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Palin brings creationism debate back into the headlines

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The addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the GOP presidential ticket has brought the creationism-evolution fight back into the news cycle, as voters learn more about her agnostic take on the subject: "Teach both," Palin has said. "You know, don’t be afraid of information."

Observers say creationists are content to dilute the teaching of evolution in schools by offering up "intelligent design" as a theory just as air-tight as Darwin's — or to abolish evolution curricula altogether. Now, a patchwork quilt of teaching requirements is emerging across the country, we show in a new in-depth report.

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal this summer signed a law allowing teachers to introduce materials reflecting the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of concepts including evolution, global warming and cloning. The state education board in Texas will vote in March on new standards that could require schools to show the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution. And Michigan lawmakers are debating vague "academic freedom" bills that have been criticized for failing to state what theories and their merits instructors are supposed to teach.

This chipping-away strategy has found success in the anti-abortion movement, as well. "They have this idea," a spokesman for the National Center for Science Education told ScientificAmerican.com's JR Minkel, "that … anything you can do to knock evolution down actually promotes creationism without having to say the word."
 

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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