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New polling data on evolution

July 1, 2009

Some new polling data on the lack of acceptance of evolution.

The Discovery Institute is touting a poll that they commissioned from Zogby which claims that 52% of the American public believe that “the development of life was guided by intelligent design.”

An Ipsos/Mori poll in the UK shows that only 33% of the American public thinks that “scientific evidence for evolution exists”. This compares with 51% in Britain and 8% in Egypt. While the poll considered additional countries, I’ve tabulated results for Britain, the US and Eqypt (as a representative Muslim country) The full dataset is available online.


Draw you own conclusions. I will note that if you take the Zogby result that 51% believe in guided “development of life” and the result that 53% hold that you can believe in evolution and God, it probably means that a large proportion of the 51% (and thus the American public) are in fact theistic evolutionists, a group that is anathema to ID proponents. Let’s just remind ourselves of some statements by ID supporters:

  • “Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution.” William Dembski (1995)
  • “Theistic evolution is exactly the same thing as atheistic evolution only with some meaningless, vacuous God-talk spread around. It’s not really an intellectually honest position at all; it’s a kind of political compromise.” Phillip E. Johnson (2001)
  • “Liberal Christians are worse than atheists because they hide their naturalism behind a veneer of religion.” Johnson (2001)

And that’s only a sampling. I think it is fair to say that the 51% include a fair number of people that would not actually support the Discovery Institutes position.

  1. July 1, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    55% of Americans think they know a good/fair amount about evolution, compared to 45% in the UK, yet only 84% of Americans have so much as *heard* of Darwin, compared to 91% of those in the UK.

    I wonder how many of those 55% who think they know a good/fair amount about evolution are wrong. 90%? They should have included a few evolution knowledge questions in the survey to determine that.

  2. July 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    There’s fun and games over at UD on the DI’s poll – basically, the pro-evolution voices that haven’t been banned yet are pointing out that the data show a reduction in support for ID/creationism.

  3. July 1, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Heh! Same thought occurred to me.

    I seem to remember a survey from a few years back which showed that American students thought they knew more than they actually did about science. This could be a manifestation of the same thing: over-confidence.

  4. Robin
    July 1, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I know this was not the intent, but the summary of the data seems to indicate that 8% of Egyptians know nothing, 7% of Brits know nothing, and only 4% of we mighty Americans know nothing. While clearly the data means something else (likely knows nothing ‘about evolution and/or Darwin’), it did make me wonder how the polsters determine that certain people know nothing.

  5. July 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    My guess is they asked the interviewee whether they knew anything about evolution/Darwin.

  6. July 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    If you want to see some really funny results, a friend of mine did a big project for his masters a couple of years back on the views on evolution from people (students and professionals) in the life and social sciences. It is mind blowing how many social sciences reject evolution. And that’s for both the UK and US.

  7. July 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    [citation needed]


  8. Divalent
    July 1, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Egypt numbers don’t add up, unless a substantial number refused to give any answer for some questions.

  9. July 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    @ Divalent

    Appears to be the case. I checked my table against the original data.

  10. dogmeatIB
    July 3, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Actually the US numbers don’t quite add up either, knowledge ends up at 84%, evidence ends up at 80%, unless there were other responses.

    I agree that it is likely that a sizable majority who claim they know/understand evolution have no idea or know the creationist/ID “version” of evolution. I have students all the time in my European history class (when we discuss Darwin and 19th century intellectual developments) who insist they know what the theory of evolution is and then provide a ridiculous creationist cartoon version where fish morph into apes in front of your eyes, etc. Most of these students have already had biology by the time they have my class, including the coverage of evolution, many of them literally refuse to accept the actual evidence and stick to the things their preachers and parents told them.

  11. July 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I’ll try to get a copy and send it on!

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