Deposition of Dorothy Nelkin

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X


Plaintiffs, :

- against - :
No. LR-C81-32

Defendants. :

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - X

November 22, 1981
10:30 A. M.

Defendants, pursuant to stipulation, held at the
Sheraton LaGuardia, 90-10 Grand Central Parkway,
Queens, New York, on November 22, 1981, at 10:30
A.M., before a Notary Public of the State of new


A p p e a r a n c e s :

Attorneys for the Plaintiffs
919 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10022

of Counsel

Attorney General for the State
of Arkansas, Defendant
Justice Building
Little Rock, Arkansas

Deputy Attorney General

* * *

by and between the attorneys for the respec-
tive parties hereto that filing and sealing
be and the same are hereby waived.

that all objections, except as to the form
of the question, shall be reserved to the
time of the trial.

that the within examination may be signed and
sworn to before any notary public with the


same force and effect as though signed
and sworn to before this Court.

* * *

D O R O T H Y N E L K I N , called
as a witness and having been first duly sworn
by a Notary Public of the State of New York,
was examined and testified as follows:


Q Will you please state your name.

A Dorothy Nelkin.

Q Professor Nelkin, I believe you know we are
here for a deposition this morning in the case of McLean
versus the State Board of Education.

A Yes.

Q I am going to be asking you questions about
your anticipated questions in this case. If I ask any
question you don't understand, please let me know.

A Yes.

Q Have you had your deposition taken before?

A No.

Q Have you testified in court before?

A No.

Nelkin 4

Q Are you aware that what you are saying
today will be used in preparation for the trial, and
Mr. Crawford has explained to you the purpose of the

A Yes.

Q Could you please tell me, first of all,
are you married?

A Yes.

Q And what does your husband do?

A He is a professor at Cornell Department of Applied

Q Do you have any children?

A Yes, two daughters.

Q What are their ages?

A 24 and 26.

Q Are they currently in school?

A One of them, yes, is at NYU graduate school.

Q In what?

A Getting her masters in business administration.

Q Where did your two daughters attend under-
graduate school or secondary school?

A Ithaca High School, and my oldest daughter went
to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. My youngest
daughter did not go to college. She is studying drama.

Nelkin 5

Q Ithaca High School is a public school?

A Yes.

Q To your knowledge, has the subject of ori-
gins been discussed in the classes that they took in
high school?

A Well, they took biology classes, so I would pre-
sume there was some discussion.

Q Do you know what text was used in that

A I don't know. It was a long time ago.

Q Do you know if the creation model of origin
was ever mentioned in the class?

A Not that I know of.

Q Do you know whether the evolution of ori-
gins was mentioned?

A I don't know, but I would guess so because I think
that most of the textbooks were presented at that time.
It's not a subject of much discussion -- of any discus-
sion in the house.

Q Are you a member of any organized religious

A Yes. I am Jewish.

Q Are you active --

A No.

Nelkin 6

Q When you say no, could you describe your
inactivity, your own personal belief about the faith?

A I was brought up in a family where there was a
strong cultural identification with being Jewish, but
no particular practice -- no actual religious practice.

Q Do you observe Jewish holidays?

A No.

Q What is your personal belief about the
existence of a god?

A I don't know. Again, it's -- religion is not an
important part of my life, so I don't think about it
too much.

Q You say you don't know?

A My own particular -- I don't have any strong
belief in God. I guess I don't believe in God.

Q When you say you don't believe in God, would
it be fair to consider yourself an agnostic or atheist?

A I think more of an agnostic. I wouldn't be able
to swear on the bible that there is no God.

Q I think this is a contradiction of terms.

A Exactly. The midpoint is not a part of my life
which I have spent much time on.

Q Do you know what the Jewish faith says
about the origin of the world of man?

Nelkin 7

A Actually, I have never had an education in the
history of Jewish faith, so I am not sure.

Q Have you ever read any religious books
or religious works on the origin of the world?

A As part of my research, I have been reading a
lot of creationists books. I have been generally in-
terested in trying to understand what they are think-

Q Do you believe that a religious person can
be a competent scientist?

A Well, certainly. I know lots of scientists who
are religious.

Q I would assume that would apply to social
scientists as well as other types of scientists.

A Of course.

Q Where are you presently employed?

A Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Q And your current position there?

A I am a professor in the Department of Sociology
and in an interdisciplinarian program called Science:
Technology and Society with a primary affiliation to
the science STS program.

Q Tell me what the purpose of the science of
technology --

Nelkin 8

A Science: Technology and Society.

Q That is?

A Its purpose is to understand, as a major aspect
of our lives, the interrelationships between science
and society, the impact of science on society, and
vice versa.

Q Is there a purpose for it anywhere in the

A The program exists partly as an educational
unit, people being trained in science and in non-
science of the existence of it, of the so-called two
cultures, and to try to sensitize, for example,
engineering and science students -- for example, some
of their work has social implication, and to try to
increase understanding of the non-science students.

Q Is there a statement of purpose reduced
to writing anywhere?

A Reduced to what?

Q A statement of purpose for the program
reduced to writing?

A Yes. I guess -- yes, we have a report which
states the basis. I could mail it to you.

Q If you would do that, I would appreciate it.


Nelkin 9

MR. CRAWFORD: We will get that provided
to you.

Q Could you describe your own duties in
this program now in some more detail?

A It's teaching and research.

Are you asking what my research --

Q Let's talk about, first of all, your teach-
ing duties?

A I teach basically two courses plus supervise
individual students. One is called the Politics of
Technical Decisions, looking at decisions with respect
to, primarily, technology and the interplay of technical
and political components of that, and looking, in this
case, often on how political and social issues get
translated into technical terms when decisions are
fundamentally political and social, but have a tendency
to become defined as technical.

The other course is called the Social and
Political Studies of Science, and it looks at similar
issues with respect to science in a social component.

Q Do you use a textbook in these courses?

A I use a variety of different readings which have
changed every year.

Q So, there is no one text which is utilized?

Nelkin 10

A No. There is no one that is constant over
a time. For example, I am using for the spring course
on science a new book by June Goodfield called Science
and Media.

I am using the book that I wrote, actually,
that you have.

Q Yes.

A So, science and religion. But I am looking at
how science becomes used by different social groups.

Q Are you currently on a sabbatical?

A No. I was on sabbatical last academic year until

Q During your sabbatical, you were visiting
associate at the Recourse for the Future in Washington?

A Yes, for five months. And in Paris at the Ecole

Q Could you describe your duties at the
Recourse for the Future?

A I had a research grant. I studied controversies
generally as a methodology to understand a relationship
between science and society, and I had a research
grant there to work on, actually, the antinuclear move-
ment in the United States.

Q And at the Ecole Polytechnique?

Nelkin 11

A I was there as a guest of the French govern-
ment just to give some seminars and to work with
somebody who is doing work on this assessment. I
lecture in French so I go there very often.

Q According to your curriculum vitae, you
have been a professor since 1977?

A No. I have been a professor since about 18 -- I
have been at Cornell since 1963. I was a certified
research associate until 1972, and then I was asso-
ciate professor in 1973; then I was promoted to full
professor in 1977.

Q How did your duties differ in 1977? It
appears that you were involved with the same program.

A I have been involved with the same program
since 1970. The duties don't differ. What happens is
you get promoted. Duties consist of a mix of teaching
and research and some administration, committees.

Q What courses have you taught besides the
two you mentioned earlier?

A I taught a course for a big undergraduate class
for a long time called the Impact and Control of Tech-
nological Change. Most of the course -- all of the
courses that I have taught have been focused in one
way or another around the same areas.

Nelkin 12

Sometimes more directed toward under-
graduate; sometimes more directed toward graduate
students. And they differ to the extent to which you
use primary and secondary material, theoretical and
case matter material.

The subject matter is more or less the
same. It is the kind of approach which is a little
more sophisticated for all of the students.

Q Where does the program of Science: Technolo
gy and Society receive its funding from?

A At this point its funding for teaching is in-
house, university funding. Research support primarily
comes from the National Science Foundation. It's had
some funding from Sloane.

Q Sloane is what?

A Sloane Foundation. It's a large private founda-
tion. It's had over the years some funding from Exxon
educational fund.

I have received research support -- it's com
plicated because there is general funds for program
development and there is funds for specific research
projects; then there is a lot of research that goes on
which is not funded, which means that we just operate
off of our faculty salaries.

Nelkin 13

Q In terms of the outside funding, do you
know approximately what percentage -- just a rough
breakdown -- would be coming from the National Science

A I just don't know that, actually.

Q Would it be the bulk?

A I try to keep my head out of that whole mess. The
initial seed money from the program, I believe, are
five-year grants from NSF, but that money is over.
NSF doesn't give any institutional development funds
any more.

Q In 1963 to 1969 you were a research asso-
ciate at the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor

A Yes.

Q Was that a different position and different
duties --

A That was a different position. At that time I
was doing a study of migrant farm workers.

Q I notice there is no employment listed on
your curriculum vitae prior to that time other than a
one-year research assistantship?

A This was when I was a student in 1954. I was
child raising and playing a cello.

Nelkin 14

Q During that time you had no paid employ-
ment during those years?

A Yes, no paid employment.

Q Your degree is from Cornell University?

A Yes, in 1954 a Bachelor's Degree in the Depart-
ment of Philosophy.

Q Do you have any other postgraduate --

A No. I never went to graduate school.

Q Do you know how many other full professors
at Cornell have only a bachelor's degree?

A I don't know how many, but it's not many. It's
an unusual career pattern.

Q I'm curious. Do you feel the lack of a
master's or Ph.D. has hindered your development up
the career ladder to full professor?

A I think if somebody goes that route, they have
to publish a great deal, because generally a Ph.D. is
evidence that one can produce a scholarly work.

And partly because of career patterns of
women and child bearing, by the time you go back to
school you have less patience for classes.

I published a great deal of school litera-
ture in university presses, and that was sufficient to
substitute for the degree.

Nelkin 15

Q Was it your choice not to get postgrad-
uate education? Was that a conscious choice that you

A No. It was partly circumstantial. We were mov-
ing around the country a fair amount for my husband's
career, and I ended up at Cornell and I happened to
fall into a research job that interested me a great
deal, working for somebody who realized I could do
some writing and independent research, and he gave me
my head and I became substantively involved in a num-
ber of areas, and I moved in the directions I wanted
to move.

So it was mostly circumstantial.

Q To your knowledge, did the fact that you
were married to a professor assist you in obtaining
a job at Cornell?

A It's generally an obstacle because there is a
fear of nepotism, a fear of pressure, and so people
bend over backwards to prevent that.

Q The first person you say you worked for
who was open-minded, who was that?

A A man named William Friedland. He was a profes-
sor at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Q How did you meet him?

Nelkin 16

A I honestly don't remember the details. I think
that I had heard the job was available and just went
up and talked to him -- introduced myself and talked
to him.

I think it was in that way, just hearsay
that there was a job available, or maybe it was listed.
I don't know.

Q Where did you graduate from high school?

A Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts

Q What year was that?

A Class of '50. 1950.

Q Where you taking science courses in under-
graduate school?

A In undergraduate school?

Q In secondary school?

A I remember taking a chemistry course and I think
probably a biology course, yes. If you ask me what I
took in the biology course --

Q Do you recall any study of origins at all?

A I really don't.

Q Do you recall any study of evolution at all?

A I just haven't got the faintest idea what I studied
in the 1940's.

Q At your undergraduate school at Cornell --

Nelkin 17

A I was at Cornell as an undergraduate. I did take
a biology course there. It was an undergraduate survey
course which covered everything.

And, again, I don't remember the details
of what I took. I would presume I must have had some
although I am not sure in the fifties. I really don't
remember what I took in my college course.

Q You say you would not recall now whether
a creation model of origins or an evolution model of
origins was presented?

A I just don't remember. I remember very little in
detail of what I did as a college student.

Q Have you received any training in your field
outside of your formal education, any sort of formalized

A Well, one sits in on seminars and on classes of
colleagues. It's not formalized training, but you
constantly educate yourself and find out what is good
to read. But that's not formal; that's informal.

Q In your work, how have you become familiar
to the extent that you have with science?

A That's a good question because I have no formal
science background. How can I answer that succinctly?
I have never had the feeling that science was something

Nelkin 18

that a layman could not understand in its broad out-
line and in terms of its methodology.

I obviously cannot do science, but I feel
that I understand how science operates and that's what's
necessary to understand it my work.

Q How does science operate, as you understand

A Well, to put tomes and tomes of volumes into a
succinct -- in a succinct manner, I think the primary,
the most important, characteristic of doing science
is what Robert Merton called organized skepticism.
Where you are, essentially, continually testing hypothe-
ses where you start out with as few apriorius assump-
tions as possible, and I would say that is the pri-
mary characteristic for scientific research.

Q You mentioned the term "sociology of science".
Could you explain to me what the sociology of science is?

A It's a study not so much of science itself, but
of the social institutions and social relationships
that constitute science.

It's a study of the way science operates,
its relationship to the external nonscientific world,
the way science is used by the public.

Q So, is it more of a study of simply the

Nelkin 19

way it does relate to society than a study of what
science is?

A Well, there are really two directions, and
this is necessarily going to be simplistic. There
are two directions in which the sociology of science
has moved. One is called the internalist view; people
who study the internal workings of science, looking
at disciplines, of how it develops historically. It
looks at how ideas get communicated among scientists.

There is what I might call an external-
ist view which focuses on the relationship of science
to society, looking two ways at the bearing of science:
how society influences science and how science is used
and influences social live.

My own specialty is in the latter.

Q When you talk about how science influences
society --

A Yes.

Q -- I take it then that you think that
science does influence society?

A Oh, certainly.

Q Is the converse true, that society influ-
ences science?

A I think in the broad -- yes, the direction of

Nelkin 20

science becomes influenced by social needs. Yes.

Q By social needs?

A The directions of science. What gets funded
is not an abstract concept. It's influenced by demands
of society at a given time.

Q In a broader sense, though, do you feel that
society influences science today in the same manner,
though perhaps different in degree, than it did in
the early formative years of science when we had a
geocentric theory of the universe and society was
affecting science?

A I am sorry. I don't know what you mean by in
the same manner.

Q OK. When you define science or classify
science as organized skepticism, is what science is
skeptical about and what perhaps it is not sometimes
skeptical about, is that influenced by society in
the larger sense?

