Week 5 Blog Post- Casey Krutz

September 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Oreskes takes a stance in support of the scientific consensus. She claims that policy makers and the media, especially in the United States make it seem as if scientific support for climate change is uncertain, but this is not the case, for in fact there are many findings of scientific consensus on the issue. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth’s climate is being affected by human activities and that most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is due to greenhouse gas omissions. According to the piece, the National Academy of Sciences Report, and all major scientific bodies publishing in peer reviewed literature with the US have issues similar statements to this. Oreskes points out that since scientists have a consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change, it is up to the public to listen and begin to do something about it.

In “When to Doubt a Scientific ‘Consensus’” Richards holds a different view on this scientific consensus. Richards claims that there is a scientific consensus but it is problematic. He defines consensus as both general agreement and unity in opinion and belief, but claims that consensus does not always hold true to its definition. He blames this on the “power of the paradigm” which frequently shapes the thinking of scientists so much that they are not able to accurately summarize, let alone evaluate alternatives. In the piece, Richards provides several instances in which perhaps one should doubt a consensus. One of these instance is when different claims get bundled together that are controversial within themselves. In the instance of climate change there are four controversial statements (the planet is getting warmer on average, humans emissions are the cause, it is going to be catastrophic, and we must transform civilization to deal with), yet there is still a supposed consensus. Other times to doubt a consensus are: when there are more personal attacks on the witness than using evidence, assumptions and interests combining giving the appearance of objectivity where it is non-existent, reaching a consensus too quickly, misrepresented peer-reviewed literature, ambiguous statements such as ‘scientists say’ with no connection to which scientists say, increasing amount of activism, and repeated usage of ‘consensus’ with no actual supporting evidence. All of these times Richards uses of when to doubt a consensus are evident in relation to climate change.

These two articles differ in that Oreskes spends the article discussing the consensus of scientists and how this should be taken as an important matter that we should do something about. Richards agrees that there is a scientific consensus, but takes a totally different approach. Instead of claiming we have a climate change program because of the consensus, he uses his article to explain why a consensus is not always correct and things we should watch out for. Richards claims that we do not always have to agree with scientific consensus and presents times when we should in fact doubt it. He believe that climate change is one of these times in which the consensus should be doubted.

My question: We just finished discussion on ID versus Evolution, in which ID posed a serious concern to scientists since it did not have enough evidence to make it science fact. In this case of climate change, it seems to be that there is not enough evidence to back the consensus of the scientists themselves. How is it that scientists can support something such as climate change that seems to have so little supporting arguments and evidence?


Casey Krutz



Jade Hanson – Week 5 Climate Change

September 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Week 5 | 1 Comment



Science knowledge strongly influences people’s perceptions on global warming. Furthermore, without being educated about the issues of global warming, the general public is “out of the loop” in knowing how scientists feel about the issue. This leads them to a state of confusion, people not knowing what to believe without a guide(scientists). In Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, researchers found that 90% percent of the scientists they questioned believed global temperatures have risen. Also, 82% attribute human activity for part of the warming. On the other hand, another study claimed on 52% of Americans think that climate scientists agree that the Earth has been warming in recent years. It is evident that global warming scientists and foundations dedicated to science need to do a better job at promoting their findings and reasonings for supporting climate change through out the community.


Another article titled The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, also exposes the science community’s unity on the issue of global warming. The article states that not only do the majority of scientists believe in global warming, but a large portion of those scientists (all in this case) attribute global warming to non-natural causes. This piece strengthens the argument laid forth by the first piece, that scientific consensus surrounding global warming is present. However, it is not clearly portrayed to the general public. Oreskes says “politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression confusion” which is where our real issues lies.


Neither article addresses how to solve the problem of public confusion in concerns to global warming. It is evident that some tactic must be taken in order to convey to the global community that science consensus is unified on the issue, actions must be taken. Can the media and politicians be trusted? It is hard to imagine an effective revolution without these two elements. However, scientists need to discover a means of credibly spreading their findings through out society. It is evident that the more time scientists waste in letting the public dwindle in a stage of confusion, the more harm that will be done to our planet.


Overall, it is important for the scientific community to take action because without their credibility driving the spread of awareness about global warming, it is clear no major action will be taken by the general public.






Questions for consideration:


How can scientists generate a “revolution” in a credible manner?


Can politicians and media corporations be trusted to convey scientists “true feelings” regarding the issue of global warming?

Jorden Gemuend – Week 5 – Crichton and Oreskes

September 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Week 5, Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

As our class has discussed the debate between intelligent design and evolution, the most common figure thrown out in the support of evolution was the overwhelming scientific consensus. It is hard to be heard when there is a crowd surrounding you all shouting the same chant. The question that needs to be asked is whether a scientific consensus translates into something being true. In the case of “climate change,” a newer, more politically accepted term than global warming, the idea of a scientific consensus is again employed. Just because everyone agrees on something, does not make it right, but it may hold importance nonetheless.

Michael Crichton understands this dilemma of scientific consensus and attacks it at its core in “Aliens Cause Global Warming.” Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the article does not talk about why aliens cause global warming, but rather why science is wrongly mixing with policy. Crichton grew up during the Cold War, where fear and nuclear predictions were just another part of the day. This led him to a belief that science was the hope that would save the world. First discussing the Drake equation, an equation predicting the likelihood of aliens in our galaxy, Crichton points out that the variables cannot be tested. He relates this to the predictions made about how the atmosphere would be affected in the case of nuclear warfare, and avidly asserts that these types of methods are not science. They are religions based upon pure faith and nothing else. Turning his view to the concept of a scientific consensus, Crichton states plainly that this is an absurd and incredibly weak argument that is irrelevant to science. This is supported by a slew of examples where the scientific consensus was wrong, and he claims that consensus is invoked where the science is not solid enough. The issue of second-hand smoke is used to show how science has been mixed with policy and politics. Science is now elastic, a realm where “anything goes.” Not finished yet, Crichton turns his sights on computer models, and explains how past science and global warming have ridiculous dependencies on them. A humorous line talks about how people don’t believe weather forecasts 12 hours from now, and yet they are expected to believe climate forecasts 100 years from then. Crichton proposes double blind style computer models and unknown sources of funding. He ends by talking about how the scientific community is rife with policy.

On an opposite side of things, Naomi Oreskes published “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” an article solely devoted to proving that there is in fact a scientific consensus on climate change. Short and sweet, Oreskes first addresses the fact that people have attempted to attack climate change by saying there is not conclusive science or consensus. Immdetialy refuting these claims, she fills the bulk of her article with a list of publications and organizations that all support and agree on global warming. She deduces that without substantial disagreement, the scientific community is indeed in consensus that humans are causing temperatures to rise. Oreskes, however, decides to end the article with wisdom in saying that a consensus is not necessarily right, as the history of science has shown. She concludes that although the consensus may not be right, it does not want to risk not acting.

These two authors both took a logical approach to the debate of climate change. The interesting thing is that neither of them actually disagrees with the other, although it is difficult to see this. Crichton is asserting that a scientific consensus over climate change is a weak argument and in no way indicates the truth of the matter. Oreskes is merely asserting that there is a consensus, but also acknowledges that this does not necessarily indicate the truth. Whereas Crichton would argue that until there is hard evidence, despite any type of consensus, there is no debate. Oreskes, on the other hand, wants to use the consensus to generate action, and by relying on a science-expert framing scheme, she encourages support out of fear for what may happen. Both of these articles complement each other like two puzzle pieces being mashed together in order to fit; complementary, but messy. It is plain and obvious that these two authors’ completely disagree on the topic of climate change, but they have cleverly written these two articles so that they avoid the conflict. While Crichton enlightens about why a scientific consensus does not equal truth, Oreskes claims that it might be better than nothing.

My question: Do you believe that there is an absolute truth to existence independent of human conception?

Week 4 – Jade Hanson

September 25, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 2 Comments

This week I examined the Center For the Renewal of Science & Culture article and the Labov and Pope piece, both of which discuss attempts at creating support for one side of the evolution vs intelligent design debate.

The Center for Renewal piece discusses how the Discovery Institute’s Center of the Renewal of Science and Culture aims to get rid of the scientific perspective in attempt to bring about a theistic understanding of nature. In short, this institute strives to replace the belief of science with the belief that God is the creator of all. This packet of information demonstrates the goals of the institute and lists the objectives for the group as well. Finally, it draws up a strategic plan on how to implement their belief system into society. Multiple routes to promote their beliefs will be used including broadcasting and political speeches.

