“Teach the Controversy?” or “He said, He said”

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The mainstream media, and a growing number of academics have “discovered” the threat that the new creationism, AKA intelligent design, poses to science education in the United States.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that some of these newly minted ‘experts’ will be proffering up their solutions, many of which will be shallow, and some even counterproductive. The recent proposal for high school debates on evo/creato by Michael Balter is an example. During the long and contentious discussion of Balter’s editorial and proposals, a research article by Prof. Steve Verhey was introduced by Balter who claimed it was a vindication of his proposal. A short while later Verhey also joined the discussion. That Verhey’s work did not support Balter is clear, as was stated explicitly by Verhey,

I don’t know what to say about high school evolution education. I don’t think my approach would work there. Perhaps it could work, but it would take too much time. Evolution can’t be avoided in HS biology classes, and creationism/ID can’t be presented as even vaguely valid alternatives, so we are where we are.

Since the paper in question had not been seen in print, we deferred further discussion of its contents. Dr. Verhey has now kindly made the PDF of his paper available to Panda’s Thumb readers. Note also that he has also presented key portions of his raw data as well.

I commend Dr. Verhey’s efforts and transparency which are in the best scientific tradition, and I will insist that any comments by PT readers will also. Dr. Verhey and I have exchanged a number of emails over the last two weeks concerning his paper, and the data which informs his conclusions. These emails (with only trivial edits) form the bulk of the following post. Quite obviously any cogent remarks regarding Dr. Verhey’s paper and the material below will require that one has read and understood the paper. Non-cogent remarks will be simply deleted.

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I've been following the debate about this paper by Verhey (pdf) with some interest. The issue is about how to teach science, and what place the current creationism controversy has in it. Verhey taught an introductory biology course at Central Wash... Read More

Flacks from Cosmic Variance on December 3, 2005 7:19 PM

Steven Verhey, a biologist at Central Washington University, had an idea: try to teach his Basic Biology class a little bit about how scientists actually think, by presenting arguments both in favor of evolution (as embodied in Richard Dawkins’... Read More

Most biologists I know, and a substantial fraction of those online, are not just bewildered, but also annoyed (or worse) by the idea that anyone could believe in Intelligent Design, much less the stronger forms of Creationism. The two sides also rough... Read More

239 Comments

And don’t be rude to Dr. Verhey. You can be rude to me- I am used to it. But, if you really tick me off I’ll do a Dembski on ya’. I’ll delete yer butt and call it “street theater.”

Special care is definitely needed in addressing these issues in high school. I can easily think of ways to approach science education in high school that would help students without directly introducing ID as a topic. For now, though, I hope we can stick to discussing college education, which is the topic of my paper. I also think it would be nice if people could avoid being rude at all. In particular, we wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for Mr. Balter. And thank you, Dr. Hurd, for your nice introduction to this thread.

I have been censored at William Dembski’s blog 6 times now. Although I grant him intelligent design, he does not want to address the question of…

Is the designer the designed?

oh, get a load of my recent banning at Dembski’s site. He put up a post saying no supernatural designer was needed, this was just a lie by the evolutionists. The designer could be natural, or not, he didn’t know and ID doesn’t say one way or the other. So in that thread, in a comment, I posted:

William Dembski himself said: “The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design.” (in The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence)

Are you tell me that creating a universe does not require the supernatural?

Comment by steve2005 — November 30, 2005 @ 10:50 am

That comment, and my account, lasted less than an hour. But Pete, I don’t think it’s because he wants to avoid addressing a topic. It’s because he doesn’t want his followers to see the holes and contradictions.

Well, I’ll just re-say what I said before:

I think that the US education system *as a whole* is a mess, not just biology, and not even just science. Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

We are, in essence, a nation composed largely of pig-ignorant uneducated morons.

So, the way out lies not solely with increasing science education, but with ALL education.

Alas, though, as a society, the US has demonstrated, repeatedly, that despite all its pious-sounding talk, it really doesn’t care about educating its citizens, and really isn’t willing to put any more money into it than is necessary to produce the next generation of cheeseburger-flippers who can (sometimes) give correct change.

Prof Verhey is, I think, right in that teaching college-level students why ID is BS, works. Of course, there are several inherent advantages there that are *not* present in high-school students. College students, presumably, will go on to careers where actual thinking skills are required and desirable (unlike the vast majority of high school students who will ignorantly flip burgers for their entire lives).

Also, college level students, particularly science students, presumably already know lots more about science and how it works than most high schoolers do.

Were it up to me, I’d want to see us as a society focusing on teaching *all* our kids “critical thinking skills”, or, as it is sometimes known, “BS detecting”. Alas, there are reason why I simply don’t think that will ever happen. First, most of our society is *based* on BS – everything from political campaigns to advertisements for corn flakes – and the very LAST thing the powers that be want is a population of citizens who know how to think for themselves and how to critically evaluate things around them. And second, as I said before, as a society, we’ve already demonstrated that we simply don’t *want* to pay for educating our kids, beyond any “knowledge” they need to fill the low-wage low-skill jobs that our economy depends on (at least the ones that haven’t already been exported overseas). Heck, nowadays we don’t even need to pay to produce our own doctors or scientists either — we can just import them from overseas.

Changing those things will require, in turn, making changes in our very social, political and economic structures – very BIG changes. And we, as a society, simply don’t want to do that.

So I don’t think we *will*.

It’s important for everyone to realize that, within obvious ethical and legal boundaries, I did the best I could to present a balanced approach

But IDers, ya see, don’t WANT a “balanced approach”. When they say “balanced approach”, what they MEAN is “present our crap without criticizing it”.

Therefore, ANY class that is critical of ID, in any way, will be met with pursed lips and disapproval from the IDers.

