Monday, April 09, 2007

Public Relations and the Grand Debate Over Evolution

I suspect the Grand Debate over evolution/creationism/intelligent design could be won or lost in America within the next ten years depending on how each side plays the public relations card.

According to a recent Newsweek poll, 48% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form sometime within the last 10,000 years. That suggests to me that scientists are loosing the public Debate.

Can that be turned around?

I think it can. Scientists have not been fighting the public debate in an effective manner, but they could do so. How? By recognizing the need on their part for a professional public relations campaign to inform the people of what's really at stake in the Grand Debate, and to respond to political attacks on evolution.

To insure the campaign is a success, scientists should set up an institute dedicated to the task.

Whether they do or do not institutionalize a public relations response to the challenge from the creationists and IDers will, in my opinion, largely determine whether they win the Grand Debate in the public arena or not. The history of other public relations campaigns strongly suggests it should take no more than a decade to turn the public debate around in favor of science.


george.w said...

I can think of some scientists who are doing a great job of presenting evo-devo except they need a course in human relations as much as in public relations. Briefly; they could try not acting like complete jerks.

Also I recently heard someone suggest dropping the term "theory" (because we're never going to get the public to understand that one) but I don't know how I feel about that yet.

Paul Sunstone said...


I'm forced to agree that some scientists have managed to create an unholy marriage between, on the one hand, being a genius and, on the other hand, cultivating a personality suitable to a crack house in a trailor park.

Last night, I came across someone who suggested we quit using "theory of evolution" and start using "principle of evolution".

I've been warming up to it.

Anonymous said...

That debate makes me so glad I believe in immanent creation.