Freshwater supporter claims “teach the controversy” as defense

| 64 Comments

Over and over we hear from the Disco ‘Tute boys that they’re not pushing the teaching of intelligent design creationism and that they’re only interested in teaching the controversy or critically analyzing evolution or teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. Most recently they are pushing the “academic freedom” bills being introduced in state legislatures and, in the case of Louisiana, being passed by those legislatures. Of the Louisiana bill the Disco ‘Tute piously claims that

Why is the law needed?

For two reasons. First, around the country, science teachers are being harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired for trying to present scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory along with the evidence that supports it. Second, many school administrators and teachers are fearful or confused about what is legally allowed when teaching about controversial scientific issues like evolution. The Louisiana Science Education Act clarifies what teachers may be allowed to do.

When one inquires just a dab deeper, though, that “scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory” turns out to be creationist crap, much of it filtered through Jonathan Wells’ Moonie spectacles in Icons of Evolution. And the creationist teachers claim cover from the state actions.

Does that really happen?

Sure it does. In my update on “Coach” Dave Daubenmire’s appearance on Geraldo At Large, I noted that Daubenmire floated a new defense of Freshwater’s teaching of creationism in 8th grade science. Daubenmire said that in 2003 Freshwater

… began to teach what was then the state standards to teach the controversy of evolution.

Daubenmire is apparently referring to the Disco ‘Tute’s “critical analysis of evolution” ploy, first tried out on the Ohio State Board of Education. That Board subsequently adopted (but later abandoned) a grade indicator in its 10th grade biology standards that said

23. Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. (The intent of this indicator does not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design.

I’ve read some of the materials that Freshwater used and I’ve talked with his students. Freshwater was feeding them the worst of creationist trash and through his spokesman is now claiming that he was following state standards that explicitly disavowed the teaching of intelligent design!

Freshwater is not unique. According to a recent poll 16% of high school biology teachers in the U.S. are young earth creationists who believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Who here imagines that they will teach genuine science any better than Freshwater? I sure don’t. They’ll seek cover under the umbrella of state “academic freedom” laws, but there’s no cover there.

Dover Traps Galore

Speaking to the Ohio State Board of Education in 2006, I coined the phrase “Dover Trap.” By adopting weasel language like that in the (now revised) Ohio standards and in the Louisiana legislation, state legislatures and state boards of education are setting legal traps for local school districts. It’s not the state bodies that will face suits from parents, it is the local boards of education and local teachers. The Dover, PA, district paid $1 million for the privilege of watching its local board of education flout the Constitution. IANAL, but I’m pretty sure that a state law does not provide immunity for violations of the U.S. Constitution. Local districts are in for some rude surprises, I’m afraid.

Daubenmire’s defense of Freshwater shows precisely why the “teach the controversy/evidence for and against evolution/academic freedom” strategy is just a ruse, and is meant to give people like Freshwater carte blanche to introduce creationist crap into their classes. Next year in Louisiana, someone like Freshwater would be able to do everything he has been doing to his Ohio students (except branding them), and potentially get away with it unless there are parents and teachers on the ground willing to take the community heat in order to vigorously oppose it. And that’s tough in small communities – see Lauri Lebo’s The Devil in Dover for a touching description of the effects that can have on a community.

The pious disclaimers of the Disco ‘Tute notwithstanding, the effect of the various ploys to introduce crap science and false claims about science into public school curricula are virtually guaranteed to produce a spate of suits similar to Dover. In the meantime they’ll be producing students with a distorted and false view of science, and that’s the real tragedy in all this.

The Disco Dancers are aware of all this, of course. I can only reach the conclusion that they want it to happen. They want local districts to be hung out to dry. Five years ago when this stuff first arose in my local school district, a very astute board member went to the web and looked over the claims of the Disco ‘Tute and its allies. In the board meeting where Freshwater’s proposal to include Wells’s crap in the science curriculum was rejected he said (to a close approximation)

I read where they say this is a war. Well, I don’t want their war fought here.

One hopes that more local school board members around the country come to the same conclusion. I’m not optimistic, though.

