Why Marco Rubio waffled on the age of rocks (in numbers)

Gene Expression
By Razib Khan
Nov 20, 2012 7:29 AMNov 20, 2019 3:12 AM


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If you have a pulse and follow "science news" you are aware that Marco Rubiogave a very equivocal answer to a very simple question about the age of the earth. As many have noted this is basically a way to call out Republican politicians for the fact that they have to satisfy the cultural signals of a segment of the American population which has a deep hostility to science which undercuts their naive reading of the Bible. To Mitt Romney's credit he did not evade on this question, but gave a mainstream answer among the well educated. This sort of political pandering isn't too surprising. Remember Hillary Clinton dismissing 'elite economists' when it came to her silly gas tax suspension idea? It's a democracy, and that means you can get very far appealing to the populist sentiment. More concretely, I want to address something Rod Dreher asserted at The American Conservative:

I wish one of these liberal journalists would go into a black or Latino church supper and ask people their thoughts about how the universe began. I’d bet that 99 percent of the people there would agree with Marco Rubio, even if most of them would vote for his opponent. People just don’t care about this stuff at the national political level. You’d better believe I’d fight over this issue if it came down to a matter of what was going to be taught in my local school. But I couldn’t possibly care less what the guy who lives in the White House thinks, unless he tries to impose it on the country.

When I hear the word "bet" I start thinking of laying down odds and stealing someone's cash! But in this case I'll assume Rod was being rhetorical. But let's review the numbers, shall we? The General Social Survey has a variable, EVOLVED, which records the response to the question "Human beings developed from animals," with a true vs. false outcome. It was asked between 2006 and 2010. You can see the results for numerous demographics below.

DemographicAgree that human beings developed from animals




White Non-Hispanic Democrat66

White Non-Hispanic Independent55

White Non-Hispanic Republican41

No College Democrat50

No College Independent50

No College Republican37

College Educated Democrat78

College Educated Independent67

College Educated Republican52




White non-Hispanic Liberal77

White non-Hispanic Moderate55

White non-Hispanic Conservative38

No College Liberal58

No College Moderate49

No College Conservative36

College Educated Liberal86

College Educated Moderate66

College Educated Conservative47

White Non-Hispanic53

Black Non-Hispanic35





No Religion79

Bible is Word of God28

Bible is Inspired Word of God58

Bible is Book of Fables87

Southern Baptist27

United Method51








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