From PollingReport, a Harris Poll on the Origin of Human Life. This is an object lesson for all students who ever plan to use a survey or an interview to collect data: this is precisely why the phrasing of a question is vitally important. I’m not even referring to the religious or political issues involved here. What we have here is essentially the same question asked 3 times, with wildly different distributions of responses.

“Do you think human beings developed from earlier species or not?”

Did Did Not Unsure
% % %
38 54 8

“Do you believe all plants and animals have evolved from other species or not?”

Have Have Not Unsure
% % %
49 45 7

“Which of the following do you believe about how human beings came to be? Human beings evolved from earlier species. Human beings were created directly by God. Human beings are so complex that they required a powerful force or intelligent being to help create them.”

Evolved From
Earlier Species
Created Directly
By God
Powerful Force/
Intelligent Being
% % % %
22 64 10 4