Recently I wrote in defense of Dr. Ronald Wetherington, an anthropology professor at SMU, and his expert testimony before the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) on January 21st, 2009. During the question and answer portion, SBOE member Terri Leo outright lies in order to trick Wetherington.
At around the 34 minute mark of Wetherington’s testimony, the following discussion happened between Leo (L) and Wetherington (W):
L: Let’s say at the university level do you support academic freedom in investigating origins?
W: Yes at the university level we do.
L: Ok. If a student group came to your campus and wanted to sponsor an event where they were bringing in scientists and experts who were challenging your view of evolution you wouldn’t object to that?
W: I have had it in my class. I have had at least two different non-evolutionists, creationists, one from Baylor come into my human evolution class and give a lecture.
L: Well, no, an event on your campus…not in your class… Like if they were sponsoring an event on you campus you would be in support of that.
W: Are you talking about the Darwin vs. Intelligent Design conference that was held on our campus the year before last
W: Ah, well you should have asked me that directly.
L: Yeah, I didn’t remember the name of it.
Ok. if she didn’t remember the name of it, why didn’t she ask the name of the conference first? Why didn’t she ask about how he felt about this conference since she already knew about it? This was going to be her gotcha moment but Wetherington didn’t fall for it.
After he catches her in the lie, Wetherington tells Leo about how they did have such a debate on campus in 1992. He also says that he debated Phil Johnson twice on the SMU campus. He says that he will be open to such a thing if it is done legitimately.
Leo replies with:
so legitimate only means that if it is not challenging neo-darwinism
I don’t think Leo was even listening. She is just determined to say her talking points no matter what Wetherington says. He told her about and gave examples of how he is open to the possibility of such a debate. It just didn’t matter to her.
I am all for lively debates, but this kind of tactic has no place in a Texas SBOE meeting. It really is a sad state of affairs that a woman who is willing to lie to trick an expert is helping to determine the path that education will take in Texas.