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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
REAL Science...Video Style




posted by Jeremy Mohn




IDEAs wanted?

Proponents of the so-called "academic freedom" bills introduced in some state legislatures clamor for official recognition of their pseudo-scientific ideologies. They cry that "Students want to know both sides of the issue" while not informing the public that their side has no factual basis. They blame Jesse Kilgore's suicide on him not being exposed to "both sides" of the evolution issue, which makes one wonder how he missed those creationism lessons in Sunday School and Bible study.

Cornell's Allen MacNeill has done some digging into this supposed groundswell of support for ID. He found that after the intelligent design movement's devastating 2005 loss in Kitzmiller v. Dover, ID leader William Dembski predicted that the nation's youth would continue to seek out opportunities to learn about intelligent design by starting up chapters for Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA):

Even if ID is stifled among high school students (and with the Internet this is impossible), ID is of growing interest to college and graduate students. Three years ago, there was one Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center at the University of California-San Diego. Now there are thirty such centers at American colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley and Cornell. These centers are fiercely pro-ID. - William Dembski, January 2, 2006

My, how times change. Dr. MacNeill found that, of the 39 IDEA chapters active in 2006, not one affiliated with an academic institution is still functioning as of last week. Even more interestingly, he found that:

1) there are 39 IDEA Clubs listed, not 35 (as stated at the IDEA Club main website);

2) of the 39 listed IDEA Clubs, eight (21%) are located at high schools or community colleges;

3) four (17%) are located at religious institutions;[ed: by my math, this number should be ~10% - csa]

4) nine (23%) simply do not exist (i.e. have 404: File Not Found at their link); and

5) 18 (46%) have links that simply redirect to either a national IDEA Center press release or main website homepage.

Dr. MacNeill has shown that despite what ID proponents claim, intelligent design is rightly regarded by our nation's youth as an extinct political movement that failed even at masquerading as science. Those who now support "academic freedom" bills like the one passed in Louisiana are just trying to manufacture a demand for balanced treatment where no such demand exists.

HT: Ed Brayton


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Sunday, December 28, 2008
"Strengths and Weaknesses" Goes Missing, Again

The National Center for Science Education reports that the third draft (pdf) of Texas's science standards is now available, and the "strengths and weaknesses" catchphrase is notably missing.

According to the NCSE, some other changes in the third draft are also notable:

In its discussion of the nature of science, the third draft is similar but not identical to the first draft. According to the first draft, "Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods." The third draft reads, "Science, as defined by the National Academy of Sciences, is the 'use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process.' ... Students should know that some questions are outside the realm of science because they deal with phenomena that are not scientifically testable."

As we have consistently argued on this blog, REAL science recognizes it's limits. That means it only works with phenomena that can be independently verified by observations or empirical tests. This approach to the study of the natural world has proven to be extremely conducive to the advancement of scientific knowledge. It is the way science is practiced around the world today, and students in Texas should learn about it.

Of course, since this approach cannot rule out the existence of non-verifiable phenomena, any claims about the existence or non-existence of such phenomena are not scientific. This limitation of science is something that people on both sides of the argument in Texas should be able to agree upon.

We'll just have to wait and see.


posted by Jeremy Mohn



Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Beyond $hameful, Part II: For the Money

Earlier I noted how the Discovery Institute is trumpeting young Jesse Kilgore's suicide as evidence that public school science classes need to teach "both sides" of evolution.

John G. West, the DI's Associate Director of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, has upped the ante. He's sent out a fundraising letter by mass mail to DI supporters exploiting Kilgore's suicide in a naked plea for funding:

December 11, 2008

Dear [name redacted]:

Jesse Kilgore was an earnest young college student who loved to debate issues. But just a few weeks ago, Jesse killed himself.

According to friends and relatives, Jesse had read biologist Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion and was devastated by it. One of Jesse's relatives recalled a recent conversation:

[Jesse] mentioned the book he had been reading - The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - and how it along with the science classes he had eroded his faith. Jesse was always great about defending his beliefs, but somehow, the professors and the book had presented him information that he found to be irrefutable.