However, this piece lacks evidence to convince people of their non-scientific materlialism beliefs. As we have discussed in class, this is often the case with supporters of intelligent design. The pieces lays out solid ground work for what they want, for example on hundred scientific article by their scientists within 5 years. The piece lacks sufficient explanations of how achieve the goals of the Institute however. Without a way of providing evidence to their supporters, the plan will fail and the “Wedge Theory” will go down as wishful thinking.

The second piece I examined was the Labov and Pope piece. This article discusses how the National Academy of Sciences has been working to implement a system that solves the evolution and creationism debate. The article takes a close look at the NAS’s publication, Science, Evolution, and Creationism. This book, which is shaped off of audience research, highlights the evidence and support for evolution and presents ways in which science teachers in support of evolution can sway others to see their side and prove intelligent design is invalid. The pamphlet defines science and it’s limitations and also explains why religion and other nonscientific ideas should be left out of the public school system. Overall, this piece defends why only scientific theories should be taught in schools.

The National Academy of Sciences utilized audience research to better understand the proper way to promote science only systems in schools. This is a tactic that could have been used by the Discovery Institute Center of Renewal of Science and Culture to better promote their ideas. Science, Evolution, and Creationism had a better chance at convincing audiences of NAS’s beliefs because it used well-supported evidence to support it’s beliefs unlike the Discovery Institute.

On the other hand, one thing that the Discovery Institute strived to do that would have helped NAS, had they attempted, was to try and utilize the media to get their message into the public realm. The real struggle with the debate between evolution and intelligent design is the support of the public. As proven in last week’s readings, it is not the scientists that need convincing that evolution is real, it’s the public. If NAS would have attempted to launch their piece into the public realm, the intelligent design vs evolution debate may have been greatly impacted.

Questions for discussion: Can an belief system, like that created by the Discovery Institute, ever succeed in the public realm if the tactic of getting the word out is well planned? Or will it never have any level of success due to the lack of evidentiary support?

Was NAS correct in naming a book Science, Evolution an Creationism? By doing so, I thought that upon seeing the title, the book would discuss all three topics equally which may draw readers in or turn them off to the book.

AbbyLieberman_Week 4

September 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 1 Comment

In his presentation, “From Dayton to Dover: A History of the Evolution Teaching Legal Controversy in America”, historian and Professor, EJ Larson traces the historical account of the debate between evolution and creationism.  He goes through the chronological order of court cases in communities across the country and and discusses what he refers to as “the storm testing our tradition.”  In, “Understanding Our Audiences: The Design of Evolution of Science, Evolution, and Creationism,” Jay B. Labov and Barbara Kilne Pope report on the existence of National Academy of Sciences’ newest edition of “Science Evolution and Creationism.” The feature goes into the importance of understanding the the public’s beliefs on certain scientific issues as well as how they form those beliefs.  It proposes and talks about why this edition of “Science, Evolution, and Creationism” is a vehicle for teachers and organizations to use when explaining the debate between evolutionism and creationism. When looking at the the court cases and outlook of the evolution/ creationism battle that Larson delves into, in combination with the discussion of understanding audiences and providing a means to explain what is and is not science that  Labov and Pope discuss, it is clear that definitions of science have come a long way.  Furthermore, it is clear that they have come that long way due to the role that history and law have played in determining definitions of science.

In his lecture, Larson divides the history of the evolution and creationism debate into three successive parts.  The first, he says, is “removing evolution altogether.”  Larson explains that this first phase began with the 1925 Dayton, Tennessee case, when John Scopes, a biology teacher, was accused of violating Tennessee’s ban on teaching evolution. Key players in the case, William Jennings Bryan, and Clarence Darrow held world views that were at war and, ultimately, Scopes lost the case.  The reason? At the time, the “Supreme Court could not argue on 1st Amendment grounds,” explains Larson.  The second phase, he says, is “balancing evolution with some form of creation,” which came about as a result of religious organizations and individuals attempts to make creationism sound scientific. The appearance of “science proved religion,” he said, is what sparked the balance approach. The idea was spread though Henry Morris’ publication of Genesis Flood and the Institute for Creation Research. However, balance wasn’t enough for many creationists and, their anger spawned the emergence of the 3rd phase of debate: teaching evolution as just a theory. Larson discusses the outcry of proposals in states and local school districts to change policies regarding what evolution was and how it was taught schools.

Labov and Pope, like Larson, discuss what is and is not science and what has been concluded as a result of scientific history and progress.  They discuss an idea called “the wobbly public,” those who “are undecided about whether or not evolution, creationism, or some combination should be taught in public schools.” They talk about how this group must be targeted and with the right information.  Their book “was developed and organized by an expert committee of the NAS to help individuals better understand and thereby explain the principles of science in general, and evolution specifically, to other people with whom they interact” (24). By creating a publication from which teachers can gain correct knowledge and pass its on to others, Labov and Pope hope to reach that “wobbly public”.

However, the questions that came to me while watching and reading the two discussions of the debate is, how do you decide who to trust? Can we trust the decisions made throughout history when making our own ? What if we do not agree on what happened and the decisions made in past cases in the first place?  How can we accept what is known now on evolution and creationism to be true and if we can’t trust it, then what can we effectively teach to others?

Phil Morris – Week 4: Shipman, Labov & Pope

September 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Week 4, Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

Science has belatedly come to an understanding of the enormity of the threat it faces from religious purveyors of creationism and those who attempt to define intelligent design as science. As the article by Labor and Pope and the essay by Shipman starkly demonstrate, the scientific community formerly adopted a decidedly unscientific approach to understanding the danger it faced in the arena of public opinion and public policy in regards to the origin of life. An aloof and dismissive scientific community did not take the enemy seriously and it proved costly.

The leadership of the ID movement perceptively recognized a casual establishment response as an opportunity and effectively leveraged it against the academy. It was able to skillfully get the jump on science and further confuse the issue in the pubic mind by strategically marketing its beliefs to the “wobbly middle,” a public that remains open to the suggestion that ID is science or, at a minimum, a viable alternative theory to evolution.

Science now understands the threat and is fighting back. But that marketing battle now involves a necessary education or re-education of the public as to what constitutes science as well as a clarification of the enormous health and social stakes involved.

The scientific community, by no means a monolith, now understands that it can no longer present facts and assume they will be universally accepted or point to the rule of law and assume the issue settled.

As Labov and Pope write in “Understanding Our Audiences,” the scientific community had to come to the understanding that Kitzmiller v Dover did not frame the issue in the public mind.

“The (NAS) committee originally thought that this decision should be prominently touted … as one of the main reasons why various forms of creationism (including intelligent design) should not be taught in the classroom – it’s illegal. However, feedback from our research suggested that the public does not readily understand the role of the courts in such matters.”

Gaining a better understanding of how to educate the public to matters pertaining to science remains one of the primary challenges facing the scientific community. This challenge will force science to step far from its comfort zone and go into areas of educating that will closely resemble product marketing. The science academy must explain how understanding and accepting evolution as a scientific fact – not theory – will eventually lead to cures for diseases not yet discovered. But mostly the public must be led to the understanding that science is essentially about self-preservation.

“Now I know that I and my colleagues in science are being stalked with careful and deadly deliberation, I fear my days are numbered unless I act soon and effectively,” writes Shipman.

“As scientists, we must stop ignoring the ID movement. It won’t go away. Each of us must learn to avoid jargon in order to communicate better with the public,” she concludes.

That conclusion succinctly describes the difficult work that confronts science as it fights to gain the hearts and especially the minds of a conflicted and often ill-informed public.

If it fails to expand or even change the language and public vehicles that it uses to communicate essential scientific truth, it will continue to see a regression in public understanding of its purpose. Such a trend has dangerous and lasting policy implications.

Perhaps a useful start would be for science to re-brand the theory of evolution as the Law of Evolution. Given that the general public has consistently failed to understand or accept the scientific definition of a theory perhaps its time for scientists to begin speaking in language the public understands.

