Sunday, 10 May 2009

Participated in an Interesting Pew Survey

A couple of days ago I received a letter about participating in a Pew Survey. This survey is being conducted by both the Pew Research Center and AAAS. According to the letter:
We are writing to ask for your help in an important research project jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Pew Research Center. We are conducting a national survey of scientists to learn more about the experiences and concerns of scientists today. We are also surveying the general public about their views and attitudes regarding science.

You are among a small number of scientists whose views we are seeking. Survey topics include the motivations and goals of scientists in the United States today, challenges and barriers to the conduct of science, and opinions about scientific issues. Your answers will be kept completely confidential and used only as summaries in which no individual answers can be identified.

The Pew Research Center is an independent, non profit public opinion research organization, and AAAS is a nonprofit membership organization. Results of the survey will be released this summer and will be posted on the websites of both the Pew Research Center and AAAS.
So I decided to login and take the online survey. The survey contained various questions about global warming, evolution, stem cell research, and belief in a higher being. This is a strange combination for a survey, as it seems to pertain to topics discussed regularly on atheist and science sites. Perhaps we are having an effect on the national discourse after all, no matter how much some of the believers try to tell us to sit down and shut up.

Here are some example screen shots of the survey. The resolution was not very good, so if you can't clearly see the question, double click to get a larger image. You can see that the questions don't really have a variety of selections, most of them only allow a couple of selections only.

The two choices are special creation or evolution. At first I wondered about old earth and theistic evolution as choices for those who believe in a god who created life that evolved. But when I reached the other questions, they were about whether or not a god existed. So it looks like they are separating out the combinations of answers about yes views on the origin of the diversity of life.
As you can see, there are only two choices here. I guess the young earth creationists are out of luck here as both choices assume the evolution of life whether or not you believe a god guided it or not.
They leave out the option I would have wanted: All people should be vaccinated unless a medical condition precludes it.
I was a little confused, because the last option, Nothing in particular, can also mean atheist or agnostic. A lot of times I answer the religion selection on forms with None.
This one is fairly straight forward, but what about atheists who attend services to support a spouse or family?
Well, this one they mucked up in my opinion. They make a difference in spirituality and a belief in a god. But what definition of God are they using? Don't a lot of people define a universal spirit or higher power as being God for them?

Well, it was interesting participating in a Pew Survey. They made it easy to login and take the survey. The results are supposed to be tabulated later on this summer.

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