Texas BOE Attacks Common Descent

| 311 Comments

As head of the Texas Board of Education, creationist dentist, Don McLeroy has probably more influence over American textbooks than any other individual. His mission is to force textbooks to lie to students:

See Texas Freedom Network for more information.

311 Comments

The cover of Time magazine! That’ll beat the expert opinions of thousands of scientists any day.

Hmmmm.…. how many of the same old arguments can the experts stand… I think the creationists believe if they say it enough the scientists will miraculously start to believe it.

Stasis and “sudden” appearance don’t support evolution, huh. Send this guy back to 9th grade, he clearly needs an education.

The cambrian explosion “immediate”? The man has to be liar. He couldn’t possibly be talking about this and not know that it lasted millions of years. How can a liar like this be tolerated in a political office responsible for children’s education?

PZ needs to school this boy!

Holy Dumbfuck Batman!

Darwin’s Big Bang?.…Forget it, he’s on a roll.…..

John said:

PZ needs to school this boy!

And what, exactly, is PZ going to do to help this situation? “Help” which is different from taking science education down in flames. Pro-science advocates in Texas are not going to be inviting him to any board meetings.

To bad he has no real argument to make. Why is stasis a problem for evolution? Why is “sudden appearance” a problem for evolution? If these are problems for evolution, why is no one else convinced? Is everyone else more ignorant of the evidence than this guy? After all he is a dentist, he is a real expert. How does he explain wisdom teeth?

Why does he think that students are qualified to decide what the evidence shows? Are they experts? Who is preventing them from becoming familiar with the evidence and deciding for themselves? No scientist has that power, nor would they want it. This guy is just spouting nonsense. Why would be fooled by this? If they are, shame on them.

Why is he so proud that no “complicated math is required”? What alternative explanation is he proposing to explain the evidence? What is this guy even talking about? I thought creationists were supposed to be good public speakers. This guy must have missed the memo.

John said:

PZ needs to school this boy!

He’s already had people schooling him throughout the hearings. Obviously he doesn’t want to think about it too hard.

Don McLeroy’s impassioned plea shows just how desperate ID/Creationists are. He admits there is a mountain of evidence for evolution, that there is a successive and progressive nature to the fossil record, and that the Cambrian era happened. He admits that scientists are nice folk, and that Ken Miller exists. He is having to defy every Creationist talking point just to appear reasonable. Don is contributing to the schizophrenic nature of the ID/Creationist movement.

But aren’t the long periods of stasis punctuated by periods of rapid evolutionary change? He denies that he is taking this out of context, but he obviously ignores the “rapid evolution” part of punctuated equilibrium.

Gary F said:

But aren’t the long periods of stasis punctuated by periods of rapid evolutionary change? He denies that he is taking this out of context, but he obviously ignores the “rapid evolution” part of punctuated equilibrium.

He isn’t ignoring them. He thinks those are all points against evolution. He thinks everything is supposed to be gradual all the time, and he doesn’t understand why elite scientists don’t see it his way. To him it is so obvious that evolution is wrong. So very very simple and obvious.

I don’t think Don McLeroy is lying. I think he truly, honestly believes just what he is saying. But it is sad. He just needs to be removed from his position.

Fascinating.

On the one hand, McLeroy is DI and Luskin’s waterboy of the moment.

On the other hand, this 6-minute stream-of-consciousness rhetorical YouTube trainwreck, now immortalized for future generations, seems at points to be Don McLeroy arguing with Don McLeroy.

He seems to have figured out that there’s a whole world of real, serious scientists who are serious about teaching evolution, and this confuses him. It is especially tough because not only are these serious scientists rational…they are also very friendly and articulate. And the difficulty is further compounded by the fact that there is this massive fossil record to deal with, and all these millions of years, and advanced concepts like stasis, and whatnot.

In these six minutes, we get a glimpse inside that large, shiny brain case, and discover a brave, simple mind fighting valiantly against a complex, nuanced reality. “It’s not complicated!”

But through the transformative power of belief (and a subscription to Time magazine), , the complications dissipate. We need to be honest with our kids. Science is simple.

Is this fool serious? This idiot says phylum never change in the fossil record, unless– unless they are the most interesting (to me anyway since I have a backbone) chordates. This jabbering idiot must think Pikaia looks just like a chicken.

This guy is a stupid and very ignorant man because he is completely ignoring the fact that creationists like him are fighting a losing battle, and it greatly confuses him that the cambrian explosion can even happen. What did he evolve from the world’s stupidest lfeform? Someone please shut this damned theist up and do it now.

