Better Knowledge of Evolution Leads to Greater Acceptance of the Concept

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.”

Click here to read the full story.

Arts & Sciences News

John Lapinski to be named the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science

John Lapinski will be named the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science and the director of the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program effective July 1, 2018.

View Article >
Recipients of the 2018 Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students Announced

Eight graduate students from Penn Arts and Sciences to receive the prestigious award.

View Article >
Joseph S. Francisco Named President’s Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science

Joseph S. Francisco will join Penn as the President’s Distinguished Professor of Earth and Environmental Science, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Chemistry, on July 1, 2018.

View Article >
Michael C. Horowitz Awarded Department of Defense Grant to Lead Team on Study of Autonomous Systems and AI

Michael C. Horowitz, Professor of Political Science, will oversee the study of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

View Article >
Earthquakes at the Nanoscale

In collaboration with Robert Carpick and David Goldsby, Tian, who graduated from Penn in 2017 with a doctorate in physics, recently published a paper in Physical Review Letters which attempts to tackle these devastating natural phenomena by investigating the laws of friction at the smallest possible scale, the nanoscale.

View Article >
Doris Wagner Named Robert I. Williams Term Professor

A leader in the fields of plant biology, chromatin modification, and epigenetics, Wagner’s research focuses on understanding at the molecular level the complex changes that occur when an organism switches developmental programs.

View Article >