Minnesota lawmakers jump the gun

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It's true: the Minnesota Senate has passed a modification to an education bill that would prohibit the teaching of intelligent design.

16.12 Sec. 4. Minnesota Statutes 2004, section 120B.021, is amended by adding a
16.13 subdivision to read:
16.14 Subd. 2a. Curriculum. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the Department
16.15 of Education, a charter school, and a school district are prohibited from utilizing a
16.16 nonscientifically based curriculum, such as intelligent design, to meet the required science
16.17 academic standards under this section.

This is not a law yet, and I don't expect it will be. The senate version of the bill has to be reconciled with the house version, and the house version does not include this addendum. It will probably vanish without comment.

I have mixed feelings about it. It's reasonable to expect that science requirements cannot be met by non-science curricula, and on that principle, the limitation is reasonable. However, I don't like the idea of politicians with little training in the subject trying to dictate what is and isn't science. Just say that a course should address the content specified by the state science standards, which were written by a committee of citizen educators and scientists, rather than trying to specify details by way of legal statutes.

Besides, maybe the intelligent design crowd will get off their butts and do experiments and develop evidence that actually makes their wild-ass guess scientific, and then this law would look awfully silly.

(Yeah, I'm smirking cynically and laughing as I write that.)

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I haven’t seen it mentioned yet on any pro-ID sites, but Minnesota is toying with the idea of banning the teaching of Intelligent Design. PZ Myers has a post on the subject. What is interesting is the difference between his attitude and the attit... Read More

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Well, isn’t that interesting. Time to start whipping out all that evidence, Dembski. *snort*

Besides, maybe the intelligent design crowd will get off their butts and do experiments and develop evidence

But Judge Jones pointed out that this is not possible – that ID is nothing more than a rephrasing of a religious doctrine saying essentially that evidence does not matter. The effort to do experiments, all by itself is a tacit refutation of what ID says.

Minor quibble: Dembski’s work, were it actually empirically based and not assuming a very limited target (one of the mostly unspoken assumptions behind that limitation is that life is as it is because it could not be otherwise–and not because it simply evolved via historical constraints. That is to say, Dembski’s “work” is crucially based upon the presupposition that evolution didn’t happen), could very well be science. While it might still fail, it isn’t the fact that he doesn’t do experiments that makes his work unscientific, it is his unwarranted assumptions.

A whole body of ID science could be produced without a single experiment being done specifically in order to test, or back up, their claims–if they were legitimately reinterpreting the evidence that has already been gathered in a sound manner. There are theoretical scientists, and there are experimental scientists. The trouble with IDists is that they are neither, but are only apologists twisting the scientific method to accommodate religious preconceptions.

The fact that there are no experimental IDists suggests that they do know this to be true, even if they don’t admit it to themselves (probably some do, and some don’t). They are “theoretical” alone, for they recognize that they have to change the assumptions of science even to begin to be considered to be “scientific”. We cannot, however, allow them to force in the assumption that life is at it is because it cannot be otherwise, so that Dembski can thereby “calculate” that evolution could never hit upon this one set of solutions to exist as life.

Science cannot have such unwarranted assumptions, rather it must begin with “inter-subjectively” sound knowledge and work outward, to discover which restrictions are unavoidable, and which ones exist only in the minds of religious apologists. That is why we must oppose the latter, and not simply because they begin on the “theoretical” side.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Glen, we should probably specify which kind of ID scientist we’re talking about. An ID Theorist is an ID scientist who fails to develop an ID theory. An ID Experimentalist is an ID scientist who fails to perform ID experiments.

:-)

PZ Myers Wrote:

Besides, maybe the intelligent design crowd will get off their butts and do experiments and develop evidence that actually makes their wild-ass guess scientific, and then this law would look awfully silly.

(Yeah, I’m smirking cynically and laughing as I write that.)