A I think you misinterpret what I meant by the
method of science being organized skepticism. I
think when a scientist does work in his laboratory,
he or she is very careful to continually test ideas,
to challenge.

The one starts with assumptions. One

Nelkin 21

always has to start with some sort of assumption.
The notion within science is to continually challenge
those assumptions, to try to disprove them, not to
try to prove them.

But in terms of the overall influence of
society on science, I think, for example, our preoc-
cupation with national defense is going to lead to
certain emphasis in certain areas of science in the
next decade that will be somewhat different from an
earlier period.

Q Well, my question concerns the affect of
society on science. Maybe I am not being particularly
articulate and I have a problem trying to talk about

A These issues are difficult.

Q If we look at the history of science, as
I understand it, and I just used probably what would
be the most obvious example of the geocentric theory
of the universe --

A Yes.

Q -- at a time of what science was doing and
the views, prevailing views, sometimes were dictated
by what society wanted more than perhaps just by pure
scientific research.

Nelkin 22

Do you feel, in your studies now, that
we have gone beyond that where society -- at least in
the research it's doing and -- what I want to call
the purity of the science, that we have a purity of
a science above and beyond the effect of society on it?

A I think it's a very -- the reason I am having
trouble is because the question you are asking is
one of the most profound questions presently being
asked by historians and social scientists, and there
is no easy answer.

You have articulated the question well.
It's just that there are no clear-cut answers. One can
draw upon the history, for example, of genetics and
look at the eugenics movement, which is a part of
science, and how that was influenced by social views,
and how the Nazi period essentially changed those
social views, and that was reflected in the kind of
questions that were asked within science.

In that broad kind of historical framework
there is certainly an interplay between science and
social values, yes.

The more interesting question is almost
the reverse of that, but it is hard to separate it;
namely, the way people in society utilize science in

Nelkin 23

one way or another and use it as a sort of credibil-
ity for whatever ideas that they have and wish to

Q Who are the leading authorities, in your
mind, on the internal views of the sociology of

A The leading people working in the field?

Q Yes, or who have worked in the field?

A One of the leading social scientists who is now
an old man is Robert Merton, and there is a school of
people that have developed around him a Columbia
University who have been working on the internal
development of science.

Q Any others that come to mind now?

A There is a very interesting young woman in the
University of Pennsylvania, Diana Crane, who is doing
-- who has done some extremely interesting work in
this field.

There is a society, a professional society
in the field which has both dimensions represented
called the Society for the Social Studies of Science.

Q Are you a member of that?

A I was president of it and now I am a member.
Past president.

Nelkin 24

Q Who are some of the other leading author-
ities in your mind in the relationship of science to
society now, excluding yourself?

A Oh. There is an interesting fellow at Georgia
Tech by the name of Darrel Chubin. There are a lot
of people working -- there is a historian -- by the
way, it's an interdisciplinarian field. It's diffi-
cult to separate the disciplines.

There is a historian at Harvard by the name
of Everett Mendelson. There is a whole number of people
in a program called Science: Technology and Society at

Q Are you familiar with Thomas Kuhn?

A Of course I am. Who isn't?

Q Are you familiar with his book, The Struc-
ture of Science of Revolutions?

A Yes.

Q What is your opinion of that work?

A I think it has a great deal of cogency. It's
been very useful.

Q Where is he now?

A He is now at MIT, jointly in the Department of
History -- I don't know the academic structure. In
this STS program. I think in the Department of History

Nelkin 25

or Science.

Q Do you consider him to be in this area
of sociology science?

A Well, he is more historian, yes, bridging it.

Q You said earlier that part of the idea of
science, the notion is to continually challenge the
underlying assumptions.

A Yes.

Q Doesn't Kuhn's work cause paradigm --
doesn't it in a sense run against that theory?

A In a sense. You are talking about different
levels of work, different scales of work. In the over-
all functioning of a field there are given trends
which begin to dominate and, as in every other field,
law included, there is a power structure which tends
to operate.

It takes a fair amount of work to com-
pletely overthrow a given line, overall line of thought,
but lines of thought do change in science and that was
the substance of his book. That was the essence of
his book, that you can have completely revolutionary
changes in the perspective of science.

On a more microlevel, scientific research
is changing, I think, to get more to the point of what

Nelkin 26

we are talking about, the disagreement within evolu-
tion theory. The disagreements are wonderful evidence
of how people keep challenging the nature of what
they are doing.

It doesn't mean they necessarily question
the whole entire framework, but they do continually
challenge internal difficulties in the field.

Q But even that fit into his notion of
paradigm, does it not, because they are trying to now
change the model to fit the data, because the data to
some people does not appear to fit the pre-existing

A It depends on what level you are calling para-
digm. If you are calling paradigm to be the whole
basic concept of evolution change, I don't think
that's what Kuhn was implying.

Q What is sometimes called the synthesis
theory of evolution, modern synthesis? Some of the
groups appear to be challenging that.

A The problem I have with your question is that
I am not a scientist. I prefer -- when it comes down
to the details of scientific debates going on in the
field, I cannot talk intelligently about them at the
scientific level.

Nelkin 27

One learns very quickly in the inter-
disciplinary field when one should open one's mouth and
when one should keep quiet.

Q I am not sure I can talk about it intelli-
gently either.

A But I think there are other people you can talk
to about that.

MR. CRAWFORD: Off the record.

(Discussion off the record.)

Q Do you have any idea, personally, of what,
if any, assumptions underlie the general evolutionary

A Of what assumption underlie --

Q The general evolutionary theory?

A Yes. Certain assumptions regarding change under-
lie it?

Q Could you be more specific?

A As I understand it, evolution theory has been
very, very widely accepted among scientists because
it's a very useful explanatory hypothesis that an
awful lot of things become clarified, and that's the
nature of a valid scientific theory.

One of the interesting things that I found
in my own research in this is the discrepancy between

Nelkin 28

how scientists understand science and how the public
understands science, and the public tends to under-
stand science as an inductive science, as an accumula-
tion of facts.

Science does understand it in terms of
a useful hypothesis, not in terms of truth, but in
terms of evidence to get closer and closer approxima-
tions to reality.

Q I think my questions was, though, what
assumptions underlie general evolutionary theory? You
had assumptions about change, can you be more specific?

A I guess I am having trouble understanding your

Q I just want to know if you have made any
personal study or done any reading on what, if any,
assumptions underlie general evolutionary theory.

MR. CRAWFORD: Could you be more specific
about what you mean by assumptions? You mean
factual assumptions, theoretical assumptions
or natural or supernatural?

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, earlier Professor
Nelkin stated that the primary characteristics
of science is organized skepticism and that
science approaches this work with as few

Nelkin 29

apriorty considerations as possible.


MR. WILLIAMS: And I am wondering if we
could call those assumptions.

Q Have you made any study of how many, if any
apriorty considerations or assumptions are involved in
the evolutionary theory?

A I guess my answer, which I thought had answered
that essentially, was that the scientific assumptions
are based on observation and then the attempt to
develop hypotheses out of those observations.

I think we are on different tracks because
I am arguing that there are really no fundamental
apriorty assumptions such as the existence of a god,
but there are hypotheses that are built up from obser-
vations, and then which become tested. Changes of

Q Well, maybe -- you say we are on differ-
ent tracks. I am really curious as to whether you
have made any personal study of what those assumptions

A I have not done any studies in the history of
evolution theory, history of the development of evolu-
tion theory. I am not a historian.

Nelkin 30

Q For example, do you know whether there
is an assumption in the general evolution theory that
life emerged from nonlife?

A I guess there is an assumption that life did
emerge at some point from nonlife.

Q Is there an assumption, to your knowledge,
of how often life -- how many times life emerged from

A I don't know.

Q Have you relied on your husband any in
the gleaning, or in trying to understand the way science

A Oh, sure. I am sure we talk a lot. I think I
have some understanding the way science operates --
not necessarily talking, but through observing how
he works.

We have been married 30 years. I think
one must observe some sense of working style.

Q Some of the work that you have done in
the study of Creation Science, have you ever discussed
that with him?

A Yes, we talk about our work.

Q I think, as a matter of fact, you acknowl-
edge in your book that he perhaps provided some

Nelkin 31

critical comment?

A Yes. He reads a lot of my material and he
criticizes some of it.

Q Do you know what his personal opinion is
with Creation Science?

A Yes.

Q What would that be?

A More or less the same as mine, yes.

Q We will get to yours in a moment.

A I figured you would. But just to avoid redundancy
and save time.

Q What is the Advisory Group to the Regional
Seminar Program of the American Academy for the Advance-
ment of Science?

A American Association.

Q American Association. Excuse me.

A I have been on a number of committees for that.
Which one?

Q This was the Advisory Group to the Regional
Seminar Program called Science and the Public.

A There has been a couple of things: One is doing
some relationship between science and the public. My
present commitment there is a committee on the AAA
Scientific Freedom from Responsibility.

Nelkin 32

Q What is the charge of that committee?

A It deals with human rights issues. It deals
with such questions as science as an intellectual
property at this point, considering questions such as
Freedom of Information Act in its application to
science, the cryptography dispute, problems of patent-
ing of science.

A lot of it deals with whistle-blowing
issues, scientist who blow the whistle who think there
are some problems going on in the agency, and also
international human issues.

Q In 1977 up to the present you have served
on the AAA subcommittee science of textbook?

A Yes. That is sort of a defunct committee. That
is part of that committee which is concerned about the
creation of evolution controversy.

Q Why is the committee now defunct?

A It's not defunct. It's just been fairly inactive.
They haven't been doing anything with the committee.
The AAA is running an all-day panel at its January

Q Do you have a personal code of conduct?

A A personal code of conduct?

Q Sure.

Nelkin 33

A When you say code, it sounds very formal, a
kind of formalized code of conduct. There is no plaque
on my wall.

You mean, do I have ethical principles?

Q Would you make decisions, ethical or other-
wise, by which you would -- your own guide or code for
your own conduct with the --

A Not very clearly articulated, but I guess: That
one is neighborly, one shares, one tries to behave
towards other people as he would like them to behave
toward you; that one takes good care of one's children,
and other kinds of normal, reasonable relationships.

Q Do you belong to any organization, any
ethical societies or any other formal or informal con-

A No. All my affiliations -- I am not a joiner,
generally. All my affiliations tend to be professional
in nature.

I am a Fellow of the Hastings Center on
Biomedical Research which deals with a lot of ethical
issues in biomedical areas, but these are all profes-
sional societies.

Q Do you belong to any society or groups
besides the professional ones that you have listed

Nelkin 34

on your curriculum?

A No.

Q Is there any one book that you can think
of now or any one writer in terms of your own personal
code of conduct, such as it is defined, that would be
most similar to your own, any philosophy?

A I can't think of any. I feel that codes of
professional conduct are rather personal family-derived

Q What's the Advisory Council of the Society
for History of Technology?

A This is a society -- it's called SHOT. That's
a History of Technology Association, and it's an ad-
visory council to the organization.

And what one does is essentially to peer-
review articles for their journal. You know, all these
organizations have advisory councils. Some of them are
substantive and some of them are just to get names on

Q Have you had any duties on this advisory

A This particular one I have reviewed a couple of
articles on, but it's not been a very active one.

Q What about the Office of Technology

Nelkin 35

Assessment Advisory Panel on Public Participation?

A Do you know what OTA is?

Q No, I don't.

A That's an arm of the U. S. Congress which looks
at the impact and tries to develop some means of pre-
dicting the impact of new technology. And the public
participation panel was a subgroup of that which looked
at the role of the public in assessing the impact of

OTA reports to the Congress directly.

Q Have you written any reports for this
advisory group?

A This particular advisory group, no.

Q Have you done any writings in this area?

A In public?

Q On this particular advisory group?

A No. I have done no writing for that advisory
group. We met and discussed the issues.

Q Again, what is the Hastings Institute of
Society Ethics and Life Science?

A That is a group in Hastings-on-Hudson which
focuses on biomedical research in medical practices
and looks at the ethical issues that are involved,
some of the problems of professionalism.

Nelkin 36

There are lots of ethical questions
that come up in the Right to Die cases. At this point
I am involved in an occupational health project. They
run workshops and meetings to discuss questions of
freedom of choice, ethical questions and sociological
questions and historical questions around biological
research and clinical practice.

Q I take it from your comment that those
questions are not questions purely of science?

A Hardly.

Q In those types of questions that you are
dealing with, what is the conceptual framework that
you bring to those sorts of questions as to what
role science plays, ethics plays, society in general

A Well, I tent to examine these issues in the
light of the social relationships and power relation-
ships involved.

For example, in a doctor-patient relation-
ship there are lots of ethical questions which arise,
but I think they cannot be properly understood
without an appropriate understanding of the power
relationships that go on between the doctor and the
patient, or the economic relationships that are

Nelkin 37

involved in doctor-patient and whether there is
third-party insurance in this kind of issue.

So, my own framework is always within
a sociological context. Philosophers or historians
would have another approach.

Q Could you give me a thumbnail sketch of
what is sociology?

A The study of social behavior, social relationship
It views a person not in a psychological framework,
but in excess of social relationships.

Q Is it one of the social sciences, or is
sociology interchangeable?

A It's one of the social sciences. Economics,
political science, sociology are all defined as social

Q Is sociology an objective science?

A That's a very difficult question. It makes
efforts to be an honest science. I have problems with
the concept of complete objectivity, no matter what
group you are talking to.

Q That would be true, I suppose, of science
in areas of biology as well, would it not?

A Yes.

Q As a sociologist, when you begin to study

Nelkin 38

an area, what role, if any, do your own personal
feelings play?

A They play an important role in leading me to
select what problems I want to study primarily.

Q And after you have selected this, what
you want to study --

A What I want to do is understand what is going on
in that particular -- for example, I have no temptation
to really do a sociology of the law. I think it also
influences one's methodology.

I tend to study controversies as a methodol-
ogy. I think it's an interesting way to go about it.
Personal preferences enter into the area that you
move into. Once you move into that area, one tries
to understand what's going on.

One does not enter into a research area
in order to get at any body or to prove one side right
or wrong. One really tries to understand the dynamics
of what is going on.

In that sense, it is an objective science.

Q Do you feel when you begin an examination
of the Creation Science that you entered it with an
objective open mind?

