More on That Texas Biology Textbook Review Panel

Josh Rosenau, programs and policy director at the National Center for Science Education, wondered how the creationist chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) came to appoint a real scientist and evolution defender to a key textbook review panel. As we reported on Tuesday, that panel unanimously rejected creationist claims that a leading high school biology textbook from Pearson Education was filled with “factual errors.” The panel’s decision removed the last obstacle to that textbook’s official approval by the SBOE for use in Texas public schools. To learn more about what happened, Josh reached out to Vincent Cassone, the chair of the University of Kentucky Biology Department appointed by creationist Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, to serve on the panel. Here is Josh’s report:

With the news that an expert review panel unanimously approved Pearson’s Biology textbook and rejected creationist criticisms of it, there was one last nagging mystery in the Texas textbook saga. I expected the book to be approved as written, having said it would take five minutes for reviewers to see that the complaints against the book were bogus. And I understood why Arturo De Lozanne and Ron Wetherington, both Texas scientists long active in promoting the integrity of science education in their state, were appointed to the review panel. Since they had already publicly dismissed the bogus complaints, I wasn’t surprised by their vote on the panel.

But what about Vincent Cassone, the reviewer appointed by Texas state board of education chairwoman Barbara Cargill? Cargill is a leader of the board’s creationist wing, and in the past has often used her power to undercut evolution in textbooks. Why did she appoint a scientist from Kentucky rather than Texas? (Granted, he was once biology department chairman at Texas A&M.) Why would she appoint a reviewer who has so vigorously opposed creationism, having debated various creationists and publicly declared that the evidence for evolution is stronger than that for gravity?

Myomancy having failed me, I tried the next best thing and wrote to Cassone directly. Here’s our email exchange (edited for flow and clarity, but not changing any of his answers).

Read the rest of Josh’s post, including his Q-and-A with Cassone, on NCSE’s website here.

9 thoughts on “More on That Texas Biology Textbook Review Panel

  1. Josh said: “Scientists who are capable of doing so need to directly counter the claims of these individuals. They are not interested in science, and they are not interested in education. They are interested in political power. They are dangerous.”

    That quote from Josh about sums it up for me too. Basically, this is why they are dangerous:

    1) They believe that anyone who disagrees with their peculiar theology is an enemy of God.

    2) They believe that the attainment of political power will give them an opportunity to use that power and revisions of policies, laws, and regulations to impose their peculiar theology on American culture as a whole and every American citizen. They do not care whether you are a United Methodist, Lutheran, moderate Baptist Catholic, atheist, or agnostic. As a fundie uncle of mine once said, “No matter what it is that they believe, it is our first responsibility to tell them that they are wrong.” These people claim that they want dominion for God—but history shows that people of this ilk (more often than not)want dominion for themselves (with God just being the cheap excuse).

    3) People will die in large numbers just like in World War II. Historically, the enemies of God must be destroyed (See Spanish Inquisistion and Salem witch trials). While I feel sure that Babs Cargill and Don McLeroy would never kill anyone, the hard-hearted Dominionist core of this movement (people like Rushdoony)has already made it clear in their own writings (publicly available) that they are planning to have an international “deathfest” imposed on nonbelievers, those Christian believers who disagree with them, and those who do not abide by Old Testament law in all their Earthly affairs.

    John Dominic Crossan pretty much sums up how they will rationalize it:

    One of the greatest difficulties I have with this is the total blindness the “Average Unchurched Joe” on the street has to this Fundamentalist/Dominionist movement and how it will affect people like him. Alcoholic beverages will be illegal. Cigarettes will be illegal. Unbelievers will be required to go to church on Sundays—at gunpoint if necessary. Women’s rights will be severely curtailed. Ordinary, everyday life will be a living Hell for the Average Joe. I wish the Average Joe would wake up to the dangers here. In their own writings (publicly available), the Dominionists have already said that theirs is a stealth movement and that they are counting on the stupidity and apathy of the Average Joe to help them attain the dangerous powers that they seek.

    When Josh said that “these people are dangerous,” he was right on the money. We really do have an honest-to-goodness American “Christian” Taliban in this country, and we need to wake up to that fact.

  2. Many thanks to these reviewers for getting it right! Our children deserve science facts not fiction to enable them to compete in their future global economy.

  3. I will quibble with Charles on this point:

    “They believe that anyone who disagrees with their peculiar theology is an enemy of God.”

    They SAY, not BELIEVE. They don’t “believe” in anything other than their personal political power to dictate what you do and maybe reap some financial benefit, too.

    That’s the great irony. Their BELIEF is weak, but their lust for political power is strong, as with all liars.

      1. Ha, ha! Charles, Merry Kitzmas and Christmas to you, too.

        We’ll have plenty of bohunks to deal with next year. Hey, Cargill, we’re talking about you!