Who controls America’s schools? Who should?

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Those are two of the questions that Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer ask in their new book Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms. Their answers are not entirely comforting. The authors, who discussed some of their findings in Science the other day, analyze a number of well-known polls and also their own poll of biology teachers, which they conducted in 2007. They conclude that a substantial majority of Americans want creationism taught in public schools – not necessarily creationism alone, but creationism nonetheless. They also note that the number of citizens who support evolution alone is increasing at the expense of those who want both taught but not, presumably, those who want creationism alone taught. A myriad of court decisions, however, has ruled out teaching of creationism in any form. The nation is divided, as they put it, by religion, education, and place.

The authors go on to examine standards in different states. They show that the quality of the standards is lower and the standards are often cursory in states where a majority is not favorable to teaching evolution. In contrast, the standards are most rigorous in states where the majority is favorable to evolution. Nothing especially surprising, but it is probably worthwhile to have such information documented rigorously.

What do teachers actually teach? The authors estimate that 14-21 % of teachers unconstitutionally endorse creationism in the classroom, while others find ways to undermine the theory of evolution or avoid teaching it entirely. Their Science article estimates that 28 % teach evolution according to recognized standards, whereas the remaining ~60 % are cautious for various reasons, not least their own failure to understand evolution themselves.

The authors portray teachers as street-level bureaucrats, that is, people who interact with the public and actually implement policy, like police or social workers. Teachers thus may be more responsive to local “standards” than to state or national standards (yeah, those are scare quotes). Indeed, the authors show that teachers in more-liberal areas are more apt to teach evolution than those in conservative areas, more or less irrespective of the state standards. They attribute this result, at least in part, to selection of communities or school districts by teachers, and also selection of teachers by school administrations.

Berkman and Plutzer note that the evolution-creation war (their term) has been with us since the 1920’s, and they think it will be with us for a long time. It is the result of religious conservatism, the growth and perhaps the success of science, and the achievement of universal public education. It has been propagated, in part, because the debate has been politicized and divides more or less along political-party lines. Worse, the “system” of public education in the United States is highly decentralized, so local communities and local school boards often have more influence over what is taught than state or federal standards, or experts. If science is not taken as seriously as reading and mathematics, then state-wide science standards will not be enforced. Federal court decisions have perhaps prevented some of the worst abuses, but evolution deniers have always found ways to get around or ignore those decisions. Finally, it appears that general scientific knowledge (or lack thereof) does not correlate particularly strongly with creationism, and public opinion has been remarkably stable since polls first investigated it.

Who then decides? The authors equivocate a little bit on the question of who should decide, but state clearly who in fact decides: teachers. Their solution to the problem, which is spelled out in somewhat more detail in the Science article, is to go after the teachers: Require what they call preservice teachers (people training to be teachers) to study at least one semester of evolutionary biology in college. They recognize how hard it will be to enforce such a policy and also how long it will take to have any practical effect in the classrooms. But they present evidence that state standards have greater influence on younger teachers than older, Possibly bacause the younger teachers were trained after the widespread adoption of standards, so getting at the problem through the teachers may be a viable solution, but I fear it is not fast enough.

Finally, a bit of anticlimactic boilerplate: I thought the book was well prepared and clearly written, but I did not especially like the gray background on all the tables, and I thought it would be good if the copyeditor learned the difference between principle and principal. Additionally, I looked up one or two items in the index and did not find them discussed by name on those pages.

See also what I can only call a review by the authors of their own book on the Cambridge University Press website and an interesting interview with Plutzer.

84 Comments

This is a spot on review from my experience. Here in Arkansas, a colleague who had to remain anonymous to protect his job (says a lot right there) conducted a survey of k-12 teachers and got similar numbers – 20% teach evolution, 20% give it a cursory mention, 50% avoid it entirely, and 10% openly teach creationism. Our school district is one of the best in the state, and there is still evidence of religious pressure on teachers. Students at the University from other districts across the state say that religious pressure to avoid evolution is open and forceful, with the result that the students are taught nothing about evolution in many cases. I regularly survey classes, and find that about 1/4 to 1/3 of students say they have been taught anything at all about evolution in high school. The rest have been taught nothing.

Several faculty have made some attempts to work with the education department and other organizations to help prepare teachers to more effectively teach evolution. A few small things were tried, but at least at the University level, nothing happened. Blame for that could be partitioned among several parties, but regardless of whose fault it is, there is tremendous inertia to do nothing.

