Americans aren't really sold on scientific consensus. A new AP-Gfk poll finds that while the public generally believes scientists on issues of personal health—just 4%, for example, doubt that smoking causes cancer—there's widespread doubt on bigger picture subjects. A slim majority (51%) said they doubted the Big Bang theory, for example, and about 40% had their doubts that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the theory of evolution, or that the Earth is warming due to human activity.
People who attended religious services regularly were especially likely to doubt those concepts, and Republicans were more inclined to doubt them than Democrats. "Most often, values and beliefs trump science," the head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said. Or, as one Nobel-winning biochemist put it, "When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can't argue against faith. It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable." (Read more science stories.)