A Yes. The question that interested me is why

Nelkin 39

creationism -- I mean, here you had a social movement
beginning to develop, one that had been very latent
since the Scopes trial, and I wanted to find out -- it
all of a sudden began to revive at this time and what
creationists wanted, what they were after, and I wanted
to understand something about how biologists reacted
and why.

I was not interested in either denigrating
one side or the other. I was interested in, again,
the social context in which these groups begin to
develop and to conflict.

Q At what point did you decide that the
creational science movement was a social movement?

A That gets into a complicated discussion to
define that. I decided it was a social movement be-
cause of the wide dissemination of -- when you had
different groups beginning to find what they were
saying salient for one reason or another.

And I'm not sure it's appropriate to call
it a social movement or a religious movement. But it
began to be an increasingly important social phenomena,
and my judgment of that came because it began to have
influence in local textbook committees.

My question is: What is it that they were

Nelkin 40

saying that became important?

Q Is there a difference between a social
movement and a social phenomena?

A Yes, sure.

As I mentioned, a source of great dispute
what a social movement is and how you define it; whether
something is a social movement or religious movement
or protest movement. All these words are being ban-
died about and there is no agreement as to what should
be defined as what.

Q If something is a social movement, does
that necessarily mean that it is not a scientific

A I wouldn't equate --

Q Does it necessarily mean that it is not,

A Yes, a social movement is not a scientific move-

Q So, they are mutually exclusive in your
own mind?

A I am trying to think if I can think of scientific
movements. Yes, I think they are mutually exclusive.
They are categories that you wouldn't tend to put
together, which is why I am having trouble with the

Nelkin 41


Q You said, as an example, it was a move-
ment when evolution science was first sensitized by
Darwin and its impact on society, if any. It cer-
tainly would appear to be a scientific movement. Was
it also a social movement?

A No, I would not define that as a social move-
ment. Social movements usually develop in organized
protest against something.

Q You served on the editorial boards --

A Of umpteen journals.

Q -- seven journals, according to your

A Yes. I think one of those is now obsolete. The
environmental thing.

Q In any of those journals, have you ever
reviewed any article on Creation Science?

A No. There are not many on that. I have been
reviewing other issues.

Q Are you a member of the American Association
for the Advance of Science?

A Yes.

Q Are you a member of any other science organ-

Nelkin 42

A Yes. The Society for the Social Studies of

Q Any others?

A I guess by being on the board of advisors I
am a member of the Society for the History of Technology.
I don't go to the meetings.

Q Has the AAA taken an informal position on
the subject of Creation Science?

A I don't know whether it has recently. I think
during the early -- there are certainly petitions that
came out during the early seventies.

Q Has it during this year?

A I will tell you better in January because the
National Academy just came out with a deposition ask-
ing for a position to come out, and it hasn't come out

Q When has the National Academy come out
with depositions?

A Didn't they about three weeks ago come out with
a sort of statement?

Q I am asking you?

A I don't know.

Q Do you have a copy of it?

A No, I haven't been keeping accurate in the last

Nelkin 43

year or two with the details that's been happening.
I sometimes read in the papers what is going on. I
am not keeping up with the details of the contro-

Q So, in the last three years you have not
been really keeping up with the details?

A I have been doing other research.

Q In the last two or three years, where has
your research been concentrated?

A I've generally kept to the areas of looking at
controversies of a science and technology, but I did
a book on European antinuclear movement in comparison
to France and Germany, some work on the American anti-
nuclear movement, and I presently have a study on
occupational health among chemical workers.

Q Other than your consultant role to the
ACLU in this lawsuit, have you had any consultant work
which involved the area of Creation Science?

A No.

Q When were you first contacted by the ACLU
about having a role as a consultant in this lawsuit?

A It's not a consultant role as I see it because
I am not paid. It's an expert witness role, and I think
I was contacted about three weeks ago. I don't remember

Nelkin 44

the date.

MR. CRAWFORD: Off the record.

(Discussion off the record.)

A To my best recollection, about four weeks ago.

Q About October 20, somewhere around there?
Sometime in the middle of October?

A Toward the end of October, I believe.

MR. CRAWFORD: I will volunteer for
the record that I believe the first contact,
Mr. Williams, was earlier than that. And
the contact was with the lawyers in Skadden,

A The only contact I have had has been through
Skadden, Arps. But this time of the year, the semes-
ter flies by so fast it's hard to keep track.

Q Have you provided the attorney for the
plaintiffs in this lawsuit any reports?

A I have responded to their questions with letters.

Q Do you have those letters with you?

A No, I don't. I think my attorney does.

MR. CRAWFORD: Mr. Williams, I do have
those. Our position is that that is part of
our work product because that was in response
to specific questions and requests from us for

Nelkin 45

specific information and, therefore, demon-
strate our thought process in our view of
the case and so forth. We have produced
public writings which express our opinions
which will be presented at the trial.

Q Let me pursue that for just a moment.

Your writings which you have given to
them --

A I have given all of the stuff that I have writ-
ten on creation.

Q The publications. I am talking about other
correspondence that you might have had with them. Have
you prepared an outline of your anticipated testimony?

A What I have done is prepared a -- I was asked
a bunch of specific questions and I responded with a
kind of outline in specific response to the kinds of
questions that they had asked me.

Q Have you been given any instructions as
to your testimony?

A I was told to be prepared for actually
very much the kind of questions that you have asked
me about, my values and this kind of thing, and then
to answer directly and honestly, and to say no and I
don't know about the nature of the instructions, and

Nelkin 46

to go to the Camelot Inn.

Now it's the Simon Peck Hotel -- whatever,
but I was instructed. The effects of the instruction
were to answer directly and to make sure and not an-
swer if I don't know the answer.

Q Besides that, have you received any in-
structions as to the substance about which they would
like for you to testify?

A No. You mean in terms of how I should answer?

Q Not how you should answer, but the areas
which you would be covering.

A No. I made it very, very clear that I would not
I think they agreed with me. I made it very, very
clear that I would not testify on anything having to
do with science because I could not do that, and that
I would limit myself to the areas I felt where I
honestly could contribute something and avoid issue
areas that I don't know anything about. And they were
thoroughly supportive of that.

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Crawford, at this time
I would request that I receive copies of those
writings that Professor Nelkin may have pro-
vided to you to the extent that they are
preliminary reports of her testimony or contain

Nelkin 47

the substance of her testimony. I think
that as an expert witness we are entitled
to discovery that material.

MR. CRAWFORD: I will take the request
under advisement, Mr. Williams. It's my pres-
ent inclination that that is protected by
the attorney-client privilege. There has
been some time since I reviewed them. I will
consider seriously your request.

MR. WILLIAMS: Can you review those
during this deposition if we took a break?

MR. CRAWFORD: I may be able to do that.
I am not certain I have them with me.

Q Do you presently know what opinions you
will give during your testimony?

A More or less what I talked to you about today.
I have been promised -- since I have not been doing
research in the last two years, I have been told that
I would be given some update material on Creation Science
to try to bone me up a bit.

To the best of my knowledge, not too much
has changed -- to the limited extent that I have kept
up with it, not too much has changed that would change
my opinion.

Nelkin 48

MR. CRAWFORD: I would state for the
record, Mr. Williams, that she has expressed
an interest in viewing recent creationists
material, and that we have agreed to provide
her material from the various documents pro-
duced from the creationists groups and docu-
ments we may have collected, such as Acts and
Facts from the Institution of Creation Research.

And we have asked her to look at the
material and in her professional judgment re-
view whatever she thinks is important to review.
We just ask her to exercise her independent
judgment as to what she had to look at.

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you.

Q How many years has it been since you spent
some extended amount of time in the area of Creation

A I concentrated my research in 1976 to 1977. I
have not done any intensive research on the creation-
ists, on the controversy since then. However, when
one does a project like that, one tends to be inter-
ested in it; and even though one is concentrating one's
attention elsewhere, one tries to continually test one's
thought before to see whether it's held up or whether

Nelkin 49

one is to be embarrassed about one wrote before.

So you tend to keep up to a limited ex-
tent but not in great factual details. It's impossible

Q Since 1977 approximately how much of your
time has been devoted to studying this issue?

A Rather little. I don't know what percentage.
Very ad hoc. Occasionally I get Acts and Facts in the
mail; I pick up creation literature and I look and
see what people are saying.

Q Other than the sort of ad hoc occasional
reference that you would run across?

A I have not done a systematic work, any systematic
work since then. The lawyers have sent me some copies
of creationists writings recently, and I have been
looking at those. I have not been doing research
in the area since '77.

Q What writings have you been sent?

A Some work by Parker, some work by Gish. These
are the texts.

Q Do you know the names of those?

A No, I don't recall the names.

Q Do you recall what your opinions were of
those when you read them, or have you read them?

A I have scanned them. I haven't read them all.

Nelkin 50

There is a lot. I was struck by the
mix of scientific and religious references.

Q Which ones?

A I have always been struck by the religious
statements of the creationists and their concern with
documenting the inerrancy of the Bible. To somebody
who is doing work in this area, that's the most
interesting aspect, to me, of their work.

Q Any particular one that you recall had
religious reference?

A There were some interesting things in Parker's --

Q Do you know what his first name is? Is
it Gary Parker?

A I think it's Gary Parker -- who continually talks
about how the meaning of creation theory and his per-
sonal religious life; a lot of work by Henry Morris is
filled with religious references, the inerrancy of
the Bible.

The other thing that strikes me as very
interesting in there is the extent to which they are
concerned with using science as a way to deal with
their moral concerns and their religious concerns.

Q The documents that you have here, and
that I have received from Mr. Crawford, does this

Transcript continued on next page

Deposition of Dorothy Nelkin - Page 2

Nelkin 51

comprise all of your writings on Creation Science?

A That is everything I have written on Creation
Science, yes.

MR. CRAWFORD: I might just ask Professor
Nelkin to examine the documents to make sure
you have received everything.

THE WITNESS: Yes. One of these was re-
printed in a book called Controversy, but it
is not a different document.

Q Do you recall --

MR. CRAWFORD: Could we identify those
for the record, Mr. Williams?

MR. WILLIAMS: Sure. The Science Textbook
Controversy from the April 1976 Scientific
American, an article entitled Science and/or
Scriptures, the Politics of Equal Time. From
Volume 96, the Boston Studies in the Philosophy
of Science, Creation versus Evolution, the
Politics of Science Education.

Q Were was this published?

A That's in a book edited by Mendelson, Neingard
& Whitely called The Social Production of Scientific
Knowledge, published in 1977 by Reidel.

Q A paper entitled Science Rationality and

Nelkin 52

the Creation Evolution Dispute?

A That's a lecture.

Q December 1981, Program on Science --

A That's my address.

Q Oh, I see. I am sorry.

A That was presented in a lecture, Kennedy Library,
Northeastern University.

Q And then Politics, Science and Cancer,
the Laetrile Phenomenon?

A No, that's the cover page.

Q OK. Discussion: Science and Technology in
the Pits?

A That's a comparison between the laetrile contro-
versy and the creationists. There are references to
the creationists in comparison to the laetrile people
in there, and so, since there are creationists refer-
enced, I included that.

MR. CRAWFORD: And there is a letter to
the editor.

A (Continuing) There was a series -- in response
to the Scientific American article, there are a series
of letters, and I responded to these letters summarized
in correspondence.

Q This is a letter to the editor from what

Nelkin 53


A Scientific American.

MR. WILLIAMS: There is also a letter
from N. L. Balazs.

MR. CRAWFORD: I believe that's a Xerox
from that page.

THE WITNESS: It's a Xerox of a page. That
has nothing to do with it.

Q When did that article appear,do you recall?

MR. CRAWFORD: Scientific American, July
1976, Volume 235.

A It was a follow-up of the article that you have
in Scientific American.

Q In 1978 you had an editorial in Inter-
disciplinarian Science Review entitled Limit to
Scientific Inquiry.

What was the general thrust of that?

A The subject of the compentent DNA controversy
and questions should be asked as to whether there should
be limits to scientific inquiry in areas which could
be publicly harmful or abused in some way by the pub-
lic. That's been raised in a lot of disputes.

Q What was your opinion on that DNA contro-
versy as it was expressed in this editorial?

Nelkin 54

And by the way, I would like a copy of
that editorial.

MR. CRAWFORD: Which document?

THE WITNESS: Interdisciplinarian Science

Q Do you recall what opinion you expressed
in there on that?

A That science can be abused, but -- I have writ-
ten so much -- but that it's not very practical to
expect limits on science, but the notion of freedom
of science inquiry is not a constitutional right such
as freedom of speech.

Q I want to make sure I understand your posi-
tion on the DNA controversy.

Did you say in this editorial that this
scientific study in DNA be somewhat limited?

A No. I did not say that it should be limited. I
was trying to address the general issue of the limits
to scientific inquiry and to try to respond to scien-
tists who are saying that there can be no limits because
it's a constitutional right, and I did not believe that
freedom of a scientific inquiry was a constitutional
right such as freedom of speech; and even freedom of
speech is limited in certain respects.

Nelkin 55

Q How is freedom of scientific inquiry
limited in your mind, or how should it be limited?

A I am trying to think exactly what I said.

Q Hopefully I will get a copy of that. I am
not going to try and ask you if you don't remember.
What is your present opinion.

Q My present opinion is that is that there
are in fact certain limits to scientific inquiry. There
are limits that are derived from funding constraints,
but scientific inquiry cannot really be limited, and
the people are going to really do what they want and
exposing external limits is not going to be a very
meaningful exercise.

In part, there is a question of individual
conscience involved in doing some research and not doing
others, but there has to be full recognition that
science does have certain social consequences and
can be used and misused.

Q Do you think that the DNA research is an
abuse or a misuse?

A I think the DNA research is not being abused. I
think it has -- because of its economic consequences.
it has potentially interesting and problematic con-
sequences for university research because of the rapid

Nelkin 56

commercialization of the technique.

Q As an individual, do you think it should be

A No. I have trouble with questions placing per-
sonal moral judgments on these things. I think moral
judgments are pretty much irrelevant.

Q On DNA, for example, some people have felt
fairly strongly personally and morally, if you want to
use that term, about that issue.

A I think that research like this where there are
unknown or uncertain impacts, I feel strongly that they
should be undertaken with certain restraint and certain
care. That one simply doesn't go ahead and do re-
search which could have potentially serious health
impacts, for example, without exercising extreme cau-
tion and without exposing your work to ourside scrutiny
so that other people besides those who are interested,
who have vested interests, can also examine the po-
tential consequences.

