Many Americans reject evolution, deny climate change and find GM food unsafe, survey finds. This study points to worrying gulf between the opinions held by scientists: Many Americans reject evolution, deny climate change and find GM food unsafe, survey finds.
The report by the Pew Research Center in Washington DC was conducted with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and sought to compare the opinions of a cross-section of the US public with those held by the AAAS’s scientific members.
Published in the journal Science, the survey found that 31% of the US public believed that humans had existed in their present form since the beginning, with a further 24% stating that humans had evolved under the guiding hand of a supreme being. In contrast, only 2% of AAAS scientists said humans had not evolved in their time on Earth.
The proportion of the public who believed evolution had happened through natural processes, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago, was only slightly greater than a third at 35%. The survey drew on phone interviews with 2,002 US adults chosen to be representative of the nation, and online questions of 3,748 US-based members of the AAAS.
In some cases, a poor science education was at the heart of the differences in opinion, Leshner said. “Sometimes it’s simply a lack of understanding, sometimes it’s an economic or a politicial issue, and sometimes it’s a conflict between, say, core religious belief, or core values, and what science is showing,” he said. “In all of these cases, science is being trumped by these other factors and scientists need to do something to turn that around.”
“It’s not about whether the public is dumb or not. It’s partly a function of the American educational system that does a terrible job … at educating young people in science, math and technology,” he added.
Update: Article in today’s NYT shows majority backing for action on Climate Change.