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Public Underst Sci. 2011 Jul;20(4):558-73.

Public perception of evolution and the rise of evolutionary psychology in Finland.

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Department of Social Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland.


In this paper we analyse the media debate in Finland that began after the publication in Science of a survey on the public acceptance of evolution. According to the results Finland ranked 17th among 34 countries. This was unexpected in a secular high tech nation with a consistent top performance in international comparative surveys on public education. We trace the main arguments in this debate in relation to previous studies on the public understanding of science and argue that newspaper claims of declining acceptance of evolutionism in Finland were based on rather ambivalent data. Furthermore, in the debate, evolutionary theory became a metonymy for science in society. The results published in Science provided a platform for a critique of religion and alternative movements, something quite uncommon in Finnish media. Finally, the debate was taken as an opportunity to promote evolutionary psychology as a legitimate social science.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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