=================

As an addendum, the best summary of the whole Freshwater affair over the last several months, including some background on “Coach” Daubenmire, is on Cafe Philos.

64 Comments

“Teach the controversy” = ID trojan horse ID = creationist trojan horse creationism = religion’s trojan horse

Seems like a russian-doll-trojan-horse to me ..

Richard B. Hoppe Wrote:

I’ve read some of the materials that Freshwater used and I’ve talked with his students. Freshwater was feeding them the worst of creationist trash and through his spokesman is now claiming that he was following state standards that explicitly disavowed the teaching of intelligent design!

It has never been easier for the DI to back up their claim that they do not want ID or classic creationism taught. All they need to do is state unequivocally that they disapprove Freshwater’s actions. Not just the “X” burning, and without the obligatory spin of how “Darwinists” are harassing him more than necessary.

Have they commented yet? Anyone? Anyone? Stein?

The DI Wrote:

First, around the country, science teachers are being harassed, intimidated, and sometimes fired for trying to present scientific evidence critical of Darwinian theory along with the evidence that supports it. Second, many school administrators and teachers are fearful or confused about what is legally allowed when teaching about controversial scientific issues like evolution.

By blatantly omitting from that the well-documented harassment of teachers who want to teach evolution as approved by mainstream science, most major religions, and the law, the DI has become its own worst enemy.

Good metaphor.

Matryoshka dolls [Wikipedia]:

Matryoshkas are often designed to follow a particular theme, for instance peasant girls in traditional dress, but the theme can be anything, from fairy tale characters to Soviet leaders.

Matryoshkas are also used metaphorically, as a design paradigm, known as the “matryoshka principle” or “nested doll principle”. It denotes a recognizable relationship of “similar object-within-similar object” that appears in the design of many other natural and man-made objects. Examples include the Matryoshka brain and the Matroska media container format.

And now the Matryoshka-Trojan creationist socio-political movement.

One thing I’m not clear on though - is it hiding a fairy tale or a fundamentalist leader?

The Dishonesty Institute is a fan of George Orwell’s book, 1984. They use a lot of Doublespeak.

Intelligent Design=creationism

Teach both sides=creationism

Teach the controversy=creationism

Academic Freedom=creationism

Strengths and weaknesses=creationism

Next scam=creationism

And of course:

Lies are Truth and Freedom is Slavery

We fully expect an Academic Freedom bill in Texas, especially if the fundies do not get their way on the revision of the state science standards. The scary part, if such a bill passes, and there is a legal challenge, the courts in Texas might uphold the bill as constitutional.

We fully expect an Academic Freedom bill in Texas, especially if the fundies do not get their way on the revision of the state science standards.

You will probably get both. The academic standards are a lost cause. There is no point in being a xian Death Cultist in power if you can’t oppress other people and violate a few laws here and there.

Richard, thanks for the link and your kind words!

The Dishonesty Institute wishes to balance teaching the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. Let’s see how their suggested supplementary biology text, “Exploring Evolution,” balances out:

Strengths = 0 Weaknesses= 2,2387

What a surprise.

According to a recent poll 16% of high school biology teachers in the U.S. are young earth creationists who believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

One would think it might be possible to disqualify anti-science fanatics from teaching science, on grounds of simple merit. Churches somehow manage to weed virulent atheists from achieving positions where they can preach it to congregations. Why can’t public education achieve even close to that level of due diligence?

The PLoS link RBH provides says:

These findings strongly suggest that victory in the courts is not enough for the scientific community to ensure that evolution is included in high school science courses. Nor is success in persuading states to adopt rigorous content standards consistent with recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations. Scientists concerned about the quality of evolution instruction might have a bigger impact in the classroom by focusing on the certification standards for high school biology teachers. Our study suggests that requiring all teachers to complete a course in evolutionary biology would have a substantial impact on the emphasis on evolution and its centrality in high school biology courses. In the long run, the impact of such a change could have a more far reaching effect than the victories in courts and in state governments.

