14 May 2008

New article with my take on "framing science" and The Dawkins Effect

Observers of science like Matt Nisbet, Chris Mooney, Robert Pennock, and Jon Miller are known for claiming that Richard Dawkins and other scientist critics of religion are hurting the cause of science education in the United States.

In a major article in the newly released anthology, Secularism & Science in the 21st Century (edited by Ariela Keysar and Barry A. Kosmin and published by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, at Trinity College), I look critically at their writings. I find little evidence for their claim, and put forward my own hypothesis, which I dub The Dawkins Effect:
discussion of science-religion conflict in mass media-driven public discourse results in greater public awareness of messages of science-religion harmony. . . . it also makes the harmony messages seem like a reasonable compromise between anti-scientific religion and anti-religious atheism. In short, the presence of overtly agonist scientists such as Dawkins may make accommodationist scientists like [Francis] Collins appear more reasonable to religious believers, and may make the prospect of adopting accommodationist views as the basis for public policy seem more judicious and fair to the moderate middle.
My contribution, "Evolution Education and the Science-Religion Conflict: Dispatches from a Philosophical Correspondent," along with the rest of the book, is available for free download at the Institute.

1 comment:

JJ Berg said...

Yes! I've always believed that while a lot of people are going to be just as put off by Dawkins as they are by the fanatical religious right, in the end the entire debate will just drive people towards the middle, which, with the current state of affairs, is a victory for science. I've never heard anyone else, particularly someone of much more clout than I, make this claim until now. Thank you!