Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Museum Goers Support Evolution
A. J. Hostetler of The Richmond Times reports:
In a survey presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, 9 percent of those visiting one of six participating museums said they reject the theory of evolution.
The rejection rates ranged from a high of 16 percent at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum -- located in a battleground state for the debate over evolution -- to a low of 2 percent at the Page Museum at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in California.
Lynn Dierking of the Institute for Learning Innovation in Annapolis, Md., who assisted in analyzing the survey, said it showed that museum visitors tend to have some insight of biological change over time; fossils as evidence of past animal or plant life; and stratigraphy as a way of using the Earth's layered rock to understand its past.
However, Dierking added that many participants failed to understand that evolution is a continuing process happening now, as can be seen in the avian-flu crisis that has spread beyond Asia to Europe or in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Museums need to do a better job in addressing that lack of knowledge, she said.