Digital Culture

“Just a theory…”

Cobb County, GA is at the center of a court case testing, again, how to deal with evolution in high school science textbooks. A sticker was placed in all science textbooks in the county stating:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

While I will actually agree that the sticker doesn’t present any actual falsehoods, evolution is certainly just about the closest thing to a fact we’ve got in science these days. No respected scientist believes anything else…so why the sticker? Cue the fundies:

The first witness, parent Marjorie Rogers, started the drive to put the stickers in the books. She said it was only fair to put a small disclaimer in a textbook where religious-based ideas about the origin of life are not mentioned.

“I don’t want the Bible taught in the classroom. But there is a wealth of science that would support intelligent design, and that is not taught,” she said. “There should be a marketplace of ideas.”

Guess what, Marjorie…scientific inquiry is the original marketplace of ideas. “Intelligent Design” lost. There’s absolutely nothing “intelligent” about it…nor scientific. Evolutionary theory is the way that life has speciated on Earth. Get used to it. But I fear that with the new political climate we might just see some of these typically rational judgements go the other way…welcome to Jesusland!

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *