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posted 19. April 2006 12:47
Source: PLoS Biology
Scientific Illiteracy and the Partisan Takeover of Biology
Liza Gross is Science Writer for the Public Library of Science. E-mail: email@example.com
Americans have long been ambivalent about science. Conflicting attitudes toward science are not uncommon among industrialized countries—Canadians, Europeans, and Japanese, for example, also appreciate the benefits of science but worry about potential impacts on society. What sets Americans apart is that their reservations center primarily around religion. And now, as the United States struggles to maintain its undisputed position as world leader in science and technology, religious ideology has spilled over into the public sphere to a degree unmatched in other industrialized societies. Religious groups are turning scientific matters like stem cells and evolution into political issues.
“The age of nonpartisan science is gone.”
The era of nonpartisan science is gone, says Miller, who urges scientists and science educators to learn the rules of this new game and get behind moderate Republicans as well as Democrats to protect the practice and teaching of sound science. Given the partisan attack on evolution and stem-cell research, he thinks scientists need to learn more about how the political process works. They need to be willing to run for the school board, write $500 or even $5,000 checks to support moderate candidates, and defeat Christian right-wing candidates. “Scientists need to become involved in partisan politics and to oppose candidates who reject evolution or attack scientific research,” he says. “It takes time, money, and paying attention to the issues.”
Paragraphs 2 and 3 from the Eugenie Scott/NCSE Expose
“What that has meant is that for the first time in many states, school districts are faced with the prospect of needing to teach evolution,” Scott said. And they must do so by the end of 2007. Ironically, this mandate comes from President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, enacted in 2002. The law effectively links annual student assessments to curriculum standards, which means that if a requirement is in the standards, it must be taught. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, the schools where Bush's fundamentalist constituents send their kids are now teaching evolution, in many cases for the first time. The result? “If you don't want evolution to be taught, you need to attack the standards,” Scott said.
And the attacks have come fast and furious, often following a similar pattern. “First, they will try to get evolution out,” she said. When that fails, they try to get “intelligent design” in. When that fails, they try to get some form of “evidence against evolution” taught, including “teach the controversy.” When anti-evolution groups say “teach the controversy,” Scott wryly pointed out, “they don't mean teach the controversy over whether birds descended from dinosaurs. They're not saying teach the controversy over sympatric and allopatric speciation. They're saying teach the controversy as if scientists are arguing about whether living things descended with modification from common ancestors.”
Read the entire article at PLoS Biology
Copyright: © 2006 Liza Gross. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Citation: Gross L (2006) Scientific Illiteracy and the Partisan Takeover of Biology. PLoS Biol 4(5): e167