ID creationists as “expert reviewers” of the science standards in Texas?!?

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In other news, Kim Jong-il was appointed an expert reviewer of the standards related to economics…

Science curriculum reviewers criticized

By Kate Alexander | Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 11:31 AM

Some of the State Board of Education’s appointments to a new panel appointed to review the state’s science curriculum standards has drawn quick fire.

Two authors of a textbook called Explore Evolution have been named to the six-member panel.

The textbook is distributed by the Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design. The book is described as presenting “the scientific evidence both for and against key aspects of Darwinian evolution.”

Here’s a snippet about textbook from its Web site:

The purpose of Explore Evolution, is to examine the scientific controversy about Darwin’s theory, and in particular, the contemporary version of the theory known as neo-Darwinism. Whether you are a teacher, a student, or a parent, this book will help you understand what Darwin’s theory of evolution is, why many scientists find it persuasive, and why other scientists question the theory or some key aspects of it.

The Texas Freedom Network criticized the appointment of the textbook authors, Stephen Meyer, vice president of the Discovery Institute, and Ralph Seelke, a biology and earth sciences professor from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

“Texas universities boast some of the leading scientists in the world,” said Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network. “It’s appalling that some state board members turned to out-of-state ideologues to decide whether Texas kids get a 21st-century science education.”

PS: More on pharyngula

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That's what Texas seems to have made the US recently. I thank Panda's Thumb for this snippet of humour.This newspaper blog thingy said that the Texas State Board of Education decided to put a few crea... Read More

32 Comments

Thank you for posting this so fast!

As a student of both Texas A&M and The University of Texas at Austin, I can assure you there are many people who will protest any drastic changes to the curriculum. I hope a lawsuit can be avoided, but if one happens, Texas will find itself in the position Dover was in a few years ago.

Well, see, only cranks understand crank science (at least they’re the only ones who recognize it as science), so to give crank “science” a chance, they need cranks deciding what is science.

It’s all perfectly fair, at least in Steve Fuller’s world.

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Somehow I have this vague uneasy sense of a low ugly rumbling going on down in Texas that’s going to emerge in a serious storm in like a year or two.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

I checked Seelke’s publication record on PubMed (Seelke R[au]) and found 8 publications, none this century and even none in the 1990’s, 3 first author publications. Seems to me that ID is once again a science killer and Seelke’s research, which focuses on what evolution cannot do, has rendered itself without scientific content. Am I missing some of the publications? What’s the deal here?

1: Seelke R, Kline B, Aleff R, Porter RD, Shields MS. Mutations in the recD gene of Escherichia coli that raise the copy number of certain plasmids. J Bacteriol. 1987 Oct;169(10):4841-4.

2: Toyoda H, Seelke RW, Littlefield BA, Spelsberg TC. Evidence for specific DNA sequences in the nuclear acceptor sites of the avian oviduct progesterone receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Jul;82(14):4722-6.

3: Spelsberg TC, Gosse BJ, Littlefield BA, Toyoda H, Seelke R. Reconstitution of nativelike nuclear acceptor sites of the avian oviduct progesterone receptor: evidence for involvement of specific chromatin proteins and specific DNA sequences. Biochemistry. 1984 Oct 23;23(22):5103-13.

4: Seelke RW, Kline BC. A mutational hot spot in the incompatibility gene incC of mini-F plasmid. Plasmid. 1984 Jul;12(1):37-40.

5: Spelsberg TC, Littlefield BA, Seelke R, Dani GM, Toyoda H, Boyd-Leinen P, Thrall C, Kon OL. Role of specific chromosomal proteins and DNA sequences in the nuclear binding sites for steroid receptors. Recent Prog Horm Res. 1983;39:463-517. Review. No abstract available.

6: Seelke RW, Kline BC, Trawick JD, Ritts GD. Genetic studies of F plasmid maintenance genes involved in copy number control,incompatability, and partitioning. Plasmid. 1982 Mar;7(2):163-79. No abstract available.

7: Kline BC, Seelke RW. Genetic evidence that control of F replication is negative. Mol Gen Genet. 1982;187(2):218-24.

8: Otten MR, Wlodarcyzk M, Kline BC, Seelke R. Control of plasmid R6K copy numbers in isogenic rep+ and rep Escherichia coli strains. Mol Gen Genet. 1980 Feb;177(3):493-9.

Texas seems to be repeating Kansas by forming a second committee to overturn the first. IIRC the Kansans who tried this were voted out of office.

Can anyone tell me, is it unusual to put textbook authors on a committee recommending what to teach? Or is it pretty typical for States to do this? Without in any way implying anything negative about his character, even having Skoog on there seems to be a conflict of interest.

