To the Editor:
Recently passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Science Education Act (Senate Bill No. 733) states that teachers may use, in addition to a standard textbook, “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories” (“Vouchers, Evolution Top Issues in La.,” July 16, 2008). Among topics specifically listed as those a teacher and students may critique are “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
As if in anticipation of this bill and others like it, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute released a “science” supplemental textbook in 2007 called Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism. The book appears to “explore” evolution in order to distort and discredit it, however. Scientific studies of evolutionary causal factors are presented as arguments against “universal common descent.” Either/or thinking is called “an inquiry-based approach to modern evolutionary theory.” “Intelligent design” is not mentioned—it was, after all, determined to be a nonscientific form of creationism in the 2005 Pennsylvania federal court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District—but the content and reasoning are much the same.
Promotional materials for the supplement also are less than forthright. At www.exploreevolution.com, the book’s Web site, one is not told, for example, that all five of its authors have promoted intelligent design for years; that the publisher, Hill House, is known for the creationist perspective of its founder, Bernard d’Abrera; or that the Discovery Institute is distributing the book.
The Teachers’ Press
A version of this article appeared in the July 30, 2008 edition of Education Week as Look Closely at Texts That ‘Explore’ Evolution