Politics in Science: A Struggle for Legitimacy in the Production of Knowledge By a Pseudoscientific Theory

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Timothy WILSON, University of Turku, Finland
Attila KRIZSÁN, University of Turku, Finland
Intelligent design (ID) is a pseudoscientific concept conceived in an attempt to bring religion-based teaching into the classroom. As such, it is involved in a constant struggle for legitimacy with the dominant scientific discourse of the theory of evolution and this results in ID politicizing science. In our paper, we use a corpus linguistic approach to study how intelligent design discourse uses dialogistic positioning to forward its creationistic propositions and at the same time limit the propositions of the theory of evolution. The results suggest that intelligent design discourse employs heteroglossic constructions that appear in uses of engagement structures (a sub-system of Martin & White’s Appraisal theory) far more frequently than evolutionary biology discourse does so. These structures are used mainly to counter opposing propositions and to entertain propositions of ID discourse in their stead. The underdog position of ID obligates it to highly modulated heteroglossic engagement in order to forward its position, which is ultimately aimed at changing the political decision-making related to the teaching of science. This is because for many decades the control of dialogic space in both science and scientific education has largely belonged to members of the mainstream scientific community who have based their use of language on well-developed scientific arguments. The aim of the proponents of intelligent design to change this makes their intentions political in the sense of Palonen and their (discoursive and material) actions could be considered as clear examples of politicking in the scientific and educational domains via discursive means of legitimization.