Why didn’t they ask about the flat Earth?

Why didn’t they ask about the flat Earth?

Why didn’t they ask about the flat Earth?

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 10 2006 10:22 PM

Why didn’t they ask about the flat Earth?

I don't think anyone on the planet would call the World Net Daily a liberal news organization -- in fact, the word "news" hardly applies since the articles there are so slanted they practically twist into the fourth dimension. Ultra-conservative would describe them better, and it's easy to see why. Reading the articles there is an astonishing look into the far-far-right mind. I would think (and I sure do hope) that the stuff there is well outside the Republican mainstream of thought.

But it does reflect a segment of the population, a segment that is increasingly loud, and increasingly damaging to our society.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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They posted an interesting poll result on August 9... did I say "interesting"? I meant to say holy *&*#^%$@*&! -- and I mean that literally:

A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE ...

How old do you think the universe is?

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I believe the Bible – literally – and it indicates 'the beginning' happened around 6,000 years ago 56.05% (1825)

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It's impossible to say but it's obviously very old 11.46% (373)

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As the late Carl Sagan might have said – billions and billions and billions 8.14% (265)

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There was no beginning – the universe has always existed 7.13% (232)

Other 7.13% (232)

I believe the Bible but it seems like the universe has to be 10,000-to-100,000 years old to make it fit with science 3.53% (115)

This new research suggesting the universe is 15.8 billion years old has convinced me 3.29% (107)

I'm sticking with the scientific consensus – 13.7 billion years 2.18% (71)

I don't know what I think – the conflict between the Bible and some scientists is a challenge to my faith 0.58% (19)

Several million years old, perhaps, but certainly not billions 0.52% (17)


TOTAL VOTES: 3256

Bearing in mind that some answers are ironically self-contradictory ("billions and billions" is rather the same as 13.7 or 15.6 billion), there is little rhyme or reason to this. More than half the respondents say the Universe is 6000 years old due to biblical inerrancy. 3.5% think it has to be 10,000-100,000 years old to fit with science. Say what? This makes them bad at both science and biblical fundamentalism. Only 2.18% got the answer right. That's practically in the noise; indistinguishable from 0 given the sample size.

This survey doesn't surprise me (especially since another survey just came out showing the US ranks near the bottom in understanding evolution, just above Turkey). But it does make me think two things:

  1. We have a long, long way to go.
  2. If I were a Republican, I would be screaming from the rooftops to make sure I disowned these people.

Whenever I post something like this, I inevitably get email from conservatives claiming I am over-generalizing their party when it comes to suppression of science or the promotion of antiscience. Well, the problem here is that this is the path chosen by the Republicans in power, both in the government and in the media. If you don't like hearing about it, don't blame me. Talk to your reps and talk to the media. They're the ones promoting this crap.

And I'll say this again, because it doesn't seem to be clear to some of the emailers: I know that there is antiscience on the Democratic side as well. You can probably find several examples. But I guarantee that you don't want to compare that list with what's going on with the Republicans in power right now. Your list will look mighty skimpy. When and if the Dems get back in power, and when and if they abuse science, I'll be there. Count on it.

Until then, seek not the mote in your brother's eye. You've got a redwood tree in your own.