A survey of 2,200 people that was released Friday revealed some alarming truths about the state of science education across the country, with many failing to an answer even the most basic astronomy and science questions, according to a release about the survey.
Out of nine questions in the survey, participants scored an average 6.5.
Only 39 percent answered correctly with “true” when asked if “The universe began with a huge explosion,” while only 48 percent knew that “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals,” according to the statement.
It’s hard to estimate how much of this ignorance is willful because it conflicts with religious belief. It boggles the mind that in 2015 less than half of Americans understand and/or accept the theory of evolution.
Worse, most folks don’t think science is worthy of increased government spending:
Asked whether there needed to be more government funding for science, 30 percent said there should be.
These weren’t difficult questions. Anyone who made it through high school should be able to answer them without difficulty. A good part of the reason America has risen to the position its in is because of our mastery of science and the benefits that come with it.
I suppose we could chalk this up to the topics not being something that most folks deal with day to day, but they seem like the sort of thing you’d know just by paying a little attention to what’s going on around you.
If you’re a member of one of the two predominant political parties in this country then a good guess can be made as to which television programs you like to watch. Or at least, that’s what this survey done for Entertainment Weekly seems to indicate.
Here’s their list with my notes as to whether or not I’m a fan of the show named:
– The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report (Comedy Central): As you might expect.
I do watch both of these shows though, as mentioned in the last podcast, I’m a bigger fan of TDS than Colbert.
– 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation (NBC): Literate media-savvy comedies score high among Dems in general, notes Experian-Simmons senior marketing manager John Fetto. “Sarcastic humor is always a hook for them,” he adds.
Don’t care for either one of these, but then there are very few sitcoms I do care for. The Big Bang Theory being one of them.
– The View (ABC): Shows that skew female tend to do better among Dems, while male-friendly shows tend to do perform higher among Republicans.
Can’t stand The View, but then I’m not really its demographic.
– Glee (Fox)
– Modern Family (ABC): Last year, the progressive Glee and Modern Family scored surprisingly strong among both political leanings. Among conservatives this year, the shows still do fairly well, but have dropped out of their top ranks.
Nope. Watched one episode. Didn’t care for it.
– It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)
Again, not a huge fan of sitcoms and this one is just strange in a way I don’t find particularly funny.
– Treme (HBO): GOP Kryptonite. Not only a Dem favorite, but so unpopular among Republicans that the report scores the show with a “*” because not enough conservatives in the study group had actually watched it.
Never seen it because I don’t subscribe to HBO or any of the other premium movie channels.
– Cougar Town (ABC)
Another fuck no. I’m surprised that this show and others like it (e.g. Desperate Housewives) do well at all, but I suppose watching people be shitty to each other, especially rich people, has always been popular.
– The Late Show With David Letterman and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson(CBS): Dems favor late-night programming, with one big exception that we’ll see below.
Well, one out of two ain’t bad. Don’t watch Letterman anymore. He hasn’t been particularly funny or interesting for years, but I record Ferguson nightly to watch the next day.
Also in the mix: The Soup (E!), Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim), Raising Hope (Fox), Saturday Night Live (NBC), The Office (NBC), Project Runway (Lifetime), Shameless(Showtime), Parenthood (NBC), Conan (TBS).
No, sometimes, no, no, no, fuck no, no, no, no.
Of that short list I’ll watch ATH every so often, but I rarely understand it. Probably because I’m old.
– Swamp Loggers (Discovery) and Top Shot (History): Gritty documentary-style work-related reality shows on cable index really strongly with conservative Republicans. Swamp Loggers is particularly polarizing.
No and no. Does it surprise anyone that these two shows are hot with Republicans? Rednecks swinging axes and gun owners showing off shootin’ skills. If you could somehow work NASCAR into that mix the orgasms some folks would have would give them aneurysms.
– The Bachelor (ABC): They also tend to gravitate toward broadcast reality competition shows.
No. And I have to say that I’ve very surprised that this is popular with Republicans given that it seems to be somewhat denigrating of the whole marriage thing.
– Castle (ABC): Ranks fairly high among Dems, too.