Q If a particular area of research could be
or is shown to have a potential serious, adverse effect
on health, for example, do you think that would be a
valid basis for either limiting or prohibiting research
in that area?

Nelkin 57

A Yes, certainly. But I would not classify DNA
in that category. If, for example, you are planning
to put a nerve gas laboratory in the middle of Man-
hattan where there were a strong likelihood of acci-
dents or problems for people in the community, yes, I
would take a moral position on that.

The difficulties arise when you have a
great deal of uncertainty, then it's another story.

Q Uncertainty? What do you mean?

A Well, when you do not know whether it is adverse.
You suspect, maybe, but you don't know whether there
are adverse effects.

Q Do you think putting a nerve gas research
center 15 miles from a town of 35,000 people would be
a moral question?

A I'd have to know more about the dangers involved
and the container capability.

MR. WILLIAMS: Off the record.

(Discussion off the record.)

Q Professor Nelkin, do you recall the content
of an article you wrote on changing dimensions of the
scientific movement, Scientists in an Adversary Culture
in June of 1978?

A Scientific movement?

Nelkin 58

Q Yes.

A Yes, I am looking at how science's changing
increases external commitment.

Q What external commitment?

A In response of their -- science is more of a pub-
lic issue. Science is more active in public affairs,
more and more people are using science as a sort of
legitimacy. This has implications for the scientific

The public role of science, the level
of external funding has increased. It's a different
enterprise than it was before World War II.

Q Science is a source of political conflict,
which you wrote in 1979.

A That's the one he is sending you.

Q Do you recall what that --

A I looked at a variety of conflicts over fetal re-
search, over recombinant DNA research, over -- the in-
creasing number of technical disputes among scientists
in the nuclear debates, science tends to be used -- the
major point, in these and other writings, how science
tends to be used as a political tool in resources so
the people concerned with science and technology es-
sentially used as part of a tactic, science as a means

Nelkin 59

to enhance their own position and enhance their public
legitimacies and credibility at the same time.

Q How do you view that personally as a sociol-
ogist? Is that commentary to be condemned?

A Scientists tend not to draw these moral -- your
questions keep putting me in a role of a judge: Is it
wrong? Right? Good? Bad? That's not the kind of ques-
tion one asks. I try to understand the dynamics of
what is going on in the waistlines used in the political
resource. I don't make any moral judgment on whether
it's good or bad. It's a fact of life.

It's sometimes appropriate and sometimes in-
appropriate. I say sometimes -- very often it is in-
appropriate. I have written an article looking at how
the court uses science inappropriately. It is not out

Q What is your opinion on that?

A They translate valuable issues into scientific
debates, such as in the Delzio case on artificial insem-

You have lawyers arguing about the size
of a Petri dish when the real issue is a regulatory
issue in the desire of a woman to have a baby. And
the whole argument gets reduced to a kind of technical

Nelkin 60

debate so that I see a lot of lawsuits falling into
the trap of overusing science or bringing science into
the area where it isn't terribly relevant.

Q How do you view the courts generally in
trying to handle science?

A I think that I -- I find myself very often in
agreement with Bazalon in his judgment.

Q And could you summarize for me, that the
courts tend -- have too much placed on their hands;
that a lot of decisions that should be resolved at the
legislative level and up in the courts or at the agency
level, particularly with respect to technical cases,
that more should be going to the courts than should
be, that it's part of the weakness of legislature and
agency decisions in their desire to push aside responsi-

Do you think that's true in this case?

A I don't know enough about this case yet. I will
tell you after the trial.

Q Do you think that educational curriculum
is an appropriate subject for state control?

A That --

MR. CRAWFORD: State control? What do you

Nelkin 61

MR. WILLIAMS: By a state?

A Are you asking -- let me try to clarify the ques-
tion. Are you asking the question: Should it be fed-
eral, state or local government?

Q I am asking you do you think that it is
appropriate to have the curriculum controlled by a
state -- by the state government?

MR. CRAWFORD: The state legislature?

MR. WILLIAMS: State government.

A That's a hard question to answer yes or no. I
think the notion of local control for a school system
is fundamentally a good thing, but it depends on what
educational -- it depends on what aspects of educa-
tion you are talking about.

It's a big question, a big set of issues
put into one question, which is why I am struggling with

Q Why is local control of education funda-
mentally good?

A Because I think local involvement is something
which is as important as education is a way to bring
communities together in some way.

On the other hand I think there are certain
widely accepted ideas that should be -- I am not sure

Nelkin 62

that every local community should complete decide
the curriculum of a school. I think it is very im-

However, I have no objection to school
vouchers in private education for people who feel
very strongly that their children should be taught
specific things. I think that is one very possible
resolution of this endless dispute, a private school
system of vouchers.

Q What dispute?

A The creationists dispute we are talking about.

Q OK. Have you read Act 590 1981?

A The Balance Treatment Act?

Q Yes.

A I have read a summary of that, part of it.

Q What part have you read?

A I think I read a summary my attorney sent me.

Q Do you have a copy?

A I don't have a copy.

MR. WILLIAMS: Do you have a copy of that
one here?

MR. CRAWFORD: I don't think I have.

Q Tell me what you recall about the Balance
Treatment Act.

Nelkin 63

A All right. That creation theory, scientific
creation, should be given balanced treatment in science
classes in the public school system whenever evolu-
tion theory is taught. That's my understanding of it.

Q Anything else?

A And that it should be taught as a scientific

Q That Creation Science should be --

A As a scientific alternative.

Q Anything else that you recall about it now?

A That is the major point that I recall.

Q Do you recall what it said abour religious

A No.

Q Are you aware that the Act specific pro-
hibits any references to religious writings or religious
doctrines, as I recall, and I don't want to misquote
it? I think it does specifically prohibit references
to religious writings and doctrines.

A Yes, but I have problems with that because it
seems to me that any science that is predicated on the
inerrancy of the Bible is intrinsically fundamentally

Q Can you tell me how, from reading Act 590

Nelkin 64

of the summary that you read, you have determined that
Creation Science as defined in the Act is predicated
on an inerrancy of the Bible?

A Well, what textbooks would they be using? If they
would be using creationists textbooks, then those books
and so-called scientific creationists writings that would
be taught are predicated on an inerrancy of the Bible.

It's a kind of vicious circle that is in-
volved. The Creation Science by definition is predi-
cated on the concept of our design by a supernatural
being and is based on the inerrancy of the Bible, and
to me that personally defines it as religion.

So, whatever the Act says is not based on

Q That's your personal opinion?

A That's my personal judgment based on having read
creationists texts.

Q Does Act 590 say anything about the Bible?

A I don't know. I really should have sat and per-
used it before, but I just didn't have the time.

Q What does the term "balanced treatment" mean
to you?

A Equal time.

Q Is that the only possible meaning for

Nelkin 65

balancing that you are aware of?

A I suppose it could mean fair. but it doesn't
make much sense to me, frankly, because the notions
of balance and notion of fairness are really not con-
cepts that one thinks of in terms of science. Those
concepts to me don't mean much in the context of

Q What about proportionately balanced?

A Proportionate to what?

Q Perhaps to the weight of scientific evidence
on either side of an issue.

A Could you repeat the question?

MR. WILLIAMS: Would the reporter read it

(Pending question read by the reporter.)

Q Could that be a reasonable meaning, in
your mind, the balance of treatment?

A Yes. If there is really any weight to scientific
evidence on various sides of the issue, yes.

Q In sociology, do you sometimes discuss
conflicting ideas?

A Yes.

Q And in trying to discuss ideas with your
students in a class, does it sometimes take longer for

Nelkin 66

students to understand one concept than another,
just as a practical matter?

A Sure.

Q So, could balanced treatment in your mind
mean taking the time necessary for students to under-
stand each concept, whether they took equal time or
unequal time?

MR. CRAWFORD: Mr. Williams, I am going
to post an objection at this point. I don't
understand whether you are asking the witness
to provide you a definition of balance in the
abstract, whether you are asking her as a
semanticist or linguist, or whether you are
asking her to go in a trance to figure out
what the legislative intent was to figure out
what the vague meaning of the word is.

Can you be precise?

Q Professor Nelkin, the book that you wrote
on the subject of Scientific Controversy, Science Poli-
tics of Equal Time.

A Yes.

Q I take it that one of the -- where do you
get the concept of equal time from?

A That is a term that was picked up from the demands

Nelkin 67

of the creationists in the California dispute.

Q Are you aware whether the term is utilized
in Act 590?

A I have equated the balance treatment since they
have been consistent with the Politics of Equal Time
with that concept.

Q What does the phrase "prohibition against
religious instruction" mean to you?

A It means that religious instruction is forbidden.

Q When you read Act 590, did you see anything
in there which would prohibit a teacher from giving his
or her professional judgment as to the validity of
either Evolution Science or Creation Science?

A As I mentioned, I haven't read 590 in detail and
can't reproduce it.

Q And the reading that you did give it, do
you recall anything on that point?

A The creation theory should be taught in the school
system as an alternative science of the hypothesis, but
again that drives us into a set of contradictions be-
cause scientific creationism, in the writings that I
have read, are derived from religious beliefs and is
based on apriority religious assumptions.

Therefore, there seems to be contradictions

Nelkin 68

in porhibiting religious instruction and yet teaching
something which is based on religious instruction.

Q Is that its sole derivation in your mind?

A Creation theory?

Q Yes.

A Yes.

Q If there were one or more scientists who
did not derive what they considered to be a scientific
theory of creation from apriority reason based on the
Bible, but rather from a scientific inquiry, would
that change your opinion?

A If that scientific inquiry were based on -- yes,
of course. If that scientific inquiry was apriority
and could pass peer review, was properly done and was
done with the apriority level of skepticism; that is,
not to prove something but to find out something.

Q What is academic freedom?

A The freedom to pursue what research one wants
to pursue.

Q In the context of a secondary classroom,
would it have a different meaning or would it be the

A I think it would have the same meaning.

Q The reason I ask the question, there is

Nelkin 69

probably not a lot, or at least original, research
which comes from the secondary level.

A Yes. That's why I was having difficulty with the
answer. I do not think that it includes necessarily
the freedom to teach anything an individual wants
to teach at any particular time. I quite vividly use
the word "research."

Q What limits can be placed on what a teacher
would like to teach and what limit should be placed?

A Those are touch questions to answer succinctly.
I think the subject of classroom teaching reflects the
best knowledge that is available, the apriority, the
best knowledge that is available at a given time.

That is not to say that the knowledge would
not change at a given point. It's the most well-
accepted and the best of all possible available litera-

Q In your opinion, should a teacher be free
to evaluate the validity of various theories or subjects
discussed in the classroom.

A Well, no one individual teaching anything can
rely thoroughly on their own judgment in every field.

Q But should they be free to evaluate?

A Yes.

Nelkin 70

Q Do you think that a teacher --

A But a good teacher does use the advice of others,

Q Do you think that a teacher has to agree
with a theory before they can effectively teach it?

A No. I teach things that I don't agree with,
but usually express my opinion.

Q What are some of the things that you teach
that you don't agree with, for example?

A For example, if I'll teach something about the
nuclear dispute or the power dispute, I try to look
at scientific disputes.

Q And you will try to give a fair representa-
tion of perhaps both sides of the issue on some of the
nuclear disputes?

A Yes, but I don't present them as alternative
hypotheses in the same ways that the creationists are
trying to teach children.

Q Well, let's maybe refer to another disci-
pline of economics. There are conflicting theories of

A Sure.

Q An economics professor doesn't have to
necessarily agree with Keynesian on economics in order

Nelkin 71

to effectively present that, do they?

A No.

Q Do you think that the evolutional model of
origin should be subject to criticism?

A Of course.

Q Do you think there would be an educational
rationality in your own mind to, for example, in teach-
ing about the American Revolution, to teach not only
the American view of that, but also the British view
of the American Revolution?

A I think it is a very interesting, intellectual
exercise, yes. By the way, I see nothing wrong in a
class in social science or religion, or whatever, in
teaching about the scientific creations.

I talk about the scientific creations and
their theories in my classes all the time, but I don't
present it as a science. I present it as a dispute.

Q Have you made any review or survey of the
scientific literature to determine if there is any
scientific evidence which supports Creation Science?

A I again want to avoid making scientific judg-
ments because I don't think I can make scientific
judgments on the substantive context well at all, and
certainly nowhere near as well as some of the other

Nelkin 72


Q But you have made a decision, have you, in
your writings that Creation Science is not science?

A My writings are based on an analysis of the
religious statements that appear in Creationists called
Scientific Writings. And I have tried to get at their
motivation, what's bothering them, what's of concern
not only in terms of religion, but moral issues as
well. I try to understand what the social and reli-
gious context of these writings -- what generates these
writings in terms of social and religious commitment.

Q Do you know whether it would be possible
for a theory to have a theological or religious con-
text and also have a nonreligious and scientific con-

A No. I think that if the scientific writings
are specifically based on theological assumptions, that
precludes them from being science because of the super-
natural element.

Q Do you know whether there are theories
which may be consistent with some religions on the
one hand that may also be a valid scientific theory on
the other?

A Could you say that again?

Nelkin 73

Q Sure. My question is this: Do you know
if there are theories which on the one hand may be
consistent with the belief of some religions and on
the other hand also be scientific theories?

A I am sorry. The question just doesn't make
sense to me.

You mean are there scientific theories
that are also religious theories?

Q That are consistent with the beliefs of
some religions.

A I guess I am having trouble because most people,
including religious people, tend to separate the two
parts of their lives.

Q Well, do you know of any theories? That
is my question.

If you don't, you can just say so.

A Offhand, no.

MR. CRAWFORD: Mr. Williams, you mean
are there scientific theories which some re-
ligious group would find not to be incompatible
with their religious views?

MR. WILLIAMS: No. My question is are
there theories which are considered scientific
theories and which may be consistent with the

Nelkin 74

belief of some religious.

MR. CRAWFORD: I guess the problem is know
ing what you mean by consistent.

MR. WILLIAMS: I think consistent has a
common, ordinary accepted meaning. I don't find
it to be a particularly ambiguous term.

A Most religions, it seems to me, are predicated
on the existence of a supreme being. That is incon-
sistent with scientific theories.

For most people, that doesn't pose a con-

Q What is religion? Have you studied what
constitutes a religion?

A I would define religion, and this is awfully sim-
plistic, as belief in a supernatural entity.

