Pseudoscience, Eugenie Scott, NCSE, and the Journal Nature

Eugenie Scott: Berkeley Anthropologist and Director of the NCSE

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott: Berkeley Anthropologist and Director of the NCSE

Anne here …

The eminent science journal Nature devoted its May 15, 2013, editorial to applauding the work of the National Center for Science Education and its retiring director, Eugenie Scott.

Critics of mainstream science frequently dispute evolution or climate change. Whatever their target, a common tactic is to challenge how well mainstream scientists accept these ideas.

In this era of U.S. teachers being “pressured to keep evolution out of the classroom or to teach it as a scientifically controversial theory,” the NCSE has taken the lead to insist that science, not religion and not pseudoscience, be taught in our public school classrooms. It is famously successful in stopping Pennsylvania’s intelligent design law in its tracks in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in 2005. It is working with Zack Kopplin to exterminate the stupidity in Louisiana’s creationism laws, too.

Best of all – and perhaps more encompassing, the NCSE provides resources for everyday science advocates working in the classroom trenches, fighting against not only creationists, but climate change deniers.

Nature’s editorial commended Eugenie Scott’s tireless efforts to make sure that scientists don’t talk over the heads of the general public. “Too often, scientists are ignorant of how students outside their own labs are being educated. In the worst cases, scientists can actually hurt the cause for science education by alienating the people whom they hope to persuade: in their attempts to engage, they may seem condescending or use arcane arguments that fail to connect with teachers, parents, students and other community members.”

The biggest problem I have encountered when talking with creationists is that they don’t understand the science of evolution at all. Often, they simply were not taught it when they were in school. Whether because their teachers shied away from the subject for fear of controversy or, worse, didn’t understand evolutionary theory themselves, for some reason many adults just don’t get it.

NCSE is a fantastic, and necessary, advocate for science, science education, scientists, and science fans. Getting great recognition in such an eminent publication as Nature is no less than what it deserves.

Eugenie Scott is responsible for making NCSE worthy of that recognition. She will be missed.

Crispian Jago and Neil Davies seriously need to make this deck of Skeptic Trumps a reality.

 

About Anne

Civil rights activist Anne Orsi is one of the spokespeople for the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and is the primary organizer of Reason in the Rock, a conference on science, secularism and skepticism. Got a question? Email her at anne@aramink.com. She's a lawyer but may not be licensed in your state. Sending her an email or reading her blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship. Find Anne on Twitter as @aramink, and read her regular blog at www.aramink.com.


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