Creationism in the Classroom and The Separation of Church and State

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | October 19, 2010 11:37 am

More nonsense from the Mad Tea Party at WashPo:

PH2010101903304WILMINGTON, Del. — Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O’Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons’ position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”

I remind you this was a real Senatorial debate–not an episode of  Saturday Night Live. Read the full and embarrassing story at The Washington Post

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics and Science

Comments (36)

  1. Wow. She is an order of magnitude worse than even Palin. If there’s no separation of church and state, then what’s going to stop her from wholesale religious indoctrination and not just in the context of creationism?

  2. Nemesis

    She’s lucky she’s hot. Although, not so much in the above picture.

  3. ChH

    What we need is separation of education and state – or at least a good school choice program that includes something like vouchers for private schools. I don’t want anyone forced to send their kids to a school where they will be taught a religion the parents disagree with – but your purely secular public school vision forces parents who want their kids to have a religious education to either pay for it twice, or effectively forbids it if the parents aren’t wealthy enough.

  4. Brian D

    Sheril, you left out the money quote from the original story:

    Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that “religious doctrine doesn’t belong in our public schools.”

    “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked him.

    When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O’Donnell asked: “You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”

    Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

    “You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp,” Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O’Donnell’s grasp of the Constitution.

  5. True, will update the post…

  6. John

    Unfortunately, to a tiny degree, she is technically correct: there is not a specific clause or statement in the Constitution or the Amendments thereto that stipulate that there shall be a separation of church and state. Instead, this idea of separation of the two has been the interpretation of the implied meaning of “making no law respecting an establishment of religion”. And this interpretation tends to be the focus of Tea Party-ers and their ilk. O’Donnell just did a poor job of representing it, which isn’t much of a surprise at this point.

  7. Brian D

    @CrH #3:

    What we need is separation of education and state – or at least a good school choice program that includes something like vouchers for private schools. I don’t want anyone forced to send their kids to a school where they will be taught a religion the parents disagree with – but your purely secular public school vision forces parents who want their kids to have a religious education to either pay for it twice, or effectively forbids it if the parents aren’t wealthy enough.

    Extremely bad idea.

    Consider the area covered by secular (note: secular=”faith neutral”, not “atheist”) public schools, and the same area covered by a religious school. For the area that they overlap, there’s no difference. For the area they differ, nothing is taught that the children wouldn’t learn in church anyway. (It may not be part of the sermon, but in nearly all churches, it’s covered nonetheless). And “not being wealthy enough” never stopped people from attending religious services before (barring very specific scam sessions).

    Thus, for all students, secular schooling plus whatever their family’s faith calls for meets everyone’s requirements without needing a modification of the first amendment.

    And yes, by the way, that’s what you’re requiring. Because public schools receive taxpayer funding, and are established by law. The part of the first amendment that Christine O’Donnell apparently didn’t know about is the important bit here: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…. Any form of public school that is non-secular violates your Constitution.

  8. Jason

    This is what bothers me about the Tea Party and I can’t help feel as if their original goals have been usurped by the religious right. I can respect their views on taxation and smaller government, I even briefly had hope they might have turned into a splinter of the Republican party that shifted away from the evangelical right. I’m sorry to see that isn’t happening.

    In general I don’t see an improvement in the political landscape until a viable third party emerges that isn’t based around fanaticism. Neither the Republicans or Democrats represent my views any longer and I don’t believe citizens should have to settle for the lesser of two evils when representing the future of our country.

  9. FUAG

    As a reminder: The Republican base was extremely unhappy that O’Donnell won the primary. She is certainly unqualified…
    So, that being said, these last two O’Donnell posts must be an attempt to frame all conservatives to be the same as O’Donnell. When, in actuality, the majority of conservatives agree she should never have run.

    Keep selling the fear!

  10. Brian D

    FUAG:

    Still waiting for the Republicans to speak out against her the way Rove did at the start and conspicuously is not doing now.

