Yay! That awful “academic freedom” bill designed to allow the teaching of antievolution and global warming denial in Colorado schools has been sent to an early, and well-deserved, grave. This isn’t unexpected, given the House Appropriations Committee has a majority of democratic members; the bill was sponsored entirely by Republicans. Still, it’s a relief.
The bill would have "encouraged teachers to misrepresent the scientific staus of evolution and climate change", as the National Center for Science Education so aptly phrased it. To be clear, science is based on the idea of questioning its findings—that’s how we learn, and how science grows stronger. But those questions must be fair, and must be evidence-based, and should ideas be overturned, the new ones must have even stronger evidence than what they replace.
That was never the intent of this bill. It was proposed by conservative religious legislators who deny the science of evolution and global warming, simply trying to introduce baseless doubt into students’ minds. This has long been the strategy of creationists, who have suffered a string of legislative defeats in recent years. That’s why we even have “Intelligent Design” in the first place; it was an attempt to circumvent laws making it illegal to endorse religion in the classroom. Never forget that; it was an important part of the Kitzmiller case, perhaps the most humiliating defeat for the forces of antiscience.
I’ll note that NCSE reports that the ironically named Discovery Institute—the leading font of Intelligent Design nonsense—claims it helped draft the bill, and testified to support it. Appearing against the bill? Why, only the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Education Association, and the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education.
Huh. How about that?
I won’t shed a tear over the Discovery Institute losing yet another case, though it ought to be schadenfreudingly interesting to see how they react, given their reality-challenged recent rant about me. I leave it to the reader to count up the number of misleading statements and logical fallacies in that article. Better have a calculator handy. This article by the Sensuous Curmudgeon may help.
Anyway, my thanks to the reality-based legislators who killed this awful piece of nonsense, and to everyone who took the time to contact their legislators and tell them what they thought.
It’s vitally important that we make our voices heard to our lawmakers, especially when it comes to politics that make us worse as a nation, not better. Colorado children now have a better chance of learning what real science is, and not some strawman version of it forced upon them.
…and for those of you who live in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, and Texas, the fight continues.
Tip o’ the Piltdown tooth to Alex Shuffell for the link to the Sensuous Curmudgeon posts.