Science Writing and the Pseudoscience Trap

“…Error magnification is the single most vicious and pervasive meme in popular science miscommunication. It is seeded and driven by the science communicator him/herself and feed-back-looped into society, creating a cycle of half truths rather than educating the public…” — GPC

Science Writing Evolution Literacy

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

I am not fond of giving unsolicited advice, I almost never welcome it, although one should be open to internalizing constructive guidance when sincerely offered to us. And writers of any kind need editors to help us spot mistakes in our articles and improve format and content.

But I do have some experience writing about science for the general public. Occurrences that I can share with all.

My first article (1987), for El Comercio, explored the impact of aggressive shrimp-farming on the pristine mangrove ecosystems of Ecuador. The piece summarized a hands-on and in situ research project conducted as a biology undergraduate. Not only did it ignite my interest in investigative coverage, but led me to editorialize –ever since– on science, technology and the environment. Twenty-plus full-page reports –text and pictures– followed up to 1993 in Diario Hoy (another leading newspaper in Quito) and wildlife magazines. When I came to the United States to attend graduate school, I contributed 35 op pieces to El Popular (1996 to 2000), the foremost Hispanic newspaper in Toronto.

“…English has an advantage, it is the currency of modern science. It is an idiom of exploration, almost anything goes. Unfortunately, junk-writing is also part of this trial-and-error…”

Over time, I transitioned to writing almost exclusively in English (my second language), which has its own science etiquette, quite distinctive from Spanish. But English has an advantage, it is the currency of modern science. It is an idiom of exploration; anything goes. Unfortunately, junk-writing is also part of this trial and error.

Writing about science for the American readership –lay or specialized– is always a challenge. The landscapes (e.g. editorials, chronicles, reports, notes, blogs), styles, theme trends, and audiences’ interests change constantly. The internet has brought dynamism to sharing science news, via imaging (photos and video), more than text, or in short reports (150 to 300 words, rather than the usual 600 to 800 expected by publishers in the past), and quick and dirty delivery. The latter is a powerful temptation that a cautious columnist should avoid.

Editing Proofreading Marks for use on blogs and social media

Proofreading marks were used in the past for copy-editing scientific manuscripts and articles. They are extinct nowadays (the image shows a humorous version of proofreading symbols broadly shared in the social media). The edition and copy-edition of manuscripts is currently done automatically on computers and online servers. Still, human intervention is needed.

“…I do not consider myself a science writer, although I have been called ‘science journalist,’ as an insult, by a rodentologist incapable of graceful interaction with people…”

Before advancing any further, note that I do not consider myself a science writer, although I have been called “science journalist,” as an insult, by a rodentologist incapable of graceful interaction with people. But, I am a biologist who happens to write about science. I come from a background of journalists (my grandfather, father and a sister), essayists (two brothers who are professors in academia and regular contributors to newspapers), and a novelist sister. Plus, my father’s line run, for decades, a publishing initiative. Books were around us. Still, my only assertion here is that the publication process, from paper to ink on it, or to the sorting of pages and final binding of volumes, is the foundation of my cultural imprinting.

Learning to Spot Mistakes

A good, skeptical eye is essential in a writer, and this can be acquired by training. In my case, I worked as a copy editor for the journal Biotropica while I was a graduate student and, later, a postdoc (1996 to 2003). I revised 80 manuscripts by world authors and on multiple subjects. My responsibility was to find mistakes (typos, grammar errors, non-sense sentences, contradictions and, occasionally, bring content issues to the attention of the editors). That experience taught me to minimize the errors I still make while preparing scientific papers and perspectives. Perfection is never achieved, only sharpness to spot what seems incorrect and improve the outcome.

“…The skill of spotting mistakes shall make anyone a better author…”

And not to forget, I was also production editor and copy editor for Animal Behaviour (2001 – 2003), something I remember with mix feelings: although I did not revise as many manuscripts as for Biotropica, the AB Editorial Office in Indiana passed on to me difficult, long manuscripts, loaded with problems, arid science, although written by famous ethologists. In retrospect, I am grateful to my colleagues for the tedious assignments, and for forcing me to examine unpolished papers. The skill of spotting mistakes shall make anyone a better author.

Learning to Be an Editor

From 2003 to 2012, I became founder editor of The Conservation Behaviorist, a biannual periodical of the Animal Behavior Society’s Conservation Committee, which I chaired for three years (2003 – 2006). I edited and produced, from scratch, each of the issues of the ten volumes published during that decade.

“…One must avoid the pseudo science trap, sequel of adopting language that feeds the readers’ unsophisticated comfort zones, at the expense of hurting scientific rigor via distortion…”

What I value most from that activity is that I discovered how to adapt the texts submitted by scientists —in the interface animal behavior / conservation biology— to a media-friendly format, language and delivery. I spent hours reshaping the prose without changing the intention of the writers or the scientific accuracy of their proposals. And that is key in science writing. One must avoid the pseudoscience trap, sequel of adopting language that feeds the readers’ unsophisticated comfort zones, at the expense of hurting scientific rigor via distortion.

