Over 800 scientists Stand against Language critical of Evolution

| 260 Comments

At the Christian Today website we learn how the Creationist in Texas have been defeated, although they did manage to get some amendments approved which undoubtably will be abused by some.

The scientists, apparently familiar with the Discovery Institute’s desperate attempts after the Dover failure, observed that

Over 800 scientists in Texas have signed a statement to “encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to ‘strengths and weaknesses’” of evolution - references, they say, that politicians “have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses.”

Our friends at the NCSE reports

Unfortunately, the Board took a sizable step backward, says Dr. Scott. Last-minute amendments to the Earth and Space Science standards and the Biology standards could allow creationists to smuggle their views back into the classroom.

The New York Times reports how the amendments make no sense.

The amendment “makes no sense to me,” said David M. Hillis, a prominent professor of biology at the University of Texas, adding, “It’s a clear indication that the chairman of the state school board doesn’t understand the science.”

Should we thus be surprised to find out that the Discover Institute is touting these last minute amendments?

Ignorance knows no bounds.

Check out who signed Present count:

588 Texas Science Faculty
777 Other Texas Scientists

Scientists for a Responsible Curriculum in Texas Public Schools

A strong science curriculum is an essential part of a 21st-century education and should be based on established peer-reviewed empirical research. In 2008-09 the State Board of Education is revising the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards for the sciences.

Scientifically sound curriculum standards must:

  • acknowledge that instruction on evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences;
  • make clear that evolution is an easily observable phenomenon that has been documented beyond any reasonable doubt;
  • be based on the latest, peer-reviewed scholarship;
  • encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to “strengths and weaknesses,” which politicians have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses; and
  • recognize that all students are best served when matters of faith are left to families and houses of worship.

We, therefore, call on the Texas State Board of Education to approve science curriculum standards that prepare Texas students to succeed in the 21st century.

260 Comments

From the article:

“‘Evolution is not fact. Evolution is a theory and, as such, cannot be proven,’ Board Vice Chairman David Bradley told The Houston Chronicle earlier this summer. ‘Students need to be able to jump to their own conclusions.’”

No. Comment.

it’s kind of terrifying to see the creationists discussing gradualism as something students need to question, and completely conflate the sort of “gradual” a breeder would see over successive generations with the sort of “gradual” a paleontologist might see over geological time

maybe the creationists have a sort-of point … it seems some extremely basic points not being communicated to creationist school children come back to bite us in the ass

Why does the theory(sic) of evolution have to be protected, like the national churches used to protect their dogmata from debate? (In the UK not just the RCs but the Free Churches were banned from the Anglican universities.)

Just answer the simple questions. Like why there are 6,7 billion humans alive today & no evolution. If you have an answer, just tell the children.

snaxalotl said: maybe the creationists have a sort-of point … it seems some extremely basic points not being communicated to creationist school children come back to bite us in the ass

I would like to blame textbooks for this. Modern textbooks are extremely boring, and only state the conclusions of research and never state how scientists got there. I’m about halfway through reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It actually goes through most major scientific theories and states the history of them and how people came to these conclusions. Its spectacular, and this sort of thing should be brought into the classroom.

If most people knew just these basics of scientific inquiry, they would know that there’s no point in questioning Uniformitarianism because if there is no consistency whatsoever in the past, there can be no determining anything about the future. Not only that, but there would be no way to tell the date of an event in the strata if there were no uniformity at all in the past. (insert Karl Popper here?)

What I want to say is we need to get back the the basics of science to really renew interest in it. Hopefully the backlash these creationist receive will help pave the way for a renewal in the way science is taught - It has to. Or science may not survive another generation in America…

novparl said:

Why does the theory(sic) of evolution have to be protected, like the national churches used to protect their dogmata from debate? (In the UK not just the RCs but the Free Churches were banned from the Anglican universities.)

Just answer the simple questions. Like why there are 6,7 billion humans alive today & no evolution. If you have an answer, just tell the children.

Oh, you mean like fairly large variation in our dna across all people? Or maybe you were talking about how Europeans developed the ability to digest milk well into adult hood, while other groups of humans haven’t. (couldn’t find the link for you, but lactose intolerant people are pretty common.)