When I read Jesse's story, my heart broke - not only for Jesse, but for all of the other students who are facing similar despair right now.

Ideas do have consequences, and the Darwinists' assertion that life is the product of an unguided process can have a devastating impact on young hearts and minds.

Although West's statements so far are misleading at best and manipulative at worst, they pale beside the most execrable part of the letter:

*$2000 will provide a full scholarship for a college student to attend our summer seminar.

*$200 will fund the production of an episode of our internet radio show.

*$50 will enable us to send free educational materials to a teacher.

There used to be a series of ads with the slogan "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." That statement is true for Jesse Kilgore, and it's true for the millions of young people right now who remain unprepared to face the claims of the Darwinian atheists. Please enable us to challenge these claims head-on in the coming year with a message of hope.

(letter p.1) (letter p.2)

West uses the tired "evolution=atheism" argument once again, an argument neatly refuted here. He ignores the millions who haven't committed suicide after reading Dawkins' best-selling book. West omits the fact that young white men are more likely to commit suicide than non-whites or females, and that teen homosexuals are more likely to commit suicide than teen heterosexuals.

Of course the Discovery Institute is in dire straits right now. Our president-elect has shown no sympathy toward teaching intelligent design in public school classes and has appointed pro-science advisors to his Cabinet. The DI's much-vaunted "Academic Freedom" initiatives they pushed in Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina all failed, with bottom-ranked Louisiana as their sole victory. The impact of Kitzmiller v. Dover has been felt in Ohio and Kansas as those state school boards overturned the DI's pet science standards with their so-called "criticisms of evolution."

Maybe West feels that desperate times call for desperate measures. It's a measure of his desperation that his personal integrity has gone the way of his academic integrity.

Edited 16:16

Update: Mousie Cat offers a brilliantly blistering dissection of this latest DI tactic.


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Saturday, December 20, 2008
Everything's Bigger in Texas. . .


...including the obfuscation.

Barbara Cargill, district 8 representative of the Texas State Board of Education, recently wrote an article addressing the "strengths and weaknesses" language in the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) for science.

I had a hankerin' to write up my own analysis of the article, but I was having trouble getting motivated. Therefore, I was pleased to find that Airtightnoodle already did.

I encourage y'all to go read it. Here's a little taste:

Ms. Cargill is being misleading again here by implying that evolution proponents are scared of their students asking questions about evolution. Unfortunately, some teachers may certainly be scared or a little intimidated, but this is not due to trying to "cover up" any inaccuracies in evolutionary theory. It is due to the backlash that might occur from the students, their parents, other teachers, local religious groups, and so on.

Sad, but true.

I would like to add one thing to Airtightnoodle's excellent analysis. In her article, Cargill stated that "attention is riveted on the idea of universal common ancestry." She then quoted from the Discovery Institute's "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" list saying that "[c]areful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

What Cargill failed to mention is that the signatories of that statement are expressing their skepticism about "the ability of random mutations and natural selection to account for the complexity of life." The statement does not address common ancestry. In fact, several of the signatories have publicly stated that they have no problem with the fact of common ancestry.

This is just another example of the type of obfuscation we have unfortunately come to expect from those who loudly criticize what they do not understand.

They're all hat and no cattle.


posted by Jeremy Mohn




Happy Holidays!

Merry Kitzmas!

Three years ago today, the honorable Judge John E. Jones, III issued his 139-page ruling in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial that barred intelligent design from being taught in Pennsylvania's Middle District public school science classrooms.

Three years...has it really been that long? Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

"Intelligent Design" may no longer be the phrase of choice, but anti-science activity is still prevalent across the country. As Cheryl mentioned in the previous post, the latest phrase of choice is "Academic Freedom."

Isn't it interesting how the same movement that once tried to ban evolution from the classroom is now arguing for academic freedom?

