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POLL: BIG BANG A BIG QUESTION FOR MOST AMERICANS

Tuesday, 22 April 2014 09:48 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) -- While scientists believe the universe began with a Big Bang, most Americans put a big question mark on the concept, an Associated Press-GfK poll found.

Yet when it comes to smoking causing cancer or that a genetic code determines who we are, the doubts disappear.

When considering concepts scientists consider truths, Americans have more skepticism than confidence in those that are farther away from our bodies in scope and time: global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and especially the Big Bang from 13.8 billion years ago.

Rather than quizzing scientific knowledge, the survey asked people to rate their confidence in several statements about science and medicine.

On some, there's broad acceptance. Just 4 percent doubt that smoking causes cancer, 6 percent question whether mental illness is a medical condition that affects the brain and 8 percent are skeptical there's a genetic code inside our cells. More - 15 percent - have doubts about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccines.

About 4 in 10 say they are not too confident or outright disbelieve that the earth is warming, mostly a result of man-made heat-trapping gases, that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or that life on Earth evolved through a process of natural selection, though most were at least somewhat confident in each of those concepts. But a narrow majority - 51 percent - questions the Big Bang theory.

Those results depress and upset some of America's top scientists, including several Nobel Prize winners, who vouched for the science in the statements tested, calling them settled scientific facts.

"Science ignorance is pervasive in our society, and these attitudes are reinforced when some of our leaders are openly antagonistic to established facts," said 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine winner Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley.

The poll highlights "the iron triangle of science, religion and politics," said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

And scientists know they've got the shakiest leg in the triangle.

To the public "most often values and beliefs trump science" when they conflict, said Alan Leshner, chief executive of the world's largest scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Political and religious values were closely tied to views on science in the poll, with Democrats more apt than Republicans to express confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change.

Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith.

"When you are putting up facts against faith, facts can't argue against faith," said 2012 Nobel Prize winning biochemistry professor Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University. "It makes sense now that science would have made no headway because faith is untestable."

But evolution, the age of the Earth and the Big Bang are all compatible with God, except to Bible literalists, said Francisco Ayala, a former priest and professor of biology, philosophy and logic at the University of California, Irvine.

Beyond religious belief, views on science may be tied to what we see with our own eyes. The closer an issue is to ourselves and the less complicated, the easier it is for people to believe, said John Staudenmaier, a Jesuit priest and historian of technology at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Marsha Brooks, a 59-year-old nanny who lives in Washington, D.C., said she's certain smoking causes cancer because she saw her mother, aunts and uncles, all smokers, die of cancer. But when it comes to the universe beginning with a Big Bang or the Earth being about 4.5 billion years old, she has doubts. She explained: "It could be a lack of knowledge. It seems so far" away.

Jorge Delarosa, a 39-year-old architect from Bridgewater, N.J., pointed to a warm 2012 without a winter and said, "I feel the change. There must be a reason." But when it came to Earth's beginnings 4.5 billion years ago, he has doubts simply because "I wasn't there."

Experience and faith aren't the only things affecting people's views on science. Duke University's Lefkowitz sees "the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact" as a more striking factor, citing significant interest groups - political, business and religious - campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change and evolution.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 20-24, 2014, using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,012 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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On Twitter, follow AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein atHTTP://TWITTER.COM/BORENBEARS and AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta atHTTP://WWW.TWITTER.COM/JENNAGIESTA .

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: HTTP://WWW.AP-GFKPOLL.COM

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Lyons solid in 1st start, Cards blanked by Mets

Monday, 21 April 2014 22:34 Published in Sports
 
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tyler Lyons stepped into the St. Louis rotation and looked right at home. Too bad for him, the Cardinals couldn't get anyone home to help him.
 
Jenrry Mejia pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning, David Wright delivered another key hit and the New York Mets blanked St. Louis 2-0 Monday night.
 
Lyons (0-1) lost in his first major league game of the season. Promoted from Triple-A Memphis earlier in the day to take the rotation spot of injured Joe Kelly, he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.
 
"There were good things, there were things definitely to build on," Lyons said. "Just got to eliminate some of those other miscues."
 
A 26-year-old lefty with a big-breaking slider, Lyons struck out seven. He's another in the long line of tall, homegrown pitchers developed by the Cardinals, and went 2-4 last year in his first big league season.
 
Lyons struck out the first two batters in the third before Eric Young Jr. singled for the Mets' first hit. Slumping Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch and Wright singled for a 1-0 lead.
 
Lyons' throwing error on a tapper set up another run in the sixth. Daniel Murphy walked, later stole third and scored on a single by Travis d'Arnaud.
 
"Overall it was OK, but it was tougher to swallow when you do couple those things where you kind of beat yourself," he said.
 
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny liked what he saw from Lyons.
 
"He did a nice job and got into a tough spot there and had to work himself out," he said.
 
"The non-plays, the free bases, they get us. That's all there is to it. When we're not hitting, they really glare," he said.
 
Wright lined an early RBI single that extended his hitting streak to 12 games and Kyle Farnsworth earned his first save as the New York's newest closer.
 
On an evening when the Mets debuted new camouflage tops to salute the military, they looked sharp. The Cardinals lost for the third time in four games, and have been shut out three times this season.
 
Mejia (3-0) bounced back well from a torn blister on his right middle finger that limited him to five innings in his last start. The 24-year-old righty began the game by getting Matt Carpenter to look at three straight strikes, and rarely was in trouble.
 
Mejia struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings and walked three. Scott Rice and Carlos Torres each got two outs before Farnsworth entered.
 
Mejia escaped his biggest jam in the sixth when, with runners at the corners and one out, he retired Matt Holliday on a popup and Matt Adams on a grounder.
 
The previous inning, the Mets backed Mejia with a sweet double play. Shortstop Ruben Tejada dived to stop Jon Jay's grounder up the middle and flipped to Murphy, and the second baseman made a barehanded catch and spun quickly for the relay.
 
NOTES: Cardinals C Yadier Molina stretched his hitting streak to 12 games. ... St. Louis SS Jhonny Peralta was hitless in three at-bats and is in an 0-for-15 rut. ... Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (3-1, 1.80) starts Tuesday night against RHP Dillon Gee (1-0, 3.71) in the second game of a four-game series. ... Kelly strained his left hamstring trying to beat out a bunt last week and was put on the 15-day disabled list. St. Louis RHP Eric Fornataro made his major league debut and pitched a perfect eighth. Molina waited outside the dugout to pat him on the head. "I haven't pitched in about a week. That was the biggest part not being on the mound in a week," Fornataro said. "I kind of just toned it down a little bit and tried to throw strikes, tried not to worry about throwing too hard or anything."

Blackhawks blank Blues 2-0 in Game 3

Monday, 21 April 2014 22:33 Published in Sports
CHICAGO (AP) -- Corey Crawford made 34 saves in his third career postseason shutout, and the Chicago Blackhawks got back into their playoff series with the St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night.
 
Jonathan Toews scored in the first period and Marcus Kruger added an empty-netter as Chicago bounced back after a pair of overtime losses in St. Louis. Toews' 21st postseason goal was only the second score by a Blackhawks forward in the series.
 
Ryan Miller shook off another slow start and made 23 saves for St. Louis.
 

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