Texas adopts science textbooks – without much fuss

| 22 Comments

I am a little bit late reporting this, but Josh Rosenau reported on November 26,

It’s a joy to be able to report on a sweeping victory for science education in Texas, and to be able to give an eyewitness report of the fight over the textbooks that will be used in that massive textbook market for years to come. The 2009 battle over Texas science standards made it quite possible that the textbooks adopted last week would be riddled with creationist claims, or would give creationist board members a toehold to demand that publishers rewrite their books or be left off of the state’s approved list. In the end, the books available to students will be solid, accurate, and honest about evolution and climate change.

Rosenau’s article was something of a travelog, but he finally gets to the point: The publisher of the well known textbook by Miller and Levine has denied that there are factual errors in the book, and the school board voted to approve the book contingently, pending the outcome of an investigation by three competent Texas scientists, rather than by nonscientists:

The board also refined the review process for Miller and Levine’s textbook, clarifying that the reviewers must all have PhDs in a relevant field, that the review committee’s decision can be reached by simple majority vote, rather than by consensus, and that each of the three board members would nominate one expert (not that they’d have to agree on a group of three). Each of those moves makes the process more rigorous and thus more likely to dismiss the creationist complaints.

Rosenau concludes,

In short, this was a victory, and an unqualified victory. While I might have preferred to have an outright rejection of the bogus complaints against Miller and Levine’s book, the board set an important precedent by creating this review process. Before this change, any appeal by publishers was resolved either by the Texas Education Agency’s legal team, or by a vote of the board. Now they’ve established a system for a second round of expert review when the first review generates dispute.

22 Comments

Might as well skip all of the other scams and just declare that ignorance is bliss.

Would you deny bliss to the children?

Glen Davidson

…clarifying that the reviewers must all have PhDs in a relevant field…

Does Philosophy of Science count as “a relevant field”? I’m thinking that Stephen Meyer’s appointment as one of these three “experts” could still set the cat among the pigeons.

hrafn said:

…clarifying that the reviewers must all have PhDs in a relevant field…

Does Philosophy of Science count as “a relevant field”? I’m thinking that Stephen Meyer’s appointment as one of these three “experts” could still set the cat among the pigeons.

I should think that the requirement should be a demonstrated understanding of scientific concepts and a demonstrated ability to generate research that makes progress in science.

Any IDiot with a PhD can haggle endlessly over the meanings of the meanings of the meanings of meanings while never being able to articulate a single scientific concept at even the high school level. They do this kind of haggling all the time over at the DI and by way of their minions at UD.

ID/creationists are people who will drag any discussion into an infinite labyrinth over the meaning and “philosophy” of the word “eight” while never grasping the fact that there are entire fields of mathematics and mathematical applications that exist and need to be understood and manipulated properly. The same goes for any area of science.

ID/creationists, including their “PhDs,” are off the list for good reasons; even if they can’t figure out what those reasons are.

What were the issues with the Miller and Levine book?

The review process does sound like an improvement over having whacked out creationists making the decisions.

Ron Okimoto said:

What were the issues with the Miller and Levine book?

The review process does sound like an improvement over having whacked out creationists making the decisions.

All of the objections were raised by a creationist, Ide Trotter, and the first objection included a mined quote from the Discovery Institute website. It went downhill from there. The publishers balked on every objection calling them factually incorrect. It’s tiresome that we have to go through this (the same stuff) over and over and over. Yes, they dragged poor old Tiktaalik through the mud, too!

One ray of hope, several Texas newspapers are willing to shine a light on the creationists who have then claimed to have been “harassed.” This subsequent review process may be more transparent, though.

The full list can be found at the Texas Freedom Network blog.

It’s all OK until the argument has escalated so much that you start leaving stuff out to prove either sides point you have to be true to the student, the Tiktaalik exists how it’s significance is interpreted is important but points of view may differ due to the foundation of background knowledge. Nothing could evolve if the facility wasn’t there for it to do so, motivation also has to be taken into consideration, hopefully it’s for improvement, and to become a new creature. So many have stayed the same or with very little difference.

Well as long as the reviewers are real scientists and not creationists wearing lab coats everything should come out fine. However, it will only take one review panel with creationist plants to derail the entire educational system.

A wise man once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or, in the words of that immortal philosopher (Lisa SImpson): “Don’t let the butt heads win.”

