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Acceptance of human evolution investigated

MINNEAPOLIS, March 11 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say a recent study suggests high school and college students' perceptions of Earth's age influence their acceptance of human evolution.

University of Minnesota scientists said their finding that a student who understands the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old is more likely to understand and accept human evolution could give educators a new strategy for teaching evolution.

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Professors Sehoya Cotner and Randy Moore, along with D. Christopher Brooks of the university's Office of Information Technology, surveyed 400 students enrolled in several sections of an introductory biology course for non-majors.

The survey included questions about knowledge of evolution and whether students were taught evolution or creationism in high school, as well as questions about religious and political views.

Using that data, the investigators created a model that shows, for example, when a student's religious and political views are liberal, they are more likely to believe the Earth is billions, rather than thousands, of years old and to know more about evolution.

Conversely, students with conservative religious and political views are more inclined to think Earth is much younger -- 20,000 years or less -- and to know less about human evolution.

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The study is detailed in the journal Evolution.

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