Look who’s determining science standards in Texas

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Wes Elsberry has a good summary post with links on the hearings that the Texas State Board of Education held yesterday on the crypto-creationist “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” language in some drafts of the new standards. The overwhelming public testimony was in favor of teaching the best science available, i.e. evolution as a well-confirmed, central theory of modern biology, without the presence of crank creationist propaganda. But many members of the board are fundamentalist creationists and just can’t bear the thought that Texas science classes should teach standard science. Instead they repeatedly launched into traditional, hackneyed, long-refuted, ignorant creationist/ID talking points. A short list from Wes (I can confirm that I heard all of these while listening to the live audio):

Piltdown man (Ken Mercer)

Haeckel’s embryos (Ken Mercer)

Macroevolution not observed (Ken Mercer)

Argument from authority (Terri Leo)

Evolution is only a theory (various)

“Academic freedom” (Ken Mercer)

Evolution is not a fact (witness)

Eminent scientists are rejecting evolution (Cynthia Dunbar) [this was largely waving around the Discovery Institute “Dissent from Darwin” list…no discussion of the statement’s incredible vagueness, the dubious expertise/scientific status/noncreationist status of many on the list, or of how many Steves were on it – Nick]

When does a theory become a law? (Don McLeroy)

Evolution critics are censored (Ken Mercer)

Polystrate fossils/Lompoc whale (Gail Lowe)

…so those are the folks determining science education in the second biggest population state in the country. What century is it again?

72 Comments

I listened to the audio live here, I don’t know if they archive it: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/mtg[…]current.html

One other claim I remember was that not including the weaknesses language is equivalent to Nazi book burning etc. Obviously unaware of Godwin’s Law. This may have been from a member of the public and not the board, can’t remember for sure.

According to this source it was one Paul Kramer, not a member of the board:

One of the few voices from the other side came from Paul Kramer, a Carrollton engineer, who said that more than 700 eminent scientists welcome the teaching of pros and cons about evolution. Not allowing debate over untested and unproven theories “seems out of place in a free society” and is reminiscent of book-burning in Nazi Germany, he said.

After I heard Terri Leo indulge in her argument from authority I emailed her to ask, if she really believes in such a fallacy, why is she not a catholic.

No reply from her yet.

”…Paul Kramer, a Carrollton engineer

I’m shocked…

Another chestnut is Borel’s law. Not sure which twinkie brought it up.

Good grief.

Stuart Weinstein said:

Another chestnut is Borel’s law. Not sure which twinkie brought it up.

Good grief.

That was about 1:50 into part “D” by the way.

I might suggest the TBE also include discussions of the Cardiff Giant as evidence of Biblical “giants” that once populated the earth, i.e., how fundamentalists believed in nonsense and were suckered.

Has anyone asked the BOE (or any creationist) what the strengths of Evolution include? If they cannot answer this simple question, then they, in my slightly logical extension way of thinking, suffer from precisely what they are trying to promogulate. That is; non-critical thinking. And the best way to treat this illness is to develop science standards that reflect the science of the times.

Somebody on the board should play along with this and vehemently demand that they also include Flat Earth, Geocentrism, and alternatives to Germ Theory of Disease.

Wheels:

To this list of yours:

Wheels said:

Somebody on the board should play along with this and vehemently demand that they also include Flat Earth, Geocentrism, and alternatives to Germ Theory of Disease.

I would also endorse evey important Native American creation myth, Hindu creation mythology, Greek and Roman creation mythology, and, of course, Klingon Cosmology too.

John

I would also endorse evey important Native American creation myth, Hindu creation mythology, Greek and Roman creation mythology, and, of course, Klingon Cosmology too.

John

Wasn’t that the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster being introduced at the time of the hearings in Kansas?

Whatever happens in this debacle in Texas, it is going to be up to the parents to let schoolboards know that they will wholeheartedly support all teachers who teach science the way it should be taught. The parents need to back up the teachers who will stand up and say “You hired me to teach science, and that is what I am going to teach.”

The Lompoc Whale? Seriously?

Wasn’t that the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster being introduced at the time of the hearings in Kansas?

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards). John’s particular argument, and other evolutionist arguments, would have been tested under public cross-examination, in front of the media, if evolutionists had actually shown up and presented them. That possibility is why evolutionists became very fearful and never showed up at the witness box at the 2005 Kansas Science hearings, despite specifically being invited.