See also what I can only call a review by the authors of their own book on the Cambridge University Press website .…

A bit unfair to call it that. It is a blurb on the publisher’s web site, signed by the authors and referring to “our book”. Publishers want you to do that, and there is no deception involved – no one is pretending that it is a fair-minded assessment written by someone else. For a book I published a few years ago some of the descriptions of the book on the publisher’s web site were in fact written by me. Should I be worried that I did something unethical?

Local school boards have considerable influence on who is hired to teach and some on what is taught, regardless of state, national, or legal mandates.

At Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, we required secondary biology education majors to take a course in evolution, and maintain a higher grade point average in science and math courses than we required of pre-meds. When I taught the evolution course, I included a couple of lectures about creationism. I am quite sure our students encounter creationism in their professional role.

The individual States should control America’s schools.

States do have departments of education and exert a fair degree of influence over public schools.

Unfortunately for authoritarian bigots, it is illegal to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America, regardless of level of control over bureaucracy. Even if local and federal educational bureaucracy were both entirely eliminated and all control shifted to the states, you still wouldn’t be able to teach a dogmatic, sadistic, superficially self-serving, and dishonest misinterpretation of a seventeenth century translation of bronze age symbolism as “science” in taxpayer funded schools.

The idea that individual states can deprive their citizens of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America has been tested many times, most notably in the cases of slavery and segregation, and failed.

Although I believe Abraham Lincoln did the right thing in his time, in the present, I, personally, would strongly welcome the secession of any region of the United States where a vast majority is unhappy with basic freedoms and basic scientific reality. If you are interested in such an endeavor, please let me know, so that I can support it. Also, if you are considering a permanent move to a jurisdiction where sectarian religion is enforced as law, I would love to help organize that. You would probably have to choose an Islamic state, but those states do come far closer to your ideals than the US. You can easily find one where homosexuals, uppity women, and the like are severely punished; all you’ll have to do is convince people to retain local laws, but switch to using the word “Jesus” where they would normally use the word “Mohammed”.

If you choose to remain under US jurisdiction, you have the right to believe or pretend to believe whatever self-serving, anti-rational nonsense you choose, buy you’ll never, never, never, never, ever, ever be able to legally teach it in public school science classes, not even if you live as long as Methuseleh. Sorry.

A bit unfair to call it that. It is a blurb on the publisher’s web site, signed by the authors and referring to “our book”.

Sorry – I did not mean to imply anything underhanded. It just read like a review, but it was written by the authors. Maybe I was too cute.

I have just marked as Unapproved a comment by the IBIG troll and several direct responses, some of which were cogent. If anyone wants to pursue the discussion, please feel free to post your comments a second time, without reference to the IBIG troll. I will continue to remove comments by certain trolls as well as all comments that cite those trolls. It is a pain, so please do not respond to trolls; just wait till I get around to removing their comments.

Jim Thomerson said:

When I taught the evolution course, I included a couple of lectures about creationism. I am quite sure our students encounter creationism in their professional role.

If I am recalling correctly, some education programs are required by their state boards to include a course that deals with the various legal issues confronted by public school teachers. I don’t know how common this is.

But I would hope such courses would include the famous court cases such as Edwards v. Aguillard, McLean v. Arkansas, and of course, Kitzmiller v. Dover.

These would provide some help in preventing teachers and administrators from being blindsided by aggressive creationist parents and children.

My own experience with these kinds of people is that they appear suddenly and extremely aggressively; and they will browbeat teachers and administrators with all sorts of specious arguments that anyone familiar with the history of ID/creationist politics can immediately recognize and refute on the spot.

Matt Young said: If anyone wants to pursue the discussion, please feel free to post your comments a second time, without reference to the IBIG troll.

May I politely suggest that all comments specific to IBIG go to the IBIG thread on ATBC? I mean, the guy has his very own thread over there where he and his opponents can trade fire to their heart’s content. What more would anyone want?

mrg said:

Matt Young said: If anyone wants to pursue the discussion, please feel free to post your comments a second time, without reference to the IBIG troll.

May I politely suggest that all comments specific to IBIG go to the IBIG thread on ATBC? I mean, the guy has his very own thread over there where he and his opponents can trade fire to their heart’s content. What more would anyone want?

