The leading promoter of intelligent design theory announced a new effort to battle against an “outrageous misinformation campaign” against the new science standards regarding evolution adopted by Kansas schools.

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute hopes its “Stand Up For Science, Stand Up For Kansas” public education campaign, which includes an online petition, will help set the record straight.

Last year, the Kansas State Board of Education revised the state’s science standards to require students to learn the full range of scientific evidence for and against biological and chemical evolution. The board heard testimony from 23 scientists and scholars about how such evidence should be presented in the classroom.

The board said “curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory.”

Some opponents, such as Kansas Citizens for Science, have urged schools in the state to ignore the new standards, contending the board “changed the definition of science in order to include supernatural causes as acceptable scientific explanations, inserted numerous statements into the biology standards that have been rejected by mainstream science and are only found in intelligent design creationist literature, and cast unwarranted doubt upon the methodology and validity of science.”

But the Discovery Institute insists the aim of the standards merely is to teach the evidence both for and against Darwinian evolution.

The think tank says it opposes any attempt to mandate the teaching of alternative theories such as intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education.

“There is now a concerted and organized effort to undermine those standards and ultimately to repeal them and replace them with dogmatic, Darwin-only science standards,” said Rob Crowther, the Discovery Institute’s communications director.

The institute points to polls showing an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that when biology teachers present the scientific evidence supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution, they also should teach the scientific evidence against it.

Crowther contends Kansas’ approach to teaching evolution will require students to analyze the evidence so they will gain the critical thinking skills necessary to become good scientists.

Four other states have similar standards requiring students to learn about critical analysis of evolution – Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, a group called the Intelligent Design Network has published a list of frequently asked questions about the standards on a website called Teach Darwin Honestly

The group argues the basis for the changes in curriculum standards “reflect common sense and all have a solid scientific basis.”

The standards, the group points out, were crafted by eight members of a writing committee that included three holders of doctoral degrees in the life sciences. The result then was scientifically and educationally validated by 23 experts during three days of hearings in May 2005. The experts included five Ph.D. biologists, four Ph.D. biochemists, three Ph.D. chemists, one Ph.D. geneticist (inventor of the Gene Gun), one Ph.D. quantum physicist, two Ph.D. philosophers of science, one Ph.D. professor of education, three biology teachers, a Muslim journalist and an attorney.

The FAQ points out the teaching of intelligent design was excluded expressly from the standards.

Evolution was not removed from the standards, the FAQ states, adding, “This is misinformation that seeks to suppress any critical analysis of evolution.”

The Intelligent Design Network addresses the charge that the curriculum changes will drive businesses out of Kansas and disqualify students for college.

“This is propaganda designed to frighten rather than inform,” the group says. “It amounts to crying ‘FIRE! FIRE!’ in a crowded theater when there is no fire. This deception was concocted by founders of Kansas Citizens for Science and was outlined in the November 2000 issue of Freethought Today, a publication of atheists and agnostics.”

The reason there are conflicting reports, the FAQ says, is because organizations “that oppose the changes are unwilling to publicly debate evolution because they falsely claim it is not scientifically controversial. To avoid a discussion of the real controversy they unfairly demean those who seek it.”

A message posted on the Kansas Citizens for Science website by Liz Craig, an officer and public relations contact for the group, outlines the strategy opponents used in 1999 and in the most recent debate.

My strategy at this point is the same as it was in 1999: notify the national and local media about what’s going on and portray [advocates] in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies,

There may no way to head off another science standards debacle, but we can sure make them look like asses as they do what they do. Our target is the moderates who are not that well educated about the issues, most of whom probably are theistic evolutionists. There is no way to convert the creationists.

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