Q Are you aware of whether there are any
religions which do not include a belief in a supernatural
or in a god, or in a diety?

A No.

Q As I understand it, the work and research
you have done in this area is for a substantial part
predicated on the notion that a scientific cannot be
consistent with religious belief and vice versa?

A Yes. I wasn't asking myself that question,

Nelkin 75


Q Yes, but isn't that implicit in your wo

A That there is a certain inconsistency between
science and religion explanation -- well, both purpo
to be explanations of reality, but they come from di
ferent directions.

Q So, if there is a scientist who articul
a theory which to him is a scientific theory --

A Yes.

Q -- but which to others is a religious c
cept --

A Yes.

Q -- how would you view that scientist?
those as inconsistent to you?

A Let me try to repeat the question. You are sa
if a scientist defines his work as scientific, but so
body else views it as religious --

Q Yes.

A And what is the question?

Q Then is his work scientific?

A Whose work?

Q The scientist, his theory.

A That's not the judgment that one would use to
evaluate whether it's scientific or not. I mean

Nelkin 76

I can very well conceive of a first-rate scientist
doing superb science and somebody else comes along
and says no, I really think that is a religion, that
would not be sufficient to deny its validity as a
science. You would have to use other criteria.

Does that answer it?

Q In part.

A You would really have to make a judgment on other
criteria besides somebody's opinion.

Q Let me see if I can restate the question.

If a scientist puts forth a theory which
he considers to be a scientific theory, that theory,
however, happens to be consistent with the belief
of some religions and even a scientist admits that
it probably has traditionally some religious connota-
tion --

A Yes.

Q -- would you, from your perspective, classify
that as religion?

A Well, if it is predicated on apriorius assumptions
that God made the world at a certain time or that a
scientist rested on supernatural intervention, then I
would say that he is masking religion in the guise of

Nelkin 77

But most scientists, when they do science,
don't see any contradictions with their religious be-
liefs. They separate the two realms.

I hope we are not talking past each other.
I am trying hard to answer your questions, but they
are general enough and it's hard.

Q I understand that they are general. We
have to try to look at some of the larger patterns in
this lawsuit.

A Yes, I see.

Q Are you familiar with a concept called

A Yes.

The notion of purpose or the purposeness
of design.

Q Is that as it relates to science -- is
that a religion?

A It's a belief system. It's not a scientific

Q Would you consider that to be religion or
in the nature of religion?

A Well, I wouldn't call teleology religion, but
explanations based on teleological principles are --
tent to originate in religious motivation.

Nelkin 78

Q Rather than scientific inquiry?

A Rather than scientific inquiry, yes.

Q Do you have a definition for the theory
of evolution? Have you formulated one or taken one
that you would adopt?

A Again, I would rather not be brought into scien-
tific explanations because I would just make a fool of

Q Don't you have in your work in the Creation
Science area, looking at this controversy, isn't it a
certain fundamental understanding of evolution and of
what constitutes science a prerequisite?

A It depends -- I get into this discussion about
everything I write, and one has to be very careful not
to ask oneself the kind of question that requires on
to have a detailed understanding of the science

I have never in that book, If you will
notice, made a scientific judgment about the validity
of creationism or evolution theory. That is not a ques-
tion that I am interested in.

Q Then you would not consider yourself to
be an expert in defining what is science or what is
a scientific theory?

Nelkin 79

A That's not what I said. That's what you said.

Q Well, I am asking you the question. Would
you consider yourself an expert?

A I have some idea as to what is an appropriate
method in science, but I am not evaluating whether or
not Creation Science is accurate, whether their data
is accurate.

In that sense, I do have to quite frankly
trust the judgment of colleagues who I think are good
scientists; but I can make some judgments about methods
people use to do research.

I have interviewed creationists and I have
gotten some notion of their motivation, of what drives
them, and I think that that cannot be distinguished
from their approach to science.

But I am very careful in all the work that
I do not to make an evaluation whether radiation is
dangerous to people or not, whether what chemicals are
more hazardous than others. That's where I stand on

Q So, I think, in answer to my question,
that you do not hold yourself out to be an expert in
defining what is science or what is a scientific theory,
but you have relied on other individuals to make that

Nelkin 80

decision; is that correct?

A No. I have made a judgment on whether I think
a theory is scientific or not, but whether it is valid
science, I have not, and that is the distinction.

Q What is the distinction of whether it is
a scientific theory or whether it is scientifically

A In this case, it is whether the scientific theory
is predicated on the existence of a supernatural being
or the inerrancy of the Bible, or whether it is based
on the usefulness, the explanatory usefulness of the
theory of in its origin and research.

That's the differentiation.

MR. CRAWFORD: As opposed to judgments
about a creationists might think are accurate
in allegations of fact.


MR. CRAWFORD: Or interpretations of

THE WITNESS: I mean the arguments that
creationists develop about the uniformity of
time, or their judgment as to whether some-
thing represents or does not represent the
transitional form, I would not presume to

Nelkin 81

make a scientific judgment on that.

However, I would go through there writings
and suggest that an awful lot of their writings
do say that we believe in the inerrancy of the
Bible in their recourse to God and design.

Q To your knowledge, did any of the Creation
Scientists that you interviewed or considered in this
book have any input to Act 590?

A No, I did not look at the legislative record,
so I don't know. I know that they are -- were a lot
of the major spokesman of the creationists, they still
are, and the same generals exist and the same people
are still writing.

But I don't know about the specific role
that is the creation of the Arkansas statute.

Q Do you know what criteria are necessary
in deciding whether a theory is a scientific theory --

A Or not.

There is a number of criteria. First of
all, it should not be based on apriority assumptions.
It should have useful, very useful explanatory value.
It should be amenable to refutation and it should be
tested continuously, and it should have some basis on
existing knowledge and factual material.

Nelkin 82

Q Do you know whether the theory of evolu-
tion under that definition qualifies as a scientific

A From the experts that I speak to, yes.

Q Who are the experts upon whom you have re-

A Evolutionists, people working in evolution theory
such as Gould.

Q Anyone else that you have relied upon princi-

A No. I have read a number of the reports from
various academic groups, national academic groups.

Q Have you ever asked someone who is not an
evolutionist or relied upon someone who is not an evolu-
tionist as to whether evolution or Creation Science are
valid scientific theories?

A I have talked to a lot of historians.

Q Historians of science?

A Yes, historians of science who have read a good
deal of history on science, talked to a lot of histor-
ians and tried to understand its controversy in his-
torical context.

Q Were these historians evolutionists?

A Yes. You mean evolutionists in what sense? They

Nelkin 83

are not doing evolution -- most of the historians I
know, yes, are essentially.

Q They would personally ascribe to evolution

A Yes. I mean they really feel the history of
research in this field has been very, very consistently
supportive. That is not to say that there aren't dif-
ferences among evolutionists because there are, and
that is a sign of a healthy science because people

The historians of science that I know,
yes, are completely convinced.

Q Is apriority reasoning in your work as a
sociologist, is that accepted? Should you come to --

A I think every human being has certain apriority
assumptions. I think to argue that we are all a clean
slate and we approach our work with no assumptions, I
think, is sheer nonsense.

We all come with a set of assumptions, a
set of beliefs. It would be a gross exaggeration to
say otherwise. We try our best to be open-minded and
to look at what the evidence tells us and to play an
honest game.

Q Before you began writing in the area of

Nelkin 84

the controversy on Creation Science, did you have some
discussions with some scientists about the subject?

A No. In fact, when I started doing it, inter-
estingly enough, everybody thought I was out of my mind.
This was fairly early before there was much visibility
to the controversy.

I have been doing a series on rather turgid
studies on airport sitings, on really highly technical
controversies, and I needed that kind of a different
arena. It looks like it was an interesting controversy
to me, which would, first of all, reveal something
about our culture and how it deals and how it under-
stands science and the kinds of things about planes
that are disturbing to it.

In fact, I started off very sympathetic
to the creationists as people who are concerned about
the future of their children, about the implications
of science in secularization for their values and for
the concerns about the impact of science in technology.

I started off rather sympathetic to their
social concerns. Also, I was very interested in the
way people use science as a means of credibility.

I mean, just read the advertisements,
look at transcendental meditationists, the occultists,

Nelkin 85

any of these groups.

Q Isn't it true, even when you started look-
ing at this, that you thought the creationist scien-
tists were a bunch of nuts, in simple terms?

A No. Actually, I started off without really know-
ing much about them. And it seems strange -- not reli-
gious nuts.

Q I'm using pejorative term --

A It did seem to me rather strange that a group
which would base its science or would argue that they
are basing their science on religious assumptions
should -- I have no feelings about the creationists
as people, but it did strike me as strange that this
would develop at a period where science has a lot of
saliency in our society, and that struck me as a
rather strange kind of phenomenon.

I was interested in why this should all of
a sudden become important. That's quite different than
the question you asked me as to whether I thought the
creationists were nuts.

Q You said it struck you as odd that this
would occur at a time when science had a lot of saliency?

A Yes.

Q That statement in and of itself reveals,

Nelkin 86

does it not, the fact that you exclude Creation Science
from being science from the very beginning?

A Yes, all right. Yes.

Q As a matter of fact, is the presence of
your book Science Textbook Controversy in the Politics
of Equal Time at page Roman numeral x you state: "The
creationists' demands which seemed so bizarre was an
expression of basic and rather widespread criticism
of science in its pervasive influences on social values."

The use of the word "bizarre" there, that
was kind of your personal view, wasn't it?

A My personal view was that science has fairly
well established that certain kinds of signs are es-
tablished in our science, and along comes a group
with religious assumptions that is calling it a science,
and that that was bizarre.

I was interested in why. And I discovered
along the way that a lot of their concerns about the
impact of technology, a whole bunch of moral concerns
were widespread concerns about this society which most
people did not express, developing alternative scien-
tific hypotheses.

Q But the fact of the matter is that you
came to your work in this with your own apriority

Nelkin 87

reason, i.e., that Creation Science is not science as
simply related, correct?

A It's based on religion, yes. Assumptions, by the
way, which were based on the creationists' own writ-

Q Did creationists' writings also discuss the
fact that under a strict classical definition of what
is scientific definition that evolution is not a
scientific theory, have you ever seen that?

A Yes. The creationists expressed a theme that
evolution theory is also religion.

Q I think that is a different thing. My ques
tion was as to whether evolution was a valid scientific
theory under a strict classical definition of what is
a scientific theory.

A Yes, I think it is. Not all scientists are based
necessarily on the ability to do experiments.

If you are going to make that judgment, the
astronomy would not be a science, for example.

MR. CRAWFORD: Could we pause now and
change court reporters?


(Whereupon, at 1:20 P.M. Joseph Quiroga
was relieved by Dorothy Grumberg.)

Nelkin 88

Q I think before the change of reporters
we were discussing what is science, and you said that
evolution, as I understand it, to paraphrase, because
it may not be completely testable, does not make it
not science.

MR. CRAWFORD: That is not her testimony.
She used the word "experimental."

Q What is the word you used?

We were talking about scientific theories.
You made reference to the fact that, for example,
astronomy --

A -- is not an experimental science.

The definition of science does not rest on a
fact that you can conduct experiments, for example.

Q From where do you draw your definition
of what is science?

A From a long history of studies of science,
sociology of science, definition of science.

Q Is there any one particular source that
you look to, or one definition?

A Probably the most widely quoted sociologist of
science, I think I mentioned before, is Robert Merton,

There is widely accepted understanding about

Nelkin 89

what is science and what is not science.

Q Do scientists differ?

A There is a great deal of agreement within the
scientific community in terms of defining what is
science and what is not.

Q I will make sure we are not mixing apples
and oranges.

Are science and scientific theories the

A Scientific theories are within science. It is
not like different parts of speech.

Q What is science, then?

A Science can be viewed as a profession, as a
modology. It depends on how you are using the word.

Q The subject of science, the study of

A The subject of science is nature. The subject,
not study.

Q Is it correct to say what constitutes
science is a philosophical question?

A Well, it depends on whose study -- it can be a
philosophical or sociological question, or a histori-
cal question.

Q Are science and metaphysics mutually

Nelkin 90


A I really don't know how to answer that.

Q What does "metaphysical" mean?

A How are you defining metaphysical?

Q I am asking you, what definition in your
own mind do you have of the notion of metaphysical?

A Metaphysics is a kind -- no, I don't know. I
am not sure how to use the word "metaphysical." It is
not a word I would draw on often. It is a word used
so broadly in so many different ways that it's lost a
lot of precision.

Q Do you know whether the theory of evolu-
tion is observable?

A There are certain -- as I understand it -- again
I don't want to be drawn into a scientific discussion
-- there are certain artifacts which can be observed
to support the theory of evolution.

Q For example?

A Fossil evidence. Geological formation. The
theory itself is not observable but there are arti-
facts that support or do not support the theory,
depending on the -- according to my information,
there are lots and lots of artifacts which sustain
and support and are explained by the theory of evolu-

Nelkin 91


Q Do you know whether there are artifact
fossils supporting the theory?

A They mostly argue negative cases. They argue
against supportive evidence for evolution theory,
rather than offering positive proof that their theories
are correct. Mostly negative arguments.

Q Do you know whether there is any fossil
evidence that supports the Creation Science model?

A Yes.

Q Is the theory of evolution testable?

A Certain parts of it are. Other parts are not
Q What portions are not testable?

A Theories of origins are not testable in the
sense that one can experiment. However, one can
deduce a great deal.

Again, you are drawing me into scientific argu-
ments, which I cannot answer competently.

Q For example, is it possible to test the
evolution from one species to another?

A One observes the existence -- one observes
transitional forms. One observes fossil evidence.
The precise nature and arguments with respect to

Nelkin 92

validity of that evidence is something you will have
to ask a scientist about.

Q Is the theory of evolution falsifiable?

A Again you'd have to ask a scientist that.

Q Is the theory of evolution repeatable?

A Well, theories are not exactly repeatable.

You mean evidence that can be duplicated? Again
that is not the nature of a lot of scientists.

Astronomy, to give another example, you cannot
replicate observations, although you learn a great
deal from them.

It is a misunderstanding, I believe, of the way
scientists operate to demand that everything be rep-
licable. It would exclude an awful lot of what we
understand to be science.

Q For example?

A Astronomy.

Q What do you know about the Creation model,
Creation Science model?

