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Retractions file: California Academy of Science Journal published Darwin lobbyist Eugenie Scott’s retraction of false claim (2005)

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While writing “New York Times reports on Darwinist’s article disowned by philosophy journal,” I got the sense there was a similar case way back when that went unheralded.

(Note: Times writer Mark Oppenheimer linked to this blog from his blog, for clarification on the fact that the ID community was not conspiring against Forrest to vindicate Beckwith. He deserves much credit for wanting to know what is going on rather than punching out the usual snooze nooz.)

Suddenly, I remembered. In 2005 California lawyer named Larry Caldwell was active in education issues around teaching Darwinism in publicly funded schools. For example, he tried (but failed) to get some legal action against a university-sponsored Darwin promotion site that fronted Christian Darwinism – on the grounds that telling students which orientations of faith were compatible with Darwinism (and by implication which others were less so or not at all) violated the US Constitution’s Establishment clause. His case never went anywhere*

At any rate, here’s the story: Eugenie Scott, executive direction of Darwin lobby National Center for Science Education, had claimed in California Wild (California Academy of Science) that lawyer Larry Caldwell had submitted clearly unsuitable, religiously oriented textbooks for consideration by the Roseville school board. But he hadn’t. As he wrote,

Scott also falsely claims that I purportedly “offered a stack of supplemental books and videotapes that . . . [included] a young-earth creationist book, Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Safarti; and the Jehovah’s Witness book Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation? Thanks to its free distribution, this book is probably the most widely-circulated creation science book in the country.” 

The truth: I had never even heard of these two books until I read Scott’s article. I never proposed these books, or any other “young-earth creationist,” “creation science,” “creationist,” or ID books or materials for use in the classroom.

As I said in the beginning, Eugenie Scott’s article contains much more science fiction than fact about me and …

Hey, we’ve come to expect that, Mr. Caldwell. Not everyone remembers to put “A Novel” on the cover page when they write in defense of Darwin and against design.

Anyway Scott ended up having to offer a retraction:

Further investigation suggests that the books Refuting Evolution and Life: How Did It Get Here? were submitted to the Roseville school board by other residents, not by Larry Caldwell, and were not considered after submission. 

It goes on. More from Caldwell here.

Update: Even today, in the Forrest-Beckwith-Synthese controversy, some continue to heap abuse on Beckwith and bang the tocsin against Synthese, simply for disassociating themselves from an unscholarly hit piece, . These people conveniently illustrate the difference between “intellectual” and “intelligent”.

*probably because Darwinism is the religion of the United States, in the secular elite’s view, the way Islam is the religion of Iran. The Establishment clause is, in their view, intended to protect Darwinism against rivals or against “atheism” = disbelief in Darwin.

Excellent idea. Even better would be if we could find evidence that at some point in her young life she attended a church. Mung
Maybe we should make a list of all of the misinformation that Scott has spread, and then trot it out whenever she tries to stand up as the spokesperson for science. johnnyb
Yes, Eric at 1, it's typical, but what's unusual was that a retraction had to be made. It takes considerable courage and persistence to go against a lobby and insist on truth, even when one's own good name is at stake. O'Leary
Typical Eugenie Scott and NCSE -- propaganda, rather than facts. Eric Anderson

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