Eugenie Scott


Eugenie Carol Scott (born October 24, 1945) is an American physical anthropologist, a former university professor and educator who has been active in opposing the teaching of young Earth creationism and intelligent design in schools. She coined the term "Gish gallop" to describe a fallacious rhetorical technique which consists in overwhelming an interlocutor with as many individually weak arguments as possible, in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument.

Eugenie Scott
Scott 2014.jpg
Scott in May 2014
Born (1945-10-24) October 24, 1945 (age 77)
EducationUniversity of Missouri
OccupationNational Center for Science Education Advisor
AwardsPublic Welfare Medal (2010), Richard Dawkins Award (2012)

From 1986 to 2014,[1] Scott served as the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit science education organization supporting teaching of evolutionary science. Since 2013, Scott has been listed on their advisory council.[2]

Scott holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Missouri. A biologist, her research has been in human medical anthropology and skeletal biology. Scott serves on the Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.[3] Scott is a member of the Board of Advisers for the publication, Scientific American. She is also a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and GWUP.

Early life and educationEdit

Scott grew up in Wisconsin and first became interested in anthropology after reading her sister's anthropology textbook.[4] Scott received BS and MS degrees 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.[5][6] 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 worked to prevent creationism from being taught in the public schools of Lexington, Kentucky. Scott was appointed the executive director of the National Center for Science Education in 1987, the year in which requiring the teaching of 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,[7][8] doing so on 6 January 2014. Her place was taken by Ann Reid.[9]

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


Scott was 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.[10] 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."[11] In 2003 she was one of the signatories to the third humanist manifesto, Humanism and Its Aspirations.[12]


Scott is an expert on creationism and intelligent design. 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. Niles Eldredge wrote the foreword in the first edition. A second edition of the book was published in 2008 and in paperback in 2009. The foreword to this edition was written by John E. Jones III, who was the presiding judge in the Kitzmiller v. Dover court case.[13][14]

She 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.[15][16] 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.[17]

Media appearancesEdit

2009 Independent Investigations Award Recipient[18]

David Berlinski, a fellow at the Discovery Institute, describes Scott as an opponent "who is often sent out to defend Darwin".[19] Scott prefers to see herself as "Darwin's golden retriever".[20]

Scott has been profiled in The New York Times,[6] Scientific American,[21] The Scientist,[22] the San Francisco Chronicle,[23] and the Stanford Medical Magazine.[24] She has had been interviewed for Science & Theology News,[10] CSICOP,[25] Church & State[26] and Point of Inquiry.[27][28][29] She has commentary published by Science & Theology News,[30] Metanexus Institute.[31]

Scott has taken part in numerous debates on MSNBC and Fox News.[32][33][34]

In 2004, Scott represented the National Center for Science Education on the Showtime television show Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, on the episode titled "Creationism", where she offered philosophical views about the creationist and intelligent design movements.[35]

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School DistrictEdit

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 regarding the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. Judge John Jones ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Scott said that "we won decisively" and "in triplicate," and "we had the better case."[28] About the merits of the case, she said, "Within evolutionary biology, we argue about the details... and the mechanisms," but "we don't argue about whether living things descended with modification from common ancestors, which is what biological evolution is all about.... The Dover School Board wanted students to doubt whether evolution had taken place."[28]


2009 The Stephen J Gould Prize awarded by the Society for the Study of Evolution "to recognize individuals whose sustained and exemplary efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science and its importance in biology, education, and everyday life in the spirit of Stephen Jay Gould."

2009 The Fellows Medal awarded by the California Academy of Sciences. The award is the Academy's highest honor, awarded in recognition of a recipient's notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences.

2010 The Public Welfare Medal awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "in recognition of distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare." It is the most prestigious honor conferred by the Academy.

2012 The Richard Dawkins Award presented by the Atheist Alliance of America "to individuals it judges to have raised the public consciousness of atheism"

2018 The Pojeta Award from the Paleontological Society. The award recognizes "exceptional professional or public service by individuals or groups in the field of paleontology above and beyond that of existing formal roles or responsibilities"[36]

2019 Fellow for the German Skeptic group Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften GWUP[37]

Personal lifeEdit

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

Scott is a backyard beekeeper with two beehives, and is interested in colony collapse disorder and an advocate of amateur beekeeping.[38]


  • Eugenie C. Scott (2004). Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction. Berkeley & Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-24650-8. Retrieved 16 June 2010. evolution vs. creationism. Also: Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-32122-1
  • Eugenie C. Scott & Glenn Branch (2006). Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-3278-7.