A The Creation Science model is predicated on
the inerrancy of the Bible. They -- a lot of creation-
ist literature I read is refutation -- efforts to

Nelkin 93

refute the evolution theory.

In my book, if you notice, there is a little
table on which I lay out some of the different assump-
tions of the two theories.

Q Do you know whether the Creation Science
theory of origin is observable?

A Well, I know they have had expeditions to find
Noah's Ark and have failed to find it. It used to
cost, in 1873 $1,375 to be on one of these expeditions.
As far as I know, they never discovered anything.

Q Other than that --

A Pardon?

Q Other than that tidbit, do you know whether
the Creation Science model origin is observable?

A Mostly when they seem to be looking for is the
lack of transitional forms.

From the nature of their writings, I don't
believe so, but again, somebody who has looked at
the scientific dimensions of this rather than the
sociological dimensions should be asked that question,
and not me.

Q I take it then that you do not know whether
the Creation Science model of origins is testable?

MR. CRAWFORD: I don't understand the

Nelkin 94

question. One doesn't test models in science.
One tests hypotheses or theories.

MR. WILLIAMS: My understanding in science
is that the terms of model and theories are
interchangeable, essentially.

I can use the term "theory" just as well,
if that would assist.

MR. CRAWFORD: That pleases me.

Q Just answer the question. The theory
would be --

A From the nature of that theory, I would argue
that it is not testable.

Q Is it falsifiable?

A I don't think so, because it is based on a priori
assumptions about -- designed by a supernatural being,
and that is neither testable nor falsifiable.

Q Is not evolution based on a presupposition
of no creator?

A This is a negative -- restate it. There is a
double negative somewhere.

Q I will strike one of the negatives.

Is evolution based on the presupposition
of no creator?

A Yes. Evolution theory is based on the supposition

Nelkin 95

that there is no creator who at a given period of
time has created the world.

Q Is that presupposition subject to being
tested, to your knowledge?

A No. That is based on a priori assumptions also.

Q What materials have you read concerning
the Creation Science theory of origins?

A What?

Q What materials have you read concerning
the Creation Science theory of origins?

A I mentioned before earlier today that I can't
remember the names of all the stuff.

Q You mentioned that you received some books
written by --

A Yes. By Gish Morris, writings by Lester,
L-e-s-t-e-r. I can't remember the names of all the
things that I have read.

Q If there was some scientific evidence in
support of the Creation Science theory of origins,
would you favor its discussion in the classroom?

A If there were really valid material, again that
is not an effort to prove the existence of God, of

Q In your opinion, should both the Creation

Nelkin 96

Science theory of origins and the evolution theory
of origins be discussed in a public school science

A Say that again. I'm sorry. I'm tired, so I'm
kind of --

Q In your opinion, should both the Creation
Science theory of origins and the evolution theory of
origins be discussed in a public --

A Science --

Q -- science classroom?

A No. They should not be. Both should not be.
I mean, I think one --

Q You think evolution should?

A Evolution should. And creation should not.

Q There is an ambiguity?

A Yes.

Q In your opinion, is the evolution theory
of origins an unquestionable fact of science?

A I think all theories are questionable, but the
best -- to the best evidence today, the ideas that
are most well accepted among competent scientists and
found to be useful are evolution theory. Therefore,
I think that is what should be taught.

Q Do you think it is an unquestionable fact

Nelkin 97

of science, evolution?

A I think no facts of science -- evolution is not
fact. It is a theory. I agree with the creationists
that evolution is a theory, not a fact. It is a theory
that is a useful explanation of facts, but it is not
unquestionable. Everything is questionable.

Q In your opinion, is the evolution theory
of origins contrary to the religious convictions or
moral values or philosophical beliefs of some people?

A I think some people feel that it is. I don't
think -- I think that they are misguided in their
notion of science and what it is supposed to do and

There are people very disturbed about the moral
implications of science. There is a wonderful clipping
that I read one day in the newspaper where some women
blamed streaking on the teaching of evolution theory.

Q Are you aware also that at one time, under
the theory of evolution, one who purported to be a
scientist said that the average black individual had
the mental capacity of an eleven-year-old?

A Of course, science has been abused by non-
scientists as sell.

Andrew Carnegie drew an evolution theory to

Nelkin 98

support the capitalist system, but this is a problem.

Q As you said, any science or any theory
can be abused.

A Yes.

Q In your opinion, can the evolution theory
of origin be presented in a classroom without reference
to any religious doctrine?

A Any -- what?

Q Can evolution, the theory of evolution,
be presented in the classroom without reference to
any religious doctrine?

A Sure. The theory of evolution can be presented
without reference to any religious doctrine, yes.

Q How do you explain to a student the first

A You mean the origins of life? Or the first
cause, the cause of life? How are you using that?

Q We can take it to be the origin of first

A Well, again I don't want to go into the evolu-
tionary -- the science of evolution and defects of
it, because I can't present it in a very intelligent

Q Do you favor a neutral position by public

Nelkin 99

education taught in secondary schools in the class-
room discussion of religious, moral and philosophical

A It depends on what kind of classroom they are
being discussed in.

I have no objection to teaching the history of
religions in public schools. I think it is very
interesting and excellent.

Q In answer to that question, would you
favor a neutral position by public education taught
in secondary schools on matters of religious, moral
and philosophical matters?

A Yes. I don't think a schoolteacher should be
teaching one religion or another unless it is in a
private parocial school.

I presume we are talking about public schools.

Q My question referred to public educators.

What is faith?

A Belief.

Q Is there anything else that faith means to

A Faith does not have to be based on evidence.
What most people believe and have faith in is not
necessarily based on evidence.

Nelkin 100

Q In your book, "The Science Textbook
Controversies and the Politics of Equal Time," which
we will refer to as your book because I think it is
the only one on this subject that you wrote --

A Yes.

Q In Appendix 1, you have a list of some
National Science Foundation precollege science curricu-
lum college grants.

Do you know whether the National Science
Foundation gave any grants to look at or study Creation

A I don't know. You mean, to teach --

Q On curriculum.

A On curriculum? My research -- within my research
it had some funding within a larger study of contro-
versies, and I had some money, travel money, from them
to do research.

Q How much did you receive from them for
this book?

A It's very hard for me to estimate. It was part
of a larger science policy grant to Cornell, and I
drew my travel funds off of that.

I had a couple of trips to California, some
phone calls, probably some typing came from NSF funds,

Transcript continued on next page

Deposition of Dorothy Nelkin - Page 3

Nelkin 101

but I really could not calculate how much or what,
you know -- my time was generally paid for by Cornell
as part of my regular teaching research time, but I
did draw from an NSF grant for routine expenses.

Q Other than your time, which you say was
paid for by Cornell, were there any financial contri-
butions to the writing of this book, other than NSF?

A No.

Q Are we now in an antiscience age?

I get some of those overtones from reading
your book.

A There is a lot of discussion, a lot of question-
ing about science and technology. More technology
than science.

I think the creationists reflect this. Although
they are not antiscience, they are rejected often as
antiscience, and I don't believe they are not.

Q Why do you say that?

A I think they are almost overwhelmingly scientistic
in the sense that they use science as justification
for perfectly valid beliefs.

I don't want to question their beliefs. I think
that everybody is entitled to their beliefs. The
fact that they feel it necessary to justify those

Nelkin 102

beliefs in scientific terms and by declaring those
beliefs to be a science is what one might call
scientistic. Almost an overcommitment to science.

Q Do you have an opinion as to whether
interest in science generally is increasing or decreas-

A Well, there is certainly a lot more pop science
around in science magazines.

There has been a proliferation of a kind of
"gee whiz" addiction to science in adventure stories.
In that sense, it is expanding in its importance.

I think there is a tendency generally to put a
great deal of faith in science, in areas where it
probably is not appropriate.

Q You say there is a tendency for a great
deal of faith in science.

Do you think religion can be based on

A No. Based on faith.

Q Can religion be based on science?

A Yes, but I think people have a lot of faith in
science, not as a way to justify -- I believe that
people who have scientific beliefs -- excuse me.
People who have religious beliefs should not have to

Nelkin 103

justify them in terms of science, and if they do
justify them in terms of science, it is a way to gain
a wider credibility and to try to act as missionaries
and convert others to these beliefs.

Q Do you think that it would be possible to
base a religion on science?

A It would be inappropriate. It would be possible.
Anything is possible.

It would be inappropriate.

Q Have you seen anything or done any reading
on science as a basis for religion?

A Well, yes. There are lots of groups that use
science as a basis of religion. I think the creation-
ists tried to. Transcendental meditation uses it.

Q Have you seen anything where religion is
based on evolution?

A Not quite, no. Not in those terms. I suppose
Teilhard de Chardin developed what might be called a
religious philosophy based on evolution theory. Major
religions do not.

Q But there may be some minor ones which

A Sure, but I am saying it is not appropriate.

Q Are you familiar with the Society of

Nelkin 104

Religious Humanists?

A No.

Q Have you ever heard of it?

A Yes, but the title is somewhat -- somewhere in
my mind, but I have no associations.

Q Since your husband is professor of physics,
are you familiar at all with the parallels between
some physics and some of the Eastern mystic religions?

A Well, there are people who say there are parallels
between physics and -- isn't there a book by Capra, or
something like that?

Q Tau, of physics?

A Yes, but I don't know much about that, and I
haven't read the Capra book. I mean, we live in a time
when there are lots of cults, but it does not mean
they are appropriate.

Q But that doesn't mean that they are not
religious, does it?

A These are self-definitions. They define them-
selves as religious cults, yes.

Q Directing your attention to page 2 of
your book on science textbook controversies, at the
bottom of page 2, you say, and I quote:

"Why has the old resistance to evolution

Nelkin 105

theory gathered into momentum? What issues have con-
verged to force public recognition of complaints long
ignored as merely the rumblings of marginal groups of
religious fundamentalists and right-wing conservatives?

"How have small groups of believers been
able to intrude their ideologies into educational
establishments, in some cases to control the educa-
tional apparatus that determines science curriculum?"

Is not there a thread running through
those questions that this is a question of religion
versus science?

A This is a question -- I think it is quite explicit
it is not a subtle thing, that it is the creation of
some religious fundamentalists who are trying to in-
trude their religion into classrooms.

Q What is a fundamentalist?

A Again, a religious fundamentalist, as I am
defining it here, is a person who believes in the
inerrancy of the Bible, literal interpretation of the

Q Directing your attention to page 9 of your
book, the first sentence there states that, "The
metaphysical assumptions and moral implication inherent
in aspects of evolution theory have been a source of

Nelkin 106

innumerable battles for over a hundred years."

What are the metaphysical assumptions
inherent in evolutionary theory?

A The inerrancy is denial that God created the
universe at a fixed point in time.

The moral implications are, people have drawn
moral implications from the beginning in evolution

Q To be an implication it must be, to begin
with; isn't that right?

A Any theory that explains nature I the develop-
ment of man inevitably has moral overtones; yes.

Q Can you be more specific as to what the
moral implications of the evolutionary theory are?

A Well, the moral implications -- it may be in
part that using the word "implications" there in that
phrasing may have been somewhat misguided.

It is a kind of theory prone to have people
draw moral implications from it.

Carnegie drew implications about survival of
the fittest in its social ramifications.

Q That is more of an inference than implica-
tion, isn't it?

A I suppose so.

Nelkin 107

Q Do you recall what you had in mind when
you wrote "moral implications" there?

A I had in mind what a lot of people have from
the time of Darwinism, which was very controversial
in the beginning because it challenged religious
assumptions. Therefore, it automatically had moral
implications, since religion has been a guide for

Q On page 13, you state that, "Julian Huxley
described the evolutionary religion as a naturalistic

How did Huxley do that?

A One of the interesting things about the history
of evolution theory is now it has been a sort of
inference by scientists.

I think that is one of the problems I see in
scientists themselves who tend to draw ethical and
moral lessons from scientific theories.

Q The theory of evolution has been viewed
sometimes as a basis for religion by scientists;

A Yes, but that is not to preclude you should
dump it.

Q On page 23, to paraphrase, you discussed

Nelkin 108

some of the pedantical techniques in science education.
You talk about how they were stressing some of the
individual judgments in trying to place the students
in the world of a "scientific investigator" rather
than to make it basic material to the recipient pro-
vided by the teacher.

A That has more to do with another course called
MOCOS course of study than the evolution teaching.

Even in science teaching there has been an
effort to get students involved more actively.

Q MOCOS was designed, was it not, for
elementary schools?

A MOCOS was fifth and sixth grades.

Q It really involved asking some fairly
basic and probing questions of the students?

A Yes.

Q Questions about what implications do
animal actions have in relationship to how they relate
to each other?

A One of the reasons that I titled the book as it
is titled is that I wanted to look at several different

I am not sure the MOCOS dispute is relevant to
the creationists.

Nelkin 109

Q I was curious about the MOCOS concept.

That was a program or curriculum which,
would you agree, was designed by professionals in the
field of science curriculum?

A It was designed by both scientists and science
curriculum specialists. It is a pedagogical theory
that tried to involve students more actively in a
teaching process so they don't sit back as kind of
passive puppets and be just lectured to.

Q Spoon-fed is the term that was used.

It is better not to spoon-feed them but
to let them really think about these concepts?

Is part of the idea there that the students
will --

A -- make up their own minds.

Q Not just that, but that students will have
a deeper appreciation and deeper understanding, rather
than just learning it by rote?

A Yes.

Q As your book mentioned, doesn't it exercise
the greater use of judgment so the students can make
up their own minds?

A There are some things appropriate for students
to make up their minds, and other things where they

Nelkin 110

are best told what the understanding of the scientific
community is at a given moment.

It depends on the subject matter.

Q Who has to make that decision?

A I think to some extent in society one has to
rely on experts.

I think there is abuse of expertise, but to some
extent there is a basis. One can't throw away years
and years of research and data and say the audience
should make up its mind. It doesn't make sense to me.

Q The MOCOS course of study is premised on
the notion that fifth and sixth graders could think
about and arrive at some decisions and judgments on
some basic questions that had some --

A I don't think so, no. Not on what you are driv-
ing at.

Q What were some of the issues that the
MOCOS course of study kind of laid out there for the
fourth- and fifth- and sixth-graders to think about?

A The nature of maternal relationships, for example,
in animals. They weren't -- if I can remember, again
I have done so much research since then that my memory
is not really that detailed at this point, but the
idea was not to have them decide what scientists have

Nelkin 111

been working on for years, but to try to relate to
their own experience in some way to absorb and under-
stand it in a less abstract fashion.

