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Friday, July 10, 2009

Field Notes

Pew Report Shows Many Americans Still Don't Know There's Scientific Consensus on Evolution
Asked which comes closer to their view, "Humans and other living things have evolved over time" or "Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time," 97 percent of scientists responding chose the former option, as opposed to only 2 percent choosing the latter option; 61 percent of the public responding chose the former option, as opposed to 31 percent choosing the latter option.
Those who chose the former option were also asked whether they preferred "Humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection" or "A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today." Among scientists, 87 percent preferred the former option and 8 percent preferred the latter option; among the public, 32 percent preferred the former option and 22 percent preferred the latter option. Members of the public were also asked whether scientists generally agree that humans evolved over time; 60 percent said yes, 28 percent said no. "Views on evolution vary substantially within the general public," the report observed, "particularly by religion and attendance at religious services." (National Center for Science Education)
•TEXT: "Public Praises Science, Scientists Fault Public, Media (Pew Research Center)

Hey, Governor Perry, Choose Wisely for Chair of Texas State Board of Education
With a protracted fight over evolution and the science curriculum barely behind it, the State Board of Education looks poised for yet another tug-of-war that uses the Texas public schools as a stage for battles between competing views of the world. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern Heckled as She Launches Proclamation of Morality
A state lawmaker who made national headlines by claiming homosexuality is a greater threat to the United States than terrorism was heckled by protesters as she launched a campaign for a morality proclamation that opponents said promotes an atmosphere of hate. Rep. Sally Kern said the U.S. is drifting from traditional Christian values as she sought signatures for her petition at a state Capitol rally attended by about 250 people including ministers and their followers, four other state lawmakers, and protesters who shouted "shame on you" and "hypocrite." (Associated Press)

Revisiting Sigmund Freud's Views on Religion
Freud is despised among rationalists and self-consciously scientific people today. I was reminded of this when one of the speakers at the big Darwin Festival in Cambridge quoted Richard Dawkins as looking forward to the time when Freud was "utterly discredited" intellectually. I have a lot of sympathy for this desire myself. But if Freud was wrong about everything else, why assume he was right about religion? (Andrew Brown's Blog, guardian.co.uk)