Is Critical Thinking Unconstitutional?
We have already seen that the Washington Post apparently thinks that the fossils of the Cambrian era are unconstitutional. Now the Selman v. Cobb County textbook sticker case will be argued on appeal this Thursday, and this article from the Post discussing it appeared on Sunday.
As you sift through the media bluster, remember the key facts. The text on the sticker simply says:
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
This passage from the article gives the remarkable rationale of the trial court judge:
An "informed, reasonable observer would interpret the Sticker to convey a message of endorsement of religion," he wrote. The sticker "sends a message to those who believe in evolution that they are political outsiders."
How do you go from encouraging kids to keep an open mind, study evolution carefully and critically consider its claims, to "endorsement of religion"? Anyone see any big logical leaps there?
If you want to try to follow the leaps of logic, you can find the full opinion here. The discussion of the effects of the sticker begins on page 30.
There is a funny quote in the article from Jeffrey Selman, the named plaintiff, about Marjorie Rogers, who supports the stickers. Even though Rogers supports stickers that encourage kids to study evolution and think critically, he has this criticism of her:
"Marjorie believes and follows blindly," Selman says over a meal at his favorite Chinese vegetarian restaurant. "I question. It's part of my culture. . ."
Well, I guess there is one thing that Selman thinks should not be questioned. Does he not see the irony in attacks like this?
I am not a big fan of the "sticker solution." The best solution is to teach good science, which would include some of the problems with macroevolutionary theory. But are the stickers unconstitutional? Hardly.
More background on the case can be found here. A blog post with other links can be found here.