As one who actually answered ...
... in the 36% "I don't have an opinion either way", I do have an opinion about the question.
Do you, personally, believe in the theory of evolution, do not believe in evolution, or don't you have an opinion either way?
I found it an interesting way to ask a survey question. The fact is that many people, if given the option, will gravitate to "no opinion". To make that tendency part of the question was asking for a high rate in that category. A good survey question will always record a "no opinion" answer, but not offer it as a choice.
That is, however, not why I answered, "no opinion". I guess I did it because I was feeling a little perfectionistic (word?) that day.
The question in another way was skewed, as least for me. "Do you believe in the theory of evolution." First, "believe in" is loaded language for me - being a theist. Do I "believe in a theory" - no. I may accept a theory as essentially sound. I may think it is misnamed by being referred to as a "theory". But, ultimately, I do not believe in the theory. Second, I was asked if I believed in the theory not the actuality. I do not believe evolution is a theory, despite that being the proper term, as I believe it is fact. Evolution is. So, my answer to the first part, technically, is "no."
Next, "do you not believe in evolution?" My answer to this is obviously "no". I do not "not believe" in evolution as an actuality. Interesting, don't you think, that the part of the question aimed at finding supporters for evolution referred to evolution as a theory. Yet the part that would be aimed to naysayers dealt with fact of evolution not the "theory" of evolution.
Since the answer to the first question was no, and the answer to the second question was no, I had no option other than "no opinion". I guess I could have not answered, but I was feeling obstreporous that day.
It is a good survey that gives two or three possible answers to a question. It is a bad one that offers three different and slightly unrelated questions in search of an answer.
Oh, yeah! One last point. This survey was not unlike statistics. Your headline wouldn't have been near as catchy if you titled it, "1 in 4 Americans do not believe in evolution."
I was wrong! I have one more point (this is an edit). What the hell are highly educated people doing when they ask a nutjob like me a freaking survey question. Don't they know my answer may be harmful to some believer somewhere?
- Andy's blog
Sins are always worse when they're different than mine
Last edited by andrewlittle; 02-13-2009 at 06:21 AM.
Reason: Missed my opportunity to vent some spleen about life in church