Gene Expression

But it does move….

All of the other science bloggers are talking about the finding that the British might be more Creation-friendly than we’d have thought. My first thought is that we need to be careful about the survey. But my second thought is to remind myself that a 1988 survey (page 8 of the PDF) found that “…one-third of British adults understood that the Earth rotates around the Sun once a year….” vs. “…half of US adults know that the Earth rotates around the Sun once a year….” (year 2000 for the American survey). The difference in anti-evolutionary activism in the two nations is, I suspect, a function of British class structure and popular deference to elites.

Anyway, I’m going to snag some data from religious tolerance on evolution internationally:

Q: “In your opinion, how true is this? …Human beings developed from earlier species of animals..”

Nation & percentage answering affirmative

United States < 35.4

N. Ireland 51.5

Philippines 60.9

Ireland 60.1

Poland 35.4

Italy 65.2

New Zealand 66.3

Israel 56.9

Norway 65

Great Britain 76.7

Netherlands 58.6

W. Germany 72.7

Russia 41.4

Slovenia 60.7

Hungary 62.8

E. Germany 81.6

Update: Thanks to Dan for the correlation matrix for the data above below the fold….


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Comments

  1. #1 Mark Paris
    January 26, 2006

    The Philippines? There is more acceptance of evolution in the Philippines than in the US? I shake my head in consternation.

  2. #2 Craig Pennington
    January 26, 2006

    Um. Yay. Brits do have fewer people that deny the bleeding obvious than we do. Of course, the numbers from Poland and Russia surprise me.

  3. #3 razib
    January 26, 2006

    one thing, i think we should focus on the rank order more than the frequency. how you word questions can change the proportions, but, they will probably change them similarly cross-culturally.

  4. #4 Gorbe
    January 26, 2006

    Notwithstanding the colonialism, Filipinos love America for the education system it established there. A bit ironic, I’d say.

  5. #5 Daniel Collins
    January 26, 2006

    I’d like to know what factors best predict the numbers above. In particular, I don’t understand Poland’s low score in comparison with other Catholic countries, nor why N.Ireland is lower than both Ireland and Britain. The low Russian score may relate to the education system, particularly leading up to the time the survey was taken – 1991.

  6. #6 razib
    January 26, 2006

    i ran some correlations. re: northern ireland, it is a (relative) hot bed of protestant evangelical fundamentalism. traditional northern irish reject anglicanism in favor of a calvinist-presbyterian sectarianism. ian paisely for example has relations with bob jones university in the USA.

  7. #7 mary
    January 26, 2006

    I just don’t buy the results of this survey – most christians here seem quite happy with religion and evolution co-existing, apart from the U.S style Born again churches, and the teachers aren’t remotely religious. I reckon they deliberately targeted the dim people.
    Don’t see any evidence that it’s a class thing – that’s a bit of a myth. The only issue that divides by class is fox hunting.
    Saw the horizon programme tonight and it’s well worth seeing if any of you over the pond get a chance.
    Nice site by the way. Drop me an email if you’re ever in the UK.
    Cheers
    Mary
    Mary

  8. #8 razib
    January 26, 2006

    re: class, this enormous PDF on european attitudes toward science finds a positive covariance between education/income and acceptance of standard scientific consenses. the same thing shows up in american gallup polls re: evolution, there is a positive relationship between acceptance of evolution & income/education (socioeconomic status).

    if i come to the UK i will announce it! so keep reading the blog and you’ll know :)

  9. #9 IndianCowboy
    January 26, 2006

    I’ve lived in the bible belt all my life, and have yet to encounter a situation where 35% of the people around me don’t believe in evolution. This is true whether I’m out at the range (with my evil black gun), out on the farms (with my evil simple-minded friends), or at school.

