Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Creationist Bigot News - Creationists are Much More Likely to be Racist, Homophobic and Violent

Disbelief in Human Evolution Linked to Greater Prejudice and Racism | UMass Amherst

According to a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology recently, people who reject the idea of human evolution are significantly more likely to be racist, homophobic, intolerant of other political opinions and supportive of political violence. This was true, not only of the USA, where the tendencies were especially marked, but also in Eastern Europe, Israel and Islamic countries.

This was the finding of four Massachusetts University Amherst (MUA) Psychologists, who, according to information supplied by MUA:
People who perceive themselves as more similar to animals are also people who tend to have more pro-social or positive attitudes toward outgroup members or people from stigmatized and marginalized backgrounds. In this investigation, we were interested in examining whether belief in evolution would also act in a similar way, because it would reinforce this belief that we are more similar to animals.

We found the same results each time, which is basically that believing in evolution relates to less prejudice, regardless of the group you’re in, and controlling for all of these alternative explanations. Regardless of whether one considers religion an important part of their life, belief in evolution relates to less prejudice independently from belief, or lack thereof, in God or any particular religion.

[A belief in evolution may expand people’s] moral circle, [leading to a sense that] we have more in common than things that are different.

Stylianos Syropoulos, lead author
PhD Candidate
War & Peace Lab.
Massachusetts University Amherst, MA, USA
In eight studies involving different areas of the world, the researchers analyzed data from the American General Social Survey (GSS), the Pew Research Center and three online crowdsourced samples. In testing their hypothesis about the associations of different levels of belief in evolution, they accounted for education, political ideology, religiosity, cultural identity and scientific knowledge.

[…]

The researchers note that Darwin’s 19th century theory of evolution has been cited to perpetrate racism, prejudice and homophobia, in part through the phrase, “survival of the fittest,” used to describe the process of natural selection.

The U.S.-based study involved data from 1993, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 – the years the GSS surveyed Americans about their beliefs in evolution, as well as measures of attitudes toward immigrants, Blacks, affirmative action, LGBTQ people and other social matters.

The data analysis showed unfailingly “that the disbelief in human evolution is the driving factor and most consistent predictor of prejudice in comparison to other relevant constructs,” the paper states.

There have been theoretical accounts that predict the opposite of what we found, so it was exciting for us to show that this actually is not the case, that the opposite is true and that belief in evolution seems to have pretty positive effect.

[The findings also suggest that] teaching evolution seems to have side effects that might make for a better or more harmonious society.

Bernhard Leidner, senior author Associate professor of Social Psychology.
War & Peace Lab.
Massachusetts University Amherst, MA, USA
In the Israel-based study, people with a higher belief in evolution were more likely to support peace among Palestinians, Arabs and Jews. In the study involving countries in the Islamic world, belief in evolution was associated with less prejudice toward Christians and Jews. And in the study based in Eastern Europe, where Orthodox Christians are the majority, a belief in evolution was linked with less prejudice toward gypsies, Jews and Muslims.

[…]

The next step, the researchers say, is to investigate how evolution is taught in the classroom and work toward developing models to study and strengthen the positive effects.
Sadly, the team's paper is behind an expensive paywall, with even the abstract copyright protected. However, it can be read online here. In it, the authors make the point that their findings support the hypothesis that people’s basic belief in the notion that human beings have developed from other animals (i.e., belief in evolution) can predict human-to-human prejudice and intergroup hostility. They say their findings support this hypothesis with low belief in human evolution being "associated with higher levels of prejudice, racist attitudes, and support for discriminatory behaviors against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ), Blacks, and immigrants in the United States (Study 1), with higher ingroup biases, prejudicial attitudes toward outgroups, and less support for conflict resolution in samples collected from 19 Eastern European countries (Study 2), 25 Muslim countries (Study 3), and Israel (Study 4)" Also, "among Americans, lower belief in evolution was associated with greater prejudice and militaristic attitudes toward political outgroups (Study 5).

They also found that "perceived similarity to animals (a construct distinct from belief in evolution, Study 6) partially mediated the link between belief in evolution and prejudice (Studies 7 and 8), even when controlling for religious beliefs, political views, and other demographic variables, and were also observed for nondominant groups (i.e., religious and racial minorities).

Lastly, and perhaps, from a Humanist point of view, most interestingly, the authors concludes that their "…findings highlight the importance of belief in human evolution as a potentially key individual-difference variable predicting racism and prejudice. In other words, those who accept the scientific consensus view that humans evolved from, and so are related to, other animals, are much less likely to be prejudiced against minorities and much less inclined to impose their views with violence.

As mentioned above, the team are now to investigate the best way to teach evolution in schools in order to encourage the development of a kinder, more tolerant and inclusive, less prejudiced and hateful, divided society such as that now being produced by teaching unfortune children that they did not evolve but are the special creation of magic, and therefore in some way superior to other animals and those created with the 'wrong' beliefs.

As this paper shows:

Religion provides excuses for people who need excuses.



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