Kansas Primary Election, August 1 -- Online Resources

The primary election for the Kansas Board of Education is coming up on August 1. Everyone is following the election closely, because the creationists currently have a 6-4 majority on the board, but 4 of the creationists are up for reelection, while only 1 of the pro-science candidates is up for relection. Furthermore, in many places in Kansas, the Republicans are so dominant that the real fight is not between a Democrat and a Republican in the general election, but between a moderate Republican and a conservative Republican in the primary.

So, you can expect that the Kansas news will be heating up for the next two weeks. We here at PT will do our best to keep you in the loop, but here are some webpages and blogs based in Kansas that you should follow for the latest firsthand accounts:

Stand Up for REAL Science. This website, which I just found out about, is run by Kansas biology teacher Jeremy Mohn. He appears to be somewhat annoyed at the Discovery Institute’s irony-meter-busting “Stand Up For Science” campaign. It’s a nice looking site, and comes with his blog, An Evolving Creation, where he has already debunked one of the fables that the ID advocates are telling about the group Kansas Citizens for Science.

Speaking of Kansas Citizens for Science (www.kcfs.org), the Discovery Institute and the Kansas ID advocates have – hit the kill switch on your irony meter please – labeled them an “anti-science” group. I assume that the National Academy of Sciences (see their evolution page) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see their evolution page) would also be put in that group, for daring to oppose a crass attempt to ram crackpot creationist pseudoscience down the throats of Kansas students. According to the Discovery Institute, real scientists skip the whole hypothesis/test/revise/publish results in journals/convince-your-peers part of science, and instead just cut straight to the science curricula on the votes of young-earth creationist politicians.

Anyway, if you want to see their “anti-science” group in action, KCFS has an active News/Events Blog, and discussion forums.

As for bloggers, the two stalwarts are Pat Hayes’s Red State Rabble and Josh Rosenau’s Thoughts From Kansas. And of course there is NCSE’s trusty news page, which has an RSS feed for your favorite blog aggregator (I recommend Bloglines).

Rosenau has a post up noting a complaint from Randy Olson, of Flock of Dodos fame, quoted on Carl Zimmer’s blog:

[Pro-science candidates for the Kansas Board of Ed.] are receiving NO SUPPORT from outside organizations. In spite of all the bellyaching and agonizing of the national science organizations from AAAS to the National Academy of Science, not one dollar is coming into the state to support the [Kansas Alliance for Education] which is the main grassroots group assembled to fight the attack on evolution

Now, this is not entirely fair, because all of the typical pro-science groups (as far as I know) are 501(c}(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, and as such are prohibited from campaigning for candidates, although they are free to educate the public about science issues, criticize policies and decisions, etc. This is, I believe, precisely why people in Kansas set up the Kansas Alliance for Education, an official Political Action Committee. Whether not they will be able to counterbalance the bucks evidently being spent on the other side will be an issue worth following.

I will say, though, that I have heard anecdotes about politicians making a similar complaint: science supporters will get up in arms when the fundamentalists implement some policy, and will raise heck for years if necessary until it is pulled – but then, when the elections come around, the fundamentalists back their candidates with money and votes, and the science folks are nowhere to be seen. Is it any wonder, then, that we have continuing issues with science education and science policy in the U.S.?

As someone once said: “The world is run by people who show up.”

In the comments below, in addition to general discussion, please post links to additional useful resources on Kansas.