Creationist shenanigans in the public schools

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Under the heading Creationism Follies, Heather L. Weaver, an ACLU staffer, recalls the infamous fourth-grade science quiz that we described here on May 1. Being an ACLU staffer, Weaver notes that “religious schools are well within their First Amendment rights to indoctrinate students in this manner.” Not being an ACLU staffer, I note that they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so, and schools that teach creationism as if it were truly science should lose their accreditation. Indeed, recent court decisions have upheld the University of California’s right to require remedial courses for students who have been miseducated at religious high schools.

But what about the public schools? Weaver outlines what she calls “just a few examples of creationism advocates working their influence in the public schools during the 2012-2013 school year”:

  • An elementary school in Kentucky took students on a field trip to the Creation “Museum” as part of their science curriculum. Their they “learned” that Lucy and other “ape men” are not part of the human family tree.
  • In Kansas, a district invited creationists into the public schools to discuss the “truth about dinosaurs.” The presenter had no scientific or teaching credentials whatsoever, and fortunately was forced to remove all religious content from his talk.
  • A biology teacher in Florida showed videos that purported to debunk the theory of evolution. The ACLU notified the school district that promoting religious beliefs in public schools is unconstitutional, but apparently only after the fact. They say they are still investigating.
  • A school board in Ohio defined evolution as a “controversial issue” and directed that “all sides of the issue should be given to the students in a dispassionate manner.” The ACLU explained that “balanced treatment,” “teaching the controversy,” “academic freedom,” and “encouraging critical thinking” are code words for unlawfully teaching creationism. The school board has backed down—for now.

Finally, Weaver observes that it has been 90 years since the Scopes trial (which, incidentally, we lost) and 45 years since Epperson vs. Arkansas overturned a ban on teaching evolution in public schools, yet “with every critical defeat, the creationism movement simply regroups and maps out yet another scheme to undermine evolution education in the public schools,” as the preceding anecdotes all too clearly testify.

42 Comments

I could see taking the kids to a creation “museum” and challenging them to list every error there.

No, that would certainly be too big an assignment, since that would be almost everything, except for maybe some names. 50 errors ought to be easy enough for, say, 8th graders to find.

Glen Davidson

I could see taking the kids to a creation “museum” and challenging them to list every error there.

It would indeed be an informative and fun outing to look for errors. Heck, the poor kids would be hard-pressed to think of a better senior prank!

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

I could see taking the kids to a creation “museum” and challenging them to list every error there.

No, that would certainly be too big an assignment, since that would be almost everything, except for maybe some names. 50 errors ought to be easy enough for, say, 8th graders to find.

Glen Davidson

Kenny would kick them all out at that first giggle! I believe their security officers are “trained” to detect scoffers.

Kenny would kick them all out at that first giggle! I believe their security officers are “trained” to detect scoffers.

That would be after they have collected entrance fees.

Karen S. said:

Kenny would kick them all out at that first giggle! I believe their security officers are “trained” to detect scoffers.

That would be after they have collected entrance fees.

LOL! Of course. I think they are in some financial woes! It’s wonderful.

I suggest the assignment be to have the students just take pictures of things that are wrong. Then return to class, research the information as presented in the “museum”*, and create a website that debunks the information in the creation museum.

The Social Studies class should write up the various court decisions and how the US Constitution impacts the teaching of the information in museum.

The English class would be responsible for proofing the materials, writing the intro pages, etc.

Get the CS class to design, build, and implement the website, including predicting the traffic and choosing the best server for it.

Good cross-curriculum project.

* How can you have a museum based on myths?

ogremk5 said:

* How can you have a museum based on myths?

I see nothing wrong with that. The problem is that they don’t admit they’re myths. They promote them as truths.

So instead of being a museum of interesting or amusing mythology or fiction, it is a museum of outright lies.

How can you have a museum based on myths?

You can indeed have museum exhibitions on mythic creatures. The American Museum of Natural History in 2008 had an exhibition on Mythic Creatures. It was pretty good, but they should have added an ID proponent engaged in serious research.

There’s no doubt in my mind that what these clowns want to teach is complete nonsense, let me be clear up front. But doesn’t the case touch on very real questions regarding rights in a democratic state? We who admit the obvious truth of evolution may quickly jump to the conclusion that it should be taught even in private, religious schools. But this is because we currently have political and judicial power on this issue. Imagine that the tables were turned and the creationists gain political and judicial power… not an entirely fantastic scenario in the US. Should they be able to mandate that creationism be taught not only in public schools but also in private non-religious schools to which we would all be scrambling to send our kids? This of course is precisely why such schools are allowed to teach whatever nonsense they want to their kids. This is why it is a very real and legitimate issue of familial vs. societal rights. (I’m not a lawyer, so these are probably not the right terms, but I hope it is clear what I am intending nonetheless.) And this is why our laws stipulate that the state cannot force a person or persons, in this case parents, to believe and to teach their children what the state wants them to believe and teach. The state has a responsibility to teach science in the science classroom, certainly, but does this mean it should force upon individuals and individual families what the state (currently) holds to be scientifically valid? I don’t know. I think it’s a legitimate social and political issue… not, of course, a scientific one.