I will sometimes watch Castle simply because it has Nathan Fillion in it, but I don’t make a point of it.
– Mythbusters (Discovery)
I’m a huge fan and I find it very surprising the it’s popular with Republicans given i’s very pro-science, anti-bullshit bent. If I had to guess I’d say it’s because they blow shit up on a regular basis and the Republicans sit through all the science-y shit just so they can see stuff explode. They probably watch it with the sound turned off so they don’t accidentally learn something.
– Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, Swamp People (History): If you’re a Republican candidate looking to raise money, put ads on History.
No, no, no, and no. Not at all surprised at the popularity of these shows among Republicans.
– The Middle (ABC): Does well among libs, too.
Never even heard of it before.
– The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): “Did you hear about this? Yeah, this is true: Jay Leno is the late-night choice among conservatives…”
Not a fan. Not sure why Republicans would be.
– The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Nope, though not surprised the Republicans like it.
– Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, The Mentalist (CBS): Popular crime dramas — except the left-wingLaw & Order franchise — tend to draw a conservative crowd.
No, no, YES! Again, very surprised The Mentalist is a hit given that the lead-character is big on tearing down people’s delusional beliefs in psychics and other supernatural phenomena.
Also: Dancing With the Stars results show (ABC), Man vs. Wild (Discovery), Auction Kings(Discovery), Wheel of Fortune (syndi), Top Gear (BBC America).
No, no, no, no, and no. Only surprised by Top Gear being popular with them as it’s a furriner show. Granted, it’s a car show, but not of the sort that most Republicans seem enthralled with.
This probably explains why I’m an Independent. I just can’t seem to conform to either party’s expectations.
Being an atheist brings with it a certain amount of… disapproval… by the general public. It’s something that I, and many other atheists, have mentioned on more than one occasion. Polls regularly show that atheists are less electable to public office than Muslims and are often ranked as having the lowest approval ratings.
Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent.
Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
Which is really weird when you think about it. The Tea Party seems to hold an inordinate amount of sway in the Republican party right now so why is it so unpopular with the general public ranking right down there with the Christian Right?
Probably because it’s more or less the Christian Right with new branding:
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.
More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
Scratch the average Tea Party member and you’ll find a far-right Christian fundamentalist working hard to move America towards a theocracy. Given this is it any surprise that the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry are doing so well in their bids to be the next President. At least among Republicans.
The silver lining in the cloud of the Tea Party’s dominance of the Republicans is that it may very well keep them out of the White House:
Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity.
On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.
Many in the Tea Party have ties to Christian Dominionism and are looking at both Bachmann and Perry as a means to their ends of converting our secular government into a theocratic one. If you thought George W. Bush’s reign was bad, try to imagine what a Bachmann or Perry administration would be like. Hopefully the disapproval of the general public for the Tea Party and it’s policies continues to remain high.
According to Ask Men’s annual Great Male/Female Surveys, half of all straight men say they would dump a girlfriend who got fat. 20 percent of straight women say they’d dump a boyfriend who got fat.
I’m hoping this is because most of the respondents were young and immature — the fact that they asked about “girlfriends” is what I’m latching onto — but I’m worried that’s not the case. Had you asked me back in my teens if I could see myself marrying someone like my wife, I would’ve said no. I was immature and placed more emphasis on outward appearances than I should have.
Fast forward to my early thirties and you’d find that I’ve had a fair number of relationships over the years in spite of not being a strikingly handsome man. All but one of them was broken off by my partner at the time for various reasons that all roughly boil down to my being an immature asshole who didn’t really know what a loving relationship really was. This included at least one person to whom I was engaged for a year because I thought she was The One. I don’t regret any of those past relationships because each one helped me to grow into a better person for the next one that came along. Well, I do regret that it took so long for me to get my shit together because I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with some truly wonderful women over the years and I feel slightly bad about inflicting my (at the time) stupidly immature self upon them.
