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Activist Group Spreads Falsehoods About South Dakota Science Education Bill

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Pierre, SD -- Dogmatic activists are trying to derail a proposed science education bill in South Dakota. The language of the bill is aimed at supporting critical thinking by allowing students to learn how scientists debate scientific issues, according to John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture.

South Dakota legislators are currently considering SB 55, "An Act to protect the teaching of certain scientific information." Since the bill was introduced, Darwin-only lobbyists with the national group Americans United for Separation of Church and State have been attacking SB 55 and circulating misinformation about it. Notably, they falsely claim that SB 55 would authorize the teaching of "intelligent design."

"Americans United is so worried about what's between the words of the bill, they aren't paying attention to what the words in the bill actually say," said Dr. West in reference to a blog post this week from the group.

"Contrary to what Americans United says, SB 55 explicitly limits authorization to 'scientific information presented in courses being taught which are aligned with the content standards,'" said Sarah Chaffee, Program Officer in Public Policy and Education at Discovery Institute.

Chaffee points out that South Dakota's current science content standards do not include intelligent design, and thus the bill does not protect the teaching of ID (which is different from creationism). The bill only pertains to topics already in the standards. Yet the post from Americans United mentions intelligent design six times.

"The academic freedom bill does not require teachers to teach anything differently," said Chaffee. "Scientific topics will still be taught as required by state law. But it also gives teachers academic freedom to choose to teach about both "the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information" in the standards -- such as evidence for and against the neo-Darwinian "consensus."

Photo: South Dakota State Capitol, by Runner1928 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.