And this is why our laws stipulate that the state cannot force a person or persons, in this case parents, to believe and to teach their children what the state wants them to believe and teach. The state has a responsibility to teach science in the science classroom, certainly, but does this mean it should force upon individuals and individual families what the state (currently) holds to be scientifically valid? I don’t know. I think it’s a legitimate social and political issue… not, of course, a scientific one.

Of course the state has no right to tell students what they must believe, even in a public school. But in science class, the public schools must teach the science accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists. In other words, you can believe that the universe is 30 seconds old if you want, but that answer will not be acceptable on tests.

Karen, please reread.

Jared -

Here is what the OP says -

I note that they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so, and schools that teach creationism as if it were truly science should lose their accreditation.

I agree with both you and Matt Young.

Private schools have a 100% legal right to teach creationism.

There is no legal requirement for universities or employers to recognize arbitrary curricula as equivalent to standard high school coursework, however. Of course there can’t be; private schools can teach almost anything.

Students who wish to be given credit for standard material need to cover that material.

But they are not legally obliged to.

Fundamentalists demand privilege. They want credit for work they didn’t do.

If you are too offended by or fearful of science to study it, you cannot demand credit for science courses.

Hypothetically they could simply study good science, get credit for that, and also study creationism. In practice they don’t care about the actual details of creationism, they just want to censor, deny, and distort science. Hey, no science, no science credit.

Jared said:

There’s no doubt in my mind that what these clowns want to teach is complete nonsense, let me be clear up front. But doesn’t the case touch on very real questions regarding rights in a democratic state? We who admit the obvious truth of evolution may quickly jump to the conclusion that it should be taught even in private, religious schools. But this is because we currently have political and judicial power on this issue. Imagine that the tables were turned and the creationists gain political and judicial power… not an entirely fantastic scenario in the US. Should they be able to mandate that creationism be taught not only in public schools but also in private non-religious schools to which we would all be scrambling to send our kids? This of course is precisely why such schools are allowed to teach whatever nonsense they want to their kids. This is why it is a very real and legitimate issue of familial vs. societal rights. (I’m not a lawyer, so these are probably not the right terms, but I hope it is clear what I am intending nonetheless.) And this is why our laws stipulate that the state cannot force a person or persons, in this case parents, to believe and to teach their children what the state wants them to believe and teach. The state has a responsibility to teach science in the science classroom, certainly, but does this mean it should force upon individuals and individual families what the state (currently) holds to be scientifically valid? I don’t know. I think it’s a legitimate social and political issue… not, of course, a scientific one.

Many school districts… probably most… are already under the scenario you describe. They don’t know the law, they don’t understand it, and they don’t know what the actual science is.

Because the superintendents, school board, and principles don’t know what the real science is, then they promote false science thinking that they are correct.

There’s a fundamental difference between having the right to believe what you want and being able to promote false information in a public school. It is relatively easy to demonstrate that all of the anti-science information is false, lies, misdirection, and plainly wrong. It is much harder to explain it to someone who is socially biased against it.

I once got a talking to by my principle because I taught evolution. I had to explain to her that evolution was a state mandated curriculum requirement. Her and a bunch of parent’s were calling for me to be fired, until I showed them the text of the state requirements. How much socially biased can you get?

Harold, certainly, no proper university should be required to give science credit for religious flapdoodle. I don’t believe I suggested any such thing.

ogremk5, I don’t think anything in my statement conflicts with anything you have said, does it?

The comment “they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so” I found very interesting for the phrase “intellectual right”, the meaning of which I am not entirely certain. Legal rights are of course rights defined by legal and political institutions. I don’t know if there is such thing as an “intellectual right”. I think I can understand if one were to say simply that they are intellectually dishonest, which to my mind means that they may sincerely believe the nonsense that they preach, and are thus “emotionally honest” – if I may coin the phrase – but that they do not engage in the intellectual activities normally required or expected in other domains, and are therefore “intellectually dishonest”.

But perhaps I’m missing something. I’m certainly not a philosopher. Is there a generally accepted definition or usage of “intellectual right”? Is saying that they have no “intellectual right” to teach something (e.g. creationism) any different than simply saying that they’re teaching something that is entirely loopy?

And just a question out of ignorance: In what way are such religious schools accredited in the states in question? (Matt wrote, “Not being an ACLU staffer, I note that they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so, and schools that teach creationism as if it were truly science should lose their accreditation.”) Are such religious schools accredited, e.g. for biology degrees? I wouldn’t have thought so, but I can’t say I’m well informed about it. As Matt mentioned, the courts upheld California’s schools’ right to reject such pseudo-credits.

Jared -

Well, I’ll leave it to the author of the original post to clarify “intellectual right”.

Whether creationists “believe” themselves is a complex question.

At one level, they Indulge in behaviors classically assoicated with deception, such as misrepresenting others, repeating statements that have been shown to be false, claiming to have access to some hidden data that they can’t yet reveal, deliberately using vague language, repeatedly changing the subject, lying about their credentials (e.g. claiming to hold credentials they don’t hold), misrepresenting their credentials (implying that credentials they do have apply to completely different fields), and obsessively firing off massive reams of auditory or written irrelevant verbosity in an effort to shut down discoures. These are just a few examples, of course. Reliance on this type of behavior is probably one reason why they do so badly in court; court is designed to test credibility and they behave in a way which is assoicated with obvious deceptiveness.

