Credit: Daniel Xu

A new study conducted by Penn researchers has shown that an American's level of knowledge of evolution directly correlates with his or her belief in the discipline. 

The study, published on Feb. 7 in BioScience journal, concluded that those who know more about evolution are more likely to accept it regardless of political or religious beliefs. This contradicts what researchers previously theorized: that acceptance of evolution was dependent on personally held beliefs. 

The findings of this study have given rise to questions about the correlation between education and acceptance of scientific findings. 

“For controversial topics — evolution, climate change, vaccines — no doubt the controversy is explained in relation to a person’s identity," Penn professor and Philosophy Chair Michael Weisberg said to Penn News. "But actual knowledge of the science seems to play a role, and we’ve documented that here for evolution for the first time in a representative population.”

Research conducted in this study took an in-depth look at beliefs about and knowledge of evolution among the general public. The study polled 1,100 people from across the United States with carefully-crafted questions that offered insight into their views on creationism, evolution, and understanding of evolutionary theory. 

Findings from the study, as reported by ZME Science, showed that 68 percent of participants were unable to answer questions about evolutionary theory. In addition, 26 percent of those involved in the study held views in line with creationism while 32 percent believed in evolution. 

According to Penn News, these researchers are still studying the survey's data and are also investigating which media and interventions may be used most effectively to educate Americans about evolution.  

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