Evolution Wars: Another Episode

• Para-creationists attack the 2011-2012 Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa research on acceptance of evolution • Pro-theism-in-science authors invoke The Clergy Letter Project, rather than pure and proper science education, to improve the acceptance of evolution — Trends in Evolution Wars © 2015  

Wrong Way Signal“Suggesting that agnosticism and atheism are belief systems –as Rice et al. do– is like calling NASA a ‘cult’… But Rice et al. go beyond that: they invoke The Clergy Letter Project, rather than pure and proper science education, to improve the acceptance of evolution” — say Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C & Avelina Espinosa 

• First Red Flag: Justin W. Rice et al. (2015) suggest that the Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa research (2011a, 2012a) on acceptance of evolution in New England (sample of science and education faculty at 35 colleges and universities) is invalid. Yet, Rice et al. conduct a comparable study, at a single institution in the Midwest of the country, and generate analogous results.

Red Flag Justin W Rice et al 2015 Evolution Wars Debunk II• Second Red Flag: Rice et al. find that “theistic views have a pervasive influence on knowledge and acceptance of evolution,” and that agnostic/atheist faculty hold the highest rates of knowing and accepting evolution (another replication of the Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa research). Yet, Rice et al. bend over backwards, ignore their own data, and proceed to invoke The Clergy Letter Project to endorse theistic evolution in the science class (= creationism in principle, distant creationism, God in the background of evolution), rather than purely secular science education as an obvious choice to securing proper science schooling.

• Third Red Flag: After disregarding other scholars’ studies, Rice et al. present themselves as a more reliable source in the field of acceptance of evolution by highly educated audiences. Yet, Rice et al.’s writing is restricted to proximate, quantitative descriptions of acceptance of evolution. No hypothesis-testing approach, no ultimate causation explanations for the evolution controversy are offered in their paper. These authors’ mission is to sponsor ‘faith’ in science education and campaign for matrimony between science and religion. A Type-I error, conceptual fallacy in their approach.

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C & Avelina Espinosa © 2015 — “Back in 2010 when Justin W. Rice et al. suddenly criticized our research on acceptance of evolution, we became suspicious that these authors –whom we have never met at international conferences– had a more sinister motive to attack our scholarly work than simply pointing at academic disagreements. We inferred that our 2009a,b papers in Evolution Education and Outreach (EEO) had taken Rice et al. by surprise, and that the quintet of authors targeted us for having published in an area that became of their interest. But that was not our only misgiving: Rice et al. –we speculated– did single us out due to our openly secular approach to examining the evolution controversy, which contrasted with Rice et al.’s pro-faith theistic-observance of evolution (God in the background of causality: creationism in principle, distant creationism). And, as shown below, we were correct in our suspicion…” — READ COMPLETE STORY Evolution Wars: Debunk II Evolution Literacy © 2015.

DD Palmer - Blindfolded - Darwin - Evolution Literacy Debunk II to Justin W Rice et al

“Suggesting that agnosticism and atheism are belief systems –as Rice et al. do– is like calling NASA a ‘cult’… But Rice et al. go beyond that: they invoke The Clergy Letter Project, rather than pure and proper science education, to improve the acceptance of evolution” — say Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C & Avelina Espinosa

READ COMPLETE STORY Evolution Wars: Debunk II Evolution Literacy © 2015

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Suggested Reading:

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

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

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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 Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion

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.

Why do people hesitate to embrace evolution? What triggers the controversy evolution-and-science versus creationism? What factors characterize the evolution wars? Will the conflict evolution-and-science versus religiosity ever end? In a latest study published in the International Journal of Science in Society, Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C and Avelina Espinosa address these questions under the conceptual framework of the Incompatibility Hypothesis, which the authors have proposed  — EvoLiteracy.

In previous publications, ranging from 2009 to 2014, Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa have formally examined the Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH), a conceptual, theoretical framework to explain the foundations of the “evolution wars,” as well as the societal struggles between science and faith. In their most recent article, published in The Int. J. Sci. Soc. Vol. 7 No. 2 (May 14, 2015), the authors state:

Evolution Controversy Int J Sci Soc May 14 2015 Paz-y-Mino-C Espinosa

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“The observable phenomenon in society, which we aim at examining academically, is the controversy over acceptance of evolution, the conflicts that emerge when facts organized in a rational interpretation of the empirical reality (i.e. the science of evolution) challenge belief-based answers to questions about the origin of the universe and life. [The incompatibility proposal] IH is an ultimate-level [of analysis] hypothesis, rather than a proximate one. IH explains the cause of the controversy, its fundamental reason. IH addresses directly the inquiry: what elicits the controversy evolution-and-science versus creationism? And it offers an educated answer: their intrinsic and opposing approaches to assess reality, i.e. science by means of testing hypotheses, falsifying and/or testing predictions and replication of experiments; creationism, in contrast, via belief in supernatural causality.”

