The Chronicle ran an article today on a lawsuit filed by the parents and teachers (with the support of the ACLU) over warning labels put on biology textbooks in Cobb County, Georgia.
The labels read: “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material shouuld be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
The warning label was put on the books after parents complained they contained nothing about rival “theories” about the origin of life, i.e. creationism, sometimes termed “intelligent design”.
That’s not what caught my attention, however… it was the handy dandy little graphic illustration that accompanied it, showing that 48% of Americans believe in creationism and 9% “lean” towards it, as opposed to 28% who believe in evolution, and 5% who “lean” towards it. The source, a 2001 Gallup poll (the link is hard to read, but the source material isn’t available otherwise).
Even harder to take was the fact that, for some godforsaken reason, the illustrator choose to represent the two sets of opinions in color: red and blue. Guess which side was which? You got it. A subtle editorial comment? Unconscious hangover from the election? Who knows? …but it was really the last thing I needed to start the day out with–concrete evidence that over half of my fellow citizens simply don’t share the same bedrock assumptions about reality that I do.
I don’t know what that struck me so hard, given what the recent PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes) poll revealed — that Bush supporters have a “tendency to ignore dissonant information” if it would tend to indicate that an opinion they hold is in error — in light of this, their support for Bush–who appears to operate on the same basis–makes sense.
That poll, more than anything else, sums up this election for me, and the divide in the country… reality vs. illusion… illusion that refuses to be shaken by any fact, no matter how direct or tangible or indesputable (such as whether world opinino supports the war in Iraq or Bush’s re-election).
We not only don’t live on the same planet, we don’t live in the same universe.