Science Academic Freedom

Print Friendly

A diagram of a student asking a teacher what to do with science results that do not fit the evolution mold, teachers says to discard them. The growing undercover effort to get God into biology class

Meet the new creationism-in-sheep’s-clothing: The “academic freedom” bill

By Dana Liebelson | February 19, 2013
This article by Liebelson is against academic freedom. You will find that it is all about creationism. I have added my comments in red type.
Janice VanCleave

By Dana Liebelson | February 19, 2013

Imagine an American public school where science textbooks were obligated to debunk Charles Darwin; where students could deny global warming and still get an A, and where college professors could tell Biology 101 students that the world was born on the back of a giant turtle. Sounds a little backwards for 2013, right?

This is not a fair or even logical description of what an academic freedom bill is designed to do. Unfortunately, evolutionists and global warming advocates have managed to restrict science so that freedom to question is not allowed. Why shouldn’t scientists be able to question global warming or any other idea? Debunking Charles Darwin is not the issue. Instead, every scientists should have the freedom to question everything. 

Frighteningly, these are all real scenarios that could occur under new education bills proposed this year. But the language in most of these bills is so obtuse that you might not even know if you live in one of the six states considering them (Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri, and Indiana).

America, meet the new creationism-in-sheep’s-clothing: The “academic freedom” bill.

America should not have to have an academic freedom bill. We should have this freedom now.

Unlike bills that explicitly require intelligent design and religious curriculums to be taught in schools, academic freedom bills simply permit teachers, schools, and students to explore alternative theories without repercussions. Sounds harmless, right? But Eric Meikle, education project director at the National Center for Science Education, explains that what these bills really do is “open the door for creationist literature.” And in the last few years, the number of these bills has skyrocketed, with 51 proposed since 2004, and twice as many proposed this year than in all of 2012. (Remember, it’s only February).

Thankfully American are waking up and insisting that academic freedom be returned. I am hopeful that Texas will get such a bill introduced and passed this year. 

Academic freedom is part of every subject except science. By not having academic freedom in science, our researchers are forced to discredit and/or ignore research that does not fit into the evolution or global warming predetermined mold. Not being able to explore alternative theories is  archaic and certainly not what one expects today. Not being to explore alternative science theories is what kept science stagnant for about two thousand years during the time it was forbidden to question Aristotle’s theories.

As a science educator, I encourage students to question every theory and even laws. Science is what we know about the world around us and this is limited by the instruments used. Creative thinking and problem solving should include prodding students to always be open to new ideas.  This is what we call “Thinking Outside the Box.”

Needless to say, science teachers aren’t thrilled. “Intelligent design and anti-global warming curriculums harm the general public’s perceptions of science, which can decrease students’ interest in pursuing science careers,” says Kathy Trundle, president of the Association for Science Teacher Education. “In turn, U.S. advancements in science [are] negatively impacted.” Rick Grosberg, an evolution and ecology professor at the University of California at Davis, points out that “the mere act of teaching intelligent design as if it were an alternative scientific explanation confuses students and the public about what science is.”

I am a science educator and science author who has always believed in intelligent design and do not support global warming. While I do not support the idea that one species changed into another species, there are many things about Darwin’s work that I do support. Evolution and the Big Bang Theory or science ideas. By locking every scientist into only reporting information that supports these two theories, retards science advancement. As to confusing students and the public about science, why assume that everyone is stupid. As to teaching intelligent design– I do hope that that this is not part of any school curriculum. Instead, evolution needs to again be a science theory giving possible explanations for why the bones of different species have similarities. Using Carl Sagan’s “Baloney Testing Kit” to determine whether science ideas are real or just baloney, the theory of evolution would be in the baloney list as would creationism. This is because both of these ideas for how everything started takes a “Leap of Faith.”  Everyone should have the freedom to believe that God created everything, thus believing in intelligent design, or believing in The Big Bang/Evolution, which like creation cannot be proved, but does not depend on an intelligent design, instead it just happens. Again, neither creationism nor Evolution can be scientifically proved using Carl Sagan’s Baloney Testing Kit. 

The secret weapon in these bills is the idea that pupils should understand the “strengths and weaknesses” of different scientific theories. Which theories? Well, as a bill proposed by four Republican state senators in Arizona makes clear, that would be “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.” Coincidentally, these are the exact same theories that House Bill 1674 in Oklahoma, proposed by GOP state Rep. Gus Blackwell, considers controversial. His legislation even prevents teachers from flunking students who write papers debunking their textbook material. Seriously.

Of course students should question and understand the “strengths and weaknesses” of any and ALL scientific theories. Specific theories and hypothesis are pointed out because at this time students are forced to read and regurgitate these as if they were absolute truths instead of being ideas accepted by some. Those who do not accept these theories are punished in some way. Because of this, there has to be legal action just to return science education as well as science research back to a time when there was academic freedom.

As a science educator, I would be thrilled if a student wrote papers debunking textbook material. First they would have to understand the text book material and then do much research to find accepted facts to debunk it. WOW! Whether I agreed with the paper or not, I would feel that I had been successful in guiding the student to “think for him/herself” instead of blindly accepted everything printed in a text book. 

Teachers and scientists say they’re all for scientific questioning — when it’s actually about science. “Teaching about the existence of genuine scientific controversy is educationally valuable, but it must be genuine controversy, with serious scientists lining up on both sides,” says Richard Dawkins of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. “Intelligent design is not a scientific theory.” Cornwell also points out that there is no legislation like this in the U.K., and he says it’s a “very sad outcome” for the United States.

All teachers and all scientists do not support forcing students to accept without question any theory that cannot be experimentally demonstrated repeatedly. With global warming, as with the hole in the ozone layer, it will be a thing of the past when a new scare is introduced. Global warming aligns with Agenda 21. Thus, both are dangerous political agendas. I do so hope every student is given the freedom to question every science theory. The US needs to take care of its own education and the UK can do the same. 

For now, it’s not clear how far these efforts will actually go — Montana’s bill was recently tabled in the House Education Committee and the Colorado bill was fully rejected. However, it’s not unheard of for these kinds of bills to pass: Last year Tennessee approved an academic freedom bill, and Louisiana has also passed one.

Rick Brattin, a Republican state representative in Missouri, went so far as to propose a bill late last month that actually requires Missouri public school teachers to devote equal time and space to the teaching of intelligent design, “destiny,” and any other creation theory a teacher might want to rustle up. “I’ve had numerous college professors within biology, school science teachers…who say they are not allowed to teach any type of theory [like intelligent design]…. They are banned from the science community,” he tells The Riverfront Times.

I am not in favor of legislation forcing teachers to teach Creationism or Evolution. At this time, Evolution is being taught as the only idea for creation. I totally disagree with doing this for many reasons, but most important is that this limits science. Why would any scientists want to be so restricted? Why would any scientists want to be forced to accept any idea? Why would any scientists want to have to support evolution to be eligible for grant money? 

The scientists I spoke to aren’t buying it. “I think it makes more sense,” Trundle says, “for scientists to drive the content of science curricula rather than politicians.”

I very much agree that politicians should not drive science education, but since this has happened with evolution and now with the ecology content of Agenda 21, legislation is necessary. The academic freedom bill  is necessary to not only allow students the freedom to question and think outside the box, but scientists will again not be restricted.  



Share Button