Thursday, January 19, 2006

NCSE Survey: significant level of ID dissent

The NCSE - their mission "defending the teaching of evolution in public schools" - has a survey that dates back to October 2002, of professors in Ohio. Obviously, given their mission, they present their conclusions as:
science professors in Ohio indicate that the concept of “intelligent design” is viewed by the vast majority of scientists and a clear majority of the public as basically a religious explanation of human origins
What interested me in this survey, though, was the level of dissent. Take the statement:
The concept of “Intelligent Design” is that life and the universe are too complex to have developed without the intervention of a purposeful being or force to guide the development of life. Which of the following do you think best describes “Intelligent Design”?
1. It is strongly supported by scientific evidence -- 2%
2. It is partly supported by scientific evidence -- 5
3. It is not supported at all by scientific evidence -- 90
4. Not Sure -- 3
The focus is inevitably on the 90% result. But notice that between 2 and 10% of university science professors in Ohio, then, believe that the ID position may be supported by scientific evidence. That's between 9 and 46 professors, based on the sample size. And this was before the relatively high profile that ID has had in the last eighteen months or so. On the other hand, it was also before the start of the Inquisition in universities.

Or there's the question:
Do you think the concept of “Intelligent Design” is primarily a religious view?
1. Yes -- 91%
2. No -- 5
3. Not Sure -- 4
That's up to 40 university professors of science out of 460 who don't believe that ID is primarily religious.

One question that intrigued me was:
Do you think Ohio high school students should be tested on their knowledge of the concept of “Intelligent Design” in order to graduate?
1. Yes -- 6%
2. No -- 90
3. Not Sure -- 4
Now, I have an ID perspective - that is, I think the evidence is that intelligent input is required in biological and other systems. But I certainly wouldn't expect science undergraduates to be tested on it - at least in part because the density of people who would be able to present what ID is about is so small. So, although I want people to know what ID means and so on, I wouldn't expect undergraduates, let alone high school students, to be tested on ID. However, it would be good if they at least knew that up to 10% of science professors think that there is an alternative to a straight-up darwinian explanation of life.

One more.
Do you use the concept of Intelligent Design in your research?
1. Yes -- 2%
2. No -- 97
Not Sure -- 1
An "overwhelming" number. But so what? They didn't ask the obvious next question - "Do you use the concept of evolution as an explanation of how all life has appeared in your research?" Because most scientists carry out their science with no reference to this. Even most biologists. I don't have the figures to hand, but I bet the proportion of papers - of all scientific disciplines, remember - that make reference to evolution as an explanation of life is small. Here's a strawpoll - let me just check the headlines I've had fed from ScienceDaily. 24 headlines downloaded - 1 relating to evolution - an underwhelming 4%.

It doesn't surprise me that I haven't heard about this before. NCSE can hardly have been encouraged by the fact that even within the scientific heartland, there is a measurable proportion of people who aren't convinced by all the darwinist propaganda.