This malady is widespread in the work published in major newspapers, magazines, blogs and social media. Here is an example: claiming that naked mole rats are “cancer free” is not only falsehood, but it does not make scientific sense (i.e. relative lower incidence of cancer in a given organism, in respect to others, including humans, does not mean cancer-immunity, nor its absence; UPDATE: for a comprehensive review see Cancer Across The Tree of Life: Cooperation and Cheating in Multicellularity). As much as it was questionable, when in the 1990s, the “shark- cartilage pill industry” made a fortune ecociding sharks, milling their dried skeletons and selling “miracle powder” in anti-cancer capsules for the pro-natural-medicine ignoramus. Science writers must not fall in love with inaccuracies or fables like these.

The point here is that, by being an editor, one can learn to honor science, respect its integrity rather than allow free ride to sensationalism by promoting “breaking news” soon-to-be debunked.

Network of Science Communication Lemerg dot com - Evolution Literacy

The Network of Science Communication. The pseudoscience trap is inherent to networking. Science writers must not fall in love with inaccuracies and fables (image iStockphoto/Thinkstock).

Developing Your Own Style

You do not need to please everyone, particularly family, friends, colleagues or supervisors. Actually, it works best to stay away from their never unbiased reviews (except if they are writers themselves). But it is important to define the type of science writer you want to be, and develop a style with which a readership identifies you.

“…it is important to define what type of science writer you want to be, and develop a style with which a readership identifies you…”

When I wrote my initial op piece for The Standard Times in 2010, it was welcomed instantly, but two subsequent editorials were rejected. I spoke with the Editor in Chief and persuaded him that we needed to develop –together– a readership for the types of articles I would offer: an analysis of science topics with my personal take, rather than a report-story vast in empty phrases like “scientists say” or “according to researchers” or “in the opinion of experts.” Reluctantly, he agreed and months later we enjoyed the interaction with the readers and their feedback; positive and, sometimes, disapproving.

The Standard Times and I published 28 editorials (2010 – 2015) under the “Your View” column, thus conveying that I, as a writer, was one more member of the community, discharging from the inside my criteria and views about dissimilar or related topics, including: the relevance of curiosity-based research, the anti-vaccine movement, the collapse of basic science under the for-profit model, the scientific challenges to the reputation of the Stradivari violins, the wrongly called God-particle (Higgs boson), or the false beliefs in faith healing (for complete access to articles go to publications).

Being Aware of Your Skills

Because pop science writing lacks the editorial process of a scientific article, it is tempting to avoid fact-checks. Editorial reviewers of newspapers and magazines pay more attention to the journalistic aspects of the story than to its scientific accuracy. Many science writers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the humanities, with some training in science and technology (note that this is evolving and today’s media firms hire contributors with graduate certifications and previous experience in the job). If they possess a doctoral degree, it often lacks the postdoctoral practice that a recently-graduated student needs. And if a postdoctoral training is under the belt, the exercise of peer-reviewing (or being peer-reviewed), editing, publishing and, most importantly, reading thousands of scientific papers is just not there.

Peer Review Process Evolution Literacy

The Peer-review System of Scientific Papers

“…If, as a science writer, you feel confident with your grasping of scientific papers, think twice. You are probably wrong…”

Not only science writing is difficult, but also reading and correctly translating what the scientists communicate in their publications. Cutting-edge research is usually understood by highly specialized investigators. The best a science writer can do is to seek the original source and obtain interpretations of findings directly from the horse’s mouth. Do not rely, to write your own report, on other writers’ stories in the media. That will only magnify the error. And error magnification is the single most vicious and pervasive meme in popular science miscommunication. It is seeded and driven by the science communicator him/herself (including the press-releases from university campuses about their faculty’s discoveries) and feed-back-looped into society, creating a cycle of half truths rather than educating the public.

If, as a science writer, you feel confident with your grasping of scientific papers, think twice. You are probably wrong. Principal investigators all over the country read the same articles you claim to understand and discuss them in journal clubs with colleagues, postdocs, and graduate students. They dissect the articles to a level of extreme, yet fine criticism and end up comprehending the experiments, the math and statistics, the theoretical context and significance of the studies. If they struggle collectively in this effort, what makes you think that you have it clear?

“…It is up to you, therefore, to publish well-documented perspectives or copious shallow reports…”

In addition, writing hundreds of 300-to-600-word notes about science is not equivalent to preparing a single peer-review publication for a scientific journal. If you do investigative coverage, which might take days, weeks or months (to confirm the veracity of the info), any average science writer could surpass you in production by spawning hourly articles. It is up to you, therefore, to publish well-documented perspectives or copious shallow reports.