What an amazingly perverse statement! They correctly identify the problem: creationists teaching science. They correctly note that just passing laws (or rigorous curricula) is useless, creationists simply ignore the laws. So what do they suggest? Why, teaching creationists better biology! Uh huh, brilliant, guys. Sure cured Jonathan Wells, didn’t it? Worked wonders on Kurt Wise. Goddamit, education does not cure creationism!!!. Their OWN DAMN DATA tells them this! And they recommend more education? Forking insane.

Another study (I don’t feel like looking it up) found that those who enter college biology programs as creationists, graduate as creationists. Fully “qualified” to teach high school biology. Many of them (just like Wells and Wise and others) specifically studied biology to preach creationism in biology classes or for related PR purposes. And after taking entire college degree programs, the PLoS thinks one more course will cure them?

The only possible way to prevent creationist teachers from preaching creationism in class is to prevent them from becoming teachers in the first place. The very first qualification for credentialing should be a question about the applicant’s posture toward science. Those who think magic is scientific should be disqualified before reaching question #2.

The trick lies in administering this first question effectively. Unfortunately, you can’t just ask. Creationists all lie, all day long. They couldn’t have graduated otherwise.

While we’re at it let’s teach the controversy over burning a cross onto a student’s skin.

Flint said:

According to a recent poll 16% of high school biology teachers in the U.S. are young earth creationists who believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

One would think it might be possible to disqualify anti-science fanatics from teaching science, on grounds of simple merit. Churches somehow manage to weed virulent atheists from achieving positions where they can preach it to congregations. Why can’t public education achieve even close to that level of due diligence?

Don’t we wish. Unfortunately religious and public institutions operate under different laws. Religion has by the grace of Congress insulated itself from any laws forbidding discrimination. They are free to hire and fire at will, particulary if someone doesn’t follow their practices.

On the other hand public institutions, e.g., schools, do not have that luxury. Anyone can infiltrate the schools and once there subversively teach creationism as many do. Other cases such as Sternberg, Gonzalez, etc. install themselves as trojan horses at science real institutions only to fly their true colors in the faces of those in charge, then claim religious discrimination, sue, and then totally crap on the people (and their real science colleagues) who hired them in the first place.

Don’t we wish. Unfortunately religious and public institutions operate under different laws.

I wouldn’t give up quite so easily. There really ARE levels of merit public employees must meet. That precedent being set, one would think that even a trojan horse creationist, once inside the gates, could (with a minor administrative change) be dismissable on grounds of merit. I suspect such people can be dismissed on a wide variety of grounds (like branding kids). Why not add something entirely rational to the list?

In the case of Sternberg, whoever named him to that editorial post was plain asking for trouble. Sternbert was a known creationist at that time; the journal got exactly what it could have guaranteed. Gonzalez didn’t get tenure, but I understand that wasn’t because his religious faith militated against sensible astronomy directly, only that his faith typically inspired him to preach rather than do any actual science.

But anyway, the law is already in place, and RBH has noted that if “there are parents and teachers on the ground willing to take the community heat in order to vigorously oppose” school teachers preaching creationism in class, it can legitimately be weeded out. My question is, why wait so long? There is a presumption that someone who has not studied a subject is not qualified to teach it. Why not add the presumption that someone whose religious faith requires that they break the law, should not be positioned to do so?

I would think some journalist would be up for a Pulitzer by digging into this, interviewing Freshwater, his students, the school administration, community creationist supporters, kids taught science rather than bullshit, etc. Then we could try to leverage that publicity into a suitable credentialing modification.

It seems to me that the case against this doofus should be split into at least 3 seperate cases:

1) Improperly proseltizing for a specific religion in a governent orginization

2) Insubordination in the defiance of school board rules, policies and specific directives

3) Child abuse

Any one of these should be sufficient to justify the termination of this teacher, and the last should be enough to have him listed on the child abuse registry, preventing him from EVER getting a job teaching children.

Likewise, the school board should be held accountable, since Freshwater’s abuses had apparently been going on for several years, with the knowledge of the board, and the board did little to correct the situation, other than making impotent directives, but failing to monitor and enforce its will.

