Polling evolution down under again

A national survey reveals that one in eleven Australians does not believe in evolution — and three in eleven think that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

The survey, conducted by Auspoll for the Australian Academy of Science, was intended to assess the level of science literacy in Australia. The survey used the same questions as a previous poll of Australians conducted in 2010 and the California Academy of Sciences in 2009.

Although a press release issued by the Australian Academy of Science on July 17, 2013, observed, "the science literacy of young Australian adults has fallen in the last three years," comparing the survey results to the results from the 2010 poll, the percentage of respondents answering the questions about evolution and the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans correctly in fact increased slightly.

In the 2013 survey, 73% of respondents said that "The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs" (presumably "non-avian dinosaurs" was intended) was false while 27% said that it was true; "people with less education and older people" were the most likely to say that it was true. In 2010, 70% of respondents said that "The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs" was false while 30% said that it was true.

Also in 2013, 70% of respondents agreed that evolution is occurring, 10% said that it is not currently occurring, 9% said that they do not believe in evolution, and 12% were not sure; "men and people with higher education" were more likely to agree. In 2010, the figures were very similar, with 71% agreeing that evolution is occurring, 8% saying that evolution is not currently occurring, 10% rejecting evolution, and 11% unsure.

The survey was conducted on-line May 7-10, 2013. 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 interval.

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