The state board may be playing defense.

Recently a draft version of proposed new standards created by science educators in Texas recommended removing a clause to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. It also recommended putting up road blocks to prevent teachers from teaching creationism and intelligent design. You can read more about it from this article in the Dallas Morning News.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcon[…]13ec04c.html

The board may be just trying to keep the existing “teach the strength and weaknesses of evolution” clause in the existing standards.

I hope they are not trying to push any radical changes, and I especially hope they are not trying to get any intelligent design book into the classrooms.

Hi everyone,

You may recall that there was a Xian couple who led the charge against the teaching of evolution for years in Texas. I earnestly hope we’re not going back.

Nick, thanks for finding time to post this.

On a happier note I heard an excellent talk on the current status of evolutionary theory last night here in NYC by Douglas Futuyma.

Best,

John

This is indeed appalling. First, If Stephen Meyer and Ralph Seelke were eminent scientists, it might make sense that they were brought in from outside of Texas to participate, but Pim has neatly shown that Seelke hardly fits this description, and Meyer’s lone publication in a scientific journal - a review, not a research paper - was officially repudiated (see point three). Second, Meyer and Seelke have a clear conflict of interest as the authors of Explore Evolution. Finally, Meyer was party to a breach of editorial policy, i.e., academic misconduct, and this alone should disqualify him. This stinks to high heaven.

I would think one argument against these two that could get support even for those who don’t want to get into a creationism debate is that these are authors of textbooks, and should be viewed as have a conflict of interest. (Not a sexy as creationism, grant, but it should get the job done).

John Kwok said:

Hi everyone,

You may recall that there was a Xian couple who led the charge against the teaching of evolution for years in Texas. I earnestly hope we’re not going back.

Nick, thanks for finding time to post this.

On a happier note I heard an excellent talk on the current status of evolutionary theory last night here in NYC by Douglas Futuyma.

Best,

John

The Christian couple was Mel and Norma Gabler. Neither one had a college education. You can read more about them, including PZ Myers’ comments, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_and_Norma_Gabler

Ed

In regards to Meyer and Seelke, y’all seem to be focussing on questionable stuff like publication records or eminince as scientists.

What I want to know is if either of them can see Texas from their front yard, ‘cause that’s what makes an expert.

Texas is still a beef state which means there is a lot of shit laying around. Most native Texans easily avoid stepping in it, a trait honed since childhood.

Along comes the DI brigade–they step slap in it. That’s funny.

Heh. Tenderfoots. Greenhorns. Dudes*.

Dudes is used in an older sense, to wit: ignorant of the necessities of an unfamiliar environment. For instance, a city slicker who goes on a western ranch vacation and is faced with saddling and riding a horse, the proper way to wear a hat or how to talk to a cowgirl. Typified by amusing ineptitude.

That is why they called them “dude ranches.”

This is an outrage!! How could they have passed over Dr. Kent Hovind?? He has 15 years of experience teaching science AND is a self proclaimed Ph.D.

Besides, Kent has lots of free time right now as he working for the federal government as part of his forced hiatus from managing Dinoland USA.

In this country, it’s a felony to hire a convicted felon to do anything while he’s still being incarcerated.

And in this country, it’s a felony to claim that incarceration is “government work.” Instead, move to Communist China where felons are freely and frequently employed by the government at no charge.

mafarmerga said:

This is an outrage!! How could they have passed over Dr. Kent Hovind?? He has 15 years of experience teaching science AND is a self proclaimed Ph.D.

Besides, Kent has lots of free time right now as he working for the federal government as part of his forced hiatus from managing Dinoland USA.

mafarmerga said:

How could they have passed over Dr. Kent Hovind??

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Kent Hovind: “It was on a jailbreak!”

And of course the Texas answer: “To show the armadillo that it could be done.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

John Kwok said: You may recall that there was a Xian couple who led the charge against the teaching of evolution for years in Texas. I earnestly hope we’re not going back.

And then

Ed Hensley said: The Christian couple was Mel and Norma Gabler. Neither one had a college education. You can read more about them, including PZ Myers’ comments, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_and_Norma_Gabler

Mel and Norma won’t be back - they’re both dead.

In the Dishonesty Institute’s own words:

“Both Dr. Meyer and Dr. Seelke are practiced reviewers having been involved in other states’ standards review processes. Dr. Meyer has previously been invited by the states of Ohio and Kansas to testify on their science standards.”

