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Discovery Commissions Zogby Poll — Design Trumps Darwin

[[Discovery Press Release:]]

In Darwin Anniversary Year, New Zogby Poll Reveals Majority Support for Intelligent Design — Doubts about Darwin Continue to Mount

Seattle – Just a few months before the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a newly released Zogby poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly rejects Darwinian theory in favor of intelligent design. When asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

“In the Year of Darwin, these figures must represent a terrible disappointment to Darwinian advocates,” commented Stephen C. Meyer, Ph.D., director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, which commissioned the poll. “Darwin’s greatest accomplishment was supposed to be the refutation of intelligent design, yet more than a century later the public has grown increasingly disenchanted with Darwin’s claims.”

Dr. Meyer is the author of a new book from HarperOne, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. He suggested the polling data may reflect a growing awareness of recent scientific developments, documented in his book. As word seeps out from the scientific community, confidence in Darwinism has begun to perceptibly erode:

“It’s only in the past decade that the information age has finally come to biology. We now know that biology at its root is digital code. Having advanced to this level of digital technology ourselves, in computer science, we can at last begin to appreciate what is going on inside the cell: the nested coding, digital processing, distributive retrieval and storage systems, the whole operating system in the genome. The cell is doing the same thing a computer’s operating system does, but with far, far greater efficiency.”

Dr. Meyer said it was no coincidence that the public remained fixed in its skepticism of standard evolutionary theories as scientists learned more about the enigma of DNA and its origins: “Undirected evolutionary processes cannot explain what science is revealing. Intelligent design can. Americans are catching onto this.”

Zogby International conducted the omnibus telephone survey of 1,053 likely voters earlier this year, which marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth as well as the anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

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35 Responses to Discovery Commissions Zogby Poll — Design Trumps Darwin

  1. When asked if life developed “through an unguided process of random mutations and natural selection,” a standard definition of Darwinism, only 33 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement. But 52 percent agreed that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

    How does this compare with previous poll questions on similar subjects?

    From 2006:
    The Zogby poll reportedly showed 69 percent of Americans support the presentation of Intelligent Design, with 21 percent believing only Darwin’s theory of evolution should be part of a high school’s curriculum.

    From 2001:
    1. Which of the following two statements comes closest to your own opinion?
    A: Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it. 15%
    B: Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it. 71%
    Neither/Not sure 14%

    I think Dr Meyer is right. Likely voters in the US are catching on, and their support is perceptibly eroding.

  2. 2

    I am glad to see that so many scientists, when polled, are using intelligent design to formulate hypothesis and then go out and test them. Surely this is the true test of the gathering momentum shift towards ID and away the failed theories of Darwin.

  3. 3

    Nakashima, such decreasing support for ID and increasing support for the ToE over time is a powerful argument for teaching ID now: Better get to it before the Darwinian Establishment(TM) pushes the ID numbers below 50%!

  4. Mr. Nakashima says:

    How does this compare with previous poll questions on similar subjects?

    33% for naturalistic evolution is the highest I’ve ever seen for U.S. citizens. It usually comes out around 9 to 13% when theistic guided evolution is included as an option.

    Stephen Meyer needs to make comparisons to other polls, as you imply.

  5. Indeed, the Gallup organization has been polling the American public on precisely these same questions since 1982. In those polls, “naturalistic evolution” has barely risen above 10% (from 9% in 1982 to 14% in 2006; see http://www.gallup.com/poll/108.....onism.aspx ). Ergo, if the data obtained in the Discovery poll are reliable, there has clearly been a dramatic increase in the acceptance of the “naturalistic” theory of evolution in America over the past 17 years. Whether this is due to the recent publicity around the Darwin Bicentennial or a general increase in the overall quality of American science education is not clear, but it certainly gives me considerable hope that the trend toward increasing acceptance of the scientific theory of evolution will continue.

  6. BTW, the Gallup poll results for American scientists are:

    Young-Earth Creationist = 5%

    Guided Evolution = 40%

    “Naturalistic” Evolution = 55%

    For members of the National Academy of Sciences*, the results are:

    Young-Earth Creationist = 3%

    Guided Evolution = 14%

    “Naturalistic” Evolution = 83%

    *data from the Cornell Evolution Project, http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/

  7. Did any of you guys actually read the full report? If you did, you’d realize that questions about what teachers should cover was asked as part of this poll.

