Friday, July 12, 2013

Science Magazine: Turkish Scientists See Growing Antievolution Bias in Government

In an alarming and growing trend in Turkey, the main Turkish granting agency, The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey has denied a grant to a summer workshop on evolutionary biology. Science Magazine writes:
Now, the organizers are calling this the first open admission of a bias against evolutionary biology by Turkey's conservative government. The government began blocking educational evolution websites in 2011, and recently TÜBİTAK stopped publishing books on evolution, a decision it claimed was based on copyright issues.
The longer article is here.  In it, the ruling organization is quoted as saying the denial was based on objective peer-review.  The decision to stop publishing books on evolutionary biology because of copyright issues is a smokescreen. The government has been leaning toward creationism for some time and, when he was not in prison, Turkey's chief creationist, Adnan Oktar (neé Harun Yahya) enjoyed remarkable popularity. Four years ago, the Washington Post alerted the western world to this problem. At the time, Marc Kaufman wrote:
The Islamic anti-evolution campaign is taking place in Turkey, and not Egypt or Saudi Arabia, because it is the Muslim nation where evolution has been taken most seriously. Like the Bible, the Koran says that God created the Earth and everything on it, and in many Muslim nations that ends the discussion. But Turkey, which is officially secular, appears to be joining its Muslim neighbors on evolution. A recent survey, quoted in a 2008 article in the American journal Science, found that fewer than 25 percent of Turks accepted evolution as an explanation of how modern life came to be -- by far the lowest percentage of any developed nation. In a year in which conferences worldwide are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and his contribution to science, the battle against Darwinian thinking in Turkey has become something of a rout, even among aspiring science teachers.
It appears that the problem is increasing. In a sense, Turkey has it worse than the United States because the problem in the U.S. is largely the work of private organizations (AiG, ICR and the like) and in the local school boards and state legislatures. Where there are legal challenges, they are all one-sided. Creationists and ID supporters typically get their clocks cleaned. In Turkey, however, the ruling, central, Islamic government is supporting creationism. Anyone not supporting the government can get marginalized (or worse) simply on ideological grounds.

Hat tip to the Panda's Thumb

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