science have changed significantly for the worse since then. Putting empirical values on how attitudes have changed matters little except to say the changes have been very significant (the 1955 Why Study Science? doco referred to earlier makes this glaringly obvious).

        2. As I imply further on in the reply "@dan1980 -- Re: The takeaway . . .", back then I and my schoolmates were educated with the tools necessary to ensure that indoctrination was minimal. In other words, I was given tools that taught me to question what I was told--i.e.: not to take the statements of others as gospel but to prove them for myself.

        2.1 Largely, this training worked: for instance re climate change, I've listened to both sides of the argument and I've come to the conclusion that the matter is a great deal more complicated than either side in the debate would have us believe. Without going into specifics, the propaganda from both sides has made matters worse--it's delayed implementing what really needs to be done (which, on the evidence I've seen, is somewhat different to anything proposed by the major protagonists). I'm not alone, many other minor players have come to similar conclusions.

        2.2 I've little doubt that the paucity of today's public discourse/debates--whether about science or politics or whatever--is because very few understand how to conduct such debates. Almost no one seems to understand formal logic--logical argument with subjects and predicates, nor how to conduct such debates, nor do they fully understand the scope and relevance of even their own entrenched positions.

        2.3 To illustrate that last sentence: in science, if you do not have a good grasp of the long-established scientific method then trying to determine factual scientific/physical laws from alchemy is fraught with problems. Today--where short cycles are everything--it's too much trouble to cut to the fundamental core of the problem and analyse problems in depth. It's much easier to analyse the superficial, or as I like to call it, use 'Twitter-level analysis'.

        2.4 Understanding and applying the scientific method is crucial for science as it ensures the integrity of scientific development, however it's not everything. The underlying philosophy of what one is attempting to research is also very important. This involves both logical and moral argument. For example, just understanding the chemistry for say 'improved' versions of VX nerve gas alone may be intellectually and scientifically challenging but without a proper moral framework in which to develop such work we end up with science of the kind as carried out by the detestable Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber.

        2.5 Thus, we also need the rich cultural framework in which to both carry out science and educate the public in science. I contend that despite the vastly increasing complexity of the the world's political, environmental and scientific problems, that in fact the arguments involving their solutions are becoming increasingly shallow. The reasons for this are complex but primarily they're the consequence of the public's less rigorous understanding of science than it had decades ago. Simply, our approach to problem-solving is going in the wrong direction.

        1. doctariAFC2

          Re: @ doctariAFC2 -- Human nature being what it is, a Dark Age is never far away.

          I agree.... Our approach to problem solving, and even our approach to the logic process, has most definitely changed for the worse. Gives science a very bad name....

          Starting point is today many believe science answers WHY something happens, which is balderdash, it answers HOW something works.

  24. dan1980

    The takeaway . . .

    The takeaway of this study is not that "(North) Americans are stupid". The takeway is that a significant portion do not believe things that are scientifically-accepted fact.

    Now, any time there is any talk of global warming, specifically the concept that humans have a net effect on the climate of the planet, this site turns into a bit of a zoo.

    Whatever any one here believes, the simple truth is that the vast majority of scientists with anything to do with the field agree that the climate is changing and that humans have a net effect. There are facts and truths buried in the readings and measurements and forecasts and hypotheses and arguments and not every piece of data points unambiguously one way or another.

    The same is true for many of the other 'facts' presented. Whether any of these are actually, in the end, true is not the issue. The issue is that all of them are scientifically accepted to be the best reading of the data available by those who have studied it closely and critically.

    There are gaps in all these positions and many arguments over the specifics. There are scientists who disagree outright. BUT, and again, none of that changes the fact that all these positions are held by the vast majority of scientists.

    The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?

    I am not saying that they aren't wrong, but on what basis does, say, a 'climate change denier' choose to accept and agree with a small handful of scientists but reject the work and study and conclusions of the vast majority?

    I would go as far as to say that anyone without specific scientific learning relevant to the field in question (be it evolution or climate change or whatever) who chooses to support the minority position against the overwhelming majority position, does so on ideological - rather than scientific - grounds.

    I tend to believe whatever the scientific consensus is on account of me having no specialised scientific learning. That might make me a 'sheep' in Matt's eyes but I really have no grounds to formulate my own theories, nor to select one or another based on my own analysis and understanding.

    This is the case with most of the general public and we just don't have the time or resources (or, to be honest, the inclination) to put in the years - decades in some instances - of study and experimentation and measurement and analysis necessary to be on par with the scientists whose theories we are debating.

    So, the takeaway is that those surveyed tend to favour politicians and preachers and personal bias above scientists.

    1. ewozza

      Re: The takeaway . . .

      I accept the theory of evolution because there is plenty of supporting evidence, such as Darwin's moth - non trivial predictions which have been confirmed by observation.

      I do not accept that the world is warming dangerously, because the evidence is that the models on which such assertions are based are deeply flawed.

      1. The models did not predict the pause in global warming since the late 90s.

      2. The instrumental record shows similar rates of warming to the late 1980s warming, upon which the global warming scare is based.

      3. Having a lot of scientists say something is so is not evidence. Every scientific advance has occurred because a scientist or group of scientists proved what everyone believed is wrong.

      Until climate scientists produce some models which work, there is no reason to take what they say seriously.

      1. dan1980

        Re: The takeaway . . .

        @ewozza

        The fact that the first argument you present is about the 'pause' in global warming is indicative of your mindset.

        For the record, the warming 'pause' that is held in such high regard by those who disagree with AGW was based on a single measurement: the average surface temperature of the globe. Of note, it didn't even include the Arctic. That's not opinion - that's the data that these claims were based on.

        It is good to be prudent and unwise to jump to conclusions, or rush into action. It also unwise - or at least unrealistic - however, to insist on perfect prediction and zero uncertainty before acting.

        It is strange that people seem to expect this of climate scientists when they don't practice it themselves. Do you sell your house now because financial experts predict that the market will fall in the coming months or do you hold off until you can be shown unequivocal proof that prices will drop? Do you leave home without an umbrella and jacket unless you can see it raining and feel the chill?

        Do you refuse preventative surgery before a condition can be proven beyond doubt?

        Do governments decide not to spend money on their militaries unless it can be proven that they are under attack?

        To address your last point, a lot of scientists saying one thing is evidence that a lot of scientists are in agreement. That's what this study is about - it presents the majority opinion of the scientific community to see how many people accept that.

        If you don't accept the majority scientific consensus then it means that you either:

        1. Understand the models, evidence, data and science better than they do.

        2. Have evidence and data not available to the scientific community.

        3. You have chosen to accept the minority position because it meshes with what you believe better than the majority position.

        The point is that all these positions, including those around climate change, are the positions held by the majority of scientists in those fields. If you disagree with those positions - which is fine! - then you are saying that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. This is also fine, but I would hope that you then had a comparable scientific understanding to those you are disagreeing with. Your example of the warming 'pause' shows that if you do have such an understanding then you are not displaying it.

        1. ewozza

          Re: The takeaway . . .

          My point is the models did not predict the pause in surface temperature. It is all very well coming up with excuses after the fact, but I prefer models I trust to get predictions right before they occur.

          Since the models did not get this most important metric, surface temperature, correct, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the models are defective.

          All the other fields of science listed have the important distinction that their theories make predictions which can be verified with observations.

          For example, Charles Darwin used his theory to predict the existence of a moth with a 12 inch tongue - a prediction which was laughed at in its day, but which was borne out by observation, when such a moth was finally discovered.

          Only in the field of Climate Science are we expected to accept computer projections as if they are themselves evidence, even when they don't match real world observations.

          I used to work in financial modelling. One thing we observed was it was always easier to retrofit models to past price changes, than to predict the future. Claiming models which can't predict the future can tell us anything useful about the future is nonsense.

          I don't claim to know more than the entire world's body of climate science. But since I am affected by whatever decisions are made on my behalf, I have the right to demand that they get their science right, before my tax money is spent on mitigation measures which their defective models predict are necessary.

          1. dan1980

            Re: The takeaway . . .

            @ewozza

            If you think that mean surface temperature is the 'most important metric' then you may have misunderstood things.

            The very first thing to understand is that there is no 'pause' in global warming - what was touted by you in a previous post as "diddly squat" - is in fact a continued warming trend. It has not stopped, it has not reversed. The data shows that the warming trend merely slowed for that period.

            Now, the next thing to understand is that the data set that was the basis of the slower-than-expected-warming-but-warming-nonetheless claim was ONE metric (surface temp data) from ONE source (the UK Met Office) - and that data is restricted to the coverage that that source has.

            That coverage is about 85% of the globe but, of note, there is near zero coverage of the Arctic. If you keep up with climate science (one must presume . . . ) then you would be well aware that measurements show that the Arctic is warming nearly twice as rapidly as the rest of the globe. This 'gap' alone, once filled-in, increases the warming anywhere from 1.7x to 2.6x the original estimates. (Yes, another thing missing here is that these are estimates.)

            This brings it FAR closer to the models and turns the slower-than-expected-warming-but-warming-nonetheless result into more of an almost-as-fast-as-expected-warming-but-slowed-by-enough-to-warrant-more-research.

            So, now we come to the third thing that needs to be understood, and that is that increasing quantities of heat energy is being absorbed by the oceans, specifically the deeper layers. This has been known for a while and, once worked out, goes even further towards making up the difference.

