Modern Americans have been a skeptical lot about everything from Big Business to Big Government. They pride themselves on being pragmatic and subscribe to a simple philosophy, the pursuit of happiness.
Unfortunately, an unhealthy skepticism has crept into the average American’s perception of long-established scientific consensus. According to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, 4 in 10 Americans are skeptical about global warming from man-made gases, that the planet is 4.5 billion years old or that life evolved through natural selection. Fifty-one percent question the validity of the Big Bang theory.
The skepticism on climate change has political implications because the Republican majority in the House of Representatives by and large feels the same way, making legislation to address it impossible. This level of scientific ignorance puts the nation at a competitive disadvantage internationally, not to mention at risk.
The troubling message from the poll is that political spin and religious belief now have a bigger say in what many Americans believe than the results and research that can be shown by scientists. It will be a tragedy if pragmatic America becomes a nation that allows faith or ideology to trump science.