Eugenie C. Scott Fights the Teaching of Creationism in Schools

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Eugenie C. Scott’s journey to the front lines of the evolution wars began in 1974, when James Gavan, a physical anthropologist at the University of Missouri, accepted an invitation to debate Duane Gish, a biochemist and a leader in the creationist movement.


At the time, Dr. Scott was a newly minted professor of physical anthropology at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Gavan had been her mentor at the University of Missouri, where she earned her doctorate, so she took a few of her students to Missouri to hear the debate.

“We were greatly dismayed,” Dr. Scott recalled in an interview. “The scientist talked science, and the creationist connected to the audience and told good jokes and was really personable. And presented a lot of really bad science.”

She realized then that creationism is “a movement that could have really serious consequences for science and science education.”

Today, Dr. Scott, 67, is nearing the end of a 27-year stint as executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which despite a relatively skimpy budget has had an outsize impact on the battles in courtrooms and classrooms over whether creationism — the idea that the universe was devised as it is by a supernatural agent — or its ideological cousin, “intelligent design,” should be taught in public schools.

Written By: Cornelia Dean
continue to source article at nytimes.com

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  1. I have always deeply admired Dr Scott for her politeness and courtesy when talking to creationists. (Her talks were a master-class of restraint whilst being equally persuasive), Her retirement will leave a noticeable gap in the science education.

    I know this is off topic but I cannot stop thinking of the word “xylophone”.

  2. It is not that creationism is an alternative view, it is simply wrong. It is like teaching that there are penguins at the north pole, that there are whales 4 miles long, that the sun in only 40 miles away. We oppose it because it is nonsense, not because it is Christian.

    Christians have the goofy idea that atheists want to overthrow morality, so they attack creationism which undermines the 10 commandments and other rules they ignore. Atheists attack creationism simply because it is not true. Christians don’t understand that Christianity is an impediment to moral behaviour. Nearly all the truly obnoxious people I have dealt with were Christians.

    Perhaps the way to deal with this is to make up an alternate creation myth, equally goofy, and insist if creationism is taught, so must it be. Call it “neo creationism”.

  3. Eugenie C. Scott’s journey to the front lines of the evolution wars began in 1974, when James Gavan, a physical anthropologist at the University of Missouri, accepted an invitation to debate Duane Gish, a biochemist and a leader in the creationist movement.

    Gish -of the infamous Gish Gallop style of dishonest debate, beloved of creationist pseudo-reasoners!

    The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as “starting 10 fires in 10 minutes.”

    The formal debating term for this is spreading.[1][2] It arose as a way to throw as much rubbish into five minutes as possible. In response, some debate judges now limit number of arguments as well as time. However, in places where debating judges aren’t there to call bullshit on the practice (like the internet) such techniques are remarkably common.

  4. There’s something very wrong with secular law when parents can sue schools for educating the children with correct facts and logical evidence …. judges are biased or corrupt for upholding litigation-happy religious bullies….Schools are missing the point of education if they pander to bullying religious parents and they are letting down all children everywhere….Teachers are stuck in the middle – but should take an oath to teach only truth….Creationism is a bloody made up fiction and it has no place in secular schools or education…..make it extra curricular if you must have it…. but – leave the bull* out of secular school ….It is confusing for childrens brains with preposterously untrue versions of your already really untrue babble …

  5. There’s something very wrong with secular law when parents can sue schools for educating the children with correct facts and logical >evidence

    That is the main reason local control of curriculum has to be abolished. Trying to play whack-a-mole to keep absurdity out of the classroom is too expensive and time consuming. National standards, made solely by educators, must be enacted and enforced on a federal level. The future depends on it.

  6. Eugenie C. Scott Fights the Teaching of Creationism in Schools

    So does Crookedshoes!!!! Thank you Eugenie, I am honored to fight this battle with you.

    I just opened my school year with a table full of preserved turtles and starfish. The kids made observations and when one of them mentioned the word “related” I jumped in and put the tree of life on the board and what the tree would look like if Creationism were true. (one is branched and connected, the other is a series of parallel lines)…. We then talked about proof, evidence and things that are falsifiable.

    We will continue building the evidence mountain!

    BTW, I then put 5×5 = 25 on the board along with 5+5+5+5+5 = 25. I then told the kids that I do not “believe” in multiplication. i am an “adder”…. They enjoyed the sarcasm and immediately saw that ‘who gives a damn if you believe in a FACT or not?” It remains a fact.

  7. To DocWebster (Comment 6): Not to exactly disagree with you, but the thought of federal control of education scares me; it is said that to err is human, but to really mess up takes a computer. Likewise, religion sneaking its way at a local level is evil, but once it got onto a federal level, which it surely could, it would be just about impossible to remedy. There is no way to insure that those national “educators” would push a theistic agenda any less than some local ones do. If creation and other crap like it turns up in a curriculum, I think it would actually be better to be local (fragmented) where it could be whacked down one school board at a time.

  8. Fighting creationism? Shadow boxing with it more like, because it has no discernible substance.

    After all these years of exposing the fallacies of Intelligent Design/Creationism Doctor Scott must be terribly frustrated.

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