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Quakers In Science

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Title: Quakers In Science  
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Quakers In Science

The Religious Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers) encouraged some values which may have been conducive to encouraging scientific talents. A theory suggested by David Hackett Fischer in his book Albion's Seed indicated early Quakers in the US preferred "practical study" to the more traditional studies of Greek or Latin popular with the elite. Another theory suggests their avoidance of dogma or clergy gave them a greater flexibility in response to science.

Despite those arguments a major factor is agreed to be that the Quakers were initially discouraged or forbidden to go to the major law or humanities schools in Britain due to the Test Act. They also at times faced similar discriminations in the United States as many of the colonial Universities had a Puritan or Anglican orientation. This led them to attend "Godless" institutions or forced them to rely on hands on scientific experimentation rather than academia.

Because of these issues it has been stated Quakers are better represented in science than most religions. There are sources, Pendlehill (Thomas 2000) and Encyclopædia Britannica, that indicate that for over two centuries they were overrepresented in the Royal Society. Mention is made of this possibility in studies referenced in Religiousness and intelligence and in a book by Arthur Raistrick. Whether this is still accurate there have been several noteworthy members of this denomination in science. The following names a few.

Some Quakers in science


  • Quakers in Science and Industry by Arthur Raistrick. ISBN 1-85072-106-8
  • Thomas, Anne (24 April 2000), This I Know Experimentally, Spring 2000 Monday Night Lecture Series: Science and Religion, Pendle Hill (published 6 October 2003), archived from the original on 10 November 2005, retrieved 29 June 2009 

See also

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