NPR flunks evolution

The following is a slightly edited copy of feedback I sent to NPR earlier this week. It’s probably a bit more harsh than they deserved. But I felt I needed to do some shaking here.

“I was truly disappointed in your coverage of the Florida evolution bill issue today. Even the title of your piece, ‘Bill in Fla. Lets Schools Teach Evolution Alternatives,’ is a distortion.

The truth is that no bill is needed to allow teaching of alternatives to evolution. Schools are already allowed to teach scientific alternatives to evolution, just as they are allowed to do so for any other theory in science.

What they are not allowed to do is teach religion in the guise of science. That is what this law is really all about. It is the latest attempt by the proponents of creationism to shoehorn the teaching of creationism in science classes. The more neutral sounding language is simply designed to circumvent the latest legal rulings against such teaching. Your report never really makes this clear.

Instead, your report makes the issue sound more like a “he said, she said” debate between Republicans and Democrats, with the Republicans on the side of academic freedom.

To describe this bill as advocating academic freedom, is like describing a bill that weakens anti-pollution regulations as a “Clean Skies Act.” It’s just double-speak. This is an anti-evolution bill, plain and simple.

Similarly, your report mentions the Discovery Institute as a source of support for the Florida legislation, but fails to mention that this same Institute was on the losing side of the Dover, PA trial that strongly ruled against teaching Intelligent Design in the classroom. Indeed, the Discovery Institute spokesman quoted in your report acknowledges that the wording of the Florida legislation was in part based on model language provided by the Institute.

Your report mentions Ben Stein’s new movie (Expelled), but fails to mention that it has received near unanimous condemnation for its promotion of knowingly false and inaccurate information. The New York Times, for example, called it “one of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry.” There is an entire Web site, Expelled Exposed, that exposes the many falsehoods in this movie.

While citing Ben Stein and his film, and quoting a person from the Discovery Institute, your report offered no statements from scientists or experts of any sort on the other side of this controversy.

In the end, your report comes off as a shameful example of ignoring the facts, and promoting the legitimacy of discredited views, apparently in a sheepish attempt to give yourself an appearance of neutrality.”

This entry was posted in Evolution, Media, Politics, Religion, Science. Bookmark the permalink.