Your Work Is Needed

Society needs science communicators, and science writers are crucial in this respect. But be realistic, just examine the turnout of science writers at any major newspaper or magazine (info available online under “contributors”), and realize that, after a few years, the entire staff might have crossed the revolving door. Although there are still more job opportunities for science writers than for TV or documentary anchors. Writing for radio is also an alternative, yet with limited employment. Freelancing, therefore, shall be your probable route.

If you have passion for writing about science, it can be an enjoyable journey. However, here are additional tips:

  • Obtain the highest education possible and dismiss the notion to not pursue formal schooling and, instead, “learn on the job.” The latter is damaging advice, usually given by people without specialized education, or by those who benefit from your unpreparedness. If you actually get the job, you will always “learn the praxis” while on it. But you will never compensate, “on the job,” for the formal education you missed. Science, math and technology are not taught in the streets.
  • Read by far more topics than you can write about; develop a sense for science.
  • Travel internationally to scientific meetings and try to understand the cultural contexts in which science is done elsewhere; this could be difficult since we all see the planet through parochial preconceptions. However, modern science is done collaboratively and international partnerships are ubiquitous. Writing from home will keep your mind at home.
  • Write about science itself, rather than people in science. Do not celebritize individuals, but grant credit to all who deserve it.
  • Do not become enticed by the ivory-tower institutions as the sole source of science stories to report; that will turn you into a snob writer.
  • And remember that a good science tale should be good by itself, no matter its origin, but only a good story teller would make it shine.

Science writing can be art or artistic, profound and beautiful, but also commercial and prone to “likes” and “shares” in the social media, which are addicting. If you want to “go viral,” then consequential science communication might not be the path to take. It is not for you. After all, the most significant science books and articles for the general public are written by scientists (some in collaboration with reporters), not by science writers. But you can create a niche for yourself as science communicator-facilitator in a way that servers your local community and society. — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

Acknowledgment: I thank Avelina Espinosa for editorial comments and feedback to improve this article.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Measuring The Evolution Controversy - FourBooks - Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

Cover Book Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016In Chapter Nine of Measuring the Evolution Controversy, we ask: what will be the societal setting in which science/evolution and religion interact in the future? Early in the narrative of the book, before addressing this question, we remark that societal interactions between science and ideology are intricate, and subject to public policy, law, and abrupt socio-economic change. In addition, we sketch a probable world socio-cultural environment —based on statistical demographic projections— in which acceptance of science and evolution could take place in the future. By the 2050s or 2060s, we argue, the world societal dynamics will be quite different in respect to today’s, particularly in four relevant landscapes associated with attitudes toward science and evolution: distribution of wealth, education, migration, and demographics of religious groups. — Guillermo Paz-y-Mino-C

Promotion Measuring the Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Chapter Nine is titled Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape. Here is a synopsis of the main points discussed therein (note that the chapter is 26-pages long; it includes two text-boxes, 6 figures, one table, and 6 pages of references; do not expect the outline below to be comprehensive in any way, the purpose is to give readers of EvoLiteracy a broad idea about how Chapter Nine is structured):

Distribution of Wealth

Wealthier nations, which offer means to their citizens, higher quality of education, and happen to be less religious, embrace higher public support to evolution (70% and up) than their counterparts at the bottom of the spectrum. Exceptions, like the U.S., where acceptance of evolution is low for its level of wealth (≈40%, measured as function of per capita gross domestic product, GDP), can and do occur. The U.S. is exceptionally religious for its level of economic prosperity in contrast to other highly developed countries. And higher religiosity correlates with lower public acceptance of evolution.

Improvements in levels of economic prosperity, therefore, should translate into a nation’s generalized progress, particularly in education. High-quality science/evolution schooling should lead students, parents-to-be, and ultimately the general public to support science/evolution; but keep in mind that if religiosity remains high, it shall continue to correlate with opposition to evolution.

Education

Worldwide, there is a positive association between level of education and acceptance of evolution. In the U.S., for example, public support to evolution increases from the high school (21%), to the some college (41%), college graduate (53%), post-graduate (74%), and university professor levels (95%). Note that educational attainment, like overall wealth, also correlates positively with per capita GDP.

In the future, we can only expect significant increase in evolution’s acceptance in nations that improve —and sustain the improvement during several decades— their school life expectancies to 15-to-20 years (i.e. college and university education). Keep in mind, however, that in most countries the average general public still remains at the level of high-school or some-college education, which suggests that major progress in the mean-value of public support to evolution shall be achieved chiefly via quality high school —science/evolution— education.

In other words, major contributions to increasing evolution’s acceptance nation-by-nation shall mainly come from meaningful improvements to the excellence in high school schooling (i.e. still the prevalent 10-15-year school life expectancy in most countries), rather than from recruitment of tertiary educated professionals (colleges/universities) from the global pool. Of course, good science/evolution education cannot occur in isolation, both depend on schools offering good-quality general education –possibly under a liberal-arts-and-sciences format.

Fig 3 Centerfold Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Science and evolution knowledge have a negative association with religiosity; both decline with increasing religious beliefs, as documented for New England researchers, educators of prospective teachers in the U.S., and New England college students (a-b). Note how evolution knowledge increases with increasing science knowledge in the three groups (c), a positive association of variables.

Migration

This is a complex topic. In the book we start this section by highlighting that migration can stimulate the integration of ethno-cultural diversities and increase wealth and prosperity (particularly in science and technology –although not restricted to them), but it can also generate societal tensions, segregation of migrants, exploitation of their labor, inequality and poverty.

In scenarios in which the nature of immigration/emigration changes significantly the cultural-demographic composition of a nation (e.g. in the book we contrast Spain versus the U.S. and make projections about future rates of public acceptance of evolution in both countries), attitudes toward evolution and acceptance of evolution could be influenced by the migration process. Alternatively, in scenarios where immigration/emigration do not influence considerably the in-house cultural-demographic composition of a population, we shall expect minor, or no fluctuations in the public support to evolution associated with migration.

But, again, in Chapter Nine we are cautious about these generalizations and clarify that: “…the societal struggles around evolution’s acceptance [are] multi-factorial… including the variables: (1) religious beliefs, pro-life beliefs and political ideology; or (2) political activity, political and religious conservatism, knowledge about evolution and its relevance, creationist reasoning, evolutionary misconceptions, and exposure to evolution; or (3) religious affiliation, frequency of attendance to religious services, college academic level, exposure to evolution in high school, and college major…” These factors have been comprehensively analyzed in the literature. What we do in Measuring the Evolution Controversy is to associate these variables to diverse contexts of human migrations and, for that, we compare Spain and the U.S.

United States Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

The U.S. will experience substantial population growth during the next forty years, from 310.4 million, in 2010, to 394.4 million by 2050 (a 21.3% increase). The current Christian majority will decrease by 2050 (from 77.4% to 65.8%) and the unaffiliated will increase during the same time period (from 17.1% to 25.6%). The fertility rates (2010 – 2015) will continue to be higher among the religious vs. the unaffiliated (Muslims 2.7, Christians 2.1, Hindus 2.1, Buddhists 2.1, Jews 2.0, and unaffiliated 1.6). The U.S. shall become less religious primarily due to the rise of the unaffiliated. Thus, public acceptance of evolution —excluding humans— will increase in the U.S. above its current ≈40%.

Demographics of Religious Groups

In Chapter Nine, we examine how, by 2050, the world’s religious profile will be driven, primarily, by differences in fertility rates, the proportion of youth among the religious populations, and by people switching religions. Something not unusual since these factors are at play constantly, but we examine how the phenomenon of the evolution controversy shall take place —by 2050— in a different global demographic and religious landscape, or landscapes, than today’s.

For example, based on data gathered by the Pew Research Center, we explain that although by 2050 Christians will continue to be the largest group (expected growth from 2.17 billion, in 2010, to 2.92 billion by 2050), Muslims will be growing faster than all major faiths (from 1.6 billion, in 2010, to 2.76 billion by 2050). These trends shall lead to different interaction dynamics, than today’s, among world citizens affiliated with religious groups, which future representation in the global population will change rapidly. In addition, we also point out that the unaffiliated (i.e. not associated with formalized religions, agnostics, non-believers or atheists –whose support to evolution is usually the highest) will increase worldwide by 100 million during the next four decades (from 1.13 billion, in 2010, to 1.23 billion by 2050). However, their representation in the world population shall decrease (from 16.4%, in 2010, to 13.2% by 2050) due to the faster population growth rate among Christians and Muslims in respect to the unaffiliated.

In the book, we use these statistics, as well as data about evolution’s acceptance by the diverse religious denominations (consistently less accepting of evolution than the unaffiliated), to envision possible scenarios in which the evolution controversy will take place. The statistical future may not be as promising as it may seem today. Although in some nations, like the U.S., public acceptance of evolution shall increase (parallel to a rise in secularization), in others the opposite could probabilistically happen. The book examines this.

Conclusion

We end Chapter Nine by reexamining acceptance of evolution in the context of the Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH — the conceptual foundation of the book, which is introduced to readers in Chapters One and Two) and by linking IH to two additional theoretical frameworks: the secularization hypothesis (i.e. the idea that, over time, science and reason will replace religion and faith, or that modernization, which includes human development, will lead to a decline in the belief in supernatural causality) and the religious market models (i.e. the raw supply and demand of anti-evolution beliefs in the market-landscape of ideas). These conceptual frameworks are intensely debated by scholars, something we examine succinctly in the book. But that is material for a future post. — GPC — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

ABOUT THE BOOK – Measuring the Evolution Controversy, a 210-page hardback volume (>100 data figures, maps, tables and explanatory boxes), can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Suggested Readings and Related Links

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars: Debunk II

*  *  *  *  *       *  *  *  *  *       *  *  *  *  *

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (2013). By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEG“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Typos and Errors – Measuring The Evolution Controversy

Last Update: May 22, 2016

Measuring The Evolution Controversy - FourBooks - Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