Or perhaps you’d like to explain why our apparently our 2nd chromosome appears to be a fusion of two chromosomes - which would explain why all great apes have 24, while we only have 23. I could go on, but seriously, I don’t you’d listen anyway.

novparl said:

Why does the theory(sic) of evolution have to be protected, like the national churches used to protect their dogmata from debate? (In the UK not just the RCs but the Free Churches were banned from the Anglican universities.)

Just answer the simple questions. Like why there are 6,7 billion humans alive today & no evolution. If you have an answer, just tell the children.

Evolutionary theory doesn’t need to be “protected” - it simply needs to be defended constantly from the uneducated attacks of persons such as yourself.

What leads you to think that human evolution has stopped?

Bah, having all those html tags in my posts make it impossible to proof-read.

Ah, it was the tags. OK.

Lactose intolerance - is it evolving at the moment? Similarly, the theory about the 2nd chromo must refer to the past. Are our chromosomes evolving? Which ones? Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out. Otherwise there’d be far more human variation. People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

novparl said:

Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out.

I’ve heard creationists claim that if one organism has a mutation, it must die. (The claim is of course incorrect.) But now novparl claims that if one organism has a mutation, all the other organisms of its species must die!

Can anyone tell me where novparl’s misconception comes from?

novparl said:

Ah, it was the tags. OK.

Lactose intolerance - is it evolving at the moment? Similarly, the theory about the 2nd chromo must refer to the past. Are our chromosomes evolving? Which ones? Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out. Otherwise there’d be far more human variation. People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

so I suppose having people of all different colors, shapes and sizes isn’t variation at all then. Wow, you got me.

/rolls eyes

I hope it is explained better elsewhere, but this statement bothers me:

“…encourage valid critical thinking and scientific reasoning by leaving out all references to ‘strengths and weaknesses,’ which politicians have used to introduce supernatural explanations into science courses;…”

Even non-creationists who are suspicious of science will wonder “how does leaving out ‘strengths and weaknesses’ encourage valid critical thinking?”

Somewhere it ought to be emphasized that:

1. The real strengths and weaknesses have been scrutinized by 1000s of scientists for 150 years, each and every one hoping to be the next Darwin (& thus “dethrone” him).

2. The so-called “strengths and weaknesses” promoted by anti-evolution activist groups are nothing but long-refuted misrepresentations “designed” to promote unreasonable doubt of evolution, as well as “supernatural explanations” (which is an oxymoron).

3. Unless the activists demonstrate that they will fully cover the refutations of those “weaknesses” - and every indication from their publications is that they will censor them - they have no place in a science class, especially under the pretense of “critical analysis.”

4. Every student is still free to examine both the real “strengths and weaknesses” and the phony ones on his own time.

Hows about this, novparl: you show me how, logically, small changes cannot add up to large changes over time, and I’ll give you a cookie.

Take your time. I got all night to wait for you to make an ass of yourself. again.

Dan Wrote:

Can anyone tell me where novparl’s misconception comes from?

Under a bridge? :-)

Oh, the sound of silence. You know what that means?

No cookie for you.

Unsuccessful troll is unsuccessful.

I just took a look at the signatures under “other Texas scientists” and it seems to be a really mixed bag. There are people who do not appear to be scientists at all (I immediately noticed one lawyer), and, on the other hand, there seem to be a number of faculty at Texas schools.

JimmyJ said:

Or maybe you were talking about how Europeans developed the ability to digest milk well into adult hood, while other groups of humans haven’t. (couldn’t find the link for you, but lactose intolerant people are pretty common.)

Don’t forget that the Masai people in Ethiopia (who were a cattle-dependent culture) evolved the ability to digest milk into adulthood independently of the Europeans, too.

I could go on, but seriously, I don’t you’d listen anyway.

He never does because he’s a troll.

People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

Novparl is, of course, just babbling but I once met a person with a genetic defect that resulted in him having just two digits on each hand. Each was larger than a normal index finger and they were somewhat opposable. He could manage adequately but clearly found fine motor skills to be more difficult.

Back to topic: I agree with Frank that the part about not teaching ‘strengths and weaknesses’ should have been expanded. Still, it’s a respectable number of signatures in the time available.

Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out. Otherwise there’d be far more human variation. People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

This quote from novparl screams out that its author is ignorant. Perhaps he’s one of those people having 6 fingers, or a tail. He seems to have confused evolution with variation and lacks any concept of development. I suspect he has not thought carefully about how one might recognize evolution at one instant of time, considering evolution is a process that occurs over time and involves populations, not individuals.

