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US scientists group slams intelligent design legislation

[JURIST] The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) [group website], the world's largest general scientific society, has denounced legislation and policies [statement, PDF; press release] that "undermine evolution" and "deprive students of the education they need to be informed and productive citizens," referring specifically to pending legislation in 14 states that would "weaken science education." According to an AAAS statement issued at the association's annual meeting which concluded Monday:

Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called "flaws" in the theory of evolution or "disagreements" within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific "alternatives" to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to "critically analyze" evolution or to understand "the controversy." But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one. ...

Many of the proposed bills and policies aim explicitly or implicitly at encouraging the teaching of "Intelligent Design" in science classes as an alternative to evolution. Although advocates of Intelligent Design usually avoid mentioning a specific creator, the concept is in fact religious, not scientific.
The AAAS praised the December 2005 federal court opinion in Kitzmiller v. Dover School District [PDF text; JURIST report], holding that a Pennsylvania public school district's policy of teaching intelligent design [JURIST news archive] as an alternative to evolution was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. Newsday has more.

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