Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fox News Polling Data Shows Support for Evolution Increasing Exponentially

There's a new poll out on the percentage of Americans who agree with the scientific evidence in favor of the theory of evolution. The new poll was conducted by Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research for Fox News (polling data are here). The questions asked in the poll are very similar to those in the periodic polls on this question conducted by the Gallup organization (their polling data are here).

As a professional evolutionary biologist and someone who has followed this debate for decades, I find the Fox News poll results surprisingly encouraging. Although the fraction of the American public that agrees with the Young Earth Creationist position hasn't changed significantly for almost half a century, the fraction that agrees with the position taken by evolutionary biologists has increased very significantly since the Gallup organization first polled Americans on this question in 1982.

Here are the data, in chronological order:

Percent of Americans agreeing with evolutionary theory:

1982 9%
1994 11%
2002 12%
2006 14%

2011 21%

From 9% to 21% in only twenty-nine years (i.e. less than two generations)! If you plot the data, the increase is clearly exponential, with the inflection point at around 2006 (i.e. following the Kitzmiller-Dover decision). At the current exponential rate of increase, the "evolutionary biology" position should be the majority position within another generation. This is why we need to keep presenting the science, and why creationists (including the "intelligent design" variety) are their own worst enemies.


As always, comments, criticisms, and suggestions are warmly welcomed!


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At 9/11/2011 01:09:00 AM, Blogger Mark the Searcher said...

I just found a poll from Gallup with data from 2009 in which 39% of the participants said that they believed in evolution. Gallup also had a lot of interesting demographic information. I have the results linked to my blog.

Also, I'm personally trying to become more educated about evolution (that's how I found your blog in the first place). I'm going to read through what you have here, but since you teach on the subject if you have any resources or thoughts to send my way, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

At 10/02/2011 06:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

considering the public is consistently presented only one side of the story in classrooms and the media, it's surprising that the numbers for evolution-believing Americans isn't higher.

I am one of the Americans who do not believe everything got here by chance, by survival of the luckiest....just strikes me as a ridiculous theory.

At 11/15/2011 07:01:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Evolution doesn't posit that everything has "got here" by chance. It does argue that it's a process of continual change in which chance plays a part, and natural forces take some decisive advantages accordingly. Disagreements as to how and why that's done abound, but no supernatural agents are needed to take that responsibility - it would seem clear now that life has taken that burden for itself quite seriously.

At 12/26/2011 11:30:00 PM, Blogger ziggie said...

Pretty much your entire conclusion is based on one data point that comes from a different source and presumably a different methodology from all the rest. Normally, outlying data points are identified as such and rejected in order to avoid jumping to unwarranted conclusions. I would also like to see your conclusion become reality, but I think it's still early days for this.

At 1/30/2012 10:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am astonished that only few american believe in evolution...
they are all blinded by religion bullshit....

At 5/12/2012 04:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


These questions are provided by Dr. Hovind and Creation Science Evangelism

1. Where did the space for the universe come from?
2. Where did matter come from?
3. Where did the laws of the universe come from (gravity, inertia, etc.)?
4. How did matter get so perfectly organized?
5. Where did the energy come from to do all the organizing?
6. When, where, why, and how did life come from dead matter?
7. When, where, why, and how did life learn to reproduce itself?
8. With what did the first cell capable of sexual reproduction reproduce?
9. Why would any plant or animal want to reproduce more of its kind since this would only make more mouths to feed and decrease the chances of survival? (Does the individual have a drive to survive, or the species? How do you explain this?)
10. How can mutations (recombining of the genetic code) create any new, improved varieties? (Recombining English letters will never produce Chinese books.)
11. Is it possible that similarities in design between different animals prove a common Creator instead of a common ancestor?
12. Natural selection only works with the genetic information available and tends only to keep a species stable. How would you explain the increasing complexity in the genetic code that must have occurred if evolution were true?
13. When, where, why, and how did
a. Single-celled plants become multi-celled? (Where are the two and three-celled intermediates?)
b. Single-celled animals evolve?
c. Fish change to amphibians?
d. Amphibians change to reptiles?
e. Reptiles change to birds? (The lungs, bones, eyes, reproductive organs, heart, method of locomotion, body covering, etc., are all very different!)
f. How did the intermediate forms live?
14. When, where, why, how, and from what did:
a. Whales evolve?
b. Sea horses evolve?
c. Bats evolve?
d. Eyes evolve?
e. Ears evolve?
f. Hair, skin, feathers, scales, nails, claws, etc., evolve?
15. Which evolved first (how, and how long, did it work without the others)?
a. The digestive system, the food to be digested, the appetite, the ability to find and eat the food, the digestive juices, or the body’s resistance to its own digestive juice (stomach, intestines, etc.)?
b. The drive to reproduce or the ability to reproduce?
c. The lungs, the mucus lining to protect them, the throat, or the perfect mixture of gases to be breathed into the lungs?
d. DNA or RNA to carry the DNA message to cell parts?
e. The termite or the flagella in its intestines that actually digest the cellulose?
f. The plants or the insects that live on and pollinate the plants?
g. The bones, ligaments, tendons, blood supply, or muscles to move the bones?
h. The nervous system, repair system, or hormone system?
i. The immune system or the need for it?
16. There are many thousands of examples of symbiosis that defy an evolutionary explanation. Why must we teach students that evolution is the only explanation for these relationships?
17. How would evolution explain mimicry? Did the plants and animals develop mimicry by chance, by their intelligent choice, or by design?
18. When, where, why, and how did man evolve feelings? Love, mercy, guilt, etc. would never evolve in the theory of evolution.
19. How did photosynthesis evolve?
20. How did thought evolve?
21. How did flowering plants evolve, and from what?
22. What kind of evolutionist are you? Why are you not one of the other eight or ten kinds?
23. What would you have said fifty years ago if I told you I had a living coelacanth in my aquarium?
24. Is there one clear prediction of macroevolution that has proved true?
25. What is so scientific about the idea of hydrogen gas becoming human?
26. Do you honestly believe that everything came from nothing?

At 3/21/2013 12:56:00 PM, Blogger nude0007 said...

first, wow, the total ignorance of the last post about science and evolution is unbelievable! Just to touch on a couple of the ones totally outside of that realm:
there are only 8-10 different kinds of evolutionists, as opposed to 30000 different kinds of religions calling themselves christian? I think that's pretty good. even if it were true that there are 8-10 different kinds, what does that prove? first, what is an "evolutionist" anyway?
also, it is CHRISTIANS who believe everything came from nothing. They claim a god poofed it into existence. Abiogenesis shows a rational explanation backed by known facts to explain it as best we can.

At 3/21/2013 12:58:00 PM, Blogger nude0007 said...

I would sincerely like to see a list of all scientists who acknowledge evolution, or one that shows a current percentage. I can't seem to find it anywhere.

At 6/13/2013 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Joe G said...

The poll asks about the "theory" of evolution. My bet is that those polled couldn't even tell you what the "theory" of evolution says.

And the poll didn't even include Intelligent Design. IOW the poll was poorly worded.

I would love to see if any of that 21% could even produce a testable hypotrhesis for blind and undirected chemical processes producing something like a bacterial flagellum.


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