Evolution deniers are finally a minority in the United States

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A skull on display as part of the Neanderthal exhibition at the Musée de l'Homme in Paris on March 26, 2018.

A skull on display as part of the Neanderthal exhibition at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris on March 26, 2018.
Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP (Getty Images)

Americans continue to have a difficult relationship with science, modern medicine, and sometimes reality, but a review of annual surveys from 1985 to 2019 he yields some good news: more than half of the participants surveyed believed in the science of evolution. It’s a victory, I imagine.

Almost a century ago, the 1925 telescope test pitted a science teacher and his curriculum (which included the theory of evolution) against the state of Tennessee, which had just banned the subject at schools because, they said, he contradicted the creation story of the Bible. Theory of evolution is the idea that living organisms change over time, adapting to their environment by a process called natural selection. The naturalist Charles Darwin observed and chronicles such adaptations in the beaks of finches of the Galapagos Islands. Like any other living thing, humans have evolved over time, and it is this fact that seems the most problematic for some people.

Over the decades, more and more Americans have accepted evolution by natural selection as the driving force behind life on Earth. For a long time, however, the split was roughly half and half, but a new study from the University of Michigan has found that deniers are finally in the minority. The paper-published this week in the journal Public Understanding of Science — examined opinions on evolution in opinion polls conducted since 1985. It found that a recent increase has pushed Americans halfway into believing the theory advanced by Darwin in his 1859 book. About the origin of species.

Men buying books.

Anti-evolution books sold in Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes trial took place.
Photo: Thematic press agency (Getty Images)

“From 1985 to 2010, there was a statistical deadlock between the acceptance and rejection of evolution“said Jon D. Miller, a researcher specializing in public understanding of science at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. and main author of the article, in a university press dlease. “But acceptance then surged, becoming the majority position in 2016.”

The surveys analyzed by the the team was led by the National Science Board, NASA and affiliates of the National Science Foundation, who posed the following statement to American adults to agree or disagree with: “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier animal species.” For the first 20 years of thIn the study, the yes and no results were fairly consistent. This is no longer the case: 54% of survey participants agreed with the statement in 2019.

In a time filled with disinformation, mistrust of expertise, and total madness, some people before fans of the idea of ​​evolution decided it wasn’t so bad. It may be because the deniers have evolved to hotter topics like covid-19 and climate change. Evolution is just… an old hat, maybe.

Although the number of participants who identified While religious fundamentalists have declined over the past decade, the research team found that even these individuals began to come. In 1988, only 8% of the self-described fundamentalists have accepted evolution; in 2019, the number was 32%.

Co-author Mark Ackerman noted that more than twice as many Americans had college degrees in 2018 than in 1988; while this may play a role, the clearest connection is political. In 2019, the most recent year included in the job, only 34% of people who identified as conservative Republican said they accepted the evolution, while 83% of people who identified as Liberal Democrats did said the same thing.

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