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How to Rebut Barbara Forrest Explained in Two Words

Expose hypocrisy. Nearly every argument that Barbara Forrest makes in the evolution debate, when applied fairly, can be turned against her. Keep this point in mind if you ever have to debate Dr. Forrest, because in my experience, this rule holds true under nearly all circumstances. I’ll give three examples from her recent talking points against academic freedom in Louisiana:

  • Forrest makes hay out of the fact that some supporters of the academic freedom bill are religious or are affiliated with religion. What she hypocritically neglects to mention is that she’s on the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association and has many ties to secular humanism and atheism. Many leading Darwinists have similar connections. Of course, Forrest is completely entitled to her personal anti-religious beliefs and affiliations, but it’s uncritical hypocrisy for her to go around attacking other people for having ideological motives in the debate over Darwin.
  • Forrest attacks Discovery Institute for being an “out of state” or “national” organization that is taking an interest in Louisiana’s Academic Freedom bill. But hypocritically, Forrest’s handouts against the academic freedom legislation refer people to “out of state” or “national” organizations, like the NCSE or Americans United, over a dozen times. Somehow that point was lost upon her. Of course, Forrest is free to refer people to national organizations that oppose academic freedom in evolution education, but it’s hypocritical for her to turn around and attack groups who support such measures because they are “out of state.”
  • During her testimony before the Louisiana House Education Committee, Forrest ominously warned the Louisiana State Legislature to beware because supposedly “Discovery Institute is watching your every move.” Her behavior is not only paranoid, it’s hypocritical: Forrest’s entire book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse, is filled with tracking the affiliations, beliefs, and backgrounds of ID proponents, always trying to tie them to religious groups (while largely ignoring their scientific affiliations). After all, Judge Jones, in the Kitzmiller ruling, found that Barbara Forrest had “thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings.” On the day of the hearing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last week, Forrest asked me who I was staying with. Later that morning, she asked Caroline Crocker where she lived and whether she worked for Discovery Institute. (By the way, she doesn’t.) This is all quite amusing: Forrest is apparently paranoid about Discovery Institute “watching your every move,” yet she’s the one grilling us about where we live, sleep, and work. So I must ask: who is tracking whose every move here?

Of course Barbara Forrest is entitled to track the every move of ID proponents if that is how she wishes to devote her time and her career. But she shouldn’t project her own behavior onto ID proponents, because, well, we don’t really care about tracking the “every move” of Darwinists. Rather, we devote ourselves to more important activities, such as supporting legislation that protects and defends the academic freedom rights of Louisiana public school teachers to “promot[e] critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.”


Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



Barbara Forrest