Gene Expression

The headline says, Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds, but here is the money shot: “The only country included in the study where adults were more likely than Americans to reject evolution was Turkey.” My liberal friends often make fun of the “inbred” Creationist yokels who inhabit the hinterlands of this great nation, and contrast them with the sophisticated secularity over the waters. On the other hand, many Americans, especially culturally sensitive progressives declare that the EU should let Turkey in to show that it is “open minded” and not a “Christian club.” But the reality is that Turkey is secular and Western by the standards of the Islamic world, not the Western world. An acquaintance of mine recently mocked “Red America” as “dumb fuckistan,” well, if Turkey is the secular and progressive promontory of the Islamic world, then the Dar-al-Islam must be “really dumb fuckistan.” Below is the fold is a graphical comparison of 34 nationss….


This chart depicts the public acceptance of evolution theory in 34 countries in 2005. Adults were asked to respond to the statement: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

The full paper is out in Science today (though as of now the site is down for me). But the authors point to three primary issues of interest:

  1. Americans are much more fundamentalist than Europeans. The authors point to the congregational and decentralized nature of American Protestantism. I think there is something to this.
  2. In the United States there is a strong correlation between pro-life and right-wing views and Creationism. In Europe there is no correlation between being right-wing and pro-life and Creationist.
  3. Adults with some understanding of genetics were likely to be more accepting of evolution.

I’ll have to see the full paper when the Science site is back up.


  1. #1 Aziz
    August 11, 2006

    I am curious what the people would make of the chart above. Unfortunately if I posted it they woudl know I am trolling.

  2. #2 Koray
    August 11, 2006

    Turkey won’t be part of the EU for at least another decade if not longer. However, if the US was located where Turkey is, I don’t think many people would object to its accession. Acceptance of evolution “by the public” does not make a good criterium on its own.

  3. #3 razib
    August 11, 2006

    Acceptance of evolution “by the public” does not make a good criterium on its own.

    of course not, it was partly a joke, but, some people do behave as if creationists are savages.

  4. #4 Ross
    August 11, 2006

    A lot of people overestimate Turkish secularism because they view the country as simply an extension of Istanbul.

  5. #5 razib
    August 11, 2006

    extension of Istanbul

    wouldn’t ankara be a better example? (shout out to turkish readers)

  6. #6 Ross
    August 11, 2006

    A better example of what, the real Turkey or of a city outsiders view as being typical of the country? I’ve certainly met people who’ve spent time in Istanbul who then start raving about how cosmopoliton Turkey is.

  7. #7 TJIC
    August 12, 2006

    Not to defend creationists too strongly, but in the US, the fact that creationism has such popularity is, I am convinced, largely due to leftists who make absolute 100% acceptance of evolution a shibboleth to be allowed into polite society. Since “Inherit the Wind”, it has been shorthand for “rational and intelligent”, and leftists have heaped their scorn and mockery on anyone who doesn’t accept the conventional model of macro-evolution 100%. They’ve also gone out of their way to lump creationism and christianity together, as if they’re on and the same belief. Note the popularity of “evolved” Christian-fish car plaques in sophisticated places like Cambridge, MA. The very clear statement is that Christianity is an old-fashioned, incorrect, scientifically disprovable belief system.

    The inevitable result to this linking of creationism and Christianity is that many many Christians get their hackles up and end up taking a stand against evolution, because the evolutionists basically told them that to do otherwise is to abandon Christianity.

    The whole thing is a tragedy – a lot of people are backed into a corner embracing a stupid belief.


  8. #8 Cash
    August 12, 2006

    The issue of Evolution has regrettably become lumped in with some truly crazy positions under the “I’ll believe in your cause if you believe in mine” umbrella, instead of standing on its own merits.

    Turkey is secular but still 99% Muslim. Other Muslim countries did not have a father figure like Ataturk who insisted it be secular and that people use surnames, etc. as a way of modernizing. So Turkey may be modern for the Muslim world but it isn’t very modern.

  9. #9 mickgrierson
    August 15, 2006

    this reminds me of an old link from ages ago that claims to show the relationship between political leanings and IQ in the US

  10. #10 razib
    August 15, 2006

    that table was made up 🙂 ie, it was a hoax. but boy, liberals sure believe in IQ when it “proves” that conservatives are stupid, huh?

  11. #11 Roman Werpachowski
    November 24, 2006

    The question “should Turkey be let to enter the EU?” is nonsensical. The Turkey has been promised the EU membership long ago. It worked to change itself because of the prospect of the membership. The EU should keep its promise and let Turkey in as soon as it meets the entry criteria.

  12. #12 Betul
    August 12, 2008

    Funny, I see this post 2 years late, and the condition has not even changed a bit. Turkey will never get into the EU, not that it has to, either. What is disgusting is the double standards and the carrot & stick game of EU with Turkey.

    On the other hand, if even the idea of EU will help Turkey to make some progress towards civilization, it shall be. Any resource of motivation will be helpful.

    With the current government, Turkey’s secular system is kind of screwed, but what I really find funny is “the many Americans, especially culturally sensitive progressives declare that the EU should let Turkey in to show that it is “open minded” and not a “Christian club.”

    Since when EU is a business of culturally sensitive Americans? If they will show sensitivity, it should be towards their own culture, not Europe’s.

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