At another level, I think they are “sincere”, because I don’t think their authoritarian minds grasp the concept of evidence-based consensus, nor of responding to critique. For them, “truth” is what you can force other people to say they accept. To them, if you can use a combination of force, trickery, and censorship to successfully advance a claim, that makes the claim “truth”.

They are total advocates for science denial. They aren’t like defense attornies, because defense attornies represent individuals, and settle when the case is hopeless. For them, all that matters is to always use any tactice to deny evolution. There is no chance of the fully committed ones changing. To “convince” them that they are wrong would probably require totally inhumane and illegal techniques, such as those illustrated in the move “Clockwork Orange”. And doing that would not change them from being authoritarians. It would simply possibly change their ideology. Rigid ideologues to change ideologies from time to time, but they usually remain rigid ideologues.

…and fortunately was forced to remove all religious content from his talk

But with that one requirement met, the ACLU had no choice but to sit down, shut up, and let the event take place without hindrance.

A victory for the creationists. And the schoolchildren too.

FL

Jared said:

And just a question out of ignorance: In what way are such religious schools accredited in the states in question? (Matt wrote, “Not being an ACLU staffer, I note that they may have a legal right to teach students any kind of garbage that they like, but they have no intellectual right to do so, and schools that teach creationism as if it were truly science should lose their accreditation.”) Are such religious schools accredited, e.g. for biology degrees? I wouldn’t have thought so, but I can’t say I’m well informed about it. As Matt mentioned, the courts upheld California’s schools’ right to reject such pseudo-credits.

Accreditation is a slippery term. Technically it means that school has passed the judgement of a third party “accreditation agency” of which there are many. A fundamentalist school can be accredited by a fundamentalist accreditation agency even if it is not accedited by any more mainstream agency. Generally, accreditation is a non-government process. In fact , many schools, even public schools don’t bother with it. I used to teach at a non accredited private school. It was non accredited because we didn’t find it worthwhile to spend the 20,000 dollars accreditation would have cost. The only time it mattered was when one prospective student wanted to play serious college athletics and needed an “accredited school”. On the other hand, our school was “state approved” which meant we passed muster of state inspections of our curriculum, credentials, operations, etc. This might be what Matt meant by accreditation, I’m not sure. The public school I’ve been teaching at for a while now has recently toyed with the idea of foregoing accreditation because we see precious little value for the money spent and feel that we are held accountable to the state and the community already n more meaningful ways. In our state, some schools can be “state recognized” as schools, without being state “approved”. None of these labels, so far as I can tell, are based in any way on the content of the curriculum or the actual material taught in the classroom. They focus on other issues. None of this of course speaks to what colleges may or may not accept in the transcript of an applicant. Perhaps the best approach might be to really emphasize evolutionary topics in the standardized tests by which schools are evaluated. This would reveal not just the purported curriculum, but what students are actually learning.

FL said:

…and fortunately was forced to remove all religious content from his talk

But with that one requirement met, the ACLU had no choice but to sit down, shut up, and let the event take place without hindrance.

A victory for the creationists. And the schoolchildren too.

FL

The Creationists, perhaps. The schoolchildren, hardly. If my experience is any measure,,then these children were seriously misled and their ability to learn actual science in the future damaged. As a high school teacher I have seen so many young people exposed to fundamentalist ideas lose their critical thinking capacity. And I respect their faith, often these are some of my favorite students,,but when it comes to learning about ideas that might conflict with preconceived ideas received from parents and pastor, they understandably shut down intellectually. I don’t mean that they don’t accept evolution for example, I mean that they have little to no ability to even learn about it. Their anxiety becomes so great that they figuratively stick their fingers in their ears. Otherwise bright kids make silly illogical arguments that they would never make in another context. All because of,the social tension certain topics produce in them, their thinking ability goes out the window.

FL said:

…and fortunately was forced to remove all religious content from his talk

But with that one requirement met, the ACLU had no choice but to sit down, shut up, and let the event take place without hindrance.

A victory for the creationists. And the schoolchildren too.

FL

Sylvilagus said:

FL said:

…and fortunately was forced to remove all religious content from his talk

But with that one requirement met, the ACLU had no choice but to sit down, shut up, and let the event take place without hindrance.

A victory for the creationists. And the schoolchildren too.

FL

The Creationists, perhaps. The schoolchildren, hardly. If my experience is any measure,,then these children were seriously misled and their ability to learn actual science in the future damaged. As a high school teacher I have seen so many young people exposed to fundamentalist ideas lose their critical thinking capacity. And I respect their faith, often these are some of my favorite students,,but when it comes to learning about ideas that might conflict with preconceived ideas received from parents and pastor, they understandably shut down intellectually. I don’t mean that they don’t accept evolution for example, I mean that they have little to no ability to even learn about it. Their anxiety becomes so great that they figuratively stick their fingers in their ears. Otherwise bright kids make silly illogical arguments that they would never make in another context. All because of,the social tension certain topics produce in them, their thinking ability goes out the window.

