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Evolution News and Views

The More They Know Darwin, The Less They Want Darwin-Only Indoctrination

According to an international poll released by the British Council, the majority of Americans -- 60% -- support teaching alternatives to evolution in the science classroom. The percentage is the same for Britons, despite the fact that both countries have been inundated with pro-Darwin media coverage in this super-mega Darwin Year.

Of course, the British media reporting this are chagrined. Britain is the birthplace of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, and the official-sounding British Council, the UK group behind the "Darwin Now" campaign that commissioned the Ipsos MORI poll, have spent precious resources educating the world about Darwin. Now some believe the poll shows that efforts by Darwinist organizations aren't working.

Head of the British Council's Darwin Now program Fern Elsdon-Baker said, "Overall these results may reflect the need for a more sophisticated approach to teaching and communicating how science works as a process."

While Darwin's apologists might try to explain the poll numbers as an example of ignorance influencing people's beliefs, the numbers themselves suggest a different picture.

Across the board, most respondents from the ten countries polled thought that "other perspectives on the origins of species" "such as intelligent design and creationism" should be taught in science class*. When the poll is weighted to include only those respondents who have heard of Charles Darwin and know something about his theory of evolution, the percentage supporting alternate theories increases, from 60% to 66% in Britain and 60% to 64% in the U.S.

The correlation appears again when we consider which countries have more knowledge of Darwin's theory. The highest numbers of those in support of alternative theories in the classroom correspond to the highest numbers of those familiar with Charles Darwin -- 60% in Britain, 65% in Mexico, 61% in China, 66% in Russia, and 60% in the U.S. It appears that the more people know about Darwin's theory, the more they want to see alternatives in science class.

The basic truth is that most people want evolution to have to compete for its place of dominance in their schools. Interestingly, the U.S. was the only nation with significant knowledge of Darwin where respondents chose the option "theories about the origins of species and development of life on earth should not be taught in science lessons at all." 14% chose that, compared with 3% in Britain.

*This takes both those who select "other perspectives" only and those who select "other perspectives" together with "evolutionary theories." It should be noted that Discovery Institute opposes efforts to mandate teaching alternative theories in the science classroom -- we'd rather have the whole picture of evolution, the scientific arguments both for and against the theory, presented instead.