Explore the strengths and weaknesses of Florida’s “Academic Freedom” bill

| 47 Comments

By now regular readers of The Panda’s Thumb know that “academic Freedom” bills have been filed in the Florida legislature, and you know that the bills are Disco designed. You have also noticed Disco’s complaint that people get it. The complaint reads like disingenuous gibberish, but why that specific gibberish?

Son of Of Pandas and People is the answer. Recall that the ID gang at the Discovery Institute (Disco) got the Dover school board in trouble with their creationist textbook Of Pandas and People, in which the words “intelligent design” and “design proponents” had been substituted for the words “creationism” and “creationists”, with “cdesign proponentsists” as an intermediate form.

The Disco fellows then wrote a new book called Explore Evolution to do the job of Of Pandas and People. The job is to present so called strengths of evolution in such a pale way that no one would think life evolved, and then pour on the usual false and misleading “weaknesses”.

This new book is precisely the book to use to teach Disco’s version of strengths and weaknesses. PT previously reported on a World Magazine article making the point.

This fall, the 34-year teaching veteran will restructure his evenhanded presentation around a new textbook from the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism (Hill House Publishers, 2007) does not address alternative theories of origins but succinctly lays out the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the most critical elements of Darwinism. “It’s made my work a lot easier,” Cowan said.

Explore Evolution encapsulates a “teach the controversy” paradigm that the Discovery Institute has advocated for the better part of the past decade.

PT also reported on an Old Earth Homeschool blog which in turn reports on an event at Biola to make the same point:

Wow, long day. I was down at Biola all day attending a symposium which unveiled a new curriculum designed to be used in public school classrooms (both at the high school and college level) to expose students to the strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism (Hill House Publishers, 2007)

This is intended to be a supplement to a standard biology textbook. It presents the strengths and weaknesses of the evolutionary position and allow students to decide for themselves whether neo-Darwinism is, in fact, supported by the scientific record. The book does not promote Intelligent Design in any way, shape or form. However, it is written by leaders in the Intelligent Design movement and they don’t seem to be making any secret about this.

This explains why Crowther is frantically trying to convince everyone that the “academic freedom” bill means “strengths and weaknesses” and nothing but that, the actual words in the bill and what they mean to folks without his special agenda notwithstanding.

There is extensive exploration of Explore Evolution here at AtBC. The book is not noted for good science, but it is very good creationism. The Disco plan seems to be to do Dover over using Son of Pandas aka Explore Evolution and the academic freedom bill. Will it work?

47 Comments

Isn’t this a direct example of evolution in action?

1. “creationism” and “creationists” evolved to:

2. “cdesign proponentsists” as an intermediate form, evolved to:

3. “intelligent design” and “design proponents”

There, then is the missing link creationists/IDists have always been looking for.

I don’t think they will count that, as the evolution of the fairly functional intermediate form was an unintelligent mistake and not design.

It’s all soooo totally about the money.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM:

I don’t think they will count that, as the evolution of the fairly functional intermediate form was an unintelligent mistake and not design.

Well, they did say “no intelligence allowed”, didn’t they? :)

Not on topic, but I am curious as to how one becomes a contributor to Panda’s Thumb. I would like to submit a sample of my writing so you may judge its accuracy. http://circleh.wordpress.com/2008/0[…]t-evolution/

While there are ways to experimentally test the process of evolution, known as natural selection, by mimicing it artificially, ways to test the historical issue of evolution, known as common descent, must rely on making observations and making predictions of the outcome of those observations.

Inside the cells of all Eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi, and protists) are organelles called mitochondria. Likewise, inside the cells of plants are organelles called chloroplasts. Both mitochondria and chloroplats have their own DNA and are thought to be decended from bacteria that took up residence inside the larger cells. In any case, the DNA in those organelles are completely different from the DNA in the nuclei of those same cells.

We can take the DNA of cell nuclei and check them to see if the differences between those of various organisms can enable us for build a family tree of those organisms. The more similar their nuclear DNA is, the more closely related they are. But since mitochondria and cloroplasts also have DNA, we could also take them and check to see if we could build up a family tree that is the same as the one we would build up with the nuclear DNA.