            Expanding on that, change in climate is, essentially, a mixture of positive and negative forcings, both natural and artificial/human-caused. What we have seen recently is strong negative forcings from most - if not all - of the natural cycles, from solar cycles to increased volcanic activity. This has been coupled with some increased artificial negative forcings, notably in the form of a significant increase in aerosols from India and China, contributing to radiative forcing, which reflects heat-energy back out into space.

            Even with these compounded negative forcings, the temperature has still increased and this 'paused' decade is still the warmest recorded.

            That put aside, and coming to your closing thought, you make an important point: that you, as a tax-payer and as someone who may be affected by 'mitigation measures', have a right to demand that the science is right.

            The question is: when will you accept that it is right, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is real will you accept?

            The very, very important point is that if AGW is true and that our behaviours are noticeably contributing to the net positive forcing, simply waiting and not changing that behaviour is making it worse. You may disagree with those who say that AGW is real but what if you are wrong? I'm not putting that forward as an argument, just a question, because the course of action whilst AGW is unproven to your standards appears to be the same as the course of action of AGW being false: change nothing.

            If your broker/financial advisor warns of a potential drop in a sector then, while it might not be a great idea to pull all your money out, it would be prudent to diversify a bit and put some hedges in place.

            So where is the cautious middle-ground? That's what's missing from the 'we need more evidence' position.

            1. J to the S

              Re: The takeaway . . .

              @dan1980

              "The question is: when will you accept that it is right, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is real will you accept?"

              Let me fire the same question back at you. When will you accept that it is WRONG, and by what criteria will you judge it? As you do not have the requisite scientific knowledge and experience to make this judgement yourself, who will you trust? Whose pronouncement that AGW is FAKE will you accept?

              The biggest problem is that GW has been politicized and once anything is politicized good luck ever getting anything resolved. The only person that you can really trust is yourself and your own research into the matter. As I stated in a previous post January is cold and July is hot and this is how it's been my entire life. I've never once stepped outside and thought to myself, "boy it sure does feel like the earth is getting hotter". But in spite of my own personal experience am I to believe in GW just because someone told me to? I promise everyone here that if that day ever comes i'll jump on the band wagon but until then......

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: The takeaway . . .

                There's another problem within the problem which is in turn wrapped around the conundrum. It's the belief that the situation at hand is PRESSING. Sort of like someone telling you the boat your on has sprung a leak. IOW, part of the debate is whether or not this is an emergency, as in if we don't do things immediately, there could be drastic consequences for which we can't escape (ex. having to swim the remaining 100 miles to shore because you took too much time arguing the context while the boat sank under you).

        2. Adam Inistrator

          Re: The takeaway . . .

          "The point is that all these positions, including those around climate change, are the positions held by the majority of scientists in those fields."

          arguing that most people believe in something therefore it is correct is circular logic. the same goes for warmism and for evolution. for example ... 100 years ago if you were an atheist going against the trend that nearly everybody believed in god. THINKING atheists are skeptics. FOLLOWING atheists are just credulous believers of another type.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        Re: The takeaway . . .

        read the comment!

        if it helps

        he's talking about YOU

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The takeaway . . .

        "Until climate scientists produce some models which work, there is no reason to take what they say seriously."

        What there is, is a reason to think the likelihood of their being 'right' is enough not to say 'they're wrong'.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: The takeaway . . .

          @ Joe Drano

          "What there is, is a reason to think the likelihood of their being 'right' is enough not to say 'they're wrong'."

          So they are wrong, but you cling to a hope that they are right? Or you cling to a hope that they are somewhat right? Or you cling to the almost certainty that the thing isnt 100% wrong and will cheer victory at anything above 0% right?

          The joy of science is it is a calibration of our perception until what we expect is what we see. We are still calibrating as far as MMCC goes. As far as MMCC co2 theory goes it is for simpletons who want to chase Osama Bin Laden as the cause of all terrorism problems. It puts a name to the problem but removes the understanding of the problem. By choosing a single component of a problem and providing information about that the general public with little mental capability or little time to think about the problem to feel informed and competent.

          The interesting issue with MMCC and the co2 variant is the religions that built up out of the science. Real science is being done but yet we have the religion of 'we must believe' trying to equate stupidity with not believing. Can anybody think of any other religious establishments who do this? And they like to feel superior too!

          For anyone who doesnt have the time nor the pre-requisite education there is only one intelligent answer- we dont know yet. Until the science has been worked out there is very little useful information to glean from the science and even less from the religion.

          As an atheist I feel I am sitting back and watching 2 religions butt heads. And when they shut up we may actually hear the truth which is likely somewhere between the 2 unthinking mobs.

          As for the survey question I would ask for which MMCC theory and which variant if it is the co2 theory. I would ask why they dont seem intelligent enough to realise they asked 2 questions which are not equal in the same question-

          'The average temperature of the world is rising'

          AND

          'Mostly because of MM GG'

          The second question is a mistake because it assumes an answer I have yet to hear resolved. How much of current warming is natural? Since we are heading away from an ice age it makes sense that the answer to the first question is yes but the rate of change is often conflated and mistaken for the average temperature by both believers and non-believers.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The takeaway . . .

        Um....how is Darwin's moth in any way supporting evidence of evolution more so than it could be supporting evidence of creation and/or intelligent design? The fact that a species was suspected to exist and then found doesn't support any theory about how it came about.

    2. Thought About IT

      Re: The takeaway . . .

      "The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?"

      There's a good research paper on this here, by Stephan Lewandowsky et al from the University of Western Australia. It was originally published in Frontiers of Psychology, but they withdrew it when some of the anti-AGW propagandists cited in it threatened to sue. The University stands by the research and now hosts the paper online.

      In summary: "much of science denial takes place in an epistemically closed system that is immune to falsifying evidence and counterarguments".

    3. RobHib
      Stop

      @dan1980 -- Re: The takeaway . . .

      The question then becomes - why do so many people who have not critically analysed the data with a trained and experienced eye decide that those who have are wrong?

      If the Scientific Method--of Dalton et al--is properly ingrained during one's education at a sufficiently early age (as it was with me) then one knows precisely what to do with data whether it's speculation or raw scientific statistics, etc.

      A proper understanding of the Scientific Method equips one to analyse and validate scientific claims/evidence whether they're from technocrats, scientists or charlatans. It's a no-brainer to want to know the Scientific Method: with such methodology to hand even if one doesn't like certain scientific conclusions, one understands that it makes no sense to argue against them unless one uses similar methods to refute them.

      When I went to high school science was compulsory, and the Scientific Method was ingrained from day one!

      Clearly, something has gone wrong in education in recent decades, as many, many people can no longer judge fact from crap. (I suggest you check out the link in my post above to compare current attitudes to science with what they were four or five decades ago..

    4. doctariAFC2

      Re: The takeaway . . .

      Translation......

      4 out of 5 dentists (scientists) recommend Trident sugarless Gum for their patients who chew gum.....

      Which of course means that Trident, since it is agreed to by the scientists is good for your teeth?

      Just because scientists line up in consensus does not mean the science is settled or even accurate. I am 100% certain any of us can draw a myriad of examples of "science" that was "solid" only to be completely contradicts when more was learned later.

      And therein lies the issue with the climate crowd. No one, I believe, will challenge the climate does change. The planet is dynamic, ever-changing. The continents haven't been in the same place and in the same shape since the rock began spinning. We have had ice ages, we have had tropical periods, this is the nature of nature.

      We are part of nature, and bound by the "whims of nature". It is both foolhardy and dangerous to believe anything else, yet the scientists and their followers state otherwise, with a gigantic pot of gold and a whole lot of control over the masses at the end of this rainbow. To actually believe we are changing the Earth's climate, through carbon emissions, a substance which all of life is comprised of, is really an attack upon life itself, or certain lives not toeing the indoctrination line. And the coup de tat comes in the form of the alarmism, which is now taking the target of action now or else doom in 20 years to action now or doom in 100 years. That's convenient. And it could work too, considering the grasp of history among people today is pure crap. However, if we have a grasp of climate "science" history, we know this tripe has been spouted since at least the early 1930's, and not a single statement of we must do things this way or else we're all dead has ever come to pass.

      That is a pretty darned accurate translation to the above nonsense. Nice try, doesn't fly.

      Full disclosure: I hold degrees in Marine SCIENCE and BIOLOGY, and work as a Database Administrator for an energy management, facilities controls integration company, while spending my volunteer time working with Fish and Wildlife biologists and managers to restore and perpetuate the wild treasures we have in the USA and in NYS. And I have many peer awards for my work, and have set many initiatives based on my observations - which have been proven accurate through science by the biologists and managers, much to their surprise.

  25. IT Drone
    Joke

    Creationism proves evolution?

    Evolution dispenses with unused organs. Blind cave fish don't retain vision in an environment where it is not needed. (But interestingly a study published in Current Biology showed that crossing members of different poplations of Astyanax mexicanus could restore sight demonstrating it is a different genetic mutation in each.)

    So could it be that evolution has simply dispensed with unsed parts of creationists' mental faculties such as reason and logic? (However, cross-breeding someone from Texas with someone from Arizona is unlikely to restore those mental faculties just increase the belief in Brawndo's Electrolytes...)

    1. RobHib

      @IT Drone -- Re: Creationism proves evolution?