The authors acknowledge and value alternative approaches to examining the evolution controversy, which they consider “proximate levels of analysis of the [societal conflicts], including the detailed and simultaneous characterization of multiple factors that can influence an individual’s acceptance of evolution and scientific evidence, e.g. religious beliefs, pro-life beliefs and political ideology; or political activity, political and religious conservatism, knowledge about evolution and its relevance, creationist reasoning, evolutionary misconceptions, and exposure to evolution; or religious affiliation, frequency of attendance to religious services, college academic level, exposure to evolution in high school, and college major.” The authors themselves have examined some of these variables in their research, however, they highlight that “from a research program perspective, the proximate-level studies, or descriptions of the evolution controversy, are auxiliary in essence, while IH [plays the role of] a central hypothesis, as a guiding ultimate level of [scrutiny].”

Here is the abstract of the 2015 study:

“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:

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

(1) 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.

(2) Change in evolution’s acceptance as function of educational attainment, which explains the positive association between acceptance of evolution and level of education.

And (3) change in evolution’s acceptance as function of religiosity, which explains the negative association between acceptance of evolution and level of religious beliefs.

We rely 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) to characterize the associations among understanding of science and evolution, personal religious convictions, and conservative ideology. 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.”

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 images below to enlarge, or go to the journal website to download the PDF.

Figures Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C and Espinosa IJSS 2015

Suggested Readings where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed:

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Book: 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. 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. — Mini Reviews: “Isaac Newton is said to have been a seriously religious man. Yet it is primarily due to Newton’s influence that science, unable to test propositions concerning the supernatural, focuses instead on finding natural causes for natural phenomena. Thus science is not a “belief,” but rather an epistemology aimed at understanding the natural world. In their welcome book, Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa succinctly draw the distinction between real science and the religiously-inspired belief in supernatural explanations for natural phenomena—including the origin and history of life. Why does the resistance to evolution persist in this modern day and age? 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 versus those who accept evolution as science. The authors 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.” Dr. Niles Eldredge, 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.” Dr. Barbara Forrest, 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).

Journal Book Covers Incompatibility Science Religion - VERTICAL

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Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2014a. The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation. Pp. 3-16. [PDF] In G. Trueba (Ed.) Why Does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-6518-4, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-6518-0.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2014b. Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers: the disturbing reality of evolution illiteracy at colleges and universities. New England Science Public: Series Evolution Vol. 2, No. 1. [PDF] The complete 92-page study includes 23 figures, statistics, 34 maps, 12 tables, and a companion slide show ‘Image Resources’ for science journalists, researchers and educators. The supplementary materials include 15s figures and 25s tables. This article has been featured in the Richard Dawkins Foundation Newsletter and website. RDF has also posted a note in its Facebook page.

Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013a. The Everlasting Conflict Evolution-and-Science versus Religiosity. pp. 73-97 [PDF]. In G. Simpson & S. Payne (eds) Religion and Ethics NOVA Publishers, New York. Download OPEN ACCESS at NOVA.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013b. Galapagos III world evolution summit: why evolution matters. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 6:28. [PDF]. Open Access.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2013c. Attitudes toward evolution at New England colleges and universities, United States. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 1: 1-32. [PDF]. Read commentaries in Happy Birthday Charles Darwin – The Boston Globe and Basic Knowledge of Darwin’s Theory Lost in Some Classes – The Boston Globe Metro. The Standard Times of New Bedford published the note Evolution Misunderstood By Students, Faculty.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2012a. Introduction: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution: Using Protistan Diversity to Promote Evolution Literacy. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 59:101-104. [PDF].

Public Talks, Interviews, and Discussions where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is addressed:

Interview by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (April 1, 2014) where both the book Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars, and the Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed.

