Friday, January 12, 2007

Belief in evolution and political views

This week's issue of Science (Jan 12) has published a letter by Allan Mazur of Syracuse University that shows that belief in evolution in US is higher amongst political liberals than political conservatives after controlling for education and religious denominations. This is based on a survey of 3673 American respondents, of which a majority (53%), in any case, considered this statement, "Human beings evolved from earlier species of animals" to be definitely or probably not true. Here is the figure showing survey results:

The percentage of respondents believing in human evolution is plotted simultaneously against political view (conservative, moderate, liberal), education (high school or less, some college, graduate school), and respondent’s religious denomination (fundamentalist or not). Belief in evolution rises along with political liberalism, independently of control variables.

At least education is still doing some good - belief in evolution is correlated positively with the level of education (with the exception of high school and college educated fundamentalists). I'm not sure what to make of the political result - perhaps a social scientists can shed more light on it and we defintely need more data. It will also be interesting to see if this political view correlation also exists in UK and other western European countries.

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