Now, why should you care? Or, why do I care enough to post about it here (when I usually try to stick to neuroscience stuff)? Well, let's look at the desire to remove evolution from biology textbooks first... Neuroscience is a branch of biology, and like the famous geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky once commented: "Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution." Evolution provides the underlying framework for ALL of biology, including neuroscience, and it is critical for understanding human psychology and animal behavior, as well as several types of nervous system diseases and disorders. But beyond this, teaching kids not to seek out natural explanations to explain the unknown stifles curiosity and stymies scientific inquiry and progress. In an age where we need solutions to global warming, the energy crisis, and cures for numerous diseases and injuries, I would prefer to be training new, inquisitive scientists rather than a crop of fatalists who say "why bother?" Ultimately, however, I realize that the next major attack on science (following the recent salvos against evolution and global warming) is likely going to be against the field of neuroscience, where materialist explanations for things like "free will" and love are replacing medieval ideas about them originating from an immaterial "soul".
But wait, there's more... if you read this article about Don McLeroy and the rest of the conservative members of the Texas board of education you will see that they don't just want to change the biology textbooks, they want to change the history books as well (and the english books, and really the aims of education itself). Apparently, McLeroy and his ilk believe as French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte did when he said "History is a set of lies agreed upon." Their proposed amendments include adding more religious documents to history texts to try and paint America's founding as a Christian nation (and thus tear down the very clearly established wall in the Constitution that separates church and state). And they want to "play up clashes with Islamic cultures" so as to institutionalize prejudice and hate (and bolster support for more oily holy wars). (And these are the people who call Obama a nazi?) As for the health science books, members of the board have sought in the past to change a photo of a woman with a briefcase to one of a woman baking... I imagine the next step is to remove any references of the feminist movement or women's rights from the history books (women's suffrage? what's that?). My favorite quotation by far, though, was this:
The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree, who often acts as the faction’s enforcer.Yeah, we don't want to teach kids to think for themselves, they're too hard to brainwash when they do that.
SO... what is there to do? Well, I suppose we will have to just sit back and wait to see whether or not California decides to buy any textbooks, or if Texas succeeds getting publisher's to leave some things out of their books... Of course, if you wanted to take action, the best course would be to join the National Center for Science Education, the group most active in combating the weakening of science education standards. As for any changes to the history books, perhaps the ACLU might be the next best place to go to.