Nature on the spate of antiscience bills

05.12.2017

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With the 2017 legislative season nearing its end, Nature (May 12, 2017) turned to consider the year's spate of antiscience bills. 

"State ... legislatures in the United States are experimenting with new ways to target the topics taught in science classes, and it seems to be paying dividends," the story observed, citing the passage of Florida's House Bill 989, Alabama's House Joint Resolution 78, and Indiana's Senate Resolution 17.

The Florida bill is aimed at empowering taxpayers to object to the use of specific instructional materials in the public schools. NCSE's Glenn Branch told Nature, "The people pushing the bill have been complaining about evolution and climate change, adding, "It's obvious that a strong motivation is getting that out of the textbooks."

The resolutions adopted in Alabama and Idaho have no legal force, unlike failed bills in 2017 in Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas, the story acknowledged. But by misrepresenting evolution and climate change as scientifically controversial, Branch contended, they encourage teachers to miseducate students.

Why the spate of antiscience bills? "It could be due to renewed anti-evolution and anti-climate change sentiment; confidence that a country led by US president Donald Trump — who has expressed doubts about climate change — is more hospitable to such views; or an increase in climate-change denial." Or it could be a statistical anomaly.

The article concluded by quoting Branch again: "The opponents of science education may feel newly invigorated — but so do its defenders."