Teaching Evolution

Judge Orders Stickers Removed From Georgia Textbooks

A federal district judge in Atlanta, Georgia, last week ordered a county school board to remove stickers from textbooks that question the validity of evolutionary theory. Even as defenders of Darwin were hailing the victory, however, the school board voted to appeal the order.

In 2002, the school board of suburban Cobb County ordered stickers pasted on high school biology textbooks. The labels describe evolution as "a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things" and advise that the material should be "critically considered." A suit by parents claimed that the stickers violated the First

Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that mandates separation of church and state. On 13 January, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia noted that describing evolution "as a theory rather than a fact" clearly identifies the school board as being on the side of "religiously motivated individuals."

Wes McCoy, chair of the science department at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, says he's "thrilled" with the court's decision (www.gand.uscourts.gov). The disclaimer created confusion about the meanings of fact and theory, he says, and led to requests from some students that

"we simply not teach evolution anymore, 'since so many people disagree with it.' "

Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, says she is "encouraged" by the ruling and hopes it "should at least discourage 'theory, not fact'-type disclaimers." She also sees it as a boon to plaintiffs in Dover, Pennsylvania, who have sued local school officials over a requirement that students be apprised that there are "problems" with Darwinism and that they may consider "other theories of evolution including ... intelligent design."

-Constance Holden between aerobic capacity, mitochondrial function, and the full range of cardiovascular symptoms," says Jeffrey Flier, an obesity and metabolism expert at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "If you happen to have drawn the wrong genes, you may be subject to not only not being a longdistance runner but also to diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

All the researchers stress that the results should not be cause for despair

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