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California Dreamin’: Eugenie Scott and the California Academy of Sciences Smear Parent

California parent and attorney Larry Caldwell is seeking a retraction from Eugenie Scott and the California Academy of Sciences after an Academy magazine published false and potentially defamatory claims about Caldwell’s effort to improve the teaching of evolution in his northern California school district. For more than a year, Caldwell tried to get the Roseville Joint Union High School District to present scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory as well as the evidence favoring the theory. Scott now asserts that Caldwell attempted to get the district to adopt materials advocating Biblical creationism. In particular, she claims he proposed for use in the district

a young-earth creationist book, Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Safarti; and the Jehovah’s Witness book Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation? Thanks to its free distribution, this book is probably the most widely-circulated creation science book in the country.

Caldwell tells me that not only is Scott’s claim patently false, he has never even heard of the books she cites. But that’s not the only problem with Scott’s fanciful account according to Caldwell. In a letter sent to both Scott and the California Academy of Sciences, Caldwell catalogues the various errors in Scott’s hit-piece:

Among other things, the Scott Article makes the following false statements: that I purportedly asked our local public school district to adopt curricula for use in science classes containing creation science, young-earth creationism, pseudo science, and religious materials published and distributed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses… The Scott Article also falsely implies that I urged our school board to adopt curricula for use in science classes that would have placed our school district in violation of the U.S. Constitution; that I purportedly subscribe to a number of creation science beliefs discussed in the article — none of which I in fact agree with —; and that I purportedly advocate a number of creationist activities in public schools that are enumerated in the article — including the banning of evolution from science classes, and the use of the Bible in science classes.

Has Scott found it so difficult to locate someone who actually fits her preconceived stereotype of a Bible-thumper trying to ban evolution that she must now resort to reinventing someone to fit her stereotype? It will be interesting to see whether Scott and the California Academy of Sciences have the decency to correct the record.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.