Eugenie Scott: Decrypting Pseudoscience

August 24, 2015

Host: Lindsay Beyerstein

Our very special guest on Point of Inquiry this week is Eugenie Scott, the former director of the National Center for Science Education who has been waging and winning battles against creationism and pseudoscience for years, and has become one of the most venerated luminaries of the skeptic and secular movements. A Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, in 2013 she was honored with the Center for Inquiry Lifetime Achievement Award.

Scott is getting back to her roots as a biological anthropologist to talk about cryptozoology and other fringe anthropological claims. Talking with host Lindsay Beyerstein, Scott explains the distinctions between real science and pseudoscience, as well as some of the common misconceptions that lead people to mistake fiction for fact. Why is the existence of things like yetis so improbable? Why couldn’t humans and aliens procreate? Questions like these point to a need that is at the core of Scott’s career: the need to better educate kids about the methods of science.

Scott and Beyerstein also take an anthropological look at the recent controversy over Rachel Dolezal, the civil rights activist who became the focus of heated national attention when it was alleged that she was a white person passing as black. What does the concept of race even mean to biological anthropologists?

And as a bonus, as mentioned in the episode, below we have a picture of what Eugenie Scott might look like as a Neanderthal, thanks to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.