Stef Manisero – Week 4: Debating Evolution

September 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Chapter 10 of Johnson’s book on the evolution-creationism debate focuses fixedly on the Darwinist religion. According to Johnson, it is false to think that evolution creates a dispute between religion and science, for “religion and science are separate and mutually exclusive realms of human thought.” He further asserts that most scientists have no resentment towards religion because they are aware that “their subject doesn’t intersect the concerns of theology.” He delves into a discussion of the “fact-value distinction”, which expresses the idea that rational people, when it comes to knowledge and beliefs, start with the things that are known and real, as opposed to those that are unknown and unreal. Professor Provine voices that the conflict of science and religion is inescapable due to the fact that modern science makes the world out to be precisely mechanistic – there are no detectable Gods, no inherent ethical laws exist, etc. Johnson touches on the idea of compatibilism (the idea that science and religion do not conflict because they occupy separate realms) in his consideration of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). The ASA wrote a booklet to encourage open-mindedness in regard to the controversy. Further, he discusses the theory of “creation science”, which states that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Johnson demonstrates that nearly all scientists reject this theory, being that it provides no theoretical basis strong enough to consider plausible.

Whereas Johnson considered science to be the truth, Shipman, in her article entitled “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design”, holds the opposing belief that ID is not a science, but a matter of opinion, faith and philosophical preference, and therefore, scientifically unimportant. In Shipman’s discussion of the Dover case, she claims that, “ID was harming the teaching of science by confusing it with religion.” The fact that beliefs on ID can vary so drastically from one person to another make it an argument by incredulity and, consequently, inherently weak. On the contrary, Shipman asserts how evolution is a theory that is accepted by almost every person educated in the realm of science, and therefore extremely credible. Due to the high tenability of evolution, Shipman avows that in questioning the theory of evolution with that of ID is only going to harm students. As she provides in her article, at least 40 states are considering adding ID to their science curriculums. Further, international tests prove that US students are already behind science students of other countries. Her argument, therefore, contends that, for the sake of American students, ID should not be added to science curriculums, and that sticking to evolution, which is the more valid and conceivable theory, is the most logical thing to do.

Johnson and Shipman, evidently, both approached the topic from very different angles. Where Johnson argues from a very non-scientific point of view, Shipman takes the frame of mind of a scientist. Both authors, however, dismiss the idea of ID. Johnson maintains that there should be no issue, for the realms of science and religion do not overlap whatsoever. As scientific naturalists believe, science is a realm of objective knowledge, while religion is that of subjective knowledge. Johnson states that religions’ basis on intellectually untenable ideas places it in the realm of fantasy. As Johnson believes that religion and science are incompatible, Shipman states otherwise, demonstrating how Dobzhansky, a dedicated Christian, was also an evolutionist. She reasons that it is neither impossible nor uncommon for evolutionism and religion to be paralleled, and that ID needs not be integrated into the study of science. Shipman’s article incorporates a personal and emotional perspective, forewarning readers of the troubles that can come from assimilating the teaching of ID into science curriculums.

Questions: While Shipman believes that science and religion overlap, Johnson considers them to be in separate realms completely. This being said, who is to define science and who is to define religion so it can be determined whether these two things can coexist independently or must intersect each other?

Additionally, Shipman claims that teaching ID would harm students and hinder learning. How, exactly, would the teaching of multiple theories and allowing students to form their own beliefs, impair learning? Wouldn’t it, in fact, facilitate learning?

Week 4

September 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The readings for this week centered on policy concerning evolution versus creation science and what policies have influenced their presence in education. Shipman’s article highlights how creationism has “followed him” to the point of not being able to ignore its presence in the scientific and academic communities. He believes that ID is confusing science with religion, and this point is the basis for many court cases such as the Dover case and the case in Alabama in which a statute requiring balanced treatment to creation science and evolution science was declared unconstitutional. Johnson discusses these cases and then proceeds to differentiate between the theories of evolution and creationism in reference to how they have been perceived by experts in their respective fields as well as in legal cases. In the judge in Alabama, there are 5 criteria that must be met in order for something to be considered science:

1)   It is guided by natural law

2)   It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law

3)   It is testable against the empirical world

4)   Its conclusions are tentative

5)   It is falsifiable

In the cases referenced, it was consistently decided that creationism is not science and should therefore not be taught as science in classrooms. Johnson’s readings reference many experts with regard to evolution who are adamant that creation science has no part in determining how the state of organisms came to be, and that those who believe in creationism should, “check their brains at the church door.” It seems as though this standpoint is common to those who believe that no supernatural beings can be considered in relation to scientific theory. Creationists on the other hand have accepted that evolution is an essential part of their theory as well and seem more open to a common ground being found between the two theories. Do you think it is justified that evolution science have been “monopolizing” the scientific theory that can be taught in the classroom? Since creation science has enough of a following to cause such a stir in terms of policy, do you think that any alternatives to teaching creationist theory in public schools will emerge in an effort to continue the battle of creation science versus evolution science?

W4: The Wedge Strategy v. Being Stalked by I.D.

September 25, 2011 at 11:21 am | Posted in Week 4 | 3 Comments

In, The Wedge, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is in opposition to the idea of scientific materialism. They claim that Western civilization was built on the principle that humans were created in the image of God, and that materialism pushes the idea that “everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions” – this is decidedly destructive to society. Since materialists claimed the environment dictates our behavior and beliefs, they are in denial of the existence of an objective moral standard. The Center, consequently, explores “serious doubt” about scientific materialism. Furthermore, they propose the “Wedge Strategy”, a metaphor for wedging their beliefs into what is accepted as American science. This plan consists of three phases: P1 – Scientific research, writing and publicity, P2 – Publicity and opinion-making, P3 – Cultural confrontation and renewal. Their main goal is to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies. They want more people to believe that nature and human beings are created by God. They want people to see I.D. as an accepted alternative within 5 years, and as the dominant perception in science in 20 years. In short, they favor the teaching of science with Christian and theistic convictions. They plan to accomplish these goals through solid scholarship, research and argument. They planned to prepare for popular reception of their ideas – for instance with the production of a PBS documentary, and by phase three there will be a direct confrontation with advocates of materialists through challenge conferences in significant academic settings.

In, Being Stalked by Intelligent Design, Pat Shipman takes the opposite stance. He begins by explaining the Dover decision to question the validity of Darwin and evolution in schools. He then takes the stance that Intelligent Design is “religious prejudice disguised as intellectual freedom.” I.D. will therefore harm the teaching of science. Shipman was one of the petitioners of this decision that further caused a trial. He then proclaims that I.D. reasoning is an argument of incredulity, and is therefore inherently weak because you cannot test it. He then points out that science is different from opinion and philosophical belief, which he says I.D. is based upon. He was upset by how a student could opt out of learning evolution with a letter from a parent. He says this constitutes malfeasance. He then goes deeper in the the issues surrounding the debate between the I.D. movement, such as those in support of the Wedge Strategy. In doing so, he praises those who can accept both the existence of God and evolution such as the Bishop of Oxford and Archbishop of Canterbury who see evolution as compatible with the belief in God. He then explores the OSU study on whether students maintain their beliefs after learning supporting and challenging evidence of macroevolution. However, he points out that there is no valid scientific data challenging macroevolution and that this is misleading and this study is miseducating students. He opposes the Center for Science and Culture agenda to encourage students to believe a scientific theory is the same as a philosophical assertion. With regard to the new scientific evidence the Center claims to have for proving I.D., he calls this pure propaganda. He then proclaims that the success of the I.D. is “terrifying”, due in part to the fact that the U.S. is falling behind other nations in mathematics and scientific literacy, and should the I.D. vision come true, this will get even worse. Young people will likely suffer the most as a result of this. He ends by saying the I.D. movement will likely not go away, so it is unwise for scientists to ignore it. In short, the counter-plan for scientists should be “to expose I.D. for what it really is: religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom.”

Some questions for discussion:

Did Shipman go too far by saying I.D. was “religious prejudice masked as intellectual freedom? Or, did he have good reason for proclaiming such?

Are movements like the Wedge Strategy truly a threat to students’ progress in science and mathematics? Or, can an alternative be discussed without the U.S. falling further behind in math and science?

Is the “evidence” the I.D. movement uses to support their beliefs legitimate, or are they propaganda, like Shipman claims?

Would you be upset, bothered, annoyed etc. if a student were permitted to be excused from science class with a letter from a parent?

