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Cohort Differences in Science Literacy and Pseudoscientific

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Cohort Differences in Science Literacy and Pseudoscientific Powered By Docstoc
					Creationist/Intelligent Design vs.
      Evolutionist Heuristics

            Raymond A. Eve, Ph. D.
            Professor of Sociology
      The University of Texas at Arlington
                 eve@uta.edu



 Prepared for the Southwest and Rocky Mountain
                Division of the AAAS
                    April, 2007
              Clear Lake City, Texas
    Intelligent Design ≠ Creationism?
   It is commonly argued by its
    adherents and proponents that
    intelligent design is not just recycled
    creationism.

   I decided to try to test the assertion
    at least insofar as it obtained or not
    in a sample of university students in
    “a large public university in or near
    the state of Texas.”
Among current college students
   I created a “Creationism Scale” = the sum of:

    • There is a good deal of scientific evidence against
      evolution and in favor of the Bible's account of creation.

    • God created humanity pretty much in its present form
      within the last 10,000 years or so.

    • Evidence of Noah's Ark has been found on Mt. Ararat in
      Turkey.

    • Adam and Eve, the first human beings, were created by
      God.

    • One can believe in the Bible and Creation, OR in
      atheistic evolution-- there is really no middle ground.
    So are they the same thing?
   The creationism scale correlated with “Humans
    are too complicated to have come to be through
    natural processes, their existence reflects the will
    of an intelligent designer.” Pearson’s r = .41

   Creationism scale correlated with “Humanity was
    created over a short period of time by an
    intelligent designer.
    Pearson’s r = .49

    *both relationships significant at the .00001
     level.
    Etiological factors in support for
             creationism/ID
   Since there is a lot of face validity,
    and at least some empirical support,
    for the argument that intelligent
    design theory is the latest mutation
    of creationism, it seems likely we can
    consider it a pseudoscience too, and
    seek its etiology in the same manner
    as for other pseudoscientific beliefs.
     Possible Causes of Belief in
     Pseudoscience and Fantastic
           Science Claims

   Common errors in human reasoning
   Poor or sensationalistic coverage of
    science in the mass media
   Poor science education
   Sociocultural factors
    •   Gender and race
    •   Religious preference and denomination
    •   Political “framing” of wedge issues
    •   Different subcultural rules for testing truth
        claims
     “Poor Science Education?”
   Let’s have a look at a sample taken
    last year at “a major public
    university located in or near Texas.”
   Survey was given to about 400
    primarily junior/senior level students
   Admittedly, a “convenience sample”
    that probably somewhat under-
    represents science and engineering
    majors
    NSF science literacy measure
   Every year NFS publishes a report
    entitled “Science and Engineering
    Indicators”
   There is always a chapter on public
    knowledge of science and attitudes
    towards science
   The following measures are used in
    the NSF annual assessment of civic
    scientific literacy
      Students Scores on the NSF
         Science Literacy Items
   The following items are taken from
    the annual NSF survey of public
    attitudes towards science and
    technology given to several nations.
    However, here the percent wrong
    answers are for the students in the
    2006 sample in our study

   The Earth revolves around the Sun
    “false” = 12%
   Radioactive milk can be made safe
    by boiling it. “true” = 13.4%
   Human beings as we know them
    today developed from earlier species
    of animals. “false” = 54%
   The continents on which we live have
    been moving their location for
    millions of years and will continue to
    move in the future. “false” = 16%
   Antibiotics kill viruses as well as
    bacteria. “true” = 47%
   Electrons are smaller than atoms.
    “false” = 24%

   Laser work by focusing sound waves.
    “true” = 33%

   It is the father’s gene that decides
    whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
    “false” = 24%


   The Oxygen we breath comes from plants.
    “false” = 14%
   All radioactivity is manmade
    “true” = 25%

   The center of the Earth is very hot
    “false” = 10 ½%
         Teacher Qualifications
   Raymond A. Eve and Dana Dunn. 1990. "Psychic
    powers, astrology and Creationism in the
    classroom?        Evidence of pseudoscientific
    beliefs among high school biology and life-science
    teachers. The American Biology Teacher (Journal
    of the American Biology Teachers Association)
    52(Jan.): 10-21.

