Cognitive Dissonance

Truly odd Gallup poll result. The question: “Next, we’d like to ask about your views on two different explanations for the origin and development of life on earth. Do you think [see below] is definitely true, probably true, probably false, or definitely false?” They rotated two different answers into the blank space. One was “Evolution — that is, the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life.” The other was “Creationism — that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.”

In the Evolution sample, 18 percent said evolution is definitely true, and an additional 35 percent said it’s probably true. In the Creationism sample, however, 39 percent said creationism is definitely true and 27 percent said creationism is probably true.

We’ve all heard of “framing effects” in polls, and that’s what you’re seeing here — people seem inclined to agree with the questioner — but the scale of the effect seems enormous here, especially since the question isn’t particularly obscure.