Louisiana Creationism: A Professor’s Opinion

A few days ago we wrote Another Science Circus in Louisiana?, about a coming effort to revise the state’s science education standards. We also briefly recounted Louisiana’s history of being the first state (of only two) to enact — almost unanimously — a version of the Discovery Institute’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act (about which see the Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws). It became the infamous Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA).

We found some interesting commentary about the proposed science standards re-write, but we were confused about its source. We’re always careful regarding the source of articles we write about. Except for well-known creationist sites we visit for entertainment, when we write about news or opinions, or even letters-to-the-editor, we prefer actual newspapers. Our concern is because today’s article appears to have been written for a creationist website, so we had to double-check the source.

It would seem to be from the Advocate, a genuine newspaper based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But the banner above the article says New Orleans Advocate. It appears to be their New Orleans edition, so it’s not a creationist blog, and they have a comments section. The headline that caught our attention is Science law prompts ‘cottage industry’ of liberal hysteria over creationism.

The article was written by Jeff Sadow. described at the end as: “an associate professor of political science at LSU in Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana government.” Wikipedia has a write-up on him, which says he’s a Republican, but it doesn’t even suggest that he’s a creationist. We searched, but we can’t find his name at the Discoveroids’ website. Anyway, you will soon understand our concern. Here are some excerpts from his article in the New Orleans Advocate, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

This past regular session of the Louisiana Legislature was notable for the absence of a troublesome bill, featured in recent legislative sessions, that dealt with how science is taught in public schools. The bill involves issues that may surface this coming year during a review of the state’s science curricula. Throughout Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s second term, Democratic state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, of New Orleans, pushed a bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act passed during Jindal’s first year in office with his blessing.

That was when the warning bells started ringing. Why would Sadow regard a bill to repeal of the Discoveroid-inspired Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) to be “troublesome”? The best we can say is that he’s totally clueless as to its meaning. You’ll soon see why we say that:

The act [the LSEA] says that if requested, the state can assist local education agencies in nurturing a school environment “that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning.” However, the law’s application “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! In the same spirit, the Curmudgeon’s blog article you are now reading shall not be construed to be disrespectful of Professor Sadow or his opinions. Let’s read on:

Even with this crystal-clear language, a cottage industry has sprung up peddling the fantasy that the law encourages teaching creationism in public schools.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Sadow continues:

Peterson’s annual exercise persisted — until this year. With Democrat John Bel Edwards now governor, neither she nor anyone else filed a bill to repeal the act. That’s because the author of the law, former state Sen. Ben Nevers, a Bogalusa Democrat, serves as Edwards’ chief of staff. [Wow — we didn’t know that.] In the past, surely knowing her bill never would make it out of committee, Carter kept trying regardless as an apparent attempt to make Jindal look bad. She has no wish to do the same to Edwards.

This illustrates that it’s not only Republicans who are creationists. Here’s more:

But Peterson’s and others’ opposition to the act should disturb anybody who desires academic excellence in Louisiana education. The law creates a minor incentive for science classrooms to explore important issues and develop critical thinking skills. It also stands as a bulwark against the potential imposition of politically motivated orthodoxy masquerading as science. To oppose the act reveals an intolerance of freedom in academic inquiry — and a willingness to indulge a totalitarian impulse seeking to control information and knowledge.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Sadow looks like a good candidate to become a Discoveroid fellow. Moving along, he finally gets around to the coming re-write of the state’s science standards:

In choosing standards, these panels would do well to emulate the spirit of free inquiry encapsulated in the Louisiana Science Education Act, as scientific inquiry as a whole increasingly becomes threatened by politics.

There’s a little bit more, but that’s pretty much what we found interesting. There’s only one comment so far in the newspaper, and it’s not flattering to Sadow. It’s going to be fun watching developments in Louisiana.

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13 responses to “Louisiana Creationism: A Professor’s Opinion

  1. “…as scientific inquiry as a whole increasingly becomes threatened by politics.” so says Jeff Sadow.

    Threatened by none other than these creationists who hold public office and over and over pass their anti-science bills, in this case at the behest of the Dishonesty Institute.

  2. There’s only one comment so far in the newspaper, and it’s not flattering to Sadow

    That comment, by one Steve Greene, is worth a read: it’s a very good response to Sadow’s maunderings.

  3. michaelfugate

    Why is it only science that needs “academic freedom” and then only certain parts of science?

  4. Sadow is basically a right-wing type and an apologist for right-wing political views. In addition he doesn’t know anything about biology.

  5. A relatively recent book on the subject of politics and religion on science makes for interesting reading:
    “Fool Me Twice – Fighting the Assault on Science in America” by Shawn Otto.

  6. @Realthog: now there are three comments and the two new ones are every letter as good.

  7. mnb0 says: “now there are three comments and the two new ones are every letter as good.”

    Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but those two comments are from readers of this humble blog.

  8. Barbara Forrest

    Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science who makes his living on the public dime at a public university but has a notable antipathy to public institutions. His policy positions are virtuously synonymous with those of the Louisiana Family Forum, which orchestrated the passage of the LA Science Education Act in partnership with the Discovery Institute.

  9. Minions, all of us. Mindless, cookie-cutting automatons of orthodoxy.

  10. Hi, Barbara. Thanks for the input. I assumed you would know something about the guy.

  11. Just wanted to make a shout out to Barbara F. Hope you are doing well. I actually work at LSUS with Sadow (how unfortunate is that!) and have a Ph.D. in genetics. So the next time I see him I’m going to tell him if you don’t know any thing about biology and evolution, then STFU. As you can tell, I don’t suffer fools lightly.

  12. Go easy on him, Biokid. He’s a social scientist.

  13. Barbara Forrest

    Hi, Biokid. I just recently sent in my renewal payment to the Baton Rouge Advocate. I am steamed that my money is helping to pay this guy for his column!