  1. ^ "Eugenie C. Scott: About". Facebook. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Advisory Council". National Center for Science Education. 2008-07-15. Archived from the original on 2013-08-10. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  3. ^ "Who we are". Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  4. ^ What inspired me to take up science?, Eugenie Scott
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b "Standard-Bearer in Evolution Fight". New York Times. 2013-09-02. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
  7. ^ Press Release (May 6, 2013). "NCSE's Scott to retire". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  8. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (May 6, 2013). "Eugenie Scott to Retire From U.S. Center That Fights Antievolution Forces". Science. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  9. ^ "Welcome, Ann Reid". NCSE. January 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-13.
  10. ^ a b A Conversation with Eugenie Scott Science and Theology News
  11. ^ Lam, Monica (2006-11-13). "PROFILE / EUGENIE SCOTT / Berkeley scientist leads fight to stop teaching of creationism". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. ^ "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  13. ^ Scott, Eugenie (2009). Evolution Vs. Creationism: An Introduction. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26187-7.
  14. ^ "Kitzmiller v. Dover: Intelligent Design on Trial". National Center for Science Education, Inc. 2015-12-15. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  15. ^ "Public Acceptance of Evolution" in Science, NCSE, August 15, 2006
  16. ^ Miller; et al. (2006). "SCIENCE COMMUNICATION: Public Acceptance of Evolution" (PDF). Science. 313 (5788): 765–766. doi:10.1126/science.1126746. PMID 16902112. S2CID 152990938. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-02-28.
  17. ^ Nick Matzke (10 August 2006). "Well, at least we beat Turkey". The Panda's Thumb. Archived from the original on 27 September 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2006.
  18. ^ "IIG Awards". Independent Investigations Report. Archived from the original on 2019-06-03. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
  19. ^ An Interview with David Berlinski: Part One Archived 2006-12-08 at the Wayback Machine, Intelligent Design the Future, March 7, 2006
  20. ^ "Scientific American 10: Guiding Science for Humanity". Scientific American. June 2009.
  21. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 4 November 2006.
  22. ^ "Profile: Eugenie C. Scott: Giving ammo to the choir". The Scientist. 16 (11): 60. 27 May 2002. Archived from the original on June 6, 2002.
  23. ^ "Profile: Eugenie Scott: Berkeley scientist leads fight to stop teaching of creationism". The Chronicle. 7 February 2003.
  24. ^ Ain't it the truth? Two plus two equals four — spread the word, Joel Stein, Stanford Medicine Magazine
  25. ^ An Interview with Dr. Eugenie Scott Archived 2013-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, By Bill Busher, CSICOP
  26. ^ Not In Our Classrooms! Leading Science Educator Explains Why ‘Intelligent Design’ Is Wrong For Our Schools Archived 2006-11-09 at the Wayback Machine, Church & State, Americans United
  27. ^ Eugenie Scott - Evolution vs. Religious Belief? Archived 2007-10-23 at the Wayback Machine Point of Inquiry
  28. ^ a b c "Eugenie Scott - The Dover Trial: Evolution vs. Intelligent Design". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  29. ^ Eugenie Scott: Decrypting Pseudoscience
  30. ^ "Still waiting for ID proponents to say more than 'Evolution is wrong'". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2006-11-15.
  31. ^ The Big Tent and the Camel's Nose Archived 2006-10-01 at the Wayback Machine, Eugenie Scott, Metanexus Institute.
  32. ^ NCSE's Scott on Fox, CNN, NCSE
  33. ^ Kansas Debates Evolution: Stephen C. Meyer, Eugenie Scott, May 6, 2005 from the Discovery Institute
  34. ^ "Evolution Vs. God in the Classroom - The Big Story w/ Gibson and Nauert". Fox News Channel. 2005-05-06. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  35. ^ "Creationism". Bullshit!. 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-06-18. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
  36. ^ "Scott honored by Paleontological Society". Skeptical Inquirer. 43 (2): 11. 2019.
  37. ^ "Honors to Fraknoi, Vyse, Other CSI Fellows". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 43 (6): 8. 2019.
  38. ^ Richard, Saunders (2 July 2017). "Skeptic Zone podcast #454". Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 28 July 2017.

External linksEdit