Thursday, February 03, 2005

A Big Part of the Problem...

The Capital Times, a progressive newspaper in Wisconsin, published this column recently. In it, retired botany professor Hugh Wiltis, of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, weighed in on the attempts to teach creationism in science classes:


Total lunacy. Embarrassing. A step back into the Dark Ages.

Those are just a few of the things Hugh Iltis had to say this week about the decision a few months ago by the Grantsburg School Board in northwestern Wisconsin to teach creationism in tandem with evolution in its schools.

“It's just an outrage,” says Iltis, the esteemed and still feisty - at age 79 - professor emeritus of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who was one of several readers to respond to a recent column I did on the subject.

“And it's largely due to ignorance, to a generation of people who don't understand evolution and are scared to death about the world we're seeing now,” he says. “Families are breaking apart, there's war everywhere. And so people hook onto the Bible and say that's the answer.”


Actually, though, it was this later excerpt that really caught my eye:


But Iltis notes that there's been no statement from Elizabeth Burmaster, state superintendent of schools in Wisconsin, condemning the board's action. That's especially troubling, he says, considering that Wisconsin got a D for its teaching of evolution in a report several years ago by a professor at California State University at Long Beach. (Minnesota and Michigan got B's.)

Neither, he says, has there been any public criticism from his science colleagues at UW-Madison. And there's been only a smattering of letters in local papers attacking the School Board's action.

The fact that nobody at UW-Madison has issued a statement is both disappointing and baffling, Iltis says, because he knows a number of professors there who feel as passionately about the issue as he does.

Unfortunately, “they don't like to get in the public arena and fight about it.”


Sadly, this is all too true.

It's important to realize in this reagrd that many of the most active promoters of ID are people who effectively make their living from promoting ID. For the scientists who go about fighting them it is a major distraction from their actual work. To have to take time away from research and teaching to go argue with lying ignoramuses is rather galling, to say the least.

But the fight must be undertaken nonetheless.

11 Comments:

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

Glad I found this blog (via a CSICOP e-mail). I will put a link to your blog on mine, socraticgadfly.blogspot.com.
Steve

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger stopitplease said...

I couldn't agree more. I wonder why tenured faculty aren't doing more? They don't have the publishing pressures of junior faculty – does it even matter to them? There needs to be a more concerted and coordinated effort to block these decisions (now overturn them) and we also need to stop bitching about how stupid these hicks are – stating the obvious doesn't go very far. Anyway, I wonder what the NCSE is planning on this front.

 
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Those are just a few of the things Hugh Iltis had to say this week about the decision.

 
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