The Need for a Good Poll

Numerous times over the years pollsters have noted that Americans are creationist. Usually over 50% are strict, young Earth, Biblical creationists, with another 40% believing in some form of God-directed evolution. Less than 10% hold to purely naturalistic evolution. Yet those in the 10% are the ones who hold a monopoly on university professorships, textbook content editors, teacher union leadership, prominence in the media, and the judicial system. A fringe group of zealots hold enormous power over the majority.

Recently two new polls came out. On July 6 The Harris Poll concluded (in the release's title) "Nearly two thirds of U. S. adults believe human beings were created by God." Another portion believed an unspecified "intelligent design" was responsible for human origin. Those who believed in evolution were not asked if the evolution was overseen by God.

Unfortunately, the questions were not explicit enough to reveal enough details. Some of them would be hard to answer even for a knowledgeable citizen. For instance it was asked, "Is Darwin's theory proven by fossil discoveries?" The pollsters may not know it, but few evolutionists agree with this statement. Most thinking evolutionists have given up on the fossil record as providing proof of evolution. They may think evolution is true, but look to other evidence for proof. How would they answer?

A second poll was also released in July, this one by the Pew Research Center. Similarly, 42% of respondents claim-ed that direct creation accounted for humans, while another 18% held that it was guided by a Supreme Being. Only 26% felt it was due to natural selection alone.

Again, questions were not definitive enough to draw firm conclusions. I would have had a difficult time knowing how to answer some questions, such as "Life on Earth has existed in its present form since the beginning of time." I am convinced that all of life (including mankind) has adapted to changing conditions and that mutation and genetic recombination has occurred, horizontal change is not true vertical evolution. Each basic category of life was created "after its kind" and has either continued into the present as that kind or gone extinct. No new basic types have arisen from other basic types. How would this be recorded in the misleading polls?

Often the poll's results were self-contradictory, indicating mutually exclusive opinions on a point. Are the people so confused, or were the questions misleading? A good poll should not lead or mislead the responders.

The need for reliable information is obvious. A nation responsible to its citizenry must have these data to make good educational and policy decisions. To whoever's listening, I call for another poll, but this time a good one.

It must be recognized that the words evolution, creation, change, etc., mean different things to different people, yet most have definite opinions on the broad subject. It seems to me that evolution teaching has often sought to miscommunicate on various points, but I would like to know what people really think. A poll must not merely sample people's misconceptions or variety of misconceptions, or identify areas of confusion. To be useful, a poll must define the concepts at issue, and then sample the opinions. A paragraph discussing the difference between microevolution (the small horizontal changes to which all agree whether or not they understand it) and macroevolution (big vertical change which is the real point of interest for the surveys) would help to clarify things so that the results are meaningful. Precision also needs to be attached to dates so that poll responders are comparing "apples to apples."

The Institute for Creation Research offers its expertise as advisor to any or all of the major polling services. We are acutely interested in truth, not in steering the results, and we suspect pollsters are interested also. Let's ferret this out together, and then we'll know something worth knowing.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2005. The Need for a Good Poll. Acts & Facts. 34 (11).

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