Monday, January 08, 2007

Nostrils of Satan

More interesting (non) developments on the creationism front.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) just put out a press release noting that the National Park Service has for the past 3 years carried in the Grand Canyon bookstores a book by Tom Vail that advocates the Canyon was carved by Noah's flood in the past few thousand years. The controversy started in 2003 when the park superintendent tried to stop the sale of the book at park stores and was overruled by NPS headquarters. After public outcry, NPS promised there would be a high-level policy review of the matter.

Turns out that was a lie. No review has been completed and the book is still on sale despite vigorous protest from NPS geologists and others.

As Steve Benen points out, having 'balance' in the NPS bookstores on this issue is probably seen by many people as 'fair' and raises interesting questions about what should and shouldn't be allowed in public spaces like parks. Of course, we don't allow creationism in the public schools and PEER correctly notes that the NPS bookstores are actually very selective (most proposed books are not approved for sale) and that park educational programs must be based upon science and not appear to endorse a particular religious perspective. Which would seem to put the kibosh on Vail's book, except that this is the Bush administration we're talking about. Sigh.

Anyway PEER has a reputation for writing hilariously quotable press-releases, and this one is no exception. Read down to the bottom and please please tell me where I can buy a book titled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan. Awesome.


Anonymous said...

Ummm, Actually I have read that this is much ado about nothing, The book is sold, but it is sold in a location where the native american mythology and other such books are located and that any reference to the age of the canyon is based on a geologic rather than biblical time basis. The sources that Peer has been using are non-existent! One being a LA Times reporter that has no idea what this Steve Benen(sp) is referring to!!

t said...

Yeah, I think you're right -- PEER seems to have greatly exaggerated some of their claims. There's a pretty thorough takedown by the editor of Skeptic magazine here.

Seems like the book stuff is mostly true, although PEER didn't go out of their way to point out that the book is sold in the 'inspirational' section. I guess I don't have a huge problem with the book being sold in that way. But I wonder what the process was for placing it in the store in the first place, especially given that many park geologists and the superintindent protested.