I don't know of any scientist curriculum where
students are asked to make up their own minds on well-
established scientific items.

Q You state on page 31, and I think you are
paraphrasing from Bruner here: "The task of education
is to provide a stimulating environment that will give
children opportunity to use their own problem-solving

Who is Bruner?

A Jerome Bruner is a Harvard University psycholo-
gist who developed this program, as well as the other

I don't want to be put in a position of defend-
ing MOCOS. I think it is problematic, and I was
fairly critical of it.

Q It also was drafted by the experts, so-
called, in the field, was it not?

A Yes, but not all experts are equal.

Q Professor Nelkin, you think, do you not,
that the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence
is on the side of evolution?

Nelkin 112

A Yes.

Q And that probably little or no scientific
evidence is on the side of Creation Science?

A I am reluctant to call it a science.

Q In view of that, why would you have any
fear about presenting both sides to students and
letting them make up their own minds, particularly in
light of the overwhelming scientific evidence?

A If it was just a matter of that, I would say,
sure, go ahead, high school kids are pretty smart
and will sort these things out.

I think the creationists are out for bigger
stakes than that.

Q We are not dealing with the creational.
We are dealing with Act 590, which said that you are
to teach the scientific evidence for each model and
inferences therefrom.

Do you have a problem with that?

A I have a problem with that, the same old problem
we have gone over at least four times today, that
inherent in the creationists' position are a whole
bunch -- a whole set of religious suppositions which
in fact they are using science, I believe, to get
across, and that is just find if they are trying to

Nelkin 113

get this across to their own children in a private
school, parochial school setting.

When they are dealing in a public school, I
don't think the teaching of religion, be it in the
guise of religion or science, and giving it credibility
as science, is appropriate because you are dealing
with a lot of students and their parents, who don't
want to buy into it.

Q Is your concern then the idea that in
trying to teach Creation Science, that there would be
a lot of emphasis given to the concept of a creator?

A Yes.

Q In the teaching of evolution, do you know
whether substantial emphasis was given to the concept
there is no creator?

A I think it is not discussed, although it is
inherent and intrinsic.

Q Do you have any reason to think, if in
the same sense the concept of no creator is not sub-
stantially emphasized, that the concept of a creator
could not be given a similar emphasis or lack of
emphasis in Creation Science?

A I think that the notion of a creator is so
fundamental to the creationists' ideas that it has

Nelkin 114

to enter into their teaching.

The notion of changing in origins with no discus-
sion -- there is a different kind of notion of design.

Q From your statement, if the teaching of
Creation Science were limited to just whatever scien-
tific evidence or inference you can draw from scientific
data, you would not have any real problems with it,
as I understand, from what you are saying personally?

MR. CRAWFORD: That is not what she said.

MR. WILLIAMS: I think it is.

MR. CRAWFORD: We can have it read back.

Q Correct me if I'm wrong --

A I suggested that the so-called scientific data
presented by the creationist is mostly negative
effort to refute evolution theory. That there is no
body of independent data to be taught.

Q Your other answer will stand, and we can
look at that.

Assuming Creation Science is more than
criticism of evolutionary theory, you said you don't
object to that type of criticism.

A We are playing word games. The point is, the
creationists developed a whole set of ideas in order
to prove the Bible.

Nelkin 115

Q That is your conclusion, is it not?

MR. CRAWFORD: Everything she says is her

A I am testifying to my opinions, yes.

THE WITNESS: Is that appropriate or not?

MR. CRAWFORD: Certainly. That is why
you are called as a witness.

Q Have you ever been to Arkansas?

A No. Why?

Q Why you have never been?

A Why are you asking the question.

Q I am just curious if you have ever been

A No. I have never been to Arkansas.

Q I would assume that in writing your book,
that you would have wanted it to be as factual as

A I tried hard.

Q You state on page 19 that in Little Rock,
Arkansas, Governor Faubus, F-a-u-b-u-s, defended anti-
evolution legislation throughout the '80s. It was
"the will of the people."

On what basis do you make that statement?

A I can't remember. There is no footnote on that

Nelkin 116

quote, but it was -- in the writings I read, if I
remember right, this is a long time ago, it was defended
that the keeping of evolution theory out of the school
was something to be decided by democratic vote.

Throughout the book I suggested that science
is not a question of democracy.

Q How many times did Governor Faubus make
statements on antievolution legislation?

A In doing research one tries to do some historical
material and get the flavor of what went on in other

Q I take it you do not know what you relied
upon for this? It was not of personal experience, we
know, at least.

A Let's see. No, I was not there. There is
certainly not personal experience.

I took the next quote from the science teacher.

I don't know. One reads a lot and gets an idea
of what is going on, and puts it down to the best of
their ability, to the best of their knowledge.

Q You kind of got an idea that was what was

A If I put it in quotes, I looked at some discussion.

Q Perhaps Governor Faubus said at one time

Nelkin 117

it was the will of the people.

A Yes.

Q The fact you said he defended throughout
the '60s, did you just get a sense of that is what

A It apparently was discussed through the '60s,
that the legislation precluded teaching of evolution
theory in the public schools --

Q Were you aware whether that statute was
ever enforced, particularly during the '60s?

A I don't know. I know it was not until the
Epperson decision. It was still on the books.

I believe that was 1968.

Q I think the record will reflect that that
is correct.

Let's look at the quotes you have there:

"The truth or the fallacy of arguments
on each side of the evolution debate does not contribute
or diminish the constitutional right of teachers and
scientists to advance theories and to discuss them."

Do you agree with that statement?

A Let me read it.

I'm not sure. I'm seeing double by now.

"Teachers have a constitutional right to discuss."

Nelkin 118

I suppose that could be an academic freedom

The question is, whether the State Legislature
should make a decision. Sure. I guess teachers have
a right.

I don't know details of the constitutional rights
enough to decide whether it is right or wrong.

Q We are not asking for a legal judgment.

Do you agree with that statement?

A Yes.

Q If a teacher in his or her professional
opinion should decide there is evidence of Creation
Science, and they think that it is at least as scien-
tific as evolutionary theory, do you think they should
have a right to discuss it in a classroom?

A If an individual teacher does?

Q Right.

A I suppose they have -- I think it would be
totally inappropriate.

You are asking me a legal question and I leave
it to my legal counselor.

Q No, I am not asking as a matter of law,
I am asking you as a matter of freedom, as one who
is a professional teacher who has done research.

Nelkin 119

A I believe -- don't ask if they have a constitu-
tional right, because that is a legal framework.

What is a constitutional right and what is not
is not my personal opinion. It is inappropriate to
give a personal opinion on that subject.

I think a teacher has a responsibility, as I
mentioned before, to teach what is the best available
evidence today. That has nothing to do with the
constitutional right.

Q If a teacher feels the best available
evidence today supports Creation Science theory, do
you think they should be free to discuss that in the

A I don't know. I would really have to think
about that a little more. It is complicated. The
reason is, teachers have a responsibility to also
keep up with that is in their field.

The question really can be translated if a
teacher is irresponsible or not. The question poses
a dilemma.

MR. CRAWFORD: The problem is, on the one
hand teachers have rights to express professional-
ly opinions in the classroom, and at some point
they become agents of the state in propagating

Nelkin 120

the plaintiffs' religious viewpoint. Balancing
those two interests where there is no legisla-
tion mandating the teaching to the teacher is
a question that is partly legal.

I think the witness is appropriately
reserving her answer.

THE WITNESS: It is a legal --

Q No.

A Personal judgment on a legal matter is in a way
not appropriate.

Q All sorts of things have legal implications.

A Yes. But some are more clear-cut than others.

Q To restate the question: if a teacher,
having reviewed the data in the field and done so in
a responsible fashion, has concluded that there is
support for the theory of Creation Science, should
that teacher be free to discuss it in the classroom?

A I guess so, but I would say he or she has not
done her homework very well.

Some questions just can't be answered yes or no.

Q You say you think they should but they
have not done their homework.

You are making a judgment on that profes-
sional teacher's judgment, that it must be erroneous?

Nelkin 121

A Answered at the most theoretical level, yes,
the teacher has a right to profess his or her judgment
in a classroom.

Q You use the term "textbook watchers" a lot
in this book.

A Yes.

Q Were you aware as to any, quote, textbook
watchers, close quote, who were involved in the passage
of Act 590?

A I don't know. I have not followed the details
of the implementation of the passage.

Q Were you aware that Act 590 does not
require that evolution be banned from the classroom?

A I am aware of that, yes.

Q You state on page 42: "But just as scien-
tists --"

A Where? The middle?

Q The first whole paragraph.

"-- associated 'technological decadence'
with the absence of scientific rationality in educa-
tion, so text watchers would later associate 'moral
decadence' with the dominance of scientific rationality."

Could you explain what you mean by that?

A That the textbook watchers have been concerned

Nelkin 122

about immorality, about the decline of the family,
about sexual promiscuity, about Communism, you name
it, and they blame it on science -- on the scientific
rationality -- that their concerns are fundamentally

Q On page 42, you have a quote there set
off right below the bottom.

A "The decadence of science --"

Q Right. That's a quote from a letter in
the Medford Mall Tribune.

A Yes.

Q Why did you quote a letter from the Medford
Mall Tribune?

A It was characteristic of a lot of quotes I came
across, and it is just very colorful.

Q How did you make a decision that a letter
to the editor of the Medford Mall Tribune is represen-
tative of everything else you read?

A It was simple in its tone and expression involved
in reference to bacchanals, orgies and rituals. It
was a colorful quote.

There are many, many other quotes that could be
given in which creation is expressed that are concerned
with sexual mores and similar kinds of things in more

Nelkin 123

turgent language. It struck me as being a kind of
phrase that picked up a lot of the themes from all
the others, but it was colorful and read better.

Q Where is the Medford Mall Tribune?

A The clippings from newspapers all over the
place are filled with letters.

Q What do you know that the Medford Mall
Tribune is? Is that something you picked up around

A It is not a local newspaper. I can't remember
where at that point -- I collected various clippings
at that time.

Q I assume it is a paper published by a
shopping center.

A It sounds like it. I don't remember. It was
just such a beautiful quote that I used it.

I could have used a dozen others.

Q Do you know if the person who wrote this
was a Creation Scientist?

A I don't know. The context of it -- there are
dots for things left out of the quotes, but apparently
I had some evidence that it was.

Q That they were a Creation Scientist, or
just that they were deriding the decadence of

Nelkin 124


A (No response.)

Q You have textbook watchers and Creation
Scientists and controversy over the MOCOS issue, and
to some extent, you lump them all together.

A There are certain similarities.

Q There may be similarities. The textbook
watchers and people concerned over the MOCOS issue,
had they all been promoting Creation Science?

A A lot of the people who are concerned, not all
of them -- a lot of people objecting to MOCOS are not

I would guess most creationists are opposed to
programs by MOCOS.

There are a lot of people opposed who are not

Q Isn't it true that you are painting a
rather broad brush in this book?

A In the first chapter on scientific creationists
I am talking about the development of fundamentalism
who developed this whole syndrome of textbook watchers.
I am trying to get a broad flavor to suggest that to
the creationists, out of nothing, that it had histori-
cal roots.

Nelkin 125

I am painting, yes, a very broad brush here in
this chapter.

Q Do you know how many districts adopted
inclusion of Creation Science positions in their

A I don't know. I think 17 states have introduced
-- proposed legislation. I don't know how many local
districts have.

Q Do you know how many states have acts,
like the California Board of Education, an education
policy act that says that evolution is not factually

Do you know how many states in one form or
another took some position on evolution and Creation

A It depends on the structure of textbook selec-
tion procedure in different states.

As far as I know, there are only two states
that have passed balanced treatment acts: Louisiana
and Arkansas. There are others talking about it.
There are 21 or so state textbook commissions, and
others have decisions are taken more locally.

As in most policy issues, it depends upon the

Nelkin 126

Q On page 61 of your book, midway through
the page you state:

"Creationists argue that Genesis is not
religious dogma but inerrant scientific hypothesis
capable of evaluation on scientific procedures."

A Yes.

Q Does Act 590 allow use of Genesis in

A From what you have said today, no, not directly.

Q Did you know that before today?

A I read it a while ago, yes, but -- again, I am
not sure how it can be avoided, given the nature of

Q On page 61 of your book, at the bottom,
you state that: "According to creation theory, bio-
logical life began during a primeval period only five
to six thousand years ago, when all things were created
by God's design into a permanent basic form."

Does 590 mention five to six thousand

A I don't remember. As I mentioned, I did not
read the act thoroughly.

This is the last two weeks of the semester,
you have to understand.

Nelkin 127

Q I understand.

On page 82, you state at the beginning of
the second full paragraph:

"Clearly creationists are faced with a
formidable amount of evidence that supports the theory
of evolution. This poses a cruel dilemma. They must
either admit exceptions to their beliefs that would
raise doubts among their constituents, or they must
maintain consistency at the risk of public ridicule."

A Yes. I think they are in a heck of a dilemma.

Q If there is formidable evidence that
supports the theory of Creation Science, are not
evolutionists in the same dilemma?

A That's a big "if."

Q I am asking you to assume that.

A If there really were formidable evidence, yes,
I think the evolutionists -- but presumably, if there
really were formidable evidence, the evolutionists
would not hang on to their beliefs.

Q When you look at people like Gould, who
are seeking to modify the theory of evolution, they
are trying to change this model, are they not?

A That's a healthy debate within science, yes.

Q There does appear to be, even within the

Nelkin 128

evolution community, if there is such a thing, there
does appear to be some evidence growing against the
theory of evolution as it has been previously thought

A No, but it is not against the theory of evolu-
tion. It has to do with the processes of evolution.

There is a disagreement as to how evolution
operates. It has nothing to do with the theory of
evolution in general. That is a classic interpretation
which again can be explained in much more detail by
a scientist.

Even to a nonscientist, it is obvious that the
nature of the dispute, whether it is MOCOS or what
have you, has to do with the process of evolution, not
challenging the theory of evolution in general, but
the mechanisms through which it operates.

Scientists have been in dispute over that a long
time, and it has recently come to a head. It is a
sign of a healthy science, in fact, that a lot of
work is going on.

Q We already established there are certain
assumptions --

A -- underlying every work.

Q -- underlying evolution?

Nelkin 129

A Yes.

