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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution and Climate Education Update for 2018/10/12

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear friends of NCSE,

Sad news of the death of William J. Bennetta.


The textbook watchdog William J. Bennetta died on September 26, 2018,
at the age of 79, according to a notice from the Cremation Society of
Virginia. Bennetta was known for founding The Textbook League and
editing its newsletter The Textbook Letter. Described by Mother Jones
in 2011 as "a one-man nonprofit that has dissected schoolbooks for
factual errors, from typos in the periodic table of elements to flawed
explanations of how airplanes fly," the League operated from 1989 to

Bennetta was particularly exercised by textbooks that downplayed
evolution. Writing in Reports of the NCSE in 1999, for example, he
described biology textbooks of the 1970s and 1980s as offering "a
mangled form of 'biology' that reflected decades of pressure from
certain religious fundamentalist groups." Even in the 1990s, he added,
"the evolutionary 'information'" provided in textbooks "is often bogus
... erroneous, incomprehensible, and self-contradictory." But he was
also concerned about broader trends in attacks against the integrity
of science education. His 1988 article, "The Rise and Fall of the
Louisiana Creationism Law," published in the Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles County's magazine Terra, was remarkably prescient about
the direction of creationism after the Supreme Court's decision in
Edwards v. Aguillard. Bennetta even cited Biology and Origins, the
manuscript eventually published as Of Pandas and People, the
"intelligent design" textbook at the center of Kitzmiller v. Dover.

Bennetta was born in Port Chester, New York, on November 10, 1938. He
earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in 1960 and a master's degree in journalism from
Columbia University in 1963, where he wrote a thesis on "The New
Eugenics." He worked as a technical writer and editor, initially for
McGraw-Hill and then mainly on a freelance basis, and as a scientific
consultant for the bulk of his career. He was a Fellow of the
California Academy of Sciences.

For the notice from the Cremation Society of Virginia, visit: 

For the Mother Jones article, visit: 

And for Bennetta's articles in Reports of the NCSE and Terra, visit: 

Thanks for reading. And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution and climate education and threats to them.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600
Oakland CA 94612-2922
fax 510-788-7971 

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