  10. #10 IndianCowboy
    January 26, 2006

    oh and does anyone else attribute the inability of intelligent design to roll over and die to our failure to teach the public that evolution is NOT a progressive thing? The other day I actually had a friend refer to Australopithecus spp. as ‘subhuman’. *smacks forehead against the wall*

  11. #11 razib
    January 26, 2006

    oh and does anyone else attribute the inability of intelligent design to roll over and die to our failure to teach the public that evolution is NOT a progressive thing?

    what you are talking about is the ‘chain of being.’ i’ve seen many scientists talk about it, but people don’t listen, just like they don’t listen when scientists try to differentiate between abiogenesis and evolution. and i think in some ways evolution is progressive, insofar as you see increased complexity over geologic time scales (i’m leaning toward simon conway morris and richard dawkins position here as opposed to s.j. gould). and i think that saying australopithecus is ‘subhuman’ isn’t all that inaccurate, at least when set against the common assertion that ‘we aren’t descended from monkeys.’ australopithecus was humanoid in form. the key is your frame of reference.

    but anyway, each battle at its time. what do you focus on, a rejection of the chain of being or the fallacy that evolution is purely random chance?

  12. #12 razib
    January 26, 2006

    I’ve lived in the bible belt all my life, and have yet to encounter a situation where 35% of the people around me don’t believe in evolution.

    i lived in a 75% republican mostly mormon and baptist area of the intermontate west for much of my adolescence, and i doubt i ever encountered a situation where more than 20% of the people accepted evolution. this includes when i was hanging out on my friend’s ranches. since our anecdotes point in opposite directions i suppose we should rely on the copious survey data to arbitrate?

  13. #13 Matt McIntosh
    January 26, 2006

    I always find the appeals to anecdotal evidence in the face of massive data amusing for their sheer lack of self-consciousness. Here’s a hint: if you are the kind of person who enjoys reading scienceblogs.com, you are not the modal case, and your friends, family and co-workers probably aren’t either. Odds are you’re already a standard deviation above the mean IQ, and high IQ/high status people tend to self-segregate together. So it’s no surprise that most people you know are not this stupid.

  14. #14 razib
    January 26, 2006

    Odds are you’re already a standard deviation above the mean IQ, and high IQ/high status people tend to self-segregate together.

    1 std above mean ~ 115, and the rule of thumb is that you have little genuine exchange with people more than 1 +/- std in IQ, so the range should be 100-130. So, the top half of the distribution.

  15. #15 IndianCowboy
    January 27, 2006

    Matt, I’m not saying I think the survey is inaccurate and didn’t mean to imply that, I just found it a bit surprising in light of my own personal experience. (Razib, I guess we come from slightly different hick areas in terms of the religious dynamics. While my area was extremely christian and WWJD bracelets abounded, religion was accepted as a fairly private thing.)

    Also, Matt, strategists encourage us never to underestimate our enemies, and I’ve known some very intelligent creationists. Ones with a serious mental block who allowed their preconceived notions and religious bias to cloud their judgment on one particular issue, but highly intelligent nonetheless.

    Razib, honestly, its more important for me to quash ideas of evolution being progressive (chain of being, heirarchical, archetypal, ladder theory, whichever) than to fight the creationism fight. the creationism/ID fight is only important to me in terms of keeping it out of our schools. The other is far more important at every other level.

    Whether it’s Karl Marx, Teilhard de Chardin, hitler, or the popular book ‘Nonzero’, the idea that Evolution is progressive is a very dangerous idea from a social standpoint. I tend to rant on this subject (and once wrote an article about it), so I’ll shutup now.

    As for my view of the ‘progress’ of evolution, are you familiar with the Koch snowflake? Like you I believe complexity increases over time, just as the Koch snowflake increases from a triangle to a highly coplex shape of infinite perimeter. But humans represent just one of those many (and increasing) points on that snowflake. The center of that snowflake remains unchanged, there is no net movement.

    Plus, human evolution is a subject near and dear to my heart. I took a year off before med school to pursue a master’s in bioanthropology, so I’m especially touchy abou thtat subject.