Just to give another example. A friend of mine teaches human evolution at an Ivy League university. Every year she has one or two students claim that male humans have one less rib than females because of The creation of Eve. When told by a PROFESSOR that this is incorrect, they almost always become belligerent, accusing my friend of bias and demanding evidence. When my friend then produces a male and female skeleton from the storage room, these students almost invariable insist, after counting the ribs themselves, that the skeletons must by either forgeries,,fakes, or bizarre unique specimens. And this doesn’t happen once or twice. It happens year after year. Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum. And this doesnt apply only to obviously crackpot ideas like the missing rib. similalr shutdowns of logic occur and emotional outbursts happen with topic after topic. Tragic. Even if one does not accept evolutionary science, surely we can agree that any ideology or approach to education that has such consistently negative and bizarre effects on otherwise talented kids is doing something seriously wrong.

ogremk5 said:

I suggest the assignment be to have the students just take pictures of things that are wrong. Then return to class, research the information as presented in the “museum”*, and create a website that debunks the information in the creation museum.

The Social Studies class should write up the various court decisions and how the US Constitution impacts the teaching of the information in museum.

The English class would be responsible for proofing the materials, writing the intro pages, etc.

Get the CS class to design, build, and implement the website, including predicting the traffic and choosing the best server for it.

Good cross-curriculum project.

* How can you have a museum based on myths?

Good idea. Unfortunately it’s likely their teachers, who took them to the museum, support this nonsense and the deck is stacked against such “critical thinking” and wouldn’t allow the students the freedom to critize the moronic museum.

As for universities requiring remedial biology to make up for inept parochial school lessons, it should be at the expense of the student’s and not the state schools to pay for such remedial work, and on the student’s own time, and not part of their university curriculum credit activities.

The anxiety of parents about the effects of evolution on their kids is hyped in a number of churches around there. There are reformed type churches that use Ken Ham’s stuff.

Here is a letter to the editor of our local newspaper in February 2006; just after the decision in Dover, PA.

The local creationists were on a rampage in the previous years and had not got the word yet. These kinds of letters appeared for a few years after the Dover decision.

Evolution is a hypothesized theory, an unexplainable, farfetched idea. The supposed outcome of it - man – was never observed being formed. To expect a thinking person to accept it as factual science is nonsensical. It is a false religion, maneuvered into our captive-audience children in the governmental public schools, against most of our, wishes.

Religion is the act of having faith in something. Our children are being duped into having faith in unscientific evolution, under the guise of proven science. I want it removed from the schools.

I am appalled, stunned and cannot understand how supposedly thinking people have even bitten on this bait. Some don’t realize this is simply a handy tool used to subject our children to the atheistic idea of no God. Intelligent design does not have to be taught in the schools, but evolution should not be taught because it is not a proven fact.

A growing number of science professors and teachers, having taught this concept to children, tearfully admit they were duped and anguish over the fact they led so many astray. They are trying desperately to correct the error they taught, to the extent of writing books about it. Bravo for their courage and humility.

Children have quite simply been indoctrinated/brainwashed about a false theory/idea from youth onward. Put yourself in the child’s place. What vulnerable child could possibly refute this theory while under the dominating teacher’s influence? If that child is taught differently at home, the confusion and stress it causes the child is excruciating for him/her to bear, and undermines the rights of the parents to teach their child as they wish.

Children lose heart when they grow up thinking they are nothing but evolved animals. Actually, they are intricately woven created human beings. The theory that the evolving man gets better and smarter at each level is an ideal climate for the idea of racism to blossom- one level better than the other. However, the creation of human beings, of man/woman, by God allows no racism. All are created equal- no mention of race or color is made since all are brother and sisters, descended from the original human beings (Acts17:26- NKJV).

We need our schools to return to using Classroom time for teaching basics so our children will be employable after finishing high school.

Research now shows that sex and drug education encourages promiscuous behavior rather than discourages it, as is certainly evidenced by the downturn of our national teen culture. Including these courses in the public schools, has led us to be the sickest nation of teens/young adults in the world. Promiscuity, minds dominated by sex (not love), young teen single parenthood, abortions, fatherless children, malnourishment, addictions, STDs resulting in sterility, depression, suicide, murders in school, homosexuality, etc., are exhibited damaging effects realized in their pre-adult lives and carried into their adult lives.

Before the above nonsense courses were force-fed daily to our captive children, and God and prayer forced out, our nation led the world in teen academics and teen morality, and teens were healthy. Consequently, that led to a vibrantly blessed nation.

Observe what we have allowed to shamefully happen to a great percentage of those teens and the sick status of our nation. There is no excuse for us. Get the hurtful courses out and get God back in. We’ve discouraged and deprived a highly significant percentage of three generations of children who have ended up damaged by evolution/health courses being force fed to them. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to connect the dots for a thinking people. The money spent on just these two courses could be used to add productive, decent, courses to educate and turn our children’s minds optimistically on their future. And guess what? Their behavior would improve too.

Let’s fight to remove these classes from the schools now and give back to children the “sweet mystery of life” to discover for themselves at the proper adult times of their lives, and help equip our children with a healthy and high academic future. Let’s turn it around.

If my experience is any measure,,,,,,

then these children were seriously misled and their ability to learn actual science in the future damaged.

