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Antiscience bill passes the Oklahoma House

Oklahoma's House Bill 1674 (PDF), which would, if enacted, deprive administrators of the ability to prevent teachers from miseducating students about "scientific controversies," passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 79-6 vote on March 3, 2014. 

HB 1674 would, if enacted, require state and local educational authorities to "assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies" and permit teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught," prohibiting administrators from interfering.

As introduced (PDF) in February 2013, the bill specifically mentioned "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" as subjects which "some teachers may be unsure" about how to teach. Later, in February 2014, Gus Blackwell (R-District 61), a sponsor of HB 1674 along with Sally Kern (R-District 81), Arthur Hulbert (R-District 14), and Josh Brecheen in the Senate (R-District 61), amended the bill to omit the specific details.

Responding to a previous incarnation of the bill, House Bill 1551 in 2011, the American Association for the Advancement of Science's chief executive officer Alan I. Leshner wrote, "There is virtually no scientific controversy among the overwhelming majority of researchers on the core facts of global warming and evolution," adding, "asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them."

HB 1674 is now presumably bound for the Senate Education Committee, which allowed a similar antiscience bill, Senate Bill 1765, to die without a hearing in February 2014. The Senate would have to approve the bill by April 24, 2014, for it to become law.