Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science

Massimo Pigliucci, CUNY–Lehman College
Massimo Pigliucci, CUNY–Lehman College

Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science

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Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly "balanced" treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter...

Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly "balanced" treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the book focuses on a series of creationist fallacies (aimed at showing errors of thought, not at deriding) and of mistakes by scientists and science educators. The last part of the book discusses long-term solutions to the problem, from better science teaching at all levels to the necessity of widespread understanding of how the brain works and why people have difficulties with critical thinking.

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Massimo Pigliucci is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at CUNY–Lehman College. He holds doctorates in genetics (University of Ferrara, Italy), botany (University of Connecticut) and the philosophy of science (University of Tennessee). Dr. Pigliucci was formerly a Professor of Ecology and Evolution at SUNY–Stony Brook. There he explored phenotypic plasticity, genotype–environment interactions, natural selection, and the constraints imposed on natural selection by the genetic and developmental makeup of organisms. He was the recipient of the 1997 Dobzhansky Award from the Society for the Study of Evolution. As a philosopher, Dr. Pigliucci is interested in the structure and foundations of evolutionary theory, the relationship between science and philosophy, and the relationship between science and religion.

“The book is written for an audience who needs no background in the subject to begin enjoying it; once finished, however, readers will have extensive knowledge. It is multifaceted, fascinating, and essential. Everyone involved in science research, science education, and education policy (including politicians) should not only read the work, but encourage others to do likewise.”
—Brian Alters, The Quarterly Review of Biology

“Massimo Pigliucci's finest work to date. … a penetrating, timely analysis of why the controversy still exists. … Overall, Denying Evolution possesses a subtlety, breadth, and sensitivity to nonscientific issues that is pleasantly reminiscent of the likes of Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould—which is no small praise indeed. … Simply put, Denying Evolution is probably the most insightful book on the evolution—creationism topic to come out in years, and it is highly recommended.”
—Shawn Dawson, Free Inquiry

“Pigliucci's book will irritate a lot of people. He exposes the mistakes of creationists, but he also shows that scientists are partially to blame for the fact that so many educated people fail to understand how science works. Pigliucci challenges scientists to come down from their ivory towers and help people understand the scientific process. Science is a method, not a body of cut and dried facts. Pigliucci ably demonstrates how this method can be used to combat the irrationalism and anti-intellectualism that are pervasive in our culture.”
— Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Pigliucci offers an accessible, lucid, knowledgeable, and unapologetic 'defense' of biological evolution and 'critique' of creationist positions, presented not as a legal brief but as an engaged and probing inquiry into the psychological roots and motivations at play in the controversy. A must-read for anyone wishing to understand what is at stake here.”
—Ursula Goodenough, Washington University

“Massimo Pigliucci has the courage, brilliance, and wisdom to take science to the people, fight the good fight for evolutionary theory, and stand up for the principles behind the scientific world-view. In this, his latest and finest work, Pigliucci presents the most powerful and readable treatise on the evolution–creationism debate to come along in decades. Every scientist (and creationist) should read this book, every library should have a copy on its shelves, and every course in evolutionary biology should include it.”
—Michael Shermer, Publisher, Skeptic magazine, and Contributing Editor, Scientific American

“Professor Pigliucci's masterful knowledge of evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, his passionate commitment to education and scientific literacy, and his captivating style make Denying Evolution a fascinating and invaluable account of the evolution/creation debate and of the nature of science.”
—Douglas J. Futuyma, State University of New York at Stony Brook

"It is hard to imagine that there is more to be said on the evolution—creation debate, but there is and Massimo Pigliucci says it. This should be compulsory reading for all teachers, biologists, and politicians. It is full and informative. More than that, it is fun.”
—Michael Ruse, Florida State University

Denying Evolution is a cogent and penetrating critique of creationist thinking, perhaps the most interesting and thorough ever written. Its ambitions, however, are broader than achieving yet another demolition of the confusions, evasions and outright intellectual dishonesty that characterise so much of the creationist movement. As the book's subtitle—"Creationism, scientism and the nature of science"—indicates, the author wants to place the whole evolutionist—creationist debate within a larger context, namely that of what Science actually is, how it is done and precisely what its strengths and limitations are. … Denying Evolution should be considered essential reading for anyone involved in the evolutionist—creationist debates and, more broadly, by anyone who is interested in the future of rational thinking in contemporary civilization.”
—Adam Wilkins, BioEssays

“Pigliucci's Denying Evolution does for the neocreationism of the 2000s what Futuyma's Science on Trial did for the creationism of the 1980s—it examines the arguments and systematically dismantles them. This is a rousing defense of good science and clear thinking.”
—Robert T. Pennock, author of Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism

“We can only thank Pigliucci and Sinauer for this forthright book: buy, beg or borrow it and read it before you next find yourself caught up in the 'debate.'”
—John S. Edwards, Integrative and Comparative Biology

“The response by many to another book on the evolution/creationism controversy might be ho hum. But Denying Evolution is not ho hum; it is an important book that deserves wide readership. … Denying Evolution is informative, interesting, and here and there entertaining. It has my strongest recommendation.”
—William D. Anderson, Jr., Copeia