I guess evolution can be observed after all.

The coming year promises to bring many more challenges to the teaching of REAL science in public school classrooms, and we'll do our best to keep you informed about them.

Have a joyous and festive holiday season!



posted by Jeremy Mohn



Friday, December 19, 2008
REAL Academic Freedom for Michigan

This year, Michigan's science students are getting an early Christmas gift: the Michigan legislature ended its 2008 session with its anti-evolution bills dead in the respective House and Senate committees. According to the release from the National Center for Science Education, the Michigan Science Teachers Association had this to say about the bills:

"Whereas evolution, climate change and cloning are the only 'controversial topics' cited in these bills while 'controversial topics' in non-scientific fields are noticeably omitted and whereas the Curriculum Expectations already address the pedagogical & educational goals of these bills, the legislative intent of these bills is called into question. ... . This type of legislation may enable the introduction of non-scientific ideologies, such as 'intelligent design (ID) creationism', into the public science classroom."

The Michigan bills were almost identical to the recently-enacted law in Louisiana which called into question just a few so-called "controversial topics." Similar bills were introduced in Alabama, Florida, Missouri and South Carolina. All died.

Requiscat in pace? Probably a vain hope. The anti-evolutionists will be back with their ever-evolving terminology. We just need to keep insisting that only REAL science should be taught in public school science classes.


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Thursday, December 18, 2008
Beyond Shameful

The Discovery Institute is well-known for dealing in sleazy tactics: the Wedge Strategy, promoting the false linkage of evolution=>Holocaust, working to influence state school board elections while claiming not to do so, refusing to remove signers of the "Dissent from Darwinism" statement when requested to do so by the signers, using the PR firm which put the phrase "swiftboating" into our lexicon . . . the list goes on.

Their latest outrage goes well beyond the pale and shreds what remained of the Discovery Institute's integrity. Here's the headline over at Evolution News & Views:

"The Story of Jesse Kilgore and the Consequences of Teaching One Side of Evolution"

You see, the Discovery Institute is claiming that the young man committed suicide because he wasn't taught the "other side" of evolution.

That's right. The Discovery Institute, with some help from the Worldnet Daily - a publication which aspires to be as trustworthy as the National Enquirer - has decided to exploit the suicide of a young college student in order to try to get REAL science out of public school science classrooms.

According to this latest smelly salvo from the Discovery Institute, only by teaching lies under the cover of "academic freedom" can teenagers hope to keep their faith and avoid suicide. The Sensuous Curmudgeon held his nose and dove into the immense wrongness of this DI's latest smear campaign in more detail.

Could it be that a young man learning REAL science for the first time in his life came to realize that what he'd been told about Young-Earth Creationism wasn't true? Is it possible that he felt bereft by the discovery that people he loved and trusted had been misleading him for so many years?

Thoughts and prayers go out to Jesse's family and friends as they try to make sense of this tragedy. May the Lord protect Jesse's friends and family from those who are trying to reap grim publicity and sow false justification for political gain.


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Tuesday, December 16, 2008
A Good Old-Fashioned Fisking

Wesley R. Elsberry absolutely destroys an error-ridden op-ed by Texas State Board of Education Member Ken Mercer.

Dr. Elsberry writes:

As others have noted, "freedom of speech" and "academic freedom" aren't going to protect teachers who insist on bringing in the religious antievolution ensemble of arguments into the classroom. Telling lies to students serves no secular purpose, nor any patriotic, American, or scientific purpose. Opposing people like Ken Mercer, who wish to propagate their scientific ignorance to another generation of students and impugn scientific integrity, is quite patriotic.

Ouch!


posted by Jeremy Mohn



Monday, December 15, 2008
Thanks a lot, evolution!

I'd long blamed morning heel pain on the fact that when I was a younger, lighter runner, I didn't bother to stretch much. It turns out that plantar fasciitis may instead have its origins in the bipedal habits of early humans!

