Eugenie Scott: Frustrations, distortions and teaching bad ideas in schools

Eugenie Scott is always an interesting and thoughtful communicator. In her recent interview with Inside Climate News, she provided a number of gems, including;

“The thing that frustrates me, and is a constant annoyance, is when you see science distorted. As a scientist, I know the process that scientists go through to come up with the conclusions. It is not like we wake up one morning and say, ‘I think it is getting warmer.’ There is a long process of data collection and analysis, constant questioning from your colleagues, and the back and forth of disputes, and presentations of more data and more models. Finally you reach a consensus. That is the way it was with evolution. That is the way it was with climate change.

But people just show up with an ideological agenda, whether political or religious or something else, and distort the conclusions that have been so hard won. This is the sort of thing that really pisses off scientists, and me.”


“Creationists certainly have a right to challenge the science and present their own views to the public for consideration. And the climate change deniers can do the same thing. It is free speech.

However, you really need to think about the goal of education. We are trying to teach kids the basics of the scientific fields. You barely have time to teach them these basics, so why would you argue that students should be learning information that the scientific community has looked at and rejected as being not valid?

Geographers have concluded that the earth is not flat… just as they’ve concluded that species have common ancestors and that climate change is happening. But you don’t see anyone still arguing that we should teach that the earth is flat.”

Read the full interview here.

Sourced from the current issue of Nature, 'Evolution makes the grade'
Sourced from the current issue of Nature, ‘Evolution makes the grade’ by Lauren Morello

In short, she is ever calling for the fair weight of opposing ideas, not equal weight. Interest groups are entitled to their opinions, but this does not instantly elevate the credibility of their ideas. Such credibility is “hard won” and earned through the scientific process.

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