Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Meanwhile, In Tennessee...

Lauri Lebo has a piece in Scientific American on the “academic freedom” bills that have popped up and sheds a spotlight on one that has just come to light in my back yard—Tennessee. She writes:
The home state of the Scopes Trial is now on the verge of adopting the "strengths and weakness" language with the February 8 introduction of House Bill 368 (pdf). A week later, its identical counterpart, SB 893, was introduced in the senate. Whereas similar bills in Oklahoma and New Mexico have already perished in committee this year, observers are watching Tennessee's developments warily.

"The fact that it's moving so quickly is a matter of concern," says Josh Rosenau, a spokesperson for the National Center for Science Education, a watchdog organization that monitors attacks on classroom teaching of evolution. "There appears to be some momentum behind it, which suggests it could pass."
So where does this bill come from?:
"…[T]oday's evolutionary scientists have become the modern-day equivalents of those who tried to silence Rhea County schoolteacher John Scopes for teaching evolution in 1925, by limiting even an objective discussion of the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory," David Fowler, head of the Family Action Council of Tennessee and chief lobbyist behind Tennessee's proposed anti-evolution bill, wrote recently in an op–ed in the Chattanoogan.
One can almost see the hand labeled “Discovery Institute” up the back of his shirt making his mouth move. All of the supporters of these bills say the same thing: that they want to inject critical thinking into science. The problem is that they do not give a rip about the rest of the scientific enterprise. Chemistry? Physics? Geology? Not important. The entire focus is on evolution. They want it gone and they do not care how they go about it.

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