A Louisiana state senator recently offered a puzzling rationale for why schools in the state should be allowed to teach creationism.
Last month, Louisiana lawmakers considered a measure to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, a 2008 law that critics have characterized as a way of giving teachers latitude to introduce creationism and other unscientific theories into state classrooms.
In an April 22 hearing, state Sen. Elbert Guillory (R) made it clear that he would vote against the measure, SB 74. In footage uploaded to YouTube last week, he can be seen using a bizarre tactic to support his argument -- namely, citing a nonexistent version of history where scientific truth reigned supreme and dissent invited brutal consequences.
“There was a time, sir, when scientists thought that the world was flat. And if you get to the end of it, you’d fall off," Guillory said. "There was another time when scientists thought that the sun revolved around the world. And they always thought to ensure that anyone who disagreed with their science was a heretic. People were burned for not believing that the world was flat. People were really badly treated."
SB 74 did indeed eventually fail, likely preserving the LSEA for at least another year.
Guillory has attracted criticism in the past for strange defenses of what should and shouldn't be taught in science class. A few years back, he appeared to express concern that repealing the LSEA would mean that the teachings of a witch doctor he had met -- a man who “wore no shoes, was semi-clothed, [and] used a lot of bones that he threw around” -- would be off-limits.
Efforts to repeal the LSEA have failed five years in a row, with no legislation even making it out of the state Senate Committee on Education, despite support from 78 Nobel laureates. In light of that, Kopplin told The Huffington Post that he's no longer fazed by comments like Guillory's.
"In 2013, Senator Guillory insisted on keeping creationism in science class because of an experience he had with a witch doctor," Kopplin wrote in an email to HuffPost on Monday. "It's no surprise that he has a strong disrespect for historical fact either."