In this post —to be updated with alerts about typos and/or errors that we get to identify in Measuring The Evolution Controversy— readers will have the opportunity to learn about such cases as colleagues and readers help us spot mistakes. The book shall be released officially by Cambridge Scholars Publishing on June 1, 2016. However, as per the third week of May, 2016, we have already received a few hard-copies (i.e. the book is in the market). The manuscript was, of course, proof-read numerous times before it went to the press, but it shall not be unusual to identify mistakes that were made during the preparation of the text (210 pages), the formatting of more than 100 data figures, maps, tables and explanatory boxes, and the revision of the proofs and statistical notation. We will continue to improve the book in future editions. – GPC

ABOUT THE BOOK – Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

Typos and Errors Updates

Update: May 22, 2016 (older updates are shown below)

Page 45, bottom paragraph, last line, reads “…Further details are available in Appendix One.” It should read “…Appendix A.”

Page 48, second paragraph, line three, reads “…Appendix One…” It should read “…Appendix A.”

Update: May 19, 2016

Page 74, top paragraph, line 5, reads “…science/non-science school track (the major) on the independent variable…” It should read “…dependent variable…”

*  *  *  *  *       *  *  *  *  *       *  *  *  *  *

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

How to cite the book:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Measuring the Evolution Controversy — 2016 book

A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities – Cambridge Scholars Publishing UK

Small-Cover Book Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

“The reality of evolution is indisputable and, based on current scientific evidence, all people in the world should accept it. Yet, only 41% of adults worldwide embrace evolution, and they do it under the premise that a deity created humans. One in every three people are strict creationists who believe in religious scriptures concerning the origin of our universe and of humans, and explicitly reject that Homo sapiens is an ape —when, in fact, science informs us that humans’ closest relatives are chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. Indeed, we are all apes.”

Our new book is out. It includes 210-pages, more than 100 data figures, maps, tables and explanatory boxes. In addition, a color-page centerfold (“Image Resources of Didactic Relevance“) is also provided. Below, I summarize information shared by the Publisher, Cambridge Scholars Publishing – United Kingdom, including endorsements, book description, table of contents, exemplar figures (from the centerfold) and text excerpts (Preface). Hope the readers enjoy it! – GPC

Endorsements

Many thanks to Niles Eldredge and Barbara Forrest for their kind statements about the book:

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Why do people not accept evolution?

“In Measuring the Evolution Controversy, Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C and Avelina Espinosa postulate that the debate over evolution-and-science versus creationism is inherent to the incompatibility between scientific rationalism/empiricism and the belief in supernatural causation (religion and faith). Belief disrupts, distorts, delays or stops the comprehension and acceptance of scientific evidence. The authors refer to this proposal as the incompatibility hypothesis (IH), the conceptual foundation of this book.”

Cover Book Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016“Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa explain that the evolution controversy is not only measurable, descriptively, but also testable as in an ordinary field of science. To accomplish this, they examine three predictions of IH. First, chronological-conflict-and-accommodation (i.e. the historical re-emergence of antagonism between evolution and religion when advances in science continue to threaten the belief in supernatural causation; in such situations, creationists’ rejection of and subsequent partial acceptance of the new scientific discoveries are expected). Second, change in evolution’s acceptance as function of educational attainment (i.e. the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education). Third, change in evolution’s acceptance as function of religiosity (i.e. the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs). By relying on an ample assessment of the attitudes toward evolution by highly-educated audiences (i.e. research faculty, educators of prospective teachers, and college students in the United States) the authors characterize their understanding of science and evolution, personal religious convictions, and political ideology.”

“The authors make recommendations for improving science and evolution literacy, as well as evolution’s acceptance. They end the book by forecasting a probable world-socio-cultural landscape in which acceptance of science and evolution will take place.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Preface

Chapter One – Why Do People Not Accept Evolution?

Chapter Two – The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

Chapter Three – A Conceptual Landscape to Depict Acceptance of Evolution

Chapter Four – Educators of Prospective Teachers Hesitate to Embrace Evolution: A National Sample in the United States

Chapter Five – Influence of Political Ideology on Acceptance of Evolution

Chapter Six – Comparisons: Researchers vs. Educators vs. College Students

Chapter Seven – Comparisons: Students at Public vs. Private vs. Religious Institutions

Chapter Eight – Recommendations and the Future of Evolution’s Acceptance: The U.S.

Chapter Nine – Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

Appendix A – Survey Methods

Appendix B – Supplementary Figures to Chapter Four

Authors’ Bionotes

Exemplar Images

Fig 5 Centerfold Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Above: Acceptance of evolution or creationism among educators of prospective teachers in the United States. The majority of educators accept evolution openly; creationism is accepted openly mainly in the South and West of the country.

Fig 3 Centerfold Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Above: Science and evolution knowledge have a negative association with religiosity; both decline with increasing religious beliefs, as documented for the New England researchers, educators of prospective teachers in the U.S., and New England college students (a-b). Note how evolution knowledge increases with increasing science knowledge in the three groups (c), a positive association of variables.

