Texas Freedom Network Manufactures Bogus Controversy Over Science Standard Reviewers

AUSTIN, TX — The Chicken Littles at the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) are ranting that the sky is falling because two of the six experts selected to review the state’s science standards co-authored Explore Evolution, a textbook that examines both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution (

What the TFN doesn’t reveal is that another of the expert reviewers co-authored a one-sided, Darwin-only textbook! David Hillis, a biology professor at UT Austin co-authored the 2008 edition of Life: The Science of Biology, a textbook whose previous editions have been approved for use in Texas high schools. Hillis also serves as a spokesman for a pro-evolution lobbying group that is trying to remove language in the Texas science standards requiring students to study the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories. Gerald Skoog, another expert reviewer, has signed a statement issued by the same pro-evolution group, and he too has been a science textbook author and has a long history as a pro-Darwin activist.

“If being a textbook author really is a ‘conflict of interest,’ then why isn’t TFN attacking Hillis and Skoog?” asked Casey Luskin, program officer for public policy and legal affairs at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “In truth, textbook authors are precisely some of the experts who should be having input into science curriculum standards.”

“TFN and other Darwinist activists are manufacturing a controversy because they don’t want a serious examination of the science standards, especially of their effort to gut the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ language. What are they afraid of?” asked Luskin.

“We think it’s fantastic that Dr. Meyer and Dr. Seelke have been invited to review the Texas science standards and explain why students should learn both the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories,” added Luskin. “And we also think it’s great that people like Dr. Hillis and Dr. Gerald Skoog were chosen. Unlike the TFN, we think the state board of education should be applauded for choosing a diverse group of scientific reviewers. Getting honest input from science experts with diverse views is imperative if we’re going to build a world-class educational system.”

Both Dr. Meyer and Dr. Seelke are practiced reviewers having been involved in other states’ standards review processes. Dr. Meyer has previously been invited by the states of Ohio and Kansas to testify on their science standards.

Dr. Meyer is director and Senior Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute, and earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin of life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

Dr. Seelke received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and has been an Associate Professor or Professor in the Department of Biology and Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior since 1989 where he researches evolution’s capabilities and limitations in producing new functions in bacteria.

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.