To which I say, “Tough”. (shrug)

Only 5 percent of all Biology 110 students reported creationism as their only form of prior learning,while 15 percent reported evolution only, and 6 percent reported having been exposed only to origin stories other than evolution or Judeo-Christian creationism.

I must have missed this part: how did you present the questions and specifically what were they? The 6% seems strange to me.

my approach is based on fairly standard pedagogical theory: it is hard to learn things without first connecting them with what we already know. This also helps to explain why it is especially hard to learn things correctly when we have first learned them incorrectly.

Or not learned them at all.

And that is why students, particularly high school level and below, should first learn basic science and biology, including evolution, and understand it, BEFORE being asked by anybody to “critically evaluate” ID or flying saucers or ESP or whatever other nutty idea some loud group or another wants us to believe.

That is why the ID efforts to teach their drivel to ninth-grade students is so insidious. Ninth-graders simply do not know anything about the topic, and are simply not prepared to “evaluate” anything or “make their own decision”. As I put it before, it’s like taking a group of five year olds, telling them about a nutritionally balanced meal, telling them about cookies and ice cream, and asking them to “make up their own mind” about their diet.

And that is why I think our focus should be to teach SCIENCE in K-12. Pure, basic, mainstream SCIENCE – and, perhaps even more importantly, *how science works*. AFTER students have a basic but thorough grasp of science and biology and how it works, THEN is the time to ask them to “critically evaluate” this or that or the other thing, using the scientific method that they have already learned how to apply to scientific questions. IDers, of course, depend very very heavily on the ignorance and lack of knowledge in their intended audience – which is, I suspect, precisely WHY they focus their efforts on teaching ID to ninth-graders instead of to, say, collegel-level biology students.

What the IDers want is indoctrination, not education. This is made even more clear by the ID reaction to any criticism of ID in the classroom. Let a teacher present all the ID arguments and then calmly point out why they are all BS, and the IDers will be the very first ones jumping up and down about the “bias” and “unfairness”. What IDers want, after all their arm-waving, is for their religious opinions to not only be taught, but to be made legally immune from criticism.

I find that intolerable. I find even the REQUEST for it intolerable.

If IDers want to have their BS “critically evaluated”, they are welcome to send it to peer-reviewed science journals, who will be happy to give them all the “critical evaluation” they can stand. For free.

But, as noted, the very LAST thing the IDers want is an audience that actually knows something about the topic. They prefer uneducated 14-year olds, instead.

I find that very telling.

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

As a product of the US public school system, I felt compelled to draw this map of the world, labeled with the US, to prove I know where it is.

My Map

Dr. Verhey, I’m very interested in your work and have given the issue some thought as well. First, I agree that there is a need to address creationism at the college level. As you don’t say but perhaps both you and Gary will agree, most professors are rather head-in-the-sand about the subject. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Bruce Alberts has an editorial letter in Cell in which he suggests several changes in current teaching, the last being:

Alberts Wrote:

For all those who teach college biology, the current challenge posed by the intelligent design movement presents an ideal “teachable moment.” I believe that intelligent design should be taught in college science classes but not as the alternative to Darwinism that its advocates demand. It is through the careful analysis of why intelligent design is not science that students can perhaps best come to appreciate the nature of science itself.

You however are out in front with an actual program described in part as follows:

Verhey Wrote:

Seminar reading assignments. Sections A and B used The Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins 1996) and Icons of Evolution (Wells 2002) for seminar discussions. Icons of Evolution is an ID-oriented book; students also read Icons of Obfuscation (Tamzek 2004), an online rebuttal of Wells (2002). Readings from these books were discussed in seminars as follows: week 2, Dawkins, front matter and chapter 1; week 3, Dawkins, chapter 2; week 4, Wells, chapters 1 and 2; week 5, Dawkins, chapter 3; week 6, Wells, chapters 3 and 4; week 7, no seminar; week 8, Dawkins, chapter 4; week 9, Wells, chapters 11 and 12; weeks 10 and 11, no seminar. The Web page of the Discovery Institute, a leading ID-promoting organization, was made available via a link on the class Web page. Seminar discussions were generally conducted as outlined by Harnish (1995).

Sections C and D used as their seminar book The Red Queen (Ridley 1995), reading approximately one chapter a week. The seminar structure for sections C and D was different from that of sections A and B: before each seminar meeting, a group of two or three students was expected to prepare a brief quiz on the reading assignment. This group was also expected to lead the discussion. The quality of each group’s quizzes and discussions was graded.

Leaving the statistical discussion to others, I want to think of yours as a pilot program, and a call to think together about similar ones. First I want to say something about the “He said / She said” part of Gary’s title. This is a standard problem: how do you present creationism including IDC (aka DIC) without making it sound to non-biologists like he said - she said? In your current program the students read Wells’ Icons. His rhetoric is strong if you don’t know that he is for all practical purposes lying, and your Bio I students don”t know that. Most working biologists are not expert in all the areas Wells goes into. Neither is he, but he acts as if he were and your students don’t know the difference. Although I had the advantage of knowing enough about evolution not to be swayed by _Icons_, I did read quite a few research papers that I wouldn’t otherwise have read in order to check his claims. Nic Tamzek read considerably more, and also read _Icons_ more closely, and hence found much more wrong with the book, Alan Gishlick still more. But your students don’t know who is right. Some changed their minds, but in both directions.