      Many a truth told in jest!

      Next time, just omit the icon.

      ;-)

      1. IT Drone

        Re: @IT Drone -- Creationism proves evolution?

        Apologies but that was for the benefit of the Creationists. Met some, seen how far evolution has gone with removing unused mental faculties. Most have guns...

    2. DocJames

      Re: Creationism proves evolution?

      Not interesting; entirely predictable. What would be interesting would be if crossing different populations was unable to restore sight, suggesting that our current understanding was flawed and leading - possibly - to greater insights.

      All right, I appreciate that you're presumably interested in this at a different level but for a broad scientific overview I think my point remains.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I personally think is strange is how...

    ...the people conducting this study and most of the commentards here and a large percentage of the worlds population are not aware of their beliefs. Why should you "have confidence in evolution"? Sounds pretty religious to me. You will never see the picture by studying the pixels.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

      This might help you.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhofN1xX6u0

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

        ohh i doubt it

    2. dan1980

      Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

      "You will never see the picture by studying the pixels."

      Perhaps not, but what you will see is that the image you thought was made up of gentle curves is actually made up of jagged lines. And, looking deeper, all the yellows and oranges and purples and crimsons and turquoises and browns and greys are, in fact, made up of groupings of red, green and blue.

      All the millions of colours and subtle hues and shades you see are really just an illusion.

      Looking at an image on the screen shows you what the image is of, but analysing the pixels shows you how it has been generated.

      If you were to see a TV/computer screen for the first time, you might wonder if it had elements able to be excited to any particular wavelength, thus generating any colour. This was largely where sub-atomic physics was before the discovery of quarks: an unwieldy zoo of particles - pions and Psis and Upsilons and Kaons and Sigmas and so on.

      A digression but the point is that understanding the elements that make up the whole is necessary to fully understand something.

      As for how someone can 'have confidence' in evolution, perhaps you are focusing on semantics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

        Dan, if we carry on with this analogy, we must remember that there is a real place somewhere that the picture was taken of. Studying the pixels will never help you see that place. Measurements are helpful to understanding. Most people shouting "science" are not looking for understanding. They are looking for a reason to shout. Or maybe it could even be escapism. Though, I must say that I've never been preached to by religious people in the place where I live. "Atheists" on the other quite regularly preach to me. I am always amused. It's like a fanboi talking to an electrician.

        1. dan1980

          Re: What I personally think is strange is how...

          @AC

          ". . . we must remember that there is a real place somewhere that the picture was taken of."

          Apologies - that wasn't stated in the post, merely that there was an image composed of pixels. The interface of my web browser is just such an image and (thankfully) is not a 'real place'.

          While dissecting analogies isn't overly productive, let me just add that viewing the image doesn't really help you create an accurate model of how it is generated, nor does it help you create a different image, whereas understanding how an image is generated can help you create an accurate model of what the image will look like or create a new image.

          Applying it to, for example, climate change, one of the comments mentioned the recent so-called warming 'pause'.

          Those who look just at the 'picture' see that average surface temperature increase has slowed and have concluded that, as we have continued to pump out CO2, during this 'pause', human-generated CO2 doesn't cause warming.

          Those analysing the 'pixels', however, found that two big factors have been overlooked - being measurements of the Arctic and increased mixing of sea water due to a period of stronger trade winds. Continuing to beat on our analogy, their model said that the red, green and blue (sub-)pixels combined as they were should show a certain image. The image seen was different and it was found that the screen had a filter on top, distorting the image.

          In finding this, they were able to further refine their models with this new data, thus improving subsequent pictures.

          Again, we gain little by dissecting the analogy but I enjoy it!

  27. Slawek

    And religious people and Republicans are stupid. That's the expected conclusion.

    I wonder how leftists would do answering rating statements like:

    1. Intelligence is mostly hereditary

    2. A few weeks old boys and girls display behavioral differences

    3. Wildlife within Chernobyl closed zone is doing better than before the disaster.

    etc.

    1. dan1980

      I don't believe either religious folk or Republicans are - as a rule - stupid.

      What this survey presents is a range of positions about which the scientific community overwhelmingly agree upon* but about which a significant portion of the general population (of North America, at least) disagree with.

      There are many conclusions equally well supported by the scientific community that the general population have no problem with so why are these issues so contentious?

      The answer is that many of the surveyed positions run to peoples' world view and, in some cases, contradict things they have been taught their entire lives. In many cases, this is religious.

      For someone without specific scientific learning, on what grounds do they disagree with the position that the Earth is ~4.5 billion years old? Maybe it is a failure of my imagination but I simply can't see any reason beyond it contradicting their faith and this is where the connection to religion lies.

      Evolution is as settled as smoking causing cancer yet very few people seemed to have problems with accepting the latter.

      It's not about stupidity, but about trying to understand why some people are willing to accept one position that is almost universally accepted amongst scientists but will reject another, equally well-agreed position.

      * - Except the one about a designed universe.

    2. HildyJ

      We'd Answer Rationally

      Intelligence, as measured by IQ, has a significant hereditary component. "Mostly" is overstating current studies but the idea that anyone can be nurtured into being a genius is also an overstatement.

      I'll give you sexual differences after months but weeks, again, is an overstatement. Behavioral studies of week old infants are rare, difficult to do, difficult to interpret, and suffer from extremely small sample sizes. You are right, though, that current studies of older children show a sexual dimorphism.

      As for Chernobyl, wildlife is doing well but that's an argument for banning hunting.

      And now a question for you. If we assume creationism, is the order of creation as specified in Genesis 1 correct or is the different order as specified in Genesis 2 correct? Follow up question: if the bible contradicts itself in the first two chapters, why believe either account?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: We'd Answer Rationally

        You mean Peter Gabriel vs Phil Collins?

  28. JCitizen
    Trollface

    You all got it wrong..

    Only the blond Americans were polled! Heh! Heh!

  29. jimbo60

    give me a break

    Don't call things scientific fact when they aren't. And don't then call it scientific ignorance when intelligent thinking people disagree with garbage science, faulty and misused statistics, dishonesty, secrecy and refusal to allow independent verification of work, stacking peer review committees, character and job assassination of peers that disagree, and just plain ignorance of long standing unanswered questions. And then there are the extraordinarily complex conclusions based on the thinnest of evidence surrounded by mountains of assumptions and presumed initial conditions.

    Claiming that there is overwhelming evidence when there isn't, calling people "openly antagonistic to established facts" for things that are not established facts, and claiming "concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact" when, again, there are no facts is really just behaving like any other bully who want to establish 'truth' by shouting everyone else down. And the whole idea of consensus is such a vapid concept. There was plenty of consensus that the world was flat until there wasn't. The people who had the more correct model of the solar system were the ones who disagreed with the 'scientific consensus' and the entrenched interests and suffered greatly for it.

    Grow up already and open your mind to the fact that we don't know everything and we still get plenty wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: give me a break

      @jimbo: "There was plenty of consensus that the world was flat until there wasn't."

      Do me a tiny favor, if you would, please: Cite the scientific, reproducible studies from that period which argue for a flat Earth.

      Your surety of argument indicates that you must have such backup. C'mon...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: give me a break

        @Other AC, that was "science" back then. Our "science" now will look just as stupid to future generations. I doubt there will be anyone to laugh at us though.

        1. jimbo60

          Re: give me a break

          Exactly! Yet we act as if we know everything this time around and are infinitely superior to all those in the past who thought they did.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: give me a break - @AC

        Even worse - let him tell us which societies formed that consensus, and which writings actually mention it.

        Classical period Greeks knew that the Earth was round and roughly how big it was. The Romans didn't care - they weren't interested in speculative knowledge, only how to maintain their Empire. Any landlocked society didn't have access to information to find out. I would like to know of any society with seagoing sailing ships that believed the Earth was flat.

      3. Rick Brasche

        Re: give me a break

        since when is a complex model, in which EVERY experimental result was nowhere near predicted results, so the complex mode is modified to match experimental observation, considered "reproducable"?

        real science is not making observation match hypothesis. Review the scientific method again if you've forgotten. Nowhere does it say "play up for government grant money" or "if it doesn't work, do it until it does".

        1. dan1980

          Re: give me a break

          @Rick Brasche

          If you think "EVERY experimental result was nowhere near predicted results" then you simply haven't taken the time to understand the evidence.

          When the 'pause' is discussed, understand this: it was a single measurement which was never going to give a full and scientific picture and has not been relied on to provide one in the past. The only way a 'pause' (more correctly a slowing of warming) can be seen is when one deliberately focusses on a single, incomplete data set.

          This is not an evasion, nor is it trying to make "observation match hypothesis" - it is about a group of people cherry-picking data and pretending that it is the be-all-and-end-all of knock-out blows to AGW. For anyone who knows the measurements used as indicators and the reason why a single indicator is not proof of anything when taken in isolation, this 'pause' disappears.

          Regarding this statement I keep reading about scientists "play[ing] up for government grant money", which government actually wants AGW to be true? I can tell you for a fact that the Australian Government certainly believes it isn't true and makes policy accordingly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: give me a break

      I'm sorry to disappoint you, Jim. That is how things work in this world we live in. It's "science" and they are "esablised facts". Don't you dare argue with it, or I shall have the inquisition sent around.

    3. dan1980

      Re: give me a break

      @jimbo60

      "And the whole idea of consensus is such a vapid concept."