DS said:

Well as long as the reviewers are real scientists and not creationists wearing lab coats everything should come out fine. However, it will only take one review panel with creationist plants to derail the entire educational system.

A wise man once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or, in the words of that immortal philosopher (Lisa SImpson): “Don’t let the butt heads win.”

Yes, I think declarations of victory of extremely premature.

Why is the biology book in particular being singled out for “errors”?

Why is the implied standard for a biology textbook that there should be no errors?

Everyone understands that every textbook contains numerous errors, right? From typos to scientific statements that were valid when initially written but should have been updated.

That’s true of every textbook in every subject.

It will take less than a creationist. All you need is one PhD with seemingly valid credentials who has some kind of bug up his behind. A non-creationist crackpot. Someone with a grudge against one of the authors. Or just some unsuitable obsessive, combative reviewer, who is constitutionally incapable of admitting that any textbook is good enough. There are plenty of people like that, with seemingly impeccable credentials. And they all just applied for the job.

That’s all it takes to get any book held up forever under this system. If this system is being applied in an unequal way depending on subject matter, it’s just another trick.

I have a good track record on predictions. I predicted that the Ohio Supreme Court would take Freshwater’s case when others insisted that it wouldn’t. I didn’t predict it would find for him, but I predicted a cynical outcome, and that turned out to be true. I predict that this is an attempted creationist trick.

It may not work. A panel of valid reviewers may Judge Jones them. The carefully picked reviewer who’s known to be a heavy Republican contributor, or privately struggling with untreatable OCD, or whatever method is used to get someone with superficially impeccable credentials who is predicted to torpedo the book, may disappoint.

However, if anyone doesn’t see problems here, they need new glasses. Why does a mainstream biology book, already edited by highly qualified editors, published by well-regarded publishers, used in states with far better science education results than Texas, need to be subjected to some search for “errors” by some “panel”, chosen by mysterious means?

harold said:

DS said:

Well as long as the reviewers are real scientists and not creationists wearing lab coats everything should come out fine. However, it will only take one review panel with creationist plants to derail the entire educational system.

A wise man once said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or, in the words of that immortal philosopher (Lisa SImpson): “Don’t let the butt heads win.”

Yes, I think declarations of victory of extremely premature.

Why is the biology book in particular being singled out for “errors”?

Why is the implied standard for a biology textbook that there should be no errors?

Everyone understands that every textbook contains numerous errors, right? From typos to scientific statements that were valid when initially written but should have been updated.

That’s true of every textbook in every subject.

It will take less than a creationist. All you need is one PhD with seemingly valid credentials who has some kind of bug up his behind. A non-creationist crackpot. Someone with a grudge against one of the authors. Or just some unsuitable obsessive, combative reviewer, who is constitutionally incapable of admitting that any textbook is good enough. There are plenty of people like that, with seemingly impeccable credentials. And they all just applied for the job.

That’s all it takes to get any book held up forever under this system. If this system is being applied in an unequal way depending on subject matter, it’s just another trick.

I have a good track record on predictions. I predicted that the Ohio Supreme Court would take Freshwater’s case when others insisted that it wouldn’t. I didn’t predict it would find for him, but I predicted a cynical outcome, and that turned out to be true. I predict that this is an attempted creationist trick.

It may not work. A panel of valid reviewers may Judge Jones them. The carefully picked reviewer who’s known to be a heavy Republican contributor, or privately struggling with untreatable OCD, or whatever method is used to get someone with superficially impeccable credentials who is predicted to torpedo the book, may disappoint.

However, if anyone doesn’t see problems here, they need new glasses. Why does a mainstream biology book, already edited by highly qualified editors, published by well-regarded publishers, used in states with far better science education results than Texas, need to be subjected to some search for “errors” by some “panel”, chosen by mysterious means?

It isn’t just the science textbooks in Texas that are subject to political interference - there are/have been efforts to alter history textbooks (to project a more conservative slant) de-emphasize the civil rights movement, contributions of immigrants, water down the separation of church and state, the civil war etc. also let’s not forget campaigns against multiculturalism, comprehensive sex ed., voucher programs etc. The wing nuts have a agenda to co-opt public education, or failing that defund/damage public education so that public funds can be diverted to further private(religious) schools. This is a victory and this battle shouldn’t be downplayed, but the war is far from over

(sorry about the double post)

Fellow PT bloggers, please read the document that Don “Somebody has to stand up to the experts” McLeroy had planned to read to the Texas BOE. It’s unbelievably stupid; well, not really that unbelievable for YEC types.