My thought is to teach the science well, including science that is relevant to a creationist claim, and then point out that creationists say this instead, and the matter should be clear. I wrote ICdmyst to help do this. I pick Behe rather than Wells because his argument is absurd on its face. I provide examples that can easily be used in Bio I. The most effective approach might be to have the students read Behe through about page 42, be swayed by his argument, and then see that life goes right through the holes in his argument like water through a sieve. I wouldn’t try to go into detail on all of the “icons”. Instead, pick one or at most two that can be well covered. Haeckel might be a good one. In addition to overall reviews of _Icons_ there is this and this paper as background for the instructor. I thought it was available free online and while searching for it I noticed this relevant page. But the best reason for choosing this icon is that it leads right into what Wells and friends are really trying to obscure: evo-devo. If I were to have the students read any whole book besides the text, it would probably be Endless Forms Most Beautiful, soon to be out in paperback.

I don’t think I’d concern myself with religion related questions. Questions on scientific method seem more appropriate. And if the instructor plans to ask those questions he first has to teach method, thoughfully. If you are making students aware of creationism I think you should mention the Index, and it is hardly fair not to warn them of quotation - abuse since creationist literature has so much of it.

Regarding BWE’s question: the survey instrument is posted at my website (www.cwu.edu/~verheys). The 5% comes from the 3/66 students in all sections who said they had been exposed to creationism only; the 6% comes from the 4/66 students who said they had been exposed to origin stories other than creationism or evolution (both numbers are rounded).

I’m actually not all that happy with the way this question worked in the survey, since I think it could have been presented more clearly. The main point I make with the prior learning data is that exposure to both creationism + evolution is widespread.

As a product of the US public school system, I felt compelled to draw this map of the world, labeled with the US, to prove I know where it is.

My Map

Good job. :>

Some people I know would have had difficulty spelling “US” correctly. ;>

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

I think that the US education system *as a whole* is a mess, not just biology, and not even just science. Poll after poll shows that many Americans don’t know what country the US won independence from, can’t find the US on a world map, can’t name the Vice President of the US, and think “from each according to ability, to each according to need” comes from the US Constitution.

We are, in essence, a nation composed largely of pig-ignorant uneducated morons.

So, the way out lies not solely with increasing science education, but with ALL education.

I agree completely. In fact, if there is anything positive to be said about ID, it would be that the attempt to put that form of creationism into the science classroom has exposed the overall flaws in our educational system. (Sadly, that is the ONLY positive thing to be said about ID.)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

Were it up to me, I’d want to see us as a society focusing on teaching *all* our kids “critical thinking skills”, or, as it is sometimes known, “BS detecting”. Alas, there are reason why I simply don’t think that will ever happen. First, most of our society is *based* on BS — everything from political campaigns to advertisements for corn flakes — and the very LAST thing the powers that be want is a population of citizens who know how to think for themselves and how to critically evaluate things around them.

I think this is one of the issues that highlights the real problem in public education. The major focus in high school (and before) tends to be rote memorization. This addresses the method of learning and, to a degree, it makes sense. After all, being able to read English is a necessity for learning to understand Shakespeare, knowing the multiplication tables is a step toward understanding much of mathematics.

There comes a point, however, that rote memorization is not enough. It needs to be a stepping stone to being able to go beyond the “Dick and Jane” and those multiplication tables.

The problem is that we learn to memorize in high school but don’t take the next step by learning how to think. I think one of the things that would be useful would not just be a class in “critical thinking” (or “BS detection”) but a class in general philosophy. After all, philosophy brings a solid base for that type of thinking. Included in that would be introduction to logic. While this would help detect the BS, it would also provide the basis for going beyond the basics from the rote memorization.

Steve Verhey Wrote:

I can easily think of ways to approach science education in high school that would help students without directly introducing ID as a topic.

I’m interested in this, because I can’t really (not a teacher of any sort so this is not surprising). Could you elaborate?

Thanks for the cool study.

I read the paper and thought parts of it were very interesting. I also have a few comments on the general topic: teaching the controversy in the college classroom.

Firstly, I liked the model of learning presented, though I suspect that as with any “stage theory” of learning, it will have its holes. What I liked is the idea of moving beyond simplistic dualism, but not getting stuck in relativism. Thus good critical thinking skills require actually coming up with some criteria by which to make an evaluation. I have some personal interest here since I am working on a paper about approaches to the social sciences that makes much the same point.

Secondly, I like the idea of engaging students’ prior learning. There are some good pedagogical ideas in this paper that give me cause to think about some of the things I do and don’t do in the classroom.

Now, as to the issue of “teaching the controversy” in the college classroom I have a few observations. At the risk of putting some people on the spot, let me note that I know that one of my colleagues not only does not address evolution in the classroom (save sporadically) he is overtly hostile to it (note: I am not in the natural sciences department-I am in the social sciences department). This particular person has engaged in the “teach the controversy” approach to some degree. This consisted of having students do presentations on the topic. There was no systematic discussion of the issue.

Another colleague in the philosophy department who is openly sympathetic to ID teaches the controversy in some of his philosophy classes. I find this unobjectionable on the face of it, save that I have had several discussions with this person and am not impressed with his knowledge of evolution. But in fairness, he does have students read selections both by Ruse and Behe.

Having had a longstanding interest in the topic I audited another colleague’s course on evolution. It was a very well presented course and I came away having learned a lot of basics. I’d have been a lot better off with some knowledge of anatomy but other than that, I found the course pretty easy to follow.

I myself have attempted a “teach the controversy” approach with very limited success. Alright-it was pretty much an abject failure. The context was an undergraduate senior seminar in which students had to write a 20 page theme paper that exhibited critical thinking. So for my section I chose the topic of science and society, thinking we’d track through the ID/Evolution, Science/Post-Modernism debate in the social sciences. Students were largely resistant to any real discussion of evolution or of ID for that matter.

This coming quarter I am trying to decide what to do with my cultural anthro class. I chose a text (Scupin) that has a chapter on biological anthro and evolution and comes down on the pro-science wing of anthropology.

