May 21, 2017 | Jerry Bergman

Leading Scientists Now Support Censorship

Pro-evolution scientists argue against bills designed to protect the academic freedom of teachers.

by Dr. Jerry Bergman

An article was printed in a May 12, 2017 issue of Scientific American, titled “Revamped ‘Anti-Science’ Education Bills in U.S. Find Success: Legislation urges educators to ‘teach the controversy’ and allows citizens to challenge curricula.”  The article attempted to argue against bills designed to protect the academic freedom of teachers. [1]

The article reviewed the various State and local legislatures attempts to deal with censorship problems in public schools. So far two states have approved legislation this year allowing “teachers to embrace ‘academic freedom’ and present the full spectrum of views on evolution and climate change.” Called academic freedom bills, so far three have become law in the past: in Mississippi in 2006, Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012. At least eleven similar bills have been proposed this year in the United States.

One, the Florida legislation, is much broader. It enables residents to file complaints about the curriculum against the schools in their district. The complaint could lead to a public hearing to determine if the material at issue is “accurate, balanced, non-inflammatory, current … and suited to students’ needs.” Obviously, these categories are all somewhat vague, but at least will trigger some discussion and needed parental involvement in the government schools.

“we didn’t target any one subject matter” —a Florida state representative

Not surprising, the anti-creation Scientific American article was very critical of all such bills. The writer relied on Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) whose main goal is to insure only the Darwinian side is presented in government schools and information against this worldview is censored.

State Representative Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida District 80, who sponsored the bill, said it was developed to support parents who are concerned about what their children are learning in public schools. He believes one reason why it passed “is that we didn’t target any one subject matter.” Mr. Branch opposed the bill because, he claims “The people pushing the bill have been complaining about evolution and climate change,” thus he thinks the bill could end up allowing critical evaluation of Darwinism in the schools, something he is dead set against.

The NCSE, Florida teachers’ organizations and some local school boards have requested that Governor Rick Scott veto the bill.  The bill’s opponents admit that a veto doesn’t seem likely, given Scott’s beliefs. Branch calls this bill, which is designed to stop censorship of evidence against Darwinism, the “back-door approach to altering science education by means of broader academic censorship.” How it will cause censorship, he does not say. Branch opines that these bills now seem more likely to pass this year “due to renewed anti-evolution and anti-climate change sentiment; confidence that a country led by U.S. President Donald Trump …. is more hospitable to such views.”

Branch concluded their side has not lost because the bills cut both ways. “The opponents of science education may feel newly invigorated — but so do its defenders.”

Note that Branch calls academic-freedom bills designed to protect the freedom of teachers who have to deal with navigating the evolution controversy “opponents of science” when it is teachers who endeavor to cover these controversial topics objectively who are often suppressed, censored or fired. [2]

1. Erin Ross. May 15, 2017. “Revamped ‘Anti-Science’ Education Bills in U.S. Find Success. Scientific American, May 15, 2017.

2. See Jerry Bergman Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters. Revised version 2012. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press; Silencing the Darwin Skeptics. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press. 2016 and Censoring the Darwin Skeptics. 2017. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.

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