A new Gallop poll (a Values and Beliefs Survey) indicates that 4 out of 10 Americans believe 'God' created the Earth and modern humans (independently from evolution) from 6 to 10 thousand years ago. Per the article:


Four in 10 Americans believe God created the Earth and anatomically modern humans, less than 10,000 years ago, according to a new Gallup poll....About half of Americans believe humans evolved over millions of years, with most of those people saying that God guided the process....three-quarters believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, according to a 2013 Pew survey.....a 2014 National Science Foundation study found that only three out of four Americans know that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa, and a large percentage didn't know the Earth's core was hot....

There is a silver lining - The percentage of Americans who believe in natural selection has increased significantly. Per the article:


Though the percentage of people who believe in creationism has changed little over the decades, the percentage of people who believe humans evolved without God has more than doubled, and the percentage who believe in God-guided evolution has decreased. (Bold added.)


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Brilliant and to an extent prophetic. Help stamp out aggressive Christian fundamentalism!

No one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues.

It's pretty much the case in the US now, particularly on Climate Destabilization.

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Ruth, are you sure, or are you pessimistic?

Lawmakers and policymakers have for many years found advice and even personnel in academia.

Even when they authorized and funded the then-unknown atomic weapons.

Recalling the views you expressed in several discussions you started recently, I think pessimism is moving you here.

Well, there are a few (always exceptions to prove the rules), but the problem is that we have almost no one representing the "public interest", only those who can afford to donate millions to campaigns, get their interests represented. Until we get dirty money out of politics, or can afford to buy our own politicians, the public interest will not be represented by enough people to do anything. ...Especially with gerrymandering keeping certain people in office no matter what they do (unless they get a challenge from their right, even the dems sometimes, we have been sliding that way for 30+ years).

That isn't pessimism, it's being a realist. You cannot solve a problem if you cannot recognize what the problem is. The only people who can get elected are people who are willing to whore themselves out to special interest groups for large sums of cash. This is true of both parties, the only difference is (sometimes) who is supplying the money. (many times it's the same people funding both, take Sheldon Adelson for example), few with integrity are willing to wade into that cesspool.

Sure, I am cynical, but it is hard not to be when the anti-intellectuals are winning the war, because many do not choose to see that a war is even being fought. You must be able to see the worst in order to prevent it, being a pessimist is only seeing the worst, and not trying to prevent it, because that is the only thing that can exist. I submit, that by seeing the worst, and still trying to work to improve it, that is being the ultimate optimist. XD

Not seeing the dark reality, is not being optimistic, that is being willfully ignorant.

...only those who can afford to donate millions to campaigns, get their interests represented.

Devian, how do cynicism and pessimism differ?

Not as defined in a dictionary of philosophy, but in an ordinary dictionary?

I ask because during a lunchtime discussion several years ago I realized that I wasn't able to describe their difference.

They differ significantly.

So do idealism and optimism.

Several years in hardball politics persuaded me that people who feel powerless, who lack confidence in their ability to produce the change they desire, turn to idealism or pessimism.

The statements "I can't fight city hall" and "I do not now want to fight city hall" differ.

I would edit your above conclusion to:

Those who can afford to donate millions to campaigns, and those who can attract enough allies, get their interests represented.

Whether with money or allies, getting change requires convincing incumbents that they might not be re-elected.

Tea party folk are doing that to Republican incumbents.

pessimism vs cynicism, a very good question, that might be worthy of a long debate. There is some overlap, they are similar, but not directly connected. I would say the amount of realism, and perhaps apathy. If you see things as they are, and they are bad, you are a cynic, if you see things as worse than they are, then you are a pessimist. I submit that if a cynic still tries to improve things than they are in fact, an optimist. If you look forward to, and strive for, a brighter future, in the face of a "craptastic world", then that is pretty optimistic to me.

In your example, "can't fight" is cynical, "don't want to" is pessimistic. Levels of apathy and realism.


