Vast Majority Support Teaching Evidence For and Against Darwin’s Evolution Theory
February 11, 2009 - 7:50 PMA large majority of Americans think biology teachers should teach Charles Darwin's theory of evolution along with the scientific evidence against the theory, according to a poll by Zogby International. Thursday, Feb. 12, is the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.
The telephone survey of 1,053 likely voters by Zogby showed that 80 percent of Americans “agree that teachers and students should have the academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.”
Further, the poll showed that 78 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” That’s up from 69 percent from a 2006 poll.
On a related note, only 14 percent agreed with the statement that teachers “should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it” – and that is down from 21 percent in 2006. The current poll, conducted Jan. 29-31, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 points.
The poll was commissioned by the conservative Discovery Institute. Dr. John West, a senior fellow and vice president for public policy and legal affairs at the Institute, said the poll dispels myths about Americans’ view on the theory of evolution.
“Media reports insinuate that a right-wing conspiracy of know-nothings and religious extremists is afoot,” said West in a statement.
“But the new Zogby poll reveals a broad-based and well-informed public consensus for academic freedom on evolution. That consensus includes Democrats, Republicans, liberals, moderates, independents, and every race, gender and age group. The Darwin Lobby has isolated itself from public opinion,” he added.
The poll showed specifically, for example, that 82 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of liberals are more likely than 73 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of conservatives to support the idea that teachers and students should freely discuss the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution.”
The new poll numbers show that “the Darwin-only crowd is losing public support,” said West. “There seems to be a backlash against the strong-arm tactics that have been used in recent years to censor and intimidate scientists, teachers, and students who raise criticisms of Darwin.”