And they did so much for Ohio and Kansas! Here’s their whining excuse.

http://www.discovery.org/a/7511

DavidK said:

In the Dishonesty Institute’s own words:

“Both Dr. Meyer and Dr. Seelke are practiced reviewers having been involved in other states’ standards review processes. Dr. Meyer has previously been invited by the states of Ohio and Kansas to testify on their science standards.”

And they did so much for Ohio and Kansas! Here’s their whining excuse.

http://www.discovery.org/a/7511

Hat trick! Hat trick!

I actually was a student at UWS and Ralph Seelke taught me cell biology. The department worked hard to keep him from getting out of control in his classes, but it wasn’t always easy. That said, I ended up as a asst. prof. here at KSU, so it didn’t hurt me. I will tell you that although research activity is encouraged at places like UWS, active publication records aren’t (or weren’t when I was there). Its a pretty small school (maybe 5,000 undergrads) in rural northern Wisconsin.

PvM said:

I checked Seelke’s publication record on PubMed (Seelke R[au]) and found 8 publications, none this century and even none in the 1990’s, 3 first author publications. Seems to me that ID is once again a science killer and Seelke’s research, which focuses on what evolution cannot do, has rendered itself without scientific content. Am I missing some of the publications? What’s the deal here?

1: Seelke R, Kline B, Aleff R, Porter RD, Shields MS. Mutations in the recD gene of Escherichia coli that raise the copy number of certain plasmids. J Bacteriol. 1987 Oct;169(10):4841-4.

2: Toyoda H, Seelke RW, Littlefield BA, Spelsberg TC. Evidence for specific DNA sequences in the nuclear acceptor sites of the avian oviduct progesterone receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Jul;82(14):4722-6.

3: Spelsberg TC, Gosse BJ, Littlefield BA, Toyoda H, Seelke R. Reconstitution of nativelike nuclear acceptor sites of the avian oviduct progesterone receptor: evidence for involvement of specific chromatin proteins and specific DNA sequences. Biochemistry. 1984 Oct 23;23(22):5103-13.

4: Seelke RW, Kline BC. A mutational hot spot in the incompatibility gene incC of mini-F plasmid. Plasmid. 1984 Jul;12(1):37-40.

5: Spelsberg TC, Littlefield BA, Seelke R, Dani GM, Toyoda H, Boyd-Leinen P, Thrall C, Kon OL. Role of specific chromosomal proteins and DNA sequences in the nuclear binding sites for steroid receptors. Recent Prog Horm Res. 1983;39:463-517. Review. No abstract available.

6: Seelke RW, Kline BC, Trawick JD, Ritts GD. Genetic studies of F plasmid maintenance genes involved in copy number control,incompatability, and partitioning. Plasmid. 1982 Mar;7(2):163-79. No abstract available.

7: Kline BC, Seelke RW. Genetic evidence that control of F replication is negative. Mol Gen Genet. 1982;187(2):218-24.

8: Otten MR, Wlodarcyzk M, Kline BC, Seelke R. Control of plasmid R6K copy numbers in isogenic rep+ and rep Escherichia coli strains. Mol Gen Genet. 1980 Feb;177(3):493-9.

PVM,

Seelke apparently has some sort of long term bacterial evolution experiment going on. He reckons the results are fatal for evolution. He has a powerpoint presentation on the subject:

http://www2.uwsuper.edu/rseelke/Wha[…]o%205_08.ppt

I dunno if this will be published or not.

He reckons the results are fatal for evolution.

He can has Waterloo?

The problem is that the failure of a single experiment at best can serve to show that some knockouts cannot be restored easily via evolutionary processes. Of course, and Behe seems the agree, the use of knock outs is not a good way to test evolutionary pathways.

And what does Seelke believe his bacterial experiments show? That bacteria will remain bacteria? That some dual, simultaneous mutations are unlikely. After decades without any publications, there seems to be little hope for more…

SteveF said:

PVM,

Seelke apparently has some sort of long term bacterial evolution experiment going on. He reckons the results are fatal for evolution. He has a powerpoint presentation on the subject:

http://www2.uwsuper.edu/rseelke/Wha[…]o%205_08.ppt

I dunno if this will be published or not.

Thank you for your feedback, I guess the university is more a teaching than a research university? Makes perfect sense.

Scott Reese said:

I actually was a student at UWS and Ralph Seelke taught me cell biology. The department worked hard to keep him from getting out of control in his classes, but it wasn’t always easy. That said, I ended up as a asst. prof. here at KSU, so it didn’t hurt me. I will tell you that although research activity is encouraged at places like UWS, active publication records aren’t (or weren’t when I was there). Its a pretty small school (maybe 5,000 undergrads) in rural northern Wisconsin.

