LOCAL > Turkish state science council refuses funding for workshop project on evolution: Report


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The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has rejected a funding application for a summer workshop on quantitative evolutionary biology, arguing that "evolution is a controversial subject," ScienceInsider magazine reported July 5.

The decision may revive controversies about the state council, which had caused major uproar when a cover story in one of its publications was pulled because it focused on Charles Darwin's evolution theory.

The organizers of the summer workshop said the rejection letter they had received after their application was new evidence of the Turkish government's bias against evolution theory.

The summer school, set to be held Sept. 15 at the Nesin Mathematics Village in the Aegean Şirince village, intended to give Turkish biology students a mathematical background. Erol Akçay, a Turkish evolutionary biologist at Princeton University and one of the organizers of the project, said they had requested around 35,000 Turkish Liras (about $18,000) to cover the accommodation and travel of both students and speakers.

The council said in the rejection letter that they viewed evolution as a "controversial" subject. "Evolution is both nationally and universally a controversial subject. It is difficult to regard it as an activity on which a consensus can be reached. Since evolution is still a debated issue, the degree to which the organizers represent the community/country is very questionable," the letter said.

When the organizers requested a reevaluation of the decision on June 28, TÜBİTAK responded that the only recourse was to take on the agency "in court."

However, TÜBİTAK's deputy chair of science fellowships and grant programs, Murat Özoğlu, dismissed the accusations of bias, saying every proposal was submitted to a peer-review process.

"I would like to state, unequivocally, that the mentioned project was declined solely based on its score as determined by the peer-review process. TÜBİTAK has no reservations in supporting projects on the subject matter as  was erroneously claimed," Özoğlu was quoted as saying by ScienceInsider. He added that another workshop on evolution in April at Ankara's Hacettepe University had been funded.

Akçay said despite the event being funded, the arguments used in the rejection letter showed that TÜBİTAK was putting doubts on the "universality" of evolution. "This is very dangerous and shows that creationism is becoming a government policy," Akçay said.

TÜBİTAK was at the center of another controversy in January as reports claimed that it had halted the printing of books that dealt with evolution. The reports were subsequently denied by TÜBİTAK officials.


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Dr_GS Hurd

7/9/2013 10:32:40 AM

Turkish creationist "Haran Yahya" (real name Adnan Oktar) has for years promoted the biblical literalist Young Earth Creationism associated with US fundamentalists in organizations such as Answers in Genesis, or the Institute for Creation Research. Indeed, much of his group's (Bilim Araştırma Vakfı, literally, "Science Research Foundation") publications are little more than translations of US creationist's work with added citations of various Suras. Ignorance is easier than learning.

mara mcglothin

7/8/2013 5:11:56 PM

FB That is why they call it the THEORY of Evolution. But how do you explain the carbon dating of old bones and relics that clearly pre date the creation of the World in religious terms? In America, the Christian zealots don't even allow their children to study carbon dating as it is seen as blasphemous. Oh well. DOGAN is right for once, you must study the evidence.

fenerbahçe fenerbahçe

7/7/2013 9:32:22 PM

State Science Council's decision is understanble & right. I have read some Darwinian comments here, I can't get these people. Come on people, even God is questioned. Why do you want to push 'evolution' as a dogma, calling people to 'believe' in it? Investing in evolution isn't any different from investing in Buddhism or Confusianism research. It's a belief. Even Mr Richard Dawkins admits it in some way, telling first cells could be dropped onto earth by aliens. That's not science.

Dayna Lewis

7/7/2013 1:13:55 PM

@ Nadiri Başaran...and that is exactly why open discussion should be encouraged.As for me.as I believe in a Creating power,God, Allah,The Great Energy.I feel the theories support one another. In the books of the major religions it is said that creation began with the heavens then sun, water,fish, then animals then humans .the biggest difference in theories is the Time factor The fact that our religious books use symbolisim so that the masses can understand seems to account for that difference

Nadiri Başaran

7/7/2013 10:14:57 AM

In British schools you can't even mention Creationism, 'Creation' is a fact of life. Your acceptance or rejection of it will have no affect on its course. It's only a mater of time before the scientist, again, change their mind on the latest 'fact' of science.

Dayna Lewis

7/7/2013 2:04:18 AM

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey ....is concerned about discussions on controversial subjects? The term oxymoron is brought to mind as most scientific theories are or have at one time been controversial. How can there be a scientific council that doesn't give permission to controversial subjects.....is the world still flat?.....or should the word I have in mind simply be moron


7/7/2013 1:47:24 AM

Hey genius -- it's still taught in TX, much to Rick Perry's dismay. On the other hand, the Famous Turkish Biologist Mustafa Akyol (yes, that Mustafa Akyol) has testified in Kansass in favor of Intelligent Design.

mara mcglothin

7/7/2013 12:59:35 AM

And ...Adam and Eve had pet dinosaurs, and the World is really flat and if you sail to the edge you will simply fall off! Yeah, YOUNG GENIUS We all have out religious nutjobs to deal with all over the World. Same old same old.


7/7/2013 12:17:33 AM

Ha ha ha ha ha ha

young genius

7/6/2013 11:48:07 PM

Are you sure this wasn't in Texas?
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