Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
With their powers combined, can climate change skeptics and creationists succeed in getting anti-science views into the country’s classrooms?
The New York Times today reports that there is a growing (evolving, perhaps?) movement to unite skepticism of both global warming and evolution in hopes of a creating a winning legal case for getting their agenda into schools. This move comes after a 2005 ruling in the United States District Court in Atlanta found that a school district that had placed stickers on textbooks telling students that evolution is just a theory violated the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. The Times reports:
The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.
But Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University sums up what's really going on here: "Wherever there is a battle over evolution now," he said, "there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science--to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism."
The anti-science crowd has found success recently, at least in a few states. The Texas Board of Education last year mandated that teachers present "all sides" of the evidence on evolution and global warming and has lead efforts to overhaul textbooks. South Dakota approved a resolution to require public schools to teach climate skepticism last week, and similar efforts are underway in Kentucky to force schools to teach the "advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories."
Why stop at joining climate and evolution? Surely gravity and western medicine can’t be far behind in the firing line for the "teach the controversy" crowd.