Coll, R. K., Taylor, N., & Lay, M. C. (2009). Scientists’ habits of mind as evidenced by the interaction between their science training and religious beliefs. International Journal of Science Education, 31(6), 725-755.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8262
The science education literature suggests that the public and students often hold narrow stereotypical views of scientists and science. Here we argue that it is important that students and the public understand the basis on which scientists make scientific claims. The inquiry sought to develop an understanding of the scientific mind, explored through Gauld’s (2005) notion of ‘habits of mind’. The vehicle used to explore these ideas consisted of an inquiry into how scientists rationalise conflicts between scientific theories and religious beliefs which are not in agreement with consensually‐accepted scientific theories. Twenty scientists from different scientific disciplines and levels of seniority were interviewed using as a basis an instrument containing a series of religious‐based item statements that a panel of scientific and religious experts considered were in agreement with a variety of religious doctrines yet in disagreement with current scientific thinking, or for which there is at present no supporting evidence from a variety of scientific disciplines. These statements acted as an interview protocol and formed the basis for interactive discourse, which was audio‐taped, transcribed verbatim and participant‐validated. These data provide a window into scientific thinking as practiced by modern scientists, and helps develop a picture of these scientists’ ‘habits of mind’. The findings suggest that these scientists, unlike their stereotype, hold idiosyncratic views of what constitutes good scientific evidence and sound, credible testimony.