  16. #16 razib
    January 27, 2006

    While my area was extremely christian and WWJD bracelets abounded, religion was accepted as a fairly private thing

    i would like to know where you are talking about, as my reading of american culture suggests a strong correlation between religiosity and public ‘witnessing’ (perhaps the upper midwest?).

    and I’ve known some very intelligent creationists. Ones with a serious mental block who allowed their preconceived notions and religious bias to cloud their judgment on one particular issue, but highly intelligent nonetheless.

    we are talking in statistical distributions here. obviously there are brilliant individuals who today hew to creationist and intelligent design theses. the key is that the ratio of brilliants (say > 140 IQ) is weighted toward those opposed to these theories. for example, a small survey of doctors (whose median IQ is proably around 125 or so) tend to show more support for evolution than the general public.

    Whether it’s Karl Marx, Teilhard de Chardin, hitler, or the popular book ‘Nonzero’, the idea that Evolution is progressive is a very dangerous idea from a social standpoint. I tend to rant on this subject (and once wrote an article about it), so I’ll shutup now.

    i think your problem is with the naturalistic fallacy.

    But humans represent just one of those many (and increasing) points on that snowflake. The center of that snowflake remains unchanged, there is no net movement.

    from t = 0 to t -> infinite the amt of entropy increases. we live in an increasingly disordered universe verging toward heat death (or black holization, or whatever). nevertheless, there are eddies of ascending order in this universe. even though on the net we may see increasing order within the closed system, there are whole disciplines that are oriented toward the small islands of order. so the issue is really focus and scale rather than “progress” vs. “non-progress.” true, i think saying that evolution is progressive is as accurate as saying it is random chance. it is more subtle than either, it is a sorting algorithm working on random variation.

    Plus, human evolution is a subject near and dear to my heart. I took a year off before med school to pursue a master’s in bioanthropology, so I’m especially touchy abou thtat subject.

    well, would care to elucidate what your issue is?

  17. #17 Matt McIntosh
    January 27, 2006

    Razib — Yes, that should have read “at least one standard deviation.” Mea culpa.

    Indy — What Razib said. I don’t doubt that there are some very bright creationists, but as you go up the IQ scale their relative frequency tapers off dramatically, and they don’t make up more than a miniscule fraction of the number of people who believe in creationism.

  18. #18 IndianCowboy
    January 27, 2006

    the use of the word subhuman implies progress toward the human; it also implies an imperfect organism. An orthogenetic increase in intelligence, stature, and crural index.

    Even at the most superficial level this idea of constant progress in the hominid lineage is ludicrous. The hominid lineage is a BUSH, not a single path. Brain size and stature have been relatively static since about 600,000 years ago. There were two daughter genera of Australopithecus, two daughter populations of ancestral H ergaster, two daughter populations of H heidelbergensis. There was not a consistent goal that the lineage worked toward.

    Furthermore, the use of the word ‘subhuman’ as I said earlier implies that these australopiths were not ‘fully evolved’ so to speak. Imperfect animals still searching their way to completeness. Which is BS. As my primatology prof was fond of reminding us “An organism is always adapted to its environment at any point during its evolution history.” Australopiths were intelligent, bipedal apes. That is what they are in essence, and in a sense, that is all they are. They aren’t maladapted, or partially adapted humans.

  19. #19 razib
    January 27, 2006

    i assumed that’s what you meant. to be succinct, it is hard to understand each other without priors being understood.

    1) i reject metaphysical chain of being
    2) i reject orthogenesis

    nevertheless, i can see the argument for the utility of the term ‘subhuman.’ your argument doesn’t seem to be with the way austr. are defined, that is a semantic epiphenomenon, but homocentrism in general. as a matter of science homocentrism is not justified. as a matter of values it is debatable.

    i understand your concerns, but i suspect that my foci are different. i.e., i think people need to understand evolution (especially microevolution, e.g., selection, drift, migration, mutation) before we can address the normative confusions.

