Stefaan Blancke

Stefaan Blancke
Tilburg University | UVT · Department of Philosophy

Assistant Professor Philosophy of Science, Tilburg University

About

72
Publications
17,499
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
603
Citations
Introduction
My main interests are history and philosophy of science, pseudoscience, human (ir)rationality, cultural evolution, culture and cognition, and the public understanding of science. My current research focusses on the role of reasons in cultural phenomena such as science, morality, and the self. For more info, please visit: www.stefaanblancke.com
Additional affiliations
August 2018 - present
Tilburg University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • Philosophy of Science Philosophy of Mind Wicked Problems
February 2018 - September 2018
Ghent University
Position
  • Lecturer
Description
  • History of Philosophy to 1st Bachelor Psychology Students
February 2018 - July 2018
Central European University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (72)
Article
Full-text available
Public opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains strong. By contrast, studies demonstrate again and again that GM crops make a valuable contribution to the development of a sustainable type of agriculture. The discrepancy between public opinion and the scientific evidence requires an explanation. We argue that intuitive expectatio...
Article
Full-text available
What makes beliefs thrive? In this paper, we model the dissemination of bona fide science versus pseudoscience, making use of Dan Sperber's epidemiological model of representations. Drawing on cognitive research on the roots of irrational beliefs and the institutional arrangement of science, we explain the dissemination of beliefs in terms of their...
Article
Full-text available
Why do irrational beliefs adopt the trappings of science, to become what is known as “pseudoscience”? Here, we develop and extend an epidemiological framework to map the factors that explain the form and the popularity of irrational beliefs in scientific garb. These factors include the exploitation of epistemic vigilance, the misunderstanding of th...
Article
Cultural attraction theory (CAT) is a research agenda the purpose of which is to develop causal explanations of cultural phenomena. CAT is also an evolutionary approach to culture, in the sense that it treats culture as a population of items of different types, with the frequency of tokens of those types changing over time. Now more than 20 years o...
Article
Full-text available
Discussion is more convincing than standard, unidirectional messaging, but its interactive nature makes it difficult to scale up. We created a chatbot to emulate the most important traits of discussion. A simple argument pointing out the existence of a scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) already led to more p...
Article
Full-text available
The demarcation between science and pseudoscience is a longstanding problem in philosophy of science. Although philosophers have been hesitant to engage in this project since Larry Laudan announced its demise in the 1980s, pseudoscience as a societal phenomenon did not disappear, and many policy makers and scientists continue to use the concept. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Pseudoscience spreads through communicative and inferential processes that make people vulnerable to weird beliefs. However, the fact that pseudoscientific beliefs are unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality does not mean that the people who hold them have no reasons for doing so. We propose that, reasons play a central role in the diffusion o...
Article
Full-text available
Article
Full-text available
Cultural attraction theory (CAT) describes a general evolutionary process, cultural attraction, by which the spread and stability of cultural items (beliefs, practices, artifacts, etc.) result not just from differential reproduction, but also from transformations that systematically favor the reconstruction of cultural items of specific types. In t...
Article
Full-text available
Blog post International Cognition and Culture Institute: http://cognitionandculture.net/blog/stefaan-blanckes-blog/space-of-reasons
Article
In the field of cultural evolution it is generally assumed that the study of culture and cultural change would benefit enormously from being informed by evolutionary thinking. Recently, however, there has been much debate about what this “being informed” means. According to the standard view, an interesting analogy obtains between cultural and biol...
Article
Full-text available
Welch (2017) has recently proposed two possible explanations for why the field of evolutionary biology is plagued by a steady stream of claims that it needs urgent reform. It is either seriously deficient and incapable of incorporating ideas that are new, relevant and plausible or it is not seriously deficient at all but is prone to attracting disc...
Article
In his recent book Islam Evolving: Radicalism, Reformation, and the Uneasy Relationship with the Secular West, Taner Edis discusses Islamic responses to the modern world and how the West deals and should deal with them. He argues convincingly that the biggest threat to secular liberalism is not fundamentalism but an Islamic form of modernity. He at...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we develop an epidemiological approach to account for the typical features and persistent popularity of pseudoscience. An epidemiology of pseudoscience aims at explaining why some beliefs become widely distributed whereas others do not and hence seeks to identify the factors that exert a causal effect on this distribution. We pinpoint...
Article
The public debates concerning genetic engineering involve many non-scientific issues. The ensuing complexity is one the reasons why biotechnologists feel discouraged to become involved. By sharing their personal experiences in science communication and suggesting ways to de-problematize genetic engineering, the authors intend to inspire their colle...
Article
Article online here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eurocreationism/?WT.mc_id=SA_FB_EVO_BLOG
Conference Paper
The crucial role that mathematical notation systems have played in the success of the hard or mathematical sciences is well known and richly documented: the origin of the history of these sophisticated notation systems more or less coincides with the birth of modern science. The role of our linguistic notation systems (as applied to, or used in, th...
Article
Full-text available
Ivan Couee [1] suggests that our article ‘Fatal attraction: the intuitive appeal of GMO opposition’ [2] defines the societal debates about biotechnology as ‘a battlefield between rationality and irrationality’. Instead, he proposes ‘a framework of mutual respect and interest between citizens and scientists’. However, we believe that this is a false...
Article
Full-text available
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-people-oppose-gmos-even-though-science-says-they-are-safe/
Conference Paper
This presentation will highlight and explain the difference between the Netherlands and Belgium in regards to the popularity of creationism. In the former country, creationism has been popular for decades in orthodox Protestant and evangelical circles and has fueled intense debates in conservative Protestant churches. In Belgium however creationism...
Book
"In this, the first comprehensive history of creationism in Europe, leading historians, philosophers, and scientists narrate the rise of - and response to - scientific creationism, creation science, intelligent design, and organized antievolutionism in countries and religions throughout Europe."
Article
Full-text available
Technology has become all-important in modern society. For each application, it is crucial for society to have a good understanding of the risks and benefits involved. However, experts tend to assess the risks very differently than the public. One of the main reasons is that experts tend to rely on an objective analysis of the facts, whereas laypeo...
Chapter
Full-text available
During the Enlightenment, the great apes from Africa and Southeast Asia sparked an intense debate about whether these animals should be consid-ered human or not. Language played an important part in these discussions. Not only did the protagonists (anatomists, taxonomists, and philosophers) differ in their opinion over whether language should be re...
Article
This article discusses Catholic responses to evolution between 1859, the year of publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and 2009, the year in which the scientific world celebrated its 150th anniversary. Firstly, I will discuss how the Vatican initially responded to evolution in the period between 1859 and 1907, the year in which...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of our article is threefold. First, we present and discuss the extant literature on creationism in Europe (the “facts”). Within this section, we offer a review of the literature as well as an overview of the most remarkable developments and events recorded therein. Second, we indicate which material is missing from the literature (the “...
Article
Full-text available
Natural selection is one of the most famous metaphors in the history of science. Charles Darwin used the metaphor and the underlying analogy to frame his ideas about evolution and its main driving mechanism into a full-fledged theory. Because the metaphor turned out to be such a powerful epistemic tool, Darwin naturally assumed that he could also e...
Article
Full-text available
This paper discusses the relationship between religion and science education in the light of the cognitive sciences. We challenge the popular view that science and religion are compatible, a view that suggests that learning and understanding evolutionary theory has no effect on students’ religious beliefs and vice versa. We develop a cognitive pers...
Article
Full-text available
According to a widespread philosophical opinion, science is strictly limited to investigating natural causes and putting forth natural explanations. Lacking the tools to evaluate supernatural claims, science must remain studiously neutral on questions of metaphysics. This (self-imposed) stricture, which goes under the name of ‘methodological natura...
Article
Full-text available
Creationists are becoming more active in Europe. We expect that European biology teachers will be more frequently challenged by students who introduce creationist misconceptions of evolutionary theory into the classroom. Moreover, research suggests that not all teachers are equally prepared to deal with them. To make biology teachers aware of what...
Article
Full-text available
What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cog...
Article
Full-text available
The leading Intelligent Design theorist William Dembski (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham MD, 2002) argued that the first No Free Lunch theorem, first formulated by Wolpert and Macready (IEEE Trans Evol Comput 1: 67–82, 1997), renders Darwinian evolution impossible. In response, Dembski’s critics pointed out that the theorem is irrelevant to biological...
Article
Full-text available
In a previous issue of Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, Filip Buekens argues that evolutionary psychology (EP), or some interpretations thereof, have a corrosive impact on our "manifest self-image". Buekens wants to defend and protect the "global adequacy" of this manifest self-image in the face of what he calls evolutionary revisionism. Although we lar...
Article
Full-text available
It has been shown that in the U.S. and in the U.K. children up to the age of ten adhere to teleological explanations for the existence of living and non-living objects. Around the age 10 children tend to shift away from being “intuitive theists” to hold a stronger belief in evolution as the driving force behind the emergence and evolution of life o...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of Irreducible Complexity (IC) has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the creationist movement over the past two decades. Evolutionary biologists and philosophers have unambiguously rejected the purported demonstration of "intelligent design" in nature, but there have been several, apparently contradictory, lines of criticism. W...
Article
Recent events indicate that creationists are becoming increasingly active in the Netherlands. This article offers an overview of these events. First, I discuss the introduction of Intelligent Design (ID) creationism into the Dutch public sphere by a renowned physicist, Cees Dekker. Later, Dekker himself shifted towards a more evolution-friendly pos...
Article
Full-text available
In recent controversies about Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), the principle of methodological naturalism (MN) has played an important role. In this paper, an often neglected distinction is made between two different conceptions of MN, each with its respective rationale and with a different view on the proper role of MN in science. According t...

Network

Cited By

Projects

Projects (5)
Project
Philosophical, historical, cognitive and educational perspectives on creationism in Europe
Project
With this project, we intend to understand the structure, popularity and persistence of pseudoscience from an epidemiological perspective