Why smirk? H. Allen Orr noted almost a decade ago that a human pseudogene for chlorophyll could vindicate at least Behe’s proposal. And 5 years ago Douglas Theobald gave the ones who’d like to falsify “macroevolution” 29+ opportunities to do so. Either one would devastate evolution to the point that they wouldn’t even need the design bait-and-switch.

Someone should tell the IDers that they are moving in the wrong direction. At least YECs and OECs would hypothesize, if not test, the “what happened and when.” The IDers instead keep beckpedaling into “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

PZ Myers wrote:

Just say that a course should address the content specified by the state science standards, which were written by a committee of citizen educators and scientists, rather than trying to specify details by way of legal statutes.

I agree with you on that point. Out of idle curiosity, I looked up the ranking that the Fordham Foundation recently gave to the State of Minnesota concerning its science standards in education. Overall, Minnesota got a “B” grade and a 2 out of 3 concerning Evolution.

From the Fordham Foundation report…

Life sciences are handled reasonably well, with a fair distribution of content over the subdisciplines of biology. Material on the existence and properties of fossils starts in grade 5. The term evolution appears explicitly in grade 7, albeit without, yet, the evidentiary underpinnings most important in the contemporary discipline. This continues in high school, but there it thins even further. The molecular, development, and populationgenetic components of modern theory are little in evidence. It is not as though they are too obscure to figure in a good high school biology program. In any event, there is no evidence so far in Minnesota’s standards of effort to weaken evolutionary biology.

Not too bad, and better than a lot of other states, but they still have room for improvement. Perhaps this is what the legislators need to be addressing.

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Well, as a Minnesotan myself, I have to say a few words of caution. We almost had Cheri Yecke undermine the education standards here, and it took a lot of hard work by some good people to stop her. We’ve got a couple of the biggest, wankiest blogs around: Powerline and Cap’n Ed. The Twin Cities Creation Science Association is here. Minnesotans are mostly good, but when they go bad, they can go very, very bad.

Keep an eye open in the Fall – we’re forming a new group called the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education. We’ll be having some public meetings on the evolution issue then.

i hate this page alot you guys SUCK

And beyond Yecki we have Michele Bachmann still here in Minnesota–an aging Ann Coulter, but without the depth. Full-on creationist,admits to knowing nothing of science. The most dangerous kind of snake known to humankind.

Keep an eye open in the Fall — we’re forming a new group called the Minnesota Citizens for Science Education. We’ll be having some public meetings on the evolution issue then.

congrats!

good luck to all involved. Here’s hoping it all runs smoothly.

cheers

i hate this page alot you guys SUCK

Uh oh. We’ve been attacked by the unintelligent, uneducated segment of the culture!

LOL

“Uh oh. We’ve been attacked by the unintelligent, uneducated segment of the culture!”

Illiterate, too.

I don’t think that this is the best response to the creationist assertion that the most recent standards allow the teaching of intelligent design.

It would be better to explicitly strengthen the evolution content within the biology part of the standard.

I don’t think that this is the best response to the creationist assertion that the most recent standards allow the teaching of intelligent design.

It would be better to explicitly strengthen the evolution content within the biology part of the standard.

I agree. It gives the ID movement one of the things it most covets; the opportunity to whine about political and religious persecution. PZ is correct; if the law just said science courses should teach science as determined by scientists, it would keep IDism out without giving the IDists an easy target to criticize.

Another Minnesotan here…

For the record, “the idea of politicians with little training in the subject trying to dictate what is and isn’t science” bridge has been crossed and burned a long time ago. As people above me said, this is something the local GOP has been doing for awhile. Time to fight fire with fire, I say.

OK, but our “fire” should be to deny them the principle. Minnesota has had some crazy administrations, remember – do we want to let them have this precedent?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on May 17, 2006 9:29 AM.

Dembski’s Apology: Moving Forward was the previous entry in this blog.

It’s called development, Mr Dembski is the next entry in this blog.

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