Luke Yiannatji

Casey Krutz- Week 4 Blog Post

September 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design” Shipman holds the view that the teaching of Intelligent Design is detrimental in American Society.  Shipman claims that ID is a weak argument, because it is based on incredulity.  He does not so much have a problem with students believing in ID as a matter of faith, but he feels that a religious theory has no place in a science class. An interesting point brought up is the view towards the “wedge.” According the Shipman, those in support of the wedge are tearing apart biology and other related sciences, such as physics.  Shipman brings to attention that ID rejects “scientific materialism” which means that the world around us can be explained by scientific forces. Instead ID relies on “theistic realism” which is the assumption that the universe and all of its creatures were brought into existence as a purpose by God. Shipman’s main complaint is that ID is an assumption and not evidence, which science requires, and has no place being taught as science. The debate of evolution versus ID has become problematic because teachers around the United have begun to fear teaching evolution in the classrooms. 1/3 of teachers feel pressured to include ID, creationism or “other scientific alternatives” in their science curriculums, and some have begun to bypass teaching evolution completely.  Students in America compared to international schools are lagging behind in science and mathematics. By the time they reach high school, United States comes in 19th out of 21 nations for science and math and a large percent of college students that study science and math are international students. Because of this, Shipman thinks that not teaching evolution, the foundation of science, is only going to worsen Americans and lead them away from empowering careers in science and math. In fact, Shipman sees ID as a form of religious prejudice, because it is rejecting science based on personal religious beliefs.

In “The Wedge Strategy” the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture takes an opposite view. The piece discusses why scientific materialism is detrimental and ID is the solution to the problem.  The “wedge” in the piece is discussed as being able to split the trunk when applied to its weakest points. The critique against Evolution and Darwinism began in 1991 with “Darwinism on Trial” and then the wedge was broadened when ID was introduced, which according to “The Wedge Strategy” is a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories like evolution. The wedge’s goal is to replace the materialist view with a scientific view that is consistent with theistic conviction. Material Science is problematic because it denies moral standards and claims that the environment dictates our beliefs and behaviors. Negative results have been seen the modern approach to criminal justice, welfare and product liability. This piece holds the belief that according to materialists, no one can be held accountable for their actions since they are a victim. Another negative result is that materialists make people falsely believe that through scientific knowledge, coercive government programs that falsely promote Heaven on Earth could be created.

“Being Stalked By Intelligent Design” and “The Wedge Strategy” take two completely different views on evolution. Shipman view’s ID as the negative force, misinforming students of what is science and therefore putting their scientific knowledge to a halt. In Shipman’s view not learning about evolution means that students’ are not learning about the fundamentals of scientific theory. This could result in less American students being empowered and knowledgeable to go into scientific and mathematic fields of study.  “The Wedge Strategy” holds the belief that evolution is the negative force and that is a part of scientific materialism which contradicts moral standards.  It aids the creation of government programs that are inconsistent with religious beliefs. 

Overall, it appears that Shipman and the Discovery Institute both think that the teachings are a form of prejudice. According to Shipman, ID is religious prejudice in a way such that personal religious beliefs lead to opposition against material science, which leaves out supernatural empowerment. The Discovery Institute seems to think that it is prejudice in that something with religious backing cannot hold weight in the scientific world, one that resists supernatural forces.

My question is: In either view, is being opposed to ID or being opposed to evolutionary teaching a form of prejudice? If it is, how can the argument from either side of the debate be revised so that prejudices are no longer in effect?

Week 4: Johnson & The Discovery Institute

September 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Week 3 | 1 Comment

Both Johnson’s Chapter 1 and The Wedge by the Discovery Institute present inflammatory arguments towards evolution and appear to advocate on the part of Creationism/ID.  In Chapter 1, Johnson, a lawyer, prefaces his forthcoming debate about the legitimacy of evolution versus creation. Interestingly, Johnson focuses on many arguments that critique evolution. He describes how evolutionary arguments often leave little room for conflict of questioning. He also points out how similar to religious evangelists evolutionists, in that both appear to evangelize, yet evolutionists continue to use science to discus religious matters, not separating church and state as they advocate. He also draws evidence from other critics, who argue that evolution is also a matter of faith; thus presenting information that is vastly different from many thoughts about evolution and seems extremely critical in a non-scientific manner.

The Wedge Document by the Discovery Institute summarizes the plan of the Discovery Institute to make Intelligent Design the dominant belief. They want science to become a theistic pursuit and consider evolution a product of a materialist culture they wish to eradicate. They strategize to use scientific research and publication to primarily begin to change public perception of ID, then using publicity to change opinions, and finally confronting cultural standards and renewing beliefs. Their plan focuses on science as the foundation for changing beliefs and plans to become the dominant belief in 20 years.

As previously noted, both pieces focus on problems with evolution as the dominant thought process worldwide; including flaws within evolution and similarities between creationism’s belief structures. However, where Johnson takes a strongly non-scientific, legal, argument based claim-evaluation, the Discovery Institute believes science rather than rhetoric will help initially change minds and eventually be able to support strong, opinion-changing rhetoric. My question is, what sorts of scientific findings and types of publications would lay sufficient groundwork for intelligent design to attempt to become the dominant belief system?

Megan Geske Week 4: Johnson (Ch 9) and Shipman

September 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, Week 4, Weekly Responses | 2 Comments

It is clear from their writings that Philip Johnson and Pat would not get along. Philip Johnson is considered a founder of the Intelligent Design movement, and wrote the book “Darwin on Trial” about the evolution-creation debate (scientists have heavily criticized the book as being misleading and inaccurate). Pat Shipman on the other hand is an anthropologist, and in her article “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design” she describes ID as “a deliberate campaign to undermine the teaching of science in America”.

Chapter 9 in Johnson’s “Darwin on Trial” discusses the definition of science, evolution, and creationism. Johnson has a very broad definition of a creationist: “a person who believes that the world was designed, and exists for a purpose.” In opposition to creationists, Johnson states that Darwinists (a term Johnson uses for all evolutionists) and mainstream science believe that God has nothing to do with evolution. Johnson claims that “creation by Darwinist evolution is hardly more observable than supernatural creation by God”, and that “Darwinism as explanation for how complex organisms came into existence in the first place…is pure philosophy”. In sum, Johnson appears to be claiming that evolutionary biologists do not believe in God, and religion and science appear to be incompatible.

Shipman’s article delves into the issue of Intelligent Design from a scientist’s perspective. Shipman argues that ID is not science, but at most an opinion or a “philosophical preference”. Shipman points out that in the scientific community, there is no controversy or debate about the fundamental principle of evolution, despite what Johnson may claim. Shipman, like Johnson, also discusses religion. While Johnson believes that evolutionists can’t be religious, Shipman points out that Theodosius Dobzhansky was a devout Christian as well as being a geneticist and evolutionist. Furthermore, she cites that many people view religion and evolution as compatible, such as the Bishop of Oxford and Pope John Paul II.
My questions: Do you think there would still be a public debate about evolution if religion were not an issue? Do you think that science is compatible with religion?

Week 4 Post – Johnson (Chapter 9) & Shipman

September 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Week 4 | 2 Comments

Johnson Chapter 9 was spoke of a case with the Arkansas State Legislature about  how they were requiring “balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science”. Darwinist philosophers were put on the stand and made statements such as, “there can be no such things as ‘creation-science’. Judge Overton started to define what science was with the fact that it is accepted by the scientific community, and since that was unhelpful he specified on five aspects of science that we have talked about in class and have seen in many different cases:

“1) it is guided by natural law 2) it has to be explanatory by reference to natural law 3) it is testable against the empirical world 4) its conclusions are tentative – that is, not necessarily the final word and 5) it is falsifiable”

After he stated these, Judge Overton ruled that creation-science does not fall into these characteristics because it “appeals to the supernatural, and hence is not testable, falsifiable, or explanatory by reference to natural law”.

The Shipman article talks about the Dover case that we learned about in past readings and movies. Shipman is not afraid to share his opinion in this piece and the article is framed with scientific/technical uncertainty and by morality/ethics. He gives many reasons as why ID is not science and shouldn’t be taught in schools. He also touches on the fact that ID is simply “a matter of faith”.

Both of these articles touch on the idea of what is and what isn’t science, what should and shouldn’t be taught in schools, and what is a matter of faith or a matter of fact.

Question: In Johnson (Chapter 9), I felt like the ones that strive for creationism to not be on equal terms with evolution couldn’t even come up with one solid definition when it came to what evolution consists of. The Darwinists was different from the Simpson’s meaning of evolution, which was different from the Gnostics thoughts. So how do they expect the public to believe in evolution, when there are multiple views/definitions that no one (scientist) can agree on?

