Friday, February 24, 2006


Discovery Institute Dumbs Down Holt Biology Text

"High school biology students in Broward County will use a textbook next year that watered-down passages about Charles Darwin and evolution theory," according to Chris Kahn of the Sun Sentinel.

"Science teachers picked Florida Holt Biology this month in a countywide vote, favoring it over another book that discussed the controversial idea of intelligent design...

It gets worse...

But publisher Holt, Rinehart and Winston did edit several sections at the request of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that has peddled intelligent design around the country for years.

The group has made a point of attacking "gaps" in Darwin's theory, lobbying textbook companies to give equal time to experiments that suggest species don't change over time as he predicted.

It focused on Holt's biology book in 2003 when the publisher tried to get it approved for Texas schools. The publisher agreed to make numerous changes, which in some cases were simple clarifications about historical experiments.

But Holt also added one section that introduced students to the "Cambrian explosion," a period in early earth's history that suggests species aren't the result of gradual change over time, as Darwin thought.

"That was a key change," Discovery Institute spokesman John West said. "We want to keep the textbooks honest."

The Texas edits now have wound up in Holt textbooks for other states, including Florida.

RSR would like to know exactly how the Holt textbook introduces students to the Cambrian Explosion -- does it, for example, lapse into discredited ID pseudoscience in this area. Does the textbook, in fact, teach intelligent design under the guise of "teaching the controversy?"

The Texas edition has already been around for awhile. But, following Dover and Ohio, the political context has changed. Do these revisions open up Broward County schools to a suit? We don't know, but we'd certainly like to hear what supporters of science education in Florida or Texas think.

Do any RSR readers have access to the textbook in question? We'd like to see citations from the text, if readers have access to them.


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