Christian Right Wants Bigfoot, UFO's, Elvis in Science Curriculum?

[ note: this weekend, April 6-9, is the blogswarm against theocracy ]

Aired last Wednesday and scheduled again for the 10PM to Midnight slot this evening, a segment entitled "God, Faith, and Hard Science" on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees show featured Robert Boston of Americans United For The Separation of Church and State and Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council sparring over what should be included in the science curriculum of American public schools [ here's a transcript ] The segment has gotten fair play in the blogosphere, on PZ Meyers' Pharyngula and elsewhere, and I would like to highlight an aspect of what Dr. Yoest said that intrigues me. Now, I want to preface this by saying that I haven't been able to reach the Family Research Council to verify that Dr. Yoest was actually speaking as an official representative for the FRC ; today is Good Friday and the FRC offices shut down today at noon in observance of the religious holiday. But Dr. Yoest's statements on Anderson Cooper seemed to indicate that Yoest advocates including discussion about the existence of Bigfoot and UFO's, or whether Elvis is still alive and in hiding or not, in America's public school science curriculum: will "teaching the controversy" ruin public schools with pseudoscience, or does it amount to an exciting new pedagogical approach to making education more connected to American public belief ?

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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