We realize we should stop being surprised by the scientific illiteracy of our countrymen, but we just couldn’t let this loopy tidbit pass without notice:
Did humans live at the same time as the dinosaurs? Three in ten Texas voters agree with that statement; 41 percent disagree, and 30 percent don’t know.
We have a deeply personal reason for recoiling at such dunderheadedness. About a decade ago, during our cub-reporter days, we were assigned to participate in a “creation safari”. This was a day-long event in which we caravaned around Eastern Kansas along with roughly a dozen families, in search of the invertebrate fossils that are abundant in the state’s rock. We’d occasionally stop to hear a brief lecture about how those fossils were created in the first place, along with ancillary information that conformed with the creationist mindset.
At one such stop, a child of roughly 10 or 11 asked a very good question: Why are dinosaur fossils buried so deep in the ground? Yet the instructor wasn’t flummoxed in the least. He quickly responded that during the Great Flood, all animals ran up hills and mountains in order to escape the deluge. Because the dinosaurs were large and slow, he said, they were the laggards in the footrace, and were thus the first to be killed. The mammals, by contrast, were speedy, and made it to the hilltops before suffering their own grim fates.
We sort of wish that journalistic ethics hadn’t precluded us from raising our hand and asking how this theory accounted for Compsoganthus and Archaeopteryx. But we did the right thing and bit our tongues. Here’s to hoping, though, that the kid who asked the question maintained his healthy curiosity despite constantly being spoonfed “facts” of a most dubious nature.