   Random survey of several hundred biology and
    life science high school teachers chosen from the
    rolls of the American Biology Teachers
    Association indicated that 40 percent of the
    science teachers polled believed that “there are
    sufficient problems with evolutionary theory to
    cast doubt on its validity.”
 “Were You Taught Evolution in
        High School?”
     Student samples from same university at 2 points in time

50
45
40
35
30
25                                                              1983
20                                                              2006
15
10
5
0
      Yes       w creation         No
    Evolution Correctly Explains the
     Development of Life on Earth
    45
    40
    35
    30
    25
                                                                  1983
    20                                                            2006
    15
    10
     5
     0
          Agree        Unsure      Disagree

“The theory of evolution correctly explains the development of life on
earth.”
         Dinosaurs and Man Were
             Contemporaries
  45
  40
  35
  30
  25
                                                              1983
  20                                                          2006
  15
  10
   5
   0
         Agree       Unsure     Disagree
“Dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, as is shown by finds of
their footprints together.”
        Mankind Was Created about
            10,000 Years Ago
   45
   40
   35
   30
   25
                                                                1983
   20                                                           2006
   15
   10
    5
    0
         Agree        Unsure     Disagree
“God created humanity pretty much in its present form within the last
 10,000 years or so”
Note: Gallup poll of general U. S. Public in 2006 had 46% saying “agree”
              Previous Chart
   It is readily noted that the chart shows a
    very slight increase in the proportion of
    students supporting a very recent creation
    of mankind. This is all the more striking
    because the recent sample included fewer
    business majors, who are strikingly likely
    to support the proposition. (More than
    50% agreement in the earlier sample).
    So the true prevalence of support for a
    recent creation may have increased
    somewhat more than the chart indicates.
          Sociocultural Factors
   We’ve examined science literacy above
   We’ve also examined teacher
    characteristics
   Let’s turn our attention now to the central
    thesis of this presentation:
    that most belief in creationism/ID is
    best explained by looking at
    sociocultural factors
    Creationism v. Evolution???
   People don’t argue in parlors and
    bars about whether continents drift
    or whether atoms actually exist. So
    why the controversy over evolution?
   The emotional character of the topic
    is a dead give-away to a social
    scientist that there must be far more
    than just a discussion going on about
    what is good scientific method or
    evidence
            Sociology and ID
   The approach to be taken here is a
    sociological one. More specifically, for the
    most part we will adopt a model of social
    movement formation and movement
    career based on the concepts of a struggle
    for the means of cultural reproduction --
    between movement and
    countermovement. We will also examine
    some questions of member recruitment,
    ideology, and movement tactics and their
    desired outcomes.
      Defining “Creationism”
   There are many types of “creationism”

    • “Young Earth” or “strict” creationists

          Literal and concrete reading of scripture. They follow
           Archbishop Usher’s chronology, believe the world created in
           4004 B. C. Flood geology. We will use this definition.

    • “Old Earth” creationists – believe in an ancient Earth

                Gap Theory – An huge amount of time passed
                between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. God destroys all
                that and the six 24 hours days of Genesis then occur

                Day-Age Theory – the six days of Genesis were not
                24 hour days. Hebrew word “yom”
     Defining “Intelligent Design”
   Currently, the concept of intelligent design
    is best understood to refer to the question
    of whether or not the complex patterning
    seen in nature is the result of the will of a
    deity.
    - R. Eve, World Book Encylopedia, forthcoming.

      Behe would add words such as: "Design is
      evident when a number of separate,
      interacting components are
      ordered in such a way as to accomplish a
      function beyond the individual components”
      and when this systems demonstrates
      “irreducible complexity” – hence it must have
      been “designed”
    Antievolution Tactic 1 – Outlaw the
          Teaching of Evolution

   Epperson v. Arkansas, 1968

    • Sought relief from an Arkansas law that
      held it to be unlawful for a teacher in
      any state-supported school or university
      to teach or to use a textbook that
      teaches "that mankind ascended or
      descended from a lower order of
      animals."
        Antievolution Tactic 2 – “Two
       Model” or “Equal Time” Approach

   Edwards v Aguillard – Louisiana, 1987

    • The case struck down a requirement that
      required that if evolution is taught in public
      schools then creationism must also be taught.

    • The 7-2 decision ended any prospect of public
      schools in the United States being legally
      forced to teach ICR style creationism
    Crucial SMO- The Foundation for
           Thought and Ethics
   Founded in early 80s in Richardson, Texas

   Published the book Of Pandas and People
    in 1989

    • First reference to an “intelligent design”
    • 2nd edition figures large in Dover, PA trial

    Also published The Mystery of Life’s Origins
         Newest crucial SMO –
          Discovery Institute
   The Discovery Institute is a
    conservative Christian “think-tank.”
    It’s structured as a non-profit
    educational foundation, founded in
    1990 and based in Seattle,
    Washington

    • Currently the driving force behind ID
              Wedge Strategy of the
               Discovery Institute
   The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan created
    by the DI, an organization that works to promote a religious
    agenda centering around use of ID theory

   The purposes of the DI were originally brought to the public's
    attention by a leaked fund raising tool that is now known
    informally as the “Wedge Document”

   Wedge Document states goals of the Institute and ID are to:

    • defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral,
      cultural, and political legacies

    • to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic
      understanding that nature and human beings are
      created by God.

