Origins of Mankind: Canada vs the United States

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | March 25, 2011 12:12 pm

(click to enlarge)

Source: Gallup poll; December 10-12, 2010 and BASE: Canadians; March 15-17, 2011

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education, Evolution
MORE ABOUT: canada

Comments (42)

  1. Robert S-R

    My god, I must be a Canadian. That explains so much. My understanding of science and evolution, my fondness for autumn and winter, my love of hockey…

  2. Justin

    Proud to be Canadian!

  3. Chris Mooney

    I still believe mankind originated in the US! ;>

  4. David George

    Maybe it’s not so bad — it looks like 77% of Canadians, 54% of Americans believe in “evolution”. And there are no southern states in Canada. (Assuming most of the 40% bible thumpers are down there.)

  5. jaykay20102

    Woot Woot Canada!

    But seriously, what’s with the slow 42%?

  6. Chris

    It must be the elderly. Most of which are conservative; which generally means christian.

  7. Clearly this is proof of a strong correlation between the existence of divine inspiration and temperature.

  8. Nullius in Verba

    What was the answer to the question “Why do you believe this?” Has anyone asked?

  9. Iason Ouabache

    Canada was also on the list of countries where religion was most likely to go extinct in the next 100 years. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence though.

  10. As a Canadian, I enjoyed the graph–though the moment of superior feeling is really not worth the implications. However–I had to change the subject line when I passed along the link. Mankind? Oh please. From you folks I don’t expect that kind of antiquated language. “Origin of Humans” serves better.

  11. Cmdr. Awesome

    As an average joe kinda Canadian, it’s nice to see this. Still, I would much rather the results be substantially higher than just 58% who believe evolution. It’s a good start, certainly…but I don’t think it’s anything to be majorly proud of. If it were 75% or more, I’d be a much more excited Canuck.

  12. Nullius in Verba

    This is an interesting map. It seems there are a few ‘bible-thumper’ states north of the border, too.

  13. Roger

    Canada’s numbers look good only in comparison to the US.

  14. Norm

    Cmdr. Awesome:

    But you could say that over 75% of Canadians believe evolution (58% + 19%). It’s just that about 1/3 of those who believe in evolution also think that it was directed (i.e. theistic evolutionists). I think that’s pretty great as I had assumed the numbers of evolution deniers in Canada was higher than 14% (but that’s because I grew up surrounded by them in a Pentacostal family).

  15. Matt

    Are you trying to start a war? Okay …Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!

  16. john harmsworth

    I don’t really see these numbers as being very interesting. THe real story is that the U.S. is similarly out of touch with the whole of modern Western thought. Gays, guns, greed AND God.

  17. David George

    #14 Nullius in Verba — Thank you, that is an interesting map. But I think there is a difference between a religious identification and bible thumping. Quebec was populated by French immigrants who brought the Catholic church with them (and the same would go for the Spanish in Mexico). In the South (where I have never been, too scary for me) I think of the Elmer Gantry type free enterprise religion (or the Ku Klux Klan).

    Imagine if the only book you have is the Bible. It is very persuasive, full of good stories, etc. — even genuine miracles, like God stopping the Sun in its tracks! Then there’s a used car salesman speaking in tongues and charming snakes, along with the dancing girls — you could get hooked, especially if he’s sincere!

    On the other hand, I don’t think the Catholic church actually wanted anybody to learn how to read in the olden days. So even the nominal Catholics probably don’t have much love for the church. They don’t get religion — they get anti-religion. I doubt many Quebecers believe in biblical creation nowadays. (Am I in trouble now, Lord?)

  18. James Freeman

    As a Canadian, I am proud that we are making progress away from Bronze-age Middle-Eastern sources for explanations of how we and the cosmos came into existance. However, as someone earlier mentioned, the numbers in Canada are lower than in some places in Europe, and the American numbers, though scary, are not as bad as some numbers in the Islamic world. There is still a long way to go….

  19. Olli

    Believe in evolution? There’s nothing to believe in it. Science is not based on belief. It is just the most probable explanation for observed events.

  20. TuffsNotEnuff

    This world’s # 1 military “superpower” is also brain damaged ??? Well, of course.

    No wonder we waste the overwhelming most of $ 1,219,000,000,000 a year on military-plus-spying. We are paranoid and ignorant. We listen to mad men on our radio stations.

    Amazing. For gawd sake… this one got settled when they discovered dinosaur bones.

  21. Zachres

    Dang… we are in big trouble.

  22. jonquil

    I always knew we were Canadian, Toto! Oh, Auntie Em, I want to come home! Please, I may I have some of your poutine now!

  23. As being Canadian I don’t find it surprising we be found more evolved in thought than our American cousins, as after all even our form of democratic governance is more reflective of evolutionary influence, while there’s more as the consequence of revolutionary effects; that is ours therefore being more formed out of the will of nature and there’s the collective will of themselves. Now this at first presents being a dichotomy in respect to the question asked and yet only so if you exclude the god of Spinoza as opposed to those that thing themselves the both the protectors and executors of divine will:-)

  24. Left_Wing_Fox

    Thank you, David Suzuki.

