Dept. of Education SMART grants: Evolutionary biologists need not apply

Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a news article by Sam Kean that describes more creationist shenanigans in the Federal Government. Kean reports that a new “SMART Grant” makes funds available to science, engineering and foreign language students – with the exception of students majoring in evolutionary biology.

The Education Department has a system of codes for undergraduate majors–the “CIP codes”– which includes evolutionary biology (code 26.1303). The list of majors eligible for the SMART grant omits only this code among all the biological disciplines.

What can we conclude about the omission? As with the drafts of “Pandas and People”, the perpetrators of this deletion seem to have been rather careless about how they used the ctl-X and ctl-C/ctl-V commands. In the list of acceptable majors, evolutionary biology is missing, but there is a space where it ought to have been. It’s reasonable to conclude from this that someone inelegantly and inexpertly yanked the line at a late stage in the document’s development.

The CHE article quotes Prof. Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve, who “said he sent the letter to the department when he learned of the absence, which he called ‘a serious omission.’” Professor Krauss was unwilling to make any accusations as to the reason for evolutionary biology not being on the list. And a Dept. of Education spokesperson called it an unspecified “clerical consolidation of some kind.”

Odd, though, that of all the biological disciplines only evolution should face this “consolidation”. Has anyone kept track of where George Deutsch has moved to?

UPDATE: Poking around, I found what I think are all of the anomalous deletions.

They are:

15.0501: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology 26.0908: Exercise Physiology 26.1303: Evolutionary Biology

From “Inter/mulitdisciplinary studies” 30.17 (Behavioral Sciences) is also missing, but a lot of other majors from this category are excluded as well, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.

The obvious question is: Why do the creationists hate air conditioning?!

UPDATE 8/25/06: Reader TW points out that Sam Kean at the CHE has more information and a Dept. of Education response. In brief, Evolutionary Biology is a valid major. No word on the fate of HVAC engineering.