10 August 2006

The chart on the left details the public acceptance of evolution around the world, as gathered from Science magazine. Turkey was the only country ranked lower than the United States.

The details of the study (found in the materials linked above) were even more ridiculous. In the United States, I was a little surprised to see that 28% of the population seems to think that the earliest humans lived alongside dinosaurs.

But it looks like people don't really reject the idea of evolution on the whole. Just certain uncomfortable aspects of it. The statistics listed on Science magazine's survey seem to indicate that the public has a harder time swallowing the idea that man evolved from earlier species (40% believe that we did evolve, 39% believe we absolutely did not evolve) than it does with the idea that evolution happens at all (78% believe that some animals adapt to the environment in time, while only 3% believe they do not).

According to a Gallup poll from 1991, only 5% of scientists believe in some form of special creation. But that figure takes into account all scientists and engineers from all fields, including those that are completely unrelated to the theory of evolution (such as computer science), so it may be a bit generous. When that figure is adjusted to deal with only the scientists in biological and earth scientists, less than 0.15% believe in creationism. And that's just in the United States. The figure drops even lower in the countries ranked higher than ours.

So basically, there is a huge gap between the opinions of people who study this stuff for a living and the everyday man on the streets. Why the disconnect? It's most likely a result of the concerted efforts of certain religious groups (mostly biblical literalists) to undermine the scientific theory of evolution in the public sphere. There's an interesting story here about evangelicals in Kenya who are basically trying to hide a fossil exhibit on human evolution. There is also the long history in the United States of various creation science groups attempting to inject criticisms and alternatives to evolution into high school curriculums.

1 comment:

Insouciance said...

This is an interesting graph but sadly, the US is in it's typical place trailing the world in its disgust of science.

Evolution is where it's at. We all need to work on our own evolution everyday.