Victory in Gull Lake

| 36 Comments

Last evening I attended the Gull Lake school board meeting on a sweltering night when they were to decide whether or not to allow two 7th grade science teachers to teach ID as they had been doing for the last couple of years. I am happy to report that after about a year of effort and controversy, the school board voted unanimously that ID could not be taught in science classes in that district, nor could the book Of Pandas and People be used in the 7th grade class where it had been used as a supplemental text for the past couple years by two teachers there. They did so in the face of a lawsuit threatened by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of the two teachers, who claim that they have a right to teach ID in their classes even if those with authority over the curriculum do not agree.

I gave a brief talk to the board that focused on two things. First, the fact that many prominent ID advocates had themselves said that it was premature to talk about teaching ID in public school science classrooms because it is not yet a full fledged scientific theory and has not been established within the scientific community to warrant such inclusion. Specifically, I quoted Bruce Gordon's statement that ID had been "prematurely drawn into discussions of public science education where it has no business making an appearance without broad recognition from the scientific community that it is making a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the natural world." Second, I sought to reassure the board that the lawsuit threatened by the TMLC has little hope of succeeding and that they almost certainly know that. As I wrote on the Michigan Citizens for Science webpage a few weeks ago, there are three precedents for such a suit. In all three, the complaint was dismissed and the dismissal upheld on appeal.

The final result in Gull Lake was as follows. The ad hoc committee that was formed to reach a resolution on the issue, which was made up of 7 people including the two teachers who were teaching ID, voted 5-2 against teaching ID, with those two teachers obviously being the 2 yes votes. It was then sent to all of the junior high and high school science teachers, where again only the two teachers in question thought it should be taught. It was then sent to the District Curriculum Council, which voted 15-0 against teaching ID. And last night, the school board vote to reject ID in science classrooms was unanimous. They did accept the committee's recommendation that the board approve ID as a potentially suitable subject for a high school level elective course in social studies, humanities, political science or philosophy, but that would have to go through the normal process of being approved separately by the administration and could not begin until at least fall of 2006.

So all in all, a resounding victory for the advocates of quality science education. We now await the decision of the Thomas More Law Center on whether they will actually file the suit they have been threatening. In speaking with a couple members of the Gull Lake board last evening, it seemed that they were all expecting such a suit to be filed. I'm not so sure. The TMLC must know that they have virtually no chance of winning that suit, so if they file it will only be because they want either the media attention or the donations that would follow that attention. And at this point, they have their hands full with the Dover ID trial, and that frankly isn't going well for them at this point either. So good news all the way around.

36 Comments

This is the kind of travesty guaranteed to happen when the voting bodies are packed with atheists determined to deny God. While they will surely burn in the afterlife, our childrens’ souls remain at risk. Please contribute more money that we can use to get proper God-fearing Christians into positions of responsibility where they belong.

(If the money is sent to me personally, I can assure everyone it will be put to excellent use indeed.)

I bet Gull Lake is in one of those commie infested, brie eating, wine sipping blue states. Jesus died on the cross for us 2,000 years ago, why didn’t someone make a stand for him in Gull Lake?

Next stop: Dover

In case you need a refresher from the BOARD PRESS RELEASE FOR BIOLOGY CURRICULUM:

http://www.dover.k12.pa.us/doversd/[…]amp;Q=261852

“With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.”

Right. How do you think we came to the idea of evolution … guessing?

“Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.”

Will they finally be made aware of what a theory is, under oath for example. Should they be required to pass an exam, regarding the definition of theories, before telling others what constitutes a theory. Classic.

When does the silliness end?

I honestly can’t tell whether the first two comments are serious or parody.

“I honestly can’t tell whether the first two comments are serious or parody.”

I think the part about the money being “sent to me personally” is a pretty dead giveaway. I want to say that “commie infested, brie eating, wine sipping blue states” is a dead giveaway as well, but it’s getting harder and harder to tell… ;)

“I honestly can’t tell whether the first two comments are serious or parody.”

Personally I think the one lasting achievement of IDC will be to drag all of us into an endless (yet superficical) hell of postmodernist insanity, where all distinction between truth and falsehood, belief and fact, reality and make-believe, fades into nothingness, all becomes surface, and it becomes impossible to meaningfully distinguish between “serious” and “parody”.

What fun.

Ed,

Thanks for the effort you put into this. It’s good to see there are, after all, rational communities and elected officals to be found.