When my wife and I started dating neither one of us was what you would call svelte. If you asked me what it was I found attractive about her at the time I’d be hard pressed to tell you as she’s very different, both physically and in personality, than any woman I had dated previously. After having had so many relationships that didn’t work out I went into the one with her with a very different and relaxed attitude. At first I wasn’t sure if I was in love or not because it was a very different feel than the past relationships. I think it’s the first time I really keyed in on what love was really like.
The upshot of all that is simply that I love my wife for who she is and not what figure she has. Any concerns I have about the shape of her body is strictly for reasons of health rather than aesthetics, and it’s a concern I hold for myself. I’d like us both to be thinner purely for the health benefits it would bring, but my love for her is not dependent on her having a slim build.
There are a lot of wonderful women in the world who have far less than perfect bodies. It’s a shame that so many men seem willing to pass up what could be a wonderful relationship because they’re hung up on the shape of a woman’s body. And it’s downright hypocritical if the man in question isn’t exactly a great example of being lean and mean himself.
See that chart to the left? It’s from this article at The Economist. It’s about a poll they conducted wherein they asked people if they thought the government should decrease the deficit by raising taxes or cutting spending. Cutting spending was the popular choice at 65% with only 5% saying raising taxes was the way to go. So then they asked the question over there on the left and that chart is the result.
As you can see, there wasn’t one single area that even a third of the country wanted to cut back on. Except — hold on there! Down in the middle of the table. There is one area that everyone’s willing to trim: foreign aid. Good ‘ol foreign aid. A category that, as Roger McShane dryly points out, “makes up less than 1% of America’s total spending.”
Beyond that, there were only four areas that even a quarter of the population was willing to cut: mass transit, agriculture, housing, and the environment. At a rough guess, these areas account for about 3% of the federal budget. You could slash their budgets by a third and still barely make a dent in federal spending.
So, yeah, cutting spending would be one way to reduce the deficit… if you were willing to actually cut into the programs that cost the most. It’s a shame that all the really expensive programs are the ones most folks don’t really want to cut.
Perhaps they should spend some time actually learning from this excellent infographic poster about the Federal Budget:
You can zoom in and move it around or go full screen to get a better look. That’s the creation of Jess Bachman and he’s been updating it every year since 2004. It really is worth looking at in detail to see where the money goes and you can buy a 24″ x 36″ posted of it at his WallStats website along with several other excellent infographics he’s made.
The point being: It doesn’t help if everyone thinks we should cut spending, but no one can agree on where those cuts should be made. Nobody likes higher taxes, but the only way to have your cake and eat it too is to pay for it. Even if that means using a credit card to do so, which is more or less what the deficit is tantamount to.
The oft-repeated lie is that there is no consensus that global climate change is real, but when you ask the scientists who should know the consensus is clear:
A group of 3,146 earth scientists surveyed around the world overwhelmingly agree that in the past 200-plus years, mean global temperatures have been rising, and that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.
Peter Doran, University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, along with former graduate student Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, conducted the survey late last year.
[…] In trying to overcome criticism of earlier attempts to gauge the view of earth scientists on global warming and the human impact factor, Doran and Kendall Zimmerman sought the opinion of the most complete list of earth scientists they could find, contacting more than 10,200 experts around the world listed in the 2007 edition of the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments.
[…] Two questions were key: have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.
About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second.
In analyzing responses by sub-groups, Doran found that climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role. Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 and 64 percent respectively believing in human involvement. Doran compared their responses to a recent poll showing only 58 percent of the public thinks human activity contributes to global warming.
My cynical side points out the fact that the climatologists think it is happening while the petroleum geologists don’t ties neatly in with the argument that both are biased in favor of whatever supports their field of study. That makes it doubtful this will settle any arguments, but it’s still worth noting that there is a consensus.
More than half – 53% – of all American adults play video games of some kind, whether on a computer, on a gaming console, on a cell phone or other handheld device, on a portable gaming device, or online
Video gaming: It’s not just for geeks anymore.
One of the more interesting results of the poll had to do with senior gamers:
Among older adults 65+ who play video games, nearly a third play games everyday, a significantly larger percentage than all younger players, of whom about 20% play everyday.
