ID advocates set up Kangaroo Court in Kansas

Apparently, the regular procedures for science standards revisions in Kansas have not been going well for ID advocates. They lost on the science standards committee – the group of Kansas scientists and educators that were appointed to revise Kansas’s science standards.

And they lost in the four public hearings on the science standards that occurred in Kansas during February. At these hearings, it became clear that the only people who favored the 20+ pages of revisions promoted by the Kansas “Intelligent Design Network” were straight-up creationists who want God inserted into biology classes.

Now, at the last minute, they have hatched a plan to put evolution on trial for 10 days, with no standards of evidence, none of the rules found in a normal trial, no rules for what counts as a “scientist” or an “expert”, and no limitation that the “witnesses” be from Kansas. Undoubtedly what is planned is that the Discovery Institute circus of philosophers, lawyers, and a few scientists who’ve never managed to publish original research confirming “intelligent design” will invade Kansas and attempt to give their pseudoscience some thin illusion of respectability.

Unfortunately, I’m not making this up…Read the news story:

Evolution to go on ‘trial’ in Kansas

State plans 10-day hearing on issue


The Kansas City Star

TOPEKA – Kansas’ evolution debate will play out in a 10-day, courtroom-style hearing this spring, with experts from both sides testifying before a school board panel.

On trial is the theory of evolution, and the verdict could go a long way in determining the science curriculum taught in state schools.

Evolution critics want school curriculum to include alternatives, or at least challenges, to the theory.

Hearing dates are not yet set. The public may attend the hearings but will not be allowed to speak.

A three-member Board of Education subcommittee will hold the hearings and report its findings to the full board before members vote on the science standards.

Proponents of the idea of intelligent design say the hearing will give them an opportunity to show the evolution’s weaknesses, and why alternatives to the theory should be taught too.

Intelligent design is the idea that a higher power has directed life’s development.

The controversy over evolution is “the big dog on the porch . . . the 800-pound gorilla,” said board Chairman Steve Abrams, of Arkansas City, who also leads the subcommittee. Abrams said the hearings could be “useful and enlightening” to everyone in the state.

Topics will include how to teach evolution, its validity as a theory and the definition of science.

But supporters of current standards say the hearings could make Kansas the laughingstock of the nation, much as in 1999, when the board voted to de-emphasize evolution in the state’s curriculum, leaving the decision to teach evolution up to local districts. Supporters also worry that the hearings will favor rhetoric over hard science, especially before a panel that is critical of evolution.

“The perception among many of my colleagues is this is rigged,” said Steve Case, a University of Kansas research scientist who leads the state science curriculum committee. “I have a terrible fear for Kansas that this could be portrayed as a Scopes trial.”

Case was referring to the 1925 trial of Tennessee high school teacher John Scopes, who was charged with breaking the law by teaching evolution.

Case, asked by the committee to find scientists to defend evolution, said he wasn’t sure he could find people who would submit to the hearings.

David Klepper, “Evolution to go on ‘trial’ in Kansas: State plans 10-day hearing on issue.” Kansas City Star, Feb. 24, 2005.

Undoubtedly we will hear more about this in the coming days. Bloggers, keep the following questions in mind:

(1) Who hatched this idea in the first place? Who set up the “rules”? Who is really running the show?

(2) Why was this new, highly irregular procedure tacked onto the normal procedures at the last minute? Was the problem that only creationists supported the Intelligent Design Network revisions at the regular public comment sessions?

(3) Can science be redefined based on a bare majority on a state school board? (The conservatives gained a 6-4 majority in the last election, which is why this is happening now)

(4) Should the real scientific community participate in this show trial at all? Why can’t “intelligent design” follow the route taken by every other idea in the science classrooms – peer-reviewed publishing, acceptance by the scientific community, and finally incorporation into the introductory textbooks? Why is ID forced to “cut in line” via political means?

Stay tuned…