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This year we lost three to two. We pulled in one more vote than we’ve ever gotten
before, and we’re making slow progress. The thing is, it’s become clear that we will
eventually win this. Louisiana’s legislators are very tired of it. They know we’re right, and
they’re slowly coming over to our side.
And this year we had a new exciting development: the idea that we should keep this
law because of faith healing. A legislator explained to us that he went to a foreign country
and he had a wonderful experience where he was taken to see a doctor who practiced in a
circle in the dust semi-clothed shaking some bones, and the legislator would be very hesitant
to declare this pseudoscience and take it out of a classroom because he had a very good
experience with it. That’s where we are right now.
The good news is that, despite our struggles in the Louisiana legislature, we’ve been
much more successful helping to protect evolution elsewhere in the state. We’ve protected
our biology books. That hearing was fascinating. Our state Board of Education approved
biology books, but the creationists wanted them thrown out because evolution caused
Columbine, and if we taught evolution in our biology books we would be facing a similar
massacre in Louisiana. The good news is that we won that. Our state Board of Education was
sane and approved good science textbooks.
We’ve mentioned our legislature a few times. The bad news is that they’re not as
sane, and so we’ve had a bill for the last three years to overturn the state Board of
Education’s decision about the biology books and to throw all our textbooks out. We’re
hoping we’ll manage to stop that for the third year in a row.
This was all the first step, but it’s a much larger campaign than just Louisiana,
because everyone keeps asking us why we’re fighting this fight in Louisiana, where we’re
basically fighting against the forces of ignorance. It’s completely backwards, they say, and
we haven’t won, so why do we keep fighting? It’s really because this is a globalized world,
and we’re facing global issues. Our climate is changing. We’ve discovered superbugs that are
resistant to our antibiotics, and if we don’t understand evolution we’re going to have real
trouble dealing with those. The recent meteorite that exploded over Russia is also a sobering
reminder of the fact that we could face an asteroid in the next 30 or 40 years that could cause
some serious harm. While some of these may sound like science fiction, they’re all real
problems and we’re going to have to deal with them.
Louisiana’s model has been adopted around the entire United States. There’s a law
that passed in Tennessee based on the Louisiana law and similar bills are being introduced in
10 to 15 states every year. And even without these laws, teachers in America aren’t teaching
science. According to a recent poll, 60 percent of biology teachers say that they don’t teach
evolution well enough or even at all, because either they aren’t sufficiently educated on the
subject or they’re afraid to teach it. Another 13 percent of teachers around the country say
that they blatantly teach creationism in their classroom, whether or not they have the loophole
law, even if they are blatantly violating court rulings to do that.
Also according to polls, 46 percent of Americans think that the Earth was formed in
the last 10,000 years. Roughly 38 percent say that climate change is a complete hoax and that