Something Different: A Science Book Disclaimer

Sunburnt Africa
Buddy Who?


Our Senses and How They Work
[1956, 1965]

Submitter: I was amazed to see that a school, even a private one, had gone to the trouble to make a stamp expressing this position so plainly.  Perhaps I am just ignorant of how these schools work, but it did get me thinking. Do they put this in all their books? Only the science books? Only certain science books?  What about history books??  I assume the fiction section is, shall we say, limited.

First, I cannot find anything contradicting “Holy Scripture” in the book itself, which is an adorably illustrated description of how the five human senses work.  Aside from being dated, the information seems basic and correct. I bought it for the illustrations, which have that “vintage textbook” feel, which I really enjoy.

Second, it made me immediately grateful for public schools and especially public libraries, at which even the children who are attended this school can find books (and librarians!) who are not afraid of but rather celebrate and value all learning, even if it may be at odds (debatable, of course) with the “Holy Scripture” of one or more of the thousands of religions in the world.

Holly: I’ve blocked out the name of the school so you can only see that a Christian School had it in their collection.  This is an interesting discussion! Private school librarians want to weigh in?  You can be a lot choosier when your library’s mission is so specific.  I find it really interesting that they disclaim that they own the book to meet certain academic standards, but don’t necessarily endorse the contents.  What do you think?

inside flap


  1. I’m guessing some over-the-top parent complained about an innocuous book in the library, and so the school made up this stamp to prevent it from happening again. CYA, as dangermom says, and kudos to the librarians for not going the alternate route, which would be to accede to all removal requests.

  2. Please, this is still going on today! What state is it (KY?) that’s stamping science books with a disclaimer that evolution is JUST a theory and probably not true?

    The zealots are trying to get us back to the middle ages (and before) where it was heresy to say anything other than that the earth was flat and the center of solar system, with the entire universe created just for us humans. You know, like the thee-year-old that says “Daddy goes to work to buy me milk.”

  3. @Brain – Evolution IS just a theroy. It’s never once been proven and in fact every single so-called “missing link” has been debunked. Besides that, even the simpliest lifeforms are so complex the earth would have to be ten to 20 times older then scientists claim for life to have come about by random chance. The only logical explaination for life on earth is we were created, be it by a supereme being or aliens.

    Always strikes me funny how those who try to deny this claiming it makes them more open minded are actually the most closed minded indivuals in the world.

    I’m sure the stamp is, like others said, just routine. Like putting “warning, contents may be hot” on coffee cups. Not shocking at all.

  4. Otowi is correct. They still sell his nature guides, updated for course. This title is probably has correct content, just needs some illustrations. I would like to see it include experiments or demonstrations, such as taste testing on the tongue.
    As for the stamp, I would think it is used for all books, as soon as they come in. Like a school district stamps theirs. Just in case. Then the school doesn’t really have to read the entire thing! Like on a video or TV show where make sure we know that the views are not necessarily theirs.
    Brian, you might be surprised how hard it is to find secular science books for home schooling use. Most of them still talk about the “theory” and how it not only is probably not true, but isn’t true. They give a lot of scientific “evidence” for their beliefs. We used on on botany once, it was easy to skip over sections on god, but the zoology one actually read that there were dinosaurs on the ark! I thought my son was joking! This is from the most common homeschool science publishers, used into the high school levels! They do teach evolution, after letting the reader know they “know how Christian’s should think” of the teaching, but they have to include it to meet the standards, evolution being one.

  5. Wow! Nothing like a nominal attempt to inform patrons to rile people up. The library of a Christian school has a different patron base than a public library. Do we get excited when TV stations make disclaimers? Well, yeah, I guess some people do, but really? Surely schools are allowed to have a different selection policy than public or academic libraries.

  6. It’s not laughable that they were on the ark, and the evidence part should not be in quotes, because it is real evidence. It’s a good thing the homeschool books use it and the public schools should not be so afraid to teach both interpretations of the scientific evidence either. They’re doing the same thing, not allowing kids to learn anything but a single view. I agree with the earlier poster, people should not be afraid to challenge old-earth views and look into the fact that there ARE other interpretations of the evidence. I wouldn’t skip over the God sections either; our kids should be free to learn about religion and make their own choices.

  7. PS all that said (I wish I could edit posts here), I don’t see where the science book shown contradicts anything, although all the pages aren’t seen in the pics.

  8. >>Evolution IS just a theroy. It’s never once been proven

    Actually, that’s how something goes to theory from hypothesis. You need to read more.

    In any case, believe what you like. Just stop getting in the way of those in the present.

  9. I homeschool, and have had no problem getting excellent secular science resources any more than other subjects. This year we’re doing biology and having a great time.

  10. Now, I could be a real beast and say stuff like ‘Proper spelling must be only a THEORY as well’. That said, schools with a religious foundation must be extremely careful not to step on too many toes. I’m not going to get into the evolution wrangle, since I’d crush a few toes by doing that. Even secular schools and school librarians do a lot of self-censoring when it comes to their collections, which is sad. See, I’m even censoring myself by not getting involved in the debate. 🙁

  11. This is so strange to me. I went to Catholic school from prek-12th grade and everything had its place. Evolution and Big Bang was taught during science class, creation during religion. It was never a problem, or something that was taboo. It just was.