      Why is consensus a 'vapid concept'?

      What consensus should be taken to mean in a scientific context such as climate change or evolution, is that numerous lines of inquiry, backed by experiments and measurements and fulfilled predictions, conducted by many scientists across several different fields mutually support a given conclusion and that a majority of scientists (of relevant qualifications), having read and UNDERSTOOD the various results, agree with that conclusion.

      That is what consensus means in this context and I would venture to say that if you consider such a thing 'vapid' then no amount of evidence is likely to move you.

      You, and those like you, remind me of Kent Hovind and his blanket assertion that "no fossil counts as evidence for evolution".

      The thing that you share in common is that, once your arguments are examined, you are essentially claiming that thousands of scientists from different universities and institutions, in different countries and from multiple disciplines are in cahoots, concocting some fanciful story and falsifying evidence to support it.

      I mean, you claim there is little evidence and, what little there is, is the "thinest of evidence" and yet there are thousands of scientists who agree that this evidence points to human factors leading to climate change.

      So surely, in your world view, these scientists (most of whom have never met more than a few handfuls of their peers) must be part of a grand conspiracy to trick the world into reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of their nefarious master plan.

      How else could so many of them so completely misconstrue or misrepresent the data so often?

      1. jimbo60

        Re: give me a break

        First, the core AGW research crowd (since you seem focused on that topic) isn't a few thousand, it's a few dozen, and past revelations (have you read any of the "climagegate" material that came directly from those researchers?) show that there is egregious intellectual dishonesty and, yes, conspiracy going on there. Most of what people see as 'consensus' in AGW is politicians and media parroting this small number. And the politicians have latched onto it in a big way for very simple reasons: control and money. They don't care squat about the actual science. Also, what do you think of your 'consensus' when a prominent scientists (does a Nobel Prize winner count as a real scientist in your book?) resigns a prestigious body because of it taking unfounded positions on AGW, or when hundreds of practicing scientists take issue with your so-called consensus? (http://www.ibtimes.com/nobel-laureate-ivar-giaever-quits-physics-group-over-stand-global-warming-313636)

        Second, global warming doesn't even fit your definition of "numerous lines of inquiry, backed by experiments and measurements and fulfilled predictions". I would add "independent verification" to your otherwise excellent list. AGW fails miserably here, especially in fulfilled predictions and verification. Sorry, I don't count "the global weather is going to be different this year because of global warming" as a valid and measurable scientific prediction. That last one happens so often after the fact in the media ('those hurricanes / tornadoes / snowstorms / windstorms / whatever were really bad because of global warming').

        Third, as someone with formal post-graduate education in science and engineering, and training and practice in proper scientific method, the alarm bells sound (and should) whenever the justification for anything is "because everyone knows it" or "consensus". A statement backed by those claims may or may not be correct, but those are never justification for why it is correct.

        Also, thanks for comparing me to a tax fraud charlatan who can't even find agreement with his fellow creationist crowd. Did I push some buttons that you needed to respond that way?

        1. dan1980

          Re: give me a break

          @jimbo60

          There was no intention to compare you to Hovind as regards his pretended financial, and assured moral, bankruptcy - apologies if it came across that way.

          No, my comparison was, as stated, based on Hovind's assertion that "no fossils counts as evidence of evolution", a claim that has nothing to do with tax avoidance. (That I can tell.)

          The similarity I saw was that you, like him, assert that what those on the other side of the argument claim as evidence isn't really to be considered as such. The implication is therefore that those who claim this evidence is not only real but relevant and supportive of their theories as dishonest.

          I see from this post that that is exactly your assertion. Fair enough.

          It's very hard to have any kind of constructive argument when the other person proclaims his opponents to be dishonest and their evidence and arguments therefore inadmissible.

          To finish (as it is late and even I am running out of steam), I would add to your warning that concensus != fact (a valid point) the admonition that just because some ideas previously held by consensus were proven false, that does not mean that a consensus is to be inherently distrusted.

          With the disclaimer that I am not likening you to such people, that line of reasoning is a favourite of kooks the world over. "They laughed at Einstein!!!"

          Again, late, so errors, apologies, etcetera.

        2. dan1980

          Re: give me a break

          @jimbo60

          http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article#

          http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/01/08/why-climate-deniers-have-no-scientific-credibility-only-1-9136-study-authors-rejects-global-warming

          I will now explain the evolution of the classic denier:

          First: "There is no consensus!!!"

          Then: "Consensus is irrelevant!!!"

          Paralleled with:

          First: "There is no evidence!!!"

          Then: "The evidence doesn't count!!!"

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: give me a break

            @ dan1980

            I will now explain the evolution of the classic denier:

            First: "There is no consensus!!!"

            Then: "Consensus is irrelevant!!!"

            Paralleled with:

            First: "There is no evidence!!!"

            Then: "The evidence doesn't count!!!"

            As someone frequently called a denier (because I am not a believer and simpletons I have encountered so far assume you must be one or the other) I want to poke a hole in your comment. No consensus and consensus is irrelevant are 2 separate issues and it can be both wrong and irrelevant. E.g. a consensus of a very select few who already predetermined agree is not a consensus of the whole and is only a consensus of that group, not of all scientists for example.

            Also science is a fact based subject which has clear and solid facts with multiple possible interpretations in the grey area but this is not XFactor, a fact is a fact and the rest is speculation. We have a number of facts which we still have a lot of speculation in science, we dont know it all.

            Likewise there is no evidence and the evidence doesnt count. A fair amount of 'evidence' for this apocalypse has been demonstrated to be lies (politics) and fantasy. Resulting in some serious humiliation as claims have been written off and some of the worst displays of anti-science have been published as facts before being ridiculed. Obviously it doesnt help to have scientists abandoning the research groups because they claim the conclusion has been reached before the evidence has been found. So a lack of evidence and inadmissible evidence have been a big problem for climate science.

            I think climate science will be extremely harmful for scientists. The actual facts are being lost behind a wall of politics and religion while anyone not 100% believing in the latest version of the theory is branded denier.

            The science is not done. That is an obvious fact because the theory cannot yet make predictions with accuracy. If, how much and in what way we are affecting the climate is being discovered but is not yet answered. And while some scream doom other believers claim so much less. When someone claims that is 'settled' science I have to assume they are joking or an idiot. When someone claims consensus I wonder how many lines of footnotes explain the filtering process. When someone claims evidence I have to wonder if they are a scientist or just another priest to the new religion.

            I wonder if you could write the evolution of a 'classic' (whatever that means) believer? Does it have more than one line? Does it say anything but "I must believe"?

      2. doctariAFC2

        Re: give me a break

        Well, we do have a UN Climate Science organization, with scientists all over the world contributing, building "consensus", using cherry-picked data, proven, which also shows some international cahoots, does it not?

        And your analogy is invalid, as indeed "no fossil counts as evolutionary evidence". The fossil counts as proof that life form once existed on Earth, and perhaps a living relative still exists on the planet, but that fossil itself is not evidence at all of evolution.

        Evidence of the species living, and dying, and even perhaps becoming extinct, by virtue of no more speices like it exists. That is all the evidence a fossil provides. And its location in the sediment gives us evidence of its age/ period when it succombed. Surrounding sediment gives evidence of geological conditions.

        Consensus is not science. Consensus is agreement about statements, not confirmation of experiments and scientific hypothesis. Back to the Earth is flat thing, the "science of the day" was agreed to that the Earth was flat. I also seem to recall learning the science of the day also stated the sun revolved around the earth.

        Science demands skepticism to grow and improve. This is something teh climate crowd and man is almighty crowd cannot stand - being questioned, so, voila, a study designed to marginalize the dissenters, and measure how effective indoctrination efforts have been.

        That's it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: give me a break

          The fossil counts as proof that life form once existed on Earth, and perhaps a living relative still exists on the planet, but that fossil itself is not evidence at all of evolution.

          OR a Creationist would argue that the Devil planted those fossils in there to trick you into thinking the Earth is older than it really is. Similarly, it's impossible to argue facts when you're arguing lies at the same time. Even facts backed by consensus can be countered by the old, "one lies and the other swears by it." Fact is NEVER UNDENIABLE because you can ALWAYS call it a lie, boiling it all down to belief again.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      Re: give me a break

      Flat earth fanbois are a recent phenonema, even early men knew they lived on a ball.

      The only flat world is Discworld.

      1. Rick Brasche

        Re: give me a break

        turtles are not flat.

        Consensus says the turtle is male. Heretic :P

    5. RobHib
      Flame

      @ jimbo60 -- Re: give me a break

      I know it's time to turn off the computer when I 'degenerate' into reading emphatic posts such as yours.

      ...But before I do let me say things aren't as emphatically simple as you make out. First, I understand your frustration because this debate has been full, as you say, of garbage science, faulty and misused statistics, dishonesty, secrecy and refusal to allow independent verification, etc. That I agree with, and it's come from both sides of the debate.

      However, what you are doing is exactly the same when you say there's overwhelming evidence when there isn't..., etc. Increasing the rhetoric will not solve the problem, only a logical analysis of the fundamental underlying issues will so do. And even then the issues are so complex it may take generations to solve.

      Let me make these few points:

      In other posts to this article I strongly advocate Dalton's inductive Scientific Method for several reasons:

      1. The Scientific Method actually works in practice.

      2. I learned it very early on in my scientific training (first few weeks in 1st year high school science) and it was used throughout all of my training from then on, so I'm used to it.

