The Kansas Science Hearings Metastory

Here’s the latest from Red State Rabble, where correspondent Pat Hayes is doing a splendid job of tracking the Kansas kangaroo hearings.

This entry, The Kansas Science Hearings Metastory, is worth repeating here at the Panda’s Thumb.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The message that intelligent design proponents hoped would come out of last week’s testimony in Topeka is that there is a controversy between scientists over the validity evolutionary theory.

‘There is a genuine scientific controversy,’ insisted John Calvert, the intelligent design attorney, somewhat plaintively as the hearings came to a close Saturday.

The false notion that scientists are divided is key to the intelligent design movement’s strategy to convince school districts around the country to ‘teach the controversy’ over evolution.

That, of course, is only the first step on the road to their ultimate goal of replacing religiously neutral science with a science consonant with their own narrow Christian and theistic convictions.

That strategy was dealt a body blow by the refusal of science organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Kansas Academy of Science, Kansas Association for Biology Teachers, Kansas Association of the Teachers of Science to participate in the hearings.

The knockout punch came when Science Coalition attorney Pedro Irigonegaray compelled the intelligent design witnesses to confess, during a series of withering cross-examinations, that they hadn’t bothered to read the science standards draft written by the majority on the curriculum committee before coming to Kansas at taxpayer expense.

The rightwing, Christian fundamentalist school board members who are running the hearings compounded the blow by admitting that they too hadn’t read the draft ‘word for word’ that they so oppose.

“That wasn’t the news,” board member Connie Morris complained somewhat lamely as the hearings unwound last week.

But, of course it was, and like Humpty Dumpty nothing the witnesses, board members, or the Discovery Institute did could put the controversy fiction back together again.

The fact is, that almost everyone who read about the hearings in the papers or watched them on the television news knew that thousands of dollars were spent bringing witnesses to Kansas from all around the world who hadn’t done their homework.

The barnstorming brotherhood of bible college biologists came, they saw, they did not conquer.

The final act in the hearings will play out this Thursday when Pedro Irigonegaray sums up the case for the pro-science side, and Red State Rabble will be there to cover it.

Credit for this victory goes primarily to Kansas Citizens for Science, in particular Harry McDonald and the indefatigable Jack Krebs. Pedro Irigonegaray also played an enormously important part in exposing the feeble claims of the intelligent design witnesses, and the one-sidedness of the board. Science faculty from the University of Kansas and Kansas State University did not testify, but they monitored the hearings and made themselves available to the media to debunk the pseudoscience presented during testimony.

The KCFS strategy was high risk, but it has paid off handsomely. The defense of science is in good hands in Kansas.

The victory last week will not prevent the board from approving the intelligent design minority draft later this summer, but the public awareness coming out of the hearings will deny the board the political cover they hoped to gain from them.

Next year, half the state school board will be up for election. Then, citizens will be able to decide whether they want to be represented by zealots, or people who will act in the best interests of Kansas schoolchildren.

Red State Rabble has received an enormous amount of e-mail since the hearings began (sorry about the longer than ususal wait for a response) asking about how to help. Here are a few suggestions:

Join KCFS and support their work.

Sign the Science Coalition statement – even if you live outside Kansas. It will let people know that the eyes of the world are on this battle.

Get active in the defense of science, reason, and separation of church and state where you live. The barnstorming brotherhood may be coming soon to a school near you.

posted by Pat Hayes @ 6:00 AM