Were Scientists Right to Avoid the Kansas Hearings?
Today's New York Times has this entirely conventional article about the aftermath of the Kansas hearings on evolution. Recall that scientists refused to participate in these hearings (rightly, in my opinion) on the grounds that they were so obviously a show trial designed to give cover to the ignorance peddlers who currenlty control the Kansas School Board.
The article follows the usual “duelling quotations” model of journalism, and doesn't contain anything readers of this blog don't already know. Nonetheless, it's short enough to be worth reading:
When the Kansas State Board of Education decided to hold hearings this spring on what the state's schoolchildren should be taught about evolution, Dr. Kenneth R. Miller was invited to testify. Lots of people thought he was a good choice to speak for science.
Dr. Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University, a co-author of widely used high school and college biology texts, an ardent advocate of the teaching of evolution - and a person of faith. In another of his books, "Finding Darwin's God," he not only outlines the scientific failings of creationism and its doctrinal cousin, "intelligent design," but also tells how he reconciles his faith in God with his faith in science.
But Dr. Miller declined to testify. And he was not alone. Mainstream scientists, even those who have long urged researchers to speak with a louder voice in public debates, stayed away from Kansas.
In general, they offered two reasons for the decision: that the outcome of the hearings was a foregone conclusion, and that participating in them would only strengthen the idea in some minds that there was a serious debate in science about the power of the theory of evolution.
“We on the science side of things strong-armed the Kansas hearings because we realized this was not a scientific exchange, it was a political show trial,” said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, which promotes the teaching of evolution. “We are never going to solve it by throwing science at it.”