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RE: [SACC-L] Survey of national populations--acceptance of evolution

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  • Dianne Chidester
    Thanks to everyone for making this such an interesting thread. Everyplace I ve lived (OH, NC, SC, SD, KY, FL, SC) has been part of the so-called Bible Belt.
    Message 1 of 34 , Sep 6, 2006
      Thanks to everyone for making this such an interesting thread.

      Everyplace I've lived (OH, NC, SC, SD, KY, FL, SC) has been part of the
      so-called "Bible Belt." For me, however, probably the most "liberal"
      state I've lived in is NC. That may surprise some of you. I think
      there are class issues involved here. Lloyd's question about Archie
      Bunker being Republican is something I've wondered about my own family.

      I don't always get to teach a section on evolutionary theory, but I do a
      very brief introduction to it in nearly every class. I do, however,
      spend a great deal of time on the characteristics of science,
      pseudoscience, and religion. I use a chart from an issue of "Skeptical
      Inquirer" and this really helps students understand the differences.
      Many of my students believe that if they "believe" in evolution, they
      have to give up their traditional faith and if they have faith, it is in
      direct opposition to science. It's the usual case of "either/or, not
      both" that we see so often in cultures and, I think, this "binary-ness"
      is really pronounced in American culture.

      I use this lecture at the beginning of the semester in both anthropology
      and sociology for a number of reasons: to teach the scientific method
      (which they sort of remember); to help explain why scientists tell them
      to use a drug and then not use it (Vioxx, for example); and to show that
      the social sciences are, indeed, science.

      Quite a few students have sent thank you notes to me for explaining the
      differences. Since students usually only write to complain, I'm
      thinking I'm doing something right!


      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SACC-L@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Lloyd Miller
      Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:00 AM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Survey of national populations--acceptance of

      This would certainly make a great discussion. Brian, an excellent
      question you raised and it obviously piqued the interest of more
      people than usual. It was suggested that I include some of these
      comments in the November AN column. I hope no one minds being
      quoted; if it's a problem for anyone, let me know.

      I attended the U of Wisconsin-Madison during the 50s and 60s when it
      was apparently known as a hotbed of logical positivism. The general
      message I got was that science was definitely the domain of the
      educated and any religious beliefs that contradicted scientific
      findings were (therefore) products of ignorant minds. Some of the
      professors were arrogant in their expression of this view and (as
      students often do), some of us adopted their views and their
      attitudes without really examining them critically. We believed then
      that as more and more people acquired liberal arts educations,
      religion would decline as an influence in public life. Boy, were we
      wrong, huh!

      I wonder if at least part of the anti-evolution enmity comes from
      perceiving this arrogance in its messengers. Many people can
      remember at least one teacher or person of authority in their lives
      who demeaned them. Yesterday I watched some guy on CNN Headline News
      rail against the Iranian Mullah's U.S. visit. This guy mentioned
      "Harvard" and "liberal professors" with a hatred so intense it was
      palpable. Part of it was show, I'm sure, in an attempt to incite the
      kind of anti-intellectualism that's so peculiarly American.

      I think it's significant that Phil finds no religiously inspired anti-
      evolutionism among his students and we do see it occasionally (but
      not too often) in the Midwest. Demographics do play a part but I
      don't know exactly how (something to research?). Kip's reference,
      Robert Sapolsky, makes an important point that a lot of the
      Intelligent Design followers are poor-repeatedly screwed by the
      system and somehow more inclined to blame the messengers than those
      in power. If we could figure out why, perhaps we'd answer the
      question I've asked myself for years: why was Archie Bunker a

      Dorothy also makes an important point (below): the anti-evolutionists
      are a loudly vocal but very small minority that has been successfully
      manipulated and used by right wing political opportunists
      increasingly over the past several decades. An excellent source on
      this issue is Chris Mooney's THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE (NY, Basic
      Books, 2005).

      I agree that, as Brian and others have said, we need to study the
      problem as anthropologists. There is nothing innate to evolution
      science that contradicts religions throughout the world in general.
      I also agree with Phil, Will and others that, as anthropologists, we
      must teach our science as we know it. We're probably the only
      discipline that focuses on human evolution. And how much
      anthropology is taught in the K-12 system? As Phil said, this may be
      a large part of the problem. And who else besides us thinks of it as
      a problem? Who in our society benefits or profits from the continued
      ignorance of the masses?

      I wish we were all sitting comfortably in some scenic place sipping
      something tasty and talking about this in person.


      On Sep 5, 2006, at 8:26 AM, Dorothy Davis DDBRUNER wrote:

      > Brian,
      > You should develop this into a presentation for a SACC meeting.
      > I think that we need to be aware that most church's do not accept the
      > funadamentalist view of creation, including the Catholic Church.
      > To me what is really happening today is the politicising of
      > religion. When
      > a president takes tons of $$$$$$$ from the Christain Right, what do we
      > expect?
      > Dorothy Davis
      > Anthropology Department
      > UNCG
      > Tel- 256-1099

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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    • Mark Lewine
      Bill, the story that I was told is that Dubya got his only A in college from Margaret Mead who was replacing a friend at Yale on Sabbatical. She announced
      Message 34 of 34 , Sep 20, 2006
        Bill, the story that I was told is that 'Dubya' got his only A in college from Margaret Mead who was replacing a friend at Yale on Sabbatical. She announced that she did not believe in grading her students so that everyone in the class received an A.
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Tbbyrnehom@...
        To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 8:29 AM
        Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Survey of national populations--acceptance of evolution

        Hi a all, Lloyd, I am reminded that W. actually took a course in
        Anthropology as an undergraduate and received a "B". I wonder if we could find out
        who was the professor at that time. Bill Byrne

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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