2015 saw the Pew Research Center release findings from two surveys. It was found that there are substantial gaps on major science issues between American citizens and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). AAAS is the the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific professional society. The AAAS publishes Science magazine which is one of the most widely circulated peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world. The 111 page report and 34 page followup report on the results of the surveys focused primarily on the views of AAAS members as a whole. The strength of the study is that it provides a thorough window into the scientific world due to the breadth of disciplinary backgrounds and experiences surveyed.
According to Lee Rainie and Cary Funk (1), writing for the Pew Research Center, “On a topic such as evolution, there is near consensus among all disciplinary groups that humans and other living things have evolved over time… Virtually all AAAS members surveyed say “humans and other living things have evolved over time”: 98% of AAAS members in our sample say this and 99% of Working Ph.D. Scientists and Active Research Scientists say so. And nine-in-ten AAAS members say evolution has occurred due to natural processes, such as natural selection; a small minority (8%) says that evolution was guided by a supreme being… Among domain experts who are biomedical specialists, 98% say humans have evolved and nine-in-ten say evolution is due to natural processes.” This is very different to the beliefs about evolution among the general public. About two-thirds (65%) of Americans say humans and other living things have evolved over time while 31% say “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”
Support for human evolution among scientists is far beyond the support of other consensus views. For example, 86% say that parents should vaccinate their children, 87% believe that the Earth is warming due to human activity, 78% are in favour of increased use of genetically engineered plants as a fuel alternative to gasoline, and 82% believe population growth will be a major problem because there will not be enough food and resources to go around. Concerning human evolution support is at least a whole 10% to 12% higher than the scientific consensus on Earth warming due to human activity. It can be pointed out that support for human evolution is not just a consensus, it is an overwhelming consensus.
1. Rainie, L. & Funk, C. 2015. Elaborating on the Views of AAAS Scientists, Issue by Issue. p. 3. Available.