  12. I taught at a Catholic school that taught Evolution, the Big Bang, etc., but human reproduction was skimmed over (except for a few rogue young ‘uns my age who insisted on giving an overview) except to say not to do it except within marriage. I’m ashamed to admit I never used that library (although the nice but incessantly talkative librarian may have had something to do with that), so I can’t say whether they, too, used stamps like these.

    I wish people understood more clearly the distinction between the popular definition of “theory,” or a speculation, and the scientific definition of “theory,” or an established explanation which all heretofore gathered evidence seems to support. (And don’t forget the philosophical definition of “theory,” too.) This drives me nuts on, for example, those “scientific” ghost hunting shows, where they claim to have a theory that if they do X ghosts will appear or whatever. Um, no, you have a hypothesis. Once you’ve gathered a whole bunch of evidence (oh how I want to put quotations around “evidence”) supporting your idea and nothing seems to disprove you it you can say you have a theory.

  13. The book is dated even from the one page: There is a fifth basic taste: umami or savory-ness.

    That said, schools legally stand in loco parentis so school librarians need to be chary about pushing parental buttons, or exceeding the general parental consensus about what is right and good.

    Thankfully, public libraries exist to fill the gap. Not every institution needs to fufill every purpose.

  14. I’m going with the CYA concept on this one. This was likely stamped in all the books or at least all the science books in the library. I worked at a religious library for awhile and we often had parents complain about the contents of children’s books. As a result, we always suggested to parents who were concerned about whether or not a book was “good” for their children to read that they should read the book themselves to see if it met their standards rather than relying on my opinion of the religious value of the book.

    This put the onus on the parents to determine what their children were exposed to rather than the library staff. I can see this stamp serving a similar purpose.

  15. I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out what exactly in this book could be offensive to religious types. Unless it gets into the evolutionary development of the senses, I really don’t know what it could be.

    Though it does make sense if it’s just a stamp given to all the books in the library (except the Bible, one would assume, though it would be amusing if it got put on there by accident!)

  16. My understanding is that gravity is a law AND a theory – a law being an unchanging set of observations (everything sticks to the surface of the Earth), and the theory being the generally accepted explanation of why it happens (which is always open to revision in light of new data).

    People who deny the Theory of Evolution are (often deliberately) ignorant of the multiple lines of evidence underpinning it – fossils, genetics, molecular biology etc. Just as gravity could be completely undermined by objects suddenly rising up into the air, evolution could be taken out by – to quote the classic example – fossil rabbits in pre-Cambrian strata. This is not going to happen, however, and every new discovery simply reinforces its fundamental truth.

    “Warning: this book may contain material of an educational nature. Parents wishing to protect their offspring from the terrible sin of ‘learning’ should return this volume to the shelves IMMEDIATELY, and then pray for forgiveness…”

  17. @Jami: Besides that, even the simpliest lifeforms are so complex the earth would have to be ten to 20 times older then scientists claim for life to have come about by random chance.

    Can you tell me your source on this? And how could you tell from my post that I’m closed minded? The idea that I think the idea of an entire universe being made just for us is like a three-year-old? That doesn’t sound closed minded, that sounds like a discussion on levels of maturity.

    And I DO believe in Intelligent Design. It’s known as evolution. Oh yea, and I do believe in God and, yes I do pray. I also believe that humans believing they’re the only Children of God is like when I had wished I was an only kid as a child so I could get all the love of my parents.

  18. I know I’ve recently seen something online about a stamp/sticker/label similar to this that was on a book from a conservative Christian college/university’s library, but I can’t find it now. I’ve done a quick Google for the usual suspects–Bob Jones, Liberty, Regent. Anyone remember seeing it? I think I must have come across it on BoingBoing or something.

  19. As a Christian and a librarian, it makes me wonder if the school board/affiliated church were at odds with the librarian. Maybe the librarian was fighting for a good variety of books that weren’t explicitly Christian, while the other people were worried about books that hadn’t been approved. Maybe the school board at some very old-fashioned ideas about what books should be in the school library and this was the compromise?

  20. Hey, at least this book isn’t spreading the false gospel that the tongue has different tasting areas.

    It’s a lie! A big lie! All taste buds pick up every taste! There aren’t specific areas on the tongue that taste one thing over the other! Ahhh!

    To this day this belief drives me nuts! Google it, people!

  21. Jamisings said: Evolution IS just a theroy. It’s never once been proven and in fact every single so-called “missing link” has been debunked. Besides that, even the simpliest lifeforms are so complex the earth would have to be ten to 20 times older then scientists claim for life to have come about by random chance. The only logical explaination for life on earth is we were created, be it by a supereme being or aliens.

    I really, really, REALLY hope this was a troll. If it wasn’t, please go look up “Scientific Method” and get back to us. Also, maybe try reading about the Theory of Evolution (protip: does not include random chance).

    Always strikes me funny how those who try to deny this claiming it makes them more open minded are actually the most closed minded indivuals in the world.

