American adults lead the world in science literacy, America leads the world in science output, America leads the world in Nobel prizes.

Yet once a year a survey comes out about evolution and people who hate Religion and/or Republicans use the results as a club in their culture war.

Ask the average atheist who 'accepts' evolution about adaptive radiation and most will sputter something meaningless. They know very little science, they simply have faith in what someone else wrote. How is that superior to religion. On the other side, a lot of quite scientifically literate people go to church.

And even anti-evolution people are not scientifically illiterate. Just like many atheists know the Bible better than many Christians, a whole lot of anti-evolution people know evolutionary biology better than true believers.

Evolution acceptance is such a meaningless barometer of science literacy (though election season is here, so look for an avalanche of science media pundits who just happen to be Democrats using evolution acceptance as reasons why we should all vote for Democrats - despite the actual anti-science beliefs overwhelmingly held by Democrats- anti-GMO, simply another form of anti-science beliefs about biology, anti-vaccine and anti-energy) that the National Science Foundation stopped using questions about common descent in its measures - because the issue had become cultural and political and did nothing at all to measure science literacy. People knew plenty of science and even biology and would still deny that one question.

Meanwhile, people who answered that one question correctly got no more of the other questions correct than people who denied it.

Evolution acceptance (along with human embryonic stem cells and global warming) was intentionally hijacked by militant progressives in 2004 to rationalize why science academics should vote Democrat. Science academics were going to do that anyway, they left mainstream America behind a generation ago, but it did so much damage to the value of evolution in measuring science literacy that it just isn't a useful metric any more.

We can rant about evolution acceptance and complain we are the same as Turkey, etc., but there is no way that all of the countries in Europe are more science-based than America is. European scientists want Europe to be more like America when it comes to science acceptance.

Dan Kahan is always a voice of reason when it comes to misuse of statistics - he is what Nate Silver could be if Nate Silver wasn't simply finding new ways to convince people to vote for Democrats - and he tackles the weird beliefs that Americans are more scientifically illiterate if people don't accept one aspect of science that, let's face it, biologists let get hijacked by agenda-driven fanatics.

Weekend update: You'd have to be science illiterate to think "belief in evolution" measures science literacy by Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition Project