Feature Article - November 2016
by Do-While Jones

We Donít Believe

An evolutionist tries to explain why we donít believe things that he thinks are true.

Last month, Carter T. Butts wrote an editorial in the journal, Science, in which he claimed that some people donít believe in evolution and man-made global warming, even though they know scientists say they are true.

Summary
Despite extensive efforts at public science education, polling over the past 30 years has consistently shown that about 40 to 45% of Americans believe that humans were supernaturally created in the past 10,000 years. 1 A natural interpretation of this finding is that U.S. science education is failing to reach nearly half of the population, and that widespread belief in recent human origins reflects basic scientific illiteracy. However, the reality is more complex: Many of those who reject evolutionary theory are aware of the scientific consensus on the subject, and such rejection is not always associated with low scientific literacy. Similar results have been found for beliefs regarding anthropogenic climate change. On page 321 of this issue, Friedkin et al. provide a key step toward understanding this phenomenon by introducing a simple family of models for social influence among individuals with multiple, interdependent beliefs. 2

Butts admits he is confused. On the one hand, he thinks that people donít believe in evolution because they are scientifically illiterate. He thinks the public education system has failed to teach science effectively. (Or, to put it more accurately, the public education system has failed to brainwash nearly half the country.)

But then, on the other hand, Butts realizes that a lot of smart, well-educated people reject evolution. (Thatís true. We do.) He recognizes that this situation is illogical, and is searching for a logical explanation for how intelligent people can be so illogical.

He never considers the possibility that people donít believe in Darwinian evolution because they know it isnít true. The theory of evolution is contrary to the preponderance of scientific evidence, as we have endeavored to show every month for the past 20 years. The theory of evolution isnít trueóand intelligent people know it.

Group-think

Simulation studies have shown that individuals' beliefs regarding the reliability or veracity of other individuals' testimony can radically alter both the probability of obtaining group consensus and the nature of the consensus view where obtained. 3

Really? They needed a study to discover that the more people in a group believe something, the more the group believes it? Yes, they really did need a consensus to convince them that beliefs are influenced by a consensus. How better to prove their point?

Butts recognizes the power of group-think when he says,

Ö examples of pluralistic ignorance arise when group members falsely believe themselves to be unusual in violating a group norm, and thus conceal their behavior and attitudes from others. This concealment then reinforces the false belief. 4

In other words, people tend to lie to pollsters and give the politically correct answer.

From the rest of the article, it is clear that he believes that church members pretend to believe in creation (even though they personally know evolution is true) because other church members believe it and they donít want to disagree with the group. This causes other church members to believe more strongly in creation.

We say that is a two-way street. Some scientists maintain scientific pluralistic ignorance by concealing their doubts about the theory of evolution from their colleagues, and their concealment then reinforces the false belief in evolution.

Shocking Results

If you invent a product which you expect to sell for a huge profit, and nobody buys it, clearly you did not correctly analyze the data. You might have misjudged the consumer need, or priced the product improperly, or used an ineffective marketing campaign. If you had correctly analyzed the market, the product would have sold as you expected. If you were surprised by the sales (for better or for worse) you believed something that wasnít true.

An even more shocking example happened last Tuesday. But first, please understand this disclaimer: We are not taking a position as to whether or not the presidential election results were good or bad. Thatís totally irrelevant to the point we want to make.

On election eve, Donald Trumpís victory was reported as ďshockingĒ by all the major news sources. It was shocking because of false expectations, not facts. His victory would not have been shocking if it had been predicted.

The day after the election, the news commentators tried to regain credibility by explaining why Trump won. HERE'S OUR ONLY POINT: Every fact they reported the day after the election, they knew the day before the election. Since they had all the facts before the first vote was cast, they should have known who would win before the election. It was pluralistic ignorance on the part of most journalists that made the result shocking. They didnít believe what they knew to be true before the election.

The recent election is simply a stunning particular example of a general truth. The general truth is that whenever you have all the facts, and you are surprised, you did not analyze the facts properly.

Truth always manifests itself regardless of your belief. Dropping a bowling ball on your foot will hurt, regardless of whether or not you believe that it will. You should not be shocked when it does hurt.

Self-Delusion

People can be blind to their self-delusion. It doesnít matter if the topic is evolution, religion, politics, or marketing. Believing something doesnít make it true. Furthermore, the majority isnít always right.

When it comes to evolution, there are a lot of people who believe all life evolved from a common ancestor because that appears to be the consensus. Well, it appeared to be the consensus that Trump had no chance of winning, too.

Furthermore, appearances can be deceiving. It might not actually be the consensus of most scientists that evolution is true, and it might not actually have been the consensus of political experts that Trump would lose. A very few of the news commentators claimed that they thought Trump did have a chance, but they didnít say so before the election; they didnít want to buck conventional wisdom. Just because it is reported to be the consensus doesnít necessarily mean that it really is the consensus. People sometimes lie when they know their belief isnít popular.

Article Spinning

Remember, at the beginning of this essay we quoted Buttís summary which said, ďOn page 321 of this issue, Friedkin et al. provide a key step toward understanding this phenomenon ÖĒ It implies that Friedkin and his associates had written an article on why people disbelieve evolution and man-made global warming. In fact, Friedkinís article contained a lot of matrix math about how to determine confidence based on probabilities, and never mentioned evolution or global warming. Thatís why we didnít quote it.

Question Authority

Yes, you should listen to expert opinionsóbut you should not accept them without question. You have a brain. Use it! Donít let peer pressure or popular opinion override logic.

If you examine the theory of evolution from a purely scientific point of view, and honestly evaluate the evidence, you will see that belief in the theory of evolution is irrational.

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Footnotes:

1 Gallup,†Evolution, creationism, intelligent design, Online Resource†(2016), http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/Evolution-Creationism-Intelligent-Design.aspx
2 Carter T. Butts, Science, 21 Oct 2016, ďWhy I know but don't believeĒ, pp. 286-287, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6310/286.full
3 ibid.
4 ibid.