Biological Evolution in the Public Sphere

Fall 2015: Cognitive Science 102T: Biological Evolution in the Public Sphere

Biological evolution is often at the center of science and religion debates. While there is a broad consensus amongst biologists about the common descent of humans from prior species and the processes that drive biological evolution, public debates continue over the validity of evolution. According to the latest Gallup poll, 42% of Americans believe in a creationist view of human origins, and there are constant efforts by various school boards across the country to include some form of creationism in biology classes. Despite all the scientific evidence, why is biological evolution at the center of public debates today? In this course, we will look at sociological, psychological, and cultural factors that shape the public reception of evolution in the US and abroad. We will also look at the reliability of polling surveys and will conclude the course by analyzing the role of media in public evolution debate, from the Scopes Trial to the recent debate between Bill Nye and creationist, Ken Ham.

Syllabus here (pdf).

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