ABSTRACT: For bacteria to evolve, mutations must occur which impart a selective advantage to the organism. An ongoing evolutionary question is the capability of mutation and selection to produce an advantageous change, when two or more mutations are needed. We investigated this question using Escherichia coli RS202-5 containing two inactivating mutations in the trpA Tryptophan biosynthesis gene. RS202-5 was grown by serial transfer under conditions selective for evolution of TrpA+. After apporximately 2000 generations, TrpA+ evolvants have failed to appear. However, RS202-5 has evolved to grow faster under low Tryptophan conditions. We conclude that, when evolution of a Trp+ phenotype requires two independent mutations, it is not observed. Long-term selection when Tryptophan is limited dows result in imporved growth rates. The reversion rate of single inactivating mutations was also investigated.

In fact, even though the ‘expected’ double mutation did not happen, RS202-5 did evolve to grow faster under low Tryptophan conditions.

PvM said:

ABSTRACT: …We investigated this question using Escherichia coli RS202-5 containing two inactivating mutations in the trpA Tryptophan biosynthesis gene…After apporximately 2000 generations, TrpA+ evolvants have failed to appear.

In fact, even though the ‘expected’ double mutation did not happen, RS202-5 did evolve to grow faster under low Tryptophan conditions.

So, I think I see at major flaw in his experimental method. At least as its described in the abstract - if I’ve got this wrong because I didn’t read the paper, let me know:

Shouldn’t he look at the entire genome before and after, rather than just one gene? As it stands his experiment amounts to making an educated guess as to where two mutations are likely to occur and then showing that he guessed wrong. His method only tests for a very small fraction of possible two-mutation events, i.e. those events where two mutations occur together within a small, specified region of the genome. Its like claiming no one won the lottery because I asked everyone on my block if they won, and they said no.

His method only tests for a very small fraction of possible two-mutation events,

A similar thought crossed my mind, too. It’s like assuming that only that pair of changes would produce the expected function; but if evolution was that constrained, we’d probably see a lot less variety in nature.

Henry

Right after Meyer ran the bait and switch scam on the Ohio State board creationist rubes that wanted to teach the science of ID, but all they got was the switch scam (exemplified by their new switch scam book) Texas had some type of textbook board meeting. The Discovery Institute scam artists showed up, but down played their association with the Discovery Institute, because of their wonderful showing in Ohio. One of the Discovery Institute guys lied to the board when they asked him if he was associated with the Discovery Institute. Who was that?

I teach World History and coach a team that participates in an event called Academic Decathlon here in the state of Texas. This year, the main subject is evolution in honor of the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species.

The critical comments from my fellow teachers are unbelievable to me. “Why would you teach this?” and “You know its been proven wrong don’t you?” The teachers don’t even discuss ID, they just bash evolution. These are teachers, some of whom teach science. They have college degrees. As a world history teacher with 18 years of coaching Academic Decathlon, I am shocked at the bitter feelings expressed when I mention our study of evolution. Some of the teachers are members of ultra-conservative religious denominations like 7th Day Adventist, but most are just anti-evolution.

This is a battle that educated people must fight for. I hope we can keep the nuts away from our textbooks. Jackson

As a biology major involved in undergraduate research at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, I was extremely irritated when I heard that Dr. Ralph Seelke had addressed the Texas Board of Education on the subject of teaching alternatives to evolution without the knowledge of the University or the Biology and Earth Sciences Department. I have taken two courses taught by Dr. Seelke during which I was constantly frustrated by his inability to separate his personal religious and moral views from the classroom.

I have also attended several of Dr. Seelke’s presentations, and am baffled by his insistence that his research, which involves one species of bacteria, confirms that there is a fundamental flaw in evolutionary theory. One can read and form one’s own opinion about Dr. Seelke’s research on his website, http://www2.uwsuper.edu/rseelke/index.htm. The site also gives a fairly clear picture of his religious views. This is a personal website which is not affiliated with the university; however, students in Dr. Seelke’s classes, two of which are required for all biology majors, must routinely visit the site to obtain study guides, lecture notes, and other course materials.

I feel that Dr. Seelke’s continual presence on the intelligent design scene and the perceived association of his views with the University of Wisconsin-Superior are harming the reputation of our university and undermining the credibility of other scientific research being done at the university. Dr. Seelke was not officially representing the university during this venture, and his evolution research and personal religious views are not characteristically representative of an otherwise outstanding and valuable undergraduate research department.

I am grateful to you for this great content.

Thank you so much!! awesome article!!

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