Recently in Explore Evolution Category

Yet another Scopes Monkey Trial is on the way in Tennessee – that is, unless the governor vetoes the Discovery-Institute-inspired bill that the Tennessee Legislature just passed:

Tennessee “monkey bill” passes legislature

House Bill 368 passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on a 72-23 vote on March 26, 2012, the Nashville Tennessean (March 26, 2012) reports. The bill would encourage teachers to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”; it now proceeds to Governor Bill Haslam, who will have ten days to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature, or veto it. Haslam previously indicated that he would discuss the bill with the state board of education, telling the Nashville Tennessean (March 19, 2012), “It is a fair question what the General Assembly’s role is … That’s why we have a state board of education.”

Opposing the bill have been the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Nashville Tennessean, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and three distinguished Tennessee scientists and members of the National Academy of Sciences who recently warned, in a column published in the Tennessean (March 25, 2012), that the legislation was “misleading, unnecessary, likely to provoke unnecessary and divisive legal proceedings, and likely to have adverse economic consequences for the state.”

That, and it sets the state up for a Kitzmiller v. Dover-like disaster as soon as some creationist teacher or school board uses the law as excuse to get the not-very-hidden creationist/ID junk in the Discovery Institute’s Explore Evolution into the public schools. Make no mistake, that’s the long-term gameplan. See background on Explore Evolution. Or see all NCSE pages on the book.

Wes Elsberry has a good summary post with links on the hearings that the Texas State Board of Education held yesterday on the crypto-creationist “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” language in some drafts of the new standards. The overwhelming public testimony was in favor of teaching the best science available, i.e. evolution as a well-confirmed, central theory of modern biology, without the presence of crank creationist propaganda. But many members of the board are fundamentalist creationists and just can’t bear the thought that Texas science classes should teach standard science. Instead they repeatedly launched into traditional, hackneyed, long-refuted, ignorant creationist/ID talking points. A short list from Wes (I can confirm that I heard all of these while listening to the live audio):

Piltdown man (Ken Mercer)

Haeckel’s embryos (Ken Mercer)

Macroevolution not observed (Ken Mercer)

Argument from authority (Terri Leo)

Evolution is only a theory (various)

“Academic freedom” (Ken Mercer)

Evolution is not a fact (witness)

Eminent scientists are rejecting evolution (Cynthia Dunbar) [this was largely waving around the Discovery Institute “Dissent from Darwin” list…no discussion of the statement’s incredible vagueness, the dubious expertise/scientific status/noncreationist status of many on the list, or of how many Steves were on it – Nick]

When does a theory become a law? (Don McLeroy)

Evolution critics are censored (Ken Mercer)

Polystrate fossils/Lompoc whale (Gail Lowe)

…so those are the folks determining science education in the second biggest population state in the country. What century is it again?

In other news, Kim Jong-il was appointed an expert reviewer of the standards related to economics…

Science curriculum reviewers criticized

By Kate Alexander | Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 11:31 AM

Some of the State Board of Education’s appointments to a new panel appointed to review the state’s science curriculum standards has drawn quick fire.

Two authors of a textbook called Explore Evolution have been named to the six-member panel.

The textbook is distributed by the Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design. The book is described as presenting “the scientific evidence both for and against key aspects of Darwinian evolution.”

Here’s a snippet about textbook from its Web site:

The purpose of Explore Evolution, is to examine the scientific controversy about Darwin’s theory, and in particular, the contemporary version of the theory known as neo-Darwinism. Whether you are a teacher, a student, or a parent, this book will help you understand what Darwin’s theory of evolution is, why many scientists find it persuasive, and why other scientists question the theory or some key aspects of it.

The Texas Freedom Network criticized the appointment of the textbook authors, Stephen Meyer, vice president of the Discovery Institute, and Ralph Seelke, a biology and earth sciences professor from the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

“Texas universities boast some of the leading scientists in the world,” said Kathy Miller, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network. “It’s appalling that some state board members turned to out-of-state ideologues to decide whether Texas kids get a 21st-century science education.”

PS: More on pharyngula

By now regular readers of The Panda’s Thumb know that “academic Freedom” bills have been filed in the Florida legislature, and you know that the bills are Disco designed. You have also noticed Disco’s complaint that people get it. The complaint reads like disingenuous gibberish, but why that specific gibberish?

A blogger has an interesting report on the event that the Discovery Institute just held for teachers at Biola (Bible Institute of Los Angeles) University in order to promote their newest disguise for creationism, the textbook sneakily entitled “Explore Evolution.”

I’m sure it’s a just coincidence that the very first person to blog this event – this no-way-it’s-creationism-no-sirree event – did it from the Old Earth Creation Homeschool blog and works for the old-earth creationist ministry Reasons to Believe.

Anyway, here’s the interesting bit:

And they say evolution isn’t predictable. Ever since ID went down in flames in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, creationism watchers have predicted that creationism would evolve yet again, this time into something called “critical analysis of evolution” or “teach the [made-up] controversy”. For the last month or two I have been warning about the Discovery Institute’s new crypto-creationist textbook, which is sneakily entitled Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism (yes, take a good hard look at the spiffy website). The book is clearly another shot at the Of Pandas and People strategy, namely, “when a court case goes against you, change the label and try again.”

We already knew that the first official big promotional conference for Explore Evolution was going to be at an event for teachers held at Biola University. (Formerly known as the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, the only institute in the U.S. that has graduate courses in “intelligent design”, and pretty literally the place that put the fundamentals in fundamentalism. Oh yes, how could anyone ever think that Explore Evolution is crypto-ID/creationism?)

Now it looks like the Discovery Institute has engineered a cover story in World Magazine, a leading conservative evangelical magazine. The magazine has an interview with Behe about his new book, but more importantly has a story about a plan to insert Explore Evolution into a public school in Tacoma, Washington:

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