School boards heeding lessons from Dover ruling

| 9 Comments

The York Daily Record reports on the Ohio School Board of Education’s decision to drop the terminology ‘critically analyze’ from its curriculum pointing out that while ID activists were quick to argue that the Dover Kitzmiller ruling had no legal standing outside the school district it observes that:

Even so, other school boards across the country are heeding the words of U.S. Judge John E. Jones III, who wrote that, “To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.”

Judge Jones’ comments on using back door tactics to introduce the teaching of Intelligent Design into the school curriculum were scathing. In the case of Ohio, the many problems, errors, misrepresentations identified in the lesson plan shows how Intelligent Design not only fails to present scientifically relevant alternatives but also often results in poor lesson plans. Perhaps it’s time to educate the public that ‘teaching the controversy’ or ‘critically analyze’ can often lead to poor lesson plans which repeat the various creationist misunderstandings of evolutionary theory.

A child deserves better.

9 Comments

Remember that

Members of the Ohio Science Standards Advisory Committee today called upon Ohio Governor Bob Taft to remove a benchmark, indicator and lesson from Ohio’s science standards and endorsed curriculum. The material, they say, is “wholly without merit” and “embodies intelligent design creationism poorly concealed in scientific sounding jargon.”

they sent a Lettter to Governor Taft

Within the last six weeks Federal Judge John E. Jones III has determined that similarly motivated efforts by the Dover, PA school board are unconstitutional. At the same time the Ohio Department of Education released documents associated with the development of this lesson. These show that ODE’s own staff scientists repeatedly called portions of this lesson “a lie,” “wrong,” “inaccurate,” “oversimplified” and based on references they described as “highly religious,” “horrible,” and “non-scientific.” One reference was an outright creationist fabrication.

Our own review of the lesson finds it to be a pointed attempt to insert old and discredited creationist content in Ohio’s science classrooms. The pedagogy is weak at best, of negative, misleading and debilitating educational value. This lesson is devoid of scientific thinking or the scientific method. It is wholly without merit. And while the lesson’s authors assiduously avoided using the words “intelligent” and “design,” the lesson embodies intelligent design creationism poorly concealed in scientific sounding jargon. Such cheap ploys are a disservice to Ohio’s children and an insult to the intelligence of its good citizens. Nonetheless, this lesson, along with the associated science indicator, has passed because of overwhelming support by your appointees to the Ohio Board of Education.

Stanley Fish, Professor of Law and Humanities at Florida International University had an article on “teach the controversy” in Friday’s Australian Financial Review (originally published in Harper’s Magazine, December 2005).

http://afr.com/articles/2006/02/16/[…]4199920.html

It ends:

“In the guise of upping the stakes, intelligent designers lower them, moving immediately to a perspective so broad and inclusive that all claims are valued not because they have proved out in the contest of ideas but simply because they are claims.

There’s a word for this, and it’s relativism. Polemicists on the right regularly lambaste intellectuals on the left for promoting relativism and its attendant bad practices - relaxing or abandoning standards, opening the curriculum to any idea with a constituency attached to it, dismissing received wisdom by impugning the motives of those who have established it; disregarding inconvenient evidence and replacing it with grand theories supported by nothing but the partisan beliefs and desires of the theorisers.

Whether this has ever been true of the right’s targets, it is now demonstrably true of the right itself, whose members recite the mantras of “teach the controversy” or “keep the debate open” whenever they find it convenient. They do so not out of a commitment to scrupulous scholarship but in an effort to accomplish through misdirection and displacement what they cannot accomplish through evidence and argument.”

The ruling in the Kitzmiller case is a legal ruling. Thus, it has legal weight and can be used to bolster subsequent cases involving “intelligent design”, “teach the controversy” and other creationist ploys.

All of the discourse out of the Discovery Institute, and related fellows, is worth less than the sum total of the hot air of which it is composed, that is, no legal weight whatsoever.

The Discovery Institute is deflating like an overfilled balloon let loose in a room, along with the concomitant pfffffffffffttttt sound.

Judge Jones was quite clear in his decision, that one of his primary goals was to hear all that could be presented, under exhaustive cross-examination by both sides, in order to produce a *definitive* decision, even though technically his decision applied only to a very narrow jurisdiction.

Personally, I found the Dover decision well written, very quotable, and transparently clear on the issues. These characteristics, perhaps even moreso than discussing all the relevant tests in detail, make a decision portable. There can’t be any reasonable doubt what Jones was saying or why.

Nor do I think it escapes other school boards that the Dover board was advised of the likely outcome of their actions by their own counsel, and went ahead anyway.

I had wondered what a creationist politician would do when faced with the choice between pushing his faith and surviving in office. Apparently, the latter is more important. If this is generally true, we’re fortunate.

Chris, excellent article well worth its own entry on PT. Wow, this professor states it so well.

I don’t see any other legal challenges coming. I think the rest of this stuff will only amount to the ACLU or a similar group threatening suit, which will be followed by a fast retraction on the part of the school boards. I think the war is over, though the battles continue, at least in the legal arena.

Stanley Fish, as quoted by Chris Nedin, says:

There’s a word for this, and it’s relativism. Polemicists on the right regularly lambaste intellectuals on the left for promoting relativism and its attendant bad practices.…

Whether this has ever been true of the right’s targets, it is now demonstrably true of the right itself, whose members recite the mantras of “teach the controversy” or “keep the debate open” whenever they find it convenient. They do so not out of a commitment to scrupulous scholarship but in an effort to accomplish through misdirection and displacement what they cannot accomplish through evidence and argument.”

That echoes what Paul Gross has been saying for years, and which is stated not nearly enough IMO.

In our rush to emphasize the obvious - that creationism, ID and “teach the controversy” are all religious ideas - we overlook the well-kept secrets that can reduce the “demand” as well as the “supply” of anti-evolution pseudoscience.

And while we are at it, can we please take back the phrase “critical analysis” that has been hijacked by anti-evolutionists for their phony “critical analysis” that is nothing but a slick misrepresentation strategy? Many people think think that critical thinking lost in Ohio and Dover.

Good idea, Frank!

I’ll give it a try next time, because I know that fundies hate the idea of moral relativism.

(I don’t like it much, either.)

I had wondered what a creationist politician would do when faced with the choice between pushing his faith and surviving in office. Apparently, the latter is more important. If this is generally true, we’re fortunate.

I would prefer all creationist politicians to push their faith to the point of losing their offices (as happened to the Dover School Board).

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 19, 2006 9:02 PM.

It’s not just the genes, it’s the links between them was the previous entry in this blog.

American Association for the Advancement of Science statement on evolution is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.361

Site Meter