05 April 2006

Backwards in Canada

Nick Matzke at the Panda's Thumb alerts us to what is a genuinely shocking development in Montreal, where the Canadian federal government's primary social sciences granting agency has rejected research on the grounds that the theory of evolution may not be correct.

Brian Alters of McGill University's Evolution Education Research Centre wants to find out how the "intelligent design" movement is eroding acceptance of evolutionary science in Canada. He asked the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for $40,000 to carry out the research. He was rejected. The rejection letter reads, in part:
Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct.
The SSHRC chief, one Janet Halliwell, is arguing that one line was taken out of context, but she dissembles. The full text of the denial letter can be found here, in an Ottawa Citizen story. Also from that story is nice little anecdote:
Mr. Alters said yesterday that he was "shocked" at the council's response and it offers "ironic" proof that his premise about intelligent design gaining a foothold in Canada is correct.

He said he read the letter at a public lecture last week in Montreal and there were "audible gasps" from the audience.

"Evolution is not an assumption, and intelligent design is pseudo-science," said Mr. Alters. "I think SSHRC should come out and state that evolution is a scientific fact and that intelligent design is not."

I, for one, am hoping and expecting the SSHRC to reverse its decision within hours. But in case they don't, write to the council and share with them your frustration. Dr. Stan Shapson is the president of the SSHRC. His email address is vpri@yorku.ca. The medic contact is: susan.goodyear@sshrc.ca

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