    Well, I suppose its because most of us who deny Creationism come at it from the standpoint that it’s really silly for adults to be talking to their imaginary friends and claiming that their imaginary friend is the biggest, strongest, bestest imaginary friend ever, and he loves us so much he’ll SMITE us if we don’t believe so too. But that’s just a hypothesis. As opposed to a theory. Which you should look up.

    I’ll just leave this here…

  22. There seems to be some misunderstanding here about what “evolution” means.

    “Evolution” simply means change, i.e., that organisms change over time. This has been observed and recorded. It is happening all the time–in fact, if evolution did not occur, we would never have to worry about insects becoming resistant to pesticides; bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, and the thousands of other instances of evolution that we observe routinely.

    Darwin observed differences in birds that led him to theorize that natural selection was the mechanism by which evolution occurred.

    A natural outgrowth of the observation that organisms evolve–as they undoubtedly do–is the wonder about the origins of life on earth, particularly human origins. Obviously, people disagree about the possible answers to *this* question, and many prefer to believe in divine origins.

  23. Choosing the right educational books for children can be hard work. While we need to be aware of what we are teaching children, sometimes people take it too far. But, like many others have said, it is probably routine for all of the books.

  24. I agree with you, Brian. I’ve never understood why Intelligent Design and Evolution had to be mutually exclusive? I believe Evolution is part of God’s creation. How boring it would be if organisms stayed the same.

    My daughter used to play with a little boy down the street who was home-schooled. One day when he was 7 or 8 we talked about this subject…when I told him that scientists have evidence that shows that organisms have evolved over millions or billions of years, he told me that “scientists hate God”. O.o

  25. For the weeder’s information, my experience with public schools is that they are filthy and badly mismanaged hell holes, and that Christian schools are by far more pleasant and open-minded places to be. Just try being skeptical of the new Global Warming religion so many “secular” morons are now pushing on our kids; or try pointing out that the so-called “gay gene” doesn’t exist and homosexuality is not inborn; or try to get ANY creationist books accepted at a supposedly religiously “neutral” public school. The Atheists and–worse–Agnostics are certainly doing their worst to establish their evil state religions at these schools by banning all opposing viewpoints from the shelves. They are totalitarian hypocrites imposing their hateful dogmas on us with the very money they extorted from us through the state’s taxation. If I had my way, government-funded schools would be abolished and outlawed. I can only hope the economic collapse the fools who graduated from these brainwashing centers have brought on us will ultimately collapse their hellish institutions as well.

    (I say the Agnostics are worse because theirs is a religion of dull-mindedness and indifference; with them, it’s not so much a matter of being against these other viewpoints–though they are–as it is discouraging all inquiry and interest into religious and philosophical matters as if they were a waste of time. They really hate people for “thinking too much” about controversial subjects, so they try to suppress inquiry into them. An Atheist, hostile as he may be to other religions, may at least encourage educated inquiry into these other viewpoints, which is why some of the world’s greatest Christians are former Atheists.)

    Public school libraries are increasingly intellectually sterile and vapid. The reason you won’t see disclaimer stickers like these on books in public schools is because books with views opposing politically correct nonsense are simply never stocked in the first place for fear of offending militant Atheist and Agnostic zealots, whereas Christian schools (in part because they’re strapped for cash and welcome donations) allow a lot of books with opposing viewpoints onto their shelves so long as they’re provided with boilerplate disclaimers. As several have already pointed out, the school in question probably didn’t find anything wrong with anything with the book in question at all, and the sticker’s just a way of returning moral responsibility for the books contents to the parents in case any of them try to blame the school’s making such a broad spectrum of books available for “misleading” the kids.

    For my part, I think the weeder is at best an ignoramus, at worst a smug hypocrite projecting the worst qualities of the damnable public schools for which he’s so despicably “grateful” onto the demonstrably far superior Christian private schools. Actually, just about any kind of private school is better; some of my best experiences with school (and such a contrast to my suffering at public schools before I finally escaped into homeschooling) were at the supposedly secular Hillsdale College, where all viewpoints get to contend for themselves, and where there are lots of Christians from various different denominations alongside Atheists, Agnostics, and a smattering of other religions.

  26. By the way, Brian, I can see you’re one of the products of our sorry public school system, as you obviously don’t know your history. NOBODY of any intellectual prominence in the medieval ages believed in a flat earth. That’s just another myth fool “secularists” such as yourself believe without question when other fools repeat it to you. “Dragging” you ignoramuses back into medieval times would probably improve the quality of your intellect dramatically, as you’re clearly stuck in the most imbecilic parts of the 19th and 20th centuries with those liars and charlatans John William Draper, Andrew Dickson White, and Washington Irving whose snake oil you just bought.

  27. Juvenile name calling aside, I’m disappointed in those who choose to criticize people in this thread, do so after the book in question moves off the main page and into the archives. It’s a really cowardly thing to do. The website owners in future should close the comments threads after the book is no longer viewable on the main page.

    I wonder if this Eddie Kovacs is the same Eddie Kovacs who supported burning the Koran, on Burn the Koran Day. If so, you just undermined your own argument on book censorship.