It needs protection because some ignorant Christians are trying to undermine the facts of evolution as taught to our children.

Your own ignorance is also duly noted.

novparl said:

Why does the theory(sic) of evolution have to be protected, like the national churches used to protect their dogmata from debate? (In the UK not just the RCs but the Free Churches were banned from the Anglican universities.)

Just answer the simple questions. Like why there are 6,7 billion humans alive today & no evolution. If you have an answer, just tell the children.

*cracks knuckles* What the heck, I’m bored for the moment.

novparl said:

Lactose intolerance - is it evolving at the moment?

As in, is the frequency of lactose tolerance-related genes in the human population changing, even as we speak? Probably.

Similarly, the theory about the 2nd chromo must refer to the past. Are our chromosomes evolving?

Chromosomes don’t evolve. Populations of organisms do.

Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out.

Says who? Seriously. Show me some kind of citation or source for this. That’s not what -I- was taught in biology class.

Otherwise there’d be far more human variation. People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

Um, polydactyly is a well-known inherited trait. In fact, rumor has it that one of Goliath’s tykes had extry digits.
But remember that evolution is not just random mutations: there also has to be some kind of selection going on under Darwin’s scheme, and at the very least the trait should be less deleterious than it is useful, or else it should be neutral, in order to be preserved.
And I suppose humans aren’t already various enough for you? Different genetic predispositions to height, musculature, facial features, skin tone, hair type, eye color, whether or not they can consume dairy into adulthood, resistance to different diseases… are you saying that’s not good enough?

FL Wrote:

Looks like they are understanding pretty good, folks. The exact phrase “strengths and weaknesses” may surely be dead, but those science-based critical-thinking amendments are working out strong and good at this time.

You forgot to mention that Seelke is an ID apologist.

Of course evolution has weaknesses. Every scientific explanation does. Unfortunately, every conceivable alternative to evolution is nothing but weaknesses. That’s why you people are learning to say as little as possible about your mutually contradictory alternatives.

Now I hear that Don “big tent” McLeroy wants to address common descent. Great. Let him debate Behe on that.

One eye? Ye have me on that one, matey!! Was it me eyepatch? Next thing y’know, we’ll be down to one leg, like Long John Silver, we will! Aaaaarrrgh!

novparl said:

Ah, it was the tags. OK.

Lactose intolerance - is it evolving at the moment? Similarly, the theory about the 2nd chromo must refer to the past. Are our chromosomes evolving? Which ones? Remember, when one human evolves something, all the other humans have to die out. Otherwise there’d be far more human variation. People with one eye, 3 fingers on one hand and 6 on the other etc.

How do you pack so much stupid into so few words? It must be a gift and a curse.

WERE YOU THERE? DID YOU SEE IT?

“Is anyone sure they actually have a brain? I mean, how many of us have ever seen our own brain? In fact, except for those in the medical profession, how many of us have ever seen anyone else’s brain? And even if some of us have brains, how does that prove we all do?”

THAT’S SILLY.

“Yes, but at least it’s on purpose.”

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

I doubt that there will be a human speciation event in the forseeable future. However, Hardy-Weinberg conditions are not universally present among human populations. Therefore human evolution is occuring even as we type.

Frank J said:

Of course evolution has weaknesses. Every scientific explanation does. Unfortunately, every conceivable alternative to evolution is nothing but weaknesses. That’s why you people are learning to say as little as possible about your mutually contradictory alternatives.

The biggest weakness of Creationism/Intelligent Design Theory is not that either form is wholly incapable of explaining or teaching, or doing anything beyond fostering crippling ignorance and pernicious anti-intellectual sentiment, but, Creationism/Intelligent Design Theory‘s sole purpose is to foster crippling ignorance and pernicious anti-intellectual sentiment.

Of course evolution has weaknesses.

Then honestly, Frank J, there is nothing wrong with discussing them in the science classroom along with the strenghs of evolution. Same for any other scientific theory.

The idea is education, not indoctrination.

.…Perhaps what the 21st Century Science Coalition fears is criticism of a naturalistic Darwinistic worldview, the view that science has explained (or will someday) that life and everything is simply an accident of chemistry and physics.

That worldview, cherished by some in the scientific community and promoted heavily in the proposed Earth and Space Science TEKS standards, has several serious scientific weaknesses that students deserve to understand.