Disproof Atheism Society, Boston University (February 2014).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013, National Convention in Boston (watch and/or DOWNLOAD VIDEO from the AAA website).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013 (watch video in YouTube posted on September 2, 2013).

 

Other Scientific Publications Related to Acceptance of Evolution in the US and the World:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012b. Educators of prospective teachers hesitate to embrace evolution due to deficient understanding of science/evolution and high religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 5:139-162. [PDF]. Follow a discussion on this study in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G., Espinosa A. & Bai, C. 2011a. The Jackprot Simulation couples mutation rate with natural selection to illustrate how protein evolution is not random. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:502-514 [PDF] Visit The Jackprot Simulation website to access computer program and tutorials.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011b. On the theory of evolution versus the concept of evolution: three observations. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:308–312 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011c. New England faculty and college students differ in their views about evolution, creationism, intelligent design, and religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:323–342 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2010. Integrating horizontal gene transfer and common descent to depict evolution and contrast it with “common design.” J. Eukaryotic Microbiology 57: 11-18 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2009a. Acceptance of evolution increases with student academic level: a comparison between a secular and a religious college. Evolution: Education & Outreach 2:655–675 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & A. Espinosa. 2009b. Assessment of biology majors’ versus non-majors’ views on evolution, creationism and intelligent design. Evolution Education and Outreach 2: 75-83 [PDF].

Related Readings:

Book: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York.

Popular media article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012c. Atheists’ knowledge about science and evolution. Secular World 8(1): 33-36 [PDF].

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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.

Evolution illiteracy at America’s colleges and universities

Evolution illiteracy at America’s colleges and universities

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2014

New England Science Public – An Initiative for the Public Understanding of Science – on Twitter @EvoLiteracy@gpazymino

Belief in supernatural causation disrupts, distorts, delays or stops the acceptance of scientific evidence. These 3Ds + S are upshots of the inner struggles between an individual’s unsubstantiated convictions faith and its collisions with the empirical reality. And there is no better landscape to document the incompatibility between belief and facts than investigating if and how people accept evolution.”

Paz-y-Mino-C_NESP cover Evolution Study 2014     In collaboration with Dr. Avelina Espinosa, a biologist at Roger Williams University, US, 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. The ‘incompatibility hypothesis’ (IH) helps us explain the everlasting antagonism in the relationship between science/evolution and religion.

     Our latest study is titled ‘Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers,’ to which the New England Science Public Series Evolution –where the work was just published— has added the subheading ‘The Disturbing Reality of Evolution Illiteracy at Colleges and Universities.’ In it, we rely on IH to test the cultural-pollution effects of religiosity on acceptance of evolution by America’s finest education scholars; that is, university professors specialized in training future teachers.

     Previous reports about public acceptance of evolution in the US (around 40%, a rate distant from the top countries’ 80%, like Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, France or Japan) have examined the role of religiosity in the rejection of evolution; but only few studies have characterized the influence of religion on evolution’s endorsement by elite educators. It has been assumed that higher-education faculty remain distant from belief-based explanations of natural phenomena; a supposition that Dr. Espinosa and I suspected to be false.  

     We studied attitudes toward evolution among 495 educators of prospective teachers affiliated with 281 colleges and universities distributed in 4 regions and 50 states in the US. These professionals (87% PhD or doctorate holders) where polled in five areas: (1) their views about evolution, creationism and Intelligent Design, (2) their understanding of how science and the evolutionary process work, (3) their position about the hypothetical ‘harmony or compatibility’ between science/evolution and supernatural causation, (4) 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 (5) their personal convictions concerning the evolution and/or creation of humans in the context of the responders’ religiosity.

     Acceptance of evolution among these educators was influenced by their level of understanding the foundations of science/evolution and their beliefs in supernatural causation. In comparison to two other populations, whose acceptance of evolution had already been documented in our previous research (i.e. New England research faculty, non-educators, and college students), the educators had an intermediate level of understanding science/evolution, low acceptance of evolution, and high religiosity, as follows:

Acceptance Evolution Educators Evolution Literacy

‘Acceptance of evolution openly’ and ‘thinking that evolution is definitely true’ among educators of prospective teachers in the United States (center). For comparison, New England college students (left) and research faculty (right) are depicted; both have the highest national levels of acceptance of evolution among students and university professors, respectively.

