What the American “Evolution Wars” Can Tell us About Knowledge Resistance

Eugenie C. Scott

What the American “Evolution Wars” Can Tell us About Knowledge Resistance

Eugenie C. Scott
September 7, 2017

Wenner-Gren Foundation Center
Sveavägen 166
102 31 Stockholm

A talk for the “Knowledge Resistance and How to Cure It” conference sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Scientific Research.

For decades in the US, evolution has been opposed by antievolutionists identifying themselves as “scientific” creationists. They claim that in addition to evolution being religiously unacceptable, it has serious scientific shortcomings, and therefore should be rejected (and not taught in schools) as a valid science. Antievolutionism is often considered the poster child of the failure of the knowledge deficit model (that rejection of accepted scientific views is founded in a lack of accurate information) but reality is more subtle. Indeed, many criteria in addition to scientific knowledge explain most of creationists’ rejection of evolution, but knowledge of evolution (and the nature of science) is thin within this group. In case studies of individuals who have switched positions from creationism to evolution (or vice versa) scientific information is claimed to play a role in the conversion – though not the only role. Knowledge is a necessary variable in overcoming resistance – but not sufficient on its own.

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