It would be refreshing to hear him say “Look, I really love Jesus, and the bible tells me that this whole evolution thing just isn’t right!” His lack of forthrightness leaves him beating around the bush.

silverspoon wrote:

“This idiot says phylum never change in the fossil record, …”

Yea, by citing the Cambrian explosion. What a nit wit. The phylum Chordata originated in the Cambrian “explosion”, but to claim that it didn’t change since then is idiotic. After all, the vertebrates came much later. The guy must be completely clueless to say stuff like this.

I guess the argument here is that if evolution happens too fast it can’t happen at all! Nice logic that.

I feel dumber for having watched that.

So he has an alternative explanation? How can he talk about 500 million year old rocks when he’s trying to have fludism taught in schools?

What is his alternative explanation for the Cambian explosion?

He seems a bit unhinged.

Does anyone in Texas ever confront this character directly and tell him to his face that his “strengths and weakness” language would lard up science classes with exactly the same kind of misconceptions he just displayed to the whole world?

Does anyone ever tell him that he is exactly the epitome of stubborn, smug ignorance that schools should not be cranking out?

I guess we are just all too “wonderful and nice and brilliant” (and polite).

And he has a dental practice? Shudder!

I have this nagging suspicion he believes phylum is the equivalent of a ‘created kind’. Next we’ll be hearing from him how no one ever witnessed a cat giving birth to a dog therefore evolution is false. I really am getting tired of these buffoons ignorance.

When he says “If you’ll pardon me a minute since this is kind of surprising me”, I bet he’s thinking he’s being visited by the “Holy Spirit”. I bet he thinks that whole speech was inspired by the “Holy Spirit”.

I think that Don McLeroy is playing with the truth to achieve an aim that he thinks is justified. He is, after all, a young earth creationist. In an article in the New Year Times on June 4, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/04/u[…]d=2&_r=1 it was stated: “Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. ‘I believe a lot of incredible things,” he said, “The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the god that created the universe.’ “ So how does a belief in an earth thousands of years old relate to reference of the Cambrian “explosion”, 550 million years ago? I was unfortunate enough to listen to the entire audiofile of a talk (lasting over an hour) he gave to his Sunday school class, where he openly admitted his aim was to have evolution replaced by intelligent design, and then young earth creationism would replace ID.

“Someone has to stand up to these experts!”

LOL

Every time I watch it, it’s just more crazier! He’s utterly ignorant about that stuff.

On the fundamentalistics of Dentistry

In “The Living End”, the hilarious account of the end of the world by Stanley Elkin (1977), we find -towards the end of the story - a description of “a gala, a levee at the Lord’s” in heaven. After some muscle showing and a little argument with Jesus, the Lord starts explaining:

Quote

“Call on someone else, “Christ said. “sure,” God said. “I’m the Hero of Heaven. I call on Myself.” That was when He began his explanations. He revealed the secrets of books, of pictures and music,…how statues of women were superior to statues of men, but less impressive than engravings on postage. He explained why dentistry was a purer science than astronomy, biography a higher form than dance… and how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

End of Quote

And this, ladies and gentlemen was written in 1977!

It terrifies me that this lunatic is in the position to effect the education of this country. I have not the words to express the rage and terror this man causes.

fnxtr said:

Stasis and “sudden” appearance don’t support evolution, huh. Send this guy back to 9th grade, he clearly needs an education.

Well, technically, he’s right. The “sudden appearance”, in particular, doesn’t support evolution. However, his argument fails because “doesn’t support” and “contradicts” are two completely different things.

For instance, I could say that the theory of relativity doesn’t support evolution. And I would technically be correct. But it would be a ridiculous argument because the two have nothing to do with each other.

I actually laughed out loud when he said something like “all this time after Darwin and the fossil record still has these problems”. It makes it clear that he really doesn’t understand WHY the fossil record shows what it shows. He’s essentially asking for someone to discover pre-cambrian life forms - even though it’s been explained time and time again that certain traits are required before a life-form can fossilize at all. It’s almost like asking a physicist to find out what came “before” the Big Bang, and then claiming the the lack of such an answer means that Intelligent Astronomy is a legitimate science.

I watched the video but have not read any comments, yet, so forgive me if I’m reinventing the wheel.

McLeroy clearly said that the Cambrian was 550 million years ago, without the YEC’s mandatory “scientists say” disclaimer. But other (second hand) information suggests that he thinks that it was only a few thousand years ago. If he really does believe that, then he disputes virtually all of science, not just evolution. That he singles out evolution shows that his objection is purely emotional, as does his demeanor on the video.

