IN OUR NAIVETE, we foolishly expect science publications to maintain a high standard of journalism. However, in Scientific American we read Evolving Creationism in the Classroom.
It starts out well enough, saying that some would like the schools to teach creationism, despite the fact that “evolution is the linchpin of modern biology …” Fine, but then they say:
That didn’t stop Republican vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, from expressing the idea that creationism—the biblical notion that God created Earth and its life forms a few thousand years ago–should get equal footing with evolution in public school science classes. “Teach both,” she said during a 2006 televised gubernatorial debate. “You know, don’t be afraid of information.”
That’s stunningly irresponsible for a publication that has pretensions of respectability. It’s been widely publicized by now that Sarah doesn’t advocate creationism in the curriculum. Further, she’s made no move to change how evolution is taught in Alaska’s schools.
As the article progresses, and moves away from discussing Sarah, it becomes more accurate:
She [Sarah Palin] isn’t the only one who feels that way. In the past, proponents of creationism have tried to sell it as “creation science” or “intelligent design”—the idea that life is too complex to have evolved without divine intervention. But after a landmark legal setback in Pennsylvania (teaching intelligent design in the public schools was found to violate the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state), creationists have retooled their approach. This year’s buzzwords were “academic freedom” and “strengths and weaknesses”.
Lawmakers in several states drew inspiration from a petition published in February by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based group promoting intelligent design. The petition argued that teachers should not be penalized for “objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory” and students should be allowed to express their views on those same strengths and weaknesses.
They then go on to discuss the idiotic anti-science legislation recently passed in Louisiana, and the current creationist controversy swirling in Texas, all of which is old news. Then this brief article ends. So what’s the point?
It seems to us that the whole purpose of this article was to get in a dig at Sarah Palin. Trashy politics isn’t what we should expect from Scientific American. They do publish some good material. For example, back in 2002 they gave us this: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.
We need a version of “Shut up and sing!” for science publications.
Postscript: If Gov. Palin’s position were as described by Scientific American, we would be in complete agreement with the article’s sentiments.
[Our related articles are here: Sarah Palin & Creationism.]
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