It is not enough to let statements like “most scientists believe …” put an end to critical thinking.

To be prepared for science in the 21st century, students must understand why some scientists accept, and others doubt, particular theories based on the nature of the evidence and the magnitude of the phenomena being explained.

The ideas embedded in evolutionary theory are too important to treat superficially. Let’s teach more about evolution, not less, and give the students of Texas enough scientific evidence to decide for themselves.

– Baylor chemistry professor Dr. Charles Garner, 11-19-2008

FL :)

FL said:

Then honestly, Frank J, there is nothing wrong with discussing them in the science classroom along with the strenghs of evolution. Same for any other scientific theory.

The idea is education, not indoctrination.

And yet, you never see creationists insisting that motion equations must be carried out to Einsteinian accuracy in 8th grade science.

The concern for this kind of rigor only seems to apply to evolution.

Real subtle that.

I think we need to make sure we discuss weaknesses in other venues of education as well. We can start with astronomy – are we really sure the Moon isn’t made of green cheese?

I mean, there’s room for scientific doubt. Only a handful of people have ever been there, and there’s considerable suspicion that the whole Moon program was a hoax. And medicine of course, we need to show how dangerous vaccination really is. Not to mention history – why, public school history classes don’t mention any of the large numbers of black folk who fought for the Confederacy.

Let’s hear it for “academic freedom”!

FL said:

Of course evolution has weaknesses.

Then honestly, Frank J, there is nothing wrong with discussing them in the science classroom along with the strenghs of evolution. Same for any other scientific theory.

The idea is education, not indoctrination.

So what are the strengths of Creationism/Intelligent Design Theory?

If you’re not going to bother how Jesus Christ miraculously disproves evolution despite the fact that evolution has been observed for centuries, or explain how Intelligent Design Theory is scientific, are you going to at least point out what the alleged strengths of Creationism/Intelligent Design Theory are?

Let me see if I get this - FL, you’re now complaining that the short little paragraph in the text dealing with the RNA world hypothesis doesn’t mention one of your pet problems with it?

Riiiiight. Note that nowhere does the term “RNA world” even appear in the text. The para on p. 256 is labeled “A possible role for catalysts.” Right there, big and bold.

(So if you were to wander into my classroom today, you’d probably gripe that I’m not teaching the mathematics of Gauss’ law to freshman who are learning the difference between resistance and conductance. Gotcha.)

The final paragraph in the section also makes it clear that the origin of RNA is far from understood:

Because researchers do not yet understand how DNA, RNA, and hereditary mechanisms first developed, how life might have originated naturally and spontaneously remains a subject of intense interest, research, and discussion among scientists.

FL, I hope you’ve learned something here: that you’d best check original sources to make sure they actually say what your favorite websites claim they say. Between your bastardization of the Holt text and your subsequent use of the Gould quote-mine, you seem to be following in the footsteps of Don McLeroy.

FL said:

Oh yeah.…the rest of you are welcome to specifically respond as well. If you can.

FL :)

What possible purpose could there be in responding to your idiocy, FL? You are a proven liar. You claimed to own a book that you did not own, claimed that this book which you did not have and have not read said things that it did not say, and plagiarized DaveScot’s misrepresentation of Gould. You lied, and you stole the lies of others and presented them as your own. You even lied about the source of your lies! You’ve descended to a new plane of dishonesty. Simply making shit up isn’t enough for you, you have to steal shit other people have made up and present their fraudulent garbage as your own work.

Now that you’ve been shown to be a fraud, you retreat to complaining that a high-school textbook doesn’t exhaustively cover advanced topics, while hiding from your previous lies about what the book in question actually said, and avoiding any mention of the fact that you’d rather use your book of mythology (which not only doesn’t cover the advanced topics you complain about but is full of known falsehoods) as a biology textbook.

I ask again, FL: Isn’t your imaginary god supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

The final paragraph in the section also makes it clear that the origin of RNA is far from understood:

Because researchers do not yet understand how DNA, RNA, and hereditary mechanisms first developed, how life might have originated naturally and spontaneously remains a subject of intense interest, research, and discussion among scientists.

FL is not being completely honest in his dislike of this statement on scientific grounds (no surprise here). FL and creationists do not like this statement because in their minds they DO know the answer: GODDIDIT. Creationists do not want their children coming home and saying “In science we learned today that we do not understand how life originated”. In their religious mindset they believe the above textbook statement could lead students away from their faith (which says how little faith the creationists actually have).

