Media advisory: Erroneous stat in media coverage


David Ruth

EDITOR’S NOTE – (Feb. 17, 2014) – Several news organizations, primarily in Germany, have reported an erroneous statistic in their coverage of a new Rice University study, “Religious Understandings of Science (RUS).”

The study’s author, Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, did NOT say that “90 percent of Americans believe in God.”

Ecklund’s study reported some of the most popular responses in a survey of more than 10,000 U.S. adults about which description(s) of evolution best describe(s) their position. Multiple answers were accepted. Among the findings:

  • 10 percent said that natural evolution involving no God was “definitely true.”
  • 7 percent said that intelligent design was “definitely true.”
  • 18 percent said that God-guided evolution was “definitely true.”
  • 22 percent said that strict creationism was “definitely true.”

Ecklund said it would not be accurate or appropriate to use these findings about different views on evolution to interpret the percentage of Americans who believe in God more generally.

The original news release for the RUS study is available at

For more information, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at 713-348-6327 or


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About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.