• 59% of the educators accepted evolution openly, 51% thought that evolution is definitely true, and 59% admitted to be religious.

• 94% of the New England researchers accepted evolution openly, 82% thought that evolution is definitely true, and 29% admitted to be religious.

• 63% of the New England Students accepted evolution openly, 58% thought that evolution is definitely true, and 37% admitted to be religious (Figure above).

• Educators in each of the four regions of the US (North East, Midwest, South, and West) had science- and evolution-literacy scores below the researchers’ but above the students.’

• The educators’ rejection of evolution increased, conspicuously, with increasing level of religiosity.

Humans are Apes Evolution Literacy

One of the significant results of the study: only 37.3% to 55.2% of educators of prospective teachers knew (or accepted) that humans are apes, relatives of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans.

     Our research has led us to conclude that harmonious coexistence between science/evolution and religion is illusory. If co-persisting in the future, the relationship between science and religion will fluctuate between moderate and intense antagonism. — © 2014 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. all rights reserved.

Note: The complete 92-page study is available open access at New England Science Public; it includes 23 figures, statistics, 34 maps, 12 tables, and a companion slide show ‘Image Resources’ for science journalists, researchers and educators.  

NESP Series Evolution Vol. 2 No. 1 was released on September 15, 2014, in celebration of Captain Robert FitzRoy’s arrival in the Galapagos on September 15, 1835; at that time, the young naturalist Charles Darwin was FitzRoy’s distinguished guest on board of the HMS Beagle.

Reference: 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. [PDF] and supplementary ‘Image Resources’.

 Related Articles and Media Reports:

Richard Dawkins Foundation Newsletter: Evolution Illiteracy among America’s Finest Educators

Why people do not accept evolution?

The Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH): evolution versus supernatural causation

The Boston Globe Metro: Basic knowledge of Darwin’s theory lost in some classes

Boston.com: Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

South Coast Today: Evolution misunderstood by students, faculty

Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

Fragmentary Truths and the Intellectual Imbalance in Academia

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2014

Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

[click on title to be redirected to The Standard Times]

“…If we ought to quote E.O. Wilson in the context of what is good for science and science education, then we must look at his unyielding journey in support to fundamental research and long-standing concerns about the future of academia. Although open to dialog with spiritualists, Wilson has never endorsed creationism under the principle of Consilience, nor sponsored profit at the expense of quality schooling…” 

Some months ago, an administrator ventured to school me by asserting: “E.O. Wilson is known for his books in popular science, but his area of research is ants.” I will return to this fragmentary truth after documenting what can be done, following Harvard Professor Edward Osborne Wilson’s example, to make outreach to students —our public— via proper science education.

 

Above, Professor Edward O. Wilson, painting by Jennie Summerall

When I arrived at UMass Dartmouth in 2007, the evolution wars were at their peak. Although Intelligent Design had been defeated in the 2005 Dover, Pa., trial for violating the rules of science by “invoking and permitting supernatural causation” in matters of evolution and for “failing to gain acceptance in the scientific community,” the 21st century anti-science crusade had just began. Current legislation constraining the teaching of evolution reigns in 12 states.

According to Intelligent Design, evolution could not explain holistically the origin of the natural world or the emergence of intricate molecular pathways essential to life, nor the immense phylogenetic differentiation of biological diversity and, instead, proposed an “intelligent agent,” a designer, as the ultimate architect of nature.

During the process of ripping Intelligent Design apart, earlier variants of creationism resuscitated —mostly in media-driven discussions, which I never considered harmless since they reflected the quiescent mind of the public— and newly emerged as, allegedly, better alternatives to Intelligent Design. I discuss them in my 2013 book “Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars:”

Among the former were Theistic Evolution and Creation Science, creationism in principle and practice (God the maker of the universe, always present in the fore- or background of causality); among the latter was BioLogos (2000s), which aimed at merging Christianity with science by proposing a “model for divinely guided evolution” that required “no intrusions from the outside for its account of God’s creative process, except for the origin of the natural laws guiding the process.”

Supporters of BioLogos suggested that “once life arose, evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity,” including humans. After evolution got underway, “no special supernatural intervention was required” (quotes from “The Language of Science and Faith” 2011, co-authored by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins —the latter Director of the National Institutes of Health). In essence, the Creator was done, but remained in touch for eternity! This is, of course, inconsistent with everything we know about reality.

