New Poll Shows Huge Gap Between The Views of Scientists and The Public Over Basic Questions From Evolution to Genetically Modified Food

Huxley_-_Mans_Place_in_Nature-2-300x179As new study by the respected Pew Research Center shows a striking disconnect between the views of scientists and the public on basic scientific questions. In eight out of thirteen science-oriented issues, there was a 20 percentage point or more difference between the two groups on issues like genetically modified food, global warming, or evolution.

Take the question of whether it is safe to eat genetically modified foods. Some 88 percent of scientists felt that such foods are safe while only 37 percent of the public held this view. Fifty-seven percent of the public viewed genetically modified foods as unsafe.

The figures on evolution are equally amazing. Some ninety-eight (98) percent of scientists found the evidence clear that humans evolved over time. Indeed, there is yet another discovery supplying a link in that evolution this week (and again offering obvious proof that the Earth is far old than a few thousand years old). However, only 65 percent of the public believe in evolution.

Another question looked at whether those polled views foods grown with pesticides to be safe. Sixty-eight (68) percent of scientists said yes while only 28 percent of the general public agreed.

Another topical question (given the measles outbreak this month) was whether mandatory childhood shots are valid: 86 percent of the scientists favored such shots while only 68 percent of the public did.

On global warming, 87 percent of scientists said global warming is mostly due to human activity while only 50 percent of the public agreed.

It is worth noting however that the numbers appear to be shifting in favor of science on evolution, global warming and the like. It will be interesting to see how fast this gap closes in the coming years.

107 thoughts on “New Poll Shows Huge Gap Between The Views of Scientists and The Public Over Basic Questions From Evolution to Genetically Modified Food”

  1. truthtellerjones,
    “I meant issues that were at least almost uiversally regarded by mainstream scientists as resolved matters.”

    This is regarded as “resolved”–fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Gary Taubes examined the literature behind this claim and found it wanting. Read Good Calories, Bad Calories. He also examines the history into how it became the mantra of our government to advocate a high-carb, low-fat diet. Also, Fat Chance by pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig discusses the role of carbohydrates in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. He has an excellent presentation called Sugar: The Bitter Truth which can be found on youtube.

    From page 113 of Fat Chance: “[Ancel] Keys’ personal demon was saturated fat..does neither harm nor good. Indeed, recent studies have exonerated saturated fat from a primary role in the atherogenic process.”

    From page 152 of Good Calories, Bad Calories: “(Chapter 9) covers the research that directly challenged the fundamental premise of Keys’ hypothesis that cholesterol itself is the critical component of heart disease, and instead implicated triglycerides and the kinds of molecules known as lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the blood, both of which are effectively regulated by the carbohydrate content of the diet rather than saturated fat.”

    1. Prairie Rose – two things 1) I get Science Daily and one day I will get a scientific paper telling me X is good for me. Two days later there will be a paper telling me that X is bad for me. There was a paper that said that at least 50% of scientific experiment are not reproducible. And another talking about the high amount of plagiarism in scientific papers. Actually, the plagiarism has been a problem so long that at least 10 years ago Science magazine said they would no longer deal with it. If you felt an author plagiarized you you needed to report them to their university or employer. 2) anything that modifies genes, which includes selective breeding, is gene modification.

      1. There were always a substantial number of scientists who were unconvinced fat was all that bad. But I see your point.

  2. I had a ER doc tell me he was an atheist until he saw things that were not explained by science. People living when there was no doubt they were dead. He saw it as a higher being and the human will to live combining forces.

  3. davidm,
    This book by Rodney Stark is a good read according to my husband: The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion.

    It also examines Christianity’s influence on science. I have not read it, but he said it was relevant to a discussion about science and religion.

  4. There seems to be a higher concentration of belief in God at the cognitive extremes–the top 2% and the bottom 15%. Most people in the middle might half-way pretend to have some faith but don’t.

    1. on 1, January 31, 2015 at 1:33 pm Paul C. Schulte

      happypappies – everything you eat has been genetically engineered at some point. We have been doing on an industrial scale since Mendel showed us what could be done

      So you think I don’t know about Mendelian Genetics? lololol. I took Genetics in my little Jr College experiment and even though I am sure you are pooh poohing that, I have an sensitive memory and I still keep up. Little peas are not what I am referring to. The animal and plant synthesis is what I was more referring to.

  5. Olly

    The underlying foundation of a society is that there is something larger than the individual. Plato took it as the society and place religion, gods, under that. The respect for and protection of religion by Western society places religion and all that stuff under the umbrella of the accumulation of all that has gone before. Exceptions to this exist and reoccur when mankind slips backwards. However, morality, justice, and an understanding that mankind needs to govern itself is evolving away from the need for that governance to be from ‘on high’. Thank goodness.

