Polling evolution down under

A national survey reveals that one in ten Australians do not believe in evolution — and three in ten think that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. The survey, conducted by Auspoll for the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies and the Australian Academy of Science, was intended to assess the level of science literacy in Australia.

Asked "[d]o you think that evolution is occurring?" 71% of the respondents preferred "Yes, I think evolution is currently occurring," 8% preferred, "No, I do not think evolution is currently occurring," and 10% preferred "No, I do not believe in evolution at all"; 11% were not sure. Men, people aged 18-24 years, and people with higher levels of education were more likely to select the yes response.

Also among the questions was "Is the following statement true or false? The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs." Of the respondents, 70% deemed the statement false, 30% true, and none were unsure. People aged 45-64 years and people with less education were the most likely to think that humans lived during the time of the dinosaurs.

Jenny Graves of the Australian Academy of Science told The Age (August 1, 2010), "None of us are all that surprised because we have been aware for a few years that Australia is losing ground in science and maths but it's a real wake-up call that ... we have a very sizeable number of people who really don't understand some of the absolute basics of our lives."

The survey was conducted on-line July 20-22, 2010. According to the report (PDF), "Respondents were drawn from a professional social and market research panel. The overall sample size was 1515, segmented and weighted to be nationally representative of Australia's population by gender, age and residential location." The accuracy of the results is +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level.