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This morning I was treated to not just one, but two diaries from the overnight shift dealing with the way evolution is to be taught in science classes in Missouri and Oklahoma. These have to do with bills in each state legislature pertaining to what students and teachers may say about the subject, apart from and unrelated to the 'proper' answer to the standardized pass/fail test. Which is the standard formulaic description of Darwinism, RM-NS [Random Mutation - Natural Selection].

In the earlier diary - What If Students Could 'Debunk' Science And Still Get Good Grades? by Purple Priestess - the proposed legislation is described thusly by its (the bill's) author:

"I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks. A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations."
In the latter diary - Action Alert! MO HB-179 Permitting ID in Science Classes by NationalAtheistParty - the proposed legislation is described thusly:
"Specifies that the State Board of Education and other public school entities must encourage students to explore scientific questions and assist teaching strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories of biological or chemical evolution."
Which, of course, the authors of the diaries assert to be a way to sneak Intelligent Design into the teaching of evolution in public school biology classes. Though neither bill mandates that teachers themselves bring up the subject. Or put another way, neither of these bills mandates the TEACHING of ID in public school science classes. One simply says students can write papers questioning the simplified RM-NS paradigm, and the other says students should be encouraged to look deeper into the subject. Neither of which seem that dangerous to me, given the actual state of evolutionary biology these days and the misconceptions about it embodied by the formulaic RM-NS response required on standardized testing.

One of the authors complains that the [MO] bill encourages students to think critically about whether or not the Natural Selection half of the formula is the whole story. The other complains that the [OK] bill allows students to challenge the Random Mutation half of the formula. I am quite honestly befuddled by the notion that challenging either one of these simplifications is necessarily a bad thing.

In the end, no student need demonstrate greater understanding than RM-NS, and for the vast majority of students that particular formula will have exactly zero impact on their lives. For the one or two out of every teacher's annual class load who might go on to become scientists, medical researchers or such, those kids will dig deeper and go farther no matter what anybody in their high school classes encourages or discourages.

I do not understand why any opportunity to encourage students to think critically and examine subjects in more depth is something we should be all up in arms against. Really.

NOTE: Yes, I do realize that the expressed alarm about these bills has to do with the 'fear' that students might be allowed or encouraged to believe that evolution's engine may not be completely random, and/or that what survives may not be purely the luck of the draw. Big damned deal.

I do not believe it is the state's business to impose any beliefs as to whether or not some spiritual entity or force exists or intervenes in natural processes. I do believe it is a good thing for students to learn how to think critically and explore subjects that interest them much deeper than is possible in a single textbook's chapter on evolution or even a given semester's 40-minute per day class schedule.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just wondering (3+ / 0-)

    why any scientific discipline or theory needs to be imparted in basic public education as somehow being 'Absolute Truth' that must not be examined closer or challenged in any way.

    That said, any teaching of sectarian religious beliefs/tenets as if these were science is a violation of Constitutional law and the rights of the people NOT to be so indoctrinated by the state.

    There probably are religious dog-whistle motivations for these particular legislative bills being introduced. Yet both seem to have carefully sidestepped making those religious motivations explicit. Thus I am not seeing the grave threat in these bills that the diaries linked are suggesting. What am I missing?

    •  couple answers (4+ / 0-)

      In the second quote, a few key words "must. .  . . .assist teaching. . . .weaknesses"

      Why would a state government be dictating what MUST be taught--isn't this is a school board decision? and "assist" is code for providing textbooks and continuing ed.

      You are right that students should be learning critical thinking skills. They should be learning them from the fifth grade and through high school. There are opportunities in history, communications, language classes as well as in science.

       In science classes, if they are learning about the scientific method, then they are being taught critical thinking as it applies to science.  No need to mandate how, or whether to include anti-science.

      You're also right in saying that they've side-stepped making those religious motivations explicit, but trust me, they're there.

    •  What you are missing is an understanding (5+ / 0-)

      of the nature of science.  I suggest you go back to those diaries and read the comments more carefully.  You might learn something.

      why any scientific discipline or theory needs to be imparted in basic public education as somehow being 'Absolute Truth' that must not be examined closer or challenged in any way.
      It needn't be.  It shouldn't be.  It isn't.

