This article appeared in the "Editor's File"
in The Textbook Letter, November-December 1990.
Still No Answer
from Either One
William J. Bennetta
This issue of TTL includes reviews of an alarming textbook called
Addison-Wesley Life Science, which is sold for use in middle schools.
As our reviewers tell, and as I have seen for myself, the book is
stunningly incompetent and exhibits a spectacular ignorance of the
subject matter. Perhaps more important, however, is the point
emphasized in the review by Ellen C. Weaver: Addison-Wesley Life
Science is not even a science text. It is essentially a religious
tract, created by writers who "present the living world in a way that
has nothing to do with science but has everything to do with
fundamentalism." Quite so.
After reading the book, we wondered who those writers might be --
those writers who had undertaken so stridently to use science
classrooms for propagating sectarian religious pretensions. Might
they be Bonnie B. Barr (of the State University of New York at
Cortland) and Michael B. Leyden (of Eastern Illinois University)?
Those are the people listed on the book's title page. Barr is shown
as the sole "author," Leyden as the "consulting author."
On 17 May we sent questionnaires to both, asking about their roles,
if any, in the book's origin. We had nine questions for Barr, eight
for Leyden. In each case, the first three questions were:
- Before you received this inquiry, did you know of the existence
of Addison-Wesley Life Science (1989)?
- Have you seen a copy of Addison-Wesley Life Science (1989)?
- Did you do any substantive work that, as far as you know, was
related to the preparation of Addison-Wesley Life Science (1989)?
The extra question for Barr was: "Would we be correct if we inferred,
from the fact that you are shown as the book's sole author, that all
statements in the book can properly be attributed to you?"
Neither Barr nor Leyden replied. We sent the questionnaires again,
by certified mail, on 17 July and on 3 September. We still have not
received any reply, so we have no information that might suggest
whether Barr or Leyden had any hand in the making of Addison-Wesley's
book. All that we know about Barr and Leyden is that they do not
seem to answer their mail.
William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the
California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook
League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes frequently
about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false
"history" in schoolbooks.
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