The “Consensus”—or Else!
Dumbing-down science education: The National Center for Science Education and Global Warming (PDF here)
By Casey Luskin
Summary: The National Center for Science Education targets the nation’s schools in order to enforce the supposed “consensus” on hot-button scientific controversies—specifically, evolutionary theory and Global Warming theory. Its dogmatic approach violates principles of free speech and academic freedom, and actually makes it less likely that students will receive the science education they need if they are to make informed decisions in the future.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a nonprofit group that is described as a watchdog over the education of the nation’s children. Its core mission: to enforce a purported “scientific consensus” on hot-button issues, particularly evolutionary theory (NCSE’s focus since the 1980s) and Global Warming theory (NCSE’s focus since 2012).
NCSE’s supporters see it as an organization that protects science from the attack of ignorant, religious, countrified yahoos and bumpkins. Its detractors see it as a campaign to stifle the free and open debate that is critical to a free society and that is a necessary condition for scientific progress.
Critics believe that, by seeking to put a lid on scientific controversies, NCSE actually serves as an impediment to science education—such that many school systems and individual teachers avoid teaching about the topics extensively, or avoid the topics entirely, in order to avoid the wrath of “consensus” enforcers. As a result, America’s schoolchildren learn neither the facts underlying the theories and counter-theories, nor the reasoning processes by which real science separates fact from fiction.
Unquestionably, many NCSE supporters believe it promotes the teaching of sound science. But in fact, over its history of more than three decades, in almost all of its battles at every level—the federal government, “Common Core,” the courts, state legislatures, school boards, and individual schools—NCSE has attempted not to promote good science education but to censor views with which it disagrees.
Indoctrination in the schools is nothing new. During the lead-up to Prohibition, supporters of a ban on alcoholic beverages planted propaganda in textbooks declaring that drinking alcohol could cause a person to combust spontaneously in blue flame. In the Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925, the American Civil Liberties Union defended the use in a classroom of the book A Civic Biology, which taught evolution but also white supremacy and eugenics (that is, the need to eliminate “parasitic” people from the population). In 1957, at a key point in the Civil Rights movement, the textbook Alabama History for Schools declared that slavery was beneficial, “the earliest form of social security.”