The Corner

“Teaching the Controversy”…

…in Tehran.  The current (7/21/06) issue of Science has an article on science in Iran.  From which:

A glance at the evolution exhibit at Tehran’s museum of natural history reveals the tension below the surface.  Wave after wave of schoolgirls in matching headscarves file past a row of glass cases containing meticulously arranged fossils.  A label next to a trilobite, for example, says that the specimen, discovered in the nearby Alborz mountains, came from the Devonian, a period 400 million years ago when those sediments were submerged in a shallow sea.  Along the opposite wall, a diorama chronicles the evolution of life on earth.  Painted scenes of ancient life look as if they’ve been copied directly from the latest biology textbooks.  But the exhibit takes a sharp detour from science in the final display case where evolution is summed up.  In an open tome representing the Koran, phrases in calligraphy proclaim that ‘God willed an atmosphere created from gases’ and ‘God created man from water.’  Above that is a poster–published by the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas–describing how Earth was created in a few days by an omnipotent being.

If this exhibit leaves you wondering what the curator actually believes, then that is probably by design.  Under today’s Iranian theocracy, ‘you are forbidden to deny the existence of god,’ explains Eghbal Taheri, a pharmacologist at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences.  ‘You can do your science,’  she says, ‘but in the end you must choose your words carefully.’  For example, ‘you cannot say that the amazing cells in the eye are nothing more than a product of evolution over millions of years.’

The article goes on to note that in addition to evolutionary biology, other dangerous (i.e. to the researcher) areas of science are psychology and neuroscience.  Most dangerous of all is sociology, “where the benefits of theocracy are questioned at a researcher’s peril.”  A recent example is Sorbonne-trained sociologist Ramin Jahanbegloo, arrested at Tehran airport on his way to a conference in Belgium.  One of the Iranian newspapers–state-controlled, of course–described Mr. Jahanbegloo as: “an element of the United States who is part of the plot to overthrow the regime under the guise of intellectual work by peaceful means.”  There are several websites discussing Dr. Jahanbegloo’s plight–this one, for example. 

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

A Bizarre and Revealing Biden Interview

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books brought up a strange Joe Biden interview from 1974 I hadn't seen before in which Biden emerges as arrogant and determined to make more money, one way or another. Biden also speaks of his first wife Neilia, who had died two years earlier, in unusually frank ways: ... Read More
Politics & Policy

A Bizarre and Revealing Biden Interview

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books brought up a strange Joe Biden interview from 1974 I hadn't seen before in which Biden emerges as arrogant and determined to make more money, one way or another. Biden also speaks of his first wife Neilia, who had died two years earlier, in unusually frank ways: ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More
Elections

How Trump Should Approach the Final Debate

The so-called mainstream polls of the swing states show the race narrowing. If the trend continues at the current rate, President Trump could poll even in two weeks—in addition to the “other” polls that show him near there already. So Trump’s mission at the final debate on Thursday is to continue to ... Read More
Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More
Media

The Unseemly Urge to Excuse Jeffrey Toobin

Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for CNN and The New Yorker, was suspended from his jobs and subjected to a round of public mockery for visibly exposing himself while masturbating on a Zoom call with New Yorker colleagues. The call was designed to role-play post-election scenarios for a contested election; Toobin ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More

The Pollster Who Thinks Trump Is Ahead

The polling aggregator on the website RealClearPolitics shows the margin in polls led by Joe Biden in a blue font and the ones led by Donald Trump in red. For a while, the battleground states have tended to be uniformly blue, except for polls conducted by the Trafalgar Group. If you are a firm believer only in ... Read More