Perhaps, in this new hothoused postmedernism Dan S. describes, we will come at last to Schroedinger’s Postmodernism, a state where any comment is simultaneously both “serious” and “parody.”

Until one opens the box, of course.…

Just last week I embarrassed myself and earned a scolding from Mark Perakh, whom I greatly respect, for taking seriously something that was written as parody by someone who had treated something as parody that I had written in earnest. It really does get awfully confusing. When I see some of the things that PZ posts on pharyngula.org , it’s breathtaking what creationists take seriously. The late comedian Bill Hicks has a funny bit about dinosaurs (not) being in the Bible (which he presumes they should be if the earth is as young as many fundamentalists say). There is nothing in his satire, outrageous though it is, that would be out of place in a creationist tract, including speculation that Jesus once removed a thorn from a dinosaur’s paw and that dinosaur became the Loch Ness Monster.

Dan S. is totally right–evidence deniers of all stripes have helped to create an ethos where reality doesn’t even rise to the level of “collective hunch”–it’s viewed as a personal choice.

From Wikipedia: Ignorance

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, or a willful lack of desire to improve the efficiency, merit, effectiveness or usefulness of one’s actions. Ignorance is also a “state of being ignorant” or unaware (not knowing).

Perhaps an oversimplification, but here in the US, you can easily choose your religion and with this mindset, you can choose what to believe? Often, science seems to be looked upon as an establishment, as a matter of choice.

We have the freedom of choice but not the freedom to ignore, although that is precisely what ID is about.

Is this mindset being reinforced in the public schools? I really don’t know but it is fascinating to understand why this is a problem here.

noe-anti-luddite, dan: I think we’re already there. I love the idea of Schroedingerian postmodernism. I think that I might do exactly that all the time. Postmodern cultural theorists have a really annoying habit, though, of taking concepts from theoretical physics (vague (mis)understandings of the uncertainty principle and theories of relativity) and applying them willy-nilly to social life. I don’t know shit-all about theoretical physics, so I should probably avoid going down that road.

Ed, thanks for your important efforts and successes. Keep it up. Do you know of any church-types who are coming after ID from the other angle? I know Langdon Gilkey was involved in that, but he died last year. I’d like to help with this.

Some of you might be interested in Joe’s recent bit on ID at evangelicaloutpost.com. Y’all probably disagree with him even more than I do, and are better equipped to come up with good challenges for him, but he, seems to me, is the guy on the cutting edge of radical Christianity, and he takes his interlocutors seriously. I’d like it if the smartest naturalists dealt more often with the smartest creationists, even though idiots like those two school teachers must be dealt with.

“When I see some of the things that PZ posts on pharyngula.org , it’s breathtaking what creationists take seriously.”

For example, we know Dr. Dino is a joke, but in many parts of the Bible Belt he is the preeminent authority on dinosaurs: http://tinyurl.com/8exex

Personally I think the one lasting achievement of IDC will be to drag all of us into an endless (yet superficical) hell of postmodernist insanity, where all distinction between truth and falsehood, belief and fact, reality and make-believe, fades into nothingness, all becomes surface, and it becomes impossible to meaningfully distinguish between “serious” and “parody”.

Well put. But I think IDC is a symptom of a sort of national descent into a hell of postmodernist insanity, rather than its cause.

Pop Quiz Time! Parody or Serious

Quote from Connie Morris, Kansas State School Board:

“In short, Darwin’s theory of evolution is biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible.’”

Biologically AND Metaphysically? Could that be ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible?’

Now, quick: Parody or Serious

If you answered “Parody”, do not collect $200. Go back to Creationism 101.

If you answered “Serious”, well, I’m sorry for us all, but that’s the correct answer.

“In short, Darwin’s theory of evolution is biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible.’”

Biologically AND Metaphysically? Could that be ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible?’

Now, quick:  Parody or Serious

If you answered “Parody”, do not collect $200.  Go back to Creationism 101.

If you answered “Serious”, well, I’m sorry for us all, but that’s the correct answer.

I like her exuberant use of quote marks. Always a good sign of someone who is both undereducated and unstable.

Flint: “While they will surely burn in the afterlife, our childrens’ souls remain at risk.”

Issue 1: Providing threats of burning in the afterlife suggests that gawd didn’t take action to support your position on this matter in this life.

Issue 2: Although you believe your childrens souls remain at risk … do feel comforted that their science education has been protected.

“In short, Darwin’s theory of evolution is biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible.’”

Biologically AND Metaphysically? Could that be ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible?’

Now, quick:  Parody or Serious

If you answered “Parody”, do not collect $200.  Go back to Creationism 101.

If you answered “Serious”, well, I’m sorry for us all, but that’s the correct answer.

Surely she could have thought of a few more adverbs if she’d tried hard enough.

“Tis nice to see that sometimes in small-town America sanity, knowledge, and wisdom do prevail. Such is reassuring.

Always a good sign of someone who is both undereducated and unstable.

Unfortunately, also elected by the voters of Kansas. And also a schoolteacher of very young children. Who become voters in Kansas.

Flint: “While they will surely burn in the afterlife, our childrens’ souls remain at risk.”

Issue 1: Providing threats of burning in the afterlife suggests that gawd didn’t take action to support your position on this matter in this life.

Issue 2: Although you believe your childrens souls remain at risk … do feel comforted that their science education has been protected.

In short, Darwin’s theory of evolution is biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. ‘wildly’ and ‘utterly impossible.’

Wow, whatly a loonally. Holy cowly.

One of the misconceptions Joe Carter has is Behe’s false characterization of eye evolution. Being one of the “new recruits”, my expertise is more in the physical sciences. Maybe one of the biologists could wander over to the Evangelical Outpost and straighten him out. I could then explain as an Evangelical that this is not just some atheist thing.

I can tell you from personal experience and as amazing as it sounds because of all the B.S. being thrown around many if not most Evangelicals actually believe that Darwinism is “in crisis”. Nevertheless, I get the sense that Joe is recoverable and if not then some of his lurkers may be. On a related front Christianity Today’s blog is pointing at the Thumb as an anti-ID site. I know, I know this is wrong but my guess is that is the way it is characterized by Evolution News and Views. Howdy to all those coming over from CT. Pick up a chair and learn something.

I remain puzzled by one of the comments made on the Thomas More website: “growing number of scientists…”

Exactly who are these people? Is anyone keeping track? What are their names?

I remain puzzled by one of the comments made on the Thomas More website: “growing number of scientists … “

Exactly who are these people? Is anyone keeping track? What are their names?

Raphael Hythloday. He is a character in Thomas More’s Utopia. His last name is Greek for talker of nonsense.

About this threat of “post-modernist insanity”: I believe you are confusing the diagnosis with the symptoms. As many, many people do; most complaints about modern art and, especially, music are of the same source: the playfully unconventional is both disturbing and foolish. That’s the essence of “correct living” to me, until I take it or myself seriously anyway. This “postmodernism” is very, very old hat thinking indeed, and evidence of an open mind: that statements are never unmotivated by other interests than descriptive truth; that any statement is limited by the arbitrary and temporarily convenient. It isn’t concerned with proposing the “right” and “wrong,” or any other “moral” definitions, because these are weapons as much as tools: distortions and manipulations. Science is allowed, and done, but it is a partial explanation, and one we have seen as aptly adjustible to evil use as religion ever was. Water boils at 100C. There are 24 hours in a day. ETC. Everything we know is wrong. Don’t accept the interested, pat dismissal of PM’s pinched-face opponents. Haven’t you noticed they use the same techniques of ridicule and misrepresentation our anti-Evolution crowd adopts.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 3, column 12, byte 118 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

We now await the decision of the Thomas More Law Center on whether they will actually file the suit they have been threatening.

Bring it on, Bubba. I *love* the smell of creationists/IDers self-immolating in the morning.

Next stop: Dover

In case you need a refresher from the BOARD PRESS RELEASE FOR BIOLOGY CURRICULUM:

http://www.dover.k12.pa.us/doversd/[…]amp;Q=261852

For those who just walked in to this movie, I humbly offer an analysis of the Dover Statement:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/dov[…]atement.html

and the earlier Cobb County “disclaimer” case, which I think has direct bearing on Dover and on Discovery Institute’s “teach the controversy” crap:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/cobbcase.htm

Um… I’ll drop the whole thing after this, but lamuella has evidently taken me ass-backwards and I feel the need to correct this while I have the chance.

Recall that Fox-ass, whassisname? O’reilly? describing the “certainties” in science – didn’t he mention the “fact” we know about there being 24 hours in a day? Isn’t he clearly an ignorant and inflated fool?

Read the post again and give me a smidgen of credit for knowing this.

“I remain puzzled by one of the comments made on the Thomas More website: “growing number of scientists … “

Exactly who are these people? Is anyone keeping track? What are their names?”

It is one of the oldest lies in the creationist/IDist big ole’ bag of lies. If you repeat it long enough, like a mantra, people who don’t know any better will start to believe it.

I remain puzzled by one of the comments made on the Thomas More website: “growing number of scientists … “

Exactly who are these people? Is anyone keeping track? What are their names?

Amongst other things, they are one of the ones that weighed in on the Newdow controversy with an amicus brief, arguing that little tykes should be asked to recite a loyalty oath each and every day. Irony is not dead (unlike their namesake), it seems. So they appear to be as blissfully ignorant of the lessons of history as they are of the process of scientific discovery.….

Cheers,

darwinfinch wrote: “Recall that Fox-ass, whassisname? O’Reilly?”

Actually, there are so many posteriors on the Faux News Network that I’m glad you were specific! ;)

Okay, I know that everyone knows this, and this is a dead thread anyway, but…

1) The number of hours in a solar day is whatever we choose to make it. Our civilization uses 24 by convention. The length of a solar day cannot be controlled; the units we divide it into are arbitrary. 2) Since the earth revolves around the sun as well as rotates, the sidereal day is actually a bit shorter than the solar day - about 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds, I think. 3) The boiling point of water depends on pressure as well as temperature. In a vaccum, water will boil at less than 25 C. It takes longer to cook pasta in Santa Fe than in Miami, because water boils at a lower termperature.

Ok, my question is: How is anyone going to come up with enough “material” to warrent turning ID into a 9-week or 18-week high school course without spending a rediculous amount of time feeding them the typical “evidence against evolution” that isn’t. Isn’t it against the law (or at least, school board policy) to teach flat-out falsehoods to kids these days?

ID as a concept can be covered in 5 minutes once you take out all of the lies they throw out there as “supporting evidence”.

If anything, school systems should take Carl Sagan’s advice and start an 18-week course in baloney detection. America would be so better off that way…

Isn’t it against the law (or at least, school board policy) to teach flat-out falsehoods to kids these days?

No it isn’t; yes it is. There can never be a law against teaching falsehoods in science class, because scientific theories are always falsifiable in principle, and indeed we have in the past taught what was later found to be not very correct. We may be doing so today, but we can’t know this yet. We teach our current best understandings, and that’s the best we can do.

However, those current best understandings ARE delineated in state-mandated curricula. This may be a subtle difference: We can (and probably do) teach falsehoods, so long as we do not KNOW they are false. Or to phrase it differently, a public school teacher is legally obligated to teach according to the state’s curriculum, even if he considers those lessons incorrect. So a creationist violates administrative regulation by teaching goddidit in science classs if the state has required that he teach evolution, BUT a biologist is also in violation for teaching evolution if the state requires that he teach that goddidit. The bottom line is: either teacher can be dismissed for cause, for teaching what he sincerely believes to be correct, if it violates the state-approved curriculum.

This is the very real power of the Kansas school board: IF they get goddidit substituted for evolution in the Official State Curriculum, they have the administrative authority to “weed out” the darwinistic athiests using administrative regulation. It’s a serious threat, because experienced teachers aren’t that easy to replace, and the damage would (will) long outlast a change of administration even if it happens in the next school board elections. There’s a sort of “administrative entropy” such that it’s easy to do damage and slip backwards, and damn hard to repair the damage. The replacement creationist teachers have a legitimate claim to their jobs and the political cost of recreating the status quo ante will be high. Especially in Kansas.

Flint,

This is precisely the reason why I wrote to the Gull Lake School Board. Pandas and People is loaded with mistakes and I sent them a letter detailing many of the mistakes in this book. If students use this book in middle or secondary schools, they will carry those misconceptions into the college classroom where it takes blokes like yours truly hours to undo all the wrong ideas they have accumulated. Teaching becomes unlearning more than it becomes learning and that can be a drag. It is nice to see that this book will not be used in Gull Lake.

Kudos to Rob Pennock and Ed Brayton!!

MB

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This page contains a single entry by Ed Brayton published on June 14, 2005 8:59 AM.

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