The anti-evolution movement, and specifically alternative beliefs to science like Intelligent Design, are wheezing their last, but because education is local in America, it can still happen in some school districts on education.

The most famous example of a legal opposition to teaching evolution began in the 1920s with the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial (science won) and the most famous recent example was the Kitzmiller
versus Dover case in 2005 (science won).

Basically, science has always won but the circumstances have changed. By 2005, for example, biologists in academia had become overwhelmingly Democrats and had tried to make evolution a Republican issue because Republicans accept evolution about 9 points less than Democrats, but the ruling judge who came down in favor of science was a Republican who went to church and that defused the argument. 

But the cultural gerrymandering by academics did not stop there, and neither did efforts to modify science classes. Since then a number of different lines of argument have been brought to the courts in attempts to modify or ban the teaching of evolution. Ironically, using software for analyzing genealogical relationships, a scholar has analyzed 65 efforts proposed since 2004 and traced how the lines of argument were copied and modified in successive anti-evolution campaigns.

Dr. Nick Matzke from The Australian National University ironically found that legislative efforts regarding efforts to undermine evolution have...evolved. But they are still recognizable, sharing traits and relationships in a similar way to plants and animals.

One of the recent strategies, he says, has been encourage critical analysis. Everyone is in favor of critical thinking, but they use controversial subjects like human cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer is banned by President Obama) and global warming (more Republicans than Democrats deny climate change) to promote skepticism about evolution.  The origin of that technique was a school board policy in Louisiana in 2006. 

"It's sneaky, because it doesn't mention creationism, yet it gives teachers permission to include pseudo-science and protects them from administrators who say you shouldn't teach this stuff," Matzke said.

Obviously evolution deniers are not the only ones to master the technique, the methods are the same in efforts to promote fear and doubt about genetically modified foods and vaccines and energy science.

Published in Science.