FL

That possibility is why evolutionists became very fearful and never showed up at the witness box at the 2005 Kansas Science hearings, despite specifically being invited.

FL

I do believe that you’re actually thinking about the ID “experts” in Dover.

FL said:

John’s particular argument, and other evolutionist arguments, would have been tested under public cross-examination, in front of the media, if evolutionists had actually shown up and presented them. That possibility is why evolutionists became very fearful and never showed up at the witness box at the 2005 Kansas Science hearings, despite specifically being invited.

FL

It is amazing that such a misconception about an event only three years ago can arise in an age when we have the Internet at our fingertips to verify our facts. What chance is there for the veracity of three thousand year old stories written centuries after the reported events.

Might I suggest you watch the NOVA program on the Dover Trial to correct your misconceptions. It is worth an hour or two of anybody’s time. If nothing else it shows that America is capable of producing good television.

FL said:

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards).

You are falling prey to the I-don’t-know-something-therefore-no-one-odes fallacy again. The FSM was satirically introduced to show the foolishness of allowing people to make shit up and pretend its science simply because it can’t be refuted, a la, ID. That’s the appropriate response when someone takes a scam like ID and pretends it is a critical-thinking science standard.

FL said:

Wasn’t that the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster being introduced at the time of the hearings in Kansas?

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards).

I thought it was a demonstration AGAINST the use of ridicule rather than facts. Specifically to show the hypocritical favoritism of teaching certain sectarian Abramic religious beliefs and not those of, say, the Inca. If a critic of Pastafarianism decried the equal treatment of this “religion” purely on the basis that it’s new and possibly satirical, that’s not a valid argument against teaching the Noodly Appendage “Theory.”

Bobby Henderson, original open letter to the Kansas state board of education:

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

Maybe the willfully ignorant don’t understand the point of the FSM. The rest of us get it.

FL said:

Wasn’t that the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster being introduced at the time of the hearings in Kansas?

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards). John’s particular argument, and other evolutionist arguments, would have been tested under public cross-examination, in front of the media, if evolutionists had actually shown up and presented them. That possibility is why evolutionists became very fearful and never showed up at the witness box at the 2005 Kansas Science hearings, despite specifically being invited.

FL

Boo hoo.

FL still hasn’t figured out that the courts aren’t where scientists are deposed; that happens in the professional literature and at conferences. This is where science is presented and cross-examined. Science is done in labs, classroom and computer centers across the country, not in a kangaroo court. Scientists were right not to participate in the Kansas Dog and Poney show. The creationists showed up and provided the rest of us with a lot of *material*. Its not my fault creationists say the most outrageous things.

Failing to learn from their debacle, the did a reprise at Dover.

Use of the FSM is entirely appropriate, and people like you should be shown up for the fools they are. If you clowns can’t deal with the FSM, you shouldn’t be dealing with anything that actually affects the lives of people.

One name that popped up in Texas, was that of Werner Arber. Apparently a geneticist from what I found on Google. One of the board members touted his work as evidence against evolution.

Any geneticist here have an idea as to what that board memebr might have been on about?

Stuart Weinstein said:

One name that popped up in Texas, was that of Werner Arber. Apparently a geneticist from what I found on Google. One of the board members touted his work as evidence against evolution.

Any geneticist here have an idea as to what that board memebr might have been on about?

She probably has no idea what she’s on about. I think he might be one of the signers of the Discovery Institute’s “Scientists Dissent List”. My guess is that she’s throwing a name around to look all fancy and smart, but has no clue what she means.

She probably picked it up (I’m guessing) from a Creationist web page like this: www.icr.org/article/4095/

Her’s a good thread on richarddawkins.net about how Creationists have hijacked the name of Werner Arber: http://richarddawkins.net/forum/vie[…]mp;p=1401080

I see that some of you want to deny the following statement:

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards).

Honestly, at this point only “willful ignorance” would deny that the FSM is straightforward ridicule, a very clear and public ridicule tactic.

Ahhhh, here’s somebody you’ll listen to. Read on:

And they (the Polk County “creationists”) got ridiculed (emphasis Myers) on a local and national level——bloggers and magazines mocked them, they got mail from proponents of the flying spaghetti monster, their quaintly ridiculous religious views got publicized on the front page of local newspapers.

PZ Myers, Pharyngula, Dec. 22, 2007

You see the point now don’t you? Myers SPECIFICALLY cites the FSM gig as an example of national-level ridicule.