      3. There's good historical and practical reasons for pushing this line, the Scientific Method has excellent linage.

      4. For this El Reg debate, arguing past Dalton's Scientific Method seemed to me to have little merit, as grinding things even finer with El Reg readers doesn't usually win one brownie points. After all, discussion about the Scientific Method is already running the argument finer than most of the debate, either in El Reg or elsewhere. Said simply, bringing the Scientific Method into the debate is refining the argument well past the usual emotive outbursts from both sides, and thus it ought to be sufficient for any practical purposes.

      Now, to show arguments surrounding scientific research can be even more complex in that the Scientific Method itself has come under question by Empirical Falsification logic as espoused by Karl Popper circa 1935--and since then even Popper's theory has itself come under criticism.

      What I'm saying is that the climate change debate, as argued almost everywhere, is a pretty crude one, and that going back to first principles and analysing the problem from basic by using the Scientific Method is refining the process considerably.

      However, to up the ante by introducing Popper's Empirical Falsification into the debate is, by any measure, vastly increasing the sophistication of the argument--so much so that the usual protagonists probably wouldn't recognise it. Nevertheless, some would argue we should proceed down this path.

      As Empirical Falsification would be almost impossible to achieve with the climate change debate (it possibly taking centuries before the argument settled down), and as Popper's theories on scientific verification are hot currency, the debate has the potential to become even messier than it already is.

      Climate change is already an extremely complex issue with detailed facts still a long way off, let alone proofs forthcoming. Bringing Popper into the equation (as some wish to do) won't solve anything, but is does indicate the potential for how truly complex this debate may become.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't blame the Americans

    They are some of the nicest people you will meet.

    I blame the brain-numbing mind-virus that we call religion.

    It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to deny evolution, or a lack of decent education standards.

    1. albaleo

      Re: Don't blame the Americans

      "They are some of the nicest people you will meet."

      I agree.

      "It takes a special kind of cognitive dissonance to deny evolution, or a lack of decent education standards."

      Or perhaps it's passive coercion of thought - believe what your peers believe. I'm interested in what "decent education standards" might mean in relation to evolution. Should it be taught as a fact (the truth) or should students be presented with a range of ideas and evidence and be allowed to make up their own minds?

  31. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    As a scientist...

    ...(and I am, with advanced degrees in some of the relevant fields, but you'll have to take my word for it) I must say that the questionnaire is scientifically illiterate in the extreme. None of the questions is formulated in any way that a scientist with understanding would give the "expected" answer to. I'd go over all of them if I had time or inclination, but I have neither.

    Let me share my take on the 1st example: "Smoking causes cancer"? It's a headline, not a scientific statement. Smoking a cigarette a month, or even a week (that's both "regularly" and "fairly frequently", too) won't affect your health in any measurable way. Smoking 2 packs a day might. Even in that case, I, as a scientist, am not entirely sure that smoking that much "causes" cancer as opposed to "maybe weakens your body's defences so cancer is more likely to develop" or "is measurably correlated with incidence of lung and other types of cancers". I have never reviewed original studies to have any confidence that their results mean one or the other of the above statements regarding 2 packs a day habit. [I have, in the past, read several WHO reports on second-hand smoking and I know that the summaries say things that the bodies don't, and this does not improve my confidence in headlines.] My scientific integrity makes me insist that "smoking causes cancer" is a *scientifically* wrong statement. I realize that it relies on certain media and social conventions [akin to "assume 'smoking' == 'smoking an awful lot' && likely('causes' == 'observed together with')"] without saying so. In my (scientific) mind, such reliance completely defies the purpose of the questionnaire.

    I can say similar things of just about every row in that table, but I'll spare you the (rest of the) noise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As a scientist...as a one time industrial researcher

      "Smoking causes cancer" - yes, it's a lazy journalistic formulation but it is aimed at the average person who wouldn't understand your post.

      In your effort to discredit the question by making more detailed points, you have fallen into a trap - because medical researchers would say that your comments are also a great oversimplification of the real picture.* If you are not going to produce a monograph on the subject, then a reasonable simplification is that there is a great deal of evidence, so convincing that the tobacco industry put a lot of effort into trying to suppress it, that the level and duration of smoking is associated well beyond 5 sigma with a large increase in the incidence of lung cancer, and that the cancers do not appear until a number of years of smoking have elapsed. There is also considerable evidence of the toxic and mutagenic activity of chemicals in tobacco smoke. Pipe smoking in which the smoke is not inhaled into the lungs does not show the increase in lung cancer. For the average person who is not scientifically educated, it is a sufficient level of explanation to say that most cases of lung cancer are, to the best of our knowledge, caused by smoking. Since the questionnaire is asking about the degree of confidence felt by the respondent in the statement, we don't need to specify the degree of confidence in the question.

      * suggesting "maybe weakens your body's defences so cancer is more likely to develop" is completely unscientific - are we talking here about the suppression of cilia motility in lung tissue, the toxicity of tars causing cell damage, or actual mutagenic activity of ingredients in those tars or the Po-210 that is present in tobacco? Because research has been done in all those areas.

      1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: As a scientist...as a one time industrial researcher

        "If you are not going to produce a monograph on the subject..."

        No, I am not going to. ;-) I absolutely do not disagree with any of your statements regarding smoking/cancer research. However, it takes you in a direction that is quite irrelevant to the point I tried to make. I made no claim whatsoever of trying to devise scientifically precise substitutes for the question, or of being an expert in this particular field any more than any reasonably educated person. The details of the state of the art in research are quite irrelevant. All I said that my scientific training and integrity[*] would compel me to choose the "low confidence" response to this question.

        This makes the evident[**] premise that only an ignoramus would not be confident that "smoking causes cancer" completely false, IMHO, which was my whole point. (I do wonder if that one person who chose to answer "not at all confident" was the only scientist they asked.)

        [*] A (somewhat, but not quite) similar example was given by Feynman in his "Cargo Cult Science" address - "Wesson oil does not soak through food." While Feynman used that example to emphasize the difference between advertising and science, my point is that here the pretence is that this is a scientific result regarding confidence or attitudes towards what is presented as scientific results (or, conversely, something completely unscientific, cf. the 'supreme being' question). The integrity standard has to be much higher (IMHO) than in ads. This questionnaire has a distinctly "cargo cult science" odour.

        [**] It is as much evident as the expectation of the conventional understanding of "smoking causes cancer", which both you and I pointed out in our posts.

  32. Richie 1

    The phrasing of the climate change question threw me

    I largely trust the climate scientists viewpoint on anthropogenic climate change, but I had to reread the climate change question a couple of times to make sure it wasn't a trick question like the "supreme being" question.

    The word "mostly" put me off. When you think about climate change, you mostly think about future changes: the warming that has occurred so far isn't huge, so it's hard to tell whether _most_ of it is caused by greenhouse gases.

    I eventually decided that I was overthinking things, but in a telephone poll where they want an immediate answer, I suspect that some respondents would be less confident just because they've been asked a convoluted question, not because they don't believe in anthropogenic climate change.

  33. Techs UK

    Are they stupid or just suspicous?

    I think another possibility is that they are showing a healthy suspicion. Do you really see all the facts, and are able to come to your own conclusions in the class room? I think there are plenty of holes in current theories that would make people reassess their positions big time. The facts are there for everyone, but some of them never reach the classroom or mass media. We frown on countries that are blatently censoring and leading their nations and feeding the 'facts' in a skewed way, but for some reason we think it doesn't happen to us. That's what they think about us!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure what to make of this

    You need people to believe what you tell them to believe. It helps prevent dissent and helps sell stuff, especially at inflated prices. So this sort of research is very important (ahem) so we can learn how to indoctrinate people better.

    In that light, I'm not sure whether the results are encouraging or not...

  35. Jim 59

    Rant bait

    14:02 El Reg baits headbangers

    14:03 Headbangers successfully baited

    1. dan1980

      Re: Rant bait

      @Jim 59

      Be that as it may, I, for one, am having a great time and quite enjoying the back-and-forward debate. Isn't that why such articles are so well attended - because we are all self-righteous, opinionated, holier-than-thou types who love to lob personal insults from the moral high-ground?

      Or is that just me?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well ...

    The thing is ... although it's probably only a small subset, a certain percentage of those that don't believe in the big bang will still be scientific thinkers. Big bang absolutely isn't a 'fact', it's a hypothesis. There are lots of physicists that are sceptical of it, and dispute the concept of a singularity. Chances are, the universe formed from something like a big bang, but I (along with several others) don't think that it's quite that simple.

    As an aside, although most religious texts are too fantastical to be viewed with any real credibility, there's still room for 'divine presence' to co-exist alongside modern physics theories.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Well ...

      Last I checked, the Big Bang was considered more than a hypothesis but a theory: the difference being there is consensus in the experimental data being used to support the idea: red shift, accelerated separation, etc. While some healthy skepticism is okay, any competing theory would have to be able to tick more of the boxes than the Big Bang can.

      As for "divine presence," a few questions always spring to mind. Foremost, if there really is a divine presence, why only one inhabited world so far as humanity knows?