As an evolutionary biologist and university professor, I considered a duty to properly educate my students and prepare them to examine, by themselves, the anti-science cultural pollutants that aim at “zombieing” their minds, “corpseing” their innate spirit of inquiry, and perpetuating societal confusion around empirical discoveries.

New England has the highest acceptance of evolution in the U.S., only 59 percent. Back in 2008, when I first polled the UMass Dartmouth campus, our biology graduates used to join the workforce with an acceptance level evolution of 65 percent; the freshman —right out of high school— were at 52 percent. A year later, in May 2009, after I restructured the core biology courses with an evolutionary perspective, acceptance of evolution jumped to 82 percent among the youngest undergrads. Today, 95 percent of graduating bio-majors accept evolution at UMass Dartmouth, the highest score ever reported for college students in the U.S., and comparable to 97 percent of the New England faculty.

Evolution literacy matters: It correlates with understanding climate change, support for stem-cell research, vaccines, alternative sources of energy, respect for education and human rights.

And this brings me back to my allusion to Professor E.O. Wilson. Indeed, he had (still does) a celebrated career in the study of Hymenoptera (ants, wasps and bees). But there is high complexity in Wilson’s contribution to theoretical science, far beyond “ants” (which vastness has been revealed by his passionate disciples).

Forgive my professorial account: Concepts such as Island Biogeography (1967), the still controversial Sociobiology (1975), Biophilia (1984), Biodiversity (1988), Consilience (1998), “The Creation” in the context of what nature can do to assemble life (2006), are among Wilson’s seminal proposals. But he also co-founded “evolutionary biology” in 1960, in an attempt to address “the intellectual imbalance of biology at Harvard,” and his fears of seeing ecology and evolution “being outgunned, outfunded, and outnumbered” by alternative fields of investigation, as he narrates in “Letters to A Young Scientist” (2013).

If we ought to quote Wilson in the context of what is good for science and science education, then we must look at his unyielding journey in support to fundamental research and long-standing concerns about the future of academia. Although open to dialog with spiritualists, E.O. Wilson has never endorsed creationism under the principle of Consilience, nor sponsored profit at the expense of quality schooling.

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs Supernatural Causation

The Incompatibility Hypothesis (IH): Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation, by Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa

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

Incompatibility Hypothesis Paz-y-Mino-C EspinosaSupernatural 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 (Paz-y-Miño-C & Espinosa 2012, 2013a,b,c, 2014a,b, 2015, 2016). 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 (Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa 2013a). In our most recent book chapter (Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa 2014a; article 2015 and book 2016), we examine conceptually the incompatibility hypothesis (IH), its predictions and alternatives, and approaches to test it quantitatively. Image top-left: Like the oil vs. water experiment, evolution and supernatural causation don’t mix. Evolution raises to the surface.

Suggested Readings where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed:

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.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2015. Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs. International Journal of Science in Society 7(2). ISSN 1836-6236 [PDF].

Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2014a. The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation. Pp. 3-16. [PDF] In G. Trueba (Ed.) Why Does Evolution Matter? The Importance of Understanding Evolution. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-6518-4, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-6518-0.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2014b. Acceptance of Evolution by America’s Educators of Prospective Teachers: the disturbing reality of evolution illiteracy at colleges and universities. New England Science Public: Series Evolution Vol. 2, No. 1. [PDF] The complete 92-page study includes 23 figures, statistics, 34 maps, 12 tables, and a companion slide show ‘Image Resources’ for science journalists, researchers and educators. The supplementary materials include 15s figures and 25s tables. This article has been featured in the Richard Dawkins Foundation Newsletter and website. RDF has also posted a note in its Facebook page.

Book-Chapter: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013a. The Everlasting Conflict Evolution-and-Science versus Religiosity. pp. 73-97 [PDF]. In G. Simpson & S. Payne (eds) Religion and Ethics NOVA Publishers, New York. Download OPEN ACCESS at NOVA.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. & Espinosa A. 2013b. Galapagos III world evolution summit: why evolution matters. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 6:28. [PDF]. Open Access.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2013c. Attitudes toward evolution at New England colleges and universities, United States. New England Science Public: Series Evolution 1: 1-32. [PDF]. Read commentaries in Happy Birthday Charles Darwin – The Boston Globe and Basic Knowledge of Darwin’s Theory Lost in Some Classes – The Boston Globe Metro. The Standard Times of New Bedford published the note Evolution Misunderstood By Students, Faculty.

