As constant as the northern wind, as tenacious as an underfed Chihuahua, as aggravating as a little brother with a squirt gun, creationists across our fair land continue to annoy and appall. They push pseudo-science in America's classrooms, textbooks, and curriculum. But which creationist was the most annoying and appalling?
It's a hard call. But at DontDissDarwin Central, making hard calls is what we do.
To recognize the year's most cringe-inspiring creationist, we've intelligently designed the UpChucky Award. The UpChucky is bestowed upon that person or organization who persists in denying evolution despite a blizzard of empirical evidence. This tiara of temerity, this garland of gagacity, this diadem of dunderheadedness, isn't awarded to just any Darwin doubter. The UpChucky is bestowed on that one creationist whose efforts in the preceding year would inspire Darwin (or any rational person) to "drive the porcelain bus".
Answers in Genesis's "Ark Park"
From the organization that brought us the Creation Museum (see Adam frolic with the wild Ankylosaur!) comes the latest exercise in reality distortion, the "Ark Encounter" theme park. The proposed "Ark Park" would include a full-scale replica of Noah's big boat (complete with animals, including unicorns), a Tower of Babel, a special effects theatre, and more. Fumed the Louisville Courier-Journal: "Why stop with creationism...how about a Flat-Earth Museum?"
Special UpChucky Fellow Traveler Mini-Me™ medallion to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who is enthusiastically backing the Ark Park to the tune of $37.5 million in incentives.
John Freshwater, former science teacher
John Freshwater is one teacher who makes an indelible impression! A middle-school science teacher in Ohio, Freshwater hung Biblical posters in his room, taught creationism, and made lessons memorable by branding crosses into his students' arms with a Tesla coil. One family sued the school district and won a settlement; Freshwater lost his countersuit, then his job. In a show of pure UpChuckyness, Freshwater has appealed his firing.
Notable Fresh quote: One of Freshwater's students testified what he learned from his science teacher: "Science can't be trusted. Science can't teach us anything."
Louisiana Family Forum
The LFF is clearly no BFF of evolution. The Forum is dedicated to injecting "biblical principles in the centers of influence." In 2008, the Forum succeeded in having the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act passed, opening the door to creationism in Louisiana's public schools. And in 2009, Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) let the LFF dictate how complaints about creationist supplementary materials for public school science classes would be handled. In 2010, the Forum attacked high school biology textbook adoption. "If this was a beauty contest, we have got all ugly contestants in these biology textbooks," said LFFer Darrell White.
The Baton Rouge Advocate's response: "It's one thing to be different culturally...[but] for Louisiana to be different in the direction of ignorance would be a humiliation in the eyes of the nation and the world."
But this time, BESE ignored the Forum and approved the slate of scientifically-accurate textbooks. Said NCSE board member Barbara Forrest: "Something happened today in Louisiana that is about as common here as snowflakes at Christmas: the voice of reason prevailed at a meeting of public officials."
Hands-off LFF quote: "I do not expect our friends [in the media]... to report the sloppy job publishers did this year in the latest round of science textbooks...unfortunately 'the inmates are in charge' of the main stream and dwindling media too! My suggestion, don't let the inmates 'touch your junk' without a fight!"
And the winner is...
Answers in Genesis! Notes the Lexington Herald-Leader: the Ark Park is "rooted in outright opposition to science...[this] hostility to science, knowledge and education does little to attract the kind of employers that will provide good-paying jobs with a future."
"Controversy over proposed creationist theme park"
"Kentucky Academy of Science on the ark park"
"Creationist teacher sued in Ohio"
"Partial settlement in Freshwater case"
"Recommendation in the Freshwater case"
"The Freshwater case continues"
Louisiana Family Forum
"Biology textbooks approved in Louisiana"
MEDIA NOTE: If you want to use the UpChucky logo or the illustrations with your story, download the files here.
CONTACT: Robert Luhn, Director of Communications, NCSE, 510-601-7203, email@example.com
Web site: www.ncse.com
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is a not-for-profit, membership organization that defends and promotes the teaching of evolution in the public schools. The NCSE provides information and resources to schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education. We educate the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of the creation and evolution controversy, and supply needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels. Our 4000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious affiliations.
UpChucky and Freshwater illustrations by Paula Spence