Eugenie Scott

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Eugenie Scott
Scott 2014.jpg
Scott in May 2014
Born (1945-10-24) October 24, 1945 (age 70)
United States of America
Occupation National Center for Science Education Director
Awards Public Welfare Medal (2010), Richard Dawkins Award (2012)

Eugenie Carol Scott (born October 24, 1945) is an American physical anthropologist, a former university professor and one of the strongest voices challenging the teaching of young earth creationism and intelligent design in schools. From 1987 to 2013,[1] Scott served as the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., a pro-evolution nonprofit science education organization with members in every state. She holds a Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of Missouri. A human biologist, her research has been in medical anthropology and skeletal biology. Scott is nationally recognized as a proponent of church/state separation and serves on the National Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and other organizations. She has worked nationwide to communicate the scientific method to the general public and to improve how science as a way of knowing is taught in school.

Early life and education[edit]

Scott grew up in Wisconsin and first became interested in anthropology after reading her sister's anthropology textbook.[2] Scott received a BS and MS from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, followed by a PhD from the University of Missouri. She joined the University of Kentucky as a physical anthropologist in 1974 and shortly thereafter attended a debate between her mentor James A. Gavan and the young earth creationist Duane Gish which piqued her interest in the creation-evolution controversy.[3][4] She also taught at the University of Colorado and at California State University, Hayward. Her research work focused on medical anthropology and skeletal biology.


In 1980, Scott was at the forefront of an attempt to prevent creationism from being taught in the public schools of Lexington, Kentucky. From this grassroot effort in Kentucky and other states, the National Center for Science Education was formed in 1981. Scott was appointed the NCSE's executive director in 1987, the year in which teaching creation science in American public schools was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard. Scott announced that she would be retiring from this position by the end of 2013,[5][6] doing so on 6 January 2014. Her place was taken by Ann Reid.[7]

Recognition and awards[edit]

In 1993 the University of Missouri honored Scott as a distinguished alumna.[8] She was elected to the California Academy of Sciences in 1994. She served as president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists from 2000 to 2002. She was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002 and was its chair. She is also a member of Sigma Xi.

Scott has received many awards from academic organizations. In 1999 she was awarded the Bruce Alberts Award by the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2001 she received the Geological Society of America's Public Service Award.[9] She received the 2002 Public Service Award from the National Science Board for "her promotion of public understanding of the importance of science, the scientific method, and science education and the role of evolution in science education".[10][11] In 2002 the American Institute of Biological Sciences awarded her the first Outstanding Service Award.[12] Scott also received the 2002 Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award from the California Science Teachers Association.[13] The National Association of Biology Teachers gave her honorary membership in 2005.[14] In 2006 she was awarded the Anthropology in the Media Award by the American Anthropological Association for "the successful communication of anthropology to the general public through the media".[15] In 2007 Scott and Kenneth R. Miller were jointly awarded the Outstanding Educator’s Award by the Exploratorium Museum.[16]

Scott serves on the National Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and on the National Advisory Council of Americans for Religious Liberty. In 1999 Scott was awarded the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award "for tirelessly defending the separation of church and state by ensuring that religious neutrality is maintained in the science curriculum of America's public schools",[17] and in 2006 was one of the three judges chosen to make the awards.

Scott has been awarded honorary degrees by McGill University in 2003,[18][19] by Ohio State University in 2005[20][21][22] and in 2006 by Mount Holyoke College[23][24][25] and her alma mater the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.[26][27] In 2007 she was awarded an honorary degree by Rutgers University.[28] In 2008 she was awarded an honorary degree by University of New Mexico.[29]

In 2009, Scott became the first-ever recipient of the Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. She was chosen for devoting "her life to advancing public understanding of evolution."[30] She was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.[31]

On August 21, 2010 Dr. Scott was honored with an award recognizing her contributions in the skeptical field, from the Independent Investigations Group (IIG) during its 10th Anniversary Gala.[32]

On October 9, 2010 Committee for Skeptical Inquiry announced Scott (and others) as a part of their policy-making Executive Council, she will also serve on Skeptical Inquirer's magazine board.[33]