  25. Bobito

    @26 – I guess you have to be less evolved to walk on the moon.

  26. Sue

    This is disheartening on two fronts — it’s the 21st century and a) this is the current level of scientific understanding in the US, and b) Discover and Gallop still don’t seem to understand the concept of gender-neutral language…

  27. Kevin

    I’ve always preferred Canada…it’s only 15 miles away fro my home.

    If I could move there and get free citizenship, I think I probably would. Everything feels…better, in Canada. It’s weird.

  28. Furbz

    Yes, it was nice to see our higher percentage for the correct answer, though I wasn’t surprised.

    And yet we are the country that actually does have “God” in our Constitution. Go figure.

  29. The Dude Abides

    @23. “Amazing. For gawd sake… this one got settled when they discovered dinosaur bones.”

    Haven’t you heard? Jesus rode a dinosaur, and the reason Noah was able to fit all of the dinosaurs on the Ark was because he took baby dinosaurs. Oh, you poor misguided non-believers who don’t believe in the United States of Jesus!

  30. justin

    Anyone heard of irriducible complexity? Probably not. But interesting theory. I believe in evolution. Just not macroevolution. At least not until evidence, of which there is none, surfaces to show a species changing from one to another. Also how does one explain things such as the cambrian explosion? The same genetic code in even the simplest of creatures that has not evolved? How about all of the biological processes we don’t even begin to comprehend? Or are those just things to brush aside because they don’t fit with the current theory?

  31. Jess

    @33: The defense in the 2007 Dover trial tried to present irreducible complexity as evidence to support the idea (it’s not a scientific theory as its not testable) of intelligent design. A key thing to remember is that the parts need not to have originated with the same function that they have within the more highly developed tissue or organ.
    As far as evidence for macroevolution, does the fossil record not count as evidence? More “transitional” fossils are found every year. And it speaks to the strength of modern geological and paleontological theory and methods that it can be predicted fairly easily what rock strata are likely to contain a particular type of fossil. Speciation has occurred in laboratory settings in which a population of organisms with a relatively short life cycle (such as Drosophila) was split for several generations, and then they could no longer interbreed. In a non-lab setting, apple maggot flies that previous fed only on native hawthorns split into two species when a population fed on introduced apples.
    You have lots of questions, and that is good. If you are truly interested in answers, they already exist, and in great detail for the most part. There are plenty of websites that explain the theory of evolution in a very accessible way. The Cal-Berkeley site is a good place to start. If your seeking great detail, then you can search scientific literature on-line or at a university library.
    I can honestly say that I am not an expert, and there are many things that I have not personally observed. But what I do understand works very well at forming explanations based on evidence and predictions. Overall, as more evidence is revealed, the theory is growing stronger all the time.

  32. Roger

    Just imagine that instead of evolution we were talking about the shape of the Earth. The three choices being 1) The world is flat 2) The world is round because God rolled it into a ball 3) The world is round due to gravitational forces. If we got the same results for this question that we did for the evolution matter we would consider it a national emergency.

    Then again maybe someone could claim he believes in gravity, but not in macrogravity which is unscientific and unsupported by evidence.

  33. Georg

    Viewing such questions from abroad and living in Europe at about 50th parallel,
    I’d deduce, that heat is much more detrimental to brain than freeze.

  34. Conshycrush


    If “macroevolution” doesn’t exist… then would you please sir explain how homo sapiens are walking around today? Obviously we weren’t around 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were… So did we just POOF into existence?

  35. Cmdr. Awesome

    Oh, I know you can. I guess (personally) I don’t really think people who believe in theistically guided evolution really accept evolution – just the bits and pieces that fit with their world view. In my own personal and highly anecdotal experience, they accept that changes can occur over time, which is fine – but they generally don’t accept the processes behind those changes as being correct. And in my layman’s study of evolution, it’s almost always those processes that are emphasized.

    Really, if you look at the better news coverage of evolutionary papers, what tends to get emphasized is not that a new fossil of Hugeus Medius Specticalus was discovered, but how skeletal features show a change from one prior fossil to another. Or how new research in cell maintenance processes has shown that modern cells have mechanisms that prevent small genetic mutations from causing signficant causes by correcting the resultant malformed proteins.

    It’s the process that matters, and unless you accept the process as correct, I don’t really think you’re accepting evolution.

  36. JMW

    Speaking as a Canadian, it would be easy to do a fist-pump and gloat. However, my feeling is that it’s sad to see our friends and neighbours of their own volition driving themselves back to a third-world country.

  37. Duane

    @34 Justin, buy either one of these two books and read them: Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, or Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Each of them explains, thoroughly, each question you posed above, AND PROVIDES THE EVIDENCE YOU ARE ASKING FOR.

    Feel free to respond further to this, but please know that unless that response consists of “I will purchase one of the books and read it and tell you what I think,” then your questions, as posited above, are not motivated by scientific curiosity.

    BTW, full disclosure: I am a Christian. Those two books, particularly the one by Coyne, helped me root my faith and my quest for scientific knowledge firmly in their separate realms. Where they each belong. Happy reading.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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