Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Economic Costs of Suppressing Science

First Read reports on the controversy in Kansas over teaching of evolution versus intelligent design, and we see more signs of friction between the goals of the pro-business aspects of the GOP and the religious right. Apparently some people realize there is more money to be made in promoting science, and its marketable products, than in suppressing science to pander to the religious right:

Lawrence, KS-based investor and "self-employed businessman" John Burch will convene a meeting in his hometown tomorrow to lay out a case that this revived debate over the teaching of intelligent design versus evolutionary biology not only sends the wrong message to potential investors in Kansas bioscience, but that phasing out the teaching of evolution will deprive Kansas students of the education they need to go work in that industry.

"It's not a religious issue, it's an economic issue," Burch tells First Read, noting that the initiative includes 40,000 new jobs. He wants to see if "this age-old debate," as he calls it, "can be reframed as an economic workforce issue." Burch seems to be trying to sidestep the actual evolution-vs.-intelligent design argument by saying that the teaching of creationism "has nothing to do with the needs of Kansas science students if they're going to be part of the workforce in the bioscience economy."

Burch's meeting tomorrow will feature speakers who favor the teaching of evolution, including the head of the Kansas science standards curriculum revision committee and a rep for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whereas the board of education hearings in Topeka in early May will feature experts who favor the teaching of intelligent design. Supporters of evolution are boycotting those hearings.


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