So much for posters trying to claim that the FSM thing is some sort of demonstration “against” ridicule. So much for trying to claim “the rest of the get the point.” We ALL get the point: FSM is about ridicule.

Next example: Over at the “Educated Guesswork” weblog, EKRon (who thinks ID is “laughable” in his opinion), sympathetically says “I understand the urge to make fun of ID” but clearly warns you:

.….Making fun of them probably isn’t the way to change their minds. Worse yet, the FSMers aren’t just saying that the FSM is an equally good explanation as Genesis, they’ve also made up a new parody religion based on it, complete with Jesus-fish parody logos. Unsurprisingly, most people who believe in ID are Christians. I’m skeptical that openly mocking their religious beliefs is the best way to convince them of one’s point of view.

http://www.educatedguesswork.org/20[…]lying_s.html

So there you have it. Two anti-ID writers, including one of PT’s own main contributors, who clearly DO understand that FSM is all about ridicule..

Nahhhh–better make it three sources. Repetition is essential to learning, they say.

This weekend in San Diego, some of the world’s leading religious scholars will be discussing the satirical ‘deity” in pop culture. The almighty pasta critter was invented to ridicule the ‘intelligent design’ lobby in schools, the rationale being that there is no more scientific basis for intelligent design than there is for the idea an omniscient creature made of pasta created the universe.

Libby Purves, Times Online columnist, Nov. 18, 2007

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So now you see the real deal. Three clear examples. These three examples represent HONEST evolutionists, viz., evolutionists who honestly own up to their ridicule tactics (such as FSM), and don’t try to play dumb about it.

FL :)

Maybe the willfully ignorant don’t understand the point of the FSM. The rest of us get it.

Oh, I dunno - seems likely that anybody who believes is FSM is probably a meatball anyway.

Henry

But I didn’t really want to talk at length about the FSM. I wanted to talk about this:

John’s particular argument, and other evolutionist arguments, would have been tested under public cross-examination, in front of the media, if evolutionists had actually shown up and presented them (at the 2005 Kansas Science Standards hearings).

There is no refutation against that point; it’s simply self-evidently true under the 2005 hearing format. John’s particular argument would have been handled according to that format, and just as the non-Darwinist scientists willingly submitted their positions to public cross-examination by an evolutionist attorney, the Darwinist scientists and their positions would have likewise had to submit to public cross-examination by the non-evolutionist attorney.

That’s the reason evolutionists took a powder when invited.

FL

FL said:

I see that some of you want to deny the following statement:

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards).

Honestly, at this point only “willful ignorance” would deny that the FSM is straightforward ridicule, a very clear and public ridicule tactic.

It’s more than ridicule. There is certainly seems to be the element of satire, but FSM’s method is ridicule used to demonstrate the point of religious favoritism at work among the people and potentially within the government. According to our constitution, this nation can’t participate in religious favoritism within or by the workings of its government institutions, such as public schools. That would be institutionalized religious bigotry. Any thinking person, especially those of religious faith, should be wary of any kind of institutionalized religious bigotry.

Besides, who are you to say that some of the practitioners of Pastafarianism don’t honestly believe it? Are you going to deny that any person could have been touched by His Noodly Appendage?

Ahhhh, here’s somebody you’ll listen to. Read on:

And they (the Polk County “creationists”) got ridiculed (emphasis Myers) on a local and national level——bloggers and magazines mocked them, they got mail from proponents of the flying spaghetti monster, their quaintly ridiculous religious views got publicized on the front page of local newspapers.

PZ Myers, Pharyngula, Dec. 22, 2007

And?

You see the point now don’t you? Myers SPECIFICALLY cites the FSM gig as an example of national-level ridicule.

Just because many of them engaged in ridicule of a ridiculous instance doesn’t mean that’s all they’re around for. Just like the science journal Nature doesn’t exist solely to endorse Barack Obama. :)

So much for posters trying to claim that the FSM thing is some sort of demonstration “against” ridicule. So much for trying to claim “the rest of the get the point.” We ALL get the point: FSM is about ridicule.

You can satirize ridicule to make the case against ridicule of religious groups’s religious bigotries and anti-science positions. It’s a delicious tactic, actually. Especially with a little marinara.

