Professors Fight 'Academic Freedom' Bills That Question Science in 4 States

May 06, 2008

University professors have joined other science advocates to battle so-called “academic freedom” bills under consideration in Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, and Missouri. The bills, along with similar ones that failed to win passage last week in Florida, ask teachers to promote “critical thinking,” especially on topics such as evolution, global warming, and stem-cell research.

The National Center for Science Education, which advocates the teaching of evolution, has tracked the progress of each bill. The Alabama bill would also apply to faculty members at public colleges in the state.

The Panda’s Thumb, a blog for “defenders of the integrity of science,” posted a plea for help last week from Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and a co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design. Ms. Forrest is fighting a pair of bills in the state’s Legislature and asked supporters to contact people they know inside Louisiana to organize resistance.

“We want opposition from inside the state, not outside,” she said. In a set of talking points about one of the Louisiana bills, Ms. Forrest called it a “stealth creationism bill.”

University professors have also helped lead the battles against “academic freedom” bills in other states.

The Discovery Institute, which promotes the teaching of intelligent design, supports the passage of the legislation. In a news release it said that many of the bills are modeled on draft legislation developed by the institute. —Richard Monastersky