Evolution now accepted by majority of Americans

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The headline table from the underlying paper:

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The following caught my attention:

While their numbers declined slightly in the last decade, approximately 30% of Americans continue to be religious fundamentalists as defined in the study. But even those who scored highest on the scale of religious fundamentalism shifted toward acceptance of evolution, rising from 8% in 1988 to 32% in 2019.

Link to source paper:

Public acceptance of evolution in the United States, 1985–2020

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Over the last few years, there has been a lot of evidence giving details of the evolution of homo sapiens – which is the species that most concerns evolution denialists. And then, over the last few month, people have been watching reports on the evolution of COVID-19. It is becoming increasing difficult to deny evolution.

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Thanks @tim.

So most of the shift is undecideds moving to accept? The hard nut to crack still isn’t cracked then.

Hehehehe these hard nuts love to ask, “where you there”?

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There is a slow over-all drop off in rejection (approx 47% in 1985 to 35% in 2020 --that’s about a quarter of them).

What it looks like is that there was a slow flow of both acceptance and rejection to don’t know between 1985 and 2007, and then the don’t knows migrated fairly strongly to acceptance after that, but with some ‘backflows’ against this trend since 2017.

Is this backflow the start of a new trend, or merely a temporary hiccup? Only time will tell.

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What happened in 2017 that impacted the trajectory?

I couldn’t tell you. I’m not even entirely sure if it is a new trend.

I doubt if it is politics – as neither 2007 nor 2017 fit the presidential cycle (and are off from the cycle in opposite directions), plus political views have become increasingly intransigent in the US recently. Probably some interplay of educational and religious trends (as those tend to be the biggest drivers of acceptance of evolution).

Evolution news will
Come out with an article in the next day or so about how the questions asked were unclear. They do every time this survey comes out .

I don’t really know. But that is when Donald Trump, the president selected by fundamentalist Christians, was inaugurated.

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Yes, but that was the high point of acceptance, after which it eased off in 2018, crept up very slightly in 2019 and then eased further in 2020. Over those three years rejection had a slower but steady increase, and don’t knows bounced around as well.

If anything, this speaks to me of increased volatility in the last 4 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s disruptive influence fed into it somehow, but exactly how is anybody’s guess.

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I predict the Delta variant will push this even higher. :wink:

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The 2016 election marked a consolidation in partisan divide that emanates into many domains. A lot of conservative leaners who occasionally held diverse opinions (e.g., on biological origins) invested their identities into “MAGA” and the large socio-political-economic-religious package it entails.

I see evidence of this in a #BlackLivesMatter research paper in which I examine Twitter trends from 2014 - 2020. After applying the Leiden community detection algorithm to a graph with retweet edges, all of the English language anti-BLM tweets are consolidated into a single community, while activist communities are heterogeneously distributed across many affiliations such as geographical location, career, campus, etc. Also, one of the interesting things that I picked up from a StoryWrangler query is that during the period 2016 - early 2020, anti-BLM hashtags gradually approached BLM hashtags in frequency. So I infer that the conservative, anti-activist cluster (and its widely scoped ideology) grew in strength during those 4 years, while the energy of the progressive camp got scattered responding to the outrageous-tweet-of-the-day.

The implications are seen not just in anti-BLM hashtags and evolution rejection. They are also seen in the flourishing of QAnon, anti-mask protests, anti-vaxx sentiment, and suspicions of electoral fraud.

That’s my suggestion, for what it’s worth. If anyone is interested in seeing my paper once it’s revised and (hopefully) accepted, let me know. The working title is “Struggle, Surge, and Consolidation: A Longitudinal Analysis of the #BlackLivesMatter Activist and Counter-Protest Movements.”

Regards to all,
Chris

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YES!

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Where is this paper? would you post a link?

The paper is still under revision. YY Ahn of IU is my advisor/co-author. I will be happy to share it when it’s ready.

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The first home DNA test kits were marketed in 2017. I wonder how much impact, if any, that has had on the general public’s understanding of DNA and views on evolution. Just a thought.

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In other news

I’m fairly sure we’ve dealt with the underlying survey previously.

Specifically, on this thread: