Spinning Libelously

Yesterday, Focus on the Family issued a press release stating how pleased they were that Genie Scott has clarified statements she made about an “intelligent design” proponent in the California Wild. This comes on the heels of similiar cheering by the Discovery Institute, WorldNetDaily, and Quality [sic] Science Education for All.

With this chorus of cheers, you’d expect that Scott’s clarification admitted to some serious mistakes undercutting her entire article and our campaign to protect and promote science education. So what exactly did she clarify?

Having reviewed my article, “In My Backyard: Creationism in California” (Spring, 2005), I would like to make some clarifications.

The Cobb County, Georgia, evolution disclaimer referenced in the first sentence initially was introduced in March, 2002; the November, 2004 date referenced was when a challenge to the policy by parents was tried in federal court.

Further investigation suggests that the books Refuting Evolution and Life: How Did It Get Here? were submitted to the Roseville school board by other residents, not by Larry Caldwell, and were not considered after submission. (Note also that the surname of the author of Refuting Evolution is Sarfati, not Safarti.) Members of the board of education did not formally recommend the antievolutionist materials, though they supported their use. Of the two incumbents not re-elected, one, who supported Caldwell’s position, did not seek re-election; the other never identified himself as a creationist, although members of the community perceived him to support the antievolutionist efforts.

Finally, the person described by a scientist as having a “gross misunderstanding of the nature of science” in his analysis of the Holt textbook was not Caldwell.

Eugenie C. Scott National Center for Science Education Oakland, CA

California Wild: Letters to the Editor

Wow, is that it? What a let down! Given the clamorous lovefest of the chorus, I expected Scott to have at least called someone a whore or blamed creationists for the tragic mass murder at Columbine. But I can’t find anything approaching such tabloid quality journalism.

But let’s look specifically at how Larry Caldwell has reacted to these clarifications.

Caldwell added, “It’s a shame it took a lawsuit to get Scott, the author of the article, to retract some of the more outrageous factual misstatements in her article.”

“Unfortunately, Scott and the NCSE have a long history of libeling people in the debate over how evolution should be taught in our public schools; my case is only the most recent example. Hopefully, it won’t take any more libel lawsuits to teach them how to stick to the truth.”


I suspect that Caldwell has some how read a different clarification than I. I don’t see how he can find any “outrageous factual misstatements” in her clarification. But if Caldwell considers Scott’s remarks to be outrageous factual misstatements, I wonder what he thinks about the numerous factual errors in creationist literature like, Jonathan Wells’ Icons of Evolution. Is accusing the scientific community of lies, fraud, and dogmatic behavior more or less outrageous than accusing an individual of promoting books he never heard of?