  20. #20 IndianCowboy
    January 27, 2006

    I suspect it’s a difference of the scientific perspectives we both use in our own work. From your bio, I’m making the assumption that your primary focus is on population genetics (that being what Sewall Wright was known for). I don’t actually have to mention genes pretty much ever in the context of my own work (the evolution of paternal care, primarily). I spend most of my time understanding the day-to-day patterns of behavior of animals; their adaptive zones and how these are molded by their environment. External phenomena (ecology) versus internal patterns of genetic change in populations. So, I guess I see ‘subhuman’ as a demotion, an oversimplification, and a partial obscurement of the fact that australopiths occupied a niche fairly different from H ergaster and later hominids. K, shutting up now on that subject.

  21. #21 Dan Dare
    January 27, 2006

    I found the following interesting:

    If you take correlation matrix between the various beliefs. And then square the coefficients to get the coefficients of determination. The belief which has the weakest average cross-determination with the other beliefs is “Evolution” (11.3%). It is only weakly determined by the other beliefs. The best individual determination being between “Evolution” and “The Bible”(19.1%). Surprisingly the weakest individual determination is between “Evolution” and “Miracles” (7.2%). The latter is very odd to me, as how do you get either Creation or Intelligent Design without miracles?

    Contrast the above with “Hell”. It has an average coefficient of determination with the other beliefs of 58.0% and a peak determination of 94.8% with “The Devil”.
    I suppose the latter is only to be expected. “Hell” and “The Devil” are an obvious pairing.

  22. #22 Dan Dare
    January 27, 2006

    Incidently all the cross correlations between the various beliefs are positive except those with “Evolution” which are negative. As I would expect.

  23. #23 razib
    January 27, 2006

    So, I guess I see ‘subhuman’ as a demotion, an oversimplification, and a partial obscurement of the fact that australopiths occupied a niche fairly different from H ergaster and later hominids. K, shutting up now on that subject.

    i enjoyed the exchange, don’t be a stranger. have you seen my friend john hawk’s weblog? he’s a palaeoanthropologist.

  24. #24 razib
    January 27, 2006

    oh, and dan, can you snatch out the calcs and presentation from MATLAB or whatever you are using?

  25. #25 Dan Dare
    January 27, 2006

    Sorry razib, I just did a quick and dirty spreadsheet in Excel 2000.

    I’ll email it to you.

    Whoops and I see I miscalculated. The figure for “US Evolution” had “less than symbol” 35.4 in the data table which Excel ignored because of the “less than symbol”. I’ll change that to “35.4″

    Average Coeff of Det. “Evolution” (21.5%) is still the lowest. The highest individual determination is now “Evolution” and “Hell”(33.8%).

    As Before the best Average determination is still for “Hell” (60.0%) with “Hell” and “The Devil” at (94.7%).

    Email shortly.

  26. #26 Mark
    January 27, 2006

    Apropos this line of discussion:

    Dawkins, Richard, The evolutionary future of man.., Vol. 328, Economist, 09-11-1993, pp 87. [subtitle: A biological view of progress].
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1993-09-11future.shtml

  27. #27 razib
    January 27, 2006

    i enjoyed dawkins’ essay, but, note that in the ancestor’s tale he gives the nod to simon conway morris’ ideas as opposed to those of s.j. gould. the key here, at least among intelligent people, is that there are a multiplicity of positions and many subtle distinctions and nuances. ultimately, words like ‘progress’ are subject to an easy nominalist critique in the sciences, that is, they are words you pin on to some phenomenon you observe but they isn’t a there there, so to speak.

    tactically i make it a point to reject any hint of orthogenesis, but in the broad strategic sense it is a more complex field than a binary opposition between ultimate teleology and random contingency.

  28. #28 Heathen Dan
    February 3, 2006

    Hey there Mark Paris. I join you in disbelief, that 60% of the Philippines accepts evolution… and I’m a Filipino! But since the Philippines is a Catholic nation, and the Church has accepted evolution as “more than a hypothesis” then I guess they’re just listening to their Dominican priests and Jesuit educators, rather than some love for science.

    But it’s still nice to know we’re more “evolved” than the US. :p

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