Science vs anti-science

Science as web

Science as web

During her video-talk on how to present your research, the speaker divided audiences into anti-science and science folks.

The talk was sponsored by a prestigious science academy so I expected more than a blunted view of lay audiences.

Maybe that’s because I have re-examined my own thinking about science.

When I study journalistic stories on scientific (and environmental, health and risk) conflicts in Indian Country, I find reporters often frame Indians as anti-science.

Digging deeper, however, I’ve learned viewpoints in Indian Country are just as diverse as those is any community.

One important difference is the underpinning of traditional indigenous perspectives that embrace a more holistic than atomistic view.

Framing Indian viewpoints under the heading “native science” legitimizes indigenous perspectives as culturally rational.

For example, native science is described as “contextual and relational” by Gregory Cajete, one of the foremost scholars of Indian ways-of-knowing.

From his perspective, native knowledge arises from context: one’s place, setting and location, and our relationships to place.

Such relationships are interwoven, which Cajete describes as a web.

I wonder whether scientists trained in modern methods view relations as a web: it’s not a far-fetched thesis.

The problem occurs when any of us dichotomizes points-of-view and ways-of knowing.

Not all scientists are alike. Not all Indians are alike.

It’s not science versus anti-science.

The difference is that Native scientists embrace the web: science is woven into everything: art, music, humor, fishing, farming—everything.

[public domain image from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in framing, Indian, journalism, Native Science, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Science vs anti-science

  1. Erik Andrulis says:

    “It’s not science versus anti-science. ” Here, here. Thanks for pointing that out.


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