I did a search of Uncommon Descent for “Freshwater,” and then for “John Freshwater,” using the on-site search field. Several search results turned up a snipped of text, “Preferably like soon to be EXPELLED John Freshwater did. magnan: I would summarize and restate this for clarification, if just for myself. …” but following those results didn’t yield anything.

Then I went to the Discovery Institute’s search page, entered “John Freshwater,” set the option to search the bodies of the articles, find all keywords, and include blogs. Nada. When that didn’t work, I tried the Search w/Google option. Still nothing. No word for, no word against. This, being fairly widespread news about sacking a public school teacher who claimed “viewpoint discrimination/teaching the controversy,” might have been a good opportunity for them to at least weigh in on some aspects of the story.

I think the burning of crosses into students’ forearms might be scaring them off. The abuse makes it too dangerous to hold up Freshwater as another “Expelled” martyr, despite the vocal minority of support for him. So far (at least from what I’ve looked at), they aren’t even trying to spin the issue. Rather than alienate a good chunk of their audience by leveling a pronouncement either way, they’re keeping silent on it.

Flint said: I wouldn’t give up quite so easily. There really ARE levels of merit public employees must meet.

So, what do you suggest? That we demand all teachers take an ideological litmus test before they can teach?

Why not add the presumption that someone whose religious faith requires that they break the law, should not be positioned to do so?

Because every individual’s faith is a little different. You can’t exclude YECers on the presumption that their faith requires them to *teach* what they believe. It may not - an individual teacher, like a judge, may apply a law they don’t religiously believe in. Sure there are some exceptionally bad apples, but you don’t exclude an entire social group from a profession on the assumption that they all act the same way.

What you do, is ask the person interviewing for the job if they - the individual - will do the job. If they say yes, you hold them to it, and you fire them if they turn out to be a liar. Beyond asking an incoming teacher whether they will teach to the state standards (and maybe pointing to a few standards specifically), I don’t see what cure you might be proposing that wouldn’t be worse than the disease.

It seems to me that the case against this doofus should be split into at least 3 seperate cases:

1) Improperly proseltizing for a specific religion in a governent orginization

2) Insubordination in the defiance of school board rules, policies and specific directives

3) Child abuse

You left out a key deficiency. Apparently Freshwater, supposedly a science teacher, knew no science whatsoever.

He was incompetent and an idiot in the subject he was supposed to teach. All he did was repeat Answersingenesis class nonsense. The 2nd law of thermodynamics fallacy, the carbon dating fallacy, the routine lies of the creos fallacies. No one with a high school grasp of science would be able to do that.

Flint said:

And they recommend more education?

My impression was that they demand (more rigorous) certification standards. I don’t think everyone is as adept as Gonzales to maintain a cognitive dissonance, so they are bound to shake loose some of them bad apples.

Albeit I rather think a more radical approach along the lines of hard and sharp test now is preferable. It doesn’t help much to lower the proportion of creationist teachers from 16 to say 8 % - unless there is a sustainable decreasing trend which remains to be seen.

If US has a really interest in this I would suggest to look for how other nations handles this. Admittedly, not everyone is so infested with anti-scientific movements. But presumably it happens, and presumably it is taken care of.

For example, Sweden has national standards and school inspections. And it seems to me those certification standards must be national to be effective. So, um, does US has any national regulation, besides the constitution?

Apparently it’s not only UD. Our trolls are suspiciously absent.

Maybe we should point them to this thread?

If there are effective ways to try to head creationists off at the pass successfuly used in other countries, before they spend years preaching in public schools, I agree they should be adopted, mutatis mutandis.

What you do, is ask the person interviewing for the job if they - the individual - will do the job. If they say yes, you hold them to it, and you fire them if they turn out to be a liar.

Yes, of course. And this becomes a slam dunk since the lie consists of breaking the law. And yet we have 16% of biology teachers who reject evolution outright, and very few people willing to spend the time, money, and reputation required to blow the whistle. Freshwater’s long-standing outright idiocy continued despite being well-known to the community, the school board, the school administration, etc. As PLoS said, he was much more aligned with US sentiment than the curriculum he was supposed to be teaching. Most Americans want creationism preached alongside evolution lessons in public school, and nearly 40% prefer to drop evolution altogether!

