It refers to the textbook Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc, which reads: "Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others."
Richard Dawkins, the world-renowned evolutionary biologist, posted a link to the article on his blog, sparking heated discussion among his followers.
The story has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook, with follow-up versions appearing in publications including the New York Daily News and the Orlando Examiner, and on websites from the Huffington Post and Drudge.com to the National Paranormal Association.
Readers have had plenty to say about Nessie’s influence on science education, both on the HeraldScotland website, and on blogs and forums, with commentators particularly outraged that the Loch Ness Monster claim is being relayed in private schools where several pupils’ fees are supported by publicly-funded vouchers.
Here are a selection of comments about the story:
“Is that not the ultimate in creationist idiocy? It’s true that we’re talking about Louisiana... but even so, how did something that stupid slip into the public schools?...Great textbook, huh? That’s what your tax dollars are paying for in Louisiana.”
Extract from the blog Sensuous Curmudgeon, entitled: In Scotland they’re laughing at Louisisana
Extract from Dave D’s blog, entitled: Here by Monsters!
"Creationists...do agree, though, that dinosaurs still live, and they insist that this proves that evolution is false. Not for them the carefully accumulated evidence gathered over centuries, however. No, far more compelling for them are myths and legends which, if you think about it, are where they derive their entire world view...
"The legend of Nessie is no longer taken very seriously by even the most gullible Briton and, despite hordes of “Nessie hunters” over many years descending on the shores of Loch Ness, no evidence has been put forward. The occasional photo that is supposed to be Nessie is invariably grainy, dark and indistinct. Yet ACE are teaching it as fact."
Extract from the Skepicalteacher blog, entitled: Creationists Push for the Loch Ness Monster: How Pseudoscience Cross-Pollinates
"I wish I could say that I was surprised, but honestly I’m not. This sort of development is the inevitable result of making science standards so loose (through the invocation of so-called “academic freedom”) that just about any kind of stupid, pseudoscientific nonsense which is completely unsupported by the scientific community can pass muster and be taught as if it were science. "
Comments from richarddawkins.net
strangebrew: when all is said and boasted about, religion needs fakery and myth to prop up its own delusion...they need rumour and fairy story, they have to have their belief supported by complete cobblers...it is the only help they have in the world... TrickyDicky: What about the specifically Scottish creature that shows the working of evolution, the wild haggis!
Everyone knows that when the lowland haggis population spread north to the highlands it evolved legs shorter on one side of its body which aided it in running around hillsides and hence out pacing its only natural predator, the wolf.
Two sub species evolved, one with shorter legs on the right side of its body and the other with the shorter legs on the left side. For obvious reasons the two sub species could not inter-breed.
Inquisador: This is the tabloid headline style of teaching:
"Are dinosaurs alive today?"
"Did Hitler survive the war?"
"Are we all descended from aliens?"
"Have scientists found the secret elixir of youth?"
The answer is always the same.
Mr DArcy: Actually, all you cynics, there are monsters alongside Loch Ness, - millions of them! They are called the Highland Midge, and right brutish they are too! If you get bitten by one and squash it, a thousand more turn up for the funeral! A form of mosquito I believe.
@lujps3: US fundamentalist schools using Nessie to “disprove” evolution...Pause for irony...Continue.
@MetaversePRO: I am just not even going to comment because I would probably get in trouble – religion and politics don’t mix
@Itvr: Wow, things keep getting dumber…
@gregorhunter: Scotland shamed as Loch Ness monster roped into feckless plot by Louisiana rednecks as ‘proof’ of creationism
@Almighty_faye: DANGEROUS How American fundamentalist schools are using Nessie to disprove evolution
@bloodredruby: Hate to see sea monsters used this way
Selected comments from HeraldScotland.com
Roger Stanyard, Winchester: “No matter how many times the creationists have been told that Nessie doesn't and never has existed, they kling to the fable to "prove" their "science. Alas, it is generally "claimed" to be a plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs were not dinosaurs.”
Richard Freeman, Exeter: “This isn't about the existence or other wise of the Loch Ness Monster. Personally I think some of the sightings may be of large fish such as sturgeon, wels catfish and, most interestingly a giant strain of the common eel. This is about children having their education blighted by backwards lies from the Dark Ages. If this sick trash is taking hold in the UK then it needs to be stamped out. I'm a zoologist and loath creationism but I also happen to think sea serpents and lake monsters have some basis in truth.”
Ashley Barber, Louisiana: “As an American living in Louisiana, I would just like to say that not everyone here has fallen victim to these radical religious outcries and that some of us still prize logic and reason. Living here you get used to hearing a lot of different "agendas" and fundamentalist groups of all sorts. It is a sad state of affairs in the American Deep South, but not all hope is lost (just most).”
Stephen Ranger: “Schooling should NEVER be based on religious beliefs (at least not publicly funded schooling) and should only take scientific fact into consideration. If you want to teach your children that "Nessie" disproves evolution, you do it on your own money, not mine. It's one thing not to teach evolution and ignore it, it's another to blatantly try to force a religious belief as fact. Again, if someone vehemently believes it as true, teach it yourself and stop using public funds. Either way, you're only doing your children a disservice and limiting their prospects in the future by teaching them fundamentalist hogwash.”
More comments from readers can be seen on the full HeraldScotland story here. You can join our discussion on the original story, or by using the comments box below.