About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Monday, December 05, 2011

New podcast episode: Genie Scott on denialism of climate change and evolution

Our guest Eugenie C. Scott joins us to talk about a new initiative of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) to tackle denialism of global warming. Both evolution and global warming are “controversial issues” in the public sphere, but are not controversial in the world of science. There is some overlap between the two issues, but far more people are climate change deniers than evolution deniers. What is interesting to skeptics, however, is the similarity in the techniques that are used by both camps to promote their views. The scientific issues are presented as “not being settled,” or that there is considerable debate among scientists over the validity of claims.

Evolution and global warming opponents also demonize the opposition by accusing them of fraud or other wrong-doing. Denialists in both camps practice “anomaly mongering,” in which a small detail seemingly incompatible with either evolution or global warming is considered to undermine either evolution or climate science. Although in both cases, reputable, established science is under attack for ideological reasons, the underlying ideology differs: for creationism, the ideology of course is religious; for global warming, the ideology is political and/or economic.

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, and sits on the Board of Advisors for the New York City Skeptics. She has written extensively on the evolution-creationism controversy and is past president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Scott is the 2010 recipient of the National Academy of Science's Public Welfare Medal. She is the author of "Evolution vs Creationism" and co-editor, with Glenn Branch, of "Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools."


  1. Thanks to Eugenie Scott for mentioning the _political_ aspect: "...the ideology is political and/or economic."

    Often, much too often, scientists seem blind or childishly naive to the political or economic dimensions of a given question.

    If I were to claim to read minds or have seen a
    UFO, I would be greeted with appropriate skepticism. But let a government issue a statement (e.g. a "smoking gun" in Iraq being a "mushroom cloud") and watch how many otherwise brilliant scientists will accept the statement and not ask a single question regarding political or economic bias.

  2. Coming up, in a few weeks... (We tape episodes ahead of publication schedule.)

  3. "...let a government issue a statement..." and watch how many otherwise smart people suddenly have a knee-jerk conspiracy theory about how they're just trying to screw us all. If the government said the sun was coming up in the east tomorrow, there are a substantial bunch of otherwise people who would be up in time to check, and THEN would say that the government set up the results. Bias isn't just for the ordinary non-elites.

    Massimo mentioned a global-warming fact site (something like 160 commonly asked questions or some such thing.) Y'all got a link?

  4. Asbestos,

    I think I was referring to this ste:


    Though there is also a good app for the iPhone that comes closer to what you want:


  5. The best link is Skeptical Science:


    Oh, and maybe my humble little effort on fact checking deniers:


  6. I would have thought that rational people would not have been captivated by two of the worst climate alarmist sites out there, RC and SS. One needs to only look at how ruthlessly they suppress non-conforming thought compared to how the skeptical sites allow even unreasonable responses to appear.


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