For those who don’t wish to get a migraine, become nauseous , etc., I’ll just say that Mr. McLeroy thinks a run-down house is an example “…that all life has descended from a common ancestor due to unguided natural processes—without God.”

He was the TSBOE chairman? Ugh!

http://donmcleroy.wordpress.com/201[…]ber-20-2013/

JimboK said:

Fellow PT bloggers, please read the document that Don “Somebody has to stand up to the experts” McLeroy had planned to read to the Texas BOE. It’s unbelievably stupid; well, not really that unbelievable for YEC types.

For those who don’t wish to get a migraine, become nauseous , etc., I’ll just say that Mr. McLeroy thinks a run-down house is an example “…that all life has descended from a common ancestor due to unguided natural processes—without God.”

He was the TSBOE chairman? Ugh!

http://donmcleroy.wordpress.com/201[…]ber-20-2013/

Could it be that McLeroy is trying to use reverse psychology by saying he wants these Miller and Levine textbook approved? He links to a speech of his on youtube where he again says he wants the textbook approved but he simultaneously seems kind of pissed off that it covers evolution so well.

j. biggs said:

Could it be that McLeroy is trying to use reverse psychology by saying he wants these Miller and Levine textbook approved? He links to a speech of his on youtube where he again says he wants the textbook approved but he simultaneously seems kind of pissed off that it covers evolution so well.

Well all you gotta do Mr. McLeroy is stop getting on school boards start and getting into the lab and find some evidence. That is the only way to earn the right to get into the textbooks. Until you learn this, all the sour grapes in the world and all your crocodile tears won’t amount to a hill of beans.

JimboK said:

Fellow PT bloggers, please read the document that Don “Somebody has to stand up to the experts” McLeroy had planned to read to the Texas BOE. It’s unbelievably stupid; well, not really that unbelievable for YEC types.

For those who don’t wish to get a migraine, become nauseous , etc., I’ll just say that Mr. McLeroy thinks a run-down house is an example “…that all life has descended from a common ancestor due to unguided natural processes—without God.”

He was the TSBOE chairman? Ugh!

http://donmcleroy.wordpress.com/201[…]ber-20-2013/

Never mind the house, is that not a perfect illustration of a panda’s thumb in his comparison photo?

From the website:

“In my heart, I believe the evolutionists also know the difference. But, they have been so blinded by ideology and swept away by group-think that they have lost the ability to see what is staring them right in the face. Despite all the gloating and celebrating of the evolutionists here today, they do not seem to realize that there is NO evidence for evolution in these books; there is only dogma.”

Really? Really? Funny, but that doesn’t seem to be what the authors of the textbook concluded. But then again, somebody has to stand up to the experts!

Exactly what “ideology” is this macaroon referring to? Let me guess, they are all blinded by “materialism”? Really? Really? Is that it Don? Don’t be shy, just come right out and say what you mean.

If the textbook only contains “dogma”, why do you want it adopted? Is it because you realize that honest and informed people are going to make the decision after all, not the blind sheep you would have chosen? Are you admitting defeat and still trying to claim victory at the same time?

Reap it monkey boy.

I really did get the impression he was utilizing reverse psychology in his speech to the BOE. Kind of like, “Man if McElroy wants this book, there must be something wrong with it.” But I think he makes it clear that he absolutely hates the book. In fact he simply can’t hide his contempt for it. He must be smart enough to know he lost and wants to pretend he really won because, “there isn’t really any evidence for evolution in the book anyway.” Sure there isn’t Don. He seems to be inviting students to question what’s in the book with the standard creationist canards since he can’t get what he really wants. This guy gives dentists and Texans a bad name.

Never mind the house, is that not a perfect illustration of a panda’s thumb in his comparison photo?

It is! Was this unintentional irony? Pointing triumphantly at a picture of a baby panda claiming no one could doubt God’s hand (thumb?) in it, but it’s a perfect shot illustrating the panda’s “thumb”. Are you sure he isn’t just a very deeply embedded Loki? :)

DS said:

Exactly what “ideology” is this macaroon referring to? Let me guess, they are all blinded by “materialism”? Really? Really? Is that it Don? Don’t be shy, just come right out and say what you mean.

If the textbook only contains “dogma”, why do you want it adopted? Is it because you realize that honest and informed people are going to make the decision after all, not the blind sheep you would have chosen? Are you admitting defeat and still trying to claim victory at the same time?

