Saturday, June 21, 2008

Another NYT editorial on creationism - this time about Louisiana

Earlier this month, NYT wrote a strong editorial about creationist efforts at Texas State Board of Education. Here is another about Louisiana, where a creationist-friendly bill has just passed:

It comes as no surprise that the Louisiana State Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a bill that seeks to undercut the teaching of evolution in the public schools. The state, after all, has a sorry history as a hotbed of creationists’ efforts to inject religious views into science courses. All that stands in the way of this retrograde step is Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The new bill doesn’t mention either creationism or its close cousin, intelligent design. It explicitly disavows any intent to promote a religious doctrine. It doesn’t try to ban Darwin from the classroom or order schools to do anything. It simply requires the state board of education, if asked by local school districts, to help create an environment that promotes “critical thinking” and “objective discussion” about not only evolution and the origins of life but also about global warming and human cloning, two other bĂȘtes noires of the right. Teachers would be required to teach the standard textbook but could use supplementary materials to critique it.

That may seem harmless. But it would have the pernicious effect of implying that evolution is only weakly supported and that there are valid competing scientific theories when there are not. In school districts foolish enough to head down this path, the students will likely emerge with a shakier understanding of science.

And the wack-a-creationism continues. There is nothing new to say here, but I like the fact that the bill also brings in global warming and human cloning. While we are at it, we may also include theories critical of NASA's moon landing claims and perhaps add some 9/11 skeptics to the mix too. This will unite all the crazies for one cause. By the way, why include human cloning? I think they mean stem cells research here...

Here is the full editorial.

And if you can't have enough of these controversies, check out this interview (from May 25) where philosopher, Barbara Forrest, tackles a creation science supporter in Louisiana. And here is an open letter by Louisiana Coalition for Science requesting Governor Jindal to veto the bill.


Unknown said...

Unfortunately my account with the New York Times seems to have failed so I can't read the full article. As you point out though, they certainly seem to be muddying the water by including global warming and human cloning. Whether people accept the findings on the Earth's warming and what the solutions might be seems driven more by politics than anything else. Human cloning on the other hand is much more an ethical topic. Tacking on such diverse and unrelated subjects does seem designed to stir up strong emotion. Demagoguery at work.

Salman Hameed said...

Yes, and remember they are not trying to change views through peer-reviewed journals, but rather through local schools boards, where emotions can be exploited for getting votes.

NYT is now completely free online. You should be able to read the article by creating a new account for free (I sound like a salesperson for NYT here - no I don't work for them :) )

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