Education ForumScience Education

The evolution of antievolution policies after Kitzmiller versus Dover

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Science  01 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6268, pp. 28-30
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4057

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Political attempts to denigrate and dilute the teaching of evolution in science classrooms have been a feature of the U.S. educational scene for 90 years (1). These may be classified into three major waves (2). Bans on teaching evolution were enacted in the 1920s (and unsuccessfully challenged in the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial) and persisted until ruled unconstitutional in 1968. When bans were rescinded, creationists (3) began to lobby for “balanced treatment” for creationism whenever evolution was taught, first trying biblical creationism, then “creation science,” and finally “intelligent design” (ID). Each strategy was ruled unconstitutional (table S1), in part due to court attention to creationist origins. Creationists did not give up with the defeat of ID in Kitzmiller v. Dover, decided in U.S. District Court on 20 December 2005, but instead shifted political efforts to the third wave of antievolutionism, “stealth creationism” (2): legislation that avoids mentioning creationism in any of its varieties but advances creationist antievolutionism with an evolving collection of strategies (table S1). I use a phylogenetic tree to show how antievolution legislation has evolved, and at times succeeded, in the 10 years since Kitzmiller.