Signs of a Culture Change? Younger Scientists More Likely to Believe in God

One of the overlooked findings of the Pew survey of U.S.-based scientists is that roughly 51% say that they either believe in God (33%) or a higher power (18%) and roughly 30% self-identify as Protestant (20%) or Catholic (10%). The findings cut against a commonly voiced claim by many outspoken atheists that scientists are overwhelmingly non-religious and that a scientific worldview is incompatible with religious belief.

In addition, among the sample of AAAS members surveyed, roughly 2/3 of scientists ages 18-34 say that they believe in God (42%) or a higher power (24%). This is in sharp comparison to their senior counterparts age 50-64 (50% belief) and age 65 or older (46% belief). It's hard to say what accounts for this difference and there are a number of factors probably at play, including wider generational and societal influences. It's also never a good idea to leap to conclusions based on a single survey finding.

One possible influence, that deserves further study, is that within the professional culture of U.S. science (specifically AAAS members), it is now more acceptable to be religious than thirty years ago. This possible increase in tolerance and acceptance of religious faith may be an impact of programs such as the AAAS Dialogue on Science and Faith and the visible example set by scientists such as Francis Collins.

NYTimes exposé reveals how Facebook handled scandals

Delay, deny and deflect were the strategies Facebook has used to navigate scandals it's faced in recent years, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The exhaustive report is based on interviews with more than 50 people with ties to the company.
  • It outlines how senior executives misled the public and lawmakers in regards to what it had discovered about privacy breaches and Russian interference in U.S. politics.
  • On Thursday, Facebook cut ties with one of the companies, Definers Public Relations, listed in the report.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

Unraveling the mystery behind dogs' floppy ears

Dogs' floppy ears may be part of why they and other domesticated animals love humans so much.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Nearly all domestic animals share several key traits in addition to friendliness to humans, traits such as floppy ears, a spotted coat, a shorter snout, and so on.
  • Researchers have been puzzled as to why these traits keep showing up in disparate species, even when they aren't being bred for those qualities. This is known as "domestication syndrome."
  • Now, researchers are pointing to a group of a cells called neural crest cells as the key to understanding domestication syndrome.
Keep reading Show less