As noted on p. 249 of Martini's Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, Fourth Edition,

The elasticity of the talar arch absorbs the shocks that accompany sudden changes in weight loading. For example, the stresses that running or ballet dancing place on the toes are cushioned by the elasticity of this portion of the arch.

Blogger Moneduloides explains quite lucidly that among the primates, only we humans succumb to plantar fasciitis, that excruciating inflammation of the plantar fascia.

This is because the condition affects the pedal arch, a portion of our anatomy that is required for bipedal locomotion, a portion of our anatomy which is unique to humans within the order Primates. You see, during ambulation there are points in time at which we are effectively balancing on one foot (Up to, and during, the swing phase of the contralateral leg), and in this one foot the pedal arch serves to absorb some of the energy, the ground reaction force, and simultaneously accumulates passive elastic energy that is used for toe off.

From the paleontological evidence we find that the pedal arch is one of the earliest adaptations of humans to bipedal locomotion. As far back as 3.5mya at Laetoli in Tanzania are footprints which demonstrate the necessity of the pedal arch:

Moneduloides describes a newly-discovered means of curing plantar fasciitis, as opposed to just alleviating its pain. The new method seems to involve sticking needles into the fascia to produce more bleeding, which is supposed to help the fascia heal faster.

No thanks. I think I'll stick to stretching out my Achille's faithfully every morning instead.

Ed: spelling, format


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Sunday, December 14, 2008
tik-tik-tik-tik-Tiktaalik!



Music brought to you by the Indoorfins.

Fishapod brought to you by the predictive power of evolutionary theory.


posted by Jeremy Mohn



Thursday, December 11, 2008
How the Grinch Could Have Stolen Christmas


from left: Heath, future bio teacher;
Erin, helper; Dr. Paul Adams
demonstrating resonance
Photo by EN
click to enlarge

The headline in last Sunday's Hays Daily News read, "Science proves it: Grinch could steal Christmas."

Despite the fact that science isn't in the proving business, the FHSU chapter of the Student National Science Teachers Association put on a good show last Saturday at Sternberg Museum. About 50 primary-age kids from the area learned bits of REAL science from physics professor Dr. Ken Trantham as the Grinch, almost-a-science-student-teacher Eryn Norton* as emcee and Dr. Paul Adams as the master of horrible puns. Classic demonstrations like liquid nitrogen and the tablecloth pull were set in the context of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The future science teachers persuaded various children to take part in demonstrations up to and including the AF2000 Hovercraft shown after the jump.





Why did these time-pressed college students put on this show?





"I think it's important for them to get interested in science early, that way the love of it continues on throughout middle school, high school and college," Norton said.



Volunteers helping with the
basketball/racquetball demo
Photo by EN
click to enlarge


The Christmas Science Show is in its 6th year at FHSU.





posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams




Finally, expertise matters!

Probably the most off-key refrain sung by our present administration is that of appointing agency personnel who either know nothing about or actively oppose the mission of that federal agency. This tendency is echoed within our culture by those who trust information from someone they like rather than information from somebody with actual expertise in a given area.

At the top, at least, that trend seems to be reversing. Our new Secretary of Energy will be Steve Chu.

Yes, that Steve Chu. The physicist who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics along with William Phillips and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji for figuring out a way to use laser light to trap and cool atoms.

The same Steve Chu who signed Project Steve.

Energy is the coin of the physics realm: how it is transformed, how it's partitioned, how it interacts with matter. According to the Washington Post, Chu has turned to more practical applications of energy during the last few years. His mission has been to make the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory "the world leader in alternative and renewable energy research, particularly the development of carbon-neutral sources of energy."

So we have an energy specialist in charge of our national energy policy! Rejoice!



posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Wiggling in Texas

Wiggle room.

It is a phrase that implies ambiguity. It is often used to refer to flexibility of interpretation or of options.

After last month's hearings on the proposed revisions to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for Science, it might also be an appropriate name for Room 1-104 in the William B. Travis Building.

