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Group puts politics before free inquiry by withdrawal

The initial reaction from the announcement by the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology that it was cancelling holding its 2011 convention in New Orleans because it objected to a recently-enacted state law that supports academic freedom is that this organization is less interested in that and more interested in politics.

The group holds itself out as “dedicated to promoting the pursuit and public dissemination of important information relating to biology,” but with this announcement by its executive committee that it would shift this meeting to Utah as a result of the Science Education Act one supposes that “biology” should be replaced with “political correctness.” The law allows for supplementary materials to be introduced into science classes to better critically appraise theory, and specifically disallows any material that would promote any religious beliefs.

However, some individuals apparently that are so insecure in their own beliefs and/or who do not value critical thinking in the classroom have taken umbrage at the law and created a fictitious bogeyman surrounding it. Despite the law’s explicit wording, these opponents mistakenly claim it will allow some kind of religious content into instruction. Again, this straw man argument tells us more about them and their negative views on the topic of intellectual inquiry than it represents any realistic appraisal of the situation, for any person who can read and reason can look at the text of the law and figure out its unmistakable meaning.

Thus seems to be the attitude of this executive committee. I would recommend that SICB members, at the next opportunity, vote out such dullards who might well be first class scientists but clearly are second class leaders. It should also make members think twice about their own participation in an organization where political agendas get put ahead of the study of biology by its leaders.

Sure, this temper tantrum will take some sales tax dollars from state and New Orleans coffers but if the state must choose between a commitment to free inquiry versus lucre, waving goodbye to this politicized group is a no-brainer.

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