    A large majority (80%) agree that teachers and students should have the academic freedom
    to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory, with more than
    half (54%) saying they strongly agree. A sixth (17%) disagree.

    A large majority (78%) say Statement B, “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory
    of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it,” comes closest to their point of view, while
    14% say Statement A, “Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the
    scientific evidence that supports it” comes closest to theirs.

    So much for the great shift in whether or not the strengths and weaknesses should be taught.

    As for the first question here, it frankly strikes me as poorly worded. Especially since, sadly, many people (both pro- and anti- ID) view ID as denying evolution outright. For those people who accept both evolution and design – especially those in the theistic evolution camp who know no better – the first response is going to sound more appealing than the second.

  8. 8
    CannuckianYankee

    Mr. Nakashima,

    “How does this compare with previous poll questions on similar subjects?”

    The key word here is “similar,” not the same.

    In all fairness, the two earlier polls you cited concerned the teaching of evolution vs. ID in public schools, while the most recent Zogby poll is simply regarding support for evolution or ID. Unfortunately Zogby does not have this poll posted on their site, so it’s difficult to do a comparison.

    But to say that peoples’ support for “teaching the controversy” is the same as support necessarily for or against ID, is not to take into account some very important factors: do people support only teaching ToE? The numbers appear to be low. Do people agree with ToE? The numbers appear to be higher. There are of course other factors along those lines. Do people agree with ID? The numbers are higher than support for ToE.

    Another dynamic I have noticed in polls I have read on this issue over the years, is that pollsters frequently do a poor job of defining what they mean by “evolution,” or “design,” and so it’s possible to get people agreeing and supporting something they would not normally agree with if the parameters were more clearly defined.

    I looked into several polls over the last 10 years, and the numbers keep increasing in peoples’ understanding of and support for ID. Look at the Gallup polls, for example, from 2005 – when a large number of people were unfamiliar with ID. This current Zogby poll shows that Americans are more aware of and more supportive of ID.

    Now, I don’t put much weight in polls – they don’t tell us which is true – ToE or ID. What they do tell us is that Americans seem to be increasingly open to ID, and it being taught in public schools. Use that info for what it’s worth. For me? Not much.

    BTW, Allen MacNeill,

    Those numbers are nothing new, and to be expected. All they reveal is that NAS has very narrow representation among their scientists in this area. Wouldn’t you agree?

  9. 9
    CannuckianYankee

    nullasalus,

    I wasn’t able to find the results you stated. Are you referring to the Zogby poll? If so, where are those results posted. Can you give us a link? Or am I missing something somewhere?

  10. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....r_new.html

    That’s the press release, which contains the link to the PDF.

  11. Re #8:

    It is clearly a statement of fact that only a very small percentage of working scientists are invited to become members of the National Academy of Sciences. This is because only those scientists whose work is considered to be outstanding, especially by other scientists, are invited to become members of the NAS:

    “As of spring 2009, the National Academy of Sciences included about 2,100 members and 380 foreign associates….The current members annually elect new members for life. Election to membership is one of the highest honors that can be accorded to a scientist and recognizes scientists who have made distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Nearly 200 members have won a Nobel Prize.”

    Furthermore, the study I cited in support of the poll results included data from most of the national academies of science in the world, not just the United States. Ergo, one can reasonably conclude that the overwhelming support for the “naturalistic” theory of evolution isn’t restricted to the elite of American science. It’s a characteristic of the most influential scientists in the world.

    So, what point were you trying to make, exactly?

  12. 12
    CannuckianYankee

    Sorry Allen,

    It sounds rather elitist to me. I’m not trying to diminish the very worthy accomplishments of Nobel winning scientists – but their affiliations with the NAS are not what earned them those prizes.

    This is why I stated that what you cited was nothing new. We expect that the majority of scientists will be naturalists. It just seems that the NAS is less representative of a majority of scientists – given the larger percentages of its membership outside of the theist camps. You’re implying that it’s because the atheist view is more ummm scientific. I’m not certain if that’s what you meant to imply, but it doesn’t sound like you take into account possible variables – one being that many more atheists enter the sciences than theists, because they have a commitment to “scientism.” They depend on science to “prove” their philosophy.

    Theists, admittedly don’t depend on science to prove their philosophy, because a large part of the theistic philosophy is outside of mandated methodological naturalism. Doesn’t mean though, that they can’t do science.