But that leads to a reasonable question: How do your KNOW that your personal experience and opinion is in any way applicable to this specific dinosaur event and the students at the Hugoton, Kansas schools? Do you have any rational warrant at all, for extending your opinion to the students regarding THIS particular event?

Did you conduct any surveys, polls, interviews, or ask Hugoton teachers or school admins about any negative effects of the dinosaur presentations, declining science quiz or test scores, science students making illogical arguments in science class, or offering belligerent “creationist” challenges toward any of their teachers?

Another example: according to news reports,

“(Creationist Matt Miles) helped the kids to think like a paleontologist — how dinos are named, excavated, where they are found,” (Hugoton Superintendent Mark) Crawford said of the assemblies.

So a reasonable question would be, do you have any evidence that factual errors were transmitted to the Hugoton students regarding the naming, excavating, or locating of dinosaurs?

The ACLU wrote in their letter that “public schools are not permitted to present students with false information”, but the ACLU never once specified to the media, any “false information” that creationist Miles communicated to the Hugoton students at any of the school assemblies. In fact, even Heather Weaver’s ACLU article doesn’t state any specific “false information” on the part of Miles.

****

Hey, I’m just asking questions here. I’m not in favor of “one or two” creationist students trying to challenge your Ivy League friend with mistaken claims about guys having one more rib. Nobody on any side, wants students’ abilities to learn science to be damaged.

But it honestly doesn’t sound like any of that stuff happened at or after the Hugoton dinosaur presentations.

Rationality (and science too) demands that we come up with some evidence, NOT bald unsupported assertions and NOT bald anti-creationist bigotry, if we’re going to suggest such things in connection with the Hugoton Schools event.

FL

Chirp, chirp.

With respect to Matt Young, I don’t like the term “intellectual right”, because those words also mean a form of copyright exercised over original creative output, such as fiction or music. Matt means here the asserted right of creationists to teach creationism and deny evolution in their own schools, and he is, by implication, saying that it is no right at all.

I am not to put words in Matt’s mouth, but if that is what he means, I think he’s correct. I, too, don’t believe that institutions that advertise themselves as ‘schools’ have any right to claim that status if what they teach is ignorance, prejudice and flat-out falsehood. They are not entitled to teach religious dogma as if it were observed fact. It’s simply false advertising. Free speech does not extend to false advertisement.

I suppose it comes down to what you regard as “individual rights”. In this country, the situation is that any school, private or public, religious or secular, must teach (in the lower grades to year 10) a science curriculum, and this curriculum must include a basic treatment of the fact and theory of evolution, and in the upper grades (years 11-12) must offer a biology core unit, which is examinable, and which definitely does include basic genetics, and further understanding of the Theory. I suppose that there are religious schools of some of the loopier denominations that attempt to evade this requirement. But the State Departments of Education have inspection and oversight of them, and they are perfectly capable of lifting licences if the guidelines are outraged too greatly.

There are creationists hereabouts, for sure. Apart from getting the occasional letter in the paper, they have no political traction at all. There simply is not in this country any serious thought of not teaching the Theory and fact of evolution, even in the private education sector; and yet Australia appears to me to be a robust democracy nevertheless.

Patient 1, Stumpy?

FL said:

If my experience is any measure,,,,,,

then these children were seriously misled and their ability to learn actual science in the future damaged.

But that leads to a reasonable question: How do your KNOW that your personal experience and opinion is in any way applicable to this specific dinosaur event and the students at the Hugoton, Kansas schools? Do you have any rational warrant at all, for extending your opinion to the students regarding THIS particular event?

Did you conduct any surveys, polls, interviews, or ask Hugoton teachers or school admins about any negative effects of the dinosaur presentations, declining science quiz or test scores, science students making illogical arguments in science class, or offering belligerent “creationist” challenges toward any of their teachers?

Another example: according to news reports,

“(Creationist Matt Miles) helped the kids to think like a paleontologist — how dinos are named, excavated, where they are found,” (Hugoton Superintendent Mark) Crawford said of the assemblies.

So a reasonable question would be, do you have any evidence that factual errors were transmitted to the Hugoton students regarding the naming, excavating, or locating of dinosaurs?

The ACLU wrote in their letter that “public schools are not permitted to present students with false information”, but the ACLU never once specified to the media, any “false information” that creationist Miles communicated to the Hugoton students at any of the school assemblies. In fact, even Heather Weaver’s ACLU article doesn’t state any specific “false information” on the part of Miles.

****

Hey, I’m just asking questions here. I’m not in favor of “one or two” creationist students trying to challenge your Ivy League friend with mistaken claims about guys having one more rib. Nobody on any side, wants students’ abilities to learn science to be damaged.

But it honestly doesn’t sound like any of that stuff happened at or after the Hugoton dinosaur presentations.

Rationality (and science too) demands that we come up with some evidence, NOT bald unsupported assertions and NOT bald anti-creationist bigotry, if we’re going to suggest such things in connection with the Hugoton Schools event.

FL

Fairly typical of the FL line: “You guys gotta prove every last nuance and detail, but I don’t gotta prove nuthin’.”

Probably this Miles guy, having been warned not to use religious dogma or Bible quotes as evidence, and having been forcibly prevented from using creationist materials, was reduced to facts about dinosaur paleontology. He might have been able to impress a grade-school class that he knew something about it. I hope he was carefully supervised. If so, the worst he could have done - probably - was to fudge and leave stuff out.

