Teach the Controversy or Teach the Science?

YOU have all heard the cry of Teach the Controversy! It’s the propaganda slogan of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids).

Wikipedia is quite straightforward about it:

Teach the Controversy is the name of a Discovery Institute campaign to promote intelligent design, a variant of traditional creationism, while attempting to discredit evolution in United States public high school science courses. The central claim the Discovery Institute makes with ‘Teach the Controversy’ is that fairness and equal time requires educating students with a ‘critical analysis of evolution’ where “the full range of scientific views”, evolution’s “unresolved issues”, and the “scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory” will be presented and evaluated …


The scientific community and science education organizations have replied that there is no scientific controversy regarding the validity of evolution and that the controversy exists solely in terms of religion and politics.

They also discuss the origin of the phrase, and point out:

The phrase was picked up by other Discovery Institute affiliates Stephen C. Meyer, David K. DeWolf, and Mark E. DeForrest in their 1999 article, Teaching the Controversy: Darwinism, Design and the Public School Science Curriculum, published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics. The Foundation for Thought and Ethics also publishes the controversial pro-intelligent design biology textbook Of Pandas and People, suggested as an alternative to mainstream science and biology textbooks in the Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plans proposed by Teach the Controversy proponents.

The campaign was devised by Stephen C. Meyer and Discovery Institute founder and President Bruce Chapman as a compromise strategy in March 2002. They had come to the realisation that the dispute over intelligent design’s (lack of) scientific standing was complicating their efforts to have evolution challenged in the science classroom. …

Knowledgeable observers are well aware that “Teach the Controversy” is but one tool used in furtherance of the Discoveroids’ infamous wedge strategy, the blueprint for their long-range goal of establishing a theocracy in lieu of (what remains of) our constitutional republic. We’ve written about that before. See Intelligent Design: It’s Not About Science. We said:

[The Discoveroids’] purpose is — and always has been — social revolution. They’re nowhere in the world of science, industry, academia, etc. They know this. Aside from religion, which is the natural home of ID and creationism, the only arena where the Discoveroids can succeed is in politics.


Don’t get over-confident because the Discoveroids are so amusingly inept at science. ID isn’t about science. It never was. It’s all about Philip Johnson’s strategy for achieving social change by means of a decision of the US Supreme Court. When that change comes, if it does, you’re not going to like it.

Okay, we know what the Discoveroids want. What shall we do about it? Shall we continue as we have been doing, by sending science experts to testify at the show-trials staged by creationist legislators and school board members, knowing ahead of time that the zealots will ignore the science and impose their religious dogma on the education system? Is that a winning strategy?

Or should we, perhaps, counter with a slogan of our own?

We’re certainly not suggesting that a mere slogan should be the sole strategy in combating the resurgence of Dark Ages thinking. There’s a world of worthy arguments in favor of a proper science education, and in favor of a sound understanding of the constitutional role of religion in governmental institutions. But a good slogan would be useful when the situation calls for it. So what do we propose?

We suggest that when the forces of darkness are demanding “Teach the Controversy,” our side — the rational side — should respond with a substantially better idea: Teach the Science!

That’s not too terribly complicated, is it? Even a school board can grasp the message. After the kids are properly educated in the subject matter, then — and only then — will they be prepared to consider whether there really is a scientific controversy, or if there’s just a blizzard of blather being babbled by religious extremists.

If a school also wants to offer an elective course in propaganda techniques, that would be the appropriate place where “Teach the Controversy” should be examined. But in science class, it’s absurd for teachers to have any purpose other then what their job is supposed to be — Teach the Science!

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Teach the Controversy or Teach the Science?

  1. Hear, hear! Because the “controversy” doesn’t exist in science.

    May I also suggest that “teach the controversy” implies “teach the conspiracy,” because the ID crowd would have you believe in a Global Darwinist Conspiracy™ that keeps any mention, let alone mechanism, of ID out of peer-reviewed scientific research papers.

    It’s also amusing that the DI seems to be simultaneously trying to damage the credibility of scientists in general (trying to link the so-called “ClimateGate” to evolution) while trying to gain acceptance as part of the scientific community. Make up your minds, guys! The conspiracy theory, as crazy and baseless as it is, is at least consistent.

  2. Wow, Curmudgeon,
    6,260,000 Google hits for “Teach the Science!”

    And you are Hit #2. Not bad.
    (#1 is by Steve Mirsky)

  3. (I Meant to add “Teach the Controversy” gets
    61200, and this is #1)

  4. dNorrisM says: “And you are Hit #2. Not bad.”

    Google likes this blog. I donno why, but it’s fine with me.

  5. James F says:

    Make up your minds, guys! The conspiracy theory, as crazy and baseless as it is, is at least consistent.

    You want consistency from creationists? Look, they have no argument at all, so their program consists of heaving shovels full of it at the wall, and hoping that some slides to the floor more slowly than the rest. There’s no room for consistency. That’s a luxury which only science can enjoy.

  6. How about, “Up Yours”?

  7. Well said, SC.

  8. comradebillyboy

    One of my AP Physics students asked me about ID after seeing ‘Expelled’ at his church. I said it was simply biblical creationism pretending to be science and went on to explain the materialistic nature of science and the vacuousness of ID. I was a bit harsh in my response. Many of my students are conservative Christians. I am happy to report that I received no admonitions from the school administration or parent complaints. I am blessed with very open minded students.

  9. OTOH, “teaching the controversy” might be a good thing. Unintended consequences- students will learn the difference between well-supported science and unfocused theological grousing.

  10. SY suggests

    OTOH, “teaching the controversy” might be a good thing. Unintended consequences- students will learn the difference between well-supported science and unfocused theological grousing.

    I disagree: any program labeled “Teach the Controversy” implies that there actually is a scientific controversy–but that only exists in the fevered imaginations of the Cretards.

    I think it would be flat out crazy to make such a foolish and wrong concession to the stealth agenda of the Discoveroids; their ‘Teach the Controversy’ is as loaded and misleading as any “When did you stop beating your wife” question. It is not worthy of a reply.

    Teach the Science!

  11. Sad to say, the controversy exists in the minds of the parents of millions of students, like it or not. Shall we lose a generation of students in the name of purity? Or do we turn this into a true teaching moment?