Indeed, there is no reason, if all life was produced by a single recent act of creation, for the DNA of the mitochondria of all animals to be significantly different from each other. So if I was a Creationist, expecially of the young Earth kind, I would predict that it would be impossible to make a family tree from mitochondria DNA, or if I did, it would be completely different from the nuclear DNA. But if I was testing the theory of common decent, I would predict that the readings in animals of both their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA would produce the SAME FAMILY TREE in all cases! This would make perfect sense if the mitochondria and the rest of the cells have been evolving together ever since they first came together over a billion years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA is already used in forensics to determine who the mother of a child is, while nuclear DNA must be used to determine the father of that same child. This would only be an extension of that function, since the parents of the child must be of the same species, or at least very closely related, to even produce offspring at all.

There are other essays on that same blog on the subject:

http://circleh.wordpress.com/category/evolution/

You may consider this my application for the job.

Dale, some peer review: You should check your spelling:

mimicing

chloroplats

decended

cloroplasts

expecially

Also, “the DNA in those organelles are” should be, “the DNA … is”, and “common decent” should be “common descent”.

Having said that, I thought it was a very interesting essay. Very convincing argument for common descent.

Hope you don’t mind the critical comments.

This is all about the creationists and their egos what else. They just want to go and make sure the rest of us do not learn about the scientific fact that is evolution and they don’ want us to expose theism for what it really is one big myth and lie.

GvlGeologist, FCD:

Dale, some peer review: You should check your spelling:

mimicing

chloroplats

decended

cloroplasts

expecially

Also, “the DNA in those organelles are” should be, “the DNA … is”, and “common decent” should be “common descent”.

Having said that, I thought it was a very interesting essay. Very convincing argument for common descent.

Hope you don’t mind the critical comments.

Thanks. It took me only a half-hour to write it and I normally don’t make a lot of typos, but I was rushing. I’ll edit the blog with the corrected spellings. Word processor, must use word processor next time!

How stupid of me! I didn’t even notice that this site had its own spell checker! So.….

While there are ways to experimentally test the process of evolution, known as natural selection, by mimicking it artificially, ways to test the historical issue of evolution, known as common descent, must rely on making observations and making predictions of the outcome of those observations.

Inside the cells of all Eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi, and protists) are organelles called mitochondria. Likewise, inside the cells of plants are organelles called chloroplasts. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts have their own DNA and are thought to be descended from bacteria that took up residence inside the larger cells. In any case, the DNA in those organelles are completely different from the DNA in the nuclei of those same cells.

We can take the DNA of cell nuclei and check them to see if the differences between those of various organisms can enable us for build a family tree of those organisms. The more similar their nuclear DNA is, the more closely related they are. But since mitochondria and chloroplasts also have DNA, we could also take them and check to see if we could build up a family tree that is the same as the one we would build up with the nuclear DNA.

Indeed, there is no reason, if all life was produced by a single recent act of creation, for the DNA of the mitochondria of all animals to be significantly different from each other. So if I was a Creationist, especially of the young Earth kind, I would predict that it would be impossible to make a family tree from mitochondria DNA, or if I did, it would be completely different from the nuclear DNA. But if I was testing the theory of common decent, I would predict that the readings in animals of both their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA would produce the SAME FAMILY TREE in all cases! This would make perfect sense if the mitochondria and the rest of the cells have been evolving together ever since they first came together over a billion years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA is already used in forensics to determine who the mother of a child is, while nuclear DNA must be used to determine the father of that same child. This would only be an extension of that function, since the parents of the child must be of the same species, or at least very closely related, to even produce offspring at all.

I guess the DI has two main problems: 1. The egos of its fellows are far too big. 2. Some of these guys have to make money ID creationism. Thus, as long as they want to characterize themselves as the leading heads of the ID creationist movement it’s difficult for them to disguise ID creationism as “Arguments for and Against Neo-Darwinism” because someone will always find their fingerprints.

Why are we having an argument that was settled 100 years ago? and again, in law, in 1987. This was again ‘settled’ by a (thoughtful) ruling last year? What stake must be driven, and where? It just seems insane - have the forces of ignorance reached a point where they cannot be driven back by principle, reason, science or sanity?

Why is this still an issue?

jay boilswater:

Why are we having an argument that was settled 100 years ago? and again, in law, in 1987. This was again ‘settled’ by a (thoughtful) ruling last year? What stake must be driven, and where? It just seems insane - have the forces of ignorance reached a point where they cannot be driven back by principle, reason, science or sanity?

Why is this still an issue?

Because religious dogma trumps science in too many people’s minds.

So this book encapsulates the “teach the controversy” paradigm yet does not address alternative theories of origins. I wonder how you can really have a controversy then. “It was evolution” or “it wasn’t evolution it was erm something else that i won’t talk about in any great detail because those nasty scientists have taken most of the evidence for themselves…”.

What a thrilling read that will be.