At least that's where the current wiggling began.

In an earlier post, I commented on a blatantly false public statement from Texas State Board of Education Chairman, Dr. Don McLeroy.

Here's a quick summary of the situation:

At last month's hearing on the new draft standards, McLeroy uttered the following statement:

I don't think you'll find a single Board member that has ever advocated - in fact I don't know of a single Board member that has ever advocated - teaching creationism, teaching intelligent design, or teaching supernatural explanations in the science classroom.

It was quickly pointed out that McLeroy and other current Board members had done exactly that in their responses to questionnaires for voter's guides put out by the Texas affiliate of Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

The questionnaires seemed to leave the respondents with very little wiggle room:


Respondents were asked to indicate their positions by choosing one of the following options:

SF - Strongly Favor
F - Favor
U - Undecided
O - Opposed
SO - Strongly Opposed

As Cheryl pointed out early in this saga, McLeroy and his fellow anti-evolution Board members all chose "Strongly Favor."

Now, over at Blog of the Airtightnoodle, we find the following from Dr. McLeroy:

I had forgotten about those voter guides when I made my statement. My mistake. It is true, however, that I have never stated that I want to teach Creationism or Intelligent Design nor do I want to. Voter guides leave little wiggle room sometimes; they will put you in a box and you have to choose which box in which [sic] best represents your views.

Someone who does not want to teach Creationism or Intelligent Design would select "Opposed" or "Strongly Opposed" when asked to respond to statements like the ones above.

The contradictory nature of Dr. McLeroy's public statements are not due to a lack of wiggle room.

There is too much wiggling going on as it is.


posted by Jeremy Mohn




Jeremy's videos now on TeacherTube

Jeremy's created some exquisite videos explaining various facets of evidence for evolution. They're posted at YouTube, but teachers who wish to use these videos might find themselves unable to access YouTube from their classrooms because many school districts block YouTube from their networks.

Thankfully, Jeremy's posted these videos at TeacherTube:
Evolution is REAL Science #1 - Chromosome Numbers
Evolution is REAL Science #2 - Vitamin C
Evolution is REAL Science #3 - ERVs

Registration is free at TeacherTube, and they don't send annoying emails after you've registered.

. . . and of course, Jeremy, we're looking forward to your next installment!



posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Interview with Judge John E. Jones, III


Image from PLoS

I just ran across this interview with Honorable Judge John E. Jones, III in PLoS Genetics.

Ever since the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, Judge Jones has taken on a sort of "rockstar" status among science geeks like me, so I couldn't resist reading more of his thoughts concerning the trial. I encourage you to check out the interview for yourself.

Here's a brief excerpt (the interviewer's name is Jane Gitschier):

Gitschier: Did [Ken] Miller talk about molecular evolution, DNA sequences, etc.?

Jones: To the extent that he needed to.

Gitschier: Because the evidence is amazing.

Jones: It is stunning when you get into it. Broadly, as the trial progressed, what was remarkable to me, as you go back-you well know this in your field-people called it Darwin's theory of evolution. Here's Charles Darwin, who had not the benefit at all of genetics, and yet from my view, almost every subsequent discovery tends to bear out Darwin's theory and has only made it stronger, including the field of genetics. But Ken Miller went into the immune system, the blood clotting cascade, and the bacterial flagellum-all three are held out by intelligent design proponents as irreducibly complex, and in effect, having no precursors. He [Miller] knocked that down, I thought, quite effectively-so comprehensively and so well. By the time Miller was done testifying, over the span of a couple of days, the defendants were really already in the hole.

But I can't decide the case until I hear all the evidence, and I didn't.

For me, this was the most intriguing part of the interview because it illustrates how a patient, effective presentation of the evidence of evolution can truly persuade an objective observer.

We need more of that.


posted by Jeremy Mohn




Evolution Education and Outreach

Good news!

