February 16, 2009

Science org. shuns La. in creationism flap

A professional organization of scientists says it will not to hold its convention in New Orleans because of concern over Louisiana law on science education.

The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology -- which has more than 2,300 members -- notified Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal it will meet in Salt Lake City in 2011, bypassing New Orleans partly because of the 2007 Science Education Act, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

SICB President Richard A. Satterlie of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, told Jindal in a letter dated Feb. 6 the law undermines the integrity of science and science education in Louisiana.

As scientists, it is our responsibility to oppose anti-science initiatives, Satterlie wrote.

That's too bad, Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said.

Supporters of the 2007 law said Louisiana science teachers needed to be able to use a wider range of supplemental teaching materials in such fields as evolutionary biology, global warming and cloning, the Times-Picayune reported. Opponents suggest it is a stealth attempt to inject creationism or intelligent design theory into the science curriculum.

Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University, told The New York Times creationists were using code language in the legislation. Forrest is a leader of Louisiana Coalition for Science, which said on its Web site the decision by SICB not to hold its convention in New Orleans indicates that Louisiana taxpayers and schoolchildren are now reaping what the legislature and governor have sowed.