    Another possible variable is that theists are frowned upon in the NAS precisely due to their rejection of methodological naturalism. Very strong possibility.

  13. 13
    CannuckianYankee

    Allen,

    I was looking over the Gallup poll you linked in 5. If those polls were conducted between 1982 and 2006, and they show that:

    – support for creationism remained essentialy the same over those years – (slight and insignificant decrease)….

    – support for TE remained the same…

    – support for ToE increased by 5 points (which is statistically insignificant).

    …The fact that this Zogby poll shows such a dramatic difference suggests that the demographics as well as the methodology between the two pollsters was much different.

    So I don’t think we could really conclude that there is any correlation between the two. I could be wrong, but I would be interested in seeing what light previous Zogby polls (if any) could shed on this question.

    Frankly, perhaps like you, I don’t see that this Zogby poll means much of anything without a comparison to previous Zogby polls. Are you aware of any?

  14. 90DegreeAngel @ 2 :

    I did not think this was referring to scientists as your post suggests, but rather the general public.

    ‘Those in the know’ (of the intricacies involved in the ToE) overwhelming do not support ID (as another poster showed)

    Love you all!

  15. Nnoel, that means, that our new priesthood is failing to convert ppl into their faith.

    Which means, that “Those in the know” are not working for ppl, but for themselves, and then requires for ppl to comply from force positions.

    Essential goal of Scienc should be to serve ppl. But this poll shows that it is failing, atleast in the questions regatding origins and explanation of life and ourselves in particular.

    So what good is servant who is sure that he is working fine, but his master is not satisfied with his work?

    In normal life such servant is being fired… in our case we get situation where slave (science) wants to take place of master (society and ppl)

    Well History shows that such cases ends not so well… for servants!

  16. Shazard @ 15 :

    Nnoel, that means, that our new priesthood is failing to convert ppl into their faith.

    Which means, that “Those in the know” are not working for ppl, but for themselves, and then requires for ppl to comply from force positions.

    advances made by science serves the people.

    if the public is unconvinced then surely it is ID’s fault, all that publicity and no hard science (so that we dont debate the issue, surely we can both agree more propaganda [perhaps not the word some would use] appears out out ID than science)

    spread disbelief in science and then reap the confused public into your paradigm

    Love you all!

  17. 17

    Nnoel,

    “advances made by science serves the people”

    It certainly does, but the numbers of those advances that are based on ToE is embarrassingly miniscule – and ask any doctor, engineer, or computer programmer.

    Wouldn’t you agree that lying to the public about what is actually known regarding the origin of the Universe and of Life itself is a particularly putrid disservice to the public – given that the public will undoubtedly use this information to guide their beliefs?

    Science owes it to the public to be appropriately modest (and agnostic) on such issues.

    Also, may I ask – If there exist anything that cannot be explained by what we already know to be true of Chance and Necessity, would that fact logically negate the power of Chance and Necessity to explain everything?

  18. Science owes it to the public to be appropriately modest (and agnostic) on such issues.

    Science does not say ‘there is no god’, and all talk about origins is educated speculation.

    Evolution has been gaining evidence for the last 150 years, and until proper science appears to dispute the ToE, it would be intellectually dishonest to talk to the public (and teach) about anything else.

    ID on the otherhand, has no solid evidence, is mostly speculation with (if i’m VERY generous) tentative scientific work being done on the problem, but with a propaganda engine that is full throttle pedal to the metal to discredit science.

    Your assertion that evolution lends nothing to the advancement of science is a hasty statement, if not downright wrong, but I cant be bothered to try show you why, take that as you will.

    may you ask… I think you are alluding to irreducible complexity, and all examples of IC have been shown to have SOME sort of POSSIBLE answer, the task at hand would to be show how step by step an organism came to be (something I’ve heard asked from the ID peanut gallery) and showing along the way the finger of the ‘designer’ as a required step. As that is not a fair solution to request, I’d ask how you’d show something to be IC.

    cannot be explained by what we already know to be true

    i’ll add that there is ALWAYS more to discover, so logically it would NOT negate the power of chance. hehe

    Love you!

  19. 19

    Nnoel, thanks for the reply.

    Actually I wasn’t referring to IC systems, but to other topics.

    To my question regarding whether the existence of anything that cannot be explained by what we already know to be true of Chance and Necessity, if that fact logically negates the power of Chance and Necessity to explain everything?

