The NY Times is reporting that Ohio scientists are nearly unanimous in mobilizing for the school board election there—and they aren’t on the side of creationists like Deborah Owens Fink. It’s interesting that we’re seeing such activism from scientists; the response from the creationists is also enlightening.
But Dr. Owens Fink, a professor of marketing at the University of Akron, said the curriculum standards she supported did not advocate teaching intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism. Rather, she said, they urge students to subject evolution to critical analysis, something she said scientists should endorse. She said the idea that there was a scientific consensus on evolution was “laughable.”
Note the next bit; the reporter, Cornelia Dean, is one of the better science people at the Times, and this kind of unambiguous statement about the status of evolutionary theory is exactly what the media ought to be saying more often.
Although researchers may argue about its details, the theory of evolution is the foundation for modern biology, and there is no credible scientific challenge to it as an explanation for the diversity and complexity of life on earth. In recent years, with creationist challenges to the teaching of evolution erupting in school districts around the country, groups like the National Academy of Sciences, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent scientific organization, have repeatedly made this point.
But the academy’s opinion does not matter to Dr. Owens Fink, who said the letter was probably right to say she had dismissed it as “a group of so-called scientists.”
Owens Fink is so wrong on every count that you’d think she ought to be mortified at having her ignorance so boldly displayed in the pages of a major newspaper; I suspect her arrogance is great enough that she’ll be oblivious. There certainly is a consensus in the scientific community favoring evolution. You could argue that a consensus is not a guarantor of truth, but Owens Fink is simply closing her eyes and denying what the practitioners of science, including a majority of the scientists in her own state, are saying.
As for calling the NAS “a group of so-called scientists.”…how clueless can she be? The NAS is the assembly of the elite of American science; admission is selective and only the most prestigious, high-powered big-wigs of the scientific establishment get in. It may be a bit stodgy and conservative, but one thing it is not is a bunch of fake scientists from the fringe—it’s kind of the anti-Discovery Institute. Dismissing it is an amazingly foolish thing for a professor of marketing to do.