Q On page 63, about five lines down, you

"Groups committed to particular assumptions
tend to suppress dissonant evidence and criticism only
encourages increasing activity in support of existing

A Yes.

Q That statement is made without qualifica-

Is that statement true, according --

A That is a basis of research in psychology by a
psychologist named Festinger, on how groups maintain
beliefs in the face of evidence, because they have
a social support system.

Q That statement would be equally applicable
to the assumptions in people who support evolutionary
theory, as it would be to the creative scientists,
would it not?

A I suppose you could twist it that way.

Q I am taking it at face value, not twisting

A All right. Let's go back to where we all started.

When a scientist assumes assumptions, they assume

Nelkin 130

assumptions they were trying to challenge. It is
the only profession in the world where people are
trying to knock down their own assumptions, not prove

That's fundamentally the way science operates.

Q The problem I have with that is, according
to some things like Coombs' work, that would appear
not to be the case, where you have the model and all
research is directed in support of a preexisting or
established pattern. They are trying to find further
evidence to support it, not trying to knock it down.

A It's hard to explain this.

People are fundamentally trying to tell their
assumptions all the time. They look at it with

When a theory becomes well-established in a
whole line of thought and a large framework becomes
established, the process of organized scepticism goes
on at a more micro level, and it takes a long time if
you have an overall theory which is having a tremen-
dous amount of support over many, many years to over-
throw that whole theory and to think in completely new

There are several levels which we are talking

Nelkin 131

about, I mean, what is going on in the arguments that
Gould is involved in, and you should be questioning
him along this area --

Q I hope to.

A That's what's happening at this point -- just
a lot of criticism.

Again, he can speak to that.

Q Do you personally know whether the American
Scientific Affiliation had any role in the passage of
Act 590?

A I don't know.

Q Do you personally know whether the Creation
Research Society had any role?

A I don't know. I have not followed the creation
of Act 590.

Q Where is the Bob Jones University?

A Is it in South Carolina?

Q I don't know. I know it is not in Arkansas,
which your book says it is.

A I said other Bible schools, on page 70, in South

Q Would you like to see mine? It says in
Arkansas, Bob Jones University.

A What page are you on?

Nelkin 132

Q Seventy.

A That's unbelievable. That's the same edition,
there was only one.

MR. CRAWFORD: Sometimes corrections are
made in different editions.

A (Continuing) Here. Bob Jones University, just
above -- (Indicating)

Q Do you recall writing that?

A I don't remember that. It may have been that
it got by in some sense and I caught it in a later --
I don't remember. It's South Carolina.

Q Did you at one time think it was in Arkansas

A I must have.

Q For it to get into the book, you must have
written that at one time?

A Yes, and then realized at some later point that
it was South Carolina.

At this point, I know it is not Arkansas. It
might have been a slip.

Q On page 70, you mention that Creation
Science courses have been presented at Southern Illinois
University and Michigan State.

A Yes.

Q Are you aware of any other universities

Nelkin 133

since this time that have presented courses on
Creation Science?

A I don't know. I have not been following it.

Q Doesn't the fact that secular universities
like Michigan State and SIU present a course, doesn't
that lend some credence to Creation Science?

A No, of course not. The fact that somebody can
teach a course that is not accepted by colleagues --
apparently I have heard there are a lot of people
concerned about Moore's course at Michigan State.

Given a tenure system, one does not have control
over individual courses. No, it does not give credence
to it.

Q Do you think these professors should be
prevented from teaching it?

A I think there should be a sense of responsibil-
ity. Whether or not it should be prohibited is a

Q To your knowledge, was the MOCOS course
ever protested in Arkansas?

A I don't know.

Q In your book, you have some comments con-
cerning the nature of the textbook publishers, that
they have in some way tried to avoid controversies

Nelkin 134

is one of the statements you make; is that correct?

A Yes. There is a lot of money in the textbook

Q You also mentioned that Creation Science
literature that you have seen has religious references.

Do you have any opinion as to whether the
textbook publishers, if this act should be upheld,
and similar acts upheld, would publish Creation
Science literature?

A I presume so.

Q You say they are in it to make money?

A Do I think -- I think they would reduce their
coverage of evolution theory. I think in fact that
has already happened.

One of the big problems is, these books are
nationwide. The number of states with a large student
body would present enough controversy that would
affect the whole country.

Q If there is a market out there, the text-
book publishers, non-Creation Science textbook pub-
lishers -- don't you think they would probably try
to meet that need?

A It depends on the publisher, yes.

Nelkin 135

Q How many copies of your book were sold?

A Very little. It was published as an academic
book. Last I heard was 800 copies of the paper book.

Q How many of the hard book?

A Three or four hundred. It was not widely pub-

This project has been nothing but a pain in the

Q How many articles have you written on this
subject? Three or four others, approximately?

A Yes. It was a mistake to publish it in a
scientific press.

Q Do you know approximately how much finan-
cial income you have received from writing on Creation

A Well, you figure 495 paperbacks, six percent
royalties, seven percent royalties on copies. Not

Q Would you say that your writings on Creatio
Science have given you a larger stature in the commun-
ity of sociologists?

A The book got excellent reviews and was appre-
ciated by a lot of people, so I would think so, yes.

One generally in academicia does not expect to

Nelkin 136

get rich or make money out of one's writings.

Q If Creation Science should be found by
the court to be valid and Act 590 should be upheld,
would that not adversely affect some of your own
writings, in terms of the way they are viewed?

A I am not sure it is terribly relevant. With 800
copies, it may be that I will sell ten more or five
more, out of a thousand.

Do I have a stake in this?

Q I am not talking about sales. I am talk-
ing about the fact that --

A My reputation does not rest on this book. No,
I really don't have any stake in this. In fact, I
wonder, why am I here?

I don't have any stake in the whole issue person-
ally. I think I have a sense of social responsibility
in a sense, but I can't think of any personal stake
I would have, unless you can tell me one.

Q Your article in "Scientific American,"
does it contain any material different from what was
in your book?

A No. Nor do the other articles. I haven't done
any more research.

I have done no research, except some recent

Nelkin 137

stuff sent by the authors of creationist writings,
last month.

Even the recent talk I gave, under some pressure,
because I didn't want to get into this again, was
drawn from old material, so if you read the book, that
saves you some time.

The "Scientific American" article is essentially
the second to the last chapter of the book.

Q Have you ever heard or studied a concept
or idea that where there are assumptions underlying
a theory, that it is a good idea to encourage the
study of contrasting theories?

A I have no idea what you are talking about.

Q Do you have any documents concerning Act
590 in your possession?

A It may be on one of the things sent to me by
the lawyer. I have had no contact with it before that.

I can't remember in the material sent whether
I had a copy of Act 590. I guess I had a copy sent
to me. Whether it was the whole act or part, I don't

Q Have you ever been part of any planned
program or effort to propose or inhibit Creation
Science in the public school?

Nelkin 138

A Have I --

Q Have you written letters or taken action.

A No. I have not personally been involved in that.
I have not been involved in that except for right now.

Q Did you have communication with any such

A When I was doing research, I received letters
from them requesting an interview.

After the "Scientific American" article was
written, there were some letters sent to me on the
issues. Most of the correspondence was in the nature
of setting up an appointment.

MR. CRAWFORD: We have miscellaneous mail
from people who wrote her as a result of the

Q Are you a member of the A.C.L.U.?

A No.

Q Have you ever written any articles on
Creation Science which have been rejected for publica-

A Yes. As a matter of fact, I wrote one for "The
Humanist" -- I don't know if you know what that is --
that's a group that opposes, very proevolutionist
and opposes -- the creationists are very much opposed

Nelkin 139

to them. "The Humanist" rejected the article because
I was too soft on creationists. It was essentially,
I was not interested in dumping on the creationists.
They rejected the article.

Q Do you recall how they said you were too

A No. I had that on a phone call. They wanted
something much more an advocacy piece. And I was not
taking an advocacy position.

Q What kind of advocacy were they looking

A I think they wanted somebody to dump on the
creationists, heavily critical of their science.

Q You said "The Humanist" is --

A It's a journal.

Q I think you say they are proevolution?

A I think the journal or the editors or whoever
is behind the journal.

Q Is that the American Humanities?

A No. If you said the name of it, I would remember.

MR. CRAWFORD: American Humanist Association

A (Continuing) They took a proevolutionist posi-
tion and asked me to write a letter on the basis of

Nelkin 140

They decided not to run it and ran something
else which more directly attacked the creationists.

Q Do you remember the article they used?

A I can't remember. You can look it up. Around
1977 or so.

Q Have you had any other article rejected
for publication?

A In the course of my career?

Q On Creation Science, first of all.

A No, I haven't. I haven't written any others
except the ones that were there.

Q Have you had any other articles in the
course of your career rejected from publication?

A In the course of twenty years of writing, yes.

Q How many were there?

A I have been lucky. Not many. I can't remember.
One writes articles and they get peer reviews. Some-
times they get turned down and sometimes accepted.

More than often, they say, we will accept with
revisions. Either you choose to do the revisions or
not, depending on one's time at the moment.

As you will note, I have had a lot of articles
published, which means relatively few have been
rejected, but --

Nelkin 141

Q Is the concept of peer review an objective
concept? Are they objective?

A There has been a lot of discussion recently.
Nothing is totally objective. However, it is the best
system that we have to assure quality of work. It has
its flaws.

Q What are some of the flaws that you see
in it?

A There is a tendency for well-known people to be
able to publish more easily than not well-known people.

Generally, it is a system which by and large
seems to work pretty well in the sense that if you
have a good idea, it gets into print.

Q Do you plan to rely on any documents in
your testimony at trial?

A I don't know. We haven't discussed that. I
guess I will take advice from counsel.

Q Have you prepared any?

A No. There was some discussion as to whether
Mr. Crawford would prepare some or not, but we have
not discussed it.

No, I was not. I have not prepared any.

MR. CRAWFORD: We will provide you with
any exhibits which any witnesses will use.

Nelkin 142

I would expect that there might be some
documents to be introduced through Professor

MR. WILLIAMS: Do you know at this time
what they are?

MR. CRAWFORD: I would expect if we can
get her to identify documents from various
creationist groups which she feels are represen-
tative of those groups and their ideas, we might
use them.

Q How do you determine what is representative
of a creationist group?

A That is judgment after reading a lot of material.

Q How many books on Creation Science have
you read, in total?

A I don't remember. I can't give you a number.
There are a lot of articles.

Q More than ten?

A No. A lot of articles. I did a lot of inter-
views with creationists, talked to a great number of

I also talked to biologists and schoolteachers.
I talked to a lot of people, read a lot of articles.

Q Have you kept a list of everything that

Nelkin 143

you read?

A No. I don't have many materials.

The book was published in '77. Research was
finished really in '76, a long time ago. I have done
quite a lot of projects since.

I never dreamed I would be getting into it again.

Q Have you ever given any speeches on the
subject of education?

A I have given a couple of talks from these lectures
on creationism. I gave talks on science and technology

Q How do you decide when it is appropriate
to have an interdisciplinary program?

A When there is a significant problem that needs
addressing from more than one discipline.

The issues raised -- we engage lawyers in the
program, economists, political scientists.

Q Is an idea of an interdisciplinary approach

A Problem oriented.

Q There has to be some overlap between

A They have to have some kind of focus.

Q Have you ever thought about the concept
of interdisciplinary approach to teaching

Nelkin 144

origins, taking for the moment the idea that perhaps
one might be purely religious and one would be

A No, I have not contemplated that.

Q Since you have done some work in the area
of interdisciplinary --

A It is not the kind of issue -- I am studying
controversies, not origins.

Q I thought you said you did some work on
the formulation of interdisciplinary studies.

A Yes, on the kind of teaching programs and every-
thing else.

Q If you look at the basic guidelines that
you would utilize in deciding whether to undertake
interdisciplinary study, would the interdisciplinary
study of origin concerning both religious and science --

A I think they are talking past each other. I
don't think you can come to that kind of juncture
along those lines.

Q Do you have any other communications other
than with your attorneys concerning this case?

A I did get a letter -- but it was sort of --
from your colleagues in Arkansas, asking me to get in
touch with you, or --

Nelkin 145

MR. CRAWFORD: That's another attorney in
the case.

A (Continuing) Another attorney in Arkansas. I
haven't had communications about it.

Q Other than the questions I asked you and
your testimony as you presently contemplate it, are
there other opinions or subject matters that you are
going to go into?

A Not that I know of. I happen not to have done
too much contemplation, since I am so inexperienced,
I don't know what a cross-examination is like.

MR. WILLIAMS: Have you had a chance to
review those documents that I showed you?

MR. CRAWFORD: Only one. I will finish
reading them this afternoon and advise you later
in the day what our position is.

MR. WILLIAMS: No further questions at this
time, since I have not seen those documents. I
want this deposition to be continued if there is
something really important.

MR. Crawford; The witness will be in
Arkansas prior to trial.

MR. WILLIAMS: No further questions at
this time.

Nelkin 146


Q Mr. Williams asked some questions about
assumptions of evolutionary theory. He asked you
whether evolution says there is no creator. I heard
you say yes to that question.

Would you explain to me what you mean by

A I think the question of the existence or non-
existence of God is not relevant. It doesn't enter
into the discussion of evolutionists.

There are evolutionists who do believe in God
but it is not part of this consideration.

Q If one accepts evolution, that would be
inconsistent with the idea of a creator in the way it
was described that the world was created in six days,
would it not?

A It would be inconsistent with it.

Q Is that how you used the word "creator"?

A Yes. The existence or nonexistence of God does
not enter into consideration by evolutionists.

MR. CRAWFORD: No further questions.

(Time noted: 3:30 p.m.)

* * *



We, Joseph Quiroga and Dorothy Grumberg,
stenotype reporters and Notaries Public within
and for the State of New York, do hereby certify:

That DOROTHY NELKIN, the witness whose
deposition is hereinbefore set forth, was duly
sworn and that the transcript of said deposition
is a true record of the testimony given by such

We further certify that we are not related
to any of the parties to this action by blood
or marriage and that we are in no way interested
in the outcome of this matter.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set
my hand this 23 day of November, 1981.

Joseph Quiroga

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set
my hand this 23rd day of November, 1981.

Dorothy Grumberg



Witness: By Mr. Williams Mr. Crawford

Dorothy Nelkin 3 146

* *


Page 8, Line 24

Page 46, Line 21