    It details a massive public relations campaign meant to influence
       the public, the mass media and public policy makers
    ID adherents cf prior “Creationists”
   Some IDers are not Protestant fundamentalists
   Many are not young Earthers
   Some have better educational credentials than
    their predecessors in the creationist movement
   Many accept some type of evolution -
      albeit with occasional miracles and/or
       supernatural guidance included in their
       own definition of science
           Rejection of “Darwinism”
            - Two types of IDers
   I. “Vulgar” ID argues that “God did it” – “in
       person” and “all at once” – direct intervention to
       effect a sudden creation
                 - “Darwinism” for them is the rejection of a literal
                       reading of the Bible”

     II. “Rachet evolutionists” Also theistic evolutionists,
          but their primary concern is a rejection of strict
          naturalism (such as Richard Dawkins’
          The Blind Watchmaker)
                 - their rejection of “Darwinism” equates to a
                        rejection of pure materialism
Past scholarly explanations for
 adherence to creationism/ID

• Ignorance – “backwoods bumpkins”

• Authoritarian Personality or Subculture

• Status inconsistency theories

• Reaction against materialist philosophy
    HOWEVER, a more likely
          explanation is:
Different Epistemological Rules
 It appears that much of the
mainstream creationism vs. evolution
debate arises because the two sides
use different rules for evaluating
truth claims.
    A Typology of Epistemologies
 Cultural traditionalists: A claim is
  considered true by reason of faith,
  authority, tradition, and/or revelation.
 “God said it, I believe it, end of argument!”
 Cultural modernists: Paradigmatic
  descents of the Enlightenment: Claims are
  true by reason of applying logical rules
  and using empirical data for hypothesis
  testing
 Cultural Postmodernists: There are no
  totalizing truths. Truth is subjective,
  time-bound, localized, and internal to
  each individual. (“God is within you”).
    Type 1: Cultural Traditionalists as
             ID Proponents

   Hypothesis: Type 1 adherents to
    creationism/ID primarily subscribe to
    such a belief as part of a
    constellation of socially and politically
    conservative beliefs.
 It seems likely that for a very large
 percentage of the public, attitudes
 towards the issue of creationism/ID v.
 evolution are more strongly related to
 adherents’ social and political views than
 to their respective levels of knowledge
 concerning the relevant scientific data and
 methods. This we will term here as
“vulgar creationism/intelligent design”
 (after the fashion of “vulgar Latin)
      An empirical test with three
            samples
   Cultural Traditionalists:
    Approximately 300 persons from a
    “Creationism Fair” in Glen Rose,
    Texas
   Cultural Modernists: Approximately
    300 university students from a
    variety of majors
   Cultural Postmodernists: 200+
    Wiccans (neopagans) at a Magical
    Arts gathering near Austin, Texas
Samples differ as expected vis-à-
 vis opinions on human origins
Social Issues
Civil Religion, or the tendency to
 treat certain secular topics as
              sacred
Issues of Vitality
Checking Epistemological
      Predictions
Political Orientation
        Evolution, Materialism, and
           Secular Humanism

   Many supporters of creationism/ID believe that
    acceptance of “Darwinism” is the first step down
    what they believe to be a slippery slope to their
    favorite whipping boy “secular humanism.”
   Secular humanism is “setting man above God.”
    If the Bible is not the inerrant guide to moral
    behavior, then humans will have to decide such
    issues.
   Many public opinion surveys show
    conservatives to hold very
    pessimistic views of human nature in
    the absence of strong laws and other
    forms of social control.
   Therefore they believe that is secular
    humanists are allowed to decided
    upon moral values, they will do so
    very poorly. This will lead, they
    believe, to prostitution, pornography,
    homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia,
    etc.
        Cultural Reproduction
   The above situation results in a
    struggle for the means of cultural
    reproduction. This is easily seen
    because it takes place in precisely
    those places in which society
    sanctifies the value set that will be
    passed on to our children. I.e.,

    • Schoolrooms
    • Courtrooms
    • State Legislatures
More sophisticated camp of
     supporters of ID
       proponents:
    Natural Theology
    The Influence of William Paley
   In 1802, British theologian William Paley
    published Natural Theology. In which which
    Paley argued that divine truth could be
    revealed not only through Christian
    scripture, but also that the patterning in
    nature could reveal to humankind the
    activity and will of a creative deity. Paley
    illustrated his position by citing the example
    of a person finding a watch while walking in
    the countryside. From the functions that
    various parts of the watch performed, Paley
    argued that the only logical conclusion
    would be that the device had a maker who
    had designed it. Paley, teleologically and by
    analogy, argued that there was evidence of
    design in humans.
                     Evolutionism
   More recently some IDers follow in the footsteps of
    Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon
    of Man)