Let’s say there was a certain sect who ridiculed scientists for holding that the world was round, which this sect believed contradicts their received revelations. Day in and day out, science is subjected to the cajoling and libel of this sect, which demands equal time for its table-top world “theory” in the public curriculum! It would be an entirely valid response to satirize this group’s behavior by organizing a counter-sect with parody. This would be meant to portray the -real- issue at the heart of the first sect’s claims and make them clearly visible without the context of the sect’s particular beliefs. The flat-Earthers might be parodied by having a new “sect” declare that the sky is made of water, for example, and protest that scientists have this air-sky issue all wrong. The point, that the first sect’s claims are laughable and contrary to observable facts, are carried across independent of the specific content of those claims.
This is more than mere “ridicule.”

Next example: Over at the “Educated Guesswork” weblog, EKRon (who thinks ID is “laughable” in his opinion), sympathetically says “I understand the urge to make fun of ID” but clearly warns you:

.….Making fun of them probably isn’t the way to change their minds. Worse yet, the FSMers aren’t just saying that the FSM is an equally good explanation as Genesis, they’ve also made up a new parody religion based on it, complete with Jesus-fish parody logos. Unsurprisingly, most people who believe in ID are Christians. I’m skeptical that openly mocking their religious beliefs is the best way to convince them of one’s point of view.

http://www.educatedguesswork.org/20[…]lying_s.html

I’ve seen, prior to the FSM bumper logos, Jesusfish-eating-Darwinfish logos on some cars. Also the inverse. The logo response might be more specific than it’s given credit for here. It taps into the known trend for expressions of science-vs-religion beliefs to be played out in relief on automobiles across America.

Nahhhh–better make it three sources. Repetition is essential to learning, they say.

This weekend in San Diego, some of the world’s leading religious scholars will be discussing the satirical ‘deity” in pop culture. The almighty pasta critter was invented to ridicule the ‘intelligent design’ lobby in schools, the rationale being that there is no more scientific basis for intelligent design than there is for the idea an omniscient creature made of pasta created the universe.

Libby Purves, Times Online columnist, Nov. 18, 2007

It’s a fair cop, but the presented description of the ID lobby is also a fair cop. Ridicule alone doesn’t get this point across.

Fortunately “evolutionists” (whatever that means) have more arguments at their disposal than ridicule. Like science and reason.

FL said:

But I didn’t really want to talk at length about the FSM. I wanted to talk about this:

John’s particular argument, and other evolutionist arguments, would have been tested under public cross-examination, in front of the media, if evolutionists had actually shown up and presented them (at the 2005 Kansas Science Standards hearings).

There is no refutation against that point; it’s simply self-evidently true under the 2005 hearing format. John’s particular argument would have been handled according to that format, and just as the non-Darwinist scientists willingly submitted their positions to public cross-examination by an evolutionist attorney, the Darwinist scientists and their positions would have likewise had to submit to public cross-examination by the non-evolutionist attorney.

That’s the reason evolutionists took a powder when invited.

FL

The idea that scientists refused to be subjected to a hostile court ideologically biased against them in the first place is in no way a slight against the science of evolution. You haven’t addressed that point. In contrast, ID had its day for a say in a fair, unbiased court. Half its expert witnesses got stage fright, the remainder demonstrated quite clearly the lethal anti-science basis for ID.

FL Wrote:

John’s particular argument would have been handled according to that format, and just as the non-Darwinist scientists willingly submitted their positions to public cross-examination by an evolutionist attorney, the Darwinist scientists and their positions would have likewise had to submit to public cross-examination by the non-evolutionist attorney.

This character still hasn’t learned that science doesn’t take place in kangaroo courts with choreographed debates in front of a stacked set of judges. And his own ignorance and tactics suggest that learning about reality has no place on his agenda.

Talk about willful ignorance. In all the time over the last few years that FL has popped in to Panda’s Thumb to deposit his snarky comments, he could have earned a legitimate university degree in a solid scientific area and be well on his way through graduate work. Does he feel that this would set a bad example to the young rubes he leads around by their fears and guilt?

It takes far more effort to keep getting the science egregiously wrong year after year than it does to sit down and learn the concepts properly. Most people can get a set scientific concepts right within a few weeks or months of study from good sources. The fact that ID/Creationists cannot do this speaks volumes either about their intelligence or about their stubborn, self-imposed ignorance.

John Kwok:

I would also endorse evey important Native American creation myth, Hindu creation mythology, Greek and Roman creation mythology, and, of course, Klingon Cosmology too.

FL quoted Mike:

Wasn’t that the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster being introduced at the time of the hearings in Kansas?

Actually, nobody knows what the point of the FSM was, (other than using ridicule instead of facts as a media tactic against critical-thinking science standards).