With AtBC providing mud rooms and the BW providing toilets and urinals, what more could any troll want?

Sitting here trying to imagine what it must be like to monitor so many threads on so many topics with so many ID/creationists wanting to achieve top-gun ratings among their cohorts; I’m not sure how one can determine which troll needs to be sent away and when.

I don’t even know how involved the process is in shipping these trolls over to those other “venues.”

Matt Young said:

I have just marked as Unapproved a comment by the IBIG troll and several direct responses, some of which were cogent. If anyone wants to pursue the discussion, please feel free to post your comments a second time, without reference to the IBIG troll. I will continue to remove comments by certain trolls as well as all comments that cite those trolls. It is a pain, so please do not respond to trolls; just wait till I get around to removing their comments.

Thanks Matt, that seems appropriate. Of course, if this site would ban IBIGOT permanently, then it would no longer be an issue. It seems that he is obsessed with this site and will go to any lengths to attempt to disrupt the conversation here. Why make it any easier for him to succeed?

I would also suggest that some one check all ISP addresses for IBIG, Kris, Michael Behe, Carolyn and others using the same tactics. I strongly suspect that you will find evidence of extensive sock puppetry. If there is a mechanism to prevent such malicious dishonesty, I would suggest that it be implemented immediately.

I thought IBIG had finally been banned, but maybe he has changed his IP address. I will check with our webmaster.

Matt Young said:

I thought IBIG had finally been banned, but maybe he has changed his IP address. I will check with our webmaster.

As far as I know, IBIGOT has only been banned on individual threads by individual moderators. I do not know if he was ever banned entirely, although by now he certainly should be. I don’t know if this can even be done. But, if he is simply using different addresses to avoid banning, something definitely needs to be done.

This guy just won’t get the hint. Four hundred pages was not sufficient for him to convince anyone of anything. He should realize by now that his crap isn’t going to fly here. And he refuses to use ATBC, even after all the trouble that someone went to in order to make him welcome there. He is just making a pest of himself. Of course, maybe that is just what he wants.

Thank you Matt.

DS -

I would also suggest that some one check all ISP addresses for IBIG, Kris, Michael Behe, Carolyn and others

Although I am generally strongly in favor of letting creationists make points, and then being refuted, I strongly agree with respect to these examples, for the following reasons -

IBIG - Has had extensive opportunities to make his or her points; now persists in repetition of refuted points.

Kris - Kris has characteristics that would lead me to support his ban no matter what viewpoint he was “arguing”. Most notably personal threats, which although not reaching the threshold for reporting to law enforcement, have far exceeded the thresholds of complete obnoxiousness and pathological lack of self-control. Also ignoring or distorting rebuttals and use of obsessive numbers of posts to “overwhelm” a thread.

Note that both IBIG and Kris have at times made points that, in isolation, were relevant; it’s the overall behavior that’s the problem.

Michael Behe - Obnoxious impersonation of a real person without their permission; it’s a no-brainer.

Carolyn - although apparently new, ignores or distorts rebuttals while attempting to “overwhelm” threads with obsessive numbers of posts. May well be Kris. Carolyn, if you’re not Kris, my sincere apologies for that.

Matt Young said:

I thought IBIG had finally been banned, but maybe he has changed his IP address. I will check with our webmaster.

IANABiologist, but I have been working with computer professionally for 40 years…

The difficulty with banning by IP address is that most ISP connections are dynamic and the IP address will change from time to time, sometimes pretty radically (e.g. the address is renewed and a large ISP connects to a different router with a different IP pool).

As the world moves to IPv6, this *may* change. The IPv6 address space is big enough to give a static 8-bit block of addresses to every man, woman, and child…and each of the non-human primates on the planet as well. It’s a switch from 32 bit addresses (~10**10) to 128 bit addresses (~10**42).

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Most of the time most of the states have a huge say in what is taught.

This is because the states support local schools with tax money.

Not sure if that is true with all states. But in the west, a large amount of a school’s budget comes from the state. They can’t do without it.

If the state doesn’t like what a school district is doing, they can withhold money. That happens but it is rare.

Mar 20, 2007 … The State of Oregon is withholding $1.2 million in state school funds that had been earlier paid out for a disallowed homeschool program that …

Happened to these people in Sisters, Oregon. $1.2 million isn’t a lot of money but it would be out there in the boonies.

The same is true of the federal government. They pay some money into the local schools too.

Matt Young said:

I have just marked as Unapproved a comment by the IBIG troll and several direct responses, some of which were cogent. If anyone wants to pursue the discussion, please feel free to post your comments a second time, without reference to the IBIG troll. I will continue to remove comments by certain trolls as well as all comments that cite those trolls. It is a pain, so please do not respond to trolls; just wait till I get around to removing their comments.

You apparently also blocked one of my comments that had nothing to do with the troll.

You apparently also blocked one of my comments that had nothing to do with the troll.

Sorry - the deus ex machina disapproved that important comment (in fact, 2 iterations of it), and I must not have noticed. I have just approved it; it is the first comment on this thread.

If I had kids, I would home school them.

I would like to see vouchers so I could send them to a school that taught biology properly.

harold said:

If you choose to remain under US jurisdiction, you have the right to believe or pretend to believe whatever self-serving, anti-rational nonsense you choose, buy you’ll never, never, never, never, ever, ever be able to legally teach it in public school science classes, not even if you live as long as Methuseleh. Sorry.

There are always ways around this, that’s obvious. I’ve seen it frequently.

Q: If one must be certified to teach science in the public schools, what qualifications are required of these creationists to teach creationism?

A: None

Q: 1) What group/s can openly discriminate in regards to hiring on the basis of sex, religion, and anything else you might think of? 2) What groups cannot?

A: 1) Religious organizations, 2) any public institution, e.g., public schools.

harold said:

DS -

I would also suggest that some one check all ISP addresses for IBIG, Kris, Michael Behe, Carolyn and others

Although I am generally strongly in favor of letting creationists make points, and then being refuted, I strongly agree with respect to these examples, for the following reasons -

IBIG - Has had extensive opportunities to make his or her points; now persists in repetition of refuted points.

Kris - Kris has characteristics that would lead me to support his ban no matter what viewpoint he was “arguing”. Most notably personal threats, which although not reaching the threshold for reporting to law enforcement, have far exceeded the thresholds of complete obnoxiousness and pathological lack of self-control. Also ignoring or distorting rebuttals and use of obsessive numbers of posts to “overwhelm” a thread.

Note that both IBIG and Kris have at times made points that, in isolation, were relevant; it’s the overall behavior that’s the problem.

Michael Behe - Obnoxious impersonation of a real person without their permission; it’s a no-brainer.

Carolyn - although apparently new, ignores or distorts rebuttals while attempting to “overwhelm” threads with obsessive numbers of posts. May well be Kris. Carolyn, if you’re not Kris, my sincere apologies for that.

Kris was already banned from here. Then he went to At the Bar Closes and went crazy there too.

Dale Husband said:

harold said:

DS -

I would also suggest that some one check all ISP addresses for IBIG, Kris, Michael Behe, Carolyn and others

Although I am generally strongly in favor of letting creationists make points, and then being refuted, I strongly agree with respect to these examples, for the following reasons -

IBIG - Has had extensive opportunities to make his or her points; now persists in repetition of refuted points.

Kris - Kris has characteristics that would lead me to support his ban no matter what viewpoint he was “arguing”. Most notably personal threats, which although not reaching the threshold for reporting to law enforcement, have far exceeded the thresholds of complete obnoxiousness and pathological lack of self-control. Also ignoring or distorting rebuttals and use of obsessive numbers of posts to “overwhelm” a thread.

Note that both IBIG and Kris have at times made points that, in isolation, were relevant; it’s the overall behavior that’s the problem.

Michael Behe - Obnoxious impersonation of a real person without their permission; it’s a no-brainer.

Carolyn - although apparently new, ignores or distorts rebuttals while attempting to “overwhelm” threads with obsessive numbers of posts. May well be Kris. Carolyn, if you’re not Kris, my sincere apologies for that.

Kris was already banned from here. Then he went to At the Bar Closes and went crazy there too.

Kris is dangerous and scares me.

Matt Young said:

You apparently also blocked one of my comments that had nothing to do with the troll.

Sorry - the deus ex machina disapproved that important comment (in fact, 2 iterations of it), and I must not have noticed. I have just approved it; it is the first comment on this thread.

Thank you. My apologies for the confusion. This is a serious issue.

As both a Republican and a Conservative, I strongly endorse your sentiments, harold:

harold said:

The individual States should control America’s schools.

States do have departments of education and exert a fair degree of influence over public schools.

Unfortunately for authoritarian bigots, it is illegal to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America, regardless of level of control over bureaucracy. Even if local and federal educational bureaucracy were both entirely eliminated and all control shifted to the states, you still wouldn’t be able to teach a dogmatic, sadistic, superficially self-serving, and dishonest misinterpretation of a seventeenth century translation of bronze age symbolism as “science” in taxpayer funded schools.

The idea that individual states can deprive their citizens of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America has been tested many times, most notably in the cases of slavery and segregation, and failed.

Although I believe Abraham Lincoln did the right thing in his time, in the present, I, personally, would strongly welcome the secession of any region of the United States where a vast majority is unhappy with basic freedoms and basic scientific reality. If you are interested in such an endeavor, please let me know, so that I can support it. Also, if you are considering a permanent move to a jurisdiction where sectarian religion is enforced as law, I would love to help organize that. You would probably have to choose an Islamic state, but those states do come far closer to your ideals than the US. You can easily find one where homosexuals, uppity women, and the like are severely punished; all you’ll have to do is convince people to retain local laws, but switch to using the word “Jesus” where they would normally use the word “Mohammed”.

If you choose to remain under US jurisdiction, you have the right to believe or pretend to believe whatever self-serving, anti-rational nonsense you choose, buy you’ll never, never, never, never, ever, ever be able to legally teach it in public school science classes, not even if you live as long as Methuseleh. Sorry.

John Kwok -

It is entirely possible to be a conservative and agree with what I said there. Indeed, since I’m talking about the very First Amendment to the US Constitution, which reflects issues that long predate the American Revolution, one could say that supporting freedom of conscience is plainly the most conservative possible position on this particular issue (not to imply that I take conservative positions on other issues).

However, I am not sure that it is possible to seriously call oneself a “Republican”, at this stage in history, if one supports freedom of conscience. The Republican party has been pandering to religious authoritarians for three decades.

This is probably all I need to say; as a courtesy to the moderators please go directly to the BW if you have a reply. It will surely be seen there.

harold said:

John Kwok -

It is entirely possible to be a conservative and agree with what I said there. Indeed, since I’m talking about the very First Amendment to the US Constitution, which reflects issues that long predate the American Revolution, one could say that supporting freedom of conscience is plainly the most conservative possible position on this particular issue (not to imply that I take conservative positions on other issues).

However, I am not sure that it is possible to seriously call oneself a “Republican”, at this stage in history, if one supports freedom of conscience. The Republican party has been pandering to religious authoritarians for three decades.

This is probably all I need to say; as a courtesy to the moderators please go directly to the BW if you have a reply. It will surely be seen there.

harold,

I am in full agreement with what you say except your observation regarding the Republican Party. As far back as 1981, Barry Goldwater warned the Republican Party of the Faustian bargain it was making via its then nascent alliance with the Religious Right. Goldwater’s condemnation was far more prescient than even he himself would have dared to admit. No, I stand with my fellow Republicans who are interested in annulling all ties to the so-called “Religious” Right. But I think you should have guessed that already.

Parents can make life miserable for any teacher who teaches evolution properly; and they can make life especially miserable for school administrators, who, in my experience at least, are not a very courageous bunch.

For all the bleating one hears about the importance of education, teachers are not well respected in the United States. The American system of mediocre, mass produced education has always depended upon low status, low paid personnel who have always been expected to shut up and do what they’re told. Our popular culture simply does not value learning, and most of us use do not the word “teacher” with anything like the same deference that goes with its synonyms in other languages. While one honors a person by addressing them as rabbi or sensei, teachers are mostly just figures of fun, especially on television. It would be unfair and certainly unrealistic to expect this browbeaten group to stand up to community pressure, though individual teachers sometimes do so, often at considerable personal cost.

Is it unrealistic to develop a curriculum based on a historical/evidentiary approach? I grew up reading books like Microbe Hunters, which made science into something of an adventure, or a detective story.

I don’t have much time today to develop this idea, but it seems to me that controversy is interesting and exciting.

And if you set the evolution vs ID controversy in the 19th century, where it belongs, you have a handle with which to portray ID as having made no progress since 1803.

Midwifetoad said:

I don’t have much time today to develop this idea, but it seems to me that controversy is interesting and exciting.

And if you set the evolution vs ID controversy in the 19th century, where it belongs, you have a handle with which to portray ID as having made no progress since 1803.

Tom S, over on the thread about Casey Luskin, put up this link to Herbert Spencer, The Development Hypothesis.

It makes it pretty clear that the sectarian objections to evolution haven’t changed much since the 19th century.

In fact, much of that anti-evolution thinking is rooted in medieval thinking, along with a considerable amount of the Bonze Age thinking of people in the Middle East.

Probably the biggest change is in the socio/political marketing tactics used by ID/creationists along with the pseudo-science they market in order to make themselves appear “legitimate.”

In that respect, ID/creationism has become far more dishonest; and consciously so.

Our secondary science teacher education program requires those earning a primary endorsement in biology to earn an undergraduate degree in biology and successfully complete a biological evolution course. However, we have had students earn very high grades in their undergraduate major and even in the biological evolution course, yet not accept biological evolution as a sound science idea that must be taugh in secondary school. We also require all our preservice secondary science teachers to take a Nature of Science and Science Education course that I teach. We explicitly address the biological evolution/creationism/ID Public education controversy, why biological evolution is sound science, and why creationism/ID is not science. But most every year I have at least one biology major (having done well in the biological evolution course) make clear they do not intend to teach biological evolution. I have even had such students maintain that the Earth is approximately 10,000 years old. So while I am a strong advocate of requiring an undergraduate science degree and a nature of science course, those experiences do not ensure that all those becoming biology teachers will teach biological evolution.

Michael Clough said:

We explicitly address the biological evolution/creationism/ID Public education controversy, why biological evolution is sound science, and why creationism/ID is not science. But most every year I have at least one biology major (having done well in the biological evolution course) make clear they do not intend to teach biological evolution. I have even had such students maintain that the Earth is approximately 10,000 years old. So while I am a strong advocate of requiring an undergraduate science degree and a nature of science course, those experiences do not ensure that all those becoming biology teachers will teach biological evolution.

This is where scientists, no matter whether involved in only research or in an academic environment, need to become involved in professional organizations and committees that review educational standards at the elementary and secondary levels of education. If possible, one should also become involved in those committees that prepare standards for state boards of education.

Many professional organizations nowadays have such committees. Years ago, even the professional organizations connected with teaching didn’t bring pre-college education into consideration; nor did they welcome pre-college teachers warmly. Fortunately things have changed.

Yet very few professionals not directly involved in teaching ever develop an interest in the educational standards and practices. I made it a point throughout my career – even when I wasn’t teaching - to maintain my membership in and to attend state and national meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers in addition to my attendance at other professional conferences. Yet I encountered very few other researchers who knew or even cared about what was going on in education.

If state boards and local boards of education insist on high curriculum standards, and at the same time expect teachers to teach to those standards, the only places such rigid sectarians can go is to sectarian schools that teach creationism.

Phony scientists from the ICR, AiG, and the DI do get involved; and their scams need to be exposed.

MC:

But most every year I have at least one biology major (having done well in the biological evolution course) make clear they do not intend to teach biological evolution.

Which is odd. You don’t have to “believe” something to teach it or learn it.

Quite a few biblical scholars and seminary teachers end up agnostics or atheists. Actually looking at what is in the magic book, seeing the bones i.e. how it is a kludgy stitched together anthology with little continuity, and reading the atrocity parts (most of it) can do that.

Some are quite notable in their fields and they still teach. Bart Ehrman, Hector Avalos, and Marcus Borg come to mind and many others.

Looks like those well educated biology major creationists are either cowards or more likely, raging blind fundie xian religious fanatics.

Wouldn’t want them around my kids in a million years but, as long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes, not much to be done about.

raven said:

MC:

But most every year I have at least one biology major (having done well in the biological evolution course) make clear they do not intend to teach biological evolution.

Which is odd. You don’t have to “believe” something to teach it or learn it.

Quite a few biblical scholars and seminary teachers end up agnostics or atheists. Actually looking at what is in the magic book, seeing the bones i.e. how it is a kludgy stitched together anthology with little continuity, and reading the atrocity parts (most of it) can do that.

Some are quite notable in their fields and they still teach. Bart Ehrman, Hector Avalos, and Marcus Borg come to mind and many others.

Looks like those well educated biology major creationists are either cowards or more likely, raging blind fundie xian religious fanatics.

Wouldn’t want them around my kids in a million years but, as long as they do it in the privacy of their own homes, not much to be done about.

Being unwilling to follow consistent logic should disqualify anyone from being considered a legitimate scientist. It doesn’t matter if the object of their fraud and/or prejudicial thinking is the Bible or astrology. It still stinks.

Gaythia said:

paul said:

If I had kids, I would home school them.

I would like to see vouchers so I could send them to a school that taught biology properly.

Then what kind of planet would they grow up to be part of? What would it be like if your kids were part of a very small subculture of educated ones?

A strong democracy, and a strongly supported scientific community both require an educated public.

Planet?

I’m talking about if I lived in a town where the teachers didn’t teach evolution.

I can’t say I’m terribly surprised that even with an Evolution course and a history and nature of science course you still find some resistance. The research I have seen on actually teaching the nature of science really quite dramatically points out the limitations of any single course on imparting a very deep sense of how science is conducted. I believe the only really effective strategy is to seriously rework some of the assumptions about how much emphasis is given to this subject. I think you’d get a much higher quality grad student out of the process as well. Perhaps something like a sophomore and senior coursework pair that covers material relevant to the major and some select examples from other science disciplines. The courses in the history and nature of science would ideally be smaller discussion sections, and you would adopt a teaching seminar format where most of the time is spent discussing the readings and building it into a coherent picture of how science works.

Stanton said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Kevin B said:

Anyone else got a mental picture of a Calvin & Hobbes cardboard box time machine? The YECers wouldn’t be able to find the Precambrian, because their time machine wouldn’t have any dates before 4004BC on the dial, so they wouldn’t be able to choose to go there.

So they go back to the Garden of Eden and stop Eve from eating the apple.

Then we are stuck with an overpopulated Garden of Eden, with a snake running around tempting everyone to get some scientific knowledge; and no Christians to take offense because nobody has any knowledge of good and evil.

And, with a larger population, there is a higher probably that many more than two people bite and God smites. So the mess starts all over again; but now there are better time machines because there was no Dark Ages postponing scientific progress.

Heh; ID/creationist science fiction.

There wouldn’t be any problem of overpopulation in the Garden of Eden: the problem of sex, and procreation is, according to Christians, a horrifying curse levied upon Eve and all women as punishment for not making letting Adam stop her from eating the Forbidden Apple and dooming the entire Universe to God’s never-ending wrath.

Sex isn’t a problem when it’s within the marriage of a man and a woman.

henry blathered:Sex isn’t a problem when it’s within the marriage of a man and a woman.

Millions of married couples would beg to differ.

The phrase “how science works” gets at the fundamental difference between creationism and evolution. Creationism (regardless of your position on the matter) should be regarded as a sort of politics or history of science. Whether someone agrees with it being taught in schools or not, is irrelevant, and the fact of the matter is, it’s a perspective (again, whether valid or not). One might argue that “I think 2+2=5, so we should teach it in schools, because it’s a perspective”. The difference here, is that Creationism is extremely popular. Should we teach popular perspectives? It’s probably not the best approach, if we want to advance the sciences, but it’s important to arm people against the populace, perhaps manifesting as a “history of evolution” course. “How science works”, on the other hand, does not include creationism. There is no way to simultaneously argue for the advancement of any scientific research while including creationism in that argument.

It’s sad that none of you follow the constitution anymore. It’s called the freedom of religion, in case you haven’t heard. There’s also this thing called freedom of speech- ring a bell?

bjdeofdwq said: It’s called the freedom of religion, in case you haven’t heard.

More explicitly, the exclusion clause, which prohibits the government from elevating any religion over another, or for that matter over any pattern of nonbelief.

Oh, look, Byers learned how to sock.

bjdeofdwq said:

It’s sad that none of you follow the constitution anymore.

You mean the part where the state shall not involve itself with establishing religion, or the part where the state shall require no religious test for holding office?

And IIRC you’re Canadian, Byers, what difference does the US Constitution make to you?

You should be worrying about the Canadian Constitution.

Oh… Wait… that one keeps state and church separate too (Sec 2b again, IIRC).

Oh, look, Byers learned how to sock.

Whether it is the Byers troll or a new one, please do not feed it.

