“No Politics In Science Class In Louisiana,” 75 Nobel Laureates Plead

As a general rule, scientists prefer to stay out of politics. Again, I say, it’s a general rule. It may not even be generally true anymore, though it was pretty rare even ten years ago for any group of scientists to endorse almost any political position beyond “fund my field of research,” a very limited sort of lobbying usually limited to grant applications.

But Louisiana’s recent “Science Education Act” is so frankly awful that 75 Nobel Laureates have committed their names to the cause of getting it repealed. Senator Karen Carter Peters’ Senate Bill 374 is intended to do just that. According to their press release, which is found on the Repeal Creationism website, these scientists actually represent some 40 percent of living Nobel Prize winners in the sciences (i.e., from the categories physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine).

The Louisiana Science Education Act was widely criticized by both educators and working scientists when it was first introduced in 2008, but passed anyway. Critics say one of its major offenses towards state science standards has been its attempts to undermine evolutionary theory in favour of coddling creationist thinking and fundamentalist religious sensibilities.

Though the scientific explanation for the history and origins of life on Earth is a sore point for some people, the simple, observed fact of inherited genetic change in populations cannot be considered a matter of political orientation or opinion. As just one example, rapid evolutionary change in bacteria and viruses, due to their short generation times, is highly relevant to epedemiology and human health, and an inability for doctors, scientists, and health experts to understand the process could be incredibly dangerous.

Besides the aforementioned signees, several other individuals and organizations have endorsed Bill 374. They include the city of New Orleans (their city council voted unanimously for the repeal), several Louisiana science and biology teachers’ organizations, and more than a half dozen national science organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Furthermore, the Clergy Letter Project, an organization of religious leaders and scientists with over 14,000 members, has supported the bill to repeal the Science Education Act. These individuals want legislators and their fellow citizens to know that their faith is not at odds with science, and anti-science politicos who cite religious conviction as a rationalization for attacks on science education do not speak for them.

The bill should be open for debate at the legislative session opening on Monday. This will be the second attempt to repeal the bill after a 2011 effort failed.

Related stories:

Failing Grades in Science Standards for US Schools

13 Percent of Biology Teachers Teach Creationism

Climate Change Deniers Set School Policy, Forecast Weather

Photo credit: Eugene van der Pijll via Wikimedia Commons


JAMES HOLLEY3 years ago

When I was working on my history degree we were required to read at least two versions of "what really happened." Some of the books I researched were in the college archives and were over a thousand years old. When I was working on my psychology degree, we were required to read the pros and cons of all personality theories.

I don't have a problem with leaving religion out of the classroom, the school, and politics. The only way to protect any type of spiritual belief system, (i.e., death survival belief system) is by protecting all of them, that's a given, period.

However, the problem I have had with evolution in the classroom (and this includes my anthropology classes at UH) is that only one side of the story is given. The anti-human serum test indicates that chimpanzees are more human than humans. The decrease in the number of toes in the horse's evolution supports evolution but the fluxuation in the number of ribs doesn't. On a geology field trip (I was in the geology club and went on several trips) the instructors used circular reasoning to indicate the age of the fossils that we were looking at.

JAMES HOLLEY3 years ago

Folks, there are anomolies, mysteries and unsolved riddles in the evolutionary picture that they don't have answers to and as long as they cling to their doctrine like Golum's Precious, forward education will be hindered. Science only moves forward when people are open to new discoveries and are willing to restructure their theories. That's the way it is in history, that's the way it is in psychology, and that's the way that it is supposed to be in the sciences, however, evolutionists and isolationists just will not entertain the possibility of their being any errors in their precious theories, AND THAT IS WHAT SHUTS DOWN SCIENCE, THIER NARROW MINDED REFUSAL TO LEARN!! Religion is not the problem folks, take religion out of the classroom and the problem will still be there.

Evolutionary scientists need to stop worrying about religious fundamentalists and get back to worrying about why their theories are so full of holes. Actually, I think the evolutionists are directing an inordinate amount of attention in the direction of people’s death survival belief systems just to keep the layman from noticing the inconsistencies in their own, i.e., evolutionary scientists’, theories (by the way, one evolutionary scientist at Rice University told me that there will be NO bananas 80 years from now… honestly, having heard that, do you really still believe everything they tell you?).

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago

I'm glad so many scientist are getting involved in this fight. Louisiana has to come out of the dark ages for the sake of the next generation.

Christine Stewart

Schools should stick to science- let church babble about creationism all they want.

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.4 years ago

Whoops, spoke too soon and just looked down the thread, lol.

Never mind!

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N.4 years ago

Lol, Pam W., I think Frank was being facetious.

A religious nut would NEVER want OTHER religions having equal time, just whatever their particular 'right' version was.

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Frank...have you actually READ this thread? We're talking about science classes here...

S C I E N C E....not religious mythology.

Kids don't get to "decide" which scientific theories they like or don't like. Do you not see that?

If someone wants to offer comparative religion to a college curriculum....that's different. But nobody should EVER attempt to insert their religious myths into a SCIENCE class.

No WONDER we're lagging behind the rest of the world! What's next? MITHRA? ZEUS? HATHOR? And how they created the world?

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline4 years ago

@ Pam W: Hell yes, let's teach creationism and let the kids decide. Teach ALL the different versions from all the different religions and let the kids decide which religion's creation and probably which religion is the best!

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline4 years ago

@ Sherrie B: "There are already plenty of scientists and religious scholars out there doing that very thing"

Really? can you tell us who they are and what peer reviewed papers they've published? Before you go and tell me there's a thing against evangelicals and publishing research, Let me introduce you to several doctors:

Dr. Ken Miller

Dr. Francis Collins

They are religious and they get tons published

"Paul Davies has some wonderful books on the subject of intelligent design"

And Erich Van Daniken has really good books on alien life, advanced ET, in "Chariot's of the Gods" and others have books like "Communion". Books mean squat, research and peer reviewed papers are what real science uses

pam w.
pam w.4 years ago

Diana E.F...."Let them teach creationism all they like - the facts are out there.

+++++++++++++++++++ HELL, NO! Keep their religious magical stories out of my children's science classes! If they want to insist on mythology in science class...let's talk about Zeus, Hera and Mithra! Oh...and don't forget the Ainu giant sea turtle..

Imagine it? We live in a nation where people want to make their children more stupid!