Creationists can not cope with the ever changing scientific landscape given that their world view is constant and unchanging. And, from their point of view, how terrible it would be if even one person leaves the fold because of acceptance of a scientific theory that later turns out to be incomplete or incorrect (note to FL: I am referring to legitimate scientific theories NOT hoaxes).

MWN

FL, put your money where your mouth is: write a suitable cover of the RNA-world hypothesis, as it should be covered in a high-school textbook, including its “problems” if you see fit. Some criteria:

  • Two pages or less, total. This is actually more space than Holt et. al had.
  • Can’t lie through omission or commission.
  • This is a textbook, so you need to not confuse students. In particular you can’t confuse students about scientific terms, the scientific method, the contents and status of this particular hypothesis, and the status and content of competing hypotheses. In other words, students should know more, not less, after they’ve read your chapter.

If you complain that you don’t have the time or the mental energy, let me point out that you’ve written more than two pages of material in this thread alone. Also, you’re free to use ellipsis in place of the original, where you like the original. So at most this gives you like 3 paragraphs of work, if you find nothing in the original objectionable. (You indicated that you didn’t find anything wrong with what Hold et al said; you had problems with what they didn’t say.)

FL said: Only part of it turned out to be false, Richard. You are reminded that there IS another part which apparently you folks are unable to refute or even discuss.

Well, first, I hope you will retract that very last bit. At the risk of repeating everyone else, here is I think a summary of those responses:

FL #1: book does not describe the problems in detail

Everyone: its an introductory textbook. This is an advanced topic. There is not room in the course or the textbook for this type of discussion, and even if there was, it would probably go over the kids’ heads. And the text you cite is five years old. There have been five newer Holt texts published since then. Have you even bothered to check to see whether Holt has already fixed your “problems?”

So FL, what is insufficient or incorrect with those answers?

***

FL #2: the book does not say how big those problems are

Everyone: See above. Also the RNA world hypothesis is merely one hypothesis: holes of any size in this hypothesis will not impact the overwhelming support for the basic concepts of evolution - common descent of all species, with modification, primarily through the mechanism of natural selection. These are the key topics that kids at this level are expected to learn. So your complaint amounts to at best a quibble with an optional part of the text.

So FL, what is insufficient or incorrect with that answer?

One of the biology textbooks currently used in my hometown school district, for example, introduces students to the “RNA World” hypothesis but does NOT mention any of the problems with it.

Well, there’s your problem right there: your hometown school district is using out of date texts.

GuyeFaux said:

“Put your money where your mouth is.”

It is unreasonable to expect anyone to have that much money.

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

MWN said: (note to FL: I am referring to legitimate scientific theories NOT hoaxes).

FL is incapable of distinguishing between lgeitimate scientific theories and hoaxes. It’s like Piltdown Man, found to be a hoax by actual scientists, the creationists didn’t even bother looking. Any attempt to study reality is against FL’s religion. Making shit up is all he can do.

phantomreader42 said:

MWN said: (note to FL: I am referring to legitimate scientific theories NOT hoaxes).

FL is incapable of distinguishing between lgeitimate scientific theories and hoaxes. It’s like Piltdown Man, found to be a hoax by actual scientists, the creationists didn’t even bother looking. Any attempt to study reality is against FL’s religion. Making shit up is all he can do.

If FL is anything like some of the quad preachers I have seen over the years, he doesn’t care.

The quad preachers were almost always surrounded by an adoring cadre of followers who cheered no matter how stupid the preacher’s “comeback” to a skeptic was. The point seemed to be to swagger into enemy territory and demonstrated to the rube followers that that the preacher could do battle with the enemy and “confound” whole groups of them simultaneously.

Neither the preacher nor the followers ever appeared to know just how stupid their responses were; but it apparently meant something to them. Apparently they thought they always won (or maybe were just trying to fake winning).

The fact that FL keeps returning here without having learned any science as a result of his prior spankings suggests very strongly that he has no intention of learning anything. He clearly is playing to some audience; or is practicing for some imagined audience in his church. His own stupidity about his own arguments appears to be irrelevant to him.

I suspect he belongs to a sect that is more of a personality cult and values the ability to engage in endless word games. But he is probably more of a leader wanna-be rather than a true alpha dog in his church.