So to answer the question, yes, I would impose such a litmus test. Lack of ability to accept the validity of what you’re teaching should disqualify you just as surely as lack of knowledge of that material. Maybe faster! It’s not like there’s any scientific uncertainty at the high school level. Anyone who sincerely believes his magical superstitions trump science, should be disqualified from teaching science. If this cure happens to disqualify a few percent of Believers who would still teach biology properly, then this is a very cheap price to pay.

Our trolls are suspiciously absent.

Maybe we should point them to this thread?

I think the difficulty here is, Freshwater did NOT violate community standards in anything he did. Yeah, he broke the law and technically was guilty of child abuse, but that “abuse” was accepted by most, and championed by some, within the community. His worst-case, AiG-rejected creationist idiocy was popular and avidly accepted. Conversely, the material Freshwater was legally obligated to teach was strongly counter to community standards.

So what’s a troll to say? That where ignorance and superstition are the standard, it’s capricious to single out one individual (of obviously most) who follows that standard?

I personally think the school administration who knowingly tolerated Freshwater for so long, is AT LEAST as culpable for his behavior, if not more so. If they are not terminated, they’ll replace him with a clone as soon as the heat is off. But I suppose a troll might argue that Mt. Vernon got it right. Those who aren’t True Christians should move elsewhere.

Wheels Wrote:

Rather than alienate a good chunk of their audience by leveling a pronouncement either way, they’re keeping silent on it.

I guess after “Expelled” nothing shocks me as to how low the DI can go, but I truly thought that by now they would have publicly expressed disapproval of Freshwater’s actions (not just the “X”-burning). If only to back up their pretense of not advocating the teaching of classic creationism. Maybe they’re just waiting for more reaction on our end so that they can spin it into an article that’s mainly about the “hysterical” reaction of “Darwinists.”

What audience would they alienate by criticizing Freshwater? Die-hard Freshwater supporters are hopelessly forgiving of any activist group that will soothe their fears of “Darwinism.” They have forgiven (“compartmentalized” is a better word) Behe’s acceptance of common descent, so they’ll survive the DI’s gentle scolding of their martyr.

When the course includes materials that inhibit the ability of the students to succeed at a next level of education, or for all intents and purposes demand remediation, why is the course being credited towards graduation?

Would the community put up with a teacher (or a school board) for long if their students had to repeat courses because they couldn’t earn their credits - couldn’t graduate - couldn’t be admitted to college?

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

For example, Sweden has national standards and school inspections. And it seems to me those certification standards must be national to be effective. So, um, does US has any national regulation, besides the constitution?

One of the systemic problems (IMHO) of public education in the US is precisely this lack of national standards along with severly skewed funding methods. Most educational funding as well as regulation occurs at the state level which leads to the ability of groups like DI to lose spectacularly in one state (ie, Dover case) and still be a threat to the rest of the country’s educational system.

I would add that the use of property taxes as a local funding method adds to the level of disparate funding between communities in the same state. While not all states fund their systems this way, many do. Here in the Chicago area, this local based funding has a dramatic impact on available funding district to district. Many city schools are desperate for quality teachers, while those in rich(er) suburban areas tend to lure the best teachers away due to their ability to actually pay a living wage (or better). While I agree that better standards are necessary, and national standards are needed, the practicality of being able to find ANYONE willing to teach in poor districts that are unable to compete monetarily may mean that as long as such unequal funding schemes continue, there will always be a niche where incompetent and/or insincere teachers will be able to warp the minds of our youth.

I would add that although there isn’t much in the way of national regulation, there are national mandates, usually tied to the minimal national funding of education. (ie, Bush’s infamous “No Child’s Behind Left” program.) This program in particular has been criticized (correctly, IMO) as promoting a “teaching to the test” mentality in public education at the expense of actual learning. There have been a few cases where states and/or districts have decided to “opt out” of the program, which means they lose the associated funding. Unfortunately, with the sad state of K-12 funding in general, this simply isn’t a practical alternative for most schools.