Yeah, because they’re retired and have the extra time to spend on them. When I get to be 65+ you can be damned sure I’ll still be kicking ass in Call of Duty XXV: World War III or whatever the hell version they’re up to by then.
A study conducted by security company Cyber-Ark indicates that a significant number of corporate IT personnel snoop sensitive data, and nearly 9 out of 10 would take company secrets and remote access credentials with them if they were fired. This could pose a serious security risk for many companies and expose them to industrial espionage and other dangers.
The results of the Trust, Security and Passwords study are based on a survey of 300 system administrators at the Infosecurity 2008 event in Europe. Of the study respondents, 88 percent admitted they would take sensitive data with them when leaving their current place of employment, and approximately one-third said that they would abscond with company password lists. That could be a serious cause for concern for companies that have complex and loosely secured technological infrastructure.
Cyber-Ark claims that one-third of companies participating in the survey experience data breaches and theft on a regular basis. Information is leaked to competitors through a multitude of vectors, including e-mail, portable devices, and USB thumb drives. More than a quarter are also the victims of internal sabotage.
I have worked for two of the Big Three automotive companies (Ford and General Motors) as well as a number of other companies where I had access to all sorts of sensitive data and information and not once did I ever consider stealing any of it. Not because of any possible consequences of such an action, but because it would be wrong to do so. I’ve worked at the General Motors Design Center in Warren where I saw all manner of prototype vehicles that car magazines would love to get the details on ahead of time as well as the Milford Proving Grounds where the prototypes were put through their paces. I worked in the Alpha Building at Ford Motor Company where literally gigabytes of data on whole car lines were stored on various PCs and network shares. When I was laid off from Ford, twice, I was seriously upset, but not once did I consider the possibility of taking anything with me.
Sure both companies had policies in place meant to make such thefts harder – certain workstations GM blocked writing to USB devices of any kind – but nothing that I didn’t have knowledge of how to circumvent and certainly nothing proactive enough to have stopped me had I wanted to take any data. I suppose I’m just too honest to think of such things. I have a sense of honor at the idea that I’m entrusted with the care and support of such data. It angers me that so many others would violate that trust because, at a minimum, it makes my job that much harder. Stupid and ineffective restrictions, like the blocking of USB devices, just end up getting in the way of fixing machines and just the fact that so many others are untrustworthy means I’ll be looked at with suspicion by association. Hell, it means I’ll be looking at my fellow colleagues with suspicion as well and that’s just not the sort of work environment I want to be in.
The fact that this survey was done by a security company probably means it’s somewhat inflated, but if it’s even remotely close to the truth it’s very upsetting indeed.
Nearly 3,000 respondents in two separate What They Play polls concluded that drinking beer and watching pornography were less objectionable activities for children than playing certain video games. Further, viewing violence was more acceptable than seeing content involving sex and sexuality within games.
[…] According to WTP’s data, here’s what parents found most offensive in video games:
a man and woman having sex (37%)
two men kissing (27%)
a graphically severed head (25%)
multiple use of the F-word (9%).
Seriously, what the fuck? This is especially confusing seeing as there are very few (and none of them mainstream) video games with graphic sexual content in them and yet they’re more concerned about sex in video games than real sex in porn?
Dr. Cherly Olson, co-author of Grand Theft Childhood, says that unfamiliarity may be part of the reason:
Although these findings seem surprising at first, they hint at fears parents have about video games. To some parents, video games are full of unknowable dangers. While researching for Grand Theft Childhood, parents we spoke with in focus groups often bemoaned the fact that they didn’t know how to use game controls – and felt unequipped to supervise or limit video game play. Of course, parents don’t want their children drinking alcohol, but that’s a more familiar risk.
On the plus side, with more and more people playing video games well into adulthood the next generation of parents should be better equipped to make decisions for their kids on what games are appropriate than today’s parents. I suppose the reason I find this so surprising is because I am one of those parents.
It appears that there’s a fair bit of turmoil in America in terms of religious affiliation. Not only are more people leaving the faith they were born in for a different one, but the number of unaffiliated people—sometimes referred to as the “unchurched”—is also on the rise:
An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details the religious affiliation of the American public and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.
