Enablers of Doubt: How Future Teachers Learn to Negotiate the Evolution Wars in Their Classrooms

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Evolution deniers do not need to establish their own scientific position but merely cast doubt on some aspect of evolution or obtain a small amount of legitimacy for creationism or intelligent design to sow sufficient doubt in the mainstream. This doubt is one of three pillars, along with demands for equal time and the incompatibility of science and religion, that Eugenie Scott has argued define contemporary anti-evolution efforts. High school biology teachers play a crucial role in whether a high school biology course reinforces the scientific consensus or whether it confers legitimacy on creationist perspectives with pedagogical strategies consistent with the three pillars. As we have shown elsewhere, many public school teachers do contribute to public opinion on evolution. But where do these norms come from? This article begins to answer this question, using data from our 2007 National Survey of High School Biology Teachers and new data from a series of focus groups with preservice teachers. We find that, as early as in the preservice college years, teachers develop attitudes and pedagogical coping mechanisms that lead to support for the anti-evolution movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-270
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 14 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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