Do you actually have people coming on to campus and preaching fundamentalist religion in the quad of a chartered University? With adherents trucked in from their conventicles? Good grief. Don’t you have to have lawful excuse to be on the grounds of a University, in the US?

I’m pretty sure that if that if it were to happen here, they would be trespassing, and the campus cops would show up within five minutes. (If not, there’d be a riot starting PDQ, students being what they are, but that’s a different issue.)

Can these loonies actually do that, in the US? I mean, legally? Or are we talking about some sort of convention that is accepted because doing something to prevent it would be too disruptive?

Dave Luckett said:

Do you actually have people coming on to campus and preaching fundamentalist religion in the quad of a chartered University? With adherents trucked in from their conventicles? Good grief. Don’t you have to have lawful excuse to be on the grounds of a University, in the US?

I’m pretty sure that if that if it were to happen here, they would be trespassing, and the campus cops would show up within five minutes. (If not, there’d be a riot starting PDQ, students being what they are, but that’s a different issue.)

Can these loonies actually do that, in the US? I mean, legally? Or are we talking about some sort of convention that is accepted because doing something to prevent it would be too disruptive?

The University of Arkansas has “Moses”, aka Gary Bowman. He comes onto campus once a semester yelling about sorority girls and sex and hell and brimstone and arguing vehemently with students. Apparently if a man wears pink he will go to hell. As I understand it, the University banned him some years ago. He sued and won the right to come on campus and preach.

Dave Luckett said:

Do you actually have people coming on to campus and preaching fundamentalist religion in the quad of a chartered University? With adherents trucked in from their conventicles? Good grief. Don’t you have to have lawful excuse to be on the grounds of a University, in the US?

I’m pretty sure that if that if it were to happen here, they would be trespassing, and the campus cops would show up within five minutes. (If not, there’d be a riot starting PDQ, students being what they are, but that’s a different issue.)

Can these loonies actually do that, in the US? I mean, legally? Or are we talking about some sort of convention that is accepted because doing something to prevent it would be too disruptive?

If it is a publicly funded university (most states have several of them), I believe it comes under the “freedom of speech” clause of the US Constitution. Thus, these people can’t be barred. Presumably private universities can bar them, but I don’t know if many of them do.

And they can cause quite a circus when we get some of the real lunatics accusing, taunting, and shouting at people going by.

Some of it is weird entertainment of a sort, and they just make fools of themselves. But apparently they think that “going into the lion’s den” to battle the demons of secular society is a requirement for becoming an alpha male in their sect (it seems to be mostly males doing this).

They attempt to emulate the heroes battling the forces of evil in their fantasy literature. I guess labeling everyone evil if they are not one of their followers is a convenient way to find dragons to slay in front of their handlers.

FL with his word-game shtick appears to fall into this category. None of these characters are particularly bright, but they revel in slick talk, and that gets them points in their churches.

We see them on the religion channels on TV also. Same shtick.

There seems to be an upsurge in their activities since the recent presidential election. They are writing lots of letters to the editor of our local newspaper. They can’t resist taunting.

If it is a publicly funded university (most states have several of them), I believe it comes under the “freedom of speech” clause of the US Constitution. Thus, these people can’t be barred. Presumably private universities can bar them, but I don’t know if many of them do.

Cripes. I’ve never seen such a thing on a University campus here, and I’ve taught at three and been a student at another.

I did some digging around and found that in our common law a University campus is not a public place, no matter how the University is funded. There is no right to be there without the permission of the occupier - that is, the body corporate holding the University’s charter. This permission is generally implied, but can be withdrawn specifically at any time, say, by a campus cop with delegated authority. All the Universities that I was able to access delegate that authority as a matter of course. Refusal to leave after being advised that permission has been withdrawn constitutes trespass, and is actionable - in other words, being “escorted” off or arrested. As for abusive or threatening language, or excessive noise, or taunts provocative of violence, I can’t imagine anything happening but a swift trip to the lockup and fronting the beak in the morning.

But on the other hand, I can’t imagine a student body here putting up with being harangued by religious bigots on their own campus. The guy would be lucky to get away with being egged or ponded. And if there were a big group of them from outside, it’d be get the cops toot sweet or stand back and watch the riot.

Dave Luckett said: Do you actually have people coming on to campus and preaching fundamentalist religion in the quad of a chartered University? With adherents trucked in from their conventicles? Good grief. Don’t you have to have lawful excuse to be on the grounds of a University, in the US?