Introducing non-science as if it were science is about as un-critical in thought or anything else as one can get. FL flails a bit to avoid the obvious relation, that of course the FSM’s point was that any un-evidenced belief system is just as out of place in the science classroom.

“Ridicule” is a red herring in this context. Whether the point is made via ridicule (and paid attention to) or via ordinary dialogue (and completely ignored) doesn’t change the fact that the point itself was discernible.

The Kansas Kangaroo Kourt wasn’t an actual legal proceeding, as even the Kansas officials were at pains to note when it was revealed that their “legal representative”, John Calvert, wasn’t even a member of the bar there, nor had he been given the privileges to practice law in Kansas as a visiting attorney.

And FL somehow is also ignorant of the copious amount of cross-examination of witnesses for the pro-science side by antievolution-advocating attorneys in the Kitzmiller v. DASD case, despite the entire transcript being readily available. Three out of five Discovery Institute Fellows, though, bailed out of being deposed or testifying (John Angus Campbell, William A. Dembski, and Stephen C. Meyer). That was an actual legal proceeding, with real licensed attorneys doing the work on both sides and an actual judge presiding over the whole thing, not an anti-science fanatic.

The cross-examination there even touched upon comparative religion instruction. I wonder why FL acts as if this wasn’t a part of the record?

Q. That’s because you believe intelligent design is not science, correct?

A. Creationism for me and for probably everybody in this room is a very personal thing. If you teach it in a comparative religion class, you talk about all religions, not just Christianity, not just Buddhism, not just any particular religion. You look at them, you compare them, you see how they are alike and how they are different. I have no objection to that. I just am telling you it is not a science. You’re comparing apples and oranges, and there’s no place in one for the other. It’s like teaching science from the pulpit. There’s no place for science from the pulpit.

Q. I take it from your answer it’s your understanding that intelligent design theory is creationism, correct?

A. Yes.

MR. GILLEN: No further questions, Your Honor.

Bill Buckingham was explicit in rejecting that sort of consideration, and that appears in the trial transcripts:

Q. And then the final statement in here says, “He said, ‘There needn’t be consideration of the beliefs of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or other faiths and views,’” and then quoting you directly, “‘This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution,’ he said. ‘This country was found on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such.’” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. You said that, didn’t you?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. Well –

A. I didn’t say it then. I made a statement similar to that when we having a discussion about taking “under God” out of the Pledge, and I said it to Joe Maldonado after the meeting because he asked me if I didn’t think that Hindus and Muslims would be offended by having “under God” in there. I said I didn’t think they would, because it doesn’t refer to a specific god. It refers to God. And I did make this statement that this country was founded on Christianity, we have the Pilgrims and so forth, and the Federalist Papers, the Preamble to the Constitution says we’re all created, you know, it’s all through our history, and that’s what I was getting it.

Q. So the fact is you definitely said a statement or something very similar to what’s reported in this article, correct?

A. Not at this time. It was at the debate about taking “under God” out of the Pledge, to pass the resolution to keep it in.

Q. Right, but you actually said – it was at a different time, but you said something very similar to what’s reported in this paper, isn’t that correct?

A. I said something close to that, and I said to it a reporter after the meeting.

Carol Brown brought it up in her testimony before the court:

Q. Do you remember anything said by board members at this second meeting in June relating to the subject of the biology book, evolution, creationism.

A. There was disagreement between my husband and Mr. Buckingham. We were concerned about the legality. When I say we, my husband and I had discussed this at home. We were concerned that we could get into trouble if we brought in the idea of creationism and did not give equal time if you will, sir, to all faiths, to all beliefs in the origins of life. It was one of the first times that I proposed offering an elective course called comparative world religions on the high school level so that our students could be introduced to the major world faiths and the way in which they’re the same and the way in which they differ, in particular the fact that every major world religion has at its core what we Christians call the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The words may vary, but the intent is the same.

The defense legal team didn’t seem to be enthusiastic about spending their time in cross-examination going after that particular argument, at least not that I’m able to track down this evening. But it was definitely on the record there. So why is FL telling people that how this argument fares in a legal setting is speculative? We have the Kitzmiller record saying that it has been considered at the district court level.

I would also endorse evey important Native American creation myth, Hindu creation mythology, Greek and Roman creation mythology, and, of course, Klingon Cosmology too. - – John Kwok

So let’s cut to the chase: The question is NOT how John Kwok’s argument would have fared vis-a-vis the Dover School Board’s flawed and overturned policy, but how it would have fared in Topeka as a justifiable rationale for opposing the proposed 2005 Kansas Science Standards.

