Creationism Skirmish

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 47
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.47b

In the face of a libel suit, the head of an organization that tracks the ongoing battle over teaching Darwin in schools has agreed to publicly acknowledge errors in a recent article.

This spring, Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) in Oakland, California, published an article in California Wild, the magazine of the California Academy of Sciences, mentioning that lawyer Larry Caldwell had proposed the names of two creationist books to his local school board and quoting a scientist accusing him of “gross misunderstanding” of science.

In April, Caldwell slapped Scott and the center with a libel suit. Although it does not mention the magazine, editor Keith Howell agreed to remove the online link to Scott's article and to publish a letter from Caldwell as well as a mea culpa from Scott. The latter acknowledges that Caldwell did not introduce the two books, and that the comment about misunderstanding science referred to someone else.

“I think there's a danger in lumping everyone in one category,” says Caldwell, complaining that NCSE has in the past wrongly labeled him a “creationist activist.” Caldwell says he believes in intelligent design.

Scott says she stopped calling Caldwell a creationist after he objected. She points to the suit as contributing to “an absolute explosion” of evolution-related “flare-ups” in state or local education systems. NCSE has counted 71 in 33 states so far this year, compared to a past annual average of between 50 and 60.

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