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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