The whole “strengths and weaknesses” approach is just equivocal / disingenuous / misleading (depending on how deluded or dishonest you consider the Discoverup Institute fellows to be).

They assert that they want students to make up their own minds about evolution, but this is once again singling out evolution as a special case among scientific theories. Maybe the scientific institutions should prepare a textbook that does exactly that - examine the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

The table of contents would be like:

1 Introduction p1
2 Strengths of evolution p25
2.1 Evidence for common descent p28
2.2 Population genetics p617
2.3 Natural selection p1024
2.4 Speciation mechanisms p1354
2.5 Predictions of evolutionary theory p1752
2.6 The explanatory power of evolutionary theory p2231
3 Weaknesses of evolution p2592
Index p2593

:-)

Why are we having an argument that was settled 100 years ago? and again, in law, in 1987.

Because the creos are confused. Their mythology is contradicted by all science and history, including paleontology, geology, astronomy, physics, archaeology, history etc. The plan was to knock over biology and evolution first and then go after all the other sciences.

They should have picked on a smaller field first. Astronomy claims that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, started with a Big Band, the solar system is 4.5 billion years old, the sun is the center of it, and the stars are not just lights stuck on the ceiling. Pure heresies that clearly contradict the bible.

Of course, science is the basis of our civilization and the preeminence of the USA worldwide. Once they destroy all those sciences that contradict their mythology, we can live in the Dark Ages while the rest of the world laughs and passes us by.

Rather surprising that such a program is so popular. Then again their other program is to wait around while hoping that god shows up to kill 6.7 billion people and destroy the earth, a happy event that has been coming “soon” for 2,000 years.

Teach the Controversy is the latest “paradigm” the Disco crew is peddling. Now if we apply a little of reason, something the Disco crew avoid at any cost, what are the alternatives to evilution to contrast and argue about?.….. [crickets chirping] I thought so. If you have no alternatives to a given position then there is no controversy. Ignorance a controversy does not make.

Commentors, strengths and weaknesses is the in thing.

The “strengths” will be very slight, and the weaknesses very strong insinuating impossibility.

strengths and weaknesses - get it right

Pete Dunkelberg said,

Son of Of Pandas and People is the answer. Recall that the ID gang at the Discovery Institute (Disco) got the Dover school board in trouble with their creationist textbook Of Pandas and People, in which the words “intelligent design” and “design proponents” had been substituted for the words “creationism” and “creationists”, with “cdesign proponentsists” as an intermediate form.

What would be the grounds for a lawsuit here? Of Pandas and People and Intelligent Design are not mentioned. And the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision is one of the most discredited decisions in American history – for example, the ID-as-science section was ghostwritten by the ACLU and Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against ID and the defendants – regardless of whether or not ID is a religious concept – by saying in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his decision was based on his notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not “true” religions.

I would welcome a lawsuit if one were possible – it would be an opportunity to have the evolution controversy declared to be non-justiciable. The way things are now, the fear of lawsuits is discouraging school boards and legislatures from enacting science curricula that include the weaknesses of evolution.

IMO the priority should be to get rid of that statement in the new Florida science standards that says that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” That statement is just plain wrong.

raven:

Why are we having an argument that was settled 100 years ago? and again, in law, in 1987.

The plan was to knock over biology and evolution first and then go after all the other sciences.

They should have picked on a smaller field first.

How about electromagnetics as applied to meteorology?

Oh, wait, that approach got shot down when the opponents of Franklin’s lightning-averting device (God controls the weather – it’s blasphemous to defy his arbitrary but entertainingly pyrotechnic smitings) were forced to note that after a while the only large public buildings being struck by lightning were … uh … churches that refused to install one.

Larry write:

“I would welcome a lawsuit if one were possible – it would be an opportunity to have the evolution controversy declared to be non-justiciable. The way things are now, the fear of lawsuits is discouraging school boards and legislatures from enacting science curricula that include the weaknesses of evolution.”

So Larry, you never learn do you. Go on, appeal the decision. The only result will be that the defendants will be going to jail for perjury. Maybe the intellectual giants who broke the law and got caught should have thought about the detrimental effect that a lost court case would have on their religious agenda before they choose to break the law and lie about it under oath.

There is only one way to make any progress in presenting any alternative “theories” and that is to do some science, something that creationists of all types steadfastly refuse to do.

IMO the priority should be to get rid of that statement in the new Florida science standards that says that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” That statement is just plain wrong.

It is statements like these that demonstrate time and time again that Larry, and other Intelligent Design proponents are in no position to make judgments concerning Biology.

