The School of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate University is conducting a survey on the public understanding of evolution. They ask a couple questions about evolution as you see it and then obviously some questions pertaining to demographics. The survey is to get an idea of how education level, religiosity, age, etc relate to how much you understand evolution. It doesn’t take very long, you should check it out. I gave them my email so they’re going to send me the results when it’s over and I’ll probably do a post about that when it happens.
The questions are:
1) To the best of your understanding, and in your own words,
please explain what “evolution” means.
2) If you accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why; or if you do not accept the theory of evolution, please explain in your own words why not.
And for those interested, here are the answers I entered:
1) Evolution is the natural process that results in changes in allele frequency in the genetic makeup of a species over successive generations and is driven by mutations and selective pressures. Under those selective pressures certain organisms are unsuccessful at passing on their genes while the ones that are successful reproduce and spread those genes that made them successful under those pressures. Over long periods of time and through reproductive isolation this process results in speciation, novel structures and an ever-diversifying and adapting population.
2) I accept evolution because of the overwhelming amounts of convergent evidence in support of it. It has numerous times passed the test of the Hypothetico-Deductive method, in my mind best demonstrated by the finding of fossils such as Tiktalik in the precise location and strata predicted by an evolutionary timeline. Molecular Biology has also conclusively proven common ancestry through the study of mitochondrial DNA and endogenous retroviruses, something I find to be almost unbearably powerful evidence.
BTW, defining evolution is WAY harder than you would think.