    You answered: “there is ALWAYS more to discover, so logically it would NOT negate the power of chance.”

    My question was directly asking about what we do know. For instance, the mechanism of chance is something we know a lot about. It is used by all sorts of science applications (many of them having nothing to do with biology or life sciences). We know for instance that the mechanism of chance operates at maximum uncertainty.

    That is to say that any one roll of the dice is not connected in any way whatsoever to any other roll of the dice.

    In other words, if I roll a pair of sixes on my first roll, my second roll will be met with the possibility of any die face coming up, and whatever die face does come up will not be dependent on the first roll. Chance (as a mechanism) repeats maximum uncertainty and it does not change.

    That being the case, do you expect that anyone in the sciences is expecting that we will discover that chance actually doesn’t operate this way? Or, do you agree that we know this to be true of chance?

  20. Is our understanding of chance going to change?

    Thats an interesting question, but upon pondering the answer, I got nothing. Would not know where to begin.

    An interesting research project does come to mind though. The Global Consciousness Project. The title on the front page sates “Meaningful Correlations in Random Data”

    They propose that individuals can change random events. Very interesting, dont knock it until you read the experiments they have done/doing.

  21. 21

    Nnoel,

    A proposal that suggests people can change random events is not a change to the mechanism of chance.

    And I, as you, (nor anyone else I can find either in or out of science) is expecting to find a situation where a chance event does not (by definition) operate at maximum uncertainty.

    This centers on the question I asked in regards to “what we know to be true”.

    The existence of anything that cannot be explained by what we already know to be true about chance and necessity does in fact negate the ability of chance and necessity to explain everything.

    Do you not agree?

    A case can easily be made that to look at it any other way is to shield chance and necessity from falsification by the known evidence. This is accomplished by the suggestion that unknown changes to what is known to be true is a more parsimonious explaination than what is actually known to be true.

  22. Mr Yankee,

    Yes, I worded my post carefully, since I saw that the poll questions were all slightly different. Given the wide variation in answers due to such variation, polls are notoriously hard to compare unless they do follow exactly the same wording and order of questions.

    I especially enjoyed the “likely voter” angle to the poll. Evolution on the ballot? I hope not.

  23. 23

    Nnoel at 18:

    Evolution has been gaining evidence for the last 150 years.

    Not accurate. Darwinists have been gathering explanations (not evidence) for 150 years. They (like ID) use the gathered evidence of other fields such as microbiology and paleontology for their explanations.

    …and until proper science appears to dispute the ToE…

    Exactly, and that is what has happened. Darwinism has proven to be a poor predictor, ID an excellent one. So science suggests ID over Darwinism. That’s why more than outdated, one-sided dogma must be presented in the classroom.

  24. It gets tiresome!

    The design theorist is as “scientific” as the materialist, and the argument is as old as civilization itself and not about to be settled by exuberant proclamation, intimidation by experts, or legal fiat—yet the materialist is as relentless as he is clueless in his effort to oust his foil from “science”.

    Will he have his hypothesis true by definition and therefore impervious to rational inquiry?

    Let me suggest that centuries of materialist totalitarianism would not be sufficient to darken every human heart with Darwinist dogma. Design may lose in the short term—as it did in the USSR’s 70 years—but it will always smolder to surface again in a springtime of hope.

    So come down off your high horse, Darwinists! Argue passionately, if you must, for this sacred cow, but don’t tire me with your inability to concede that there is an argument.

  25. One argument that carries absolutely no weight whatsoever with me on social issues (and Darwinism is a social issue) is that 99.9% of experts agree … In the brutal totalitarian regimes which dispatched tens of millions to their graves during the 20th century, heroism was perhaps least common among scientists and academics.

    No, we need scientists and academics and intellectuals of all kinds … but we also need to be aware of their weaknesses.

  26. Rude, did you just declare “scientists and academics and intellectuals of all kinds” to be probable cowards?

  27. 27

    Spitfire,

    Darwinists have been gathering explanations (not evidence) for 150 years. They (like ID) use the gathered evidence of other fields such as microbiology and paleontology for their explanations.

    The “Darwinists” of which you speak are microbiologists, paleontologists, biochemists, etc.

    Evolution is the “theory of everything” for biology, that unites and explains all these sciences. There is not separate “Darwinist.”

  28. 28

    Nakashima (#22) wrote: “I especially enjoyed the “likely voter” angle to the poll. Evolution on the ballot? I hope not.

    Of course evolution is on the ballot, in every election, local, state or national. The electorate elects somebody who represents them (more or less). Look at Representative Sally Kern of Oklahoma, or Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

    Federal funding for science has to go through Congress, and some senators and representatives are opposed to research and science, including evolution.

  29. 29

    “Rude” (#24) wrote: “Design may lose in the short term—as it did in the USSR’s 70 years—…

    “Design” was not the loser in the USSR’s 70 years – the loser was Mendelian genetics and Darwinian biology, many of whose practitioners were executed or sent to labor camps. The “winner” in most of the USSR’s 70 years was another antiestablishmentarian pseudoscience, Lysenkoism.

    Trofim Lysenko was a rabid anti-Darwinism pro-Lamarckist who rejected evolution because it didn’t fit with “Marxism-Leninism”. He coined a term, “creative Darwinism,” which meant whatever he or Stalin needed it to mean at the moment. But like “Social Darwinism,” it had little relationship to evolution.

  30. 30
    CannuckianYankee

    Nakashima,

    I’ve seen several polls of “likely voters.” I don’t believe it is necessarily intended to predict political events; rather, it’s assumed that people who vote look into issues more than people who don’t vote – so they have a greater chance of knowing what they’re being asked than would a random person off the street. I don’t know if I agree with that assessment, but it seems to be a common practice among pollsters.

  31. 31
    CannuckianYankee

    Nnoell,

    “They propose that individuals can change random events. Very interesting, dont knock it until you read the experiments they have done/doing.”

    I took a look at their website. Looks kindof religious to me.

  32. 32
    CannuckianYankee

    UBP,

    I like your question. IOW, begging the question does not a science make.

  33. Nnoel,

    The theory of evolution cannot even muster a testable hypothesis.

    And a recent peer-reviewed paper that tried to refute Dr Behe pretty much squashed the theory.

    That no one even seemed to notice tells me that the ToE is more dogmatic than Catholicism.

  34. 34

    Somebody correct me if you feel I’m wrong, but I am uncomfortable with the way th question was formulated in the poll and I’m not sure if it translates to people believing in Intelligent Design as we see it.

    It’s the combination of wording and interpretation. “unguided” and “guided” are hot-button words, and they don’t define them. They claim that they’re using “a standard definition of Darwinism,” but my quick search doesn’t show one with the word “unguided” in it.

    What’s it there for, if not to influence people’s responses?

    And then they lowercase “intelligent design” and don’t define that, either.

    Do they mean the specific version of “intelligent design,” in which the designer creates structures and systems from scratch that could not develop naturally; or do they mean some vague version of “intelligent design” in which there’s an intelligence behind it all somewhere–a version that pretty much incorporates any concept of God the responder might have?

    Not to mention that they ask about “development of life” without defining that. Do they mean the development of life from non-life, or the development of life after that?

    So they’ve asked vague, ill-defined questions containing hot-button terms that set up a false dichotomy and then trumpet the results as showing that “the American public overwhelmingly rejects Darwinian theory.” What if you’re a classic believer in theistic evolution–if you believe that God created a universe that, in accord with His intentions, produced mankind through entirely natural processes?

    Which answer should you choose? If you choose the second because you don’t like the term “unguided” and because you don’t realize the hidden meaning of “intelligent design,” the DI will lump you in with those who “reject Darwinism,” even though that’s a total distortion of your point of view.

    It seems like the DI “intelligently designed” this poll to get a certain result, got it, and overstate its significance.

    But I’m willing to be corrected if you disagree.

  35. 35

    SingleBlueSilver:

    The “Darwinists” of which you speak are microbiologists, paleontologists, biochemists, etc.

    Evolution is the “theory of everything” for biology, that unites and explains all these sciences. There is not separate “Darwinist.”

    This is on the face inaccurate considering that not all scientists are Darwinists and not all Darwinists are scientists.

    A microbiologist does not use Darwinism to research a chemical pathway in a cell. He may use it to choose what to research, but this is not the same as the research itself. And he may explain his findings based on Darwinism afterward, but the research did not need that explanation.

    This is especially true considering how often Darwinism fails to predict the findings.

    Therefore, Darwinism does little more than what you just agreed to. It provides explanation, not evidence.

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