There is a new issue of Evolution Education and Outreach. The journal connects science teachers with scientists by adapting cutting-edge, peer reviewed articles for classroom use on a variety of instructional levels. This latest issue is all about the evolution of eyes.

Better news!

The links to the articles can be found on this page.

The best news of all?

They're all available free of charge!

HT: RBH at PT



posted by Jeremy Mohn



Monday, December 8, 2008
Intelligent Design: a lo$ing proposition

One of the big problems with intelligent design is that it offers no testable hypotheses. In other words, how do you use natural laws to test for the presence of the supernatural? Evolution works all-too-efficiently in the case of cancer cells which evolve resistance to chemotherapy. Evolution offers pathways to knowledge as we test drugs designed for humans on rats and pigs and monkeys instead of on snakes and toads and worms. Evolution research has proven to be fruitful and productive, leading to financially-viable products and ideas.

Right now, the folks over at the Discovery Institute are getting their knickers in a twist because of an award from a foundation with a familiar-sounding name.



The part which the DI doesn't like is bolded:

The task of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Robert Koch Foundation - to decide which scientists should be recognized for their achievements - is not easy. It's no secret that scientific fields and individual scientists are confidentially discussed among the members of the Scientific Advisory Board for years. These discussions are focused exclusively on the scientific excellence of the candidates, without regard to their political, social, or personal beliefs. On the other hand, the Scientific Advisory Board must also consider the moral and ethical implications of the research and, if necessary, publicly criticize or even condemn scientific work that they consider morally or ethically unacceptable.

As you already know, German medical research was misused during the past century for unscientific purposes, which also negatively affected the name and reputation of Robert Koch. This was discovered recently by a group of independent historians researching on behalf of the Robert Koch Institute. The "German Physics" or the so-called Lyssenko Genetics represent misdirected pseudoscientific developments.

Research must remain free and therefore has to be protected from non-scientific influences such as "Creationism", "Fundamentalism", "Intelligent Design", or other non-scientific ideas or religious convictions.

Although the DI article refers to the award as coming from the "Koch Foundation,"

The Robert Koch Medal was established to honor the greatest living physicians, and the Robert Koch Foundation, established with generous grants from the German government and from the American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), was founded to work toward the eradication of tuberculosis.

- this "Koch Foundation" isn't the one founded by Kansas natives Charles & David Koch. The Koch brothers of Wichita head up the largest privately-held company in the world. Along the way, they've supported numerous conservative organizations, started up think tanks such as the Cato Institute, and founded the Koch Foundation. David Koch ran for president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980 and remains the most successful Libertarian candidate to date, having drawn just under one million votes. The Koch brothers support the idea that a free market, unhindered by government interference, is best for American freedom in the long run although recent events call that philosophy into question. Likewise, the Kochs would like to see public schools follow free-market philosophies, with our tax monies going to support vouchers for private, religious education.

So you'd think that the Koch Foundation would thus be primed to support the inclusion of any and all ideas in public school classrooms, where those ideas could survive or perish according to their perceived fitness - sort of a "curriculum by natural selection." That's the type of science instruction the Discovery Institute seeks to perpetrate on our kids in the form of intelligent design teach the controversy strengths and weaknesses academic freedom.

Well, think again. David H. Koch is a primary supporter of PBS' NOVA program.

The Discovery Institute has a history of seeking martyrdom. Was it doing so as it conflated two distinct foundations? Fortunately for REAL science, both of these foundations see clearly the difference between science and nonsense.


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams



Sunday, December 7, 2008
Evolution is REAL Science #3





posted by Jeremy Mohn



Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Roger Ebert Reviews Expelled

Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert has finally gotten around to reviewing the # 1 # 2 documentary of 2008.

Here's what he had to say:

"Expelled" is not a bad film from the technical point of view. It is well photographed and edited, sometimes amusing, has well-chosen talking heads, gives an airing to evolutionists . . . and incorporates entertaining . . . historical footage.

Did you notice what I did there? I hope so.