Fig 4 Centerfold Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Above: Science and evolution knowledge among the non-religious (top; religiosity index = 0.0) and the deeply religious (bottom; religiosity index = 3.0). The non-religious New England researchers, educators of prospective teachers in the U.S., and New England college students score highest in science/evolution knowledge: values ranging from 2.59 (high) to 1.67 (low). In contrast, the deeply religious, score lowest in science/evolution knowledge: values ranging from 2.0 (high) to 1.35 (low).

Excerpts from the Preface

“In Chapters One to Three, we introduce the reader to the conceptual premises to studying the evolution controversy as a scientific field of investigation. In Chapters Four and Five, we examine acceptance of evolution in our case-study population of educators of prospective teachers in the U.S.; we explore their overall understanding of science/evolution, and the effects of distinctive levels of religiosity on their views about science and evolution. We also discuss the influence of political ideology and conservative thinking on these educators’ perceptions of evolution.”

“In Chapter Six, we compare acceptance of evolution among New England researchers (affiliated with some of the elite universities in the U.S.) vs. the educators of prospective teachers in the U.S., and vs. our samples of New England college students. In Chapter Seven, we contrast views about science/evolution among college students at public vs. private vs. religious institutions. And, in Chapter Eight, we provide recommendations for improving science and evolution literacy, as well as evolution’s acceptance, by each of these populations. We close, in Chapter Nine, with a forecast of a probable world-socio-cultural landscape in which acceptance of science and evolution will take place in the future.”

The Future of Evolution’s Acceptance

“Because the U.S. is projected to become slightly less religious and more unaffiliated by 2050 (primarily due to faith switching and secularization of the “nones” –non-believers, agnostics and atheists), we speculate that acceptance of evolution in this nation will increase during the next four decades. However, America’s fascination with reinventing variants of creationism (e.g. theistic evolution, creation science, young earth creationism, Intelligent Design, BioLogos, evolutionary creation) to challenge evolution, or insert a Creator or Designer in the background of causality (distant creationism), shall probably continue in the future, although in an improved, more-favorable-to-evolution landscape. A forecast that we make with cautious optimism.”

United States Measuring Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Above: The U.S. will experience substantial population growth during the next forty years, from 310.4 million, in 2010, to 394.4 million by 2050 (a 21.3% increase). The current Christian majority will decrease by 2050 (from 77.4% to 65.8%) and the unaffiliated will increase during the same time period (from 17.1% to 25.6%). The fertility rates (2010 – 2015) will continue to be higher among the religious vs. the unaffiliated (Muslims 2.7, Christians 2.1, Hindus 2.1, Buddhists 2.1, Jews 2.0, and unaffiliated 1.6). The U.S. shall become less religious primarily due to the rise of the unaffiliated. Thus, public acceptance of evolution —excluding humans— will increase in the U.S. above its current ≈40%.

Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance. — GPC — EvoLiteracy 2016.

How to cite the book:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Suggested Readings and Related Links

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars: Debunk II

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (2013). By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEG“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

World Visitors to EvoLiteracy

EvoLiteracy News 02 17 2016

World Visitors to EVOLUTION LITERACY – Readers from 103 countries visited EvoLiteracy during 2015. Three in every four readers were from the United States. About one in every five visitors were from Brazil, Canada, UK, Germany, India, Ecuador, France, Australia and Spain. And one in every ten cyberworms came from 93 other countries. EvoLiteracy is growing thanks to our world friends and followers. – Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C.

UPDATE – a supplementary post to this one is available at EvoLiteray January 1, 2017.

World Visitors to Evolution Literacy 2015

There are 190+ countries in the world (member states of the United Nations). EvoLiteracy reaches half of them (52%). The image below includes flags of nations, which total 230+. We still need to reach as many nations as possible. Please share EvoLiteracy with others.

Flags of the World

Flags of 230+ nations in the world. Click on image to enlarge. Source Danilka’s Blog.

Top 25 Most Read Posts of 2015

Here are the most popular postings of 2015. I was glad to discover that the biology science videos made much of an impact, particularly among science educators. I also liked that three crucial postings about higher education (marked with an asterisk * below) were well received. To my surprise (and I thank the readers for liking it), the posting about Ecuador’s Academy of Science was ranked top 10. My personal favorite was Science Challenges Golden Age of Violin Making, and this is because I am fascinated with string instruments (classic guitars, ukuleles, charangos); I learned much while investigating the violin ancestry. But I cannot close without admitting how much pleasure gave me to see our readers liking Evolution Wars Debunk II (ranked 13th, a lucky number). Plus the most commented story was Shroud of Turin, Poor Science, and the Persistence of a Myth, which was reposted in various blogs and generated two weeks of discussions. Thanks to all for supporting EvoLiteracy. – GPC

EvoLiteracy – Biology and Science Videos

Photography – Wildlife – Fossils – Landscapes – Museums – Monuments – Cities

GPC Scientific Publications

Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

5 GPC BioArt

EvoLiteracy News 10 26 2015 Shroud of Turin, Poor Science, and the Persistence of a Myth

A Secular Humanist’s Plea for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Life

2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Curiosity-Based Research

Antivaxxers and the Educated-Public-Herd Effect

10 Ecuador’s Academy of Sciences Earns International Recognition

11 Science Challenges Golden Age of Violin Making

12 The “Jackprot Simulation”

13 Evolution Wars: Debunk II

14 EvoLiteracy News 05 08 2015 Should scientific journals request authors to change their practices for presenting continuous data in small sample size studies?

