Ideological Idiocy in Ohio

A column by S. Michael Craven at aptly demonstrates how one can come to an entirely inverted view of things starting from false premises and a false inference. The lead paragraph (below) begins with a false premise (that state science standards prohibit concepts from being presented in classes) and proceeds to a wildly false conclusion (that science teachers somehow are prevented from teaching material that is already in their textbooks).

This past February the Ohio State Board of Education voted 11-4 to remove all language that was critical of evolution from its state’s science curriculum. Previously, Ohio’s public school science guidelines said that students should be free to “describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” The decision by the State Board of Education effectively eliminates that freedom. This means that science teachers and students are no longer authorized to discuss scientific evidence that questions the claims of Darwin’s theory.

No, Michael, the board’s decision doesn’t remove any “freedom” to discuss “scientific evidence that questions the claims of Darwin’s theory”. What it removed was wording that was specifically being treated as an invitation to discuss a bunch of false, long-refuted arguments which hied from creation science through intelligent design and into the new label of critical analysis. Science standards establish what knowledge and abilities students should have; Ohio’s teachers can (and I assume often do) teach things that are not specifically mentioned in the educational standards. Popular high school textbooks do incorporate material about the limits of science and in biology discuss non-Darwinian evolutionary processes, such as genetic drift. What you won’t find in the textbooks, though, are the patently false arguments that have long served the antievolution movement. There is no good pedagogical reason to teach students falsehoods, though, so much of Craven’s screed completely misses the point.

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