With the legal controversies in Dover and Cobb County raging, the media is taking notice and publishing lots of articles and op-eds about it. Time magazine has weighed in with an article entitled Stealth Attack on Evolution that traces some of the history of attempts to weaken the teaching of evolution by religious groups who object to it. The New York Times published an editorial yesterday that also looks at the changing tactics of the anti-evolution movement over the years. They also sum up quite well the problems with the Cobb County disclaimer sticker and the selective application of the need for critical thinking:
Although the board clearly thought this was a reasonable compromise, and many readers might think it unexceptional, it is actually an insidious effort to undermine the science curriculum. The first sentence sounds like a warning to parents that the film they are about to watch with their children contains pornography. Evolution is so awful that the reader must be warned that it is discussed inside the textbook. The second sentence makes it sound as though evolution is little more than a hunch, the popular understanding of the word "theory," whereas theories in science are carefully constructed frameworks for understanding a vast array of facts. The National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific organization, has declared evolution "one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have" and says it is supported by an overwhelming scientific consensus.
The third sentence, urging that evolution be studied carefully and critically, seems like a fine idea. The only problem is, it singles out evolution as the only subject so shaky it needs critical judgment. Every subject in the curriculum should be studied carefully and critically. Indeed, the interpretations taught in history, economics, sociology, political science, literature and other fields of study are far less grounded in fact and professional consensus than is evolutionary biology.
The Washington Post also wrote an editorial exposing the new anti-evolution tactics for what they are.