Americans Want Both Sides of Evolution
Special Report - February 16, 2009
The overwhelming majority of Americans in a recent Zogby poll support teaching both sides of the evolution debate, and support academic freedom for students and teachers on the issue. Zogby International conducted the nationwide poll of 1,053 “likely” voters on January 29-31. Participants were presented with two statements regarding the teaching of evolution and asked to pick the one that came closest to their view. According to the findings, 78 percent said that “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution but also the scientific evidence against it,” while only 14 percent said “Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s theory of evolution and the scientific evidence that supports it.” The percentage of Americans who support teaching both sides of the evolution debate has increased by nine points since the same question was asked by Zogby in a 2006 poll.
The latest Zogby poll also found that 80 percent of those surveyed either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that “teachers and students should have academic freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution as a scientific theory.” Only 16 percent disagreed with that statement. In addition, 76 percent agreed with Darwin’s famous quote regarding his theory of evolution that a “fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” Only 19 percent of those surveyed disagreed with Darwin’s quote.
“Media reports insinuate that a right-wing conspiracy of know-nothings and religious extremists is afoot,” said Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “But the new Zogby poll reveals a broad-based and well-informed public consensus for academic freedom on evolution.”
Dr. West added, “Clearly, the Darwin-only crowd is losing public support. 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.”
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