On April 4, 2014 Dr. Scott received a Distinguished Service to Science Education Award from the National Science Teachers Association. The award is presented to members of NSTA "who, through active leadership and scholarly endeavor over a significant period of time, have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of education in the sciences and science teaching." [34]

In June 2014, Dr. Scott will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Humanist Association conference in Philadelphia.[35]

On July 12, 2014 Asteroid 249540 Eugeniescott (2010 HX14), discovered April 18, 2010, was named in honor of Scott, "who served as the executive director of the National Center for Science Education for more than 25 years" and "improved the teaching of science-based curricula for students throughout the United States."[36]

James Underdown director of Center for Inquiry West and Independent Investigations Group (IIG) West presents award from the IIG August 21, 2010


Scott was initially brought up in Christian Science by her mother and grandmother, but later switched to a congregational church under the influence of her sister; she describes her background as liberal Protestant.[37] Scott is now a secular humanist and describes herself as a nontheist. In 2003, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "Scott describes herself as atheist but does not discount the importance of spirituality."[38] In 2003 she was one of the signatories to the third humanist manifesto, Humanism and Its Aspirations.[39] She is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[40] In 2003 she was awarded the "Defense of Science Award" from the Center for Inquiry for "her tireless leadership in defending scientific evolution and educational freedom".[41]

In 1998, Scott received the American Humanist Association's Isaac Asimov Award in Science. In her acceptance speech she explained how a statement adopted by the National Association of Biology Teachers that evolution was "unsupervised" and "impersonal" was attacked by creationists such as Phillip E. Johnson, and the initial reaction of the NABT was not to bow to pressure from creationists to change it. However, Scott agreed with theologian Huston Smith and philosopher Alvin Plantinga that "unsupervised" and "impersonal" should be dropped from the statement as they made philosophical and theological claims beyond those science could claim to make based on its principle of methodological naturalism—and the statement was altered.[42]


Scott is widely considered to be a leading expert on creationism (including intelligent design), and one of its strongest opponents. Her book Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction was published by Greenwood Press in 2004 and then in paperback by the University of California Press in 2005. It has a foreword by Niles Eldredge.

She also co-edited with Glenn Branch the 2006 anthology Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools.

In 2006 Jon D. Miller, Scott and Shinji Okamoto had a brief article published in Science entitled "Public Acceptance of Evolution", an analysis of polling on the acceptance of evolution from the last 20 years in the United States and compared to other countries.[43][44] Turkey had the lowest acceptance of evolution in the survey, with the United States having the next-lowest, though the authors saw a positive in the higher percentage of Americans who are unsure about evolution, and therefore "reachable" for evolution.[45]

Less seriously, she has co-authored with Glenn Branch and Nick Matzke a 2004 paper on "The Morphology of Steve" in the Annals of Improbable Research which arose from the NCSE's Project Steve.[46]

Media appearances[edit]

2009 Independent Investigations Award Recipient[47]

David Berlinski, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, describes Scott as an opponent "who is often sent out to defend Darwin".[48] However, Scott prefers to see herself as "Darwin's golden retriever".[49] Scott says that her job "requires coping with science illiteracy in the American public".[42]

Scott has been profiled in The New York Times,[4] Scientific American,[50] The Scientist,[51] the San Francisco Chronicle,[52] and the Stanford Medical Magazine.[53] She has had been interviewed for Science & Theology News,[37] CSICOP,[54] Church & State[55] and Point of Inquiry.[56][57][58] She has commentary published by Science & Theology News,[59] Metanexus Institute.[60]

She also acted as the education spokesperson for the 2001 PBS: Evolution TV series[61]

Scott has taken part in numerous interviews on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel, debating various creationist and Intelligent design advocates. On 29 November 2004, Scott debated astrophysicist Jason Lisle of Answers in Genesis on CNN.[62] On May 6, 2005 Scott debated Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute, on The Big Story with John Gibson.[63][64] The latter concerned the Kansas evolution hearings.

