Ignorance, thy name has become Republican

Many of my fellow SBers have blogged about the Gallup poll showing just how scientifically ignorant Americans, and in particular Republicans, are:

PRINCETON, NJ — The majority of Republicans in the United States do not believe the theory of evolution is true and do not believe that humans evolved over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. This suggests that when three Republican presidential candidates at a May debate stated they did not believe in evolution, they were generally in sync with the bulk of the rank-and-file Republicans whose nomination they are seeking to obtain.

Independents and Democrats are more likely than Republicans to believe in the theory of evolution. But even among non-Republicans there appears to be a significant minority who doubt that evolution adequately explains where humans came from.

The data from several recent Gallup studies suggest that Americans’ religious behavior is highly correlated with beliefs about evolution. Those who attend church frequently are much less likely to believe in evolution than are those who seldom or never attend. That Republicans tend to be frequent churchgoers helps explain their doubts about evolution.

Here’s a summary of the results:

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Not surprisingly, the correlation between not accepting the science of evolution and churchgoing was stronger than the correlation between being Republican and not accepting evolution. As the poll points out:

Being religious in America today is strongly related to partisanship, with more religious Americans in general much more likely to be Republicans than to be independents or Democrats. This relationship helps explain the finding that Republicans are significantly more likely than independents or Democrats to say they do not believe in evolution. When three Republican presidential candidates said in a May debate that they did not believe in evolution, the current analysis suggests that many Republicans across the country no doubt agreed.

As one of the more conservative-leaning of the ScienceBlogs crowd (which means that my politics tend to be rather centrist, which around here is conservative), I actually used to vote mostly Republican until the reign of our current President. If there’s one thing that’s driven me away from the Republican Party more than anything else, it’s its embrace of religious fundamentalists and its increasing preference for religious dogma over reason and science. The really depressing thing about this poll, however, is not that 68% of Republicans reject evolution. Given the Christian conservative base of the Republican Party in 2007, that figure is only somewhat higher than I would have guessed. What’s really depressing is that 37% of Independents and 40% of Democrats also reject evolution. Either way, I’m with John Cole in sentiment if not on the specifics on this one: “People who reject scientific evidence in favor of fantasy and myth are not ‘deeply religious,’ they are stupid.” In reality, they are not stupid. They are either ignorant or simply care far more about what their religion says than what science says.

Either way, their judgment on all matters scientific should be considered suspect at best and fatally flawed at worst.

I’ve referenced this post before, and I’ll link to it again: I miss Republicans.