Reporting of poll results is not good at the best of times. But it seems polls surveying attitudes towards evolutionary science almost inevitably are reported with an anti-science basis. It’s not just creationist sources like the Discovery Institute with their bogus polls (eg. Darwin Day Poll Shatters Stereotypes). Recently we had the Theos poll in the UK which was reported as Poll reveals public doubts over Darwin’s theory of evolution – but could equally have been reported as 78% of Britons support Darwin?.
Now we have the US Gallup poll headlined On Darwin’s Birthday, Only 4 in 10 Believe in Evolution. But that could also have been reported with headlines unfavourable to the anti-evolution brigade. For example:
Only 25% of American oppose evolution.
The data shows that only 25% oppose evolution which is not very different to New Zealand (see New Zealand supports evolution). The real scandal, though, is that 36% have no opinion.
Opposition to evolution declines with education
While 27% of those with high school or less education oppose evolution this drops to 11% of people with postgraduate education.
Church attendance encourages anti-science attitudes
Whereas only 11% of those who don’t attend church oppose evolution this increases to 41% for those attending church weekly.
The way polls are reported, and especially the headlines, is important because the tone and claims of the initial report usually gets picked up and uncritically repeated by most of the rest of the news media. Very rarely do the secondary news sources actually check the data to see if the original interpretations and bias are correct.
Its worth critical readers hunting down the actual data and checking for themselves.
See also: The Debate Over Evolution