Een nieuwe studie bij 1200 Britse jongeren tussen 14 en 16 jaar in 70 klassen toont een opvallende correlatie. Waar je zou denken dat al dan niet geloven de belangrijkste factor is om de evolutietheorie te accepteren (iets wat bij Amerikaanse volwassenen eerder bleek), blijkt de aanleg voor wetenschap een veel belangrijkere rol te spelen dan welke mate de jongere al dan niet gelooft.
De onderzoekers stellen dat de Britse jongeren in hun steekproef die de evolutietheorie niet omarmden, dit meestal niet deden omdat deze theorie tegen hun geloof ingaat, maar wel omdat ze moeite hadden met de basisideeën.
Abstract van het onderzoek:
It is considered a myth that non-acceptance of scientific consensus on emotive topics is owing to difficulties processing scientific information and is, instead, owing to belief-associated psychological conflicts, the strongest non-acceptors being highly educated. It has been unclear whether these results from adults explain variation in response to school-level teaching. We studied a cohort of UK secondary school students (aged 14–16) and assessed their acceptance and understanding of evolution. In addition, to address their aptitude for science we assessed their understanding of genetics and their teacher-derived assessment of science aptitude. As both models predict, students with low initial evolution acceptance scores showed lower increases in the understanding of evolution. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this effect is better explained by lack of aptitude: before teaching, students with low acceptance had lower understanding of both evolution and of genetics; the low-acceptance students sat disproportionately in the foundation (rather than higher) science classes; low-acceptance students showed lower increments in the understanding of genetics; and student gain in the understanding of evolution correlated positively with gain in the understanding of genetics. We find no evidence either for a role for psychological conflict in determining response to teaching or that strong rejectors are more commonly of a higher ability. From qualitative data we hypothesize that religious students can avoid psychological conflict by adopting a compatibilist attitude. We conclude that there are students recalcitrant to the teaching of science (as currently taught) and that these students are more likely to not accept the scientific consensus. Optimizing methods to teach recalcitrant students is an important avenue for research.