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More "Science Deniers" Make the List

I wrote earlier about how our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) label anyone who questions what they deem to be established science as "science deniers," lumping together "climate change deniers" with "creations." Now a post by NCSE Programs and Policy Director Josh Rosenau has expanded the list of "deniers" to include anyone who is pro-life.

In the context of another diatribe about the Texas textbook review process, he turns his sights on a reviewer with concerns about the Pearson Biology textbook by Ken Miller and Joe Levine. Rosenau frets about

how ideologically-driven textbook reviewers tried to undermine Texas textbooks’ coverage of evolution and climate change. But it turns out, there’s another front of the culture wars being waged over Texas textbooks: abortion.

Notice how he attempts to frame the issue not in the context of actual science but that of "culture wars." This is typical of the NCSE and their fellow Darwin activists, who seek to perpetuate the myth that where evolution, climate change, and now abortion are concerned, there is no real scientific controversy. Thus any views contrary to the party line cannot be based on science. They must instead be "ideologically driven." As for Rosenau & Company, of course, they are entirely free of ideological bias.

In this case, the "ideologically driven" offense committed by the textbook reviewer consists of objections to two short statements appearing in the Miller-Levine textbook. The reviewer says this:

The text states that pregnancy begins when the developing fetus attaches to the wall of the uterus (implantation). This is factually incorrect. Dorland's Medical Dictionary defines pregnancy as "the condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body, after union of an ovum and spermatozoon." Thus, pregnancy begins at fertilization.

And

The text states that by the end of three months of development the fetus may begin to move. This is incorrect. Several sources have documented fetal movement as early as eight weeks, sooner in some cases.

That’s it. The reviewer even went on to say that the textbook is a

Nice book but the brief section on human fetal development is lacking. We should be teaching students more about this subject. Most students will one day be parents and they need more information about this biological process. I believe knowledge of human fetal development should be one of the TEKS [Texas Science Standards].

The absence of any mention of abortion, climate-change or evolution (or creationism or intelligent design for that matter) is no deterrent to Rosenau, heroic defender of science. He worries that "Each of the changes [the reviewer] suggested plays into a standard argument of anti-abortion activists. He had no comment on any other topic."

For Josh Rosenau, it makes no difference that there are indeed significant scientific reasons for the objection being raised by the reviewer. Rosenau even in part agrees with the reviewer, though he tries to parse a distinction between purposeful movements and reflexive ones.

The question of when fetal movement starts is tricky, since obstetricians and embryologists distinguish purposeful movements -- those driven by brain activity -- from reflexive movements driven by events in the spinal cord. Purposive movements don’t start until about three months, which is also when the pregnant woman can first feel the kicks. The first reflexive flutters of movement start as early as eight weeks, as the reviewer observes.

Nevertheless, Rosenau has no problem divining the reviewer's real "ideological" agenda.

From the perspective the reviewer raises, that of a student who may one day be pregnant (or have a pregnant partner), the time when fetal movement is first felt is far more relevant than the time when fetal muscles are first able to flex. Antiabortion activists, however, like to emphasize those earliest movements as a way to advance a philosophical and religious argument about when we should consider a fetus to be an independent human life.

Rosenau must be pretty darned clever to know, based on a couple of brief comments, that the reviewer is "anti-abortion" and trying to "advance a philosophical and religious argument." Since that is nowhere stated or even implied by the reviewer, perhaps Rosenau would explain in a future post how he came by this knowledge.

He ends with a flourish: "Reviewers whose only agenda is to find ways to work in their pet issues should not be allowed to rewrite the textbooks and science education standards, let alone introduce falsehoods." Yet Rosenau’s own complaints all come in the context of his efforts to defend a real ideological agenda, that of the NCSE.

Simply put, for Rosenau & Company, the world of education would be a much finer place without pesky review committees and their annoying questions and comments. Far better to just let the textbook writers say whatever they wish -- so long as it agrees with the NCSE's preferred "science" -- and then have a committee apply a rubber stamp without any bothersome reviewers getting in the way.

If that sounds like a troubling prospect, don't worry. Rosenau and the NCSE are there to make sure that all science classes are untainted by any worldview whatsoever. What could be wrong with that? Just ignore the elephant over in the corner of the science class. His name is Scientific Materialism.