No Missing Link: Knowledge Predicts Acceptance of Evolution in the United States

Americans have a fraught relationship with evolutionary theory. Despite widespread acceptance of this theory in the scientific community (Funk and Rainie 2015), public-opinion surveys have demonstrated that 38% of Americans identify as creationists (Swift 2017) and 52% disagree that human beings developed from earlier species of animals (National Science Board 2016). International comparisons show that these views are extreme, particularly among westernized countries: In a comparison of 34 countries, the United States ranks second to last in public acceptance of evolution (Miller et al. 2006). This large-scale rejection of the scientific consensus has troubling implications for science literacy and for public engagement in ­science more generally.

The goal of the current study is to expand on work documenting why ordinary Americans hold such views about evolutionary theory. In particular, this study focuses on the role of knowledge of evolutionary theory in supporting acceptance of it. CONT.

Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Asheley R. Landrum, S. Emlen Metz & Michael Weisberg, BioScience