  37. SiempreTuna

    Now Cameron's pushing a US-style religious agenda here, how long until a majority of Brits join the tin hat brigade. It's not like we're immune: look at how many have been taken in by the anti-climate change fruit cakes.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Genuine question - what religious agenda is Cameron pushing? I'm not aware of such and this sounds something to be concerned about.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        @ h4rm0ny

        "Genuine question - what religious agenda is Cameron pushing? I'm not aware of such and this sounds something to be concerned about."

        I recently read he was rabbiting on about the good of Christianity and how we should be proud of being a Christian country.

        1. h4rm0ny
          Facepalm

          Re: @ h4rm0ny

          >>"I recently read he was rabbiting on about the good of Christianity and how we should be proud of being a Christian country."

          Oh good grief. Maybe I should get into politics myself. I mean I prefer to do something useful and productive like engineering, but at least there would then be one person I could vote for.

  38. Davie Dee

    Loaded

    The questions are loaded, whilst there is some correlation with the figures around God, several of the questions are asked in a way that may or may not suggest doubt which would influence the answer

    For example

    ....Is the average temp rising, mostly because of man made gasses....

    Well firstly that's two questions, secondly that second part assumes the person 'knows' what's going on and what mostly actually means, that's three parts the person will need to be confidant about.

    a better way of doing it would have been to have split it out

    Do you believe that temperatures globally are rising? (element of doubt given that there person is unlikely to 'know' what the temperatures are across the whole world which will pull reasonable people further to being less confidant)

    and Do you believe human emissions affect climatic change? Less ambiguity with this one, will deliver a clearer answer.

    next up

    .....The universe is so complex there must be some supreme being guiding its creation. .....

    This cleverly suggests its not talking about only a God like figure, whilst implying it in the same instance depending on your views. From a scientific point of view I could arguably take this to mean that some alien race is helping us along our way or not, again, it adds doubt to the statement and doesn't make it clear what the person is actually asking. Did something help us along our way? well yeah it might have done, it doesn't mean its a God though and doesn't mean the big bang didn't happen, doubt, inaccurate answer.

    how old are things?

    well ive a rough idea from what ive read, but I wouldn't say I could be 100% confidant with my answer and when talking billions of years there may well be room for error reducing my feeling of being confidante. a better way of putting it would have been to say, Do you think the approximate age of X for Y is reasonably accurate.

    ITs all in the question, this set of questions only really tells us that the person making it had an agenda and already had a strong opinion of what people will say, which influenced his questions and thus the answers.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Loaded

      @Davie Dee

      My general agreement with you aside (have a vote thing), the 'supreme being' question does use the word 'supreme'. To me, this implies two things: an absolute pinacle, and a singular, unique existence. This preculdes 'some alien race'.

      Though of course that kind of prooves your point, in it being down to an individual's reading of the question.

      On the question of the earth's age, I don't believe the earth is billions of years old, just because, and then choose ~4.5b because I find it a reasonable estimate. I believe the earth is billions of years old because Clair Patterson (sp?) deduced that it was ~4.55b and, since then, other measurements have reinforced that.

      Essentially, the reason I believe the Earth is the age it is said to be is because I accept the scientific consensus due to me having neither a good reason nor enough learning to challenge it.

      Me saying that the Earth is only (e.g.) 4b years old would be odd - where would I have gotten that number from? Perhaps a paper I found argues for the younger age but on what basis and what knowledge would I be justified in replacing the esablished scientific consensus with this new figure?

      1. Davie Dee

        Re: Loaded

        @dan1980

        Exactly, it just comes down to interpreting the statements, the statements and available answers already shows this to be true. as for my age comment, I don't fault your logic at all, you clearly know about it, the real question and the gap in your logic is however, does everyone else know that?

        The answer to that is no, if you ask the two following questions, on a 0-10 scale, 10 being positive 0 being Don't know you will get two very different results

        Is the earth 4.5 billion years old? (will generate a higher proportion of people towards "don't know")

        Is the earth around 4 Billion years old ( will generate a higher proportion of people towards "positive")

        By loading the question in such a manor will generate a result which will favour the opinion of the person who set the comment but can be interpreted in this case as most people don't believe its 4.5 billion years old. Had the question been changed it may well have said most people do believe it is roughly that old

  39. Scott Broukell

    A Tricky Balancing Act perhaps

    Might I suggest that of far more concern are the vast numbers of peeps in other parts of this world who still hold fast to the words of shaman and foretell their futures by reading the entails of freshly sacrificed animals etc. Not forgetting those who still live in the dark ages and cling to the fevered testaments of sooth-sayers who, so conveniently, offered the answers to 'everything' thousands of years ago. What is amazing is that whilst it was really only a natural response for folk to have sought out those 'answers' so long ago, when so very little was understood about the physical world, they continue to insist that all those ancient 'answers' are still valid.

    Indeed the 'answer to everything' remains our goal to this day does it not, our inquisitive nature directs such behaviour, but bringing such enlightenment to the masses remains the biggest challenge of all. Could humankind be truly happy and fulfilled once everything is answered, or would we still feel the need to cling to answers that come from deep within our primitive souls?

    Long, long, before scientific discovery we learnt how to sing, harmonize and make/play rudimentary musical instruments which gave us a very powerful emotional uplift, and which still resonates strongly with us today - even if endorphine release is, for many at least, enhanced by means of chemical intervention these days.

    Perhaps what we are best at is sticking our heads in the sand too readily and ignoring the fact that we have to get along as 'one', together with all the flora and fauna with which we co-exist, in such a remarkable manner.

    I am not sure humankind is mature enough to accept that, despite the apparent vastness of the thing we call the universe, we are now, and have been for a very long time, alone, with only imagined super beings for comfort.

    Personally I want science to continue supplying answers that continue to improve the practicalities of living here, and maybe venturing a little bit further out into the universe, but I'm not sure I want to ignore the innate and primitive pleasures I take when running soil through my fingers or enjoying music/art/poetry.

    So gaining and applying those answers needs to be measured against the still powerful pull of the primitive instincts which have taken far, far, longer to develop within us than this new-fangled science has had time to explain away many of the primitive mysteries themselves.

    (Once a hippy always a hippy – I make no apologies)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Tricky Balancing Act perhaps

      "Might I suggest that of far more concern are the vast numbers of peeps in other parts of this world who still hold fast to the words of shaman and foretell their futures by reading the entails of freshly sacrificed animals etc"

      I spent six years living in a region where they practice, to one degree or another all of what you mention in your comment - we had an alleged 'witch' living next door, for example, and they did indeed have a local shaman with whom I got thoroughly hammered more than once. Yet in spite of the fact the area wouldn't score well on any UN development index, I had probably the best, most lively debates I've had (or will again) in my life on religion, science, philosophy economics, politics, social attitudes etc etc with people who were genuinely interested in the topics, usually very well informed and almost always open minded enough to change their minds, and good enough at arguing their own point to change mine from time to time. No head in the sand defences of tradition for its own sake, or barracking of views that didn't chime with 'fact' as they knew it - they were almost always comfortable with accepting that your viewpoint, outlook and beliefs were profoundly different to theirs without seeing that as a threat.

      The difference with those in the western world who seem to have a serious problem with science, or with people holding views they disagree with, is that they seem to have taken a look at the modern world, found it uncomfortable to deal with and seek to retreat en masse to a time and society where you had black and white, and where shades of grey were strictly limited by dogma and threats of violence or exclusion; a future in which they don't have to think very much at all. To characterise the disagreement of the deniers over the validity of evolution, the big bang etc as 'debate' is largely wrong, because there simply is no meaningful interchange of information taking place, and I'm pretty certain their studied ignorance is not done in defence of a more arts based society or 'back to nature' way of life however fond they are of cultivating a folksy image.

      The people I met were eager for better education, healthcare and economic development, but not so desperate they were prepared to piss a couple of thousand years of generally attractive culture up the wall to get it; they wanted some balance and a reasonable pace of change to allow them to understand and learn from our mistakes rather than simply repeating them wholesale. A far better approach I think, than trying to stuff the genie back into the bottle by dismissively shouting the future down because you don't yet understand what it might offer.

  40. Adam Inistrator

    atheists are experts at NOT following consensus

    I dont believe in god and I dont believe in warmism ... both crocks of shit ... historical cycles in earth observables dwarf those in the last 50 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: atheists are experts at NOT following consensus

      god = a belief system.

      GW = science, belief is irrelevant.

      1. Adam Inistrator

        Re: atheists are experts at NOT following consensus

        "GW = science, belief is irrelevant.GW = science, belief is irrelevant."

        the style of most warmists indicates that that they are fervent followers of a cult

    2. dan1980

      Re: atheists are experts at NOT following consensus

      @ Adam,

      I don't believe in historical cycles - no real evidence and the scientists who proclaim that such cycles have occured in the past are just doing so to get grant money.

      Or is the presented evidence and scientific consensus acceptable when it comes to historical, natural cycles? I forget which ice-cores I am supposed to accept as solid proof of out-of-our-hands natural movements and which I am supposed to recognise as flimsy evidence misrepresented to support alarmist exaggeration.

      If only there was some neat rule, such as all evidence supporting natural cycles being valid and all evidence supporting a noticeable human component being fabrications of the leftist, mainstream conspiracy.

      That'd make it easier for everyone!