   Chardin influence by fellow Frenchman Henri Bergson
    – b. 1859

           Bergson argued for “vitalism” – the idea that
            living things strive towards some higher, final
            ending

   So evolution had to produce humans and will
    eventually bring about some type of unification with
    God (i.e. selection leads to progress)
Contemporary Natural Theologians
 Largely accept an ancient Earth, even
 an ancient humankind, but:

 • See humans as inevitable, no other
   courses of evolution could possibly
   have occurred

 • See evolution as leading to
   “progress.” I.e., some type of
   ratcheting up effect until some
   unification with deity occurs.
       Some conclusions so far:
   Clearly, for many people the debate over
    creationism vs. evolution is driven far more
    by values and world views than by the depth
    of their knowledge of scientific data and
    procedure.

   To a large extent, the controversy seems to
    arise because of different aggregates in
    society who adhere to different
    epistemological rules for evaluating truth
    claims who are locked in a struggle for
    cultural dominance
       Scholarly ID proponents
   For a small proportion of all ID
    adherents, the matter is less one of
    a conservative social and political per
    se. Instead, they follow in the
    tradition of natural philosophy.
    These tend to be the university
    scholars who debate on behalf of ID
    theory and enjoy the support of the
    Discovery Institute.
        Creation scientists, etc.
   The scholarly component of the ID
    movement serves much the same
    role that “creation scientists” did for
    the traditional ICR style creationist
    movement. I.e., the creation
    scientists were few in number, but
    very disproportionate in their
    influence because they represented a
    rallying point and source of apparent
    legitimacy for other adherents
                The Future
   The Discovery Institute is a
    conservative Christian “think-tank.”
    It’s structured as a non-profit
    educational foundation, founded in
    1990 and based in Seattle,
    Washington

    • Currently the driving force behind ID
          “The Wedge Strategy”
   The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan created
    by the DI, an organization that works to promote a religious
    agenda centering around use of ID theory

   The purposes of the DI were originally brought to the public's
    attention by a leaked fund raising tool that is now known
    informally as the “Wedge Document”

   Wedge Document states goals of the Institute and ID are to:

    • defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral,
      cultural, and political legacies

    • to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic
      understanding that nature and human beings are
      created by God.

    It details a massive public relations campaign meant to
       influence the public, the mass media and public policy
       makers
            Wedging Politics
   Clearly, numerous political strategists
    have realized many potential constituents
    belief evolution to be the “cause” of wide
    array of social problems (see above).
    Thus is becomes a symbol carrying far
    more baggage than the age and the origin
    of the Earth and humans. It becomes a
    lever for manipulation of the voters to
    favor voting for a word view, even to the
    exclusion of their own economic self
    interest?
                 SMOs
   Social movements succeed or fail
    due to:
    (1) degree of internal cohesion
    among their component smo’s
    (2) maintain member commitment
    and enthusiasm
    (3) efficacy at mobilizing resources
    (4) degree to which they can recruit
    “bystander publics”
    (5) social control by outside
              Cooperation
   To date, the creationist/ID
    proponents have shown much more
    willingness to put aside their
    differences in order to advance the
    cause
   Resistance from the
    countermovement (anti-ID forces)
    has been rather weak:
    • Scientists don’t want to “dignify” the
      position of the opposition
    • Scientists are notoriously poor joiners of
      social movements for any reasons
    • Scientists tend to believe that the “truth”
        Resource Mobilization
   Discovery institute has received
    millions from California Savings and
    Loan heir Howard Fieldstead
    Ahmanson
   Evangelically oriented Maclellan
    Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn.,
    for example, awarded $350,000
   Total Budget seems to be about $4
    million per year (far more than for
    the counter SMO, the NCSE)
            Discovery Institute
              Disbursement
   Since its founding in 1996, the center has
    spent 39 percent of its $9.3 million on
    research, Dr. Meyer said, underwriting
    books or papers, or often just paying
    universities to release professors from some
    teaching responsibilities so that they can
    ponder intelligent design. Over those nine
    years, $792,585 financed laboratory or field
    research in biology, paleontology or
    biophysics, while $93,828 helped graduate
    students in paleontology, linguistics, history
    and philosophy.
     • - the New York Times
      Revitalization Movement
   Perhaps it’s best to see the ID movement as
    part of a general “revitalization movement.”
    A term that anthropologists use to describe
    social movements intended to restore to
    power a formerly dominant elite that has
    fallen from power.
   I.e., this is not exclusively backwoods Bible-
    thumpers v. scientists and educated people
    generally. Rather it’s a struggle for the
    means of cultural reproduction between an
    earlier cultural elite and a current one. Just
    because a country is modern or postmodern
    does not mean that cultural traditionalists
    have disappeared.

				
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