    If “the majority of conservatives agree she should never have run” (which I find plausible, by the way; there was certainly enough of an outcry from bigger-names, most notably Rove), and these same conservatives have the integrity to stand against an unqualified candidate (and thus stand, at least partly, with the Democrats), then I’d expect there to be an outcry against O’Donnell.

    *crickets*

    Oh. So either they aren’t as offended as we suspect (I doubt this) or they would support anyone with an R over anyone with a D, no matter the lack of qualifications or their own interests as voters. Hmm.

    In fact, the biggest name in Republican politics that I’m aware of as speaking out against O’Donnell is Meghan McCain, and she got attacked by right-wing pundits as “a self-indulgent set of mega-breasts“.

    Come on, conservatives! If you’re so for personal responsibility above anything, even partisan electoral gain, then for the love of God, call a spade a spade and speak out against this nutjob!

  11. ChH

    Brian D -
    first, secular schools under the vision promoted by this blog most certainly do teach athiesm, humanism and a morality contrary to the beliefs of a majority of the country. the “they can get it at church” argument is very weak – consider what you’d do if I said I wanted to force the teaching of creationism to your kid 5 days a week, but then you get 3 hours each weekend to teach evolution.

    Exempting parents who want to send their kids to a non-gov’t school from also paying taxes to send other peoples’s kids to a gov’t school would not violate the 1st amendment.

    Vouchers above what a poor family might pay in taxes also do not violate the 1st because it would not be gov’t establishing anything, but rather the parents exercizing their religious freedom in how they educate their kids. that is, after all, the point of the establishment clause – to protect religious freedom. Your approach has a result exactly the opposite of the intent of the 1st.

  12. Brian D

    First, if my premise is correct (that secular schools teach secularly (neutral), not atheistically), then my approach cannot violate the first amendment by definition (as congress’ law does not respect the establishment of religion if it doesn’t promote or deny any religion).

    However, even assuming your premise is correct, that secular schools teach atheism (which is patently absurd – the only areas that secular education directly challenges religious teachings is on areas where the religion is in patent disagreement with observed reality, and it’s not the school’s responsibility to provide apologetics to reconcile the two. Secular schools teach evolution (observable, demonstrable fact), not that there is no God), your conclusion falls apart.

    See, while I do agree with your second sentence, except for one critical problem: you and your children benefit from the level of education in the country. Just as you benefit from the presence of law enforcement and fire responses. We don’t allow people to opt out of those (for good reason). And while that doesn’t violate the first amendment, it does essentially violate the nature of government in general, and is indirectly promoting anarchy. You can apply exactly the same reasoning to say no one should pay any taxes ever, everyone should fend for themselves everywhere all the time, and no one has any responsibility except toward themselves. Which, incidentally, is a profoundly un-Christian point of view, is it not?

    Furthermore, as for education, to teach evolution requires a solid background of population genetics, phylogeny, geology, and (of course) ecology. We’re already having a hard time teaching this in our current curriculum, given how few Americans actually seem to understand it!
    On the flipside, creationism isn’t just three hours, it’s three sets of three words: “God did it”, “read your Bible”, and “you need faith”. And I challenge you to find any creationist family who doesn’t also drill these points home to their children constantly outside of school and church.

  13. Gil

    At first when the Tea Party was in the news I thought “Oh, nice. Some fiscal conservatives breaking from the social conservative hogwash that mires down conservatism in the US”

    The more I hear stories like the this, though, the clearer it is that the social conservatives are still in charge of it. I do feel embarassed for them when I see the ads that are anti-Health Care bill but pro-Medicare.

    @11: I must’ve missed the atheism, humanism, and morality courses during my primary education. You sound like a home-schooler.

  14. Jim

    If evolution and creationism were even on the same playing field, you’d have a point, but they don’t.

    Evolution is based on the evidence of the natural world seen through the lens of empirical study. It doesn’t presume the existence of a God because it doesn’t need to in order to make sense.

    Creationism is based on the root assumption that there is a God, and an active one. With this premise, there is no opportunity for empirical study because any failure of a theory can be explained by “God did it.”

