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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Scott, Eugenie (1945 - )
"You can't really be scientifically literate if you don't understand evolution, and you can't be an educated member of society if you don't understand science."

-- Eugenie Scott


Eugenie Carol Scott is an American physical anthropologist who has been the executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) since 1987. She is a leading critic of creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design.

Biography
Scott studied at the University of Missouri - Columbia where she earned a Ph.D. in anthropology. She served as president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists from 2000 to 2002. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and awarded honorary D.Sc.'s by McGill University in 2003, by Ohio State University in 2005, and by Mount Holyoke College in 2006. She is also a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

Scott is a secular humanist, and in 2003 was one of the signers of the third humanist manifesto, Humanism and Its Aspirations. The NCSE is religiously neutral and has members who hold a variety of faith-based beliefs or no beliefs at all. Nevertheless, both Scott and the NCSE are criticized as being "atheistic" by creationist groups.

In 2004, the National Center for Science Education was represented by Dr. Scott on Penn and Teller's Showtime television show Bullshit!, on the episode titled "Creationism, on which Dr. Scott offered scientific views about the creationist and intelligent design movements. She noted "it would be unfair to tell students that there is a serious dispute going on among scientists whether evolution took place" because there is no such debate between scientists. She further noted that "a lot of the time the creationists... they'll search through scientific journals and try to pull out something they think demonstrates evolution doesn't work and there is a kind of interesting rationale behind it. Their theology is such that if one thing is wrong with the Bible you have to throw it all out so that's why Genesis has to be interpreted literally. They look at science the same way. If one little piece of the evolutionary puzzle doesn't fit the whole thing has to go." Scott then explained, "that's not the way science is done."

Scott is widely considered to be a leading expert on creationism (including intelligent design), as well as one of its strongest opponents. Her book Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction was published by Greenwood Press in 2004 and then in paperback by the University of California Press in 2005. It has a foreword by Niles Eldredge.

Scott has taken part in numerous interviews on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, debating various creationist and Intelligent Design advocates. On 29 November 2004, Scott debated astrophysicist Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis on CNN. On May 6, 2005 Scott debated Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute, on The Big Story with John Gibson.

In 2005, Scott and other NCSE staff served as scientific and educational consultants for the plantiffs in the monumental case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which originated in Dover, PA. Judge John Jones ruled strongly against teaching intelligent design or creationism in the public schools.

Controversies
In 2005, Scott was party to a libel suit in which she was accused by Larry Caldwell of Quality Science Education for All of making false claims in an article published in California Wild, the magazine of the California Academy of Sciences. The points alleged to be false made by Scott were details not central to the subject and conclusions of the article, but Intelligent Design proponents characterized them as a "false smear" a "campaign of disinformation" and showing a "pattern of making false claims and character attacks".

Although the suit did not name California Wild as a defendant, its editor, Keith Howell, agreed to remove the online link to Scott's article and to publish a letter from Caldwell as well as a letter from Scott containing corrections.

Scott's letter corrected mistakes in the article, principally that it was not Caldwell but an unidentified citizen who had submitted creationist books to the Roseville school board as had been reported, and that Caldwell ally Cornelius Hunter was the person described in the article by a scientist as having a "gross misunderstanding of the nature of science" in analyzing the Holt textbook. The letter also corrected the date of the Georgia evolution disclaimer and the spelling of Jonathan Sarfati's surname. The NCSE then published a version of the article showing the corrections

Quotations

"You can't really be scientifically literate if you don't understand evolution, and you can't be an educated member of society if you don't understand science."

"Science is a limited way of knowing, looking at just the natural world and natural causes. There are a lot of ways human beings understand the universe -- through literature, theology, aesthetics, art or music."

"I think what bothers me so much of the time, is they take the data and theory and distort it. They must know they're distorting."

"There's a bait and switch going on here because the critics want the textbooks to question whether evolution occurred. And of course they don't because scientists don't question whether evolution occurred."

"I learned very early on that it's necessary but not sufficient for scientists to go to school board meetings and say, "We shouldn't be teaching creationism." Being right doesn't mean it'll pass."

"Public schools are where the next generation of leaders are educated and where cultural exchange will take place."

 
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