Reports of the National Center for Science Education

New Creationist Book On the Way

New Creationist Book On the Way
Reviewed by
Eugenie C. Scott

The Texas-based Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) has been looking for two years or so (to our knowledge) for a publisher for a supplemental textbook for public school science classes. FTE’s goal is "to help restore freedom of choice to young people in the classroom, especially as it relates to matters of religion and conscience." Creationist-watchers will recognize this as a term of art for getting sectarian religious views into the classroom. Their supplementary book, originally entitled Biology and Origins, looks like it is going to finally get published.

The book has had an interesting history. In the fall of 1986, "Austin Analytic Consulting" (same outfit, different name) conducted a national survey of biology teachers on attitudes about the teaching on creation and evolution in schools. The 300 teachers (note the small sample size) reported a certain amount of enthusiasm for having supplementary materials for "balancing" evolutionary teachings in class, a point that was highlighted in a letter sent to many publishers in early 1987. Apparently, FTE didn’t want a Christian publisher, but a mainline publisher in order to crack the public school market. Biology and Origins, however, didn’t attract sufficient (if any) interest among mainline publishers. FTE continued soliciting its membership for donations to keep the project afloat, and in December, we learned that a publisher had been found.

The textbook has now been re-christened Of Pandas and People, which probably gives Stephen Jay Gould mixed feelings, and is to be published by Haughton Publishing Company (not to be confused with textbook giant Houghton Mifflin). Haughton is in Dallas, and is not listed in Literary Marketplace, or the Publishers volume of Books in Print. We found Haughton in Publishers, Distributors, and Wholesalers, and called them. A pleasant fellow told me that they publish agricultural books, and that Pandas is their first foray into the textbook market. Because textbook marketing is a specialized field, we wonder how successful they will be.

The predicted date of publication is July-August, 1989, and as befits a supplement, will be 124 pages. They may be writing for the Christian school market, but the original goal was to go for the public schools. Be on the lookout for attempts to get it adopted in your local school district. It is a classic "equal time" tract, and the "fairness" of such an approach is insidious.

This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

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