Jorden Gemuend – Week 4 – Shipman and Labov

September 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Posted in Week 4, Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

The defense, protection, and advancement of the theory of evolution are high priorities for many scientists, organizations, and activists alike. While articles such as “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design,” by Pat Shipman, and “Understanding Our Audiences: The Design and Evolution of Science, Evolution, and Creationism,” by Jay Labov and Barbara Kline Pope, both attempt to convince their readers that Intelligent Design (ID) and Creationism are not scientific and should remain outside of education, neither of them even touch the idea of questioning the theory of evolution. The article by Labov hints at the idea by stating that the updated publication Science, Evolution, and Creationism includes the limits of science. With such controversial challenges confronting the theory of evolution, scientists have stopped asking questions that could lead to possibilities outside of evolution.


This forward-only vision can be seen in the article written by Shipman. The article begins by claiming that the author ignored and thought little of the ID “threat.” It was not until the Dover school board drew attention that Shipman became alarmed. The publication describes ID as religion in disguise and classifies it as a weak strategy of incredulity. Shipman talks about how nearly everyone educated in science believes in the theory of evolution, and adds a long list of organizations that also support evolution. While this tactic of showing that the theory of evolution has a lot of support within the scientific community, it does not turn around and ask whether scientists should attempt to test for alternatives. No questions are posed to the community about the assumptions of evolution. There are no questions at all, only the appearance of unification, and therefore scientific results. The community, feeling under attack, has become afraid to go back and take a second look at what has now been taken for granted; the basis for evolution and all its intricate parts. To ask these questions would infer that the community is not indeed united, and would appear to lose credibility. Instead of posing questions about how evolution can be tested further, Shipman discusses the strategies of the ID movement. She focuses on how the challenge to evolution is stunting learning, and how frightened people should be when these challenges appear. She concludes by stressing the importance of taking ID seriously.


Labov takes another angle to arrive at the same destination. The focus is on explaining an updated version of a publication called Science, Evolution, and Creationism, which was written by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The updated publication takes on the role of informing and educating teachers and organizations with the means to properly discuss the debate between evolution and ID. Labov’s article goes in depth with how NAS created surveys to gauge their audience, sent copies to influential people for critique and advice, and overall underwent a rigorous process to become the piece of literature that is. The article talks about court cases in which the teaching of evolution was upheld and the teaching of creationism and ID were not. Highlights of the publication include new developments supporting evolution while explaining that religion is not to be considered scientifically. What the article does not discuss, however, are scientists taking an interest in questioning the theories they have come so far to develop.  Afraid to look in any direction except evolution, scientists seem to not even want to consider that alternatives may exist. Somewhere in the midst of defending evolution, science has lost its sense of self; that being wrong is still moving forward.


While both of these articles have the objective of sounding the alarm and forging the weapons for the fight against creationism and ID, they take some different strategies to do it. Whereas Shipman uses a personal first person perspective, adding emotion and story to her writing, the Labov article takes on a tone of superiority and condescendence. They both have the same intent, but they each have a different effect on their readers. Shipman uses a precautionary frame to convince the reader that they too should be afraid and in response more strongly support evolution. Reading Labov leaves a reader feeling like they just attended a passive-aggressive lecture on why we should all be teaching evolution without question. Both rely on pointing out that the scientific community mostly agrees on evolution, and both say nothing about questioning what has already been established for the theory of evolution.


My Question: If it seems as though there are plenty of people interested in scientifically looking for alternatives to evolution, why does the scientific community not search for them?

Phillip Morris – Week 3: Nisbet/Miller et al.

September 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, Week 3 | 3 Comments

It is fairly clear that the scientific community has dropped the ball when it comes to keeping the American public well informed on the nature of what constitutes the scientific origins of life.

As national and international surveys reveal during the past 20 years, Americans increasingly have become open to the notion of entertaining intelligent design as a viable scientific alternative to the theory of natural selection, especially the evolution of man.

Most worrisome to scientist as the trend continues is the reality that savvy religious and political propagandists have convinced increasing numbers of Americans that both the theory of evolution and the doctrine of intelligent design should be presented in the classroom as equally valid science.

The scientific community really has nothing to blame but itself for this remarkable intellectual regression. An insular academic arrogance and a fundamental misunderstanding or misreading of the public’s basic understanding of science, especially the science of evolution, has allowed opportunists with a creationist or political agenda to highjack validated science and to confuse or “politicize” the public mindset toward the origin of life.

So how have the creationists managed to retool their message as intelligent design and market it as valid science to the general public? Very simple. They’ve skillfully used the media as their messengers.

A 2005 Survey Research Institute Poll at the University of Cornell showed that most Americans received their information and developed their views on evolution based primarily on TV and newspaper coverage of the issue. Few indicated that they were directly contacted through the mail, phone, or electronically with those wishing to influence their opinion.

This strategy to use mainstream media outlets to market competing viewpoints to evolution has proved highly effective given that media are trained to always looks to present another side to a story or to be fair and balanced in  coverage. As a result, concludes Nisbet, “many journalists compound the problem by carefully, yet erroneously, balancing pro-evolution against ID arguments, inevitably leading to a confusing picture about the state of science.”

This has led to the intellectual creation of a growing class of Americans whom Nisbet refers to as “low-information pluralists” or “persuadables,” who conclude that evolution and ID are both valid and should be presented equally to students with the academic intention of allowing them to form their own conclusions.

The successful media marketing of ID along with the politicization of the issue by politicians, who understand that fundamentalist can be courted by presenting evolution as anathema to Christianity  has served to effectively and dangerously confuse the issue write Miller, Scott and Okamoto. It also signals the end of an era when there was “broad public acceptance of the benefits of science and technology,” the authors conclude in the article Public Acceptance of evolution.

Which leads to the question how can scientists hope to regain momentum in the marketplace of evolutionary ideas when they have been reluctant to engage media savvy ID proponents in open forums? (Witness the failure of scientist to forcefully and directly challenge those who led the movement to revise the Kansas science curriculum).

Also, how can science hope to regain momentum in the political marketplace of ideas when, as Miller, et al. write,  “the growing number of adults who are uncertain about (evolution) suggests that current science instruction is not effective

One can only conclude that until science finds a much better way of communicating established theory and highly validated information through mainstream channels, religious propaganda and political mischief will continue to hold sway with science.

Abby Lieberman_ Week 3

September 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Week 3 | 1 Comment

There are many social psychologists who say that most people are passive media consumers; that is, their beliefs and perceptions of the world emerge out of their television viewing, newspaper and magazine reading, and whatever else they hear about certain issues.  Others, however, believe that that most consumers are actually active viewers; they feel that people choose or select what media to consume and formulate an educated view of the world based on what media provides and their own ideas. Either way, in reading Nisbet and Nisbet’s feature article titled, “Evolution & intelligent Design: Understanding Public Opinion” and in reviewing the Pew Research Center’s report, “Public Praises Science, Scientists Fault Public, Media”, it is clear that the general public is not provided enough scientific information in order to make informed decisions and formulate knowledgeable beliefs about what is and is not science.

In their article, Nisbet and Nisbet argue that media consumers are not given enough correct information on scientific issues, particularly on intelligent design.  They discuss that the way journalists frame ID is reflected in people’s decisions and that, often, the media sets consumers up to believe something that is not true. According to Nisbet and Nisbet, “many journalists compound the problem by carefully, yet erroneously, balancing pro-evolution against ID arguments inevitably leading to a confusing picture about the sate of science” (5). They stress the important role journalism plays in people’s scientific beliefs and that there simply isn’t enough correct information out there; in fact, there is too much misleading information.  Additionally, they explain that, to go against the ID movement, it is imperative that supporters of evolution engage with the public on a more regular basis.  The media should not be the only outlet for information on the topic; board meetings and community gatherings would foster a more active and knowledgeable public (5).

Pew Research’s report, “Public Praises Science, Scientists Fault Public, Media” is evidence that what Nisbet and Nisbet explain is, in fact, true. The study finds that “Scientists hold generally negative views of the quality of news coverage of scientific issues” (22).  However, it also shows that part of the misleading coverage is a result of scientists not providing enough information to journalists and reporters. Overall, 85% of scientists see the public’s lack of knowledge on key scientific issues, such as that of evolution and ID, to be a problem (55).  The study, like Nisbet and Nisbet’s article, concludes that the public must be more engaged and involved in the discussion.