Far better if an actual, you know, dinosaur paleontologist had done it, though.

I just registered. No response necessary.

FL said:

If my experience is any measure,,,,,,

then these children were seriously misled and their ability to learn actual science in the future damaged.

But that leads to a reasonable question: How do your KNOW that your personal experience and opinion is in any way applicable to this specific dinosaur event and the students at the Hugoton, Kansas schools?

I don’t. Period. That’s why I so blatantly wrote in the CONDITIONAL MOOD, beginning my claim with the word IF, thereby consciously marking the claim as speculation dependent upon an assumption. Congratulations on “catching” that.

Of course I was simply responding to YOUR blanket claim, without evidence, that this was a “victory” for the children, by offering other possible outcomes which your lack of evidence did not preclude.

Do you have any rational warrant at all, for extending your opinion to the students regarding THIS particular event?

Applying past experience to a situation is rational when a) the experience has been consistent thus far and b) the new circumstances are analogous to the prior circumstances in significant ways.

A) My experience of the impact of creationist thought on learning has been pretty much universal in my experience, based upon about 20 years of living and learning in a largely fundamentalist community and about 25 years of teaching. I have known few exceptions. Very few.

B) the invited speaker had no scientific or educational credentials. Therefore it seems that he was invited simply as a Creationist who “knew” some stuff about dinosaurs. Seems to match pretty well.

But of course I withhold final judgement since I have no actual evidence. He and his impact on the kids might be one of those exceptions.

Of course I stil see no evidence for your claim that it was a “victory” for the children.

Did you conduct any surveys, polls, interviews, or ask Hugoton teachers or school admins about any negative effects of the dinosaur presentations, declining science quiz or test scores, science students making illogical arguments in science class, or offering belligerent “creationist” challenges toward any of their teachers?

Now you’re just being extra silly.

The ACLU wrote in their letter that “public schools are not permitted to present students with false information”, but the ACLU never once specified to the media, any “false information” that creationist Miles communicated to the Hugoton students at any of the school assemblies.

I wouldn’t expect them to. “False information” is not the purview of the ACLU. Even false information is covered by free speech. Might be under the purview of the state dept of education. Furthermore, the ACLU lacks expertise, generally, in evaluating scientific claims. Not their job. So their silence on this matter is evidence of precisely nothing.

Hey, I’m just asking questions here. I’m not in favor of “one or two” creationist students trying to challenge your Ivy League friend with mistaken claims about guys having one more rib. Nobody on any side, wants students’ abilities to learn science to be damaged.

One or two PER YEAR. If nobody wants the damage done, then STOP doing it.

Rationality (and science too) demands that we come up with some evidence, NOT bald unsupported assertions and NOT bald anti-creationist bigotry, if we’re going to suggest such things in connection with the Hugoton Schools event.

FL

Whatever my experiences amount to, it is not bigotry. I am opposed not to creationists, nor to their beliefs, but to certain anti social, anti intellectual modes of thought that they become accustomed to. Some creationists are dearly beloved by me as family members. No bigotry there. One of the local vocal creationists in my town is a good friend of mine. No bigotry there. I talk honestly with them about their beliefs. Respectfully too. But I also point out the illogic they rely upon. In my friend’s case, he actually admits in our closer moments that his arguments are largely driven by emotion rather than logic and derive ultimately from his need to believe the faith of his family. He just knows that evolution is false even if he cannot prove it and finds himself driven to twist logic, often embarrassingly when he reflects on my points. When I see a friend so twisted inside, so pained, by his own perceived conflicts between logic and faith, between science and faith, I am saddened and concerned. He once said to me that he felt jealous I was raised by a religious tradition that encouraged critical thought rather than conformity which he said interfered now with his ability to think clearly. No bigotry own my part here, just friendship, love, and concern. I can’t help but add to this that I just received a lovely note from one of my favorite students, a fundamentalist and creationist, thanking me as her favorite teacher and especially thanking me for respecting her faith while also pushing her to develop critical thinking. No bigotry there, just friendship, love, and concern.

Not everyone who disagrees strongly with you is your enemy, nor biased against you.

ogremk5 said:

Many school districts… probably most… are already under the scenario you describe. They don’t know the law, they don’t understand it, and they don’t know what the actual science is.

Because the superintendents, school board, and principles don’t know what the real science is, then they promote false science thinking that they are correct.

There’s a fundamental difference between having the right to believe what you want and being able to promote false information in a public school. It is relatively easy to demonstrate that all of the anti-science information is false, lies, misdirection, and plainly wrong. It is much harder to explain it to someone who is socially biased against it.

I once got a talking to by my principle because I taught evolution. I had to explain to her that evolution was a state mandated curriculum requirement. Her and a bunch of parent’s were calling for me to be fired, until I showed them the text of the state requirements. How much socially biased can you get?

The Dover Pennsylvania school board may be a prime example. They demonstrated that they were ignorant of both science and of the US Constitution.

But when mainstream scientists/science organizations and the Dover science teachers themselves (most if not all the science teachers happened to be religious) warned that ID-type creationism is pseudoscience, the board members chose to ignore this advice anyway.