The answer to that question could have and would have been clarified via (for example) John Kwok or another evolutionist showing up for the 2005 Science Standards hearings, presenting that argument vis-a-vis the proposed changes to the Kansas Science standards (NOT vis-a-vis the Dover school board’s policy), and then that evolutionist remaining in the witness box to be publicly cross-examined about his argument, by the opposing attorney. But, you guys got cold feet and ducked out.

I have never claimed that the 2005 Kansas State Board of Education was a “legal proceeding” such as the Dover court trial was, and honestly, that excuse simply doesn’t wash. Remember, the evolutionist attorney Irigonegaray happily cross-examined non-Darwinist scientists at the 2005 Science Standard hearings despite the hearing not being a “legal proceeding” or legal court trial. Y’all didn’t complain.

Down Texas way, THEY conducted a public Science Standards Hearing, and they are doing it for the same reason as what Kansas Board of Education did by inviting scientists from both sides in 2005: to hear public testimony from BOTH supporters and opponents of proposed changes to the standards in order for the State Board to make the best and most informed decision possible.

Curiosity Note: the evolutionists are seemingly NOT referring to the Texas Science public hearing as a “Kangaroo Court.” Nor did evolutionist scientists run and hide from testifying like they did in Kansas 2005. I guess those PR tactics aren’t carrying water like they used to, hmm??

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Bottom Line: Those of you who have a copy of the 2005 Kansas science standards, and a transcript of the 2005 Kansas Science Standards Hearings, (you DO have ‘em, don’t you???) ALREADY have a very clear idea how John Kwok’s specific argument would fare in light of that body of information:

Blown Out Of The Water in Two Seconds Flat. That’s it.

That’s why you’d rather talk about Dover instead. Because the honest truth is that IF you talk about John Kwok’s argument specifically vis-a-vis either the 2005 Kansas Science Standards or even vis-a-vis the currently proposed revisions to the Texas Science Standards, Kwok’s argument falls flat. Doesn’t even apply. To either gig. It’s dead!

FL :)

And here’s the Time Magazine thing FL was on about:

But the strategy of disengagement may be backfiring on those who care about teaching evolution. When scientists and science teachers boycotted the discussion of biology standards at a Kansas school-board meeting last May, they left the floor wide open to critics of evolution, who won the day. “Are they wilting young maids that can’t stand the heat of a hearing?” asks Washington attorney Edward Sisson, who was a co-counsel for the 23 academics who testified on the anti-Darwin side.

Note the conditional phrasing. Note the date: August, 2005. Events have shown that the boycott was, in fact, successful. The voters changed the board’s composition, and the standards were restored to the pro-science version. Claudia Wallis doesn’t note that who would have claimed to have “won the day” was never an issue, not with Calvert and DI-affiliated flack Sisson providing the spin on the results. The actual outcome of letting IDC advocates flap their jaws, as usual, proved that they repeated ad nauseum the same tired old religious antievolution arguments that have been staples of the movement for decades or centuries, just as the current post demonstrates happened again at the Texas hearings. Again, FL’s casual lobbing of a reference into the conversation fizzles on actual contemplation of its content.

Again, FL’s casual lobbing of a reference into the conversation fizzles on actual contemplation of its content.

The expression “blew up in his face” also comes to mind.

Re: Strengths and Weaknesses language in standards.

FL,

Stepping back a moment, I would like to think there is some common ground to be found here. So I’ll propose a solution to the S&W problem and I’d like to know what you, FL think of it. Its this: replace the generic “Strengths and Weaknesses” phrase in the standards with statements that identify the specific strengths and specific weaknesses you actually want taught. If there is some weakness you think is worth teaching to kids in H.S. biology, list it in the TEKS.

Does that sound like a reasonable solution to you? I’d go for that for two reasons. First, evolution only gets 5-10 class periods of instruction (maybe 3 weeks at most), so coming up with a short list of important concepts to mention seems practically feasible. While I’m sure there are many additional things teachers can mention, there are probably some you don’t want any teacher to miss, so those can be listed. Second, it allows the religious weaknesses and misconceptions to be identified and separated out from the good science, so no one on either side of the debate has to worry about religion ‘sneaking in’ to the classroom. And if there is disagreement that can’t be resolved any way but legally, this solution also has the advantage of allowing courts to discuss individual, specific weaknesses without throwing any babies out with the bathwater.

