July 25, 2010
Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, talks about the conflation of the right to believe whatever one wants regarding life’s origins and the decision about what should be taught in the science classroom. She explains scientific consensus, and how intelligent design creationism has failed to persuade the scientific community. She talks about where and how scientific consensus on evolution should be challenged, instead of in the middle school and high school science classrooms. She details some of the history of creation science and intelligent design in the United States. She talks about her decades as a leader in the skeptics movement and explores how her work in skepticism is continuous with her work at NCSE. She talks about the proper aims of the skeptics movement, and to what extent the work of skepticism should include skepticism of religion, and whether acceptance of evolution or a commitment to skepticism should require atheism. She explores whether theism is a legitimate scientific or skeptical topic. She addresses critics who have charged her with the strategic accommodation of religion in order to advance her goals regarding evolution education. She talks about how her atheism and secular humanism is informed by science, and how and why she keeps it separate from her “day job” advancing evolution education and her leadership role in the worldwide skeptics movement. And she endorses what she calls “born again skepticism,” which is a return to the roots of the skeptics movement that lie in challenging extraordinary claims as opposed to challenging or advancing metaphysical or economic ideologies.