Tag Archives: bugger the polls

Only 25% of Americans oppose evolution

Reporting of poll results is not good at the best of times. But it seems polls surveying attitudes towards evolutionary science almost inevitably are reported with an anti-science basis. It’s not just creationist sources like the Discovery Institute with their bogus polls (eg. Darwin Day Poll Shatters Stereotypes). Recently we had the Theos poll in the UK  which was reported as  Poll reveals public doubts over Darwin’s theory of evolution – but could equally have been reported as 78% of Britons support Darwin?.

Now we have the US Gallup poll headlined On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution. But that could also have been reported with headlines unfavourable to the anti-evolution brigade. For example:

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Using philosophy

I seem to have upset someone with my comment  “bugger the ‘philosophy’” in a recent discussion. Of course I wasn’t trying to deny the value and role of philosophy – just the way it is sometimes used. My comment was meant in the same way that a previous Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jim Bolger, commented “bugger the polsters” on election night 1993. He did so to underline that the pre-election polls were wrong – and this was shown by the election itself.

I am amazed at how often people will use ‘philosophical’ arguments to support unscientific positions, such as creationism/intelligent design. ‘Philosophical’ arguments also seem to play a central role in theology.

Philosophical and logical arguments have their place. In many ways mathematics can be seen as arguments by logic. The danger lies in using them as a substitute for real experience. Such arguments easily become divorced from reality and can then be used to justify conclusions which conflict with reality. In particular they give free reign to subjective opinions, personal prejudices and emotional commitment to conclusions.

I guess that is why some people prefer ‘philosophical’ and ‘logical’ arguments to consideration of emprirical evidence.

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