Friday, 16 July 2010

Census and Creationism: Same Attitude of "Don't Confuse Me with the Facts"

The highest number of Canadians who believe in Creationism is found just where the largest fossil fuel deposits in the country are found, according to an Angus-Reid poll of Canadians, Americans and Brits reported in reported in Le Devoir this morning,

In Quebec only 17 per cent said they believed in Creationism, while in the Prairies the percentages were considerably higher: 31 per cent in Alberta and 39 per cent in Sasketchewan and Manitoba. As Le Devoir points out, the presence of fossilized plant life from millions of years ago in the form of natural gas and oil sands seems not to have had a very large effect on the beliefs of Prairie residents.

By way of comparison, 66 per cent of Quebecers believed that Darwin had it right compared to 61 per cent of Canadians as a whole, 35 per cent of Americans, and 68 per cent of Brits. (The option "don't know" accounts for the percentages not adding up to 100.)

It's no accident that this "don't confuse me with the facts" attitude is so strong exactly in the region where the current Conservative government's power is strongest. Ten days ago the Conservative government quietly annunced that filling out the long form census questionnaire will not longer be required for the one in five Canadian households selected at random to do so. When asked about the change, Stephen Harper's boys said it was a response to "privacy" concerns.

Since then a wide range of academic, community, religious and other groups have protested loudly. The information is extremely valuable for all sorts of reasons, and not making responses mandatory threatens to bias the results. What is more, Le Devoir reported earlier, the number of complaints filed about being required to fill out the form is very small: 33 in 1991 in the country as a whole, 16 in 1996, one in 2001 and two in 2006.

So what's the big deal? A lot, it would seem, if you don't want to know what is going on. It's an attitude completely consistent with thinking that some deity created oil expressly for humans to use.

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