From: Howard J. Van Till (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Sep 10 2003 - 09:18:14 EDT
Re: The Zogby International "Poll"
Of what actual value is this opinion poll? Given the wording of the
questions, and given that it was administered to folks in the western end of
the U.S. Bible Belt, the results were assured from the beginning. This has
the appearance of a marketing gimmick, nothing more.
> 2. The state board of education is currently deciding which biology
> textbooks should be approved for use in public schools in Texas. Which of
> the following two statements comes closer to your own opinion?
> A: The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach
> only Darwin's theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports
> B: The state board of education should approve biology textbooks that teach
> Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.
> By nearly a five-to-one margin, people are more likely to agree with
> Statement B (75%) than Statement A (16%). Approximately one in ten are not
> sure (9%).
Regarding "Darwin's theory of evolution": The one Darwin proposed in 1859?
Contemporary Neo-Darwinism? What propositions does it include? Scientific
only? Both scientific and metaphysical? Is this only one theory or a package
of many particular theories in which the scientific community has varying
degrees of confidence? Are high school students capable of weighing the
evidence in a professional manner? Is it not extremely relevant to the
outcome of this poll that folks in the Bible belt have been religiously
conditioned to associate the term "Darwin's theory of evolution" with
The results of this question say nothing of value about the way in which
biological evolution should be taught. It simply affirms what we could have
expected from a poll crafted in this childish manner and administered in
this geographical area.
> 3. Texas law requires that textbooks be (quote) “free from factual errors.”
> Should the state board of education apply this standard to how biology
> textbooks present Darwin’s theory of evolution?
> Agree, Disagree, Not sure
> 71%, 20%, 9%
The results should have been 100% Agree! Would 29% of these folk find
factual errors in textbooks acceptable? Ridiculous!
> 4. Texas law requires students to analyze, review, and critique scientific
> explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and
> weaknesses using scientific evidence and information. Should the state
> board of education apply this standard to how evolution is presented in
> Agree, Disagree, Not sure
> 82%, 14%, 5%
Again, the result should have been 100% agree.
> 5. Which of the following two statements comes closer to your own opinion?
> A: Biology teachers should teach only Darwin's theory of evolution and the
> scientific evidence that supports it.
> B: Biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the
> scientific evidence against it.
> Statement A 18%
> Statement B 76%
> Not sure 6%
Same comments as for #2 above.
> 6. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly
> disagree with the following statement: “When Darwin's theory of evolution
> is taught in school, students should also be able to learn about scientific
> evidence that points to an intelligent design of life.”
This is an extremely misleading question based on the presumption that
"evolution" and "intelligent design" are related as either/or. Furthermore,
it does this without spelling out what propositions are included in
"Darwin's theory of evolution" (the ID leaders define it in a non-scientific
way that includes basic tenets of materialism) and without spelling out what
it means to say that life was "intelligently designed" (ID leaders present
it in a way that makes it practically synonymous with divine intervention).
My conclusion: Anyone who uses the results of this poll to support the
teaching of "intelligent design" as a scientific alternative to biological
evolution is using a rhetorical strategy that ought to be a total
embarrassment to any morally and ethically sensitive person.
Howard Van Till
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