Better Knowledge of Evolution Leads to Greater Acceptance of the Concept

February 7, 2018

Prevailing theories about evolution state that belief in the concept is tied only to a person’s politics, religion, or both. But according to new research published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biology, whether Americans accept or reject the subject also depends on how well they understand it. 

“We find the traditional relationship between your religious beliefs and evolution, and between your political beliefs and evolution, but we also find that those are not the only factors that matter,” says Deena Weisberg, a senior fellow in Penn’s psychology department. “They do matter, but if you know more about evolutionary theory, if you understand it better, you’re more likely to accept it.”

​​​​​​​That’s positive news for educators, says Michael Weisberg, professor and chair of Penn’s philosophy department. “For controversial topics—evolution, climate change, vaccines—no doubt the controversy is explained in relation to a person’s identity. But actual knowledge of the science seems to play a role, and we’ve documented that here for evolution for the first time in a representative population.”

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