I have to disagree with your rewrite though, it almost doesn't really matter what your views are, if you have enough money, you can get people to your side in almost every example, even if your position is death and destruction, racism, or just about any other evil. Money is a VERY corrupting influence, and a very large % of people will do almost anything for it, like a religion. This is easy to prove, just look at the NRA or the Climate "debates". If you have enough power (and money equals power), you can buy the right people, and get almost anything you want, at least temporarily. There are so many examples of this in our history, it fills volumes. The climate debate is almost identical to the lead debate we had a while back, by the same groups of people, doing the same tactics. Both of which are doing real harm to everyone. The FCC is another example, who was bought by the media companies just recently, when they gave so much to Obama, that he put one of them in charge of the FCC. Tom Wheeler, a lobbyist for the Cable and wireless industry, president of NCTA, and CEO of the CTIA, now the chairman of the FCC. Unless we can get money out of politics, is is little that can be done. Sure, there will be small victories, here and there, but over all, the big money special interests will will enough, that they can changes the laws they want, and eventually we will be left with nothing. We are well on our way to Idiocrasy. The Cable companies own the FCC, now the food companies just need to buy the FDA and we are almost done.

You are right that there are exceptions and there always will be (there are exceptions to prove every rule, just look at Obama vs Romney, big money vs bigger money, either way, big money still won, you need more proof, look up another guy in that same election, Buddy Roemer, they wouldn't even let him in the debates because he wouldn't take donations larger than $100 a person, so they blackballed him, the system is designed so that money talks and everyone and everything else walks), but then it is also true that no matter what you say, you can always find an average of 1/5 to 1/4 of people who believe it... (give or take), like the 20% who either don't know, or are wrong about the earth going around the sun (and some of them might have guessed, it is a 50/50 shot). While Eric Cantor's race is an exception, as his opponent was not well financed, many of those tea party guys are quite well backed, and many by the same people backing the republicans. Then you have people like Adelson who gives money to both parties too (though it is pretty disproportionate), but he doesn't care who you are, if you back his causes. Newt Gingrich, Harry Reed, Mitt Romney, Alan West, whatever... it doesn't matter to him, just back one of his causes, Israel or gambling.

If the flat earthers had more money, they could boast more numbers too, all they would need is a spot on FAUX to explain how 'it says so in the bible' ("because heaven is 'up' and there is no 'up' on a sphere", ...no, I did not make that up)... They would be trying to get it taught in schools as a viable alternative, and so on (thankfully, unlike the Christians at large, they don't have that kind of money, but if the Ken Hamms of this world have their way, it would not take much to get there)... The fact that they exist at all is a testament to the fact that some people will believe 'anything', well, that and the other obvious fact that atheists were almost as small of a group as the flat earthers (within the margin of error, but at least we are growing, and they are shrinking ...for now, though we have said this before, and ignorance is resurging).

Devian, I'm persuaded that you keep up with politics.

I agree that money in politics does a lot of harm, which is why I support attempts to reverse SCOTUS's Citizens United ruling and, further, want corporate personhood ended.

Your remark about can't fight and don't want to fight did not persuade me that you referred to a dictionary to define cynicism or pessimism.

I see "can't fight" as pessimistic, as the speaker is saying he is unable to fight.

I see "don't want to fight" as realistic, as the speaker is saying he is able to fight but may do it at another time.

 I never said I did consult a dictionary on that one (they are not always right, many say a spatula is a pancake turner, and many list 'past' as a past tense form of 'to pass', when it is 'passed', that is not to imply that I am always correct either), but I don't really have to, I live them, and I was just giving my opinion from that perspective ...your definition of 'can't' is a problem though.

 'Can't' implies 'impossible', that means that no matter what you do or how hard you try, it cannot be done, you will fail, so not doing anything there is being realistic. Not trying to jump into space (because it can't be done and even if it could, you would die) is not being pessimistic, but realistic.

 'Don't want to' means that you know it 'can' be done, but it's not worth the trouble, that is apathetic. Not getting up to make food that is in the other room, when you are starving, because it is too much trouble, is being pessimistic.

