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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The wunderkid fighting creationism


The panels on Bill Maher's show can often be boring. Last Friday's wasn't with a real fight between Socialist Senator Bernie Saunders and right wing blowhard Stephen Moore.

The highlight though, the point where I spit out my tea, was when the 19-year-old science activist Zack Kopplin joined the panel. After Moore made yet another stupid statement on basic science research ('why are we funding this ridiculous project! chortle, chortle ..') Kopplin shot back with "but we've already established that you are not a scientist." (Clip after the jump).

Kopplin is an amazing character. His fight against the spread of creationism in the school voucher programme in his home state of Louisiana has attracted the support of dozens of Nobel Laureates and has spread to other states. He started when he was 16.

The Louisiana Science Education Act allows teachers to bring in their own supplemental materials when discussing 'politically controversial' topics like evolution or climate change. It has led to some teachers removing established science textbooks altogether.

Kopplin has become a leader in the anti-creationist movement, exposing the fact that it isn't just a 'deep south' problem but a national one. He says:
So far, I have documented 310 schools, in nine states and the District of Columbia that are teaching creationism, and receiving tens of millions of dollars in public money through school voucher programs.
There is no doubt that there are hundreds more creationist voucher schools that have yet to be identified. The more than 300 schools I have already found are those that have publicly stated on their websites that they teach creationism or use creationist curricula.
Voucher schools are a conservative argument and have found favour here too in the UK, as 'free schools', where some have also been caught teaching creationism. Says Zack:
Advocates for vouchers argue that private schools and more competition would offer a better education for American students.  Schools that teach creationism and do not meet basic science standards will fail our students and do not deserve taxpayer funding.
We must speak out to prevent funding these creationist schools with our public money.
Watch Zack on Bill Maher and also a longer interview on Bill Moyers' show after the jump:

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