Even when the board members got their own legal advice that warned that they would likely wind up in court if they proceeded with their ID policy, the board members chose to ignore this advice anyway.

As we know well, Dover schools ended up being stuck with the massive court costs (for both sides) when they lost the 2005 Kiztmiller v. Dover School Board trial.

FL said:

Rationality (and science too) demands that we come up with some evidence, NOT bald unsupported assertions and NOT bald anti-creationist bigotry, if we’re going to suggest such things in connection with the Hugoton Schools event.

FL

FL, if you are going to lie on these forums, at least try to appear a bit credible in your assertions. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “ANTI-CREATIONIST BIGOTRY”. The very idea is bogus. Creationism alone is a product of bigotry and ignorance.

Sylvilagus said:

Just to give another example. A friend of mine teaches human evolution at an Ivy League university. Every year she has one or two students claim that male humans have one less rib than females because of The creation of Eve. When told by a PROFESSOR that this is incorrect, they almost always become belligerent, accusing my friend of bias and demanding evidence. When my friend then produces a male and female skeleton from the storage room, these students almost invariable insist, after counting the ribs themselves, that the skeletons must by either forgeries,,fakes, or bizarre unique specimens. And this doesn’t happen once or twice. It happens year after year. Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum. And this doesnt apply only to obviously crackpot ideas like the missing rib. similalr shutdowns of logic occur and emotional outbursts happen with topic after topic. Tragic. Even if one does not accept evolutionary science, surely we can agree that any ideology or approach to education that has such consistently negative and bizarre effects on otherwise talented kids is doing something seriously wrong.

Even if you take the Bible as literally true, there is no basis for assuming that all men today have one less rib than all women today. Those students in question are not even typical Creationists, they are just idiots. Their education is a total waste.

…there is no basis for assuming that all men today have one less rib than all women today.

Besides, it wasn’t a rib.

dalehusband said:

Even if you take the Bible as literally true, there is no basis for assuming that all men today have one less rib than all women today. Those students in question are not even typical Creationists, they are just idiots. Their education is a total waste.

Whenever I heard that sad old chestnut, and I heard it fairly often growing up, I always asked if that meant men had one less rib on one side, or one less PAIR of ribs. I never heard any answer from any creationist. They sometimes seemed to get angry that someone would ask such a thing. But no answer.

The last couple of times I asked if the person claiming that had ever actually COUNTED the ribs on humans, either skeletons or living. None had, and that got them angry too, for some reason. I will make a blanket statement: No creationist who thinks that all men have fewer ribs than women has ever tried the simplest of experiments to prove that at least one part of the Genesis story has left physical evidence. All it would take to prove me wrong is one creationist who used to believe the rib nonsense, counted ribs, then realized that it was wrong.

How about our frequent fliers: IBIG, FL, Robert, Marilyn, or any other creationist lurker. Who has the guts to make a positive statement? Do men have one fewer rib (or a pair?) than women because God took one of Adam’s to make Eve? Have YOU ever counted, or do you just take your parents’/pastor’s/Sunday School teacher’s word for it–or that of other folks who say it’s wrong?

If your answer is NO, men and women have the same number, then how would you characterize the scientific education of a college freshman who thinks that?

Besides, it wasn’t a rib.

Here is something interesting, which I had not run across before: The bone that God removed was “one of” Adam’s tsela’ot, not his tsela’ (the word that is translated as “rib” but is hypothesized to mean “baculum”). That casts doubt on the baculum theory, but I think does not demolish it.

Ötzi the Iceman had (has) only 11 pairs of ribs:

http://www.archaeologiemuseum.it/en/node/259

This condition is a rare anatomical anomaly, according to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.

Sylvilagus said:

Just to give another example. A friend of mine teaches human evolution at an Ivy League university. Every year she has one or two students claim that male humans have one less rib than females because of The creation of Eve. When told by a PROFESSOR that this is incorrect, they almost always become belligerent, accusing my friend of bias and demanding evidence. When my friend then produces a male and female skeleton from the storage room, these students almost invariable insist, after counting the ribs themselves, that the skeletons must by either forgeries,,fakes, or bizarre unique specimens. And this doesn’t happen once or twice. It happens year after year. Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum. And this doesnt apply only to obviously crackpot ideas like the missing rib. similalr shutdowns of logic occur and emotional outbursts happen with topic after topic. Tragic. Even if one does not accept evolutionary science, surely we can agree that any ideology or approach to education that has such consistently negative and bizarre effects on otherwise talented kids is doing something seriously wrong.

Great story, but as an anecodote about an unnamed professor, it’s not very useful for our side. Creationists have lots of anecdotes about unnamed evolutionist professors who say ridiculous things.

If you had a name, university, department, written attestation, now THAT would be a great story AND useful.

Heck, removing a rib (or a pair of them) from a person wouldn’t change the genes passed down to his descendants. So even if Adam himself was short one rib, that wouldn’t affect later generations.

