PZ Myers posted Entry 891 on March 21, 2005 11:27 AM.
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The Tangled Bank

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Comment #21451

Posted by Ixpata on March 21, 2005 9:00 PM (e)

This doesn’t belong here, but not sure how to post this as a new topic:

Washington Post ombudsman (and science reporter and editor) commented on the evolution story the paper ran last week:

On Monday, The Post ran a front-page story by Chicago-based correspondent Peter Slevin headlined “Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens.” It drew a lot more mail than the Social Security story. Indeed, it seemed to be perhaps the most-talked-about story of the week. This was a lengthy, smart and very revealing piece about how activists on the political right are crafting strategies and intensifying debate across the country about how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states, Slevin reported, are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

The article laid out that strategy in fascinating detail. What it didn’t lay out, but seemed to assume that everybody understood, was the basic science behind evolution. “Where were the quotes from scientists defending evolution and the teaching thereof?” one reader asked. “In fact, there is virtually no scientific controversy, yet we read quotes from a variety of elected officials telling us there is,” he said. “There is no controversy about evolution,” wrote another. “It is accepted as the foundation of the life sciences by all professional biologists around the world. To suggest that there is a doubt about its accuracy is the equivalent of doubting that the Earth travels around the sun.”

Interestingly, the article drew a strong internal note, with a copy to me, from one of the paper’s science reporters, endorsed by the science editor, which said: “How is it that The Washington Post can run a feature-length A1 story about the battle over the facts of evolution and not devote a single paragraph to what the evidence is for the scientific view of evolution? We do our readers a grave disservice [that word again] by not telling them. By turning this into a story of dueling talking heads, we add credence to the idea that this is simply a battle of beliefs.”

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