15 The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs Supernatural Causation

16 At The Down House: Darwin’s Home

17 The Art Of Nature: Sculptures Of Dinosaur Tracks and Traces

18 College Educated But Deeply In Debt For An Overpriced Degree *

19 New Book: Why does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution

20 Imminent Collapse of Basic Science Under For-profit Model *

21 Dehumanizing Academia by Dismantling the Humanities *

22 EvoLiteracy News 03 19 2015 US Senator Ted Cruz Distorts NASA’s Mission Budget

23 Hiking among Trilobites, Ancient Whales and Dinosaurs

24 EvoLiteracy News 09 09 2015 Protisto-Biologists Flock to Seville for ECOP-ISOP Scientific Meeting

25 Reviews of Book Evolution Stands Faith Up – Reflections on Evolution’s War

Today: International Darwin Day 02 12 2016

EvoLiteracy News 02 12 2016

“Darwin Day… signifies the celebration of the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge. The igniting moments in human history when light was brought into our own origins, when understanding that ordinary apes, like Homo, were capable of the extraordinary, of discovering the truth and debunking obscurantism; yet we still struggle to make science the sole guiding star in our survival decisions, the reliable source of concern and joy, the toolkit to plan our departure from Earth –before our Sun in agonizing heat engulfs its nearest orbiting planets– and seek home somewhere else in the cosmos”Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C

A few images and Evolution-Literacy links to celebrate International Darwin Day. — An update on our New England Science Public Series Evolution Volumes 1 and 2, including open access to the studies on acceptance of evolution in the United States. — Links to our Incompatibility Hypothesis papers (evolution versus supernatural causation). — A recount of a visit to the Down House (Darwin’s home). — And an article, from 2013, about the “history of Darwin Day” at the US Congress. Enjoy. – GPC

Here are some photos of Darwin’s statue at the British Museum of Natural History in London, taken back in 2010.

A - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: an overall view of Darwin’s statue (marble) at the British Museum of Natural History in London.

B - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: a close up of Darwin’s rostrum.

C - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: and another close up of this beautiful carving on marble.

E - Darwin British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: the main hall at the British Museum of Natural History in London. Darwin’s statue is in the back, just at the end of the first level of the stairs.

F - British Museum Nat Hist - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2010

Above: the outdoors of the British Museum of Natural History in London.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGNOVA Publishers (New York) used one of these images for the cover of our book Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars (2013). “Paz-y-Miño-C doesn’t ask the reader to ‘believe’ in evolution. He provides overwhelming evidence, clearly written, that shows how scientific inquiry leads to important and practical results, while superstition and faith lead nowhere. Although we may not be able to reason someone out of what they were never reasoned into, the author presents a roadmap for those whose minds are open to discover the wonders and beauty of science.” – Herb Silverman, PhD, author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt. Find Evolution Stands Faith Up at NOVA: Soft Cover, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Update on NESP Series Evolution

The open access New England Science Public Series Evolution continues to be highly downloaded. Here are some updates:

NESP Series Evolution Vol 1 No 1 20131,670+ downloads of Volume 1, Number 1: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2013. Attitudes toward Evolution at New England Colleges and Universities, United States. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 1(1): 1-32 (ISSN: 2326-0971). The authors compile the most significant results of their conceptual and quantitative studies on the patterns of acceptance of evolution at New England colleges and universities, conducted between 2009 and 2012. They examine the views of New England Faculty and Educators of Prospective Teachers (higher-education faculty themselves, specialized in training future teachers) from 35 colleges and universities, as well as a representative sample of College Students from a Public, Private and two Religious institutions who were polled in three areas: the controversy over evolution versus creationism versus Intelligent Design; their understanding of how science and the evolutionary process work; and their personal convictions concerning the evolution and/or creation of humans in the context of their religiosity… Read MORE open access.

