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More People Believe in Ghosts than Darwin.
. Today, I went to the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder. This particular talk was entitled 'More People Believe in Ghosts than Darwin'. I looked it up it's true: ghosts 45%, evolution 19%. (in the US). So the issue of faith vs science did come up. It was a very interesting talk with a panel of scientific authors talking. I can't possibly summarize a 1 1/2 hour talk that covered so much, but I will write down some of the ideas that got my attention (paraphrased):

"People will deny a lot of evidence if it keeps them in their social group... Making friends can be hard."

"More people believe that global warming is a hoax than belief in evolution."

"There has been an intentional and direct attempt to discredit global warming science and it's scientists personally." "If we are willing to deceive ourselves that global warming is not happening, what's next? The moon landing never happened?"

"The damage of not having a shared reality between scientifically oriented people and faith-oriented people is enormously damaging."

"Science is itself a belief system. There can be over-confidence in science to explain everything. Science in fact, often gets it wrong. Does coffee cause cancer this week? Wait till next week and it won't. Scientific facts can become dogma. Science is transparent and it does show it's mistakes. Scientism is the excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques"

"Most people have never met an actual scientist."

"Belief is not the problem, but blind, uncritical belief is."

"How do you respectfully dialogue with someone who believes in pseudoscience?"
"Don't talk down to them. Talk about science not in a way that makes them wrong, but in a way that inspires and interests them. Instill awe and wonder in them. Respect their rights to have an opinion, even though it may differ from yours"

Just thought I'd offer this up to see if it inspires any thoughts.

AwarenessNow 7 Apr 12

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Really! In Europe evolution is a simple scientific fact. There are some Kirks in this part of Scotland that scoff at evolution, but they are part of a tiny minority.
Now, to ghosts. What is a ghost? Are there different types?
I've encountered a few 'ghosts' in my time, but I couldn't tell you exactly what they are. Distorted images eminating from my sub-conscience, or false memories forming, perhaps some sort of environmental recording? Until then, just my imagination.


As a former serious chess player. I can look at the methodology of formal scientific method. Chess being the largest use of this, outside of science itself. Theories are put forward, tested, published, replicated and analyzed. The word used is the same as science ie. " best. " Yes fashion and personalities play a part, just as in science. However what works best will always prevail. It may take a long time but it will get there in the end.
Evolution is still a theory but it is the best way of describing how we got here. Many have a problem understanding the scientific use of the word theory. Ohms law is not a law at all but is still a theory. Any attempt to prove Ohms theory can only be done with instruments calibrated using Ohms theory. Yet we do not use electricians from the will of Allah school of electrical engineers. Similarly when the US military are looking to find a vaccine for malaria (they are a major player in this endeavor), they have to battle evolutionary forces. The fight against this disease is one of the most sticking examples of the selfish gene.
When I was growing up the major cause for concern was over population and how we could feed all these people. Say what you will about modern agri-business but there is enough food for everyone on the planet. Economic and political difficulties are the reason why people starve, not scientific ones. We are distrustful of science because some scientists have been false to us. They have lied about nuclear power, DDT etc. but they have produced such wonders and have been there for us when called upon. The expected epidemic of AIDS non-arrival is just one example of many.
The headline catching scientific news stories that make us distrustful is more to do with how we fund our research rather than science itself. Cancer research is often the biggest offender. The amount of donations this branch receives is staggering. So if some guy finds even a small link to coffee or bananas, he publishes. Thus ensuring his grant for next year. Science is made by people after all and we a human but science itself is not to blame.

Thank you for pointing out that the formal scientific method is not to blame. Thank goodness for peer review.

Love the bit about malaria, I have two friends who work in different fields of that research and both deal with this pesky evolution. One of them predicts and repeats evolution on a regular basis for his students. So it passes the scientific method.


"Scientism" has more in common with "belief" than "science".

Science has skepticism baked into it. Any science that is not skeptical of itself is not worthy of the name. I don't know why this is so hard for people to get.

Yes. I agree.

Science is not skeptical of itself per say, scientific method is based on the eternal search to prove things because there is no such thing as a perfect truth. Continuous improvement works because you keep questioning what you know and the will to make it better

@IamNobody I'm confused. With "Disprove your own hypothesis" an essential step of the scientific method, how is self-skepticism not baked in? "No such thing as perfect truth" and "continuous improvement" also point in that direction. Not copping an attitude here, just genuinely trying to understand your POV.

