Barbara Forrest Exposes Louisiana Creationists

louisiana

Dr. Barbara Forrest, a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, has been waging an almost single-handed campaign for science and reason in Louisiana. She’s been working tirelessly — alas, to no avail so far — first against the passage, and now against the implementation of Louisiana’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism “Academic Freedom” bill modeled after the so-called Academic Freedom Act promoted by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

We gave you a bit of recent news about the deplorable events in that creationist state a couple of weeks ago: Louisiana Creationism: Wolves Guarding Sheep. But now Barbara has issued a press release that blows the lid off of the secret, behind-the-scenes intrigue and maneuvering going on in her state. You can read about it at her website, Louisiana Coalition for Science, here: For Immediate Release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy. This is an information-filled article.

Barbara has flipped over the flat rock and exposed the squirming creatures beneath. She names names and takes no prisoners. Here are a few excerpts, with bold added by us:

On September 16, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education [BESE] ignored the recommendations of science education professionals in the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) and allowed the Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), a Religious Right lobbying group, to dictate the procedure concerning complaints about creationist supplementary materials used in public school science classes under the 2008 Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA). … As a result, the prerogatives of the DOE professional science education staff have been severely undermined, as explained below. The audiotape of the meeting shows that Bayard and the LFF pulled off a royal snow job at this meeting.

LFF director Rev. Gene Mills, whose own children do not attend public schools, attended the meeting but did not speak. Among the creationists testifying was University of Louisiana-Lafayette professor John W. Oller, Jr., who is a member of the “Technical Advisory Board” of the young-earth creationist Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, Texas. … Also testifying at the September 16 meeting was Charles Voss, vice-president of the creationist Origins Resource Association, who attempted in 1994 to persuade the Livingston Parish School Board to adopt a creationist curriculum guide. … [Another witness was] Wade Warren, a creationist at Louisiana College who works cooperatively with the Discovery Institute (DI), the creationist think tank in Seattle, WA, that helped write the LSEA.

[...]

In short, as BESE’s complaint procedure is now drafted, DOE’s expert reviewers will be in the minority, and DOE staff will not be allowed to independently assess the reviewers’ reports but must instead transfer the reports directly to BESE for evaluation. Judging from BESE members’ consistent concessions to LFF creationists concerning the implementation of the LSEA, their evaluations will be unlikely to favor scientific expertise and professionalism. On the contrary, BESE’s actions since the passage of the LSEA indicate that the board will rubber-stamp anything that Bayard and the LFF recommend. The approved procedure will enable creationists and their allies to turn every complaint about creationist materials into a dog and pony show that they can manipulate and exploit.

[...]

The passage of the LSEA — and BESE’s subsequent adoption of whatever policies the creationists at the LFF dictate — have damaged Louisiana’s already tarnished image in the rest of the country. In fact, these actions have done tangible harm to the state. In February 2009, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) notified Gov. Jindal that the SICB will hold its 2011 convention in Utah rather than New Orleans because of his signing the LSEA. SICB will boycott Louisiana as long as the LSEA remains on the books.

That’s only a sample. Here’s a link to the actual press release: Creationists Continue to Dictate BESE Science Education Policy (pdf file).

Barbara’s article and press release are required reading for those interested in science education. Don’t be misled into thinking that Louisiana is a small, hopelessly backward state, and what happens there is of no importance elsewhere. That state is being used as a testing ground for a nationwide theocratic effort to literally undo the Enlightenment. If the creationists’ schemes to reverse the progress of the last ten generations are successful in Louisiana, they’ll be deployed elsewhere. So pay attention.

Good work, Barbara! Now let’s hope your press release gets the press attention it deserves.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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22 responses to “Barbara Forrest Exposes Louisiana Creationists

  1. It’s not as though they aren’t free to send their kids to schools that will teach anything they want, or to educate their children at home if they can’t find or afford a school that will do so. In America you have the right to be stupid and the right to educate your children to conform to your stupid notions.

    It’s that they have to impose this nonsense on everyone else’s children.

  2. Gabriel Hanna: “It’s not as though they aren’t free to send their kids to schools that will teach anything they want, or to educate their children at home if they can’t find or afford a school that will do so.”

    Exactly. Forrest’s article even notes that the LFF director’s own children do not attend public schools. From what I have read over the years, few anti-evolution activist parents send their children to public schools, and many (most?) home school them.

    Even public school children are free to read all the anti-evolution propaganda they, and/or their parents, want, on their own time. It’s easier than ever in the Internet age.

