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Survey Shows Widening Political Divide Over Evolution

Posted by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 3:54 PM
  • 92 Replies

 

Political divide over evolution is growing, new Pew survey shows

2 hours ago

Image: Evolution display
Hulton Archive / Getty Images file
A display of a series of skeletons shows a progression of primates leading to humans at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven, Conn., circa 1935.

Fewer than half of the Republicans surveyed in a fresh assessment of American attitudes toward evolution said they agree with the view that humans and other creatures have evolved over time.

That's a significant shift since 2009, the last time the Washington-based Pew Research Center asked Americans about the evolution issue. Moreover, the gap between Republicans and Democrats is growing.

The latest survey, released Monday, suggests that at the widest scale, acceptance of evolutionary theory is about the same as it was four years earlier. Sixty percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that "humans and other living things have evolved over time," while 33 percent said "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time." However, there were sharp differences in some of the demographic breakdowns.

Image: attitudes on evolution
Pew Research Center

For example, 43 percent of Republicans acknowledged evolution, compared with 67 percent of Democrats. Among white evangelical Protestants, 64 percent said humans have always existed in their present form, while only 15 percent of white mainline Protestants agreed.

This year's Republican-Democrat gap was 24 percentage points, compared with a 10-point gap in 2009 and a 13-point gap in 2005. Pew's researchers said party differences remained even when other factors — such as the racial and ethnic composition of the political groups, and religious and educational background — were taken into account.

"It's an intriguing finding that is suggestive of greater polarization," Cary Funk, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project and Social & Demographic Trends project, told NBC News.

Pew's survey indicated that changing the wording of the survey question from "humans and other living things" to "animals and other living things" made little difference in the response.

Based on studies of our planet's past, the scientific consensus holds that organisms have evolved and given rise to new species over the past several billion years. Public acceptance of evolutionary theory in the United States, however, tends to lag behind other countries. A 2005 analysis of survey results from 34 countries, conducted for the journal Science, put the United States in 33rd place when it comes to embracing evolution — ahead of only Turkey.

This year's nationwide Pew survey was conducted via telephone between March 31 and April 8, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults aged 18 or older. The margin of sampling error is 3.0 percentage points.

by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 3:54 PM
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Replies (1-10):
OHgirlinCA
by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 3:57 PM
4 moms liked this

 All I can do is shake my head... It really amazes and concerns me how  so many still believe that humans and other living things are the way they always have been in their present form. 

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 30, 2013 at 3:58 PM

Fewer than 10% of the general population will respond to surveys, ever, and lots of people who will ever respond openly acknowledge that they lie.

I don't really care what surveys say, even after I answer them.

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Dec. 30, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Not the least because of the changing influenza viruses... ;)

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 All I can do is shake my head... It really amazes and concerns me how  so many still believe that humans and other living things are the way they always have been in their present form. 


LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:02 PM
7 moms liked this
That's just sad. Silver lining, less competition for science scholarships.
MsDenuninani
by A.Ham on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Just depressing.

I really wonder what is driving the political gap, though.  What about Republicans or conservatism is so incompatible with science?  Is it really just that conservatives tend to more likely be church-goers?

rfurlongg
by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM
2 moms liked this
Frightening. Truly frightening. The shunning of science will be our dark ages.

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 All I can do is shake my head... It really amazes and concerns me how  so many still believe that humans and other living things are the way they always have been in their present form. 

OHgirlinCA
by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:10 PM

 That's one way to look at it...

Quoting LauraKW: That's just sad. Silver lining, less competition for science scholarships.

 

AdrianneHill
by Ruby Member on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:16 PM
2 moms liked this
I don't know how many really believe that or have decided that is what they are supposed to believe. It's not a belief, it's an identification system. They know that their allies ascribe to this belief so they claim it as well out of solidarity. When you ask some of these people very specific questions, most do accept the reality of species changing over time but they are conditioned to answer as though they don't

Quoting MsDenuninani:

Just depressing.


I really wonder what is driving the political gap, though.  What about Republicans or conservatism is so incompatible with science?  Is it really just that conservatives tend to more likely be church-goers?

OHgirlinCA
by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:19 PM
2 moms liked this

 I think that the Republicans are really attracting the Religious Right right now while many traditionally fiscally Conservatives have left the party, so  that may explain those numbers.  But, the numbers for Independents went up to in regards to believing we've always existed as is also

I'm concerned with all of the parties to be honest with you.  More than 25% from each of them that believe we've always existed as is.  That's dismal! 

Quoting MsDenuninani:

Just depressing.

I really wonder what is driving the political gap, though.  What about Republicans or conservatism is so incompatible with science?  Is it really just that conservatives tend to more likely be church-goers?

 

OHgirlinCA
by on Dec. 30, 2013 at 4:20 PM
That could very well be...
Quoting rfurlongg: Frightening. Truly frightening. The shunning of science will be our dark ages.

Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 All I can do is shake my head... It really amazes and concerns me how  so many still believe that humans and other living things are the way they always have been in their present form. 

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