Things To Do This Weekend

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zacknote.jpg As a public service, here are a few suggestions on how to entertain yourself this weekend, and support science education at the same time! If you are in the New Mexico area, come out the the annual meeting of the Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education (CESE), which is hosting Louisiana’s spunky young Zack Kopplin (now a student at Rice in Houston). Time: 1:00 PM Saturday, June 29th. Place: Room 122, Northrop Hall, on the UNM campus. There is a map and a flyer. Zack’s topic is “Why we need a Second Giant Leap.”

Secondly, you can act on Genie Scott’s suggestion to support the excellent indie film “The Revisionaries” by voting for it at the PBS website. Genie writes “I know which one I’m voting for: The Revisionaries – the film about Don McLeroy and the Texas Board of Education. I give it 5 stars. It’s so well done and deserves to win.” Vote here.

Finally, here’s a petition at the White House to Ban Creationism and Intelligent Design in the science classroom as federal law. As my cousin wrote me offline, there’s a fat chance such a law will ever pass, but if the petition gets 100,000 signatures, Obama will have to publically address the request.It’s about a third of the way there, but the July 15th deadline looms. If you’re so inclined, add your voice to the petition here

10 Comments

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/award/

The polls are closed!

We’re counting up the votes and will announce a winner on Monday, July 1. Stay tuned!

Ban creationism?! So a democratic initiative to deny the democratic right of the public to decide about thier schools inclusiveness of contentious ideas.! The purpose of schools must be to teach the truth on the subjects being taught. Banning conclusions, like creationism, is saying its official state policy about what is truth since otherwise it would be absurd to ban a option for a subject about truth. Surely this is against historic ideas on education .

The White House petition is an absurdity. It’s wrongly conceived for several reasons. To begin with, such petitions are a recent invention by the current administration, and other than being an online place where people can blow off steam, they have no legal significance at all. Even if the petition achieves the magic number of 100K (that number has been increased at least twice during the brief existence of the program), nothing will happen to implement its demands.

Secondly, when faced with “academic freedom” laws in the states, we’ve always said that the validity of scientific theories isn’t decided through the political process – yet that’s what this petition seeks to accomplish. Thirdly, the federal government has no constitutional authority over what’s taught in public schools, so the action being demanded is legally impossible.

Fourth, there are potentially negative consequences of this – in a public relations sense. The petition plays into the hands of those who are always whining that “Darwinists” are bullies. Also, it won’t be long before creationists launch their own petition to ban evolution – or at least to teach “both sides.” That petition won’t mean anything either – legally – but it could probably get at least a million supporters. So if you like the idea of science being played out as a propaganda war, then you’ll love this petition process.

I’ve saved the most trivial objection for last. The petition’s author is not only ignorant of how meaningless the White House petition process is, how science works, what the Constitution says, and what the possible negative effects of this could be, but he can’t even spell-check – the petition has a typo.

I think the petition is wrong at every level, and it’s not deserving of support. Instead of voting for it, it’s probably better to criticize it.

Robert Byers said:

Ban creationism?! So a democratic initiative to deny the democratic right of the public to decide about thier schools inclusiveness of contentious ideas.! The purpose of schools must be to teach the truth on the subjects being taught. Banning conclusions, like creationism, is saying its official state policy about what is truth since otherwise it would be absurd to ban a option for a subject about truth. Surely this is against historic ideas on education .

No, Booby. The state is obligated to teach science in a science class. If it is not science, it has no business being in the class. That is pretty simple. Creationism is fundamentalist religious dogma – period. The public schools are not churches for you to push your silly religious beliefs in. Deal with it.

P.S. – I agree completely with SensuousCurmudgeon – the petition is ridiculous.

I agree with Mr. Curmudgeon. He has provided an excellent list of reasons for not signing the petition. Comments from Mr. Byers prove point four.

For the politically minded, a better course of action would be to get the K-12 core science standards accepted by all states. While the “validity of scientific theories is not decided through the political process,” K-12 public school curriculum is. I think the petition is a distraction best ignored.

Good points on the WH petition. Indeed, politics and science make poor bedfellows. Just Friday I was talking to a group of Upward Bound HS students about randomness, and had them vote on which was more random: a set of 10x10=100 squares, each of which had 5 random dots, versus a random scattering of the same number (500) of dots over the 10x10 area. They voted 70% for the former, since it looked more uniformly spread out. I told them Nope, science isn’t determined by votes, but by how the experiments turn out, and that they voted Wrong. With true randomness, you get clusters (e.g. the hot hand in free throws); in the more random figure (500 dots scattershot), some squares had one or no dots, while others had 10 or more. Cheers, Dave

Ah so. Forcing it to put 5 dots in each of the local squares puts a constraint on it that you don’t have otherwise, and addition of constraints makes something less random than it was.

Henry

Indeedly so.

PS: Zack did great!

It’s like you think we have no lives!

Oh, yeah…

Glen Davidson

Hey, Genie’s recommendation won the prize!

“It’s been a wonderful experience sharing our film on Independent Lens as we’ve received feedback from folks all over the country — frightened, enlightened, and sometimes enraged…We hope this notoriety brings even more attention to the politicization of public education and encourages viewers to take a more active role in the process.” — Scott Thurman, filmmaker, The Revisionaries, Winner of the 2013 Independent Lens Audience Award

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on June 28, 2013 1:54 PM.

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