Exhibit 1: Letter by 6 Nobel laureates et al. to all 50 governors of the United States — go here.
Exhibit 2: DEFCON’S top 10 Places Where Science Education is Under Threat — go here.
As these exhibits indicate, the other side is pulling out all the stops. It makes you wonder whether they’ve got something to lose.
Here’s a comment by a friend and colleague on the letter to the 50 governors, specifically with reference to Kansas (note that the first signatory on the letter was Bruce Alberts):
It is ironic that this letter is addressed to state governors. In
Kansas, the Kansas State Board of Education invited the testimony of
scientists such as Dr. Alberts. He had the chance then to speak to
the people of Kansas — including its governor — and to the governors
of all other states. And so too did all the other scientists who
signed this letter. The Kansas State Board is provided for in the
Kansas Constitution. Pursuant to the Kansas Constitution, the
legislature and governor of Kansas established the Board. The people
of Kansas elect its members. When a constitutional body, comprised of
the people’s elected representatives, and charged with supervision of
the state public schools, asks the proponents of a theory that is
taught in those schools to come and testify and submit to
cross-examination, the proponents owe it to the people of the state to
come and give that testimony. It is a matter of respect to the people
who bore the children who are being taught that theory in the schools
the people pay for. They should have testified. They didn’t.
Instead, they put their energy into publicity campaigns like this
letter, like this phone call. The way they are conducting themselves
is not science, it is public relations. The people deserve better
from them than these public relations gambits. If these signatories
are so interested in talking to the elected officials of the 50
states, will they submit to questioning by counsel — the kind of
persistent questioning characteristic of the depositions that go on by
the tens of thousands every year in America in lawsuits and
investigations? Billions of dollars are spent teaching their theory
to every school child in America. They owe it to America to answer
the questions in such a format.
Nobel Laureates Urge Governors on Teaching Evolution in School
2005-09-29 13:19 (New York)
By Paul Basken
Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) — Six Nobel laureates joined some 200
scientific and religious leaders in urging all 50 U.S. state
governors to insist that their schools teach evolution and oppose
religiously inspired alternatives.
The Nobel laureates — Peter Agre, Paul Berg, Mike Bishop,
GÃƒÂ¼nter Blobel, H. Robert Horvitz and Harold Varmus — sent a
letter to the governors warning that moves to teach “intelligent
design” could leave U.S. students further behind their peers
abroad, harming U.S. economic competitiveness.
“We certainly will not be able to close this gap if we
substitute ideology for fact in our science classrooms,” the
group of about 100 scientists and 100 clergy wrote.
The letter was coordinated by an advocacy group known as
DefCon: The Campaign to Defend the Constitution, which is
fighting what it calls a rising threat of religious-based
influence over public school curricula.
The effort was criticized by defenders of alternatives to
evolution, such as the theory of “intelligent design,” as an
attempt by a scientific elite to quash dissent.
“It’s an endless, endless process of peer pressure,” said
Edward Sisson, an attorney with the Arnold & Porter law firm who
assisted the Kansas Board of Education in adding intelligent
design to its science curriculum. “It is just not believable
that everything happened by chance” in human cell development,
A court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is currently hearing
the first case designed to test whether public schools can teach
intelligent design, the belief that living organisms are so
complex they must have been designed by a higher intelligence.
The plaintiffs said the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania,
threatened to fire high school science teachers who declined to
give creationism equal weight with evolution.
Other cases include a school district in Cobb County,
Georgia, seeking the right to put stickers on textbooks
questioning the validity of evolution, and a group of Christian
schools trying to force the University of California to give
applicants credit for taking high school courses that teach
A poll by nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People &
the Press in July found 64 percent of the U.S. public favor
teaching creationism or “intelligent design” in public schools
along with evolution. Yet respondents, by a margin of 49 percent
to 38 percent, opposed teaching creationism instead of evolution.
DefCon: The Campaign To Defend the Constitution is a project
of the San Francisco-based Tides Center, a group of non-profit
support organizations. Its advisory board includes Varmus,
president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New
York and former head of the National Institutes of Health, as
well as Ira Glasser, former executive director of the American
Civil Liberties Union.
The group also issued a separate report today identifying 10
“Islands of Ignorance” — U.S. states and communities where it
said science-based education is threatened.
Along with the Pennsylvania and Georgia cases, the report
cites the November 2004 victory by “anti-evolutionists” in
taking control of the state board in Kansas, and a vote last year
by the Ohio State Board of Education requiring students to
critically study “evolutionary theory.” It described similar
actions in Florida, South Carolina, Utah, Alabama, Wisconsin and
“We do not oppose exposing our children to philosophical
and spiritual discussion around the origin and meaning of life,”
the scientific and religious leaders said in their letter to the
50 governors. “There are appropriate venues for such discussion
— but not in the context of teaching science in a public school