My plan for the first two weeks is:

1. Discussion of the scientific method (really methods) as applied to anthro and some discussion of post-modern approaches to anthro: 2. A discussion about how to evaluate situations-what would you do if someone claimed to be kidnapped by aliens…how would you evaluate that claim. 3. A reading of Genesis and the Dine Creation myth; 4. Lecture on the basics of human evolution-australopithecus to us.

Any comments, thoughts?

“But in fairness, he does have students read selections both by Ruse and Behe.”

So he avoids science.

“I chose a text (Scupin) that has a chapter on biological anthro and evolution and comes down on the pro-science wing of anthropology.”

Ummmm you mean there’s an anti-science wing of anthropology?

I can barely balance my checkbook, let along compute chi-squares and scatter charts anymore. >:^\ But in the paper I noticed that a “disproportionate” number of creationist kids dropped the course or didn’t take the post-course survey. And then there’s this:

There is even greater uncertainty regarding whether the practices outlined here would have similar effects on student attitudes if applied by different faculty at different institutions. Indeed, from a formal, statistical point of view, the results presented here are not generalizable beyond this case study.

Science is full of hedging like this, I know; but I’m sure the study’s authors would have liked to have gotten some firmer results. Is there any news whether anyone will be experimenting further along these lines, or is it too soon to say?

Pete,

You ask if there is an anti-science wing of anthropology: in physical anthropology, not really. In Cultural Anthropology, absolutely. And I don’t think I am being unfair. Post-modernism and other interpretive approaches have had a large influence in cultural anthropology, as they have across the social sciences, even to some degree in economics.

To say “anti-science” might be twoo sweeping since there is a range of opinions. The text I am using introduces students to idea of scientific method and advocates applying it to the social sciences and thus approaches anthro as a unified science of humans. This idea is immensely controversial. Some would simply say that we can’t do this in anthropology or other social sciences, but we can still have science in the physical and natural sciences. Clifford Geertz would be the best known representative of that view. Others go much, much farther than Geertz and are in fact, outright hostile to science, period. And of course, this is not unique to anthro.

Dr. Verhey, thank you for making your work and your thoughts available to the rest of us.

I especially appreciate your emphasis on getting students to learn how to think more critically and maturely. I’m currently teaching an introductory biology class, and I’ve been trying to get my students to move from memorization to the actual use of concepts all semester.

I also appreciate that you’re allowing students to make up their own minds. IMO, being told what facts to know and what opinions to recite is a dead, anemic experience compared with the experience of being handed the proper tools and told that you have to build your own opinions.

I’m going to be teaching a one-month intensive course on evolution and creationism in January, at a small liberal-arts college. Most of the students are first-year students, and I expect that most are coming from a relatively strong but also relatively liberal religious background.

I’d appreciate any advice or resources that PT regulars (or newcomers!) could point me toward. My goals are to equip all of the students with a basic understanding of science and the scientific method, and I would very much like to see them advance to more mature cognitive modes. I’d also like to give them enough background knowledge about evolution and creationism that they can form their own opinions.

Being a biologist, I find I’m especially short on training when it comes to pedagogy and the psychology of learning, so I could especially use some help when it comes to guiding students through those Perry stages.

–B

Anyone here remember Van Daniken? As a young teen I was fascinated by his books. At some point I started asking my teachers about some of his claims and I was surprised at the anger this incited in them. The thing is they didn’t have any very good answers for me, they just said “He’s full of crap.” Luckily I had a HS chemistry teacher who had us read essays on the nature of science then offered to help me research Van Daniken’s claims. Turns out he’s full of crap, but Mr McDaniel never said that. I think a good teacher could do the same with ID/creationism. I don’t think you have to be an expert to see through ID/creationism as long as you learn what science is really all about.

Dedication and professionalism are attributes I aspire to and it is apparent they are not entirely wanting here. I note Dr. V.’s professional approach to a topic requiring such an approach. Teaching a topic in a real setting is a completely different task to researching its technical base. I have to inform Dr. V. and interested parties, the inevitable has finally happened, technology has begun to shed new light, and the debate is over. That’s not to say the question of teaching Origins is settled. There is work to be done and feedback is requested – visit my site or contact me for details. In my fallible opinion, the best approach entails, a) moderation, b) adherence to known facts and principles. We can now present Origins separate from reasonable religious controversy. The existence of information and information devices in nature need no more bar the scientific teaching of biology, than the existence of “Big Bang” theory need bar physics. Motivating students to discern the role of DNA, immune systems, and other cellular devices, in speciation, is surely a desirable outcome for science. The Source of intelligence, like the Source of the Universe, remains a personal matter. Richard Dawkins showed this to be true. He merely stopped short of searching for the natural “computer” that re-programmed his “computerized” DNA. Every effect has a cause, and inviting students to find causes and explore new frontiers is surely good policy?

I look forward to intelligent feedback and sound advice. Good education is the desired outcome. P.H..

Note to Mr. Hurd. Well, could our moon have come partly or wholly from a common donor planet such as Mercury? I think you are the chap who was commenting on that important topic. What is your advice?

Note to the “Reverend Doctor”. Good to see you’re going to follow through on the high words about Education, by a practical experiment. I remember reading somewhere, you wish to be reincarnated. Obviously this is to find out if dogs give birth to cats. Practical experimentation is a foundation of science. Very commendable. Be careful. The other day, I asked a vet (who has some sort of an accent) “When are dogs put down”? He said, “When they have tabbee”. Take a rope with you, will you, and we’ll pull you back if you have kittens.

You see, Dr. Verhey, we have full-on science here. Best wishes.

Heywood, you’re blithering again.

I don’t think you have to be an expert to see through ID/creationism as long as you learn what science is really all about.

And therein lies the problem …

Most Americans wouldn’t know real science if it reached up and bit them in the butt. Which is why we, collectively, are so apt to fall for all sorts of BS like alien abductions, ESP, Bigfoot, and ID.

First of all I want to thank Gary for beginning this thread and generating a discussion of Steve Verhey’s paper on PT. I hope he will allow me to make one correction to his characterization of my statements when I introduced this paper into the “Contrarian or Just Lame?” thread: I never said that the paper “vindicated” my proposals for debating ID, but that it was “relevant” to the discussion. I also said that I personally thought Verhey’s approach could be adapted to the high school situation, but of course that has not been done yet, and so I could hardly claim that my position was vindicated–only that the BioScience paper possibly pointed to a way of doing what I was suggesting.

There have already been a lot of interesting comments here. I totally agree with Lenny that science teaching in the US is piss poor and that something needs to be done about it. On the other hand, many students do not just come into class ignorant about science, but with strong religious beliefs from their family and community upbringing. When these beliefs include creationism, they make the students not just ignorant about science but resistant to learning about evolution. In this situation, I think that simply teaching them good science is not enough, and that the prior engagement approach Verhey used in his classes is not only likely to be effective but also necessary if the end goal of teaching good science is to be achieved. Indeed, if his results are valid–and I certainly agree that the validity of his study should be debated–then they would show that he has been effective in doing this and his example should be emulated.

This also means that religion cannot simply be treated as something exterior to science that must be parked at the classroom door when the student enters, which is the main principle behind legalistic approaches to combatting creationism and ID. One’s religious beliefs strongly affect one’s attitudes towards science; Verhey’s approach tackles this directly rather than avoiding it.

I also meant to post here the link to Craig Nelson’s editorial in BioScience accompanying the Verhey paper, as I also did on the “contrarian” thread, as he makes a number of points strongly endorsing this pedagogical approach at the college but not at the high school level. This link will no doubt be too long to display, but I hope you can copy and paste it somehow or perhaps Gary can do something to make it work:

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-pres[…]tudents.html

Lenny “ Most Americans wouldn’t’t know real science if it reached up and bit them in the butt.”

If knowledge was a butt and science was a ?

Very OT

3 things. 1. Teach Lenny’s golden rule’s for science. 2. ID pass those tests in court 3. I agree with Prof Verhey that the ideas of Dawkins/ Wells as presented are much too advanced for HS.

However given the right information at a level suitable that would allow reasonable students at that age to draw their own conclusions about the …fallaciousness of the counter argument; with a focus on the history of the idea right now, plus the impact of science on the history of ideas and the negative effects if unproven ideas are imposed on science I think is possible. I’ll go thru my notes and get it on here later.

.…NB:toMBmorereadingSTOPputawaythecolapsablecanoe STOP .… “Scoop”and”Our Man in Havana”STOP

Whoops, sorry, I posted the link to the press release and not the editorial. Here is Craig Nelson:

http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-edit[…]2005_11.html

jfc wrote:

… remember Van Daniken? … I was fascinated by his books. … I started asking my teachers about some of his claims … they didn’t have any very good answers for me, they just said “He’s full of crap.” Luckily I had a HS chemistry teacher who had us read essays on the nature of science then offered to help me research Van Daniken’s claims. Turns out he’s full of crap, but Mr McDaniel never said that. I think a good teacher could do the same with ID/creationism.

I think you just made an excellent point. Tell us more about how this Mr McDaniel approached the problem.

Philip Bruce Heywood wrote:

The Source of intelligence, like the Source of the Universe, remains a personal matter.

Not really. The question of what intelligence is and how it works is already a well explored area of science involving neurophysiology, artificial intelligence, the study of neural nets, Bayesian networks and evolutionary programming. These days you actually have to know what you’re talking about when you say “there was an intelligent cause.”

When I was first exposed to ID I found it a very compelling idea.

Perhaps my experience might be relevant as to what worked and what didn’t, on my little journey from being an ID supporter to accepting evolution.

I think that the most persuasive explanations were learning what the scientific method entails and the importance of peer review. Add to that the questions that Lenny keeps asking Salvador; and I was convinced that ID is not science.

What was ineffective was hostile and angry reactions to questions (I now know that those questions have been constantly repeated; but I did not know that when I asked).

Grey,

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools, or are you not aware of this?

Arden,

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families, so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools

Nonsense. There is no law or Supreme Court decision in effect anywhere in the United States of America which makes it illegal to teach about religion. None. Not a one.

From the Abington v Schempp decision:

“Nothing that we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistent with the First Amendment.”

What *IS* illegal is to favor one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.

Comparative religion classes are now, have always been, and probably always will be, entirely legal in any public school anywhere in the USA.

You, Carol, are a liar.

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families, so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

Then take YOUR shoes off and get back in that kitchen, Carol. (shrug)

Comment #61518

Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 08:07 PM (e) (s)

Grey,

Supreme Court decisions have in fact made the teaching of religion illegal in the US public schools, or are you not aware of this?

Nobody with a brain is aware of this, because it’s wrong and idiotic.

Comment # 61469

carol clouser Wrote:

Comment #61469 Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s) … The data also reveals that, contrary to what Lenny and others believe, the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows). So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

And I would applaud my child for having oral sex if he is going to engage in sex. This is because Oral sex is 10 times safer then virginal sex and 50 times safer then anal sex and at 9 years old my son knows about all 3 and the risks involved in each. So looking at it he would be engaging a very safe version of sex 2nd only to mutual masturbation by 2 consenting individuals.