Do you agree with that solution? If not, why not?

FL said: Here’s what I’m looking for: If the “strengths and weaknesses” language survives and becomes part of the Texas Science Standards, then that’s going to make TWO states (the other being Louisiana) where critical-thinking approaches ARE legally okay (and most of all, critical-thinking science teachers will be legally protected) wrt teaching about evolution in public schools.

Most state standards mention critical thinking as a skill students must learn. So you are just plain wrong to imply that critical thinking approaches are not ‘legally okay’ if they don’t mention strengths and weaknesses of evolution specifically. For instance, just browsing the Sept 15 draft Texas standards (the ones you and Meyer object to) I didn’t have to go past page 4 to find this:

(3) Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze and evaluate scientific explanations, using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing…

Wow - sounds like critical thinking applied to theories like evolution to me. It took me about a minute to find that, so I’m surprised you were under the impression that such language did not already exist or was not legally okay.

FL. When I present the Origin of Life to my students (and I have been discouraged from doing that) I point out that this is a perfect example of the difference between a theory and a hypothesis. Evolution being coherent and well supported is a theory that has withstood many attacks and tests. Origin of Life on the other hand is not a theory since the various hypotheses do not mesh well yet. Key word here is YET. Origin of Life is a baby science compared to evolution. As far as weaknesses of evolution I like to point out that many of the so called missing fossils have been found and fit right in with the previously presented hypotheses. I have also pointed out past weaknesses that have been “fixed” and present weaknesses that are being investigated as we blog. FL read Prothero’s “Evolution, What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” Probably the best single explanation of the fossil record and evolution I’ve ever read. You’ll see (that is if you want to) that many of the so called weaknesses, aren’t any more. My kids learn the process of science and we don’t waste time on pseudo scientific claims of “weaknesses”. We do spend time on the as yet unanswered questions and how they are or could be answered.

eric Wrote:

… Its this: replace the generic “Strengths and Weaknesses” phrase in the standards with statements that identify the specific strengths and specific weaknesses you actually want taught. If there is some weakness you think is worth teaching to kids in H.S. biology, list it in the TEKS.

If I understand what you are getting at, eric, this would require the ID/Creationists to start being explicit on the boards and committees that are setting up the standards. Then, at that point, provided there are knowledgeable scientists on the committee these could be filtered out.

However, recall that on the first go-around with the creationists on the Kansas State Board of Education, a committee of scientists actually did write and review the standards. Then the one of the creationists on the State Board pulled in a veterinarian, went into secret meetings and rewrote them. Not only did they rewrite them, by leaving the names of the members of the standards committee on the butchered document, they left the impression that the scientific committee actually approved them. They were then embarrassed when the scientists publicly withdrew the approval and refused to permit the usage of their language in supporting the doctored standards.

Second, it allows the religious weaknesses and misconceptions to be identified and separated out from the good science, so no one on either side of the debate has to worry about religion ‘sneaking in’ to the classroom. And if there is disagreement that can’t be resolved any way but legally, this solution also has the advantage of allowing courts to discuss individual, specific weaknesses without throwing any babies out with the bathwater.

Watch closely FL’s behavior on this and other threads here on Panda’s thumb and then imagine this kind of activity taking place in the biology classroom.

The part of your comment I emphasized is the loophole they want. By burying the discussion in biology in a blizzard of crap, the ID/Creationists might get a court battle going, but this is exactly one of the strategies they use to crowd out evolution and bankrupt school districts. By the time it all gets sorted out, another several years of delay has been introduced in getting the proper scientific concepts integrated into the curriculum; mission accomplished. Then another round of political delays and harassment begins.

Mike,

You’re right that my proposal has no means for stopping the sort of legal manipulation that already occurs. But I’m not sure how that makes my proposal worse. Isn’t that at worst a push?

If I understand what you are getting at, eric, this would require the ID/Creationists to start being explicit on the boards and committees that are setting up the standards.

That is mostly what I’m getting at. If an objector (to mainstream science) knows of some critical weakness we aren’t teaching, tell us what it is. This is public education - if you the elected SBOE are proposing to teach my kid something different from what they’re currently being taught, I’m entirely justified as a taxpayer in asking what that ‘something’ is. “Weaknesses” is a black box; I want it opened. Before the SBOE approves it.