      1. Adam Inistrator

        Re: atheists are experts at NOT following consensus

        @dan ... I dont ignore any evidence at all neither recent nor past ... there is loads of historical evidence about huge climate changes before modern era that cannot be ignored and the changes is massive compared to recent changes which also cannot be ignored. but your smarmy sarcasm is typical warmist bile

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about...

    What about those who do have a religious belief system but feel that existing scientific evidence can fit harmoniously with their belief in a higher power? True, there is portion of their belief system that has little or no evidence and is based on faith only, but I would suggest that, at the extreme end of science there are also theories that fall in the same category.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      What about it?

      Some people are Mormons, others are Sufis but this study wasn't about that. By all means cling to your comforting consequence-free beliefs but the issue here is precisely that non-evidence based belief does have significant real-world consequences.

    2. Davie Dee

      Re: But what about...

      its difficult to understand that a group of people over countless generations has done everything in its power to dismiss scientific understanding the challenges the belief of X.

      I don't doubt that the two can live quite happily together but if I take that stance then I have to question huge chunks of teachings which you already are happy to accept, these go directly against that scientific understanding. In many religions we have a book, a guide, a set of teachings which give direction to those people that believe it in. If some of this is simply wrong then how much else is wrong? what other stories / writings have been fabricated for a particular reason? Where does the lie stop? I say lie quite happily because whilst you can argue that back then they didn't have the scientific understanding necessary to explain these things, you cant argue that when that understanding did come about the Church did nothing whatsoever to change and did everything in its power to dismiss it.

      Which leaves us with a much more reasoned understanding of it all

      Does God exist as understood in our teachings? No

      Does 'something' exist that may well have led to the creation of Humans. Well possibly yes, I don't know.

      In my opinion the decline of the church is simply down to a ridged set of rules made up by people and followed by more people that are unwilling to change. The day they rewrite these teachings will be the day people may start to follow them more closely, until then the church has polarised the debate and is reluctant to move on and it will decline to obscurity over the generations unless it does something.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont bitch abt us. We're Mericans

    We are the centre of the earth and everything revolves around us / our thinking.

    If Fox news says so, it is the ultimate truth.

    If you are not with us, you are a terrorist (Becasue Bush said so).

    If Osama Bin laden was killed by US forces and dumped into the sea without evidence and photographs, it is the truth, told to us by our administration.

    If Iran is the Public enemy number one, it must be true, since we are told by Fox news that they are devleoping Nuclear missiles. ( North Korea having detonated and threatening us with a few dont matter), cos the Media doesnt highlight that.(ANd theres no oil in NK)

    Wondering if Mericans will ever elect an atheist as president or someone who doesnt pay obeisance by a pre-election visit to Israel.

    Anyone remember the Eddie Murphy classic "Coming to America" and the Janitor in the burger restaurant, whose lifelong ambition would be to graduate to fries, then flip burgers?

  43. Matthew 17

    blame complacency of the West

    It's easy to poke fun at the US, but the story is the same all over. In the developed world life is fairly easy, it's been that way for a long time now. We have no real concept of true hardship. There's an entitlement and expectation culture that's grown as a result, our politicians squander $trillions and we barely bat an eyelid, there will always be more. You don't really need to worry yourself about science or engineering or how it all works as that's all done for you. There's precious few people these days that actually know how it's all done, how say a TV or smartphone actually work.

    Science is made boring, it's taught as pointless arbitrary subject rather than as the history of discovery, how we went from living in caves banging things together to ward off demons or a solar eclipse, setting fire to witches, that sort of thing to be able to cure diseases, travel faster than sound, transmit information around the globe at the speed of light, send probes out into interstellar space and take selfies with our phones. The things we got wrong, the hardships that were undertook to get us here, the knowledge that was squandered and lost for generations, the fragility of knowledge and how easy it is for it to be lost. We've come so close, several times to being completely wiped out, but no-one cares.

    However if you look at developing countries, there's that hunger for knowledge, to progress, the discoveries and engineering milestones will be made in your Chinas & Indias all whilst the West sleep until we're all wondering what went wrong and go cap in hand asking them for a job.

    Something is going to let go this century big time and I hope it doesn't catch us all asleep when it happens.

  44. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
    Facepalm

    AGW religihadis have infiltrated the El Reg commentards.

    I always thought that the average Reg commentard was brighter than average but given the number of votes supporting the AGW hypothesis (and the loaded poll question) I must be wrong.

    The AWG models have failed to predict the current stable period or even get the preceding temperature rises to fit properly and as such are suspect. If one wants to use science as the argument for a hypothesis to become a theory then you can't ignore the scientific principle without joining the ranks of Scientology or its equivalent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AGW religihadis have infiltrated the El Reg commentards.

      "The AWG models have failed to predict the current stable period"

      What current stable period? Global warming has slowed by some measures over a selected short term time period (if you exclude arctic and deep ocean temperatures), but is within recorded historical variences and average temperatures are still rising.

  45. Rogue Jedi

    I doubt the big bang, evolution, climate change and most other scientific theories.

    because they are theories, many of whichhave noted inconsistancies, if they are replaced with new theories which better fit observations I will doubt them too, the same as I doubt that the world was created by someone who looked like a human and populated with its current range of life forms over a 144 hour period, if I beleved any of this it would be blind faith.

    I view the world scientifically. it could be the Americans answering this survey also were intelligent enough not to mindlessly believe what they are told

  46. JeffUK

    I'm not so sure on a lot of those

    I know that under-using them allows resistant bacteria to survive; I just don't know if over-using them is an issue.

    The mental illness one sounds too easy to not be a trick question.. I'd actually be hesitant with that one.

    The age of the universe/world, I have no idea if those numbers are correct. I also know that the 'big bang' theory fits all of the observable evidence, but the way that question is worded makes it sound a bit too simplistic for me to say it's absolutely true.

    1. DocJames

      Re: I'm not so sure on a lot of those

      Overusing antibiotics creates resistant bacteria. They borrow genes from bacteria which naturally have resistance (ESBLs and similar in gram negatives), or the population develops genetic mutations in the protein target for the antibiotic (MRSA), or a variety of other mechanisms.

      Resistant bacteria often will not be treated by antibiotics, so "under-using" them is not a issue (except when it creates additional resistance).

      It's quite exciting watching evolution in action... except that it might just take us back to the pre-antibiotic era. (I've only looked after 1 person with a completely resistant bug. Most of the time we still have something in the cupboard).

      And wrt to the mental illness, I think it's in case people believe they're due to Freudian problems/patients putting it on/devils inside you etc. I'm cheered that you find it incomprehensible that these people exist! Sadly I have to meet them on occasions.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Questionable questions

    60 years ago, the scientific community believed the universe was in a steady state - that it had always existed. The idea that the universe had a beginning (ala the big bang, or indeed, let there be light) was thought ludicrous and stupid - the stuff of "god botherers". Then came the big bang theory, and now its accepted as fact. So - I ask the question - would it have been stupid to not believe the scientific rhetoric that the universe was in a steady state 60 years ago? Hindsight would make you a genius. At the time though, you would have been ridiculed as a religious nut.

    While I believe there was a big bang style event in which the universe began, I dont agree the current thinking to the date. So - I would have had to say NO to the question "The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang". Had the question been "The Universe started with a Big Bang", I think the response might have been higher.

    Those questions are indeed very specific, and I do believe most are incorrect. That doesnt make me stupid (my IQ is over 165). It makes me question rhetoric. Scientific theory is never fact, it can only ever be disproven - NEVER proven. Only a maths theorum can be "proven" - so to believe any such theory (particularly things that cannot be directly measured, such as the age of the universe, or earth - or indeed how we came into being) as "fact" is stupid, and unscientific. This is a perfect example of Science as Religion - Those who do believe start calling everyone else stupid etc... This is the definition of religious rhetoric. ie, "everyone else who doesnt believe as I do is wrong".

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Questionable questions

      ...says the poster using electricity to post the comment.

    2. DocJames
      Headmaster

      Re: Questionable questions

      "That doesnt make me stupid (my IQ is over 165)"

      No, claiming your IQ on a random internet forum makes you stupid. It is not of interest; what is of interest is your argument(s). I'm sympathetic to the general thrust, but its convoluted nature, what I suspect is support of revealed religion and science as NOMA, and grammatical errors make me feel I'm not in agreement.

      Incidentally, when do you think the universe began?

  48. Bullseyed

    Overwhelming evidence that global warming is real?

    Why are they not publishing it? Nothing that currently exists in the public space comes anywhere near proving this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overwhelming evidence that global warming is real?

      "Nothing that currently exists in the public space comes anywhere near proving this."

      Does - already proven to a statistical certainty (6 sigma) that global average surface temperature is rising since the industrial revolution and that man is a contributary cause.

      The only question with a hair of uncertainly is 'is man the primary cause of global warming' - and evidence for that is now approaching 3 sigma of statistical proof.

    2. dan1980

      Re: Overwhelming evidence that global warming is real?

      @Bullseyed

      What studies have you read? No, really? What research have you done to come away with assertion that "nothing that currently exists in the public space comes anywhere near proving this"?

      Read through this:

      http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article#

      and this:

      http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/01/08/why-climate-deniers-have-no-scientific-credibility-only-1-9136-study-authors-rejects-global-warming

      Then reject the information out-of-hand.

      Those who believe that either:

      a.) there is no consensus, or

      b.) consensus is a 'vapid' term

      Might do well to look the info over as well, though they are just as likely to reject it out of hand as well.