Scientific Article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2012a. Introduction: Why People Do Not Accept Evolution: Using Protistan Diversity to Promote Evolution Literacy. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 59:101-104. [PDF].

Public Talks, Interviews, and Discussions where The Incompatibility Hypothesis is addressed:

Departmental Seminar UMass Amherst (November 13, 2015), Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program: Measuring the Evolution Controversy: The Present and Future of Evolution’s Acceptance.

Interview by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (April 1, 2014) where both the book Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars, and the Incompatibility Hypothesis is discussed.

Disproof Atheism Society, Boston University (February 2014).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013, National Convention in Boston (watch and/or DOWNLOAD VIDEO from the AAA website).

Atheists Alliance of America 2013 (watch video in YouTube posted on September 2, 2013).

 

Other Scientific Publications Related to Acceptance of Evolution in the US and the World:

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012b. Educators of prospective teachers hesitate to embrace evolution due to deficient understanding of science/evolution and high religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 5:139-162. [PDF]. Follow a discussion on this study in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G., Espinosa A. & Bai, C. 2011a. The Jackprot Simulation couples mutation rate with natural selection to illustrate how protein evolution is not random. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:502-514 [PDF] Visit The Jackprot Simulation website to access computer program and tutorials.

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011b. On the theory of evolution versus the concept of evolution: three observations. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:308–312 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2011c. New England faculty and college students differ in their views about evolution, creationism, intelligent design, and religiosity. Evolution: Education and Outreach 4:323–342 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2010. Integrating horizontal gene transfer and common descent to depict evolution and contrast it with “common design.” J. Eukaryotic Microbiology 57: 11-18 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa, A. 2009a. Acceptance of evolution increases with student academic level: a comparison between a secular and a religious college. Evolution: Education & Outreach 2:655–675 [PDF].

Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & A. Espinosa. 2009b. Assessment of biology majors’ versus non-majors’ views on evolution, creationism and intelligent design. Evolution Education and Outreach 2: 75-83 [PDF].

Related Readings:

Book: Paz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York.

Popular media article: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2012c. Atheists’ knowledge about science and evolution. Secular World 8(1): 33-36 [PDF].

Americans Want Candidates to Debate Science

Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2012

Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

“…Statistics –reliable tools in the scientific method— strongly suggest that Americans want a presidential and congressional debate on science, innovation, health, and the environment, and that such dialog should exclude the personal opinions and beliefs of the candidates. Imagine, at last, a conversation over reality, facts, evidence, and rationality. If science becomes the backbone –better the brain— of candidates, and the voters are literate enough to assess it, a single debate shall suffice to unmask it all…”

85 percent of Americans want a presidential science debate, although more registered democrats (89 percent) than republicans (83 percent) would like a match between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney over science-based challenges in healthcare, climate change, energy, education, innovation and the economy. In fact, 84 percent of likely voters rank science, innovation and healthcare as the third most important topic in a debate, after the economy and taxes, and foreign policy and national security.

“…Does the public prefer presidents and congressional representatives to rationally condition their outlooks to what science says?”

These views stretch beyond the presidential elections, with 81 percent of probable voters also expecting congressional science debates. But what surprised me most about these figures, released by Science Debate Dot Org, was that 81 percent of the 1000 surveyed adults thought that public policies should be based on science, not the personal opinions or beliefs of elected officials. Really? Does the public prefer presidents and congressional representatives to rationally condition their outlooks to what science says? I love it, because the data implies that we can safely approach politicians and the public with facts, and expect broad appreciation for the truth, the backbone of science. Right?

Above: 81% of Americans want public policies to be based on science, not the personal opinions or beliefs of elected officials. Source Science Debate Dot Org 2012.

Evolution, climate change, the importance of stem cell research, the benefits of vaccines to public health, the cleanness of clean energy, the dangers of pollution, are all scientific realities –not to mention the impending collision of an asteroid with Earth. But what politicians or the citizens believe about “reality” contradicts the enthusiastic 81 percent support for an honest conversation about facts.