Sex isn’t a problem when it’s within the marriage of a man and a woman.

In a tub.

full of jello.

with some of the neighbors along for more fun?

hey, if you can make arbitrary rules that AREN’T even fun, surely I can make some up that are.

Being unwilling to follow consistent logic should disqualify anyone from being considered a legitimate scientist.

even if it didn’t, given the choice to hire someone for a research position that exhibited problems with logic, vs one that did not…

it defacto selects against the irrational.

it’s a perspective (again, whether valid or not). One might argue that “I think 2+2=5, so we should teach it in schools, because it’s a perspective”. The difference here, is that Creationism is extremely popular. Should we teach popular perspectives?

no, we should teach USEFUL things.

holocaust denial is a perspective which is NOT useful or predictive in understanding human history.

creationism, in any form, is NOT useful or predictive in understanding how the world around us works and has come to be the way it is.

it’s the very reason science exists:

it works.

besides, I’m quite sick of the religious thinking they get TWO chances to educate our kids in nonsense.

they already have tax-deductible churches; and while I think THAT is excessive, they most certainly shouldn’t be allowed to pervert the other public forms of education.

greedy bastards.

earlier…

According to the authors, neither general cognitive ability nor scientific literacy correlates with a disbelief in evolution.

that doesn’t agree with the Gallup Poll data for the last 30 years, at all:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publia.htm

something ain’t right here.

Ichthyic said:

In a tub.

full of jello.

Funny story.

I had a friend back in college who actually tried this with his girlfriend.

(He worked in a nursing home and had access to huge amounts of gelatin.)

He related that it works a lot better in the movies. In real life, apparently, body heat causes you to sink in.

And then… there are the logistical problems that nobody ever tells you about. Like after you’re… um.. done, you find yourself all gooey and covered with re-congealing gelatin - but you can’t clean yourself up because your tub is full of freakin’ gelatin.

And just how do you get rid of it all. Todd assumed that he’d just melt it with hot water. That doesn’t work.

Apparently, what happens in the real world is that you try to melt it and flush it down the drain, then, after you realize that you have now created the largest drain clog you will ever have in the whole rest of your life, you cut the rest of it into pieces, and drag the chunks out into trash cans all over the block.

Or so I am told.

stevaroni said:

And just how do you get rid of it all. Todd assumed that he’d just melt it with hot water. That doesn’t work.

Apparently, what happens in the real world is that you try to melt it and flush it down the drain, then, after you realize that you have now created the largest drain clog you will ever have in the whole rest of your life, you cut the rest of it into pieces, and drag the chunks out into trash cans all over the block.

Seems like you should be able to toss a bunch of meat tenderizer into the tub and let proteolysis work its magic. I sense a home science experiment in the offing (at the bowl scale, not the tub scale).

And just how do you get rid of it all

hmm.

it’s a cartilage based protein, yeah?

I’d say a solution of bleach should break it down pretty rapidly.

regardless of the headaches.…

so totally worth being able to say you tried it, dontchya think?

:)

SWT said:

Seems like you should be able to toss a bunch of meat tenderizer into the tub and let proteolysis work its magic.

Ichtyic said:

it’s a cartilage based protein, yeah?

I’d say a solution of bleach should break it down pretty rapidly.

Both possibly viable solutions.

Sadly, none of us knew anything about dissolving proteins so this is far better than we were able to offer, which mostly involved guffawing loudly and marveling to each other about what Todd and his girlfriend got up to (and wondering why we couldn’t find girlfriends like that).

Ahhh, college truly was a magic and marvelous time.

The hero of our story, by the way, eventually got into law enforcement.

Be afraid.

fnxtr said:

Oh, look, Byers learned how to sock.

Maybe. However, there’s a hole in the toe.

Surely, in times past, marriage was less about sex, and more about having someone to do the mending. :)

Public schools are funded by a mix of local, state, and federal taxes. Education funding, and educational access, at all levels, is going to be greatly reduced in coming months. That is a much greater problem than the occasional neglect of evolution as such, or injection of a little creationism.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on January 28, 2011 9:49 PM.

Casey Luskin thinks normal scientific explanations are “just so” stories was the previous entry in this blog.

PICS-Ord or: How to Stop Worrying and Use Ambiguous Regions in Phylogenetic Analysis is the next entry in this blog.

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