Bad Science and Persecution Complexes

by Dan Quinn

Disingenuous efforts by creationists to portray themselves as persecuted in mainstream academia for their anti-evolution beliefs are getting a boost from a Texas lawmaker. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, has filed legislation in the Texas House of Representatives that would make a mockery of the terms “higher education” and “research.” From his House Bill 2454:

“PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RESEARCH RELATED TO INTELLIGENT DESIGN. An institution of higher education may not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student based on the faculty member’s or student’s conduct of research relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms.”

The implications of such a law are alarming. Would, for example, a university be forced to support (financially or otherwise) “research” into junk science attacking evolution? Would a biology professor be forced to look the other way when a creationist student presents work that simply ignores (or distorts) the overwhelming evidence supporting evolutionary science?

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) track anti-evolution legislation in states across the country. They note that HB 2454 follows the strategy by creationists/”intelligent design” proponents to portray themselves as martyrs. Ben Stein pushed this meme in his propaganda film Expelled, which NCSE masterfully debunks here.

The bottom line for us? Institutions of higher education should — and do — protect academic freedom. Rep. Zedler’s bill would instead require our colleges and universities to aid and protect academic fraud. But with the State Board of Education promoting anti-science propaganda in public schools, we shouldn’t be surprised that higher education is increasingly a target as well.