That stirring aside I agree to many parents are not engaged in their children’s lives. Despite what some people think you don’t have to not work to be involved in your children’s lives. Both me and my ex-wife and her partner all work full time. Our son goes to school. He plays computer games. He watches a bit of TV. He plays outside. He is 9 so he is not at the point of having sex yet but when he becomes a teen ager I don’t doubt he’ll be trying to get a bit of slap and tickle. My job as a parent is to educate him so that when he gets to these points in life he at least makes responsible decisions. This in my view would include choosing to engage in oral sex before virginal sex or if he and his partner decide to engage in more risky sex they mitigate that risk as much as possible by the use of birth control, for both of them, and other mechanisms such as paying attention to her cycle avoiding the risky times of ovulation to more abstract methods like him taking 1 hour hot baths every night to lower his sperm count.

I also believe that a parents job isn’t just about teaching their children about sex but everything their children want to know about. My son and I constantly talk about many subjects from math, religion, science, sociology, current events, etc. I might be bless to have a highly intellectual son but I believe part of that comes from engaging my son from day one. Get your child’s brain working from day one by engaging them with the world instead of throwing a pacifier or bottle in their mouth to shut them up or stop them crying.

Stupidity in America and similar countries is largely to blame by one group of people in my opinion. It is not scientists that are to blame. It is not teachers that are to blame. It is not the government that is to blame. It is the parents that are to blame. I was not brought up in a well to do town. My town was blue collar. My graduating class had 300+ people. Education was adequate but not great. My parents where never involved in my learning. I joined the military. I choose to keep learning. I vowed that my son is my #1 priority in my life. Myself and people like me sadly are the exception rather then the rule. I don’t believe that religion is “The Answer” to this problem. I know plenty of religious people that are not interested in their children’s education. I don’t think that social status is a big factor. My son goes to one of the most expensive private schools in South Australia and many of the parents, while engaged in there children’s lives a bit more then average, seem to be more interested in using their children to promote their social status then actually engage in their children’s learning experience.

Sadly I don’t have any real answers on what to do. How do you get parents involved in their kid’s education? In my view it is to have them as educated as possible and have them enjoy learning. I’m sure if I didn’t love to learn then I would probably be less involved with my son’s learning. At the end of the day someone needs to bite the bullet and in my opinion that needs to be the people ultimately responsible for the children.

Part of this is not only engaging your children but engaging your children’s learning environment. This includes defending good science in the schools just like you should defend good education in any area in the school.

Let me end by saying that I don’t believe for 1 second that if my son chooses to have sex as a teenager, before he is married, that this will contribute to him doing poorly in school. Actually I would expect it to aid him in doing better as if he is actually having sex he is probably pouring less effort into trying to get it and that time could be spent on other pursuits such as learning.

Lenny,

I noticed how you changed my statement about the illegality of the “teaching of religion” to your statement about the legality of the “teaching ABOUT religion”. Neat trick. But YOU are the one who is being totally dishonest here.

Economic necessity does not explain the extent of two income families,

It does where I live. And in lots of other places. If you have a lower to lower-middle income (where being a teacher lands you in much of America), your choices for which geographic areas you can live in plummet if you have only one income. We are not talking about women working so that they can gather frivolous possessions selfishly. We are talking about being able to not live in a dangerous neighborhood, to live in a neighborhood with decent schools, give your kids nice things, to send your children to college, or, more prosaically, simply to not have your house taken away or to not be evicted from your apartment. Not luxuries.

so widespread in the US. In addition, there is a bit of the dog wagging its tail here. With so many two income earning families, the price of homes and other household goods is pressured upward. That is just how our economic system works. Of course that puts even more of a squeeze on the remaining one income families.

I will readily agree that the existence of two income families has made the cost of living more expensive. However, the rise of two income families was a direct result of the increased ability of women to get incomes and to enter the professional classes, which I wouldn’t give up for some abstract notion of ‘protecting the family’. However, the original cause for this situation is really irrelevant. We live in the here-and-now, not the 1940’s, and it is simply not financially feasible at all for most Americans to give up an income. It would be ruinous. Thus, I think any attempt to explain America’s sociological or educational problems on working mothers is incredibly dishonest. At best it’s a bogus ‘solution’ that helps no one, at worst it’s just reactionary social engineering that seeks to blame the victim while distracting people from the real causes of problems.

Lenny said:

Balter (and IDers) on the other hand, can NOT reach their goal unless ID, specifically, is addressed and discussed. Which is why Balter and the IDers are, essentially, fighting for the same thing — they both want to use ID to change people’s religious opinions. They simply disagree about the direction of that change.

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views. I have said repeatedly that my goal is to foster more openness to evolutionary and more generally scientific thinking. It may be possible to be an evolutionist and believe in God, but you cannot be an evolutionist and believe that the world was created in six days; nor can you be an evolutionist and believe that an intelligent designer was required to get over the alleged “irreproducible complexity” between self-replicating macromacromolecules and a living cell. So more effective teaching of evolution inevitably leads to a shift in either the form or content of religious perspectives, and everyone here knows that. That does not make it the goal, but rather a consequence of the shift that most people here want to see.

Off work for the night

Carol wrote:

“How about keep mom or dad at home, turn off the TV, and have the at-home parent show some interest in what the student is doing at school AND make sure they attend to their studies. School is mostly listening and watching (in academic subjects) while students learn mostly by “doing”. That is where homework comes in.”

First, I work because I am a teacher. Yes, I need the income (you cannot send kids to college on one salary) but more importantly, I need to work. It is my passion and it is why I went to college and graduate school. If I stayed home, I’d self destruct, and my kids would not benefit from a mother who is stark raving loony. I drive a minivan (bought used) with 250k miles on it, and wear no designer duds. My kids are well adjusted, well read, thoughtful, and yes, both my husband and I are involved in their education.

I resent the notion that school is “listening and watching” while students learn mostly by “doing” homework. MY students DO, they don’t sit and listen or watch. I have no use for lecturing endlessly. In fact, it has been shown that teens don’t learn that way. Homework is not the “doing”, homework is for expanding on what they have accomplished, reading, writing reflectively, or practicing skills. I insist that the bulk of the “learning” occur in class. My students “do” science in my class. Ms. Clouser, you have a rather archaic notion of what good education is.

Sorry that this response is WAY past the original comment, but it touched a nerve.

Mr. Balter

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views.

How about directly addressing some of the comments addressed to you which don’t “allegedly distort your views”?

You know, with facts to back up your arguments and stuff.

That would be a refreshing change. It would almost be reminiscent of journalism.

MB That consequence is the natural result of living in a Republic free from the thoughts of one religion. “What is one to do” as Dembski quotes Lenin I remind you

In a Republic no “one” person gets to decide what to do. That is what freedom of Religion means for EVERY person.

From here and I think others see it too, is that your personal world view is clouding your perception of the problem and you are unwittingly played into the hands of the extremes on both sides.

An inability on your part to grasp the core of the problem. A lack of knowledge. A lack of ability to process that knowledge. Be comfortable if you want, getting under the skin of this problem is a real challenge

However If you only want to report a minor part of the whole, how about finding out from experts where the future of science integrated world view education is going by reporting non pseudoscience worldviews from both sides.

Report that the DI is a threat to Religious freedom. Report that science is burdened with fighting creationism in one high-school subject and ask WHY.

Instead of focusing on ID look at other pseudoscience and just focus focus focus on id as political pseudoscience and ask yourself why you like ID,keep that in mind and you will do your job better.

Have a chat to the Franciscan Physicists, Templeton, and all the others who have thrown their hat in the ring and get their views and ask yourself why you don’t agree with them. Come to grips with the ideas, they are different from yours. There is a great good news story there and his “masters voice” can’t get upset.

Talking to you is almost like talking to a Creationist.

I apologize for such a whiney post (sent from the teacher’s lounge-I cooled off on the drive home).

I failed to acknowledge that the statement regarding homework was a slap in the face of any teacher who strives to make every lesson relevant, exciting, structured and effective. Although I’d like to think so sometimes, it’s not about me.

MB Clarification That consequence is the natural result of living in a Republic free from the thoughts of one religion Worldview

Balter (and IDers) on the other hand, can NOT reach their goal unless ID, specifically, is addressed and discussed. Which is why Balter and the IDers are, essentially, fighting for the same thing — they both want to use ID to change people’s religious opinions. They simply disagree about the direction of that change.

Back after several hours. This is a serious distortion of my views. I have said repeatedly that my goal is to foster more openness to evolutionary and more generally scientific thinking. It may be possible to be an evolutionist and believe in God, but you cannot be an evolutionist and believe that the world was created in six days; nor can you be an evolutionist and believe that an intelligent designer was required to get over the alleged “irreproducible complexity” between self-replicating macromacromolecules and a living cell. So more effective teaching of evolution inevitably leads to a shift in either the form or content of religious perspectives, and everyone here knows that. That does not make it the goal, but rather a consequence of the shift that most people here want to see.

Don’t BS us, Mr Balter.

I noticed how you changed my statement about the illegality of the “teaching of religion” to your statement about the legality of the “teaching ABOUT religion”

Difference being what, Carol . …

I’m not at all sure what the heck you are bitching about.

Arden and KL,

You both are agreeing with what I stated and even reinforcing it. The clock cannot be turned back, women surely belong in the work force just as men do, teens learn mostly by doing, and so on. But what is to become of america’s youth? The data is clear. They are in fact unsupervised after school, they watch way too much TV, they do not study nearly enough, they keep busy with all manner of unsavory sctivities, the suicide rate is way up, and so on. I was making the point that it is not a lack of spending/commitment on the part of the american system that is responsible for the sorry state of education, but the above considerations. And I submit most educators will concur in this assessment.

Comment #61469 Posted by carol clouser on December 4, 2005 04:03 PM (e) (s) … The data also reveals that, contrary to what Lenny and others believe, the poor state of education in the US is not due to a lack of commitment and spending on education in our country. We spend more per student and per capita on education than we ever have and rank first among modern industrial countries in the world in such spending. The cause of our education trouble is cultural. Students just do not study. They increasingly come home to unsupervised homes and are busy watching TV (turning their brains into receptacles rather than creators of ideas) and engaging in oral sex (that’s what the data shows). So let us act like the scientists we are and FACE THE FACTS and not base things on baseless dogma.

Whoa there Hoss. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T[…]_stu_sec_lev We’re 51st. Ask my wife. THem’s fightin’ words. When someone looks at you and seriously says “ What should we do, it doesn’t do any good to just throw money at the problem.” Make it your personal mission to make their life miserable because that is exactly the problem. We break the damn system by underfunding it and then point to the fact that it’s broke as a reason to privatize. Grrrrrrrrr. You, dear lady, better hope to never meet a teacher in a dark alley.

Lenny, Lenny,

You are getting testy. Go get some sleep. It has been a long day for you with all your posts here.

They are in fact unsupervised after school, they watch way too much TV, they do not study nearly enough, they keep busy with all manner of unsavory sctivities, the suicide rate is way up, and so on.

Of course, this is what every generation has said about its kids.

It’s probably what your mom said about YOU. (shrug)

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence. In fact, my sister (who is a college educated special education teacher for autistic children) makes the same mistake, so apparently it is not uncommon.

A college degree (which I do not have) means that you have been able to memorize enough facts to pass. A genius IQ (which I DO have, as measured by MENSA) has no qualifications on schooling.

I whole-heartedly agree with most of your points, but PLEASE do not make the mistake of thinking no formal college education equals stupid or incapable.

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence.

I didn’t say that it was. I have no college degree either. And my IQ has been tested at 135, 137 and 142. Take your pick. (shrug)

If we want to teach people, we have to teach them where they are. Hence, teaching them basic science in college doesn’t help very much, since most Americans never see the inside of a college classroom. So if we want to teach science to them, we have to do it somewhere else.

