I came across an article in the newspaper last week that caught my attention. The article was about a survey conducted by the good folks at Pew Research. The article stated that, "A recent Pew Research survey shows major differences between scientists and the public on a wide range of subjects." The article then went on to describe nine different topics of popular interest and showed how, in each of the topics, the opinions of scientists and the general public varied widely. As I glanced down the list I found myself cheering for the scientists on several occasions. After all, scientists are generally understood to be smarter than John Q. Public so I would expect them to have better information on a wide variety of topics. In those cases I would expect them to stay on the scientific straight and narrow and deliver an unbiased scientific opinion about a matter to those of us who are not as well informed. That happened on several occasions in the article.
For example, one question was, "Is it safe to eat genetically modified foods?" I have addressed this topic myself in a previous blog post, found here. The point of that blog post was that everything that exists in the world today is genetically modified. Every time something reproduces genetic modification takes place. The only difference between what takes place in nature and what takes place in a laboratory is the location. There is no reason to believe that genetic modification could, would or should have any deleterious affect upon the foods that we eat. To believe so is utter nonsense and clearly anti-scientific. The scientists in the survey agree with me. 88% of the scientists say that eating genetically modified foods is safe whereas only 37% of the general public believes genetically modified foods to be safe for human consumption. If you are keeping score, score one for the scientists.
Here is another one the scientists get right. According to the survey 86% of scientists believe that vaccinations are not harmful but actually do what they are designed to do. Only 68% of the general public shares that belief. At this time, when vaccinating has become a political hot potato, I find it interesting that a full one third of the population believes vaccinations to be dangerous to our health. I conducted a study of my own on the topic several years ago, after attending a seminar at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, and I discovered that the hysterical rants against vaccinating seem to be based exclusively upon anecdotal evidence. No objective scientific studies exist that I have found which show any reason why I should believe vaccinations are anything other than helpful. I am old enough to remember people who died of polio and I can remember one home that I visited that was equipped with an iron lung. I am thankful those days are gone and vaccinations are to be given most of the credit for the transformation.
Scientists also favor more offshore oil and gas drilling than the general population does. I am not quite sure what the science is in support of offshore drilling however. Regardless, 65% of scientists think offshore drilling is a good idea and only 45% of the general population does. I suspect that the majority of the general population which does not want more offshore drilling finds themselves in that position because of unwarranted fears about oil leaks and damage to the environment. Images of the deepwater horizon oil spill probably continue to haunt the minds of the scientifically ignorant. Those images are reinforced by the equally ignorant media reports showing the "damage" done to the Gulf coast as a result of the spill. Environmentalist propaganda has conquered the ignorant masses but has not yet convinced the majority of scientists of their lies.
Scientists are human beings. As human beings they suffer from a variety of maladies. The most significant malady that all human beings suffer from is the natural hatred of the God of the Bible they find in their souls. All men, from the moment of conception, are at enmity with God and they continue to be in that state of hateful anger towards Him unless He makes the decision to regenerate them. It would be foolish to assume that man's natural hatred for God would not spill over into an intellectual bias at some point. The survey indicates one such bias, and it is huge.
By far the issue on which scientists have the greatest consensus is when we come to consider the religion of evolution. A whopping 98% of all scientists believe that "humans and other living things have evolved over time." A significant majority of 65% of all people also believe in evolution. This is not a surprising discovery, at least to me. I would expect that those who hate God would create a religion with which they would feel comfortable and with which they could easily dismiss the truth claims made in the Bible about our origins. God tells us that all those who hate Him spend a great deal of mental energy creating alternative views of the world that allow them to ignore what is abundantly clear from nature itself. All men know that the God of the Bible exists innately and they suppress that knowledge by creating alternative views of our origin. The religion of evolution is the most successful suppression mechanism in the history of mankind. It is not surprising that almost all scientists believe in it.
One other issue caught my eye. It has to do with global warming. Where do you think the scientists will come down on this hot button? According to the survey, 87% of scientists believe in anthropogenic global warming. On the other hand, only 50% of the general public believes in that nonsense. We now have a situation in which the roles are reversed. The public has greater insight into the issue of global warming than the scientists do. Why do you think that is? I have an answer to that question. A wise man once told me that I should never expect a man to change his position on an issue when his monthly paycheck was dependent upon continuing to believe something that is patently false. It would have been most interesting if the Pew Research folks had put an additional control upon this question. I would have liked to see the group of scientists divided into those who are paid by the government, or a government contract, versus those who are paid by the free market. I suspect the percentage would look very different under those circumstances.