Eugenie Scott, Longtime Advocate for Science Education, Will Retire

Eugenie Scott, the tireless Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, has announced her retirement after 26 years with the organization:

“It’s a good time to retire, with our new climate change initiative off to a strong start and with the staff energized and excited by the new challenges ahead,” she commented. “The person who replaces me will find a strong staff, a strong set of programs, and a strong board of directors.”

“It’s not going to be easy to fill the shoes of someone who has done so much to make NCSE into the respected and admired organization it is,” remarked Brian Alters, the president of NCSE’s board of directors. “We look forward with working with Genie to find the best possible successor.”

Scott leaves the organization with scores of honorary degrees and a hell of a lot of respect from science advocates across the country. (I’m sure they’re cheering at the offices of Intelligent Design groups and the Creation Museum, too.)

I had the good fortune of interviewing Scott in 2007 and, while there’s been progress in the teaching of science since then, we’re still fighting many of the same battles. Thanks to her efforts, though, we know the other side’s future plans and how to combat them most effectively.

The NCSE has a job description available for anyone who wants to apply to be her successor. Big shoes to fill, for sure.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gus Snarp

    She will be missed. Her impact has simply been tremendous, and we are losing a powerful voice for science education. I cannot imagine who could possibly replace her.

    • SeekerLancer

      Indeed, the weight of her contributions can’t be overstated. She has been a driving force in the defense of education.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    She does fine running the NCSE and defending evolution, but…
    She is also an accomodationist who argues that science and religion are compatible. And her arguments for it are downright stupid.

    • jose

      Yes, and Nancy Pelosi made a deal with republicans once. I’m sorry their actual, transformative steps forward don’t meet your proper level of ideological purity.

      • pRinzler

        Not only do real-world considerations demand compromise that moves away from ideological purity, but the realities of a diverse movement such as atheism and skepticism (diversity is a clearly-forseen consequence of skepticism) lead to respect for different ideas within the boundaries of skepticism.

        Having said that, there is no problem with Reginald claiming that she is an “accomodationist” (gasp!) and that her arguments are stupid. Reg must back up his assertions with evidence logic.

        Let the games begin.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          Ok, Scott argues that the fact that there are religious people who are scientists is “empirical evidence” that science and religion (meaning existing irrational religions) are compatible. However this is obviously mistaken. Just because there are young earth creationist biologists does not mean that young earth creationism is compatible with science. There is nothing that prevents religious scientists from compartmentalizing, practicing self deception, and committing other intellectual errors. Christianity is incompatible with science regardless of whether any particular scientist has wised up to the fact.

          • AxeGrrl

            Scott argues that the fact that there are religious people who are scientists is “empirical evidence” that science and religion (meaning existing irrational religions) are compatible.

            Can you explain your bracketed ‘addition’ there? Is there some basis for your suggestion that she specifically meant irrational religions or irrational religious claims/tenets there? Just curious as to why you added something that seems to make her comment less broad than it originally appears.

            Just because there are young earth creationist biologists does not mean that young earth creationism is compatible with science

            Indeed. But Scott’s example of Creationists’ explanation for the Grand Canyon makes that very point. So………..Or do you have some other quote by Scott that suggests that she thinks that creationism IS compatitible with science? If not, then why make this comment at all?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

          There are also many articles out there by people who have already shot down Eugienies ridiculous arguments. So why am I bothering to write anything. Read one here: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/eugenie-scott-dissembles-about-accommodationism/

          He makes a good point. Does the fact that there are lawyers, police, and judges that murder prove empirically that the law is compatible with murder?

          • AxeGrrl

            From the article:

            The final misconception, which I’ve also discussed at length, is this, asserted by Scott in the video:

            Science can’t test statements having to do with God. . . Science can weigh and accept or reject fact claims made by religion. . . The basic idea of whether the supernatural exists or not is not something science can measure.”

            Wrong. Of course science can test statements having to do with God. It can test statements deriving from what people claim about their god.

            The author says “wrong” here, but the bolded part seems to agree with the quote by Scott. Namely, that fact claims about a god (like ‘god answers prayers’, etc) can be weighed and accepted or rejected on a scientific basis. So, what, exactly, is the author disagreeing with here?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        Nancy Pelosi is in general a ignoramus and making a deal with Republicans once might have been an exception to that rule.

        • Carmelita Spats

          Exception to the rule: She’s not an ignoramus when it comes to defending medical privacy…It’s the voyeuristic Republican serial wand rapists (the ones who run into walls and bash their foreheads with large Bibles
          and ram their Toyota Corollas and Ford pickups into each other and mutter incoherent lines from “Passion of the Christ” and pop Prozac like M&M’s) who fail to understand medical privacy since they represent that mother of nine and AFA member and devout watcher of “Touched by an
          Angel” and committed scourer of all live radio and TV programming for any trace of female nipples, curse words or Jessica Simpson’s butt. It ain’t Roe vs Wade…It’s Griswold vs Connecticut…Praise Jeebus!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

            Setting low standards for her, I see.

            • Terry

              The REAL irony here is that empirical Science and Darwinian Evolution are incompatible!
              Macro-evolution has been thoroughly refuted. Just read the reports from Altenberg-16 and the objective commentary by Susan Mazur.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                The real irony is that 99+% of the people with the education to understand evolution know it’s true, even so-called ‘macro’ evolution. Mazur’s book in particular is a complete mangle of the actual Altenberg-16 conference.

                Confirmation bias strikes again.

              • phantomreader42

                Creationists are pathological liars and dumber than dog shit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        What evidence do you have that Reginald based his criticism on ideological purity? I didn’t read him claiming that she wasn’t a proper Objectivist, Marxist, or any other ideology. His objection is that she uses stupid arguments to support her accomodationist position. I just listened to her and they are stupid. She fails to grasp that some people compartmentalize their beliefs and that the religious have no problem believing in contradictory positions.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Macker/518709704 Brian Macker

        Science itself is a philosophical position and can be thought of as an ideology. Were you criticizing Reginald for being ideologically a scientist? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect a person holding a position as “science educator” to stick with such if that is the ideology you were criticizing Reginald for wishing to remain pure?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I was just thinking Zack Kopplin would be great for that someday, but he won’t have a science PhD. Which makes me wonder if that’s a wise requirement.

  • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

    Best wishes to her and congratulations on her retirement! She will be missed.

  • Godlesspanther

    Now she can run for POTUS in 2016

    YES! YES! YES!

  • AxeGrrl

    All I can say is:

    Noooooooooooooo! :(

    They’ll be hard pressed to find a more articulate replacement (or just as articulate replacement)


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