This goes back to whether or not people are active or passive media consumers.  The best way to tackle the situation at hand and to inform people of the truth depends on the ways in which they consume media. A person who is a passive consumer may flip on a random channel and take in what they are hearing, but not necessarily employ their own viewpoints in how they feel about it.  They will believe what they hear.  On the flip side, a person who is an active consumer may not even choose to put on a certain TV channel at all or read a certain newspaper, for that matter, because neither would pertain to their beliefs.  In this case they may be preventing themselves from consuming vital scientific knowledge altogether. So what is the best way to fix how the public consumes scientific information? The media is a vehicle for the ways in which information is consumed, but what is the best way to present scientific data? How can you cater to the active and the passive media consumer at the same time?

Megan Geske Week 3: Pew and Nisbet

September 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Week 3, Weekly Responses | 5 Comments

In the article Framing Science: A New Paradigm in Public Engagement, Nisbet argues that scientists need to frame their findings and ideas in ways “that address intended audience’s values, interests and worldviews” (3). Proponents of Intelligent Design used a “scientific uncertainty” frame in the mainstream media in order to plant doubts about the validity of the theory of evolution. In addition, journalists writing about the debate focused on the tactics of ID proponents, and largely ignored the scientific background. By showing arguments from both sides, journalists actually gave credibility to the “scientific uncertainty” frame, when there was actually no controversy in the scientific world.
Section 5 of the Pew Report further discusses the fact that the public and scientists often hold differing views of issues such as evolution and climate change; while there is a general consensus in the scientific community about the theory of evolution, the public remains divided. The report found that the public’s view on evolution is closely tied to their religious beliefs, with 57% of white evangelical Prtotestants not believing in evolution, and about half of the people who do not attend religious services believing in evolution due to natural selection. In addition to religion, the report found that younger respondents were more likely to believe that humans evolved by means of natural selection.
Both Nisbet and the Pew Report delve into the issue that while scientists agree that humans and living things evolved by natural selection, the public is not so sure. While the Pew Report focuses on religion and age as factors for the public’s uncertainty, Nisbet focuses on the way scientists communicate with the public, or rather their lack of communication skills. The Pew Report offers demographic explanations for the public divide in opinion, but I believe that Nisbet offers the more compelling evidence: scientists don’t know how to communicate. In the movie Flock of Dodo’s, one scientist stated that “evolutionary biologists…don’t respect the kinds of arguments these people [ID proponents] are making, so they just ignore it and think it’s going to go away.” Scientists need to be able to effectively show the public that evolution is not a “scientific uncertainty”. In addition, I believe the biggest problem lies in the hands of journalists, whose “strategy and conflict” frame is giving the public a false impression about the scientific community. I think the best way to create a more unified public opinion may lie in the hands of the journalists.
My questions:

The Pew Report showed that large percentages of the American public do not agree that scientists have reached a consensus about issues such as evolution and climate change. Why do you think the public is unsure about what the scientific community believes?

What do you believe is the best way for the scientific community to sway the public? Framing? Is it the journalists’ fault? Why is it important for the public to agree with the scientists?

Some Evolution and ID Links:




And just for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzHHZ5oXAr0

Stef Manisero – Week 3: Nisbet and Miller et al

September 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nisbet’s article entitled “Evolution And Intelligent Design: Understanding Public Opinion” discusses the dispute over including alternative theories to evolution in public school district’s official science curriculums. The Intelligent Design movement is the efforts to change how evolution is taught and targets the public with the hopes of informing citizens and molding public opinion through magazine articles, newspapers, public speeches, videos, etc. The article includes polls of national surveys, one asking Americans how attentive they were to newspaper and TV coverage of a few issues, including evolution. In analyzing the results, it was found that Americans, as a whole, pay comparably close attention to the issue of evolution as they do to other important issues in the news. Through the multiple surveys conducted, it was found that the majority of the public favors teaching creationism in addition to teaching evolutionary theory in public schools.

One of the most important points in this article, in my opinion, is the effect of the media on public opinion. Specialists claim that public opinion is shaped by advertisement of high profile leaders, and Bush was quoted in saying, “People should be exposed to different ideas”. Many also believe that, in the hopes of keeping the public informed, engagements should be interactive, with events such as local town meetings, where citizens will be in direct contact with scientists, educators, etc. Doing so will allow for more trust and understanding on both sides of this emotional debate between evolution and Intelligent Design.

Miller, Scott, and Okamoto, as opposed to Nisbet, believe that the American public is uninformed when it comes to scientific issues, and makes this claim in their article “Public Acceptance of Evolution”. The authors state that the Intelligent Design theory is a way of teaching that God started human life on Earth without mentioning “God”, however, education should not be intertwined with religion. In one study, it was found that almost half of the American adult population was ignorant in regard to the percentage of human genes that overlap with those of other animals, including chimpanzees and mice. This represents the ideas that citizens are unaware of the truth, yet make stances on important matters regardless, and therefore, are continuously making uninformed claims and sharing uneducated beliefs. Another study proves that half of Americans accept the concept of evolution, while half of Americans reject it, further enforcing the divide in the American culture on this topic. Also, this article discusses how other countries in Europe and Japan are much more accepting to the idea of evolution than America is. Miller et al argue that there are primarily three reasons for this, the first being the difference between how Genesis is interpreted in these different countries. Conventional Protestantism is more diverse than American beliefs than it is with European beliefs, and consequently, leaves more room for disagreement and debate. Lastly, a further poll shows that Americans who support evolution, for the majority, are those who are the most informed about modern genetics. This demonstrates the idea that objection to evolution is, simply put, a lack of intelligence.

Both articles contribute the belief that religion is related to complications with introducing the idea of Intelligent Design into public schools, and therefore, into American society. Nisbet claims that more people welcome the idea of ID than the idea of evolution. However, Miller, Scott and Okamoto believe that half of Americans support evolution and half are in favor of ID. Both articles use polls to demonstrate their own beliefs. The polls used in Nisbet’s article demonstrate that “many members of the public underestimate the overwhelming consensus in support of the theory of evolution”. Furthermore, Nisbet attributes the public’s mainstream beliefs highly to the media. He claims that increased media attention will change the attitudes of the public. The polls used in Miller et al’s articles argue mainly that much of the public is uninformed, and to this lack of education is to what we can mainly accredit the disagreements on the issue.

Questions: One of the largest issue at hands seems to be a lack of information and education on the topic to the public. If this, in actuality, is the case, what can we do to further inform and enlighten Americans on the truths of evolution? Additionally, Nesbit’s article claims that the majority of the population supports teaching both creationism and evolutionary theory. Would there be positive effects, negative effects, or a combination of the two, in doing so? What would these effects be and how would it change society in the long run?

Stef Manisero




Pew and Nisbet Articles

September 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Week 3 | 1 Comment

In Section 5 of the Pew Report, he discusses how the public opinion on various scientific theories can be influenced by many factors such as age, gender, religion, and political party. He addresses evolution, stem cell research, animal testing, climate change, and vaccinations to exemplify how an individual’s characteristics and beliefs can sway their opinion on these topics of science. For example, when it comes to evolution, many people acknowledge that it exists but are torn on whether it has occurred due to natural selection or whether there is a “divine being” involved. Those with higher education levels are more likely to accept the idea of natural selection than those with less educational background. Those who are very religious and regularly attend church are less likely to accept natural selection as the means of evolution. Characteristics such as gender, age, and political party have also had an effect on public opinion concerning debated scientific processes such as animal testing and stem cell research.

Nisbet also recognizes these effects on public opinion in his article Framing Science: A New Paradigm in Public Engagement. He believes that due to these factors there has been controversy on topics such as evolution and climate change, but the framing of these issues is also a cause of the controversy. He says that there has commonly been a strategy to inform the public strictly with facts, and to let the facts speak for themselves so that we can reach a consensus. However, he stresses the importance of framing scientific issues in terms of an “audience-based” approach by appealing to the audience on a more personal level. An example of this is how framing evolution in terms of the medical advances it could bring appealed to the audience more instead of framing it in terms of legal cases or straight facts.

Both of these articles have valid points in their approach to public opinion in relation to evolution, climate change, etc. Considering how many differences were addressed, how effective would framing really be in creating some kind of common ground? It seems as though there are too many differences that would have to be accounted for in order to appeal to the general public. Even if there was a framing scheme that could appeal to most, isn’t it likely that there will be at least one group that will oppose? Even if it is for the purpose of playing devil’s advocate? According to the articles, those who have strong religious or political beliefs are not likely to be swayed by the scientific community that has experts on the subject. Would it make more sense to accept the fact that there will be differences in opinion rather than trying to manipulate the overall message that scientists are trying to get out in order to reach agreement?




