On January 22nd, 2009, the Texas State Board of Education met to consider a draft of their new science standards. At that meeting, the Board’s Chairman, Dr. Donald McLeroy, D.D.S., proposed a new student expectation for the Biology standards regarding evolution.
The standard concerned the fossil evidence of evolution and would require students to:
In support of this proposal, Dr. McLeroy read a long list of quotes into the public record. These quotes were from various scientific books and articles that Dr. McLeroy claimed to have read in preparation for his remarks.
Based on his comments, Dr. McLeroy clearly believed that this list of quotes presented a compelling case for the existence of a scientific controversy concerning evolution. Apparently, a majority of his fellow Board members agreed, and the new student expectation was added to the current draft of the Biology standards, pending a final vote in March.
The scientists at the meeting, on the other hand, did not agree. They say that Dr. McLeroy's amendment is a hopelessly muddled mess that will only serve to confuse students about the evidence of evolution in the fossil record. The sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record is due to the fact that species evolve at different rates - sometimes rapidly, sometimes gradually, and sometimes barely at all. Common ancestry is the result of the various processes that have led to the formation of new species over time, but the rate at which these processes occur has nothing to do with whether existing species share common ancestors.
In other words, the new student expectation would require students to learn that common ancestry may be insufficient to explain something that common ancestry is not used explain.
What initially looked like a gold medallion to the anti-evolutionists on the Texas Board of Education turned out to be just a big ol' chunk of pyrite.
So how exactly did Dr. McLeroy manage to convince a majority of his fellow Board members to support his attempt to diminish the organizing principle of modern biology?
He used a common tactic among those who seek to cast doubt on evolution: the "quote mine."
A "quote mine" is a misquotation that skews or contorts the meaning of the original author. Such gems are often "mined" from authoritative literature and presented without the context that explains their intended meaning. Often, the "quote miner" will use the material to ostensibly bolster his or her argument while secretly excluding or otherwise obscuring further exposition that is at odds with it.
This website was created in order to provide the important context left out by Dr. McLeroy's use of this dishonest tactic.
But you don't have to take our word for it.
You can examine the quotes for yourself.