In Response to: Science Under Attack

Published online July 6, 2017

I enjoyed reading Seth Shostak ’65’s “Science Under Attack” (feature, March 22). However, I found one point missing regarding, for just one stark example, the fact that two-fifths of Americans do not accept evolution.

There have been recent (scientific, of course) theories advanced that the human brain evolved to optimize cooperation – the greatest advantage humans have over other animals – and that rational thought is merely a byproduct. Another term for cooperation is tribalism. Thus, in the case of denial of evolution, religious fundamentalists are driven by tribalism, not reason. To be a member in good standing of their tribe, as the brain has evolved to favor, is to reject evolution. Rational thought has nothing to do with it. This can explain much of the denial of scientific fact across the board.

Shostak says, “Personally, I think [the battle with science] is destined to fade with time.” Sadly, if tribalism supersedes reason in the human brain, the battle is unlikely ever to fade.

Bion Smalley ’64
Tucson, Ariz.