Just a heads up…I’m on vacation starting this Thursday for 2 weeks. So expect lighter / nonexistent posting. With that…Dan Kahan yet again shows why belief in evolution isn’t very meaningful:
One was the conventional “true-false” statement, “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”
The second simply added to thist sentence the introductory clause, “According to the theory of evolution, …”
The NSF had reported on a General Social Science module from a few years ago that found that the latter version elicits a much higher percentage of “true” responses.
Well, sure enough.
As the Figure at the top of the post shows, the proportion who selected “true” jumped from 55% on the NSF item to 81% on the GSS one!
Wow! Who would have thought it would be so easy to improve the “science literacy” of benighted Americans (who leaving aside the “evolution” and related “big bang” origin-of-the-universe items already tend to score better on the NSF battery than members of other industrialized nations).
Seriously: as a measure of what test takers know about science, there’s absolutely no less content in the GSS version than the NSF. Indeed, if anyone who was asked to give an explanation for why “true” is the correct response to the NSF version failed to connect the answer to “evidence consisntent with the theory of evolution …” would be revealed to have no idea what he or she is talking about.
The only thing the NSF item does that the GSS item doesn’t is entangle the “knowledge” component of the “evolution” item (as paltry as it is) in the identity-expressive significance of “positions” on evolution.
Read the whole thing.