      This is what I wrote on the Move-On petition against the Missouri bill:

      First and foremost, a scientific theory is testable. It produces new knowledge. It has a non-supernatural mechanism. Intelligent design does not meet any of these criteria.
      The nature of science is reductionist. It is "turtles all the way down." Intelligent design believes in something called "irreducible complexity." Intelligent design is NOT science.
      Others here have probably put it better.

      Konrad Lorenz said, "Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open the way to the next better one."

      Richard Feynman said that science is truth plus or nimus 10%.

      Maybe we should just give and slide back into an age of superstition.

      I'm starting to think these distinctions are just too subtle and sophisticated for the majority of the population and always will be.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:00:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (7+ / 0-)

      Which high school science classes teach anything as "Absolute Truth"? They teach our current best understanding. There are controversies at the cutting edge of science, but you properly can't understand the cutting edge until you've mastered the basics. The point of high school science is to help you understand the first round of basics; if you find the subject interesting, then you can do additional study after high school and eventually become educated to the point where you're able to engage in serious debate with serious scientists.

      Now, the current laws are already a compromise: We can force people to go to high school, but we can't force them to learn anything. So I don't think we should go further and reward students for not learning anything.

      As far as I can tell, the goal of these laws is to allow students to refuse to pay attention during Biology class, scrawl "If men evolved from monkeys than how come there are still monkeys?" on top of their final exam sheets, and still get a passing grade. Who do you think benefits from that?

      •  I can recall very specifically (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P

        the way science was taught when I was in jr. high. My family moved from New York to Oklahoma over Christmas break, good ol' Sputnik days...

        The general science requisites that year included a section on cosmology. You know, the nature of the universe along with basic solar system stuff as known/theorized at the time. In New York the school district was too cheap to buy new textbooks, ours were at least 8 years old. The universe, we were told (and NOT encouraged to dissent), was eternal, a peaceful clockwork mechanism entirely predictable and entirely without the possibility of chaotic events. Test questions at the end of the chapter, don't ask questions.

        When I began at the new school in the new state, low and behold they had brand new textbooks! These textbooks taught - with the very same bland statement of "fact" not tolerant of question or dissent - that the universe had a beginning some billions of years in the past, all at the same place and time, in the Explosion to End All Explosions known euphemistically as "Big Bang." I thought it was positively hilarious, really.

        My father was a scientist - physicist/engineer - who had been a "Big Banger" for as long as I knew him, likely well before. He'd been excited by every 'proof' of GR as it came along and got applied, just sure that one of these days the paradigm would change 'overnight'. Turned out he was right. Even a young teen like me appreciated the irony of that.

  •  more than a bit surprised at this diary, Joieau-- (13+ / 0-)

    since you follow a lot of science yourself.

    The point of such legislation is to weaken the establishment clause of the first amendment--not to foster critical thinking.  Look at the people who write this stuff.  Are we talking about scientists here who are testing different aspects of the theory of evolution?    Hardly.  Look--'intelligent design' is modern marketing language used SOLELY to 'sell' the idea of creationism by couching it in pseudo-scientific terms.

    I mean, ultimately, we can't 'know' anything--but that's the realm of philosophy--itself a different class. I have no trouble invoking religious history in the history of science--absolutely.

    But to offer something like creationism as the counter to evolution is ridiculous--why not evaluate the science on its own merits?  There are tons of books out there which question certain tenets of natural selection, etc.  Use those....but this isn't the realm of faith.  

    They're completely different ball games.

    Please, DON'T buy into the 'critical thinking' myth that the ultra-right is trying to promote.  They know EXACTLY what they're doing.

    •  Oh, I'm not missing (0+ / 0-)

      the subversive intent, bevenro. Which is why I acknowledged that it's there. I am saying that because the bills' authors had to tippy-toe around what they knew would invalidate their efforts entirely, they appear to instead have ended up promoting critical thinking. Which sure as hell isn't something 'puke wingnuts ever had any intention of encouraging.

      IOW, sort of looks like they've not only defeated their own ulterior motives, they just might have written bills that would result in more kids understanding more about evolutionary biology than die-hard 'puke wingnuts ever wanted them to understand. In MO and OK, of all places.

      Given that, I don't see that there's much to get all excited about. I'm always in favor of encouraging kids