Week 3 Pew and Miller Readings

September 18, 2011 at 9:57 am | Posted in Week 3, Weekly Responses | 1 Comment

Section 5 of the Pew Research Center reading on “Evolution, Climate Change, and Other Issues,” highlights the results of several surveys regarding Americans’ opinion on such issues. In doing so, they point out that scientists agree on evolution and climate change, whereas the general public stands divided. In, “The Origin and Development of Life,” they compare polls from scientists only and the general public. 61% of the public says humans evolved over time, whereas 32% say evolution is due to “natural causes such as natural selection”, and 22% say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today. However, 97% of scientists say humans evolved over time, and 87% say it was through natural causes. They then point out factors that may affect the results of these surveys. For instance, religious affiliation provides different results. Also, younger respondents were found to be more likely to say humans evolved through natural selection, in addition to higher educated people being more likely to say this. With regard to climate change, 85% of Americans say the earth is warming. However, 70% of scientists feel this is a problem, compared to only 40% of the public seeing it as such. Likewise, only 49% of the public feel it is caused by human activity, compared to 84% of scientists saying such. Furthermore, liberals and democrats were found more likely than conservatives and republicans to believe global warming is caused by human activity such as burning fossil fuels. Additionally, 52% of the general public is in favor of using animals in science research, compared to 93% of scientists. Men, republicans, and younger people were found more likely to support this than women, democrats, and older people respectively. Likewise, scientists were more likely to support federal funding for stem cell research than the general public, 93% to 58%. Similarly, 70% of scientists are in favor of nuclear power plants for electricity, compared to only 51% of the general public. Finally, 82% of scientists favor requiring child vaccinations, whereas only 69% of the public agree. It is clear that scientists are in much greater congruence among there kind, compared to among the general public.

In Miller’s, “Public Acceptance of Evolution,” similar surveys were conducted to find out percentages of those who accept and do not accept evolution, and possible causes of such findings. In the beginning, they point out that biblical literalists do not accept the concept of evolution of humans. Furthermore, attempting to institute Intelligent Design into public schools is believed to be religiously motivated. Over the past 20 years, the acceptance of evolution among the general U.S. public has shown to decline from 45%-40%. Only 14% of American adults thought evolution was “definitely true”. Compared to 9 other European countries, a significantly less proportion of American adults accept evolution as truth. A third of Americans indicate evolution is “absolutely false”, whereas only 7% believe this in Denmark, France, and Great Britain, and only 15% in the Netherlands. Why is this so? They hypothesize that it has to do with a higher percentage of biblical literalists among their religious population compared to other countries. Also, it may be due to the fact that this debate has become politicized – republicans are more favorable of “creation science” than democrats. There is also a statistical correlation between being pro-life and rejecting evolution. In the end, Miller suggests that basic concepts of evolution should be taught in middle school, high school, and college and if more Americans had knowledge of the science of evolution, they would be more likely to accept it.

Both readings do a good job surveying relevant topics with significant findings regarding evolution and public opinion. However, both articles touch on unique subjects. The Pew article touches on the opinion on child vaccinations, nuclear power plants, funding for stem cell research, using animals in scientific research, and climate chance. The Miller article touches on statistics among general populations of various countries. They both analyze the impact of religion on public opinion. The Pew article basically concludes that those who think more like scientists are more likely to believe in evolution, human activity’s role in climate change, using animals in research, funding stem cell research, nuclear power, and child vaccinations. These results may be affected by things such as political affiliation, religious affiliation, and education or lack-thereof. The Miller article, likewise, concludes that more education leads to a higher acceptance of evolution, and that a higher percentage of biblical literalists in a given sample will lower the acceptance rate of evolution within that general public.

Some questions for discussion from these readings might include:

Do you think biblical literalists will ever be able to compromise with evolutionists? Why or why not?

Will future generations of descendants of biblical literalists be more likely to compromise with evolutionists? Why or why not?

Are scientists, with their higher knowledge of these subjects, more fit to make decisions on climate change than our politicians? Why or why not?

Luke Yiannatji

Week 3 Post – Pew Research (Section 5) & Public Acceptance of Evolution

September 18, 2011 at 12:22 am | Posted in Week 3 | 1 Comment

Section 5: Evolution, Climate Change and Other Issues from Pew Research Center talks about two issues that divide the public and that is evolution and climate change. “87% of scientists say humans and other living things have evolved over time and it is due to natural processes, when only 32% of the public believes this.” There are many different attributes to look at when it comes to the differences in people’s view on evolution. 1) Gender – Males are more likely to believe in evolution, when females are more likely to believe living things have existed in their present form since the beginning 2) Age – Younger people are more likely to believe in evolution, and more older people believe in the existing in present form 3) Education – the more education you have ( some or more college ) the more likely you are to believe in evolution, then someone with not as much education that would believe in existing in present form. Religion and attendance at religious services also features to look at when it comes to people’s different views on evolution. When it comes to the divide over climate change, we can look at age and education to guess where the public may stand on this important issue, but the strongest correlation of opinion is Republican versus Democrat. “Two-thirds of Republicans say that the earth is getting warmer mostly because of natural changes in the atmosphere, when the same amount of Democrats say the earth is getting warmer mostly because of human activity.”

Jon D. Miller’s Public Acceptance of Evolution stated that, “the public appears to be divided evenly in terms of accepting or rejecting evolution.” Over the past 20 years, surveys have been conveyed conducting this research. When true and false surveys were conducted in the US, they got different results then when they asked for statements like “definitely true, probably false, etc.”. It seems like most US adults were somewhere in the middle, and really aren’t positive whether evolution is true or false. But in other countries, they received much different results; adults in Japan and 32 European countries were more likely to accept the theory of evolution when surveyed then the adults in the US.

Both of these articles are talking about different variables that can contribute to one’s belief in evolution. They also both give statistics to show that the public is still very divided on this topic of evolution. Even if the scientists believe it, and have the resources to back them up; the people that have religious beliefs feel like it is taking away from their impeccable image of God.

Reading these articles and watching Judgment Day made me wonder if we will ever come to an agreement on evolution. I feel like even if there is research done and evidence to prove whether evolution is true or false, some still won’t believe. Won’t people still just believe what they want? Won’t it always be a problem to teach evolution to the children of nonbelievers or have scientists teach creationism? Then what, what are we suppose to teach our children? Or do we leave it up to the parents to teach them what they want, and leave this aspect out of science class for good?

Links for the debate between ID and Evolution:




Week 3 Blog Post

September 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In his article, “Public Acceptance of Evolution”, Miller takes the stance that Americans as a whole are uninformed, especially in scientific matters. Americans appear to make judgments about key issues without having a clear understanding of what the facts are. The article mentions a 2005 study in which a large number of American adults were given a description of natural selection without using the word “evolution.” 78% of adults in the study agreed to this description, yet 62% of these adults believed that God created humankind with no relation to evolution. This makes the point that many American adults are unclear of what ideas they reject. Another interesting finding within the article is that nearly half of American adults are unaware of the proportion of human genes that overlap with mice or chimpanzees. Both findings show that Americans have weak biological foundations, which results in their uncertainty of evolution. Evolution is much more accepted in European countries and Japan than in America. The article “Public Acceptance of Evolution” attributes this to three reasons. One is that the structure and beliefs in American fundamentalism differ in history from mainstream Protestantism. In the United States, Genesis is more widely regarded as a true account of human life, where in Protestant faiths, mostly seen in Europe, Genesis is viewed as metaphorical leaving less room for contradiction. A second reason is that the issue of evolution is politicized in America to an extent not seen in countries such as Japan.  Lastly, even though genetic literacy is comparable in both Europe and the United States, many adults hold a human exceptionalism perspective, which means that many adults integrate modern genetics into understanding of life.  These three things result in the public putting more emphasis on their political and religious beliefs than having concern of what evolution actually is and then agreeing or disagreeing with it.

