SMU Prof Laundry Lists Errors Made by Creationist Reviewers of High-School Biology Textbook
Creationists wield outsized influence in the shaping of textbooks in Texas. In the past, they've worked to burnish history's less-than-glowing view of Joseph McCarthy and to bring to the classroom Intelligent Design -- creationism gussied up with the thinnest patina of science.
And because the State Board of Education has boasted in the past a chairman and Bryan dentist who proclaimed evolution "hooey," some unqualified, ideologically driven folks get appointed to review textbooks and suggest recommendations to their publishers. Since Texas is such a huge market, publishers have been known to take heed of the reviewer's complaints, however ill-founded they may be.
In the estimation of a Southern Methodist University anthropology professor, they're gobsmackingly ill-founded at times. Dr. Ron Wetherington took a deep dive into the reviewers' quibbles into Pearson Education's high-school biology text and found, not surprisingly, that the quibbles themselves -- not the text -- were riddled with errors and thinly veiled jabs at evolutionary theory. "Since I teach much of this material in my university classes, and have for almost 50 years, I have felt it my responsibility to reveal the biases and shortcomings in this official review, which resulted in a recommendation for rejection to the Texas Educational Agency," Wetherington writes.
When the panel criticizes the text for noting that some mutations lower the fitness of organisms, while others are lethal and still others conversely improve its ability to survive and reproduce (which is accurate), the reviewers recommended that it be changed to reflect the idea that all mutations are simply bad. "The recommended correction itself is false," Wetherington writes.
At another point, the panel challenges the text's assertion that, so far, scientific tests in embryology, paleontology, chemistry and other fields bear out the essential thrust of Darwinism. You can practically hear the incredulity in Wetherington's response: "This is still another rant that is irrelevant to the referenced page and certainly is no 'factual error'! The reviewer(s) have a personal bone to pick with the authors and want to use this to wedge a concession and a change."
In this uncontroversial passage, which is certainly not going out on a limb, the text points to complex protein structures found both in bacteria with and without flagella (the little whip-like structures they use to move) are evidence of common origin. A no-brainer, right? Wrong, say the reviewers.
I think I just heard Wetherington's face-palm: "It most certainly is an indication of a common origin! Is there a more reasonable interpretation? The passage states: 'Nearly every protein in the flagella of Eubacteria resemble proteins that are used for other purposes in bacteria that lack flagella. ... In fact, a group of 10 such proteins so closely resemble a channel structure in the cell membrane that the channel structure and the flagellum may share a common ancestor."
This is what happens when you let the former dean of Dallas Baptist University and a guy who makes his living traveling through the country presenting "biblically based scholarship" review textbooks.