POV... To say that science is based on skepticism is a misnomer. That's all. No worries, lets not over think this one and I understand you're not copping an attitude. NP


I just happened to believe in both. No I'm not going to pull something out of my pocket to show anyone so don't ask. I just do.


Not in any of the progressive modern countries, no. That would only be in countries where education is not at a decent standard if it still has relgious influences, and the government still has strong religious influences, and a large portion of the population is still indoctrinated in one religion or another. In most modern countries where relgions are dying out you find happier people living more at peace, and on average with less crime, less poverty, and fewer social injustices and higher levels of education. Any country where religion still has a strong influence, such as in the U.S., will have more crime and violence, unequal education opportunites, more poverty, more social injustices and on average more superstitious fearful people. Am I wrong?

Do you have a reference for what you say?

@AwarenessNow All countries in Scandinavia. Some even have free University education for students that want it, and all have better women's rights, gay rights, less poverty, and free universal health care for all. They have had to close some prisons for lack of prisoners. Compare that to the disastrously expensive and ineffective penal system in the U.S.

2010 National Centre for Science Education
The "evolutionist" view was most popular in Sweden (68%), Germany (65%), and China (64%), with the United States ranking 18th (28%), between Mexico (34%) and Russia (26%); the "creationist" view was most popular in Saudi Arabia (75%), Turkey (60%), and Indonesia (57%), with the United States ranking 6th (40%), between Brazil (47%) and Russia (34%).


Yeah. The superstition outoutweighs the obvious facts. Take Elvis & Virgin sightings, ufos. I was staying in a house that had electric heat. Pretty quiet, but the heaters make sounds when they expand & contract leading the wido to imagine her dead husband trying to communicate.

But Elvis was real. Just not so much now. And for the British "There's a bloke works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis"!


I find it difficult to believe that so few people believe in evolution. It is an estabnlished scientific principle that any intelligent person should acdept.

You just answered yourself. Intelligent people being the operative phrase in your comment. The reason most people don’t believe in evolution is that most people aren’t intelligent.

No most people aren't intelligent. We are who we are, intelligent or not because of everything that happens to us from birth onwards. The brain wires itself in response to our experiences. In America intelligence is a rare comodity because of faith based upbringing, a media that creates paranoia, an inept education system and an isolating social structure.


Thank you for your enlightening post.
You are correct. Look into just about anything and ultimately it will either come down to Sociology or Psychology. People denying evidence to keep them in a social group should not surprise anyone. Look at what happens to a human being when they are put in social isolation. They literally lose their minds. We are social animals. That is the ULTIMATE basis of any religion. Would you rather be alone, ostracized by your friends and family (been there) or stand up for what feels true to you body, mind, and / or soul (that invisible piece inside of you that is connected to the intangible).....what you FEEL but cannot explain with your mind or body. Love could fall into that category....and not just love for another person.
Regarding discussing pseudoscience, acknowledge exactly what that means. Pseudo....that for what there is no explanation for.
Until we progressed with the tangible we lived in pseudoscience. An ink pen would have been pseudoscience. It is simply the tangible that we have yet to find. It doesn’t make it untrue, it simply means that we don’t understand YET. YET being the key word.

Well stated.

It's possible that historical scientific endeavors may now be considered 'pseudoscience' and evolved into a more modern scientific method. I don't know. Here's the current definition of pseudoscience:a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method. Some examples from wikipedia: astrology, modern flat earth believers, moon landing conspiracy theories, the Bermuda triangle, free energy, creation biology, etc.


I used to live in Boulder and would attend CWA. One of the last yrs I attended, Joe Biden was on a few panels. Miss it!


How about don't talk with them at all? Not worth wasting your time.


Would have loved that talk! Thank you for giving us a snippet..I am a little surprised on % of climate change deniers, still! And people who have never met a scientist. And, I will hold that last idea on trying to inspire instead of argue...


Why is this surprising?


19% seems shockingly low. Where did you get this figure?

Agreed!!! That’s seriously disturbing! I learned it in school in the 80s-90s, but I saw now with this administration some states are bringing back creationism into schools so getting rather worried.

The overall proportion of Americans who believe in secular evolution has doubled since 1999, from 9 percent to 19 percent, according to a 2014 Gallup poll. []

Apparently, the numbers are much higher for younger people.

@AwarenessNow Thanks for the source. That 19% represents people that believe in “purely secular evolution (that is, not directed by any divine power)”.

I would count those who believe in non-secular evolution as people who still believe in evolution, and that is why I thought the 19% figure was very low.

@SunshineBee It’s not so bad, see my comment above.


Science deniers are the most terrifying people to me.

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