The British Council, a Royally Chartered organization involved in education, has completed a survey which indicates that there is “a broad international consensus of acceptance towards his theory of evolution.”

From the press release:

The research, conducted by Ipsos MORI, surveyed over ten thousand adults across ten countries worldwide including Argentina, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Great Britain and the USA.

The results show that the majority of people polled have heard of Charles Darwin with the highest levels of awareness in Russia (93%), Mexico (91%), Great Britain (91%), and China (90%) whilst less than half of people polled in Egypt (38%) and South Africa (27%) saying they had not heard of him. Overall, the majority (70%) of people surveyed have heard of the British naturalist.

Adults in the United States (84%) showed the highest levels of awareness and understanding of evolution and Darwin’s theories followed by Great Britain (80%) saying they had a ‘good or some knowledge’ of the theory of evolution

In all countries polled more people agreed than disagreed that it is possible to believe in a God and hold the view that life evolved on Earth by means of natural selection at the same time, with those in India most likely (85%) to be of this opinion, followed by Mexico (65%), Argentina (63%), South Africa, Great Britain (54%), USA, Russia (53%), Egypt, Spain (45%), and China (39%).

In six out of ten countries the majority of people who had heard of Charles Darwin and know something about his theory of evolution agreed with the view that there is enough scientific evidence that exists to support the theory against an overall average of 54 percent.

Only Russia (48%), USA (42%), South Africa (41%) and Egypt (25%) remained sceptical about the scientific evidence that exists to support Darwin’s theory.

The results also show that a significant proportion of those people surveyed in the USA, South Africa and India (43%) believe that all life on Earth, including human life, has always existed in its current form.

In all other countries, people in China (74%), Mexico (69%), Argentina (68%), Great Britain (63%) Russia, Spain (56%), and Egypt (52%) were of the view that more people thought that life on Earth, including human life, evolved over time either by a process guided by God or as a result of natural selection in which no God played a part.

Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker, Head of the British Council Darwin Now programme, said: ‘The international Darwin survey has thrown up some very interesting results, especially as it includes data from countries not previously covered before. The most encouraging aspect of the survey shows that whilst there are diverse views on Darwin’s theory of evolution, there appears to a broad acceptance that science and faith do not have to be in conflict. Whilst the results show that there is some way to go in communicating the evidence of evolutionary theory to wider audiences, it is evident that there is clear space for dialogue on this sometimes complex area of debate.’

The survey is now open to the public in each of these countries and can be completed by visiting the survey online. Over the coming months, this survey will create the largest data set ever gathered on the public’s understanding of evolutionary theory.

-ENDS-

For more information and to request a copy of the survey, please contact, Tony Stephenson, Adam Michael, or Benjamyn Tan on +44 (0) 20 7457 2020 or send them an email.

Notes to Editors

About Darwin Now

Darwin Now is the British Council’s contribution to the international celebration of the 200 year anniversary of Darwin’s birth (on the 12th February) and the 150 year anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ (on the 24th November). Through this international programme of activity the British Council is seeking to engage new audiences, to make Darwin’s theory of evolution relevant to their lives, and to encourage involvement and debate. Darwin Now will look at the impact of Darwin’s ideas and their impact on contemporary biology, medicine and society. It comprises a year long programme of activity including outreach work and exhibitions in schools and further education colleges, a mobile exhibition, interactive website with and supporting workshops. The campaign is expected to run in up to 50 countries worldwide, including the regions of Europe, North Africa, East Asia, America and Latin America.

In the UK, highlights include the British Science Association, Festival of Science in September, and a youth summit involving 60 students from around the world, which will be held at the Natural History Museum in July. The programme culminates in three-day international Darwin’s Darwin’s Living Legacy Conference on Science on Society, which will be in partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, between 14-16 November, 2009. For more information, please go to http://www.britishcouncil.org/darwin

The survey in Great Britain was conducted by Ipsos MORI between 3rd April and 9th April 2009. 973 interviews were completed amongst a nationally representative quota sample of adults aged 18 and over on an omnibus survey. Interviews were conducted face-to-face in the respondent’s home. Results have been weighted to the known population.

BC PR is here

Comments

  1. #1 Jason Thibeault
    July 7, 2009

    I have to wonder what, if any, questions were asked to test how good of an understanding respondents ACTUALLY had compared to their self-professed understanding, considering:

    Adults in the United States (84%) showed the highest levels of awareness and understanding of evolution and Darwin’s theories

    and yet 43% of US respondents believe all life has always existed on Earth in this form (e.g. creationism).

    There’s an email where you can request the survey questions. I think I’ll do so.

  2. #2 Jason Thibeault
    July 7, 2009

    Oh. Actually, it’s available online here:

    http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/survey.zgi?p=WEB229CD3MTHT5

    Aaaaand, it’s only self-identified understanding. No actual verification of understanding. Since most creationists hold a vastly caricatured image of evolution, I wouldn’t be surprised if fully half the respondents that say they understand it well and still believe life is static, don’t actually understand the theory at all.

  3. #3 arj
    July 7, 2009

    I don’t mean to pre-judge this without reading the actual methodology, but survey “research” is notoriously weak and shallow even when done by the most reputable of agencies. Semantics alone (but also sampling difficulties) make it almost impossible to do rigorously scientific surveys, other than on ‘yes-and-no’ type questions.

  4. #4 José
    July 8, 2009

    Where does the expression “batshit crazy” come from? Do bats have shit that is somehow crazier than other animals? Does bat shit dance and sing or something cool like that? I once saw some turtle shit, and let me tell you that shit was off the hook.

    I’m going to work on turning this paragraph into a haiku now.

  5. #5 catgirl
    July 8, 2009

    Evolution denier is clearly a Poe. Creationists do not use the term “evolution denier” to describe themselves.

  6. #6 Kammy
    July 8, 2009

    @catgirl: What’s a Poe? I’m not up on my intartubz lingo, I guess. :)

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    July 8, 2009

    Kammy: That is from Poe’s Law which is itself a controversial thing. It says “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.”

    I think it is controversial on Wikipedia because there already was a “Poe’s Law” from Edgar himself, about poetry (how long a poem can be before you slip the poet some poison, or something).

  8. #8 Kammy
    July 8, 2009

    Thanks, Greg.

    So just to make sure I’m not being dense: According to intartubz Poe’s Law (not poet Poe’s law), Evolution denier is performing a parody by pretending everyone but herself is batshit crazy, and that you can actually shake Satan’s hand, and also that there was some concern that the physical space of Heaven may not have had room for her?

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    July 8, 2009

    Sort of, except that “Evolution Denier” is someone like you, or me, and is just faking it but we can’t tell because the most extreme parody is about as crazy as the craziness itself.

  10. #10 Eddie Janssen
    July 8, 2009

    Greg!
    It may be just the opposite: denialism is its own parody

  11. #11 Tim H
    July 8, 2009

    Where does the expression “batshit crazy” come from?

    Probably from the same place that gave us, “Crazy as a loon.” I have seen loons in the wild, and they always seemed to act in a perfectly rational manner. Is there an Avian DSM I could consult?

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    July 8, 2009

    See, the thing about batshit is that bats spend most of their non flying lives upside down …

  13. #13 Ramez Maluf
    August 14, 2009

    I didn’t understand Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker’s statement that “The most encouraging aspect of the survey shows that whilst there are diverse views on Darwin’s theory of evolution, there appears to a broad acceptance that science and faith do not have to be in conflict.”

    Why is that encouraging? What it actually means is that those people do not understand Darwin’s theory of evolution and may very likely not understand religion.