BWE,

Why cannot some folks here read? Did I not state “first AMONG MODERN INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES…” Now look at who is typically spending more per capita than we are? Niger, Lisoto, Barundi,.…

MB My wife who is an *enlightened* artist and I continue to have interesting conversations about this and she mentioned 2 things.

1. Goya’s the “Dream of Reason”

Here is what happens when the Enlightenment is snuffed out by Obscurationists

http://www.infinitematrix.net/stori[…]eason_1.html

2 Carlos Castenadas stories about the entering “the cave”-the mind that each person must enter and fight ones demons EXACTLY the same as the Greek method of psyche management as told thru Myth.

“The Matrix” the movie is an analog… a method to help one question… ones own world view.. a self reality check.

And for PURE objectivists just remember Ayn Rand made up all that sh*t because he was in communist denial.

Note Obscuration is the opposite of Enlightenment.

2 very useful ideas and questions to ask yourself when dealing with both sides of the argument

MB you are OBSCURING print the facts NOT what YOU think is GOING to HAPPEN.- Twit.

I’d like to see where you get that information. From my perspective, kids today study harder, use drugs and alcohol less, have unprotected sex less often and commit fewer violent acts. Given the understanding we have of depression, sexual orientation and substance abuse, we are better able to help those teens who would be at risk for suicide. They are more supportive of their peers, more inclined to accept diverse attitudes and backgrounds, and more concerned for others. I know that my students may not be a completely fair representation of the average, but I am comparing them with their peers from 15 years ago. Where are your stats coming from?

I disagree that spending is not an issue. Quality teachers do more than just teach; they counsel, cajole, love and look out for their charges. If you ask them to work with substandard wages, poor facilities, no supplies and a top-heavy bureaucracy, they will leave for greener pastures or become disillusioned and indifferent.

Teenagers deserve more credit than you are giving them.

Why cannot some folks here read? Did I not state “first AMONG MODERN INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES…”

Um, does that include Mississippi?

Lenny (I won’t waste time trying to quote since I am new here, have had quite a few beers while watching football, and I am not familiar with KwickXML), You have a high IQ as well. Great. Now, to NOT imply “educated equals intelligent”, maybe you should lay off the “pig-ignorant” comments. (and I won’t insult anyone with a “shrug” as though I don’t care, but take the time to reply anyway) And yes, I know ignorant does not mean stupid, per se, but to the average reader, it does.

Lenny, I think that you are making a serious mistake when you harp about most Americans never seeing the inside of a college or university. Educated does not equal Intelligence.

Um, nobody here made that claim.

The issue of how many Americans finish college or high school came up becase – as far as I can tell – Mr. Balter believes that by teaching about ID in those places, the number of anti-science nitwits will significantly increase in an acceptably short period of time.

I think Mr. Balter’s wrong and I think Dr. Verhey’s wrong and I’ve explained why. So has Lenny.

We’ve also explained that the danger for Mr. Balter and Dr. Verhey is that in addition to not achieving their goal, if they are not more careful in their rhetoric about intelligent design they risk becoming pawns for the Discovery Institute (at worst) or merely joining the parade of hucksters who love this controvery simply because it represents an easy way to make a buck.

Dr. Verhey seems keen on the sales of ID-related trash on Amazon. How hard is to pump out a load of crapola about “the controversy” and “how to teach it,” especially if you’ve got a journalist to help you write it in a snappy fashion (and maybe publish a review of that book somewhere), a fancy degree to flash around, and a slick publisher to do the promotion?

This gets back to my earlier point about the NYT Editorial today and I do have to disagree with Gary about the relevance of my earlier comment.

Today’s media is addicted to their tried and true scripts. Whatever the story, whatever the event, the pundits and scribes will do whatever they can to fit the story into one of their failsafe sellable formats.

For the journalists, the fact that the Discovery Institute is just another collection of lying fundamentalist blowhards trying to shove their religion down our throats is a BORING STORY. The average American doesn’t want to read about Howie Ahmansen’s religious quests or why Michael Behe’s is obsessed with the bacterial flagellum.

The average American wants to read about the brilliant scientist, struggling against the “dominant paradigm,” trying desperately to convince his fellow scientists of his Astonishing Life Altering Discovery.

That’s a great story.

That’s why journalists keep telling it.

Now look at the story Mr. Balter seems to be interested in: the struggle of teachers wrestling with how to teach ID without promoting it, the battle between scientists who don’t want to teach it and those who do, the battle between how the DIscovery Institute wants it taught and how scientists want it taught.

Oh, Atlantis!!! So much strife!!! It’s all so exciting.

Meanwhile this really sick think tank is spending a million dollars a year to seed our country’s discourse with 100% horse manure.

And the media, for the most part, just eats it up and says, “That’s interesting.”

The facts and the logical ramifications of those facts end up in editorials. Meanwhile, John West of the DI (a notorious and habitual dissemintor of false info) gets at least one quote a week onto the FRONT PAGE.

Dr. Verhey, I notice that in your paper you said that you pointed out to your students that Jonathan Wells had made several fallacious arguments, whereas Dawkins had not.

May I ask you what you think of Dawkins’ argument in Chapter 3 of The Blind Watchmaker?

OOps – should be “significantly DECREASE” in the above post.

Sorry folks.

Well, I have not seen anything that inspired me to leave this open any longer.

I’ll drop a final thought or two on Monday, or Tuesday (I plan to go fishing tomorrow).

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Hurd published on December 2, 2005 4:12 PM.

AMA Op-Ed: living in “loopy times,” and what medical professionals can do was the previous entry in this blog.

NY Times on ID’s Difficulties is the next entry in this blog.

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