Benjamin Wiker

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture


Is Science Democratic?

A recent Zogby International poll found that 65 percent of Ohioans believe “Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.” Only 19 percent favored biology teachers teaching just Darwin’s theory and only that evidence which supports it. What do these numbers mean? On the most obvious level, for every one Ohioan who wants just half the story taught, there are three that believe students should hear the whole thing. That speaks well for the people of Ohio. They are rightly applying a solid rule of practical wisdom: There are two sides to almost every story. In science, there is often evidence both for and against particular theories. Darwin’s theory of evolution is no exception. “But this

Anthropology Afoul of the Facts

Margaret Mead's Flights of Fancy in Samoa
In 1928, Margaret Mead published Coming of Age in Samoa. An immediate success, this slender volume established Mead as the most famous and most influential anthropologist of the 20th century. For nearly half a century, whether writing scholarly articles from her desk at the American Museum of Natural History in New York or pontificating as contributing editor of the popular magazine Redbook, Mead helped to refashion attitudes on nearly every social issue. In 1979, a year after her death, Mead was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Few women have been more adored, more honored and more influential than she. If Mead’s influence were for the good, then she would deserve the profuse praise she received. The truth about Mead, however, points elsewhere. Coming of

Will “Santorum Language” Save Us From Scientific Fundamentalism?

One combustible controversy is raging in Ohio school districts right now. It’s over science education and, soon enough, will flare up in all fifty states. To get to the heart of it, the controversy centers on how to teach evolution – not whether to teach it, mind you, but how. It all began with the passage of the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001, a federal education act that, in part, directs states to set up academic standards. An important interpretive paragraph of that Act, called the “Santorum language” after the interpretation’s author, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, states: “The Conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from

Darwin and the Descent of Morality

An important part of the current controversy over the theoretical status of evolutionary theory concerns its moral implications. Does evolutionary theory undermine traditional morality, or does it support it? Does it suggest that infanticide is natural (as Steven Pinker asserts) or is it a bulwark against liberal relativism (as Francis Fukuyama argues)? Does it rest on a universe devoid of good and evil (as Richard Dawkins has bluntly stated) or can it be used to provide a new foundation for natural law reasoning (as Larry Arnhart contends)? The obvious place to go in the debate is to the source. Darwin himself considered morality of whatever stripe to be a byproduct of evolution, one more effect of natural selection working upon the raw material of variations in the individual.