As a result, University and College admissions offices become the defacto standards enforcers. When viewed in the light of the increasing number of fundie founded and funded institutions at the college level, this has some truly frightening implications for the future. But at least I got in some alliteration. :P

Flint said:

If there are effective ways to try to head creationists off at the pass successfuly used in other countries, before they spend years preaching in public schools, I agree they should be adopted, mutatis mutandis.

Yeah, but when our European friend Torbjorn recommended “hard and sharp test now” I’m guessing he wasn’t recommending a religous test. And recommending regular performance inspections is not anything like a group hiring restriction based on religious belief. I’m all for the former. Test those biology teachers on the material. Put video monitors in the classroom and review teacher performance on evolutionary units. Its your support for a religious test that I object to.

So to answer the question, yes, I would impose such a litmus test. Lack of ability to accept the validity of what you’re teaching should disqualify you just as surely as lack of knowledge of that material…If this cure happens to disqualify a few percent of Believers who would still teach biology properly, then this is a very cheap price to pay.

I don’t agree with that in principle. But to quibble, the PLoS research article from which the 16% number comes also says that slightly less than 12.5% teach it (creationism/ID). So about a quarter of that 16% don’t. Banning from a job a quarter of a large religous group based on the actions of the others sounds like fairly awful discrimination to me. It’s not just “a few percent” of babies you’re throwing out with the bathwater there - you’re advocating a public policy that wrongly discriminates 25% of the time.

However I do agree with you that the school administration are culpable. They let this guy operate for 10 years (!!), and the evidence in the newspaper articles seems to indicate that they knew there was a problem and intentionally ignored it. (The Principal making sure his kid didn’t take the class.)

Incidentally the 2nd part of the Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey is out.

http://religions.pewforum.org/?sid=[…]amp;pos=list

Among other things it shows that people don’t articulate consistent beliefs when asked simple questions on religion. Check out the nonzero yet siginificant % of athiests who say they pray; who believe in hell; who say they “completely” believe in angels!

Maybe the survey was Pharyngulated…

Eric said:

I don’t agree with that in principle. But to quibble, the PLoS research article from which the 16% number comes also says that slightly less than 12.5% teach it (creationism/ID). So about a quarter of that 16% don’t. Banning from a job a quarter of a large religous group based on the actions of the others sounds like fairly awful discrimination to me. It’s not just “a few percent” of babies you’re throwing out with the bathwater there - you’re advocating a public policy that wrongly discriminates 25% of the time.

I agree. This discrimination could easily be interpreted as an attack on academic freedom, and ironically lend credence to the type of creationist legislation currently being fought over in many states. The appropriateness of a teacher’s actions or inaction in the classroom is reasonable to regulate, but when we start regulating personal beliefs we are actually in violation of the foundation clause. Furthermore, such regulation could be in fact used as a precedent for increased regulation of academic freedom in general.

I understand the argument that if you don’t believe what you’re teaching, you can’t be an effective teacher. I would contend that the effectiveness of the teacher must be the issue, not the underlying belief. While I strongly believe in the need for better educational standards, we need ways to achieve that goal without sacrificing our basic rights and freedoms. I don’t think we have to do away with freedom of speech and thought to improve education any more than I believe that we need to throw away the Constitution to fight terrorism.

Just in case the other thread on which I belatedly posted this info is kaput:

Daubenmire’s web site at coachdavelive.com now offers a “John Freshwater Investigation Report” (in pdf format), which was announced earlier today as “light on the real reason they are after John Freshwater.”

I’m too wiped out to read it, never mind deliver a coherent report (if such is even possible), but surely others here are not so wimpy.

The pdf referred to is the report to the board by the outside investigator. There’s no new content on “Coach” Dave’s site yet.

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

I believe the principle of independent public authorities is written into the guides for how the government should work. (But I assume it could easily be perverted without giving the control instances time to react if the political clime would change radically.) This would need a thorough check though.

