The Extremist Christian community has been screaming about the teaching of evolution in schools as if it were still a controversial issue, and there has been a concerted attempt to turn accepted scientific principles into mere matters of opinion which can be debated in a “he said, she said” format.

Scientific American wrote a beautiful editorial on this topic in their April 2005 edition. Here’s a link to the entire article (from the comments section of this diary crossposted at DailyKos.)  

Okay, We Give Up

. . . In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided.  For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies.  True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

More below. . . .

Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon?  Blame the scientists.  They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles.  As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Good journalism values balance above all else.  We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.  Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do.  Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction.  To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong.

Pretty sharp comments on the roll-over-and-play-dead position that journalists have adopted.  Why aren’t there more honest magazines standing up and fighting back against the bullying techniques of the Christian extremists?  Their basic strategy is to do to science what they have done to journalism:  to turn it into a fact-free zone where every opinion, no matter how ludicrous and ill-supported, deserves equal time.  

This method of discourse has not served journalism well, and it makes no sense in a science classroom or a research institution.

Hats off to Scientific American for stating the obvious truth.  We need to pressure other media outlets to present these scientific debates accurately, and to show these fringe groups as they are:  idealogues trying to undermine scientific reasoning in support of predetermined religious beliefs.

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