    They aren’t equivalents.

    I’ve looked through the local curriculum quite thoroughly and while we continue to send our child to our church’s school, that’s because that’s where his friends go and because we know the teachers well – the local curriculum teaches such seditious material as Sharing Is Good and Gays Don’t All Want To Sex You Up. Now, I’ve only read the curriculum up to fourth grade, but I’ve yet to see anything humanist or atheistic that wasn’t present specifically as such, and usually in the context of either a history class or religion class.

  15. FUAG

    Brian D: You answered your own question. But, in this specific case, there is a bit more to it than the R and D. I argue that the D over Chris Coons is as extreme to the left as the the R over O’Donnell is to the right. So it’s more of a lesser of two evils… Certainly not making excuses for the talking heads tho!

    My argument is that O’Donnell is being pushed (by liberals) as the figure head for the Tea Party. When, in actuality, she is on the extreme fringe.

    Also, you used the term “integrity” in reference to established political figures. Keep looking for that integrity, it will be a long search. However, I would argue that along with being a loon O’Donnell has as much integrity as any politician. This is what makes her compelling.

  16. Sorbit

    -When, in actuality, the majority of conservatives agree she should never have run.

    That may be true, but from the way things are progressing it’s very likely that Republicans will bring the Tea Partiers into their fold to get valuable votes and win against Democrats. There are already signs of this happening. Republicans would be entirely ok with tolerating some fundamentalists if it means that they get to win. After all the GOP has never had much of a problem with religious fundamentalism.

  17. Brian D

    @Sorbit #16:

    Republicans would be entirely ok with tolerating some fundamentalists if it means that they get to win. After all the GOP has never had much of a problem with religious fundamentalism.

    Religious right, Reagan, and all that. Spot on.

    In fact, I would dispute that the tea parties aren’t already Republican, especially considering their astroturf connections. There are certainly some general non-republican fiscal conservatives in the crowds, but who’s pulling the strings? I was immediately suspicious when I saw them being vociferously promoted on Fox; as soon as the name Americans for Prosperity showed up, I was convinced this wasn’t anywhere near as grassroots as it was trying to seem. (I’d been familiar with AFP from its tobacco roots.)

    For more on astroturfing in general, the new documentary Astroturf Wars is a good introduction. I’m more familiar with astroturfing and PR-spinning on science issues in general (and climate change in particular), so I don’t know if a more scholarly overview of astroturf is available.

  18. designsoda

    John wrote:
    “Instead, this idea of separation of the two has been the interpretation of the implied meaning of “making no law respecting an establishment of religion”. ”

    Well, actually, the phrase “separation of Church and State” is the shorthand used for the establishment clause. The phrase itself came from Thomas Jefferson:

    “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
    -Thomas Jefferson – Jan.1.1802.

    John wrote:
    “O’Donnell just did a poor job of representing it”

    And she was wrong.

  19. FUAG

    I agree Sorbit, and count me as one of the people that doesn’t mind (although I am in no way religious). I say this not only due to my ideology, but I think someone that puts their faith in God is less crazy than someone that puts their faith in government. Remember the old joke: What is the most dangerous thing someone can say to you? “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help!”

  20. Jim

    @16, look no further than Ron Paul for an example of a fringe candidate who’s been all but colonized by the main arm of the right wing.

  21. Brian D

    Sheril: We now have video of the exchange.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miwSljJAzqg

    It starts with her talking about evolution (“just a theory”), and moves to the separation of church and state at 2:37.

    Earlier, when the source I quoted said “You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp“, he was understating it – the crowd laughs out loud at her.

    Also, her campaign is defending her by saying In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution.

    Skip the video to 7:05. Watch her face and her tone. Judge for yourself.

  22. ChH

    So to sum up, Brian D:

    1. since evolutionists and those who believe any adult consenting sex is good as long as it’s wrapped* know they’re right, it’s ok to force poor parents who disagree to have their kids taught that.