Some swedish public authorities are governmental, others (including the independents like Riksrevisionen) are formally administrated by the parliament [swedish]. I get the impression that there is a bulkhead between the departments, whose leaders are members of the government, and the public authorities they in turn formally administrate [swedish].

I assume it is much the same in US for practical reasons if not else. If not, well, then perhaps this makes all the difference.

I appreciate the links, but as I don’t read your language (to my shame) they were only of limited usefulness. I did find some english language info on Swedish government however. My cursory understanding is that the government/parliament division is roughly similar to the administrative/legislative divide in the US, however it appears that in Swedish government there is a much stricter formal divide between the responsibilities and powers of elected (ie, political) appointees and bureaucratic (ie, civil servant) employees of the government. While historically this divide has been respected in US government for, as you state, practical reasons, the current administration seems to have little regard for reality or practicality when it conflicts with their political ideals. This has led to an increased politicization in many of the bureaucratic departments. (i.e., the censoring of government scientists as regard global warming, stem cell research, etc., or the politicization of civil service employees in the Department of Justice.) While in some specific cases this appears to be a violation of law, in others it seems to be legal while simply a violation of good practice and long standing precedence.

In other words, it appears that there is a systemic difference as to how Sweden and the US handle the matter. You are lucky to live in what appears to be the most democratic nation on earth! So…is it hard to learn Swedish? How difficult is it to emigrate to your country? ;)

Emil said:

I appreciate the links, but as I don’t read your language (to my shame) they were only of limited usefulness.

Yes, we need a better Babel fish (i.e. google translation). It was merely links to the pertinent key words. Those public authorities will have web sites, that should have english versions, so you could perhaps look up the rule work. (Dunno if that is translated, though.)

Emil said:

In other words, it appears that there is a systemic difference as to how Sweden and the US handle the matter. You are lucky to live in what appears to be the most democratic nation on earth! So…is it hard to learn Swedish? How difficult is it to emigrate to your country? ;)

Well, democratic…, as I noted it is actually rather paternalistic in practice while formally democratic. Albeit among others our young and our immigrants do their best in shaking up the complacency. Compare with US, a lot of good ideas, even though the practice can suck.

Um, swedish - small vocabulary (typically a third of the typical english), more irregular verbs, rather difficult pronunciation I hear. (For one, we have the “ö” sound, which english lacks. Rather like japanese and a lack of “r” sound IIRC.)

Though I once heard an english student that had studied for 6 months or so speaking almost flawless swedish, so it is doable of course. :-P

We would be glad to have you. IIRC we have one single town that have more Iraqi immigrants than the whole of US has received despite being responsible for the invasion. So it is isn’t impossible either.

As for national character, compare with canadians in many characteristics. (Yes, we have good beer, versatile actors, and good comedians too!)

In the news that there’s nothing new to report, I finally did (remember to) track down that John Freshwater comment. It was posted by sparc on June 20th. It seems to be the only place where Freshwater is mentioned on Uncommon Descent. Still no hits at all on the Discovery Institute proper. Even after two weeks after the story started circulating, neither the DI nor UD have anything at all to say about it, for or against.

Yeah, Wheels, what’s up with that? Still nothing I’ve seen about this on UD, yet they are right up to date with the Chris Comer case and think what she did warrant firing! (well, to be fair, not everyone at UD thinks exactly that).

Let’s see:

Guy teacher violates his students’ 1st amendment rights by teaching creationism and ‘denegrates’ evolution, fails to teach science requirements such that his students have to be retaught at a later grade, has to be told by his superiors more than once to remove religious materials from his classroom, patently refuses to remove Bible from his desk while teaching, and makes cross marks on kids arms with an electrical device that the makers say should never come in contact with the skin.

versus

Gal working as an administrator in a science education capacity forwarding an e-mail about a science lecture involving Intelligent Design to other science educators.

If I had to choose between the two who I think should get fired, and who I think should just get a reprimand (or less), wow, that would be a real toughy …

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on June 22, 2008 2:42 PM.

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