But it’s “Only a Theory!” Responding to Evolution Doubt, Distortion, and Denial.

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Kenneth R. Miller, Brown University, Providence, RI, United States
Nearly 90 years after the infamous Scopes “monkey trial,” resistance to the theory of evolution seems as persistent as ever in American life. Bills endorsing “critical analysis” of the evolution “controversy” or supporting “academic freedom” to question evolution are routinely introduced in state legislatures. Presidential candidates find evolution denial to be a winning strategy, and nearly half of all Americans reject any suggestion that evolution played a role in human origins. What’s the best way to respond to such challenges, mingled as they are with elements of cultural warfare, resentment of academic elites, and religious doctrine? As a veteran of the “evolution wars,” I will describe a strategy that actually uses each of these lines of attack to make a case for evolution that appeals to popular concern about the honesty, motivation, and validity of the scientific enterprise itself.