In the article, “Evolution and Intelligent Design: Understanding Public Opinion” Matthew C. Nisbet takes a slightly different approach to how the American public views evolution and alternate views, such as intelligent design. While Nisbet, like Miller, has the stance that the American public is uniformed about evolution, he provides some other explanations as to why. Nisbet feels that the media has a profound effect on how the public views evolution. Journalists in the news do not provide bias when discussing daily scientific findings. However, when more politicized contexts are brought to attention, intelligent design is brought up an alarming amount. Journalists balance their coverage of both evolution and intelligent design arguments, leaving the public confused and lead to believe that both are valid scientific points of view. Nisbet particularly brings to attention “low-information pluralists” who believe that students should be exposed to multiple points of view, so they can make their own decision of what view they support. These people do not have the motivation or time to become fully informed on issues, so they rely solely on the news for information on both evolution and ID. As a result of news covering ID and evolution as opposing points of view, low-information pluralists accept both evolution and ID as acceptable scienctific alternatives. To add to the influence of the news, high profile political leaders, such as George W. Bush, have played a role in public opinion of evolution. Bush’s claim that multiple views of thought should be exposed to public makes it appears more acceptable.

Both Nisbet and Miller would agree that the American public does not have a clear understanding of what evolution is. Miller places more focus on the religious and political differences between American versus foreign nations. Nisbet on the other hand brings to attention the key role the media plays shaping the views of public. He contends that if Americans are not informed by the media and see extensive coverage of both ID and evolution, they will be more likely to open to all views instead of rejecting one or the other. In fact the public underestimates the consensus of scientists in support for evolution and overestimates the scientific credibility of ID, since journalists cover both evolutionary theory and ID an equal amount. This could be detrimental since many scientists are not in agreeance with Intelligent Design.

Multiple questions arise after reading these two articles. What would an Intelligent Design proponent’s view be of teaching both evolution and ID in science curriculums? Those in favor of evolution, including Miller and Nisbet according to these articles, seem to think that the public’s support of evolution means they lack scientific knowledge and are influenced by society and the news. Do strong believers in the opposite view have such claims against the mentions of natural selection and evolutionary theory?

Also, is the American Public’s interest in learning multiple views necessarily negative? Perhaps, if students are educated with alternative views at a younger age, it will engage them to be to be more active in their political and academic futures.

Casey Krutz




Jorden Gemuend – Week 3

September 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Week 3, Weekly Responses | 2 Comments

“Evolution and Intelligent Design: Understanding Public Opinion,” an article by Nisbet and Nisbet, immediately dives into the tension that has been forming between the ideas of evolution and intelligent design. The publication lays out the political and social backdrop that was occurring during the 2005 Dover federal court case. Explanations are given of the two movements stating that ID is associated with creationist beliefs and is religiously motivated, while evolution is supported overwhelmingly by the scientific community. Confused by the disconnection between scientific consensus and public opinion, the authors turn to a series of polls to provide some explanation. The findings of the polls show that public opinion and information of the debate is largely fueled through mainstream news. Results also indicated that not only are these topics important in the public eye, but that the public mostly believes that ID should be taught alongside evolution. The authors attempt to attribute these findings based on lack of appreciation for scientific evidence, low information, fear of technology and experts, and political endorsements. The articles ends with some suggested strategies for how evolutionist could help align public opinion with their scientific findings.

Miller, Scott, and Okamoto also write about public opinion of evolution and intelligent design in “Public Acceptance of Evolution.” The authors clearly lay out that evolution is a concept non-compatible with Biblical religions, and that ID is the attempt to promote a Godly beginning to life without referencing to God. Turning to a set of polls focused around the public knowledge and opinions of evolution, findings show that the U.S. public is split evenly on the issue with half accepting the idea of evolution and half rejecting it. A majority of responses were found to be near the less polar middle of the spectrum. These national numbers are found to be less accepting that those of European countries and Japan. Politics are one possible explanation of why these numbers differ as Republicans have taken on creationist views as a platform. Additional poll results indicated that U.S. adults with a higher understanding of modern genetics have more positive attitudes toward evolution. The national lack of intelligence is used to point towards the lack of support for evolution. These findings should be troubling, according to the authors, as they see political and religious science to be the future.

Both Nisbet and Nisbet and Miller, Scott, and Okamoto view ID as a front for a religious movement to inject creationistic ideas into society. The articles turn to polling to test public opinion and while Miller shows an even divide, Nisbet asserts that the acceptance of ID is actually greater than that of evolution. Where the two articles differ is how they attempt to explain why these results are appearing. Nisbet and Nisbet show that mainsteam news sources are the primary information source to public opinion, while Miller et al points toward the lesser degree in which the U.S. public accepts evolution compared with other nations. What is really interesting is how both articles claim that the politicization of science and an unintelligent public has led to the low rates of acceptance for evolution. The two articles both make it clear that you should be worried by these trends, and that education and science is at risk.

My question: Given that both articles pointed toward an association between the acceptance of evolution and public knowledge, do you think activists for evolution create an appeal for evolution by claiming that non-intelligent people do not support evolution?

– Jorden Gemuend




Week 3

September 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Week 3 | Leave a comment

Miller’s “Public Acceptance of Evolution” explores the differences between American and European acceptance of the theory of evolution, tracking public opinion since 1985. Approximately one third of American adults reject evolution, contrary to the general acceptance of evolution in a majority of European nations. Miller attributes this rejection to several figures, such as the difference between American Christian fundamentalism and European fundamentalism. American fundamentalist believe that Genesis is a true account, whereas Europeans are more likely to believe it is metaphorical. Additionally, Americans that believe in a personal god that they directly pray to are more likely to reject evolution. Additionally, Americans politicize the theory of evolution and poor scientific instruction has led Americans with less of an understanding of genetics to reject evolutionary beliefs from a human exceptionalism perspective

Nisbit’s “Framing Science: A New Paradigm in Public Engagement” discusses how effective science communication is often based on the framing of facts based on the audience and their beliefs, not simply relaying facts to the public. In the evolution debate, the Intelligent Design supporters have been particularly effective in using frames and garnering support with strong, smooth speakers. Frames, while often giving weight to one side of an issue more than other, are not an explicit political position, but instead are translated automatically by audiences via techniques such as catchphrases. It has been a greater challenge for scientists to frame evolution, using frames of the middle way between religion and science and of social progress, particularly in terms of medicine.

Both Miller and Nisbit recognize the need to reach out to the American public and educate them about evolution, particularly in light of the strong public relations campaign ID has created, finding support from religious leaders and presidents. However, where Miller believes a stronger scientific education of students is necessary to change the ID-created public perception wedge, Nisbit focuses on public engagement via the media. Engagement must occur in order to create changes in opinion and currently, ID supporters seem to have the greatest amount of control over the framing of the medias coverage of Evolution vs. ID.

My question is, given the many powerful frames that the ID supporters put forth, such as public accountability, uncertainty, and strategy & conflict, what sort of framing should scientists and creation experts use to produce a more powerful message to the American public?




Jade Hanson Week 3

September 16, 2011 at 12:17 am | Posted in Week 3 | Leave a comment

The first article I examined was the Pew Research Center Article entitled Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media. This piece stresses how the views of scientists often differ from those of the public. For example, evolution and global warming are two topics in which the public and scientists opinions differ a substantial amount. However, children’s vaccinations are one topic in which the gap between the public and scientists is not very noteworthy. This research piece also examined how different political and ideological views affected citizens’ stances on scientific issues. In the majority of cases, liberal Democrats’ opinions were a closer reflection of scientists’ opinions than the beliefs of conservative republicans.


The second article I looked at in depth was the piece called Evolution & Intelligent Design: Understanding Public Opinion.  This piece focused specifically on the debate between the introduction of intelligent design into high school science classes. Newsweek and CBS News both discovered that the majority of Americans would be in favor of allowing creation to be taught as well as evolution. This piece mainly focuses on  the impact religion has on American citizens belief in “science” in regards to the ID vs evolution debate.


Both pieces bring about valid issues in how citizens decide what is science and what is not. They theorize that while in most cases a large group of Americans do side with those of scientists, many other factors that are not related to science, such as religion and political association, affect how Americans view science. The authors of both articles clearly highlight problem within our science system at a societal level However, while Nisbet and Nisbet suggest the framing of words can affect people’s opinions on certain issues, neither piece argues how to rid our science system of non-scientific influences. My question for this week is are there ways to separate people’s ideologies from their scientific beliefs? For example, should the American government instill programs in our country that teach people to demarcate science and other influences? While I believe that this will never happen because it will be viewed by many as unconstitutional and the revolution this would uproot would probably take close to about 50 years, the idea is something to consider. Would a “Brave New World” outlook on science benefit our society?


Jade Hanson









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