Realism is recognizing your actual limitations, whereas thinking you can do something you can't, is delusional, and striving to learn is optimistic.

That is why I came to the conclusion I have on that. As someone who is bipolar, I might have an odd perspective on the topic, but I think of this as more of a use of language issue than anything else. Part of our problem is that we tend to use 'can't' when we mean 'won't', and so we tend to misuse it more often than not.

...your definition of 'can't' is a problem though.

Devian, 'can't' is a problem for at least three kinds of people:

1. those who do not know expressions such as "I can, but the law says I may not." or "I can, but doing so at this time would result in harm to what I value."

2. those who harbor delusions such as "I can flap my arms and fly" or "I can hear a god telling me to _______"

3. those who have no confidence in their ability to _______.

Your concerns about pancake/hotcake/flapjack turners and spatulas tell me you don't know dictionaries' two chief uses:

1. they tell the ways influential people have used words, and

2. they suggest the ways people should use words when they want others to understand them.

We can use dictionaries as doorstops, weapons and more but many mothers tell their children they may not.

I know little about the bipolar condition. Your acknowledging it, Devian, moves me to learn about it. Wikipedia, here I come.

Well, in this case, I meant 'can't' as in it is impossible. It's the only definition. Legality is not can't, by definition that is won't, can do it, but it is illegal, so you will not. And confidence is also won't, they can but choose not to because of their lack of confidence.

None of this changes what I said.


Yes the dictionary updates as people use it, but there are some cases when that should not happen, and spatula is one of them. If it lists the slang term like that, it should state that is IS in fact slang, and NOT in fact the real definition, the problem is that most of us are too ignorant to know that it is in fact wrong.

A spatula is a specific tool, in at least 3 different industries, and cooking is one of those three, but a pancake turner is NOT one of them.

This is similar to the layman's 'definition' of theory and the real scientific definition. The difference being that those who use spatula to talk about a pancake turner, are WRONG.

I DO use the dictionary, but when I find them wrong,I try to make corrections. Words have uses, and when we use them incorrectly, we are do ourselves and our language a serious disservice. I note you  also completely ignored the passed vs past one too. because it proves that sometimes they are completely and utterly wrong. They are written by people, and people make mistakes, most of our country is ignorant of our language and how it is supposed to work.

the fact is there will always be morons...bonafide, genetic morons...natural selection depends on it...these are the people that 20 000 years ago would have left the cave alone at night to get food because "i don't know, i'm kinda hungry"...meanwhile the non-morons would simply THINK "i am kinda hungry, but it's dark out, i can't see well in the dark, there are predators out there, my best chance of getting food and staying alive coexist when it's bright out and we're ALL going out together to get food...after all, 4, 6, 8, etc number of eyes are better than 2...forget how hungry I might be now, I think I'll chill here in the cave"...the ability to reason, and to think (and believe), has a genetic basis just like everything else...and some people are just deficient...back in the day, these people would have passed away and left less off-springs...now days, the same people go on to become politicians, ministers, priests, and in some case high school science teachers...it is what it is...that is not to say that it is all about nature and nurture/environment plays no role...environment does play a role, which is why myself and many other atheists (who were not destined to be morons), have THOUGHT about gods/religion and concluded that regardless what whatever a priori assumptions we have been given, it is all bullshit...I was an altar boy, I was taught to believe in god, then slowly but surely my innate ability to reason and thirst for reason kicked in...and because environment DOES play a role, it is imperative that these "genetic morons" are saved early on...their best chance is to have never been fed these false a priori assumptions about the world...naturally this is difficult to do, but the best chance comes from mass production of critical thinking skills, and from leaving religion outside of politics, mass media, and the classroom...and ideally outside of the home too...if you were raised religious, great...but leave your child at home when you go to church or wherever you go, and when you pray, do so for your damn self and do not involve anyone...if you god is so good and powerful blah blah blah, he'll find his way into your kid's soul and shit all over it...have faith in god and let him do his thing, don't try to do it for him




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