I mean, they insist that “descent with modification” is not important in Biology, and yet, they can not demonstrate why “descent with modification” is unimportant when that phrase explains how the gene for the glycoprotein “antifreeze” gene appeared in Antarctic icefish, explains why vertebrate blood-clotting systems use the same proteases used in digestion, why related fossils change with each successive stratum, or even why some bacteria will spontaneously develop the ability to metabolize synthetic antibiotics and spread throughout the population. In fact, you never see any Intelligent Design proponent attempt an explanation for any of these phenomena that isn’t along the lines of pretending they don’t exist, or that a DESIGNER designed them that way in ways mere mortal Biologists can not understand.

OT - Hey Stanton - I got my book in today! :-)

Stacy S.:

OT - Hey Stanton - I got my book in today! :-)

How are the pictures?

Does the Molecular Biology book have photos of glow in the dark transgenic mice?

ABC/Larry:

IMO the priority should be to get rid of that statement in the new Florida science standards that says that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” That statement is just plain wrong.

Wow! Another example of Lying for Jesus, it seems! If you really think that statement is wrong, let’s see you teach biology without evolution. I assure you, that’s impossible because you either have to affirm the concept of evolution (because it is testable as I showed in my essay above) or attack it by mixing scientific terminology with unscientific dogma. Either way, you and other Creationist idiots make a mockery of the very concepts of truth and integrity every time you post here.

Stanton - the pictures are great :-)

Shall we get back to science, please? So far, Creationists have made no response to this essay of mine.

While there are ways to experimentally test the process of evolution, known as natural selection, by mimicking it artificially, ways to test the historical issue of evolution, known as common descent, must rely on making observations and making predictions of the outcome of those observations.

Inside the cells of all Eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi, and protists) are organelles called mitochondria. Likewise, inside the cells of plants are organelles called chloroplasts. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts have their own DNA and are thought to be descended from bacteria that took up residence inside the larger cells. In any case, the DNA in those organelles is completely different from the DNA in the nuclei of those same cells.

We can take the DNA of cell nuclei and check them to see if the differences between those of various organisms can enable us for build a family tree of those organisms. The more similar their nuclear DNA is, the more closely related they are. But since mitochondria and chloroplasts also have DNA, we could also take them and check to see if we could build up a family tree that is the same as the one we would build up with the nuclear DNA.

Indeed, there is no reason, if all life was produced by a single recent act of creation, for the DNA of the mitochondria of all animals to be significantly different from each other. So if I was a Creationist, especially of the young Earth kind, I would predict that it would be impossible to make a family tree from mitochondria DNA, or if I did, it would be completely different from the nuclear DNA. But if I was testing the theory of common decent, I would predict that the readings in animals of both their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA would produce the SAME FAMILY TREE in all cases! This would make perfect sense if the mitochondria and the rest of the cells have been evolving together ever since they first came together over a billion years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA is already used in forensics to determine who the mother of a child is, while nuclear DNA must be used to determine the father of that same child. This would only be an extension of that function, since the parents of the child must be of the same species, or at least very closely related, to even produce offspring at all.

Maybe they can’t, at least without being dishonest?

Nice scenario. Of course it has already been done thousands of times and the answer is that, whatever gene you choose mitochondrial or nuclear, organisms are related in a nested hierarchy.

I would make one slight correction however. This is not true in all cases. Nuclear DNA is inherited biparentally and undergpoes recombination. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited maternally in animals and does not undergo recombination. Therefore, there are some instances where the two data sets would be expected to give slightly different answers.

Of course creationists have no answer for the pattern observed or the correspondance between data sets, so keep asking the tough questions. The most likely response will be some variant of “I don’t understand it so it can’t be true”.

It appears the apostles of Darwin can not bear any dissent from their religion in their sacred academic temples payed for by Christrian taxpayers. Why should we have to hide the evidence for intelligent design or the role of sodomy in AIDS transmission for fear that Christians can use those things to support their world view?

Greaser poles thusly…

Why should we have to hide the evidence for intelligent design

Dammit Greaser! When you’re right, you’re right!

I’m through living this life of lies we all call “science”!

So why don’t you go ahead, right now, blow the lid off this whole thing and show us the the physical evidence for ID!

I knew you’d come through! I always new you guys had more than just screeds against Darwin!

C’mon Greaser! You’ve got me hanging by a thread here! Show me the money!

Pole Greaser, why do you insist on making Christians look foolish?

PvM:

Pole Greaser, why do you insist on making Christians look foolish?

