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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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."

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

* *


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