Here's a better summary of Ebert's opinion of the movie:

This film is cheerfully ignorant, manipulative, slanted, cherry-picks quotations, draws unwarranted conclusions, makes outrageous juxtapositions (Soviet marching troops representing opponents of ID), pussy-foots around religion (not a single identified believer among the ID people), segues between quotes that are not about the same thing, tells bald-faced lies, and makes a completely baseless association between freedom of speech and freedom to teach religion in a university class that is not about religion.

Oooh burn!


posted by Jeremy Mohn




That Which We Call a Lie


In the previous post, Cheryl presented evidence clearly demonstrating the fact that current members of the anti-evolution faction on the Texas State Board of Education have previously advocated the teaching of Creationism and Intelligent Design in Texas public schools.

In the comments on that post, Tony Whitson of Tony's curricublog linked to a post of his that provides audio (mp3) of a public statement by Dr. Don McLeroy, chairman of the Board:

I don't think you'll find a single Board member that has ever advocated - in fact I don't know of a single Board member that has ever advocated - teaching creationism, teaching intelligent design, or teaching supernatural explanations in the science classroom.

As we now know, the above statement is blatantly false. McLeroy himself "strongly favor[ed]" the following statements in 2002 and 2006 respectively:


In addition, McLeroy wrote an op-ed in August 2008 in which he openly advocated for the inclusion of supernatural explanations in Texas's curriculum standards.

If science is limited to only natural explanations but some natural phenomena are actually the result of supernatural causes then science would never be able to discover that truth-not a very good position for science. Defining science to allow for this possibility is just common sense.

If you listen to the second audio clip in Tony's post, you will hear Dr. McLeroy say "no one can use that word" when he and his fellow board members are accused of lying about their religious motives for criticizing evolution.

Apparently, he doesn't like the "L word."

And yet, simply refusing to allow others to say the word "lie" does not make it acceptable for a public servant to knowingly convey blatant falsehoods.

Perhaps Dr. McLeroy should brush up on his Shakespeare:

What's in a word? That which we call a lie
By any other name would still smell foul.


edited 12/6 0822: updated per Tony's comment - csa


posted by Jeremy Mohn



Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Cdesign Proponentsists, The Sequel

Maybe you remember one of the great smoking guns of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial: the documented evolution of the anti-evolution textbook "Of Pandas and People." Nick Matzke, intrepid researcher and fellow obsessive, uncovered different versions of the text in which the terms "creationism" and "creationists" were replaced with the terms "intelligent design" and "design proponents." This switch was made after the June 1987 decision in Edwards v Aguillard outlawing the teaching of creationism as science in public schools. The transitional term "cdesign proponentsists" was unearthed as a hallmark of this bait-and-switch tactic.

The Texas Freedom Network has dug into documents helpfully provided by the Free Market Foundation, the Texas affiliate of the rabidly anti-evolution Focus on the Family. (More about the FMF's contradictory stances.) These documents show that "an intelligent design proponent is just a creationist with a thesaurus."

To wit:
In 2002, the FMF lauded Texas State Board of Education candidates who "Strongly Favor"

Creationism: Present scientific evidence supporting intelligent design, and not just evolution, and treat both theories as viable ones on the origin of life.

Jump forward to 2006, when the survey noted those TSBE candidates who "Strongly Favor"

Intelligent Design: Present scientific evidence in our public schools supporting intelligent design, and not just evolution, and treat both theories as viable ones on the origin of life.

Most recently, in 2008 the FMF survey noted those TSBE candidates who "Strongly Favor"

Evolution Weaknesses: Biology textbooks which do not teach both the strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution must be rejected by the Board.

Go read the whole story at TFN for more details, but the money quote is:

Bottom line: An "intelligent design" supporter today is a creationist with a thesaurus. And a backer of "weaknesses of evolution" is an "intelligent design" supporter who has read the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision. Same motives. Same end game. Same politicians who "Strongly Favor."


posted by Cheryl Shepherd-Adams




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