But on a side note, if removing a rib had included altering genes for rib growth, those genes would be inherited by descendants of both genders! ;)

diogeneslamp0 said:

Sylvilagus said:

Just to give another example. A friend of mine teaches human evolution at an Ivy League university. Every year she has one or two students claim that male humans have one less rib than females because of The creation of Eve. When told by a PROFESSOR that this is incorrect, they almost always become belligerent, accusing my friend of bias and demanding evidence. When my friend then produces a male and female skeleton from the storage room, these students almost invariable insist, after counting the ribs themselves, that the skeletons must by either forgeries,,fakes, or bizarre unique specimens. And this doesn’t happen once or twice. It happens year after year. Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum. And this doesnt apply only to obviously crackpot ideas like the missing rib. similalr shutdowns of logic occur and emotional outbursts happen with topic after topic. Tragic. Even if one does not accept evolutionary science, surely we can agree that any ideology or approach to education that has such consistently negative and bizarre effects on otherwise talented kids is doing something seriously wrong.

Great story, but as an anecodote about an unnamed professor, it’s not very useful for our side. Creationists have lots of anecdotes about unnamed evolutionist professors who say ridiculous things.

If you had a name, university, department, written attestation, now THAT would be a great story AND useful.

Oh we’ll. Sorry not to meet your expectations. I wasn’t trying to be “useful” per se. Just sharing. I figure I’m useful enough for our side every day in the classroom. I don’t need to make every post meet that criterion.

Matt Young said:

…there is no basis for assuming that all men today have one less rib than all women today.

Besides, it wasn’t a rib.

Even if you believe it was a rib, surely it is just as likely Eve was created with the same number of ribs Adam was left with as the number he started with.

But if it was baculum, it would kill the best joke in one of comedic poet Les Barker’s monologues. Don’t remember it verbatim, only the gist. Adam is well pleased with his new toy Eve. “Can you make me another dozen of these?” he asks of God. “I can, but your lungs would fall out” comes the reply.

Sylvilagus said: Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum.

The initial reaction is not surprising and, frankly, not (IMO) as bad as you make it out to be. Those students have been told something for the past 20 years by people they trust, and here comes a stranger claiming their trusted people were either lying or ignorant of some very basic, simple fact. There’s going to be a very natural defensive reaction which has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the desire to defend people they’ve trusted. What’s more, the professor has probably provoked a highly emotional reaction in the student, and nobody responds with their best, least biased, most analytical thoughts under those circumstances. The prof kicked the hindbrain into action, and now she’s surprised that she gets a hindbrain-style analysis back out of the student? She shouldn’t be.

For me, I’d judge the student as “throwing their mental power out the window” on religious subjects if they still reject the evidence and cling to the Genesis rib story as fact after they’ve had a few days of quiet time to mull it over. To count ribs in the embarrassment- and peer-shaming-free privacy of their own time. But if they change their mind, their initial reaction shouldn’t be considered throwing their mind away; it should just be considered a natural mental reflex.

Never having had any reason to count ribs or care about their number, I always thought the Adam and Eve story was a charming myth explaining an odd physical fact that either had, or would someday have, a sensible scientific explanation. I was already middle-aged when I learned, to my surprise, that this odd physical fact was not, in fact, a fact at all.

eric said:

Sylvilagus said: Somehow, students with the brains, grades, and test scores to enter an Ivy throw all this mental power out the window as soon as their familial ideology comes into conflict with the curriculum.

The initial reaction is not surprising and, frankly, not (IMO) as bad as you make it out to be. Those students have been told something for the past 20 years by people they trust, and here comes a stranger claiming their trusted people were either lying or ignorant of some very basic, simple fact. There’s going to be a very natural defensive reaction which has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the desire to defend people they’ve trusted. What’s more, the professor has probably provoked a highly emotional reaction in the student, and nobody responds with their best, least biased, most analytical thoughts under those circumstances. The prof kicked the hindbrain into action, and now she’s surprised that she gets a hindbrain-style analysis back out of the student? She shouldn’t be.

For me, I’d judge the student as “throwing their mental power out the window” on religious subjects if they still reject the evidence and cling to the Genesis rib story as fact after they’ve had a few days of quiet time to mull it over. To count ribs in the embarrassment- and peer-shaming-free privacy of their own time. But if they change their mind, their initial reaction shouldn’t be considered throwing their mind away; it should just be considered a natural mental reflex.

While I understand your point, I think there is more to it than that. Many things I was taught by my parents and previous teachers turned out to not be true. For example many things I learned about “democracy” in our country. Many facts about the Vietnam war as another example. Being offered new truths that challenged my political ideology provoked surprise and consternation, as well as doubts about my previous teachers, my fathers POV, etc. but my response was to engage in the intellectual enterprise, not run from it, or get into a highly emotional challenge and denial set of behaviors. This is because I was not raised with an authoritarian viewpoint and I didn’t believe that my personal worth, my parental approval, or my eternal soul depended upon adhering to a specific set of beliefs. I was comfortable that whether or,not I accepted my parents beliefs I would still be accepted by the family. I even was raised to believe that god would accept me so long as I was sincere in my efforts to find that truth, even if my understanding did not match the church’s. My point was not in any way to blame the students. Of course their reaction was understandable, given the authoritarian background they came from. My point was to highlight the damage done by that background, the position that background put them in such that intellectual inquiry was anxiety provoking rather than liberating. This is why my creationist friend expressed jealousy… He never felt the same sense of liberated intellectual exploration because it was all so weighted down with the need to conform.

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