More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion—or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, roughly 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.
The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.
A quarter of the younger generation are unchurched. While that doesn’t mean they don’t hold some God belief it’s still very good news as those folks tend to be the most likely to eventually give up said belief and become atheists in the long run. The good news doesn’t end there, though:
The Landscape Survey confirms that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions—evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%).
You can bet that’s going to have more than a few Protestant leader’s panties all in a bunch. Expect to hear alarm bells ringing in churches all across America if this trend continues. The Catholics aren’t faring much better either:
While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic.
These losses would have been even more pronounced were it not for the offsetting impact of immigration. The Landscape Survey finds that among the foreign-born adult population, Catholics outnumber Protestants by nearly a two-to-one margin (46% Catholic vs. 24% Protestant); among native-born Americans, on the other hand, Protestants outnumber Catholics by an even larger margin (55% Protestant vs. 21% Catholic). Immigrants are also disproportionately represented among several world religions in the U.S., including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
This gives me hope that Americans aren’t as stupid as they sometimes seem to be. I’ve said before that after the scale of the Catholic pedophile priests scandal became clear that I couldn’t understand how anyone could accept the Catholic church as any kind of moral authority. It seems that scandal may have had quite the impact on Catholics deciding to leave the faith behind.
Of more interest to me, however, is the overview on the aforementioned unchurched population:
Like the other major groups, people who are unaffiliated with any particular religion (16.1%) also exhibit remarkable internal diversity. Although one-quarter of this group consists of those who describe themselves as either atheist or agnostic (1.6% and 2.4% of the adult population overall, respectively), the majority of the unaffiliated population (12.1% of the adult population overall) is made up of people who simply describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” This group, in turn, is fairly evenly divided between the “secular unaffiliated,” that is, those who say that religion is not important in their lives (6.3% of the adult population), and the “religious unaffiliated,” that is, those who say that religion is either somewhat important or very important in their lives (5.8% of the overall adult population).
This is good news indeed and will probably mean that we’ll see more and more people, particularly from the “secular unaffiliated” group, come around to identifying themselves as atheists or agnostics at some point in time. Best of all, the unaffiliated group is growing in size:
The survey finds that constant movement characterizes the American religious marketplace, as every major religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing adherents. Those that are growing as a result of religious change are simply gaining new members at a faster rate than they are losing members. Conversely, those that are declining in number because of religious change simply are not attracting enough new members to offset the number of adherents who are leaving those particular faiths.
To illustrate this point, one need only look at the biggest gainer in this religious competition—the unaffiliated group. People moving into the unaffiliated category outnumber those moving out of the unaffiliated group by more than a three-to-one margin. At the same time, however, a substantial number of people (nearly 4% of the overall adult population) say that as children they were unaffiliated with any particular religion but have since come to identify with a religious group. This means that more than half of people who were unaffiliated with any particular religion as a child now say that they are associated with a religious group. In short, the Landscape Survey shows that the unaffiliated population has grown despite having one of the lowest retention rates of all “religious” groups.
So, yeah, some unaffiliated people, and even some atheists, do eventually switch to being believers, but at least we’re gaining more than we’re losing and doing so at a rate higher than any other group. A few more of the highlights I found interesting include:
Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.
Mormons and Muslims are the groups with the largest families; more than one-in-five Mormon adults and 15% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have three or more children living at home.
The Midwest most closely resembles the religious makeup of the overall population. The South, by a wide margin, has the heaviest concentration of members of evangelical Protestant churches. The Northeast has the greatest concentration of Catholics, and the West has the largest proportion of unaffiliated people, including the largest proportion of atheists and agnostics.
People not affiliated with any particular religion stand out for their relative youth compared with other religious traditions. Among the unaffiliated, 31% are under age 30 and 71% are under age 50. Comparable numbers for the overall adult population are 20% and 59%, respectively.
In sharp contrast to Islam and Hinduism, Buddhism in the U.S. is primarily made up of native-born adherents, whites and converts. Only one-in-three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three-in-four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism.
Good stuff and the full report can be read here for those of you who want the nitty gritty details.