Unsure Of Evolution? Think Harder

According to a new study published in the journal Cognition, while the concept of natural selection is largely supported by scientists today, the evolution of the human brain is actually what makes certain people skeptical about it. Scientists made a connection between cultural influences—for example—religion and a group of people’s tendency to reject or accept evolution.


Scientists also believe that the mechanisms that are responsible for human cognition came about by evolution also have a significant effect. Some natural human tendencies can make an unflinching belief in the concept of evolution difficult.

Researchers have discovered that human beings generally like explanations that have some purpose or certainness in regards to their place in the world. Additionally, humans like concise biological explications free of the complications involved in natural selection.

Wait, one may ask, if human beings all have the same basic brain tendencies and processes, why do they have different points of view on the subject of evolution? Researchers believe this too has to do with evolution.

Another new study reveals a connection between cognitive style and beliefs in evolution. Psychologist Will Gervais conducted an experiment with Kentucky college students and discovered that the subjects with more of an intuitive cognitive style were generally skeptical about the idea of evolution.

Participants with more of an analytical cognitive style, including subjects with religious beliefs, generally believed in evolution. The findings revealed that overall, however, subjects with more analytical minds that also had less religious beliefs had more of a proclivity to accept the idea of evolution.

Gervais noted that one possibility is that a “suite” of numerous intuitions might “cognitively predispose” humans to “adopt creationist beliefs.” However, a smaller sub-group has the analytical ability to override that instinctual reaction.

He says it is also possible that significant “types” of human beings evolved. One of these would be people who are intuitive and biologically prefer purpose and order.   Finally, the old argument of nature vs. nurture yet remains leaving Gervais only able to conclude that more research is required.