The Canadians are not only beating Americans in the crucial arena of genitalic dimensions, but they’re also, according to recent polls, far more sensible about evolution.
Monday’s Toronto Globe and Mail commisioned Ekos to survey Canadians for their attitudes about a diverse range of issues, including education, politics, leadership, decision making—and evolution. The specific question asked, about the origin of humans, is given in the chart below (taken from page 16 of the Ekos pdf), with the Canadian answers shown in red and, shown in blue for comparison, the answers of Americans to a similar question from a Gallup poll taken in December of 2010.
The Canadians have us licked seven ways from Sunday, with a whopping 58% accepting natural selection as the “cause” of humans, and only 33% accepting either the young-earth creationist or theistic evolution explanations. For Americans those figures are, respectively, 16% and 78%. In other words, Canadians are 3.6 times savvier than Americans about evolution.
These results are, of course, provisional, for the Canadian sample gives no standard errors, and is based on a sample of 984 people (the Gallup poll, however, has a similar sample size: 1,019).
In its report on these results, the National Center for Science Education gives this caveat:
As the political scientist and polling expert George Bishop observed, however, minor changes in the wording of poll questions about creationism and evolution can make a substantial difference in poll results.
But the Gallup question was nearly identical:
“Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings:
1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process;
2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process; or
3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”
I’m also heartened by this result from the Ekos poll:
UPDATE: A Harris Poll from 2005 gives the following data from the U.S., with the question asked in a different way:
“Which of the following do you believe about how human beings came to be? Human beings evolved from earlier species. Human beings were created directly by God. Human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.”
- Evolved from earlier species: 22%
- Created directly by God: 64%
- Powerful force/intelligent being: 10%
- Unsure: 4%
The proportion of Americans accepting evolution, even when there’s no mention of “God not having a role in this process” is still about the same as in the Gallup poll, so there’s not much influence of that phrase on evolution-acceptance.