Because he’s a hateful idiot who likes to yank people’s chains because he has nothing better to do?

“It appears the apostles of Darwin can not bear any dissent from their religion in their sacred academic temples payed for by Christrian taxpayers.”

PG, assuming you really are what you portray yourself to be, a creationist, I’m assuming you won’t mind a little helpful criticism. The correct past tense of pay is paid.

If you’re not a creationist, if your goal is to make science deniers look uneducated and ignorant, carry on. You’re doing a great job.

Larry lied:

And the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision is one of the most discredited decisions in American history – for example, the ID-as-science section was ghostwritten by the ACLU and Judge Jones showed extreme prejudice against ID and the defendants

Why is this lying fuckwad of an escapee from a mental institution allowed to continually spew this bile? I spend less and less time here because of trollathons fueled by him, Pole Stroker, and the rest of the reality-challenged, and I guarantee I’m not alone. If they can’t say anything new, delete their bullshit until they get tired of trying to post it. Who cares if they claim they are censored? No one listens to them anyway.

ABC/Larry…get off the cross. We need the wood for other uses.

I do not understand why the Discovery Institute (and the poor, uneducated evangelicals that they are using to push their agenda) do not just ADMIT that evolution is fact! Afterall, we have evidence. As we speak, the DI’s creationist movement is evolving. The meaning of what was once a truly democratic phrase (“Academic Freedom”) has evolved through their influence into “Academic FreeDUMB.” Let’s hope that the state representatives in Florida don’t allow themselves, our teachers and our children to become pawns in the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy.

If I challenged the statement that Newton’s laws of motion are the “fundamental concept underlying all of physics,” would that be a proposal to teach physics without teaching Newton’s laws of motion?

This seems like a good opportunity to merge the troll thread, as why this is an erroneous analogy is explained there.

ABC/Larry:

Dale Husband:

ABC/Larry: IMO the priority should be to get rid of that statement in the new Florida science standards that says that evolution is “the fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” That statement is just plain wrong.

Wow! Another example of Lying for Jesus, it seems! If you really think that statement is wrong, let’s see you teach biology without evolution.

That is just a straw man argument. All I did was challenge the statement that evolution is the “fundamental concept underlying all of biology.” If I challenged the statement that Newton’s laws of motion are the “fundamental concept underlying all of physics,” would that be a proposal to teach physics without teaching Newton’s laws of motion?

I notice that you left out the part of my quote that actually refuted your ridiculous claim. That’s the very essence of quote mining, you dishonest prick!

You are lying yet again, Larry. Are you really one of the Three Stooges?

In any biology class of students from the real world, evolution will be brought up, if not by the teachers, then by at least one of the students asking questions about it. And the teacher will have to either affirm it or deny it, and explain why for the sake of either teaching science by itself or teaching science mixed with religion. Therefore, your response is baseless.

Also, a lot of the criticisms of evolution are not based on religion.

You are correct, they are also based on ignorance.

I think what was meant just now was What is 1 correct non strawman criticism?

Maybe Larry is saying that Cell Theory should be mentioned as well??

I don’t know anything about science - I’m just wondering if that is where he is coming from.

And, a chemistry teacher could affirm the periodicy of a table of elements while denying that it’s central to chemistry! Heck, that should be elementary!!!111!!one!!1

Henry

I wish I understood this - but I don’t :-(

Henry J:

And, a chemistry teacher could affirm the periodicy of a table of elements while denying that it’s central to chemistry! Heck, that should be elementary!!!111!!one!!1

Henry

My guess is that you are implying that “cell theory” is sooo basic that having to state that it is “fundamental” is silly? (the reason I mentioned “cell theory” is because I seem to remember Larry mentioning that before)

If that’s the case-then I agree.

Please forgive me, I know I’m quite a bit below the curve.

Is Larry just playing a game of semantics here?

Well, ABC/XYZ/Larry’s got us there. Can’t argue with that solid evidence-based refutation of 150 years of research. No, sir. We’re hooped. Hats off, Larry. You win.

OK Larry - I’ll bite … What in biology has nothing to do with evolution?

Stacy,

I was comparing omitting evolution from biology to omitting the periodic table from chemistry. Both concepts are crucial to understanding their respective subjects.

Henry

Thank you Henry :-)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Dunkelberg published on March 6, 2008 1:20 PM.

Dembski confused: “Dawkins admits that life could be designed — Is ID therefore scientific?” was the previous entry in this blog.

Darwin and religion - Darwin and Design is the next entry in this blog.

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