I was at U.C. Berkeley in the ’90s. On Sproul Plaza on a good day, the drum circles would almost drown out the preachers. (Yes, plural on both of those.) I never saw any adherents trucked in though.

Dave Luckett said:

Cripes. I’ve never seen such a thing on a University campus here, and I’ve taught at three and been a student at another.

As for abusive or threatening language, or excessive noise, or taunts provocative of violence, I can’t imagine anything happening but a swift trip to the lockup and fronting the beak in the morning.

During the craziest seasons (usually Fall and Spring), we often imagine your situation would be heavenly.

On the other hand, it’s a mixed bag having these crazies on the quads. When they are out in the open ranting fearlessly, they can be watched; although it gets boring very fast. These characters are all pretty much in the same delusional state.

If they were banned, then they simply go into stealth mode where it’s harder to keep track of their activities; and many of them are politically active behind the scenes anyway. That’s where a lot of this anti-evolution and culture war crap is generated.

And I suppose each new generation of students needs to see crack pottery in full bloom in order to get some handle on how to deal with it.

Mike Elzinga said:

And I suppose each new generation of students needs to see crack pottery in full bloom in order to get some handle on how to deal with it.

Besides, quad activism is sort of a “Hyde Park” like tradition, and almost anyone can and does play. Woe unto a school administration that welcomes liberal demonstrations and then comes down on conservative demonstrations – at the very least it’s going to get them in bad graces with the alumnai a$$o$ciation.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

Mike Elzinga said: On the other hand, it’s a mixed bag having these crazies on the quads. When they are out in the open ranting fearlessly, they can be watched; although it gets boring very fast. These characters are all pretty much in the same delusional state.

If they were banned, then they simply go into stealth mode…

IMO the boredom is more key (to the success of open forums) than the watching. Many crank ideas only survive as long as the details are kept secret; let the purveyors of that idea give a full explanation, and the idea loses its appeal. An open forum is also prevents the crank from claiming his idea is being suppressed.

Different creationist claims provide examples of both types of failures: ideas that were aired and found wanting, and ideas that were damned by their proponent’s failure to produce details when given an open forum to do so.

FL said:

One of the biology textbooks currently used in my hometown school district, for example, introduces students to the “RNA World” hypothesis but does NOT mention any of the problems with it. Doesn’t give the student ANY indication of any troubles with it.

I have purchased a copy of “Holt Biology” by George B. Johnson and Peter H. Raven (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Austin, 2006). It does not use the term “RNA world”, but I’ve scanned in the pages concerning the topic:

page 256

page 257

The pages are not significantly different from the edition previously scanned by the admirable Cheryl Shepherd-Adams.

And, as detailed by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams, they demonstrate that FL was dead wrong in his assertion that the book

FL said:

Doesn’t give the student ANY indication of any troubles with it.

I also looked for two significant assertions concerning the character of science, statements which should be in every high-school level science textbook, and I was pleased to find them on page 16 and on page 19.

On page 16, Johnson and Raven write:

A hypothesis is an explanation that might be true – a statement that can be tested by additional observations or experimentation.

In other words, by simply calling the “RNA world” idea a hypothesis, Johnson and Raven had already said that in might be true, it might be false.

However, the most important point was that

On page 19, Johnson and Raven write:

There is, however, no absolute certainty in a scientific theory. The possibility always remains that future evidence will cause a scientific theory to be revised or rejected. A scientist’s acceptance of a theory is always provisional.

This goes to the very heart of science, and to the very heart of FL’s error when he claims that the science of evolution is incompatible with the religion of Christianity.

Science is tentative, it is based on doubt, it concerns the physical world.

Religion is certain, it is based on faith, it concerns the spiritual world.

To talk about an incompatibility between science and religion is no more sensible than talking about an incompatibility between broccoli and the Egyptian pyramids. These simply concern different things.

The real reason FL wants college-level material introduced into high school classrooms is so that creationist teachers can spew garbage and not have to worry about being challenged by their students - kind of an argument by assumed authority (see how much Teacher knows?)Misdirection can be SO effective as FL proves so often.

The mental gymnastics that Floyd goes through to prop up his fantasies is simply incredible.

I suspect we will see him as a FOX news contributor soon.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on January 23, 2009 11:32 PM.

Honest creationist Kurt Wise on transitional fossils was the previous entry in this blog.

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