NESP Series Evolution Vol 2 No 1 2014430+ downloads of Volume 2, Number 1: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2014. Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 2(1): 1-92 (ISSN: 2326-0971). In NESP Series Evolution Vol 2 No 1, Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa use the conceptual framework of the Incompatibility Hypothesis (i.e. science/evolution and belief in supernatural causation are incompatible) to document the patterns of acceptance of evolution of 495 Educators of Prospective Teachers affiliated with 281 colleges and universities widely distributed in 4 regions, 9 divisions, and 50 states in the United States. These higher-education professionals (65% PhD-, 22% doctorate-holders) were polled in five areas: (i) their views about evolution, creationism and Intelligent Design, (ii) their understanding of how science and the evolutionary process work, (iii) their position about the hypothetical ‘harmony or compatibility’ between science/evolution and supernatural causation, (iv) their awareness of the age of the Earth, its moon, our solar system and the universe, and the application of the concept of evolution to the cosmos, and (v) their personal convictions concerning the evolution and/or creation of humans in the context of the educators’ religiosity… Read MORE open access.

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: evolution vs. supernatural causation

Incompatibility Hypothesis Paz-y-Mino-C Espinosa

“Like the oil vs. water experiment, evolution and supernatural causation don’t mix. Evolution raises to the surface.”

Supernatural causation (i.e. the belief in a Supreme Being, creator and sustainer of the universe, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient) is a cultural pollutant, incompatible with empirical reality. “Belief” disrupts, distorts, delays and/or stops (3Ds+S) the correct comprehension and acceptance of evidence. We have postulated that the controversy over evolution-and-science versus creationism is inherent to the incompatibility between scientific rationalism/empiricism and the belief in supernatural causation. This hypothesis (= incompatibility) helps us understand and explain the everlasting and fluctuating antagonism –in cycles, from moderate to intense opposition during human history– in the relationship between science/evolution and religion… Read MORE and access free PDFs of scientific articles, including  Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs published in the International Journal of Science in Society (abstract below) [PDF].

Cover Int Journal Science Society Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa 2015Evolution Controversy – Science in Society: Paz-y-Miño-C G & Espinosa A. 2015. Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. Int. J. Sci. Soc. 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236. The incompatibility between science and the belief in supernatural causation helps us understand why people do not accept evolution. Belief disrupts, distorts, delays, or stops (3Ds + S) the acceptance of scientific evidence. Here we examine the evolution controversy under three predictions of the incompatibility hypothesis. First, chronological-conflict-and-accommodation, which explains the historical re-emergence of antagonism between evolution and religion when advances in science continue to threaten the belief in supernatural causation; in such situations, creationists’ rejection of and subsequent partial acceptance of the new scientific discoveries are expected. Second, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of educational attainment, which explains the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education. And third, change in evolution’s acceptance is a function of religiosity, which explains the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs… We emphasize that harmonious coexistence between science and religion is illusory. If co-persisting in society, their relationship will fluctuate from moderate to intense antagonism. Read MORE open access [PDF].

At the Down House: Darwin’s Home

Down House Side View from gardens“I visited the Down House, Darwin’s Home, in July 2010. Here are a few pictures I wanted to share in celebration of the International Darwin Day, February 12. Prior to visiting the Down House, which is located just a few miles South East of London, I went to Canterbury, Kent, to attend the International Society of Protistologists (ISoP) annual meeting, at the University of Kent. Coincidentally, back in 1991, as an undergraduate student, I obtained a Diploma in Endangered Species Management from the University of Kent, which offered such certification in partnership with the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (nowadays Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust)”… Read MORE.

Some History about Darwin Day at the US Congress

Paul Broun R Georgia on Evolution

Click on image to watch video. Paul Broun (R) “All that stuff I was taught about evolution… all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell”

“…Bill H.Res.41, itself, embodies the never-ending battle against irrationalism, the latter vividly present in the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science. Take, for example, last year’s remarks by congressman Paul Broun (R), from Georgia, a physician and member of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (the very Committee to which the “Darwin Day bill” was referred), who declared: “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.”

And Mr. Broun went on, as documented in video watched worldwide: “It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.” “I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old.” “I believe it was created in six day as we know them.” “That’s what the Bible says.” Read MORE.

Related Stories

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

Evolution Wars Debunk II

Why the Notion that “The Theory of Evolution is Not an Explanation for the Origin of Life” is Wrong

Evolution Stands Faith Up – On Francis Collins’ and Karl Giberson’s “The Language of Science and Faith”

Lucy’s Pride 3.2 million years later

Lucy’s Pride, an open-minded Australopithecus, as it was casual 3.2 million years ago. We finally evolved, or did we?

— © 2015 by Evolution Literacy all rights reserved

Lucy's Pride Australopithecus afarensis - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2015

Related Postings:

Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Evolution Wars: Another EpisodeEvolution Wars: Episode II

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Just Published: Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

Cover Int Journal Science Society Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa 2015

Click on image to be redirected to the International Journal of Science in Society

Published in The International Journal of Science in Society — Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa (2015). Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. Int. J. Sci. Soc. 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236. -May 14, 2015.

The complete article, which includes 23-pages, 11 figures and 59 references, can be downloaded —for free— from the International Journal of Science in Society. Click on the image (left) to go to the journal website to download the PDF.

A media-friendly summary can be read HERE.

 *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK.

Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEG“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.