The level of public acceptance of evolution in the United States is now solidly above the halfway mark, according to a new study based on a series of national public opinion surveys conducted over the last 35 years.
“From 1985 to 2010, there was a statistical dead heat between acceptance and rejection of evolution,” said lead researcher Jon D. Miller of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. “But acceptance then surged, becoming the majority position in 2016.”
Examining data over 35 years, the study consistently identified aspects of education—civic science literacy, taking college courses in science, and having a college degree—as the strongest factors leading to the acceptance of evolution.
“Almost twice as many Americans held a college degree in 2018 as in 1988,” said co-author Mark Ackerman, a researcher at Michigan Engineering, the U-M School of Information and Michigan Medicine. “It’s hard to earn a college degree without acquiring at least a little respect for the success of science.”
The researchers analyzed a collection of biennial surveys from the National Science Board, several national surveys funded by units of the National Science Foundations, and a series focused on adult civic literacy funded by DOI: 10.1177/09636625211035919
Besides Miller and Ackerman, the authors are Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education; Belén Laspra of the University of Oviedo in Spain; and Carmelo Polino of the University of Oviedo and Centre Redes in Argentina; and Jordan Huffaker of U-M.