Monday, October 09, 2006


Coming on the heels of the newly formed Scientists and Engineers for America, those of us in Colorado have a new organization to help fight the good fight, Colorado Evolution Response Team, or CERT. Friday’s online edition of the Denver Post has an article about the organization:

Finally, scientists are fighting mad.

In a state where public educators are afraid to put the word “evolution” in science aptitude tests and where the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor thinks biblical creationism counts as science, the Colorado Evolution Response Team has its work cut out.

CERT, as the new group refers to itself, seems ready for the fight.

“There is a cultural attack against science,” said David Pollock, a genetic researcher at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “The president taking intelligent-design propaganda as gospel is not good.”

Neither is having a lieutenant governor who wants creationism taught in schools. […]

They won’t have to look far. Last summer, a member of the Colorado Board of Education called evolution “one of those loaded phrases.” So Colorado doesn’t print the word in statewide science aptitude tests. Instead, kids see the less controversial term “adaptation.”

“They’re trying to avoid controversy,” not teach science, said James DeGregori, a CU cancer biologist. “That’s exactly what this organization (CERT) should respond to.”

Scientists “profess evolution as the foundation of the biosciences,” said Kieft, a Christian who squares his scholarship with his faith. “If you test students on biology, you have to deal with it.”

By not doing so, added Pollock, you are “erasing a portion of human knowledge that is critical. You’re crippling people.”

You also force the creation of groups like CERT, which is independent of, but akin to, another new organization, Scientists and Engineers for America. SEA is a national group dealing with national issues. Pollock belongs to both. They are part of a movement by scientists to reclaim their disciplines from religion and politics. CERT was the brainchild of DeGregori, honed with Pollock and Kieft. […]

“They’re taking religious beliefs and pretending they can make them science,” School of Mines physicist Matt Young said of folks who think creationism constitutes science. “I hope that CERT will be able to support teachers and parents in situations where science is being distorted.”

If you are from Colorado, especially if you are in the sciences, please consider joining CERT. The website still needs some tweaking, so you might want to bookmark it and then check back later once more formal means of joining or donating are available.

Full disclosure: One of the scientists quoted in the Post article, David Pollock, is my PI. Two of the others, DiGregory and Kieft, are both faculty in my department. (Don’t I work in a cool place?) And the fourth, Matt Young, is just some old nobody who I’ve never heard of, but strangely enough, he’s listed as a PT contributor.

(Cross-posted to the Panda's Thumb.)