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Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:27, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
Most amusing (mis)use of statistics I've ever seen
Note: this discussion was transferred from aSK:Leave a message because that page is primarily for people who have not registered to leave a message, and this is turning into a larger debate, and with someone who has registered.
I'm talking about this precious bit on the Main Page:
- Although belief in evolution is much higher among those who have been indoctrinated with it in university, there are still over 100,000 scientists world-wide who reject the evolutionary explanation.
Wow. a hundred thousand. Must be massive. Let's see footnote #5:
- One American study showed that 5% of scientists believed that God created man, which equates to 100,000 scientists in the U.S. alone rejecting at least that aspect of evolution.
Which part of "5%" isn't relevant to you? :)
- Probably the same part that says that "over 100,000" isn't relevant to you. And of course you are incorrect anyway, as the figure being based on that statistic means that it is very relevant to the argument! Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:22, 23 August 2009 (UTC)
- The fact that 5% of scientists reject evolution implies that NINETY-FIVE PERCENT of scientists reject mythological assertions presented as purported "explanations" for the creation of man. Moreover, "of the scientists and engineers in the United States, only about 5% are creationists, according to a 1991 Gallup poll (Robinson 1995, Witham 1997). However, this number includes those working in fields not related to life origins (such as computer scientists, mechanical engineers, etc.). Taking into account only those working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in "creation-science" or consider it a valid theory (Robinson 1995). This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent."(Claim CA111: Many scientists reject evolution and support creationism) -- Dandv 02:16, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
- So basically, you are (a) switching definitions to suit your argument (for years we've been told that "scientists"—without qualification—reject creation), and (b) repeating an argument ad populum. Further, you've not explained how many scientists there would need to be in order for you to take creationism seriously (which is different from believing it). It is 2%? 5%? 30%? 51%, or what? The point is that even though the percentages are small, they are not trivially small. There's enough that you can't simply dismiss the creationary view as unsupported. Given that, the argument you are making falls back into argument ad populum mode, which you no doubt realise is a fallacious argument. In addition, of course, there's the small matter that most of these majority of scientists who reject creation have not done so by studying the arguments and evidence for themselves, but simply because that's what they've been taught in a one-sided way and/or because of peer pressure. Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 07:07, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
- Actually Philip, less than 0.15% is, without doubt, trivially small. --Horace 07:39, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
- The 0.15% figure cited by TalkOrigins is referenced to ReligiousTolerance.org which references a 1987 Newsweek article which references ... "by one count". It also compares "700 scientists with respectable academic credentials" to "480,000 U.S. earth and life scientists", which suggests that they may not have in fact been making a fair comparison. (Who decides what is "respectable", and was the same criterion used for the 480,000?)
- I just did a bit of rough-and-ready research of the scientists listed here, a list of "Scientists alive today (or recently deceased) who accept the biblical account of creation". It's not a comprehensive list by any means, but by my quick count of the 207 scientists listed there, over 100 have qualifications in the life or earth sciences. Of course that's a very small and perhaps non-fully-representative sample, but it might be just as good as some un-named "by one count", and it shows that approximately 50% of scientists who believe in creation are in the life or earth sciences. Plugging that percentage into the 100,000 listed above gives around 50,000 life and earth scientists, a vastly-different figure to the 700 mentioned, and about ten percent of the 480,000!
- Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 13:49, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
- The ad-populum thing is that aSK presents Creationism because a number of people believe in it, not because it would be true - as in, supported by reliable evidence (no, the Bible is not reliable evidence). -- Dandv 15:10, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
- aSK uses the number of people who believe the Bible as justification for having a biblical worldview web-site, not as evidence of creationism being true. However, it also claims that creationism is true (i.e. an essentially-correct description of certain events) on the grounds that there is good evidence for believing that. Further, it claims that the Bible is among that reliable evidence, because (a) it is authored by God, and (b) many of its claims can be checked and are found to be correct. It also claims that the creationary view is more consistent with what we observe in the world than the evolutionary/uniformitarian explanation, and that the evidence for that explanation is lacking reliable evidence.
- In that paragraph I made a number of largely-unsupported assertions, but that matches what you did.
- Further, you claimed that "the ad-populum thing is" by us as though denying my claim of an ad populum argument from you, yet you have done nothing to refute my claim.
- Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 03:32, 28 August 2009 (UTC)