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« Hey, Mainstream Media, What Color is the Sky in Your World? The RantsThese Are the People Dumbing Down the United States »

Boy Are We Stupid
2006.08.12 (Sat) 01:08

And by "we," we mean the United States. Take a look at the results of this disheartening poll — it's like a brisk splash in the face with liquid nitrogen:

A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower.

Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.

"American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalist, which is why Turkey and we are so close," said study co-author Jon Miller of Michigan State University.

Only Turkey ranked lower. Turkey. Boy howdy, that's exhilarating, isn't it? To be fair, we don't see most of the world's Muslim theocracies included in the poll, so chances are, if they had been included, we'd be right there in the mix with bastions of progressive scientific knowledge like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Yay, us!

For those of you who are a bit more visually oriented, here's a handy comparison chart. Notice the sudden drop-off at the end with the United States and Turkey. On the brighter side, notice that the United States has the most, um, symmetrical bar on the graph. Do we get some points for that, at least?


Look, we've gotten over our surprise that approximately half of all Americans reject evolution — we've seen that statistic too many times for it to really blow our minds any more (though it still makes us dry heave sometimes). But somehow, subconsciously maybe, we always believed that, as a whole, we were in the middle somewhere on the "Stupid Countries" list. We really didn't think we'd be a gnat's ass away from dead last.

The reasons for this aren't shocking at all, though. The report cites Christian fundamentalism, the willingness of politicians to exploit religion in their campaigns, and the generally poor grasp of science exhibited by many (if not most) Americans.

One item that we found interesting was the following:

The study found that over the past 20 years:
  • The percentage of U.S. adults who accept evolution declined from 45 to 40 percent.
  • The percentage overtly rejecting evolution declined from 48 to 39 percent, however.
  • And the percentage of adults who were unsure increased, from 7 to 21 percent.

So, it would seem that the public "debate" has had some kind of effect...but in both directions.

You can read the actual paper by Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott and Shinji Okamoto, as well as commentary from PZ Myers at Pharyngula, or Nick Matzke at the Panda's Thumb. If your country did well here, you can breathe a sigh of relief (about this, anyway). Us? We're gonna go have a good lie down. Or a stiff drink. Or both. Yeah, that's much more likely.

— • —
[  Filed under: % Creationism  % Religion  ]

Comments (6)

Ian B Gibson, 2006.08.12 (Sat) 09:46 [Link] »

Hey, don't worry - the US is grouped in with all the 'New Europe' countries that the President is so keen on. Those high-falutin', wishy-washy countries of 'Old Europe' are the only ones who go in for all this evolution nonsense!

Jurjen Smies, 2006.08.14 (Mon) 04:34 [Link] »

And do bear in mind that there are another 157 countries in the world which weren't covered by the study. It would be interesting to see how the US compares to Canada and Australia, for example, and how those countries compare to the European ones in this survey.
And, let me state for the record that I am horrified by the results for my home country of the Netherlands. Over 20% thinks evolution is false, and another 15% or so is undecided. I guess you expect better of your countrymen, no matter where you're from; the Danes and the Swedes are probably going "who are those morons?!"

Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.08.17 (Thu) 17:10 [Link] »

True enough — we mentioned the Islamic theocracies that would probably have scored around the same as the US, but the other non-fundamentalist countries that aren't included would most likely have just pushed us down again.

All in all, if we administered this poll to all countries globally, we figure the US would be right about where it is now — in the bottom five percent.

Belinda, 2006.08.31 (Thu) 03:59 [Link] »

I would like to think that my country (Australia) wouldn't have the same results - we seem to be a lot more secular than the US (hell we even had an athiest for a Prime Minister). However given that our (now ex) Minister for Education spoke about being amenable to the idea of ID in science class last year, I think I would be scared to see the results of the poll done here.

On a more general note I would just like to congratulate you on the website - I have only just come across it and am slowly going through all the pages on it. It is refreshing to see some sensible, intelligent thought from my American cousins - unlike the checkout chick who asked my husband (when he was in the US last week) "...and what state (of the USA) is Australia in?"

Alexa Robles, 2006.09.17 (Sun) 01:07 [Link] »

I dont whether I should cry,vomit,or be really really really really embaressed right now. fuck.When i said america was the stupidest country in the world its because of bush. Now that its proven that it is the second stupidest country in the world.damnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Well i write for my school newspaper and do believe evolution and Im not one of the stupid ones . So i feel your pain .
God save america

The Two Percent Company, 2006.09.21 (Thu) 11:51 [Link] »

Belinda: Wait, Australia isn't a city in a US state? We thought that everything was part of the US. Except for the terrorists, of course — they're part of Iraq.

But yeah, we're painfully aware that the global perception of our country has suffered immensely over the past few years. While it's true that the trained talking monkey in the White House bears some of the blame for that perception, it's also true that the people elected him...twice. Yes, our country is overwhelmingly stupid, it seems, but there are some truly good and intelligent people here, as well. And if the intelligent ones can't find a way to change the direction of this country, we may come knocking at your door in Australia looking for a new home. So keep it sane down there!

Alexa: Cry, vomit, be really embarrassed...all of those seem about right.

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