    2. since it’s to my benefit to have an educated country, I should be forced to pay for other kids’ education while i’m also paying for mine.

    3. Christ taught that gov’t should forceably confiscate money and give it to the needy.

    * Politically I am a libertarian. I am in no way advocating my morality be forced on anyone. I’d just like the same consideration for myself and my family.

  23. Brian D

    @CrH:

    1: Strawman. Parents are still free to home-school or private-school their children. No one is forcing you to attend public schools. (There is still the payment issue, but that’s #2.) This is the case no matter what the truth of evolution is. (Furthermore, the secular curricula I’ve read don’t pass value judgments on sexual relations. They just focus on dispelling myths, such as claiming that AIDS stems from homosexuality. For a self-described libertarian, you seem to support forcing your values on others on this issue.)

    2: Self-contradiction. Exactly the same argument applies to property insurance, fire control, law enforcement, road use, and so on, plus other areas that are traditionally “socialized” by a non-government provider such as electricity, water treatment, and medical insurance. Presumably you understand and/or accept these. Unless you’re pumping and filtering your own water, producing your own power, avoiding public roads, and so on, you are reaping the benefit of society – and I thought paying for what you use is a principle of libertarianism.

    3: Strawman. I said the un-Christian attitude was “everyone should fend for themselves everywhere all the time, and no one has any responsibility except toward themselves.” Given Jesus’ tendency to help out those that the society of the time had discarded (lepers and the poor), I’d've thought this’d be obvious.
    (There are other verses that actually support what you’re parodying, by the way – 1 Peter 2:13-14 perhaps most clearly – but that wasn’t what I was arguing, nor is it a position I support.)

    I’m a civil libertarian and an economic collectivist, for the record. The general term for this perspective is “social democrat”.

    And yet, even I notice a strange obsession with “force” in your article. By consenting to live in an organized, governed society, you gain certain benefits and accept certain costs. In libertarian-speak, it’s your choice to live where you do, and if you don’t like it, feel free to change things (either by participating in the system – the very government you decry, by the way – or by moving to a place better suited to your ideals).

    My freedoms end where yours begin, true – but to expect to gain the benefits of society without paying the price is freeloading. And I’m surprised that a self-described libertarian doesn’t notice that.

  24. ChH

    1. For those who have children and cannot afford private tuition, they are forced to do what I listed.

    “… you seem to support forcing your values on others on this issue.” – please quote where I seemed to support that. on the contrary, I support parents having their kids taught whatever they choose, and for consenting adults to legally do whatever they want with each other. public schools are now pushing the “there’s nothing wrong with buggery” agenda on elementary schoolers. I don’t want my 10yo kids taught that.

    2. For those able to pay private tuition … paying for that and also paying for someone else’s education far exceeds “paying for what you use”.

    3. Options for the needy are ignore them, give them resources confiscated from others by gov’t, or voluntary charity. The last option is what Christ and the apostles taught.

    I am not an anarchist – I support paying taxes for legitimate gov’t functions such as roads, courts, fire, police etc etc – but primarily protecting us from each other. I repeatedly use the word “force” because that is what gov’t is – the legal power to harm those who don’t submit. that harm can include effectively outlawing a supposedly legal activity by making it too expensive for most. Gov’t should not be in the business of indoctrinating children against the wishes of their parents – but that is exactly where the authors of this blog (and O’D. & most GOPers, incidentally) want to take us.

  25. Jim

    ChH, if government exists to prevent harm, shouldn’t that mandate teaching children that “buggery” is a personal choice and not something that should warrant bullying such children as choose it to the point of suicide? Which happens very, very often? Or is that not something people should get protected from?

    And how on earth can a government teach each child whatever the parent’s choose? Not only is that a remarkably foolhardy idea, given how earth-shatteringly dumb some parents can be, but it’s completely untenable and impossible.

    Imagine an AP biology classroom with fifteen students. Four Roman Catholic, six Protestant, one Sikh, two atheists, a follower of Thor and a Rastafarian.

