Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Scientists Right to Boycott Evolution Hearings

Writing for the or the editorial board of the Wichita Eagle, Randy Scholfield says:

What if the State Board of Education held evolution hearings and no scientists showed up?

A boycott of the hearings now appears likely -- and it's understandable if scientists stay away in droves.

Simply put, the hearings have no credibility.

Kansas Citizens for Science called for a boycott earlier this month, saying scientists shouldn't participate in a "rigged hearing where non-scientists will appear to sit in judgment and find science lacking."

Mainstream scientists seem to have reached a similar conclusion: This is a show trial.

"We're not getting any takers," said Diane DeBacker of the Kansas Department of Education staff, which is helping organize the May hearings. She said they've contacted the 10 scientists who submitted peer reviews of the "minority report" of the standards committee. They've also contacted all six Kansas regents universities.

No takers.

They've gone national, too, with similarly dismal results.

It's not hard to understand scientists' reluctance.

The format of the hearings --"experts" debating for and against evolution -- suggests a rough equivalence of legitimacy that simply doesn't exist.

And what about credentials? What kind of standard will there be for ID witnesses? A science Ph.D.? Significant publications on evolution in mainstream science journals?

As Steve Case, co-chair of the BOE science writing committee said in opposing the hearings, "This kind of forum has nothing in common with the way the science community advances scientific understanding."

Besides, the three creationist BOE members presiding over the hearings appear to have already made up their minds. So what's the point?

The hearings serve no purpose other than to provide political cover for these board members, who know they must give at least the appearance of academic rigor and legitimacy to their anti-science crusade.

The scientific community shouldn't give them that cover.


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