CREATIONISM AT THE GRAND CANYON

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Science  12 Jan 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5809, pp. 167
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5809.167b

A government watchdog group is still fretting about the fact that there's a creationist book in the Grand Canyon's bookstore.

Three years ago, seven scientific groups wrote the National Park Service (NPS) asking that the bookstore remove The Grand Canyon: A Different View, by Tom Vail, which claims the canyon was formed about 4500 years ago, from its science bookshelf (Science, 16 January 2004, p. 308). In response, NPS geologists reviewed the book and concluded that it should not be sold at all. NPS officials compromised, moving the book to the store's “inspirational” section.

The Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) maintains that this still violates NPS policies that all materials available to the public “should be of the highest accuracy and have undergone peer review,” says its executive director, Jeff Ruch. On 28 December 2006, PEER wrote NPS Director Mary Bomar to renew its demand that the book be banned from the store. At the same time, PEER put out a press release claiming that park personnel are not permitted to tell visitors the Grand Canyon's true age of 5 million to 6 million years.

NPS has emphatically denied this charge. As for the book, Corky Mayo, NPS's manager for interpretation and education, defends the park service decision, saying, “Our job is not to convince the public how to think.”

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