Pharyngula noted the odd sidebar on this story at CBSnews.com. In particular, he pointed out the fact that no answers were provided for those questions, despite the fact that the National Center for Science Education has already answered them. So I left a comment for the folks at CBS. Then I noticed that the story was syndicated from the Christian Science Monitor.
I bopped over there, and found the original article, which has the same sidebar. I left a comment for them, and asked why they ran content verbatim from a fringe group without running the answers NCSE put together.
Today, I got a nice note from the reporter. He said:
Thanks for your note on the evolution story. We ran the sidebar to illustrate the types of questions being raised by critics. I’m not sure if space would have allowed for published responses to all 10, but you ask the right question, and your point is well-taken.
Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
A couple things.
- The title of the DI piece (written by the oft-debunked Jonathan Wells) is “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher.”
- The title of the sidebar is “What some students are asking their biology teachers.”
- The latter implies a spontaneity that doesn’t exist.
- The sidebar acknowledges that the Discovery Institute is the source, but fails to explain DI’s agenda.
- They don’t note the fact that these are questions DI wants students to ask, not that they necessarily are asking.
- They attribute the questions to students, not critics.
I’m encouraged by the prompt and apologetic response. It’s fine to run the questions (I guess), but not to run them as if there was some big conspiracy to keep Haeckel’s drawings in textbooks, or to keep the Cambrian explosion secret. And for God’s sake, why run this sentence “Why are students told that Darwin’s theory of evolution is a scientific fact — even though many of its claims are based on misrepresentations of the facts?” Evolution is a fact. We observe evolution all the time. If they had asked anyone, they could have avoided slandering a whole science.