Florida House Bill 837 has the chance to wreak havoc in our education system. As The Oracle detailed Tuesday, the bill was created to ensure “access to a broad range of serious scholarly opinion.” But the result of the bill would be to allow nonfactual discussion, including on such definite matters as whether the Holocaust actually occurred.
The idea behind the “The Academic Bill of Rights,” as the bill has been cleverly dubbed, is to force open debate in classrooms. This in itself is a worthy goal. But to force any topic to be discussed will also open the door to outlandish discussions that have no basis in fact whatsoever.
Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said he sponsored the bill partly because he had a bad experience in college when “creationism” was discussed as an opposing theory to evolution. The situation occurred in 1970 when some of his fellow students started arguing about which one is right.
What the bill does not take into account is that all science is based on theory. The scientific method itself operates on stating a theory that attempts to explain the situation observed best. If no facts can be found to disprove the theory, it stands, but this happens very rarely. In most instances theories are honed over the years as new data is found.
To say that all theories would have to be taken into account would therefore also open the door to very obscure theories that have been largely abandoned by the scientific community. This may be an interesting intellectual pastime, but it would clog up scholarly discussion.
But when the bill becomes extremely dangerous is when it allows historical facts to be misconstrued under the guise of “open debate.” The Holocaust, for example, happened. To deny the occurrence of such historical facts would also deny the suffering of thousands of people.