If he has a nanogram of integrity (yes I know he doesn’t) he would demand to debate Michael Behe on common descent, and on his alternative chronology (if he truly believes it as opposed to just faking it to placate the “masses”).

If he’s that convinced that the evidence supports an alternative to common descent (& the chronology), he ought to be able to convince Behe, who is on the same side of the “strengths and weaknesses” issue. If he can’t convince Behe - who unlike McLeroy has conducted actual research - then he needs to admit that he is likely wrong about common descent, and remove his misleading language from the standards.

If he or Behe refuses to debate, or they do “debate” with evasions and “soft ball” questions, then it is clear that they both have something to hide (as if it isn’t already).

Gary F Wrote:

But aren’t the long periods of stasis punctuated by periods of rapid evolutionary change? He denies that he is taking this out of context, but he obviously ignores the “rapid evolution” part of punctuated equilibrium.

The irony is that he claims to have read “Finding Darwin’s God.” If so, he could not have missed the part that discusses directly observed morphological changes - in the wild, no less - that are thousands of times faster than would appear instantaneous in the fossil record.

Another thing that he must be aware of, yet makes no mention of (in that video at least), is that every incredulity argument he made has been thoroughly refuted. Just because those direct refutations are not in the biology textbook - refuting pseudoscience is not the purpose of a textbook anyway - does not mean that they don’t exist. But there’s the scam in a nutshell: Start with the textbook, give the last word to misleading arguments that are “designed” specifically to promote unreasonable doubt, and censor the refutations.

Seems to me that scientific investigation depends more on finding consistent patterns in the data than it does on whether the causes are “natural” or “supernatural” (whatever those words even mean).

Yes, this is the point. It’s been difficult to marshal scientific opposition to intelligent design and creation science and the like, because scientists simply don’t see any sense in it or any utility in wasting time on obvious nonsense. The entire scientific method is so tightly interwoven with the presumption of natural phenomena that it’s not even questioned or often even recognized.

So scientific support for science must necessarily be politicized: They are teaching YOUR kids that evidence doesn’t matter, that preference trumps fact, that the more congenial an assertion the less it should be examined, and that logic and the rules of inference should be disallowed where they conflict with the religious convictions of elected buffoons.

Flint said:

It’s been difficult to marshal scientific opposition to intelligent design and creation science and the like, because scientists simply don’t see any sense in it or any utility in wasting time on obvious nonsense. The entire scientific method is so tightly interwoven with the presumption of natural phenomena that it’s not even questioned or often even recognized.

This has certainly been the case with me and my colleagues. Throughout the late 1960s and well into the 1970s we frequently guffawed during lunch breaks at the stupidity of it all. We were certainly familiar with the phony arguments, but simply assumed that the rest of the public saw the stupidity also.

Then in about the late 1970s I became acutely aware of the political tactics that they were using after I saw a debate between a creationist and a scientist. I have to admit I was stunned at the effectiveness of the creationist and the absolutely dumb tactics of the scientist.

That’s when I started studying the creationist’s tactics in earnest and started a local campaign of my own to start countering not only the pseudo-science, but the slippery political tricks of the local creationists. I got hold of all the creationists’ major writings and read all of them, Gish, Morris, Parker; the whole lot.

I think most of the scientific community is awake now. Certainly all the major professional organizations have now issued strong statements and have been attempting to educate the public about ID/Creationism.

I still think more needs to be done, but few people in the public know just how busy researchers are. Eighty to 100 hour weeks are quite common. There are proposals to write, equipment to design and build, students to teach and supervise, talks to give, meetings to attend; the list of demands on most working scientists is long. Wrangling with ID/Creationists is not going to be on the list of most researchers. And many of these researchers are probably not very good at dealing with the general public anyway.

But a lot of the credit has to go to the National Center for Science Education. The careful accumulation of evidence from around the country over the years has been an invaluable service to the working scientific community.

And with the Internet and Panda’s Thumb, TalkOrigins, and other defenders of science, the process of uncovering and debunking the ID/Creationist fraud is getting more efficient and more effective.

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Lissa,

We have a forum on which you can start whatever topic you want to. Take advantage of it, or you risk having your posting privileges decreased for being continually off topic.

Everyone else,

Do the same and do not respond to off topic comments. Otherwise, you risk the same decreased privileges.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 28, 2009 6:33 PM.

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