“…what politicians or the citizens believe about “reality” contradicts the enthusiastic 81 percent support for an honest conversation about facts…”

According to Gallup Poll, 40 percent of Americans accept evolution. Among them, 60 percent of democrats or independents versus 30 percent of republicans think evolution is true. Yet, there is no doubt among scientists that cosmic transformations and Darwinian evolution are factual. Gallup also reports that 58 percent of the general public think that climate change is occurring, versus 75 percent of democrats, 53 percent of independents, and 43 percent of republicans. But thousands of world researchers, advisors to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have compiled chronological evidence of concerning fluctuations in climate.

Evolution aside, which formulation as a scientific reality dates back to, at least, 150 years, and to Charles Darwin’s seminal contributions (On the Origin of Species, 1859, and The Descent of Man, 1871), and whose on-and-off opponents always lose in the court of science and, frequently, in the court of law, the recent human-made corollaries of climate change are also factual despite the opinions of candidates, ideologies or congregations. But here is relevant trivia reported by Yale University and George Manson University Project/Center for Climate Change Communication: Americans trust President Obama (47 percent) more than former Governor Romney (21 percent) as “a source of information about global warming.”

“…what is expected from politicians by the public differs from what is observed in the electorate voting behavior…”

Remember that four in every five responders to the Science Debate Dot Org poll preferred science-inspired public policies rather than belief-based decisions. However what is expected from politicians by the public differs from what is observed in the electorate voting behavior. Who is telling the truth about evolution or climate change, President Obama or former Governor Romney? The answer is scientists! And that should be the point of reference for those seeking genuineness: learn what science says about reality, expect politicians to understand and match that view, and cast votes accordingly.

“… science… should be the point of reference for those seeking genuineness: learn what science says about reality, expect politicians to understand and match that view, and cast votes accordingly…”

Harris Interactive has surveyed that, despite medical researchers’ need of experimentation with stem cells to develop treatment or to prevent diabetes, Alzheimer or Parkinson disease, only 72 percent of the American public thinks such research should be allowed, in contrast to 82 percent of democrats, 73 percent of independents, and 58 percent of republicans. But misinformation about health can be even more scandalous, for example, one in every five adults believes that vaccines cause autism.

Above: Views about evolution, climate change, stem cell research, and alternative sources of energy by the American public, registered democrats, independents and republicans. Sources: Evolution: Gallup Poll 2007, Climate Change:  Gallup Poll 2012; Stem Cell Research: Harris Interactive 2010; Alternative Sources of Energy: Pew Research Center 2012.

The Pew Research Center has reported 52 percent of public support to developing alternative sources of energy –to oil, coal and gas; 65 percent of democrats, 55 percent of independents, and 36 percent of republicans agree with this view; not surprisingly 81 percent of progressives versus 52 percent of conservatives think that more federal funding should sponsor alternative energy research. And three quarters of the electorate trusts more the Environmental Protection Agency –to research, monitor, set standards and reinforce policies concerning pollution— than the US Congress.

“…Imagine, at last, a conversation over reality, facts, evidence, and rationality. …”

Statistics –reliable tools in the scientific method— strongly suggest that Americans want a presidential and congressional debate on science, innovation, health, and the environment, and that such dialog should exclude the personal opinions and beliefs of the candidates. Imagine, at last, a conversation over reality, facts, evidence, and rationality. If science becomes the backbone –better the brain— of candidates, and the voters are literate enough to assess it, a single debate shall suffice to unmask it all. — © 2012 by Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. all rights reserved

Related Articles:

United States ‘exceptionalism’ built on backs of the 99 percent

Can Atheists Be Our Leaders? – Editorial The Standard Times – Nov 6, 2010

 

New England Colleges and Universities: Acceptance of Evolution and Religiosity

Acceptance of Evolution and Religiosity in New England Colleges and Universities

The Boston Public Library, a magnificent destination for enlightment (photo G. Paz-y-Miño-C — © 2010)

26% of the general faculty, 45% of the educators, and 35% of the students do not know that humans are apes…

15% of the general faculty, 32% of the educators, and 35% of the students believe, incorrectly, that the origin of the human mind cannot be explained by evolution…

30% of the general faculty, 59% of the educators, and 75% of the students are Lamarckian…

29% of the general faculty, 42% of the educators, and 37% of the students consider religion to be very important in their lives…

17% of the general faculty, 34% of the educators, and 28% of the students confess to pray daily…

To access complete post, statistics and link to original scientific article click on Acceptance of Evolution and Religiosity in New England Colleges and Universities