  3. At least public schools, even in Louisiana, aren’t requiring anyone to believe in creation in order to graduate–my own university refuses to award ed degrees to people who fail to demonstrate sufficiently their commitment to “social justice”.

    Fortunately our public schools educate children so poorly that even if they are exposed to creationism in science class, we can be confident they won’t learn it.

  4. @Cumrudgeon: It’s pretty obvious.

    Biblical literalists are a subset of creationists–obviously Hindu and Muslim creationists won’t be–and all creationists believe in an intelligent designer.

  5. comradebillyboy

    Gabriel Hanna wrote: “Fortunately our public schools educate children so poorly that even if they are exposed to creationism in science class, we can be confident they won’t learn it.”

    I am currently a public school science teacher and I resemble that remark.

  6. Gabriel Hanna: “Fortunately our public schools educate children so poorly that even if they are exposed to creationism in science class, we can be confident they won’t learn it.”

    I guess you mean “fortunately” in the sense that very few will learn it well enough to become professional creationists or even amateurs (e.g. bloggers).

    Unfortunately most students, even most who are taught evolution correctly, come away with a caricatured view of evolution and science in general, which makes them vulnerable to persuasion by those professionals and amateurs.

  7. Panda’s Thumb has linked to my humble post. Y’all behave yourselves.

  8. Hm. I threw trackbacks to both of your posts, but WordPress apparently doesn’t like them.

  9. RBH says: “I threw trackbacks to both of your posts, but WordPress apparently doesn’t like them.”

    I have them turned off. Never knew what purpose they served. I suppose that’s a mistake.

  10. Here is another creationist biologist from Brown:

    David Menton

    (From Pharyngula)

  11. dNorrisM says: “Here is another creationist biologist from Brown: David Menton”

    I didn’t know Brown was turning ‘em out like a bible college. I guess Jindal isn’t unique after all.

  12. It’s not necessarily a mistake. There’s a fair amount of trackback spam out there.

  13. Barbara is tweaking the format, and the article has a slightly changed URL. Thus, the address above doesn’t quite work; use this one instead:
    http://lasciencecoalition.org/2009/09/30/creationists-dictate-bese-policy/

    Cheers, Dave

  14. Curmudgeon: “I didn’t know Brown was turning ‘em out like a bible college. I guess Jindal isn’t unique after all.”

    The data set is far too small to make even a tentative conclusion, but an obvious thought is whether Ken Miller is a factor. The truly militant anti-evolution activists despise theistic evolution even more than “atheistic” evolution, and Miller is a key figure in the former. As you know, he was “expelled” from “Expelled.” His presence (when Jindal was a student, not sure about Menton) could have provided a bit more motivation to conduct “damage control,” i.e. prevent the loss of potential anti-evolution activists to TE.

  15. Like us IDiots like to say, just take out the just-so stories and innumerable qualifiers in the evolution chapter of our biology textbooks, and the controversy is over.

    Continue to insist on conjecture as science and the Academic Freedom Act will serve as a nice counterweight to your metaphysical musings.

  16. I just took the Louisiana Family Forum’s

    EVOLUTION I.Q. TEST QUESTIONS

    I think I failed. Here is a sample question:

    49. The odds of insulin (51 amino acids long) forming spontaneously by accident is the same as
    winning the Power Ball lottery 15 times st raight. Is it reasonable to assume that one of the
    smallest living organisms (H39 mycoplasma) with its 4,864,000 total chemical compounds could
    ever form? Justi fy your answer.

  17. dNorrisM says: “The odds of insulin (51 amino acids long) forming spontaneously by accident …”

    Ah yes, the creationists’ ever-popular strawman — the Theory of Spontaneous Assembly of Very Complex Molecules from Start to Finish from Utterly Isolated Atoms — commonly known as TSAVCMSFUIA.

  18. Curmudgeon: “Ah yes, the creationists’ ever-popular strawman…”

    It’s no “accident” that anti-evolution activists “religiously” refer to “Darwinism” and “Darwinists” instead of evolutionary biology and biologists.

  19. Dave Thomas said: “Barbara is tweaking the format, and the article has a slightly changed URL.”

    Right. I’ve fixed the link in my original post. Barbara’s post was a bit messed when viewed with some browsers. I think she had posted from Word, which is a problem with WordPress software. She’s got it all fixed up now. Better than ever.

  20. Ewert… Oh the stupid things Ive heard come out of that creepy old mans mouth…

  21. ERV says: “Oh the stupid things Ive heard come out of that creepy old mans mouth.”

    Hey! I plan to be a creepy old man when I grow up.