1) Don’t insult Mr McLeroy by calling him a “macaroon.” It’s grossly unfair and very mean to cookies everywhere to compare him to a macaroon. Besides, macaroons are useful contributions to society, and Mr McLeroy is not.

2) As for Mr McLeroy’s rant about “dogma,” he’s having sour and bitter grapes over the fact that his own dogma is being both questioned and rejected. Ergo, his slandering projection of Evolutionary Biology as being evil, unquestioned ideology/dogma.

Oh well, at least all of the comments on the site are universally negative. No one even came to the guys defense. Everyone seems to see right through his nonsense. You would think that that would make him think a little. Or maybe not. You know, being persecuted for jebus and all.

Mr. McLeroy seems to be mistaken. The book has four chapters and 122 pages specifically on evolution, including a discussion of the fossil record. In addition, evolutionary thinking seems to permeate every chapter. If all high school students studied this textbook, they would all be ready for college level courses. No wonder all of the creationists are peeing their pants.

harold Wrote:

It will take less than a creationist. All you need is one PhD with seemingly valid credentials who has some kind of bug up his behind. A non-creationist crackpot.

I have brought that up on other boards. Most people seem to think that it won’t cause problems, but I won’t rest until it’s over.

Whether or not one calls him/her a “creationist,” one of the reviewers, the one selected by Cargill, will most likely be a signatory of that bogus “dissent” statement. As you know I rarely use the word “creationists,” but others label anyone who misrepresents evolution a “creationist,” so it will be applied to that reviewer even if Cargill finds one who has not (yet?) signed the statement.

But it’s worth noting again (for readers’ benefit, you know it already) that a survey found that the great majority of biologist signatories accept common descent, so they would not be considered “creationists” by most people-on-the-street. Also worth noting is that the previous review, despite all its hideous quote-mining and laughably petty quibbles, did not challenge common descent at all, much less the chronology of life.

So it’ll be interesting to compare the new review to the old one. It can’t just repeat the discredited claims (though anti-evolution activists are masters of rephrasing) and it cant contradict them either. Not without the other reviwers (both expected to be pro-science) demanding them to ‘splain.

One thing I don’t expect are objections that the book omitted positive evidence (e.g. not inferred from long-refuted “weaknesses” of evolution) of a young earth or of independent origin of “kinds.” The irony is that those would be valid objections, becasue the book does omit evidence that doesn’t exist.

Whether or not one calls him/her a “creationist,” one of the reviewers, the one selected by Cargill, will most likely be a signatory of that bogus “dissent” statement. As you know I rarely use the word “creationists,” but others label anyone who misrepresents evolution a “creationist,” so it will be applied to that reviewer even if Cargill finds one who has not (yet?) signed the statement.

I use the term “creationist” because it is what the people I refer to with that term prefer to be called. It is a term they invented for themselves. It is not in itself a derogatory term. None of them have ever asked me not to call them “creationists”.

I completely agree with you that the bogus “dissent” statement fooled some people who do not call themselves creationists. I am sure there are signatories whom I would not call “creationists”. It is quite common for them to use that term to refer to themselves. I’m happy to switch to “evolution denier” or “science denier” if they prefer.

No creationist has ever asked me not to call them a “creationist”. Again, they invented the term.

The minor exception is that I do insist on referring to people who pose as pure advocates of DI-style “ID” as ID/creationists. That’s only fair to the other creationists. After all, given that ID is just a post-Edwards modification of older creationism, but using even more dissembling language, the legacy of earlier creationists should be noted.

I agree with rest of your comment.

…clarifying that the reviewers must all have PhDs in a relevant field…

This “Our people are scientists! See the PhDs?” shtick was part of the core argument of Creation Science from the 70s and 80s. Of course, a lot of those doctorates were in “Food Processing” or some such*, but Hey! they’re PhDs!

A lot will depend on the meaning of “relevant fields”, but I’ll remain skeptical till I see the results.

* My memory is weak on this, but I think the owner of Birdseye Foods was a big Creationist back in the day. With the growth and economic importance of frozen and other food processing technology, a lot of engineers emerged in this field with Creationist sympathies – at least that was the theory. A (very) partial explanation for at least some of the Salem Hypothesis.

But again, my memory is incomplete, so take it with a grain of salt.

Age, age! It stiffens the brain! – R.L. Stevenson

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