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A timely warning from Louisiana

As the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico worsens, a columnist finds it ironic that the state's politicians are now "seeking the brightest minds in science and engineering to help" when they "have built their careers by pandering to large anti-science constituencies in our state." Writing in the Shreveport Times (June 19, 2010), Charles Kincade argues that such pandering "will condemn our students to instruction in junk science and dumb down public school curricula. It already has brought our state national ridicule. And, most importantly, it will, unless changed, render us and future generations unable to deal with future challenges, which will increasingly be more scientific and technical in nature."

Kincade's targets are Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal, who in 2008 supported and signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which opened the door for creationism to be taught in the state's public schools, and Louisiana's junior senator, David Vitter, who in 2007 attempted to earmark $100,000 of federal funds to the Louisiana Family Forum — a religious right group with a long history of promoting creationism and attacking evolution — "to develop a plan to promote better science education." That plan would have involved a study of the Ouachita Parish School Board's antievolution policy, which was adopted with the LFF's support in 2006, and which subsequently provided the basis for the LSEA.

Quoting NCSE's Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott's "The latest face of creationism" (which appeared in the January 2009 issue of Scientific American) as warning that "scientific literacy will be indispensable for workers, consumers, and policymakers in a future dominated by medical, biotechnological, and environmental concerns", Kincade adds, "That future is now. The current Gulf disaster implicates all these concerns. And Jindal's educational policy handicaps future generations' ability to deal with inevitable future crises." He concludes, "unless the anti-science policies of Jindal, Vitter, et al[.] are corrected, and soon, future generations will be unable to function in the modern world."