In 2004, Scott represented the National Center for Science Education on Penn and Teller's Showtime television show Bullshit!, on the episode titled "Creationism", on which she offered philosophical views about the creationist and intelligent design movements.[65]

(Sampling of) Podcast Interviews[edit]

Date Podcast Name Episode
04/09/08 Scientific American Expelled Explained
04/29/08 Skepticality Episode #076 An Interview with Dr. Eugenie Scott
07/16/11 International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution 100th Episode: Eugenie Scott on Resolving Conflict Between Religion and Science
12/04/11 Rationally Speaking Eugenie Scott on Denialism of Climate Change & Evolution
01/06/12 Point of Inquiry Eugenie Scott - Defending Climate Education
05/02/12 The Pseudo Scientists–The Young Australian Skeptics Episode 44 of The Pseudo Scientists: Eggless chickens, science vs. religion, and Eugenie Scott
07/05/12 British Centre for Science Education Fighting Against Creationism in the UK
01/24/14 Mother Jones Want Proof Evolution Is Real? Just Look at Creationism
08/24/15 Point of Inquiry Decrypting Pseudoscience

Dover trial participation[edit]

In 2005, Scott and other NCSE staff served as scientific and educational consultants for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, which originated in Dover, Pennsylvania. Judge John Jones ruled against teaching intelligent design or creationism in the public schools.

Personal life[edit]

Scott and her husband, Thomas C. Sager, a lawyer, have one daughter and reside in Berkeley, California.



