Forrest addresses the politicization of the Texas Education Agency

| 18 Comments

The recent unpleasant affair at the Texas Education Agency, in which the director of the science curriculum, Chris Comer, was pressured to resign, was triggered by Comer forwarding an email announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. Forrest is a philosopher of science, and one of our leading advocates in the ongoing fight for better science education in the face of the nonsense the creationists are promoting. She's also one of their critics the creationists most fear, so it's not surprising that her name would elicit knee-jerk panic.

Forrest has now issued a formal statement on the termination of Chris Comer. You can download the pdf from NCSE, or read it on the web. She doesn't pull any punches. Here's a taste, but you really should read the whole thing.

The incident now involving Ms. Comer exemplifies perfectly the reason my co-author Paul R. Gross and I felt that our book, Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, had to be written. (http://www.creationismstrojanhorse.com) By forcing Ms. Comer to resign, the TEA seems to have confirmed our contention that the ID creationist movement — a religious movement with absolutely no standing in the scientific world — is being advanced by means of power politics.

18 Comments

hmmm…the hyperlink for the pdf from NCSE seems to lead right back to the pandas homepage.

David B: hmmm…the hyperlink for the pdf from NCSE seems to lead right back to the pandas homepage.

You must have clicked the wrong link. Try this:

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/ar[…]estComer.pdf

Every DI Fellow and ID supporter always slips up in regards to the company line that “ID Is Not About Religion”. Yet in the next moment or day or week, they will try to deny it again.

[not me]

But, but, but, ID is science! Not religion! Amen.

[/not me]

I wonder if Comer intends to seek a legal remedy. I’d love to see the emails that went back and forth about Comer amongst the creationists on the Texas School Board.

Mr_Christopher Wrote:

I’d love to see the emails that went back and forth about Comer amongst the creationists on the Texas School Board.

Even if they were meticulous about not putting anything on record on official email, McLeroy’s extracurricular activities show him to be anything but neutral. Meanwhile, it could be argued that Comer’s interest in Forrest’s lecture could promote just as much exposure to Forrest’s critics (the “equal time” that anti-evolution activists pretend to support) makes her as neutral as one can get. I’m probably overlooking all sorts of technicalities that make the comparison one of apples and oranges, but even if the activists win this one, the public needs to know that they did it on a technicality, and that they are anything but the neutral that they pretend to demand.

“Neutrality”, I think, is something you demand when you haven’t yet managed to stack the deck completely in your favor. There need be nothing neutral about it, of course. Even strict and pervasive censorship (which theocrats have done everywhere they can, from governments to “creationism-friendly” internet boards) will continue to be labeled “neutral” so long as the label advances the cause.

As political trials in China have noted, “freedom of speech” is in practice the freedom to praise the Party and its current leaders in the words of your choice - otherwise, you and your words get disappeared in a hurry. Theocrats simply do not tolerate opposition - you must be neutral in their favor, or you’re outta here.

As Barbara Forrest makes clear, creationists have encoded entirely new meanings into a growing list of words and phrases, which tend to mean the opposite of what the words are ordinarily understood to mean. Controlling language is a giant step toward controlling thought.

Flint said: As Barbara Forrest makes clear, creationists have encoded entirely new meanings into a growing list of words and phrases, which tend to mean the opposite of what the words are ordinarily understood to mean. Controlling language is a giant step toward controlling thought.

Now why does that make me think of 1984?

Flint:

As political trials in China have noted, “freedom of speech” is in practice the freedom to praise the Party and its current leaders in the words of your choice - otherwise, you and your words get disappeared in a hurry.

To paraphrase the old joke, “Of course they have freedom of speech in China. You can say anything you want in China. Once.”

as an older black woman living in the USA ..this REALLY struck a nerve (racism or sexism - been there, done that) this is the same nonsense only played out with scientific literacy .….is there anything EFFECTIVE that we could do to help Ms Comer?

GvlGeologist, FCD said: Now why does that make me think of 1984?

Pretty much because that was Orwell’s point, so you probably paid attention to your tenth grade English teacher. (Send him/her a note, eh? A little appreciation goes a long way…)

As for me, this whole episode - and indeed, several others - makes me think of Margaret Atwood’s *A Handmaid’s Tale*, a much scarier novel if you’re concerned about the imposition of a violent theocracy that promotes only the /right/ kind of faith.

Flint Wrote:

Controlling language is a giant step toward controlling thought.

What frustrates me most about anti-evolution activism is that they don’t even need to control the language. A mostly anti-science public, and a media addicted to sensationalism do it for them. Not to mention critics who too often take the bait and argue on IDers’ terms.

When the heck is someone besides me or Ronald Bailey ever going to say “Did you ever consider the possibility that these snake oil salesmen don’t even believe what they want their followers to infer from their ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ tap dance?”

Here is a link to an article in my local newspaper, The Longview News-Journal. Maybe there is some hope. Now I am awaiting the letters to the editor to see what the local reaction is.

http://tinyurl.com/36jedu

Here is a link to an article in my local newspaper, The Longview News-Journal. Maybe there is some hope. Now I am awaiting the letters to the editor to see what the local reaction is.

http://tinyurl.com/36jedu

When the heck is someone besides me or Ronald Bailey ever going to say “Did you ever consider the possibility that these snake oil salesmen don’t even believe what they want their followers to infer from their ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ tap dance?”

What universe do you live in? Many people have said it, right here, and all of us have considered it. But there’s a legitimate debate as to the specifics of which claims by which purveyors it applies to. It’s extraordinary arrogance to think that, just because someone doesn’t necessarily agree with you on something, they must not have considered it.

famulus, I was being sarcastic. The parallels between 1984 and the creationists’ actions (as stated) are pretty obvious.

GvlGeologist, I got that. I was making a gratuitous plug for teachers of literature and readers who get the point. 1984 is a great reference. But _Through the Looking Glass_ might be slightly better, because it’s less subtle than Orwell: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” Not that creationists couldn’t understand 1984, of course. (Do you detect a sarcastic tone there? If so, your sarcas-o-meter is functioning well.)

Popper's Ghost Wrote:

Many people have said it, right here, and all of us have considered it.

I should have figured that it would be you who would jump on that. I certainly don’t mean that it didn’t cross minds, especially “right here”, where it would do so even if I didn’t bring it up at every opportunity. But most people do not get their information here. I could have chosen a better way to say it, but I think that at least some lurkers get the picture.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on December 5, 2007 5:24 PM.

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