    Your challenge: write a lesson plan for a lesson describing the genotypic similarities between organisms of the same phenotype that will prepare them for a college-level biology course.

  26. ChH

    Jim:
    1. Has it occurred to you that a child can be taught that a behavior is wrong, but those who engage in it shouldn’t be bullied? Bullying is just another wrong behavior that I teach my children not to do.

    2. I don’t want the gov’t teaching my children at all. I want to choose a non-government entity to teach my children. Gov’t – like with almost everything else – does a truly terrible job educating children.

  27. -Gov’t should not be in the business of indoctrinating children against the wishes of their parents

    If teaching evolution (“facts”) is indoctrination, then indoctrination it is. Parents who think this way probably need to save their kids from themselves. I do agree by the way that parents who have objections to government education have every right to home-school their kids. But the last time I checked I did not see home-schooled kids being more successful in any major profession than ‘indoctrinated’ kids. Seems indoctrination at least gets you a job and brings home the bacon.

  28. Michael

    Discussions about homeschooling suffer from many of the same problems as discussions about AGW and other topics, but in the opposite way. Liberals are so enamored with the idea of gov’t schools that they make the most asinine arguments and establish the most tenuous analogies that they might as well just be writing “blah blah blah”

    To start: There is nothing similar about education and fire and police protection. Nothing at all. The reason the government is involved in police protection is to provide an objectification of force. If police services were privatized, we would suffer under the problem that private police would be like “Judge Dread” and act as police, judge and executioner (more than they do now, that is). Fire protection is provided by the government in order to prevent situations like the one that has been in the news. If a person doesn’t pay their VFD fee, then their home should rightly burn, but that creates a physical, immediate risk to the neighborhood. That is why, in higher-population areas, the citizens have opted for government-run fire services, rather than VFDs (which work perfectly well except for the poor saps who refuse to pay their VFD dues).

    Liberal always act as if homeschooling was only about evolution. It has very little to do with that. It has to do with the fact that in a free society a parent should be able to teach their kids WHATEVER the parents want. The consequences come from how those children behave in society. If a parent wants to teach their kids to “love the sinner, hate the sin” then it ain’t nobody’s business but their own – UNLESS the kid acts violently in public and such acts can be shown to be directly caused by the way the kids are taught at home.

    When it comes to homeschooling, liberals make some amazingly tenuous connections that are about as logical as the chalk-marks on Glenn Becks blackboard.

    Liberals really hate the idea that someone could think differently from them and still be happy, materially successful, loving, forward-thinking and actually care about the future of their kids (which makes liberals not really different from fundy right-wingers, in that respect).

    In a free society, parents would be able to educate their kids as they see fit, and not be forced to pay for the perceived mis-education of their kids or anyone else’s. But liberals only like freedom for others when others use their freedom only the way the liberals want.

    @Wavefunction: All the kids of the owners of the biggest fortunes in America are certainly NOT going to public schools. – Which proves the point: Anyone who can afford to send their kids to private schools, does so. The only folks who keep their kids in government schools are those who cannot afford to escape. Why do you liberals hate the poor so much you won’t even let them keep their money and try to find a better opportunity for their kids?

  29. Michael

    Discussions about homeschooling suffer from many of the same problems as discussions about AGW and other topics, but in the opposite way. Liberals are so enamored with the idea of gov’t schools that they make the most asinine arguments and establish the most tenuous analogies that they might as well just be writing “blah blah blah”

    To start: There is nothing similar about education and fire and police protection. Nothing at all. The reason the government is involved in police protection is to provide an objectification of force. If police services were privatized, we would suffer under the problem that private police would be like “Judge Dread” and act as police, judge and executioner (more than they do now, that is). Fire protection is provided by the government in order to prevent situations like the one that has been in the news. If a person doesn’t pay their VFD fee, then their home should rightly burn, but that creates a physical, immediate risk to the neighborhood. That is why, in higher-population areas, the citizens have opted for government-run fire services, rather than VFDs (which work perfectly well except for the poor saps who refuse to pay their VFD dues).

