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Expert reports from Selman


After Selman v. Cobb County, the case that challenged the constitutionality of a textbook warning sticker that described evolution as "a theory, not a fact," was remanded to the trial court, the legal team for the plaintiffs recruited three expert witnesses for the possible retrial: McGill University's Brian Alters and Brown University's Kenneth R. Miller, both of whom served as expert witnesses in Kitzmiller v. Dover, as well as NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott. The case was settled, so there will be no need for their testimony. But for anyone curious to know what they would have said, the expert witness statements that they submitted are available in NCSE's resources on the Selman case.

In her statement (PDF), Scott discussed "the nature of science; how the scientific definitions of 'theory' and 'fact' differ from those used among the general public; the history of the creationism/evolution controversy, including the various forms of creationism and the history of antievolution policies (such as 'evidence against evolution' and 'theory not fact' policies) and their relationship to creationism; the history of the creationism/evolution controversy in Georgia and Cobb County; why 'theory not fact' language is inappropriate educational pedagogy; and other topics relating to the teaching of both evolution and creationism."

Miller (a Supporter of NCSE) addressed (PDF) the scientific status of evolution theory, the treatment of evolution in Miller and Levine's Biology (the biology textbook used in Cobb County's high schools), the language of the textbook warning sticker, and the educational impact of the sticker. Miller argued that the sticker "singles out evolution in a way that misrepresents its scientific standing, misleads students as to the nature of science theories, conveys a false sense of certainty with regard to other scientific theories, and serves, as far as I am able to tell, no scientific or educational purpose," and described it as "counter-productive to good science education."

In his statement (PDF), Alters (a member of NCSE's board of directors) summarized, "The effect of the Sticker Policy will be to: (1) engender student misconceptions about evolution and the nature of science, (2) require science teachers to use poor pedagogy, (3) require science teachers to disregard findings of the scientific community, (4) require science teachers to disregard recommendations of their national professional science teacher associations, (5) contradict teachers' professional preparation and professional development, and (6) improperly prepare students for postsecondary science education at secular schools."