This doesn’t mean every objection in the box is going to get a hearing by the SBOE (your ‘blizzard of crap’ concern). Class time is limited. Just as mainstream science educators have an obligation to identify what concepts they want taught in the limited class time available, so too the people who see “weaknesses” in mainstream science have an obligation to identify and prioritize which “weaknesses” they want taught in that class time. Its not the board’s job to identify which of Meyer’s objections he thinks are most important, it’s Myer’s job. If ‘weakness proponents’ shirk this obligation and refuse to make a list of specific items, they should be ignored.

eric Wrote:

Its not the board’s job to identify which of Meyer’s objections he thinks are most important, it’s Myer’s job.

This is one of the reasons that forums such as Panda’s Thumb are important. I would hope more teachers and scientists can get together on and support these forums. Some of the ID/Creationist trolls like FL even put a real face on what a classroom teacher is up against when politically active ID/Creationists start meddling.

Frank J said:

FL Wrote:

How about discussing “S&W” for simply ONE class session or two when your biology class arrives at the Origin Of Life chapter of the biology textbook, Mary?

I for one am all for it, as long as the teacher is required to differentiate between the fact of OOL (it had to occur at least once by definition) and a theory, one that any evolutionary biologist will freely admit does not yet exist. And as long as the teacher makes it clear that OOL and evolution are two different things, and that there is no credible evidence that many different species or even phyla originated independently from nonliving matter. IOW as long as the teacher is somehow prohibited from misrepresenting OOL any of the ways that anti-evolutionists routinely do.

One of my problems with S&W is that the standards don’t specify what the strengths and weaknesses are. Which means students can offer up all sorts of creationist nonsense as to what the “weaknesses” are. The fact of the matter is it is easy to get sidetracked into all sorts of asides dealing with weaknesses and basically what precious little time there is for laying the foundations of TOE in the classroom gets gobbled up by discussions of alleged weaknesses, in the name of “academic freedom” no less.

Its interesting the BOE members complained that students were being sold short; after all we should understand that they are responsible and knowledgeable enough to discuss the S&Ws in a rigorous manner. Course when it comes to sex education.. no way.

I’d like to see more discussion on what actually constitutes “weakness” and “strength” with respect to scientific theory.

Suppose you have two theories that explain the same sets of data. One theory makes more testable predictions than the other. You could describe the former as a stronger theory. But does that make the latter “weak” ?

Suppose you have two theories that explain the same sets of data. One theory makes more testable predictions than the other. You could describe the former as a stronger theory. But does that make the latter “weak” ?

I don’t know about strong vs. weak, but that situation would be likely to have scientists scrambling to refute one of them before somebody else beats them to it.

(Of course, the “strong vs. weak” thing really only applies when there actually are two theories that actually explain something, without contradicting something else along the way.)

Henry

eric said:

If I understand what you are getting at, eric, this would require the ID/Creationists to start being explicit on the boards and committees that are setting up the standards.

That is mostly what I’m getting at. If an objector (to mainstream science) knows of some critical weakness we aren’t teaching, tell us what it is. This is public education - if you the elected SBOE are proposing to teach my kid something different from what they’re currently being taught, I’m entirely justified as a taxpayer in asking what that ‘something’ is. “Weaknesses” is a black box; I want it opened. Before the SBOE approves it.

In Kansas, those “weaknesses” were spelled out in the now-dead 2005 state science standards:

* The irreducible complexity of biologic systems * The absence of meaningful transitional forms in the fossil record * The fact that mutations are harmful * The origin of both the molecular structure and of the information itself contained in the DNA molecule is completely unexplained by worshippers of Charles Darwin. * Not all ‘common ancestor’ trees of life diagrams match each other as they should if they are true. Those based on how things look—their morphology, such as humans and apes having arms, legs, etc—do not match trees of life based on molecular clues, amino acid sequences or even DNA. * The difference between variation within a species (like hair color, eye color, or finch beak size, sometimes erroneously called “micro-evolution”), and the generation of new kinds of plants or animals or new features, more properly called “macro-evolution”, (which has not been observed).

note - these aren’t the Kansas-proposed weaknesses verbatim, but a summary of them from group with the Orwellian moniker “Texas for Better Science Education”

Yep, just those old wrinkly creationist arguments tarted up, dressed in low-ridin’ jeans and a low-cut top with hair teased out to there.

There are audio files of the whole thing (in seven parts) posted at

http://curricublog.org/2008/11/26/t[…]n-2008nov19/

with linked wiki pages for building up an annotated review of the proceedings.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on November 21, 2008 12:52 AM.

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