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Title: Probing scientists' beliefs: How open-minded are modern scientists?
Contributor(s): Coll, Richard K (author); Taylor, N (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2004
DOI: 10.1080/0950069032000138860
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Abstract: Just how open-minded are modern scientists? In this paper we examine this question for the science faculty from New Zealand and UK universities. The Exeter questionnaire used by Preece and Baxter (2000) to examine superstitious beliefs of high school students and preservice science teachers was used as a basis for a series of in-depth interviews of scientists across a variety of disciplines. The interviews sought to understand the basis on which scientists form beliefs and how they judge evidence for various propositions, including those from the Exeter questionnaire and other contentious beliefs introduced during discourse. The scientists are dismissive of traditional superstitions like bad luck associated with black cats and inauspicious numbers such as 13, seeing such beliefs as socially grounded. There is a strong socio-cultural aspect to other beliefs and personal experiences, and strongly held personal beliefs are influential, resulting in the scientists keeping an open mind about contentious beliefs like alien life and the existence of ghosts. Testimony of others including media reports are deemed unreliable unless provided by credible witnesses such as 'educated people' or 'experts', or if they coincide with the scientists' personal beliefs. These scientists see a need for potential theoretical explanations for beliefs and are generally dismissive of empirical evidence without underlying explanations.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: International Journal of Science Education, 26(6), p. 757-778
Publisher: Taylor and Francis (Routledge)
Place of Publication: London
ISSN: 0950-0693
Field of Research (FOR): 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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