Earlier, I reported a poll indicating that “one third of British Teachers” support teaching creationism in the classroom. I thought this was vaguely interesting, which is why I mentioned it briefly on this blog, but I put the idea of pursuing this off for a later time.

Well, I have subsequently looked into it a little more and discovered that the poll is bogus. All of the links trace back to an entity known as “teacher’s tv” and it is claimed that this entity conducted the poll. The only information provided by “teacher’s tv” about this poll is a news item that looks kinda like a blog post which gives enough information for us to ascertain that this poll should be ignored.

The poll consisted of sending out 1,200 emails to primary and secondary school ‘teachers’ … the source of the email list is not identified. The responding sample consisted of “248 science teachers”

The poll does not appear to be actually reported with methods, data, etc. anywhere. It is merely referred to in a blog post and a video produced by the same organizaiton that apparently did the poll.

The fact that the poll was not done by an independent agency, was not done by a professional polling agency, that it mixed primary and secondary “teachers” and does not give a characterization of responses an assessment of bias in response, and had such a small return rate makes this poll a) scientifically invalid and b) politically suspect. [source]

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    November 8, 2008

    Greg, can you put an update on the original blog post for anyone who doesn’t get all the way through the comments?

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    November 8, 2008

    Er, please?

  3. #3 Daniel Fischer
    November 8, 2008

    Gregs original source was this one from India. The degree of “bogusity” of the whole story (apart from the unconvincing math) isn’t quite clear to me, though – and I have trouble locating the “Dr Andrew Rutherford” mentioned in the new link. In particular an internal search on nature.com comes up empty …

  4. #4 Tristram Brelstaff
    November 9, 2008

    I suspect that the man is Adam Rutherford (not Andrew).

  5. #5 greg laden
    November 9, 2008

    Daniel: By “bogus” referring to a numerical estimate of frequency of behavior (a poll) I mean that part about the math. I don’t think anyone is making up the poll per se, just the part about it’s results and meaning.

  6. #6 Matt Heath
    November 9, 2008

    Well that’s kind of a relief; I was surprised by the high number for teaching creationism. I do however stand by my claim that Brits are just as capable of stupidity as Americans though.

  7. #7 Daniel Fischer
    November 9, 2008

    What above-mentioned A. Rutherford thinks about the ‘study’ and science teaching in general, he explains here: Even if its methodology is below survey standards, it’s still pointing at possible problems with the educational system in the UK and thus calls for action.

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