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Darwin defender sued for libel
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 05/13/2005 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
A California parent battling a school district over how it teaches evolutionary theory has filed a libel lawsuit against the education establishment’s chief spokeswoman on Darwin, claiming she is trying to discredit his efforts.
Larry Caldwell, a practicing lawyer, is seeking a retraction from Eugenie C. Scott and the California Academy of Sciences after an Academy magazine, California Wild, published numerous claims he says are false.
Eugenie Scott (Photo: National Center for Science Education)
Scott – executive director of the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Science Education – wrote that Caldwell attempted to get the district to adopt materials advocating biblical creationism, including a young-earth creationist book, “Refuting Evolution,” by Jonathan Safarti, and the Jehovah’s Witness book “Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation?”
But Caldwell told WorldNetDaily he had never even heard of the books she cites.
His aim, he says, is simply for students to be exposed to the work of many prominent scientists who point out weaknesses in evolutionary theory, without introducing religious content.
Scott will not speak to media about the lawsuit, on advice of her lawyers. In a statement on its website, the NCSE says it “believes the lawsuit against Dr. Scott has no merit.”
Caldwell said he wrote a letter to Scott and the NCSE demanding a retraction, but it was ignored.
“It just shows that even after they’ve been told in detail the specific facts, they are not willing to rely on the truth in this debate,” Caldwell said. “It just confirms to me they have a strategy of using misinformation.”
Caldwell said, however, he’s in discussions with the California Academy of Sciences to publish a letter in the July issue of its magazine.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Caldwell already is involved in a civil-rights lawsuit he filed in federal court against the Roseville Joint Union High School District and school officials in Sacramento, Calif., alleging his constitutional rights to free speech, equal protection and religious freedom were violated when he was prevented from introducing a curriculum that changes how the theory of evolution is taught.
Caldwell said he’s been contacted by two other individuals who say they have been libeled by Scott’s NCSE.
In 2002, biologist Jonathan Wells, a leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement, claimed his science credentials were impugned by NCSE officials Kevin Padian and Alan Gishlick.
Padian and Gishlick wrote that after Wells obtained his Ph.D. in biology, he “followed this with a 5-year postdoctoral position … during which time he seems to have performed no experiments” and “no peer-reviewed publications resulted.”
Both claims were false, according to John West of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, who noted that even after sending documentation, the two authors refused to correct the record.
“Spreading false information about others appears to be part of standard practice at the NCSE,” West said on the Discovery Intitute weblog “Evolution News & Views.”
Wells, a Discovery Institute fellow and author of “Icons of Evolution,” was among the scientists who testified at the controversial Kansas State Board of Education hearings on plans to consider changes in standards that determine how students are tested on science statewide.
Board members accused defenders of the current curriculum of engaging in character assassination during the hearings, which concluded Tuesday.
National and state science groups boycotted the hearings, claiming they were biased against evolution.
Wells accused evolution defenders of showing contempt for science and Kansas by refusing to participate.
“What is it that they’re afraid of?” Wells said in a statement. “If they are so sure they are right, they should have the courage to be cross-examined.”
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