Public Acceptance of Evolution

Public Acceptance Graph, Science 313

Ever since the Gallup Poll reported that 44% of the population of the United States does not accept an evolutionary origin for the human species, while 47% appeared committed to a belief in human evolution, people have been curious as to find out what the world thinks of Evolution. Examples even floats around in our own backyard, here at newsvine.

In a paper published on August 11th, a group of scientist published an article in the famous Science magazine on “Public Acceptance of Evolution”. The study itself shows the openness of the Scandinavian countries, namely Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden, towards the theory of Evolution, comparing it to close mindedness of the American countries (represented, in this study, only by the U.S.A. unfortunately…).

Over the past 20 years, the percentage of U.S. adults accepting the idea of evolution has declined from 45% to 40% and the percentage of adults overtly rejecting evolution declined from 48% to 39%. The percentage of adults who were not sure about evolution increased from 7% in 1985 to 21% in 2005.

It appears that 20 years of debate on Evolution has only been able to confuse people even more, or to the least, not been able to convince many people into believing Evolution.

This pattern is different from that seen in Europe and Japan. Looking first at the simpler true-false question, our analysis found that significantly (at the 0.01 to 0.05 level by difference of proportions) (11) more adults in Japan and 32 European countries accepted the concept of evolution than did American adults (see figure, right).

A trend in the U.S. has the science educators worrying that the population does not know enough on the basics of evolution and biology, “Because of the rapidly emerging nature of biomedical science, most adults will find it necessary to learn about these new concepts through informal learning opportunities”.

Obviously, some questions remain unanswered, but it does open the door to bigger studies on the same topic, including more American countries. It would definitively be interesting to include Canada, U.S.A., Mexico, along with other Latin American countries to get a definite picture of the trend in the Western countries. This article sure provides a great tool for investigating the need for more education on Evolution Theory in high school and college.

Reference is, Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto (2006) “Public Acceptance of Evolution” Science Aug 11 2006: 765-766.


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