    3. dan1980

      Re: Overwhelming evidence that global warming is real?

      @Bullseyed

      Here's a very simple truth. You can deny it, but it doesn't change anything.

      Warming/cooling is affected by positive and negative forcings. Positive forcings increase heat energy absorption and negative forcings reduce it (through reflection back into space).

      CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere is a positive forcing component.

      If you don't believe that then stop here.

      Still with us? Great. Okay, so now we come to the next part: humans are increasing the concentration of CO2 (+ other GHGs) in the atmosphere. Fact. Measurable, quantifiable, fact.

      Humans are therefore contributing a positive forcing component to the overall radiative forcing acting on the planet.

      We also, however, contribute negative forcing, mostly in the form of aerosols, which reflect heat energy back into space.

      These are the major components of human interaction: negative from aerosols, positive from CO2 and other GHGs.

      If you're wondering, the net effect is a positive forcing.

  49. Bunbury

    Confidence as a result of personal experience?

    Interestingly, the polling organisation asked how confident the respondents were that the statements were correct. Which is kind of "how strong a faith do you have in this Yes/No answer". For most of the medical questions, confidence was high. Possibly because people have more direct evidence from their own experience. The four lower science questions in the chart show lower levels of confidence. Perhaps not surprising as there's much less direct personal experience. But also you could argue that "confidence in correctness" is not a scientific approach.

    The "supreme being" confidence levels seem a good fit for the monthly or more frequently church going/evangelism responses. Although the phrasing of the question is odd - complexity. In a way you'd perhaps expect complexity NOT to be evidence of a supreme controller; simple, clean lines of creation might be better evidence. Though I suppose the respondents thought of it as a faith challenge.

  50. Rick Brasche

    most survey takers...

    ...for the purpose of this article, "most Americans", don't understand economics either.

    But for our foreign counterparts, realize that most surveys are either voluntary, filled out by people whose job it is to fill out surveys, or people who are always home during the business hours in which productive citizenry is either commuting or at work.

    1. Bunbury

      Re: most survey takers...

      The survey has a data breakdown of the people who completed it. If that is accurate, it seemed a representative cross section to me

  51. Orecomm
    Coffee/keyboard

    Trust Science ?

    The problem with trusting science is that the answers keep changing. Science is always presented as absolute truth, yet virtually everything in the science books of my youth has eventually been "proven" to be (they won't use the word "wrong") incomplete knowledge. Medicine and health are even worse - virtually everything we were told was bad as a kid is now considered good, and the stuff we were fed turns out to cause diabetes, blood pressure problems, heart disease, high cholesterol, and cancer. What percentage of absolute knowledge of the universe do you think we have attained ? Science seems to think it's in the 90% range, but that's what Science thought 200 years ago too. Faith (as opposed to Religion) is constant.

    BTW, if you trust Science, then climate change is a good thing. Change produces stress and stress is the engine that drives evolution, and that's good. Unless you are the old, unevolved species, I suppose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trust Science ?

      The fact that the state of knowledge in your childhood was incomplete is hardly the fault of science or medicine is it? I thought that was kind of the point; knowledge moves on. Retreating into comfortable certainties just because they're cuddly can't ever be the answer if they're completely and utterly wrong.

      Years ago I spent a two day train journey in a compartment with half a dozen middle class Muslims off on a three month religious retreat in the arse end of nowhere. We did a fair bit of vigorous arguing the toss about religion, and being in a holy frame of mind, they tried pretty vigourously to convert me (can you actually 'convert' an atheist, as such?). I'll never forget this one guy suggesting I 'give up' not believing for two months or so and just 'try' believing in god and, so he thought, I'd just 'get it' at some point. I just couldn't get him to see (after several hours) that short of an ad-hoc, verifiable miracle that just wasn't conceivable.

      I'll be delighted to give science, with all its flaws, the flick if someone comes up with something demonstrably better to replace it. The only faith I have is that there are no certainties.

      You probably shouldn't be so quick to blame 'medicine', per se, for the dietary faux pas of the past. Probably no other area of human research is so heavily leant on and distorted by the fat brown envelopes that business can throw around in its efforts to suppress research findings and policy changes in order to keep the swill trough overflowing, ably abetted by their paid lackeys in politics.

    2. DocJames
      FAIL

      Re: Trust Science ?

      What you were fed as a kid is likely to have been protective against the diseases those who were feeding you worried about - childhood viral illnesses, bacterial infections, TB*, trauma.

      In your lifetime**, vaccination, antibiotics, anti-TB drugs and 'ealth'n'safety/changing employment have evicerated these particular horsemen of the apocalypse. We now - as you point out - mostly die from chronic diseases, which are likely to have been worsened by your childhood-formed eating habits. I'm not sure what would have been considered bad when you were a kid that's now good.

      Knowledge does keep moving though, and the rate my medical school knowledge has become outdated is incredible... means I should probably be reading more medical papers than surfing IT-related news sites.

      * it's not quite the same as other bacterial infections, and most of the drugs are different too.

      ** I'm making assumptions about your age here. Sorry.

  52. AbeSapian

    No EPA - No Problem

    This is what you get when you don't have a functioning EPA to keep lead out of the water supply.

  53. Hawkmoth
    Unhappy

    bad questions

    I don't think this survey is very good. People could be unsure about the age of the universe being 13.8 billion versus 16 billion. Same thing with the question about the earth being 4.5 billion years old. If you went to school a few decades ago you might think it's 5 billion.

    I'm not saying Americans aren't as dumb as dishwater, because they are. Just that some of the lowest questions could be artificially low because of badly phrased questions.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My theory

    My theory is that there are only so many IQ points allotted on the earth at a time. Now that we are @ 7 beeellion someone is bound to be shortchanged.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: My theory

      *snerk*

      Upvoted.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: My theory

      >>"My theory is that there are only so many IQ points allotted on the earth at a time. Now that we are @ 7 beeellion someone is bound to be shortchanged."

      Huh, I know that person!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My theory

      It is kind of odd that so much of the shortchanging happened in such a small geographical area though.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My theory is much simpler

    I think that the world only has so many IQ points to go around.

    Now that we have 7 Billion inhabitants, some of the people are running a bit short.

  56. Midnight

    I could comment about how surveys are conducted, but Sir Humphrey has beaten me to it.

    http://users.aims.ac.za/~mackay/probability/survey.html

  57. a3aan

    Stupid??

    Religion is stupid. (assuming that we define it as man made structures and enterprises)

    Science based on fact is great

    Science based on beliefs - but stated as facts - now that is stupid.

    We have to question the so called facts that our modern scientist (a.k.a science preachers) preach.

    I love observable science that can be tested.

    but as soon as science tries to solve mysteries of the past - it should not be called science

    Earth is obvious proof of a Creator. There is no way that something as complex as your eyes , sex, etc could have evolved by its own. NO WAY. You will also be surpised that there is also NO PROOF.

    No proof - no science

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Stupid??

      @ a3aan

      "I love observable science that can be tested.

      but as soon as science tries to solve mysteries of the past - it should not be called science

      Earth is obvious proof of a Creator. There is no way that something as complex as your eyes , sex, etc could have evolved by its own. NO WAY. You will also be surpised that there is also NO PROOF.

      No proof - no science"

      Science always solves mysteries of the past because it needs the situation to exist in order to observe and test. The earth is proof but not of a creator. The earth is proof that the earth can exist. You make a claim that there is no way things could have evolved on their own, yet you miss out the various sensory capabilities of other lifeforms, some of them much simpler than human.

      A creator is an unknown. It is highly unlikely to be of the kind described by the various religions and if you believe a specific religions description then your chances of being right fall further. You seem to suggest a creator of some intelligent form but then how does such a creator appear/evolve on its own? To say no way it is impossible is to scientifically disprove your theory.

  58. Peter Simpson 1
    Paris Hilton

    "Science ignorance is pervasive in our society,"

    I don't think it's limited to any one particular field.

    The sad thing is, we *have* the technology...in spades (broadcast, printed and internet), but it's the content that's nissing, plus the motivation of the idiots who'd rather watch "reality TV" than learn something.

    // thanks for letting me vent

  59. Bob Armstrong

    Obvious , debatable , ignorant

    Evolution is obvious .

    Big Bang is debatable .

    Anthropogenic Global Warming is ignorant .

    Given that AGW is a profoundly stupid falsehood , it follows that Climate Change is fraud squared .

  60. Painted Turtle

    Rational Thought - Not Taught!

    A few years back, I asked the head of curriculum, for our high school district, if we had any classes in rational thought/critical thinking. His reply was, "no". I then suggested it might be a very good class to offer. After a few pauses of thought, he answered, "I don't think the district has anyone qualified to teach that subject."

    To me, this was an astoundingly candid answer. Our high school district has 5 schools serving over 10,000 students from parts of 11 villages and towns and is the largest such district in our state. Our average teacher salary is over $100,000 USD per year. Yet, no one is qualified to teach that subject.

    I suspect he was correct. One can get a PhD in most fields, from most universities, including most science fields, and never be required to take a single course explicitly on that subject. Hopefully, your country does better. But from what I hear, it doesn't.

    Most in our world, don't even have the intellectual tools to understand what constitutes a rational argument, that's why so called evidence is typically appeal to authority, intimidation, non-sequiturs, and ad-hominem attacks.

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