First, the Discovery Institute didn’t seem to know about the anti-evolution bill introduced in Florida last week. Now, they don’t seem to actually understand what the bill does. Both of these things are quite strange, considering that the Discovery Institute folks actually wrote all of the substantive parts of the bill.
Rob Crowther just devoted most of an article over at the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints Blog to scolding the media for their coverage of the Florida legislation. Apparently, most of the news coverage made the outrageous claim that the “Academic Freedom Act” would actually permit the teaching of “alternative theories” to evolution. Crowther is outraged, claiming that the bill does no such thing. He thinks that the various media outlets have “been fed some ‘smelly crap'” by pro-evolution groups such as Florida Citizens for science. I think it’s because the various media outlets have actually read the bill.
Here’s Crowther’s perspective:
Nowhere does this bill call for allowing any alternative theories to be introduced into the classroom. Neither does it say that teachers should be protected in order to safely be able to present alternatives. Articles stating otherwise are flatly false.
Here’s the introduction to the bill, which he cites in support of his argument:
An act relating to teaching chemical and biological evolution; providing a short title; providing legislative intent; providing public school teachers with a right to present scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical origins; prohibiting a teacher from being discriminated against for presenting such information; prohibiting students from being penalized for subscribing to a particular position on evolution; clarifying that the act does not require any change in state curriculum standards or promote any religious position; providing an effective date.
If the Discovery Institute wishes to claim that Intelligent Design is not “scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical origins,” I would certainly be the last to argue. However, they’ve been claiming just the opposite for years now. They’ve told us, again and again and again that Intelligent Design is scientific, and that Intelligent Design is a better explanation for the diversity of life than evolution. Intelligent Design, Creation Science, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and any other sort of nonsense that a teacher might claim as “scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical origins” would be allowed to be taught if the Discovery Institute’s bill passes.
Either Rob Crowther is dishonestly trying to deceive people about the potential effects of this bill, or he and the other Discovery Institute folks were so incompetent that they didn’t understand what this bill – which they largely wrote – actually would do. I’m not sure which it is, but it’s definitely one or the other.