Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Independent thought is a virtue

with 3 comments

I don’t want to invite trouble (I already get enough hassle from internet weirdos thank you). I was recently lurking on the Weston A. Price Foundation group and was surprised by the number of creationists that came out of the woodwork when the subject of evolution was raised. I heard on Radio 4 last week that there is only one country in the Western world whose population is less able to accept the notion of evolution than the USA, and that is Turkey.

Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals: true or false? This simple question is splitting America apart, with a growing proportion thinking that we did not descend from an ancestral ape. A survey of 32 European countries, the US and Japan has revealed that only Turkey is less willing than the US to accept evolution as fact.

Religious fundamentalism, bitter partisan politics and poor science education have all contributed to this denial of evolution in the US, says Jon Miller of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who conducted the survey with his colleagues. “The US is the only country in which [the teaching of evolution] has been politicised,” he says. “Republicans have clearly adopted this as one of their wedge issues. In most of the world, this is a non-issue.”

Miller’s report makes for grim reading for adherents of evolutionary theory. Even though the average American has more years of education than when Miller began his surveys 20 years ago, the percentage of people in the country who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45 in 1985 to 40 in 2005 (Science, vol 313, p 765). That’s despite a series of widely publicised advances in genetics, including genetic sequencing, which shows strong overlap of the human genome with those of chimpanzees and mice. “We don’t seem to be going in the right direction,” Miller says. New Scientist

—– snip —–

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Surveys by a Michigan State University researcher find that about one-third of the American population does not believe in evolution, a figure which is much higher than those found in similar surveys in European nations and Japan.

The research of Jon D. Miller, MSU Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies, is published in the Aug. 11 issue of the journal Science.

“One in three American adults firmly rejects the concept of evolution, a significantly higher proportion than found in any western European country,” Miller said.

For example, in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France, 80 percent or more of adults accepted the concept of evolution, as did 78 percent of Japanese adults. Michigan State University

Only 40% of Americans accept the idea of evolution, compared to around 80% of adults from Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Japan. Around a third of Americans completely reject the concept of evolution (the rest, presumably, are undecided).

This is really astonishingly bad news. What has gone wrong with the US? I’ve spent a fair bit of time criticising the scientific community for poor scientific method, for being riddled with silly and outdated beliefs, and for burying its head in the sand. But if the general population can’t even get its head together about something as fundamentally proven as evolution, what hope do we have?

I personally find any form of spiritualism to be the most extreme form of arrogance. The idea that one can “just know” something is true without any factual evidence is deeply egotistical.

I’m aware that many people are indoctrinated into such beliefs from childhood, even that many people find solace in religion when they are grieving. But for many, religion is a great opt out. A way to get out of finding the answers to life’s problems, morals, and politics yourself, a way to get out of personal responsibility for your own life and health (after all this life doesn’t matter so much if one is going to come back as an ant in the next one), a way to get out of all the hard work of independent thinking.

Personally, for my ‘religion’, I would rather focus on increasing my quality of life and extending my lifespan, and using what energy I have in making this life better and more enjoyable for myself and others, whilst I am still here.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

1 September, 2006 at 9:27 am

Posted in Quacktitioners

3 Responses

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  1. The stranger thing is when you meet ‘Christians’ who aren’t creationists! I know so many people who claim to be Christian or Jewish who also believe in evolution, which to me is a little weird. Both my parents are atheists and have been since before I was born, but they still celebrate Christmas (presents and food only) because it’s fun! haha. Now that’s weird.

    Mother Nuture

    1 September, 2006 at 12:57 pm

  2. Evolution and christianity aren’t incompatible. After all, evolutionary theory says absolutely nothing about how life *began* – just how it *progresses*Most moderate christians (i.e. most christians) nowadays see Genesis as an allegory, rather than an historical text. The scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming, unlike the evidence for (or against) the existence of a god.I’m not entirely surprised by the 40% figure in the relatively devout US. We all rely on authorities for information outside our domain of knowledge. Some will use the media, others their faith.What I find infinitely worse is Intelligent Design, which is nothing more than creationism tarted up as science. Actual, real scientists – *people who should know better* – are trying to sneak creationism into science classrooms with the cry of “teach the debate”, as if their brand of half-baked pseudoscientific clap-trap is a valid alternative to the mature, near-universally accepted theory of evolution.Intelligent Design proponents have compiled a petition of “scientists” who have doubts about evolution. Amusingly, someone in the US has compiled a *larger* list of those who support evolution, consisting entirely of scientists with the name Steve. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve)

    Pete

    2 September, 2006 at 4:42 pm

  3. I am not sure how Protestantism is getting on in Europe, but I’m pretty sure the answer to the 40% enigma lies in a quirk of American history: that it was colonized largely by Protestants, and that ever since those first Protestant groups (Calvinist border Scots, East Anglian Puritans, hill-country Quakers) arrived, they have been constantly splintering into new sects. Every new break puts them at another remove from the historical church. For some time now, they’ve been completely innocent of any knowledge of church history, or of how the theologians of the early church interpreted scripture. This has given rise to the interesting phenomenon of Biblical literalism: basically “All we’ve got left is the Bible, so it must be literally true in every syllable or we’re all blathering on about nothing.”

    Another effect of this detachment from the last 2 millenia of church history is that modern US protestants, instead of defining themselves and the church in the context of history, tend to define themselves in opposition to modern non-Protestant groups (Catholics and atheists chief among them). When your church breaks up into a new sect every ten years over some nitpicking question of church law, it is much easier to maintain a negative definition (“we’re not those godless bastards over there”) than a positive definition (“We have always practiced x, and always will.”).

    So in the US, many, many Christians have learnt to define their faith not in terms of creed (“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth”), but in terms of what they *don’t* believe (“I don’t believe in evolution.”). Which means that for most Christians in the US (the vast majority are Protestants), saying you believe evolutionary theory is the same as saying you are not a Christian.

    methylethyl

    16 December, 2008 at 3:50 pm


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