Evolutionary thinking among biology students in a third world country

João C. F. Cardoso, Uiara C. Rezende
2017 Evolution: Education and Outreach  
Evolutionary thinking is traditionally directly related to education and inversely to religiosity. Accordingly, biology students are naturally expected to be more prone to naturalist evolution due to their close contact with this theory and high scientific literacy. To test this, we performed a cross-national study surveying biology students' evolutionary opinions in Brazil, contrasting the proportions of creationism (Cr), divinely guided evolution (DGE) and naturalist evolution (NaE). Results:
more » ... ion (NaE). Results: We found that NaE comprised 44.4%, DGE 43.3%, and Cr 12.3% of students' opinions. NaE was higher among postgraduate than undergraduate students. There were marked geographic differences, with NaE peaking in the most socioeconomically developed regions and Cr in the less. Opinions related to divine influence as a whole (Cr + DGE) became more likely as the score of students' institutions decreased (i.e. institutions with lower-quality standards). Conclusions: Most biology students paradoxically do not have NaE as an explanation (55.6%), a high proportion given their presumed contact with the theory. We demonstrate that socioeconomic and institution quality factors are apparently important in determining the evolutionary thinking patterns. NaE paucity among biology students may also be influenced by low scientific literacy and the extreme religiosity of the population, which incorporates divine influence in students' opinions long before they have any contact with evolutionary theory. which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
doi:10.1186/s12052-017-0071-5 fatcat:rdr5f2tngraavbandwf5ezcayi