    Liberal always act as if homeschooling was only about evolution. It has very little to do with that. It has to do with the fact that in a free society a parent should be able to teach their kids WHATEVER the parents want. The consequences come from how those children behave in society. If a parent wants to teach their kids to “love the sinner, hate the sin” then it ain’t nobody’s business but their own – UNLESS the kid acts violently in public and such acts can be shown to be directly caused by the way the kids are taught at home.

    When it comes to homeschooling, liberals make some amazingly tenuous connections that are about as logical as the chalk-marks on Glenn Becks blackboard.

    Liberals really hate the idea that someone could think differently from them and still be happy, materially successful, loving, forward-thinking and actually care about the future of their kids (which makes liberals not really different from fundy right-wingers, in that respect).

    In a free society, parents would be able to educate their kids as they see fit, and not be forced to pay for the perceived mis-education of their kids or anyone else’s. But liberals only like freedom for others when others use their freedom only the way the liberals want.

    @Wavefunction: All the kids of the owners of the biggest fortunes in America are certainly NOT going to public schools, are they – Which proves the point: Anyone who can afford to send their kids to private schools, does so. The only folks who keep their kids in government schools are those who cannot afford to escape. Why do you liberals hate the poor so much you won’t even let them keep their money and try to find a better opportunity for their kids?

  30. Michael

    Another funny thing is how liberals are all agog over government schools, and at the same time liberals are the loudest whiners about how American society is going down the tubes, how we’re falling behind in science education, and how American workers are not competitive.

    But what do they offer to people who want to find high-quality education for their kids so that the kids have a wide-outlook, practical knowledge and the ability to think critically? “Just keep your kids in government schools!” as if learning about evolution somehow makes everything all work out.

  31. Calli Arcale

    Brian D:

    Consider the area covered by secular (note: secular=”faith neutral”, not “atheist”) public schools, and the same area covered by a religious school. For the area that they overlap, there’s no difference. For the area they differ, nothing is taught that the children wouldn’t learn in church anyway. (It may not be part of the sermon, but in nearly all churches, it’s covered nonetheless).

    I disagree. (Note: I am a Christian, but rabidly passionate about making high-quality secular public school education available to the masses. I actually believe that it is our best hope for the future. I am also rabidly passionate about the separation of church and state. I can quote Jefferson in support of it, and I can quote Jesus in support of it. Only evil results from church and state being together. But I digress.)

    A good religious school should teach the tenets of its religion. This is far more than can be taught in a once-weekly half hour lecture (also known as a “sermon”), or even a once-weekly half hour lecture plus 45 minutes or maybe 1.5 hours weekly of religious instruction for nine months of the year until the kid turns 15 or so. There’s a reason a recent study found that atheists knew more about various faiths than religious people did — it’s because the religious people generally suffer under the delusion that they already know it and don’t need to study. (This tends to carry over into other areas, and I suspect is why many religious folks are apathetic at best when it comes to public school — more concerned with making sure it doesn’t teach the wrong things than with what it actually should teach.)

    Sometimes, I really think the Jews and Muslims have it right — they require all adherents to undergo extensive religious instruction. In theory, so do Christians, but even the fundies don’t take it far enough.

    Wavefunction:

    If teaching evolution (”facts”) is indoctrination, then indoctrination it is. Parents who think this way probably need to save their kids from themselves. I do agree by the way that parents who have objections to government education have every right to home-school their kids. But the last time I checked I did not see home-schooled kids being more successful in any major profession than ‘indoctrinated’ kids. Seems indoctrination at least gets you a job and brings home the bacon.

    A lot of religious people don’t seem to grasp that nobody ever said faith would be *easy*. If they want to believe something different than the majority, that’s their choice and their responsibility. But they don’t like that.

  32. Michael: I really hope the difference between homeschooling and private schools is clear. I never said anything about private schools. I also did not say that most homeschooled children are dunces. But it is a fact that evangelical Christians disproportionately homeschool their kids and and that they are definitely against both evolution and climate change.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »