March 23, 2012, 2:17 pm
The Tennessee Monkey Bill
By ANDREW ROSENTHAL
The Tennessee Senate approved legislation this week that some are calling a “monkey bill” — after the Scopes Monkey Trial, which also took place in Tennessee. In fairness to the state, it’s not quite that bad.
In the 1925 Monkey Trial, John Scopes was accused of violating the Butler Act, which made it illegal to teach evolution in a public school. (He was found guilty.) The 2012 Monkey Bill, tame by comparison, merely guarantees that teachers will not be disciplined for “critiquing” the “weaknesses” of scientific theories “such as evolution and global warming.” It also requires school administrators to “assist teachers” in finding “effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.”
Tennesseans who are members of the National Academy of Science have said the bill will lead to “unwarranted criticisms of evolution.” The National Association of Biology Teachers concurs. The group sent a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam arguing that “concepts like evolution and climate change should not be misrepresented as controversial or needing of special evaluation.”
The difference between the Butler Act and this new legislation encapsulates the change in the anti-science crowd’s strategy, from outright bans on disseminating factual information to fake controversy and false equivalencies. They’re learned to manufacture doubt and pretend it invalidates scientific consensus. It’s a surprisingly effective tactic.
–New York Times
Of course, no theory is ever certain in science.