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Table 1 Nature of science themes with sample items and mean ratings for theme, followed by the standard deviation

From: The Importance of Understanding the Nature of Science for Accepting Evolution

Theme: description and sample items Mean (sd)
Theory support: scientific theories are not just guesses 3.91 (0.38)
    To be accepted, scientific theories must be supported by much evidence
    New hypotheses are basically wild guesses; scientists just dream them upa
Theory limits: theories can explain phenomena but cannot be definitively proven 3.52 (0.34)
    Accepted scientific theories are well-supported explanations for a broad set of natural phenomena
    Theories are basically hunches; they have not yet accumulated enough supporting evidence to be considered hypothesesa
Testing: testing is central to science but can occur in many different ways 3.68 (0.42)
    The same hypothesis or theory is often tested in many different ways
    Scientific investigations could not proceed without laboratory experimentsa
Nonlinearity: the process of science is nonlinear, complex, and contingent 4.05 (0.50)
    The process of science is nonlinear; each step can lead to many possible next steps
    Scientists always follow the same step-by-step scientific methoda
Construction: theories are constructed, not “read off” from nature 3.86 (0.37)
    Scientific knowledge is built through a complex process that relies, in part, on observations of nature
    Scientific knowledge is deduced directly from observations of naturea
Provisionality: hypotheses and theories can always be modified 4.05 (0.53)
    Scientific theories are subject to ongoing testing and revision
    Scientific theories based on accurate experimentation will not be changeda
Continuity: science is an on-going process 4.19 (0.48)
    Scientific investigations usually lead to additional questions for further investigation
    Scientific investigations usually come to a definitive end, allowing the science to move on to a brand new questiona
Comparison: testing involves comparing multiple explanations with available evidence 3.54 (0.44)
    The aim of scientific testing is to figure out which explanation for a phenomenon is most likely to be correct
    Scientists usually investigate one hypothesis thoroughly before thinking about alternative explanationsa
Creativity: science relies on imagination and creativity 3.45 (0.71)
    Scientists use their imagination and creativity when they come up with new experiments, hypotheses, and theories
    Scientists do not use their imagination and creativity because these can interfere with objectivitya
Community: the scientific community plays an important role in science 4.17 (0.49)
    The scientific community is essential to the process and progress of science
    Unlike many other professions, science is almost always a solitary endeavora
Applications: science and society are interrelated 4.23 (0.49)
    Everyday problems and observations frequently inspire scientific investigations
    Science is pure; scientists strive to do their work without considering its potential applicationsa
Society and culture: science is influenced by social and cultural factors 3.83 (0.68)
    Individual scientists are influenced by their societies and cultures, and this, in turn, influences their scientific work
    Scientific research is not influenced by society and culture because scientists are trained to conduct “pure,” unbiased studiesa
  1. The rating scale ranged from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating strong disagreement and 5 indicating strong agreement.
  2. aIndicates items that were reverse coded to generate the mean for the theme.