    Personally I don’t believe there is a god or there isn’t a god. I do believe that if there is a god and it created mankind, then the evolution to a point where mankind is successfully governing itself must be its intent, just like having kids. It’s interesting how much basic stuff mirrors ‘all that is mysterious’. I believe that god, if it does exist, must be pretty disappointed with Islam, Christianity, Mormans, Hindus, etc. I believe that if it created us in its own image then it would expect that we should be figuring it our ourselves. That is the evolution of human nature.

    Or, what created god, if not us?

  6. “The most successful iterations of humanity seem to have arrived at a focus and dependence on morality and law arrived at through common sense. And common sense, as can be seen daily in this country as well as others, is itself, still evolving.”

    If by common sense you mean reason, then I certainly agree man can and always has been able to arrive at the proper balance of law and morality to maintain order in a civil society; the only obstacle is human nature. Common sense is the product of the collision between our fixed nature and variable reason. The best example of this is the Age of Enlightenment (Reason).

    A belief in the existence of God(s) or a belief that there is no God is that variable of reason that in and of itself is of no consequence to others. Religion is the man-made outgrowth of those beliefs; one centered on God and the other on Man. Where we fail as a culture is in the belief that human nature itself evolves. We ignorantly put trust in man when enlightened reason would tell us that every evil in the history of mankind has come as a result of that trust.

    While morality can be arrived at in either belief, only the belief in God offers an additional layer of security from human nature. So how does human nature defeat reason? First, drive out God by attacking its religion; this puts everyone on the same playing field. Next, control the system of education and lastly, make them dependent on the state. However, I could be wrong as well; I was after all raised on our public education system. 😉

  7. Reblogged this on Idiocy Today and commented:
    One day, perhaps, Kansas will realize that the earth is older than 6,000 years. Meanwhile, this is perhaps the best source on legal matters writing.

  8. Isaac, New literature on coconut oil have it being good. Now, I chuckle as I write this because how many foods, supplements have gone from good to bad to good again! But, the first person who urged me to use coconut oil was my Chinese acupuncturist. She is very smart and wholistic. So, I read up on it. The jury is out. Some folks are cautious but I put some of that on the anal retentiveness of Western medicine. I’m not convinced. Olive and canola are my go to fats. But, I use some coconut oil in cooking, and also use it on my feet as a moisturizer. Again, a suggestion from the acupuncturist and also approved by my out of the box, Harvard educated. primary care doc. All my docs are women, except for a surgeon I had cut me a few years back. I think women are generally better docs. Men are generally better surgeons.

    The global warming people have many similarities to religion. I compare it to the science/social/ quasi religious Eugenics movement of decades past. Regarding Evangelical Global Warming. We have the “sinners.” Those who drive big SUV’s, have big mansions, etc. There is atonement by paying carbon taxes. There are rituals and religious Holidays like recycling, building rain barrels, Earth Day. The powerful and wealthy can pay for indulgences, they’re called carbon credits or offsets. The similarities go on but that’s a few. Most of the extreme environmental people were anti Viet Nam folks. They needed a cause, a fulfillment, a religion as it were. I think we have discussed this. I believe in sensible environmental actions. I recycle, drive a 4 cylinder Toyota Camry[not a scam Prius], I recycle, walk whenever possible, etc. I just haven’t joined the Church, and never will.

  9. In re Dust Bunny Queen & scientists always being right: You made some good points but I meant issues that were at least almost uiversally regarded by mainstream scientists as resolved matters. Most of the things you cited never reached that point of consensus. Some never even came close. You also mentioned hypotheses. They don’t count.

  10. And another thing. Ben Franklin was a scientist. But he was one who said that all men are created equal. What the hell did he mean by saying we were created? Didn’t he know about the hole in the rubber problem which has caused a spike in the world population? Ask Spike Lee.

  11. Would a true scientist believe in God? How about Heaven, Hell and Limbo? Would they tell the truth when asked? Ask the global warming guy with the white suit on at the chalkboard if he went to church or synagogue in the last year? Was it for a funeral or wedding or for sunrise service? What percent of so called scientists believe in God? How many believe in Dog? Do they have any guidance other than science or the book of Edison? Ask a scientist how many bubbles there are in a bar of soap. If the answer is wrong then don’t let him vote.

    1. Most Quantum Physicists believe in an Uncaused Cause or Agnostos the unamed God. Einstein did. Kind of like a Universal Mind theory or some sort of a pattern if you will. If you don’t want to think of it as being metaphysical in nature, don’t, but that does not mean it does not exist. Common sense alone would dictate that it has always been an unformed form.