  1. ^ Jeffrey, Mervis (May 6, 2013). "Contributor". Science Insider. 
  2. ^ What inspired me to take up science?, Eugenie Scott
  3. ^ My Favorite Pseudoscience, Eugenie Scott, from Skeptical Odysseys: Personal Accounts by the World's Leading Paranormal Inquirers. Paul Kurtz, ed. Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2001, p 245-56.
  4. ^ a b "Standard-Bearer in Evolution Fight". New York Times. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  5. ^ Press Release (May 6, 2013). "NCSE's Scott to retire". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  6. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (May 6, 2013). "Eugenie Scott to Retire From U.S. Center That Fights Antievolution Forces". Science. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  7. ^ "Welcome, Ann Reid". NCSE. January 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  8. ^ "Special Event Programs and Records, Archives of the University of Missouri". 2005-02-08. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  9. ^ Zoback, Mary Lou (2001-12-03). "GSA Announces Public Service Medals for Scott and Dalrymple". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  10. ^ "Scott receives public service award from National Science Board". NCSE. 2002-05-09. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  11. ^ "National Science Board - Honorary Awards". National Science Foundation. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  12. ^ "AIBS News April 2002". American Institute of Biological Sciences. April 2002. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  13. ^ "Scott Receives Teacher Association Award". NCSE. 2002-10-28. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  14. ^ "Eugenie C. Scott to receive NABT award". NCSE. 2005-10-05. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  15. ^ "Scott honored with Anthropology in the Media Award". NCSE. 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  16. ^ "Exploratorium 2007 Awards Dinner". Exploratorium. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  17. ^ 1999 winners, Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards
  18. ^ "Scott to Receive Honorary Degree". NCSE. 2003-05-30. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  19. ^ "Spring 2003 Convocation Honorary Doctorates". McGill University. 2003-05-22. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  20. ^ "Scott to be honored by OSU". NCSE. 2005-05-04. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  21. ^ "Scientific literacy advocate will give commencement address". Ohio State University. 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  22. ^ "Ohio State honors four at winter 2005 commencement". OSU. 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  23. ^ "NCSE's Scott to be honored by Mount Holyoke". NCSE. 2006-04-28. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  24. ^ "Honorary Degree Citation, Eugenie Scott". Mount Holyoke College. 2006-05-28. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  25. ^ Eugenie C. Scott (2006-05-28). "Honorary Degree Address". Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  26. ^ "Scott honored by UWM". NCSE. 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  27. ^ "UWM alumna Dr. Eugenie Scott to receive honorary degree from UWM". University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-08-23. 
  28. ^ "NCSE's Scott to be honored by Rutgers". NCSE. 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  29. ^ "UNM Awards Genie Scott with Honorary Doctorate of Science". Panda's Thumb. 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  30. ^ Awards, Society for the Study of Evolution
  31. ^ "Public Welfare Award". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 18 February 2011. 
  32. ^ "About the IIG Awards". Independent Investigations Group. 2012. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 
  33. ^ Frazier, Kendrick; Barry Karr (January–February 2011). "CSI(COP) Renews and Expands Executive Council, Plans for Future Activities". Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 35 (1): 5. 
  34. ^ "NSTA award for NCSE's Scott". NCSE. 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  36. ^ "JPL Small-Body Database Browser". NASA. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  37. ^ a b A Conversation with Eugenie Scott Science and Theology News
  38. ^ Lam, Monica (2006-11-13). "PROFILE / EUGENIE SCOTT / Berkeley scientist leads fight to stop teaching of creationism". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  39. ^ "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  40. ^ List of fellows of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
  41. ^ Scott Receives "Defense of Science" Award
  42. ^ a b Scott, Eugenie (May 1998), Science and Religion, Methodology and Humanism, San Diego, CA: American Humanist Association, retrieved 2009-05-21 
  43. ^ "Public Acceptance of Evolution" in Science, NCSE, August 15, 2006
  44. ^ Miller; et al. (2006). "SCIENCE COMMUNICATION: Public Acceptance of Evolution". Science 313: 765–766. doi:10.1126/science.1126746. PMID 16902112. 
  45. ^ Nick Matzke (10 August 2006). "Well, at least we beat Turkey". The Panda's Thumb. 
  46. ^ Eugenie C. Scott, Glenn Branch and Nick Matzke (2004). "The Morphology of Steve" (PDF). Annals of Improbable Research 10 (4): 24–29. doi:10.3142/107951404781540554. 
  47. ^ "IIG Awards". Independent Investigations Report. 
  48. ^ An Interview with David Berlinski: Part One, Intelligent Design the Future, March 7, 2006
  49. ^ "Scientific American 10: Guiding Science for Humanity". Scientific American. June 2009. 
  50. ^ Steve Mirsky (22 January 2006). "Teach the Science: Wherever evolution education is under attack by creationist thinking, Eugenie Scott will be there to defend science—with rationality and resolve". Scientific American. 
  51. ^ "Profile: Eugenie C. Scott: Giving ammo to the choir". The Scientist 16 (11): 60. 27 May 2002. 
  52. ^ "Profile: Eugenie Scott: Berkeley scientist leads fight to stop teaching of creationism". The Chronicle. 7 February 2003. 
  53. ^ Ain't it the truth? Two plus two equals four — spread the word, Joel Stein, Stanford Medicine Magazine
  54. ^ An Interview with Dr. Eugenie Scott, By Bill Busher, CSICOP
  55. ^ Not In Our Classrooms! Leading Science Educator Explains Why ‘Intelligent Design’ Is Wrong For Our Schools, Church & State, Americans United
  56. ^ Eugenie Scott - Evolution vs. Religious Belief? Point of Inquiry
  57. ^ Eugenie Scott - The Dover Trial: Evolution vs. Intelligent Design
  58. ^ Eugenie Scott: Decrypting Pseudoscience
  59. ^ Still waiting for ID proponents to say more than 'Evolution is wrong'
  60. ^ The Big Tent and the Camel's Nose, Eugenie Scott, Metanexus Institute.
  61. ^ Evolution Project Overview, PBS.
  62. ^ NCSE's Scott on Fox, CNN, NCSE
  63. ^ Kansas Debates Evolution: Stephen C. Meyer, Eugenie Scott, May 6, 2005 from the Discovery Institute
  64. ^ "Evolution Vs. God in the Classroom - The Big Story w/ Gibson and Nauert". Fox News Channel. 2005-05-06. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  65. ^ "Creationism". Bullshit!. 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 

External links[edit]