Press Release: CNN Fabricates Texas Textbook Story
July 10, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEATTLE—A national think tank today charged CNN with airing a largely fictional report about scientific critics of evolution who testified yesterday before the Texas State Board of Education. Witnesses encouraged the Board to correct factual errors in biology textbooks and to require that textbooks present both the weaknesses and strengths of evolutionary theory.
“The focus of their testimony to the Board was science, not religion, but you would never guess that fact from watching CNN’s fictionalized report,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.
West said CNN ignored what was actually said at the hearing, depicting the textbook controversy as a battle between extremist Bible-thumpers and the defenders of evolution and even claiming that critics of the textbooks believe that “the Bible takes precedence over science.”
“This is Jayson Blair-style reporting,” said West, noting that CNN failed to show on camera even one person who actually advocated such views at the hearing.
There was testimony from three people who urged the Board to improve textbook coverage of evolution. But none of them talked about the Bible, and none of them advocated the inclusion of creationism in textbooks. Instead, they focused on increasing the coverage of evolutionary theory to include scientific criticisms that appear in peer-reviewed journals.
Two of the witnesses talked about the following:
· Dr. Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, presented the Board with a letter from 22 faculty members at Texas universities who urged Board members to make sure the biology textbooks they adopt cover both the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.
· Discovery Institute Fellow Ray Bohlin, from Richmond, Texas, discussed some scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory not covered in most textbooks and presented the Board with a statement from 100 scientists challenging the neo-Darwinian claim that natural selection acting on random mutations is sufficient for explaining the complexity of life. Dr. Bohlin holds a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology, an MS in Population Genetics, and a BS in Zoology.
During the past decade a growing number of scientists at universities and colleges have raised significant challenges to various aspects of neo-Darwinism. These challenges are based on science, not religion, and that was what was presented at the textbook hearing.”
Other errors in CNN’s report included:
· CNN asserted as fact that intelligent design theory, which is a scientific theory, is the same thing as creationism, which it isn’t.
· CNN asserted as fact that supporters of intelligent design are trying to get the Texas Board to insert the theory into textbooks. This is completely false.
· CNN wrongly defined intelligent design theory as the belief that “an intelligent being created life on Earth.” Actually, intelligent design is the hypothesis that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
About Discovery Institute
Discovery Institute is a national, non-partisan, non-profit public policy and research organization. Its Center for Science and Culture encourages educators to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution. The Center has more than 40 Fellows, including biologists, biochemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts. For more information visit www.discovery.org.
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