  12. Nick

    It’s not coconut oil that was used in popcorn at movie theatres but palm oil. Palm oil is not so good for you, especially when it comes from seeds. Coconut oil is also high in cholesterol and should be avoided. Olive, Canola, Grapeseed, etc are the better choices. The reason palm and coconut oil are in lots of stuff-too much stuff is because they come from areas of the world where it grows fast, is cheap to farm and produce, and is found in the poorer areas of the world. Palm oil is leading to massive deforestation negatively impacting the environment and the animals that are getting booted out.

    Even with all this stuff, studies are always ongoing and nothing is really being debunked only fine tuned. Regarding religion and science they are simply not in the same world. Science is all about moving into unknowns and trying to ascertain through a process what this or that is all about. The intent of science is to remain objective, although given the human factor this is not always 100% possible.

    Religion is a social tool to harness man’s desire to live together and from time to time justify taking by force. Religion is 100% a fabrication of mankind. This is more than obvious when one studies religion along with the evolution of Western society. The Western world’s leaders are no longer dependent on the blessing of some witch doctor in obtaining their posts. No longer does a local Abbot Suger duke it out with a king or send troublesome aristocrats off to invade Palestine. Oops, well almost no longer.

    In the more backward areas of civilization religion still plays a major part; the Middle East comes to mind. There, is found the violence that comes when religion rules man and not the other way around. The most successful iterations of humanity seem to have arrived at a focus and dependence on morality and law arrived at through common sense. And common sense, as can be seen daily in this country as well as others, is itself, still evolving.

    Instead of going, “Ah ha, I knew it. It’s all bunk.” Perhaps, step back and fine tune the process. Gods are made by man, not the other way around. That much should be obvious if you study history. However, I may be wrong.

  13. Loving nicks “logic” here: Since some scientists were wrong about one thing (coconut oil) then all scientists are wrong about everything else. That’s the too small sample size fallacy but why let that derail our resident “mass man”‘s rant about all things scientific. You learn a lot skulking around other people’s lives and walking on the beach in San Diego. Who’s to argue with those credentials. That science offers consistently better explanations on the nature of the world than any religion in history ever has seems lost on our master investigator from the north country. But no matter. The duopoly is obviously to blame.

    1. mespo727272

      The past the universe must have been small. Extrapolating really, really far back, the universe must have been really, really small. So it must have had a beginning as a small initial “seed”. This idea was first proposed by Georges Lemaître – A Catholic Monseigneur who served in WW1.

      Sir Eddington, British astronomer realized that Lemaitre had bridged the gap between observation and theory. At Eddington’s suggestion, the Royal Astronomical Society published an English translation of Lemaitre’s paper in its Monthly Notices of March 1931.

      Most scientists who read Lemaitre’s paper accepted that the universe was expanding, at least in the present era, but they resisted the implication that the universe had a beginning.

      When word of the 1998 Berkeley discovery that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate first reached Stephen Hawking, he said it was too preliminary to be taken seriously. Later, he changed his mind. “I have now had more time to consider the observations, and they look quite good,” he told Astronomy magazine (October 1999). “This led me to reconsider my theoretical prejudices

      Is there a paradox in this situation? Lemaitre did not think so. Duncan Aikman of the New York Times spotlighted Lemaitre’s view in 1933: “‘There is no conflict between religion and science,’ Lemaïtre has been telling audiences over and over again in this country …. His view is interesting and important not because he is a Catholic priest, not because he is one of the leading mathematical physicists of our time, but because he is both.”

      (I am not a Catholic I am a Presbyterian, like Nick. This is the best documented information and the PBS article does not understand entropy)

  14. I, however have long held issues with GMOs having problems and being frankenfoods. We are talking about Innocuous things like soy milk and tofu and oleo now.

    My Dog almost dies off of GMOs in his Dog food. That is what the big stink is about natural kibble now.

    A genetically modified organism, or GMO, is an organism that has had its DNA altered or modified in some way through genetic engineering.

    In most cases, GMOs have been altered with DNA from another organism, be it a bacterium, plant, virus or animal; these organisms are sometimes referred to as “transgenic” organisms. A gene from a spider that helps the arachnid produce silk, for example, could be inserted into the DNA of an ordinary goat.

    That may sound far-fetched, but that exact process was used to breed goats that produce silk proteins in their goat milk. The milk is then harvested and the silk protein is isolated to make a lightweight, ultra-strong silk with a wide range of industrial and medical uses.

    1. happypappies – everything you eat has been genetically engineered at some point. We have been doing on an industrial scale since Mendel showed us what could be done.

  15. Evolution, that is the idea that we all involved from a single organism over the space of millions – or is it billions?- of years isn’t “science”. Further, DNA casts doubt on the whole theory of “Natural selection”. Its just a theory, that can never be proved or disproved. You boil it down to an equation:

    Big bang + ??? + evolution = today’s world.

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