The “Banning” of Pandas - an update


Monday, I posted an entry here that discussed, in part, a Discovery Institute blog article claiming that the Dover ruling qualifies the cdesign proponentsists textbook Of Pandas and People as a “banned book.” As I explained at the time, the claim is complete and total nonsense, so I suppose I really should have guessed that the anti-evolution movement would get behind it in a hell of a hurry.

That appears to be just what’s happening. The latest twists involve the Uncommon Descent blog and the Wikipedia entry for banned books.

Read more (at The Questionable Authority):


Well, technically Pandas doesn’t seem to fit the criteria, since it was never part of the curricula. In spirit, one might ask if banning the mention of the book from the prescribed curriculum might have some meaning, however.

My point is that the “banned from the curriculum” criterion seems highly questionable. I’m aware that many of the ALA’s “banned books” are considered to be “banned” because they were taken out of the curricula, but then I also have always thought that was a poor criterion to use for “banned books”. There are legitimate reasons to take books out curricula, why I haven’t paid much attention to the ALA’s complaints about “book bannings”.

All that the IDists have to do is to once get Pandas into a curriculum for science, then have it rightly taken out, for it to count technically as a “banned book” under the ALA standards. Then I suppose it becomes the poster child against the notion that any time a book is taken out of the curricula due to parents’ objections it counts as “book banning”. Maybe the IDists will do some good yet if they manage to demonstrate how sloppy are the standards used to qualify a book as having been “banned”.

It should be more than a little obvious that many books have been prevented from being placed in the curricula of, particularly (but not only), lower level schools, and only for that reason have they not been taken out of the curricula. The real “censorship” (sometimes, hardly always, legitimate in the case of curricula) usually occurs well before a book is even considered for taking out of a library or a curriculum . Hence the “book bannings” of the ALA have never told us much about censorship in America.

Thus, if Pandas someday must be taken out of curriculum in order to safeguard science education, we will not gain any knowledge about censorship just because it technically would fit the criteria used by the ALA for “book bannings”.

Glen D

“The real censorship … usually occurs well before a book is even considered for taking out of a library or a curriculum.”

Glen makes a valid point. Just look at the Texas Power Grab piece on the NCSE web site. The Texas School Board would certainly commit censorship and book banning if allowed. All the pressure put on textbook publishers, espeically in big markets such as Texas and California, is also a not so subtle form of censorship and could effectively lead to banning of real science books. Any pressure put on science teachers by parents who do not want evolution taught is censorship and potentially a form of book banning, even for books that are still technically part of the curriculum. Of course, when you deal in ignorance, you have to try to keep information away from students at any cost.

Will someone please go to the Dover library and take a picture of P & P on the shelf and post it on the web for all to see. How can anyone gripe then about “banning” the book from the library if they lost and the book is still there? I would also recommend that Dover post a guard at the library door. I would not put it past some creationists to go into the library, burn the book, take pictures of the ashes and claim that the book had been burned by Judge Jones!

So, if I specifically forbid Fiery Texas Passion from physics class, I’ve created a banned book? That seems excessive. We could make 99% of all books ever published banned by that criteria without trying hard.

The qualifications for “banning” do seem a bit hazy here. After all, a good many texts compete every year to be the one the school system actually selects. The competition is pretty fierce, because if your text is selected by a state school system, that’s a hefty guaranteed income from “hardwired” sales.

Conversely, if your text is not selected, chances are it won’t make the school library either.

And I’ve read (someone here probably knows from first hand experience) that the debates over which text to approve can be acrimonious, and have sectarian overtones. I’ve seen allegations that selections aren’t that uncommonly made among competing biology texts based on which one has the most cursory or even nonexistent coverage of evolution. If a book doesn’t make it past the selection committee (and thus not get into either classroom or library) for the crime of mentioning evolution, does it qualify as “banned”?

Of Pandas and People has been removed from the list at Wikipedia. There’s now discussion of the issue.

However, Of Mice and Men remains on the banned list.


So does this mean the Wikipedia people have become aware that the ID PR machine is trying to use their internet resource for PR purposes? In the religious world, I would presume that if Wikipedia can be tricked into saying something false, it becomes *especially* True.

Re “However, Of Mice and Men remains on the banned list.”

Well sure - after all, we don’t want people to think that people have a common ancestor with mice, do we? :)

Wikipedia can’t really be “tricked”. It is what it is and anyone can make it say anything. False information has been put up on it several times and you can find outright falsehoods at any time you want to put a few minutes into researching a topic you understand.

That having been said, it’s still a phenomenal resource. It’s just not a resource you can automatically trust.

Anyone who uses Wikipedia can be “the wikipedia people”. That means the term includes the ID PR machine as well as scientists, laymen, and whoever else. Some of us are certainly aware and fighting the IDer influence to rewrite history.

But rationalists don’t own Wikipedia and, arguably, shouldn’t.

Hang on.…Wasn’t the Earth Intelligently Designed by mice anyway? (OK, OK, so Deep Thought did the designing and they outsourced the construction.….)


Yes, but it was intelligently designed by a deceptive god who wanted us to believe that it wasn’t. Remember, they added fake dinosaur bones.

I personally would never insult the great Deep Thought by believing in him when he so clearly doesn’t want me to.

The discussion at Wikipedia talk is interesting - they have semi-protected the page against repeated re-insertion as a result of the campaign at Uncommonlydense[…]s_and_People

aargh! - looks like they have Larry on their backs:

semi protected -

I have semi protected the page because of the continued reinsertion of ‘Of Pandas and People’, and I will not hesitate to full protect it. People have been encouraged to add this book to this page at a blog: However, blogs are not a reliable source, see WP:RS. If there is a reliable non-partisan source that says that this book is banned, we add it, and it can be discussed here at the talk page. Just reinserting it without discussion is not the way wikipedia works. – Kim van der Linde at venus 12:10, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

The author of the blog “I’m From Missouri” has promised on his blog: to continue an “editing war” to put the book Of People and Pandas on this list. He is aware that it has not actually been banned anywhere but believes that claims of victimhood may support his cause. It is a shame that a Wikipedia entry has been politicized.

By using their perverted logic, Penhouse is a banned sex ed text yet I don’t see them taking up the Penthouse cause for freedom of speech. And they don’t use the Anarchist’s Cookbook in high school shop class, does that make it a banned book? A victim of censorship? No these are not banned books they are innapropriate textbooks much like Pandas is an innapropriate science text book. The reason is because it is not science. For that matter the bible is not used as a science text, does that make it a banned book too?

Poor, poor fundie x-tians…They want so badly to be victims of a vast scientific/atheist conspiracy. What a bunch of losers/babies.

Hey DI and Dimbski, you lost in Dover. Get over it. Grow up. Stop crying like sore losers.

All this talk about banned books makes me wonder aloud how many IDists are for things like Abstinence Only sex diseducation and how many ID supporters would have wanted any book making plain references to sexuality (like a lot of the Banned Books do) being used in their schools? Any cries for intellectual freedom on that front?

Wikipedia can’t really be “tricked”. It is what it is and anyone can make it say anything. False information has been put up on it several times and you can find outright falsehoods at any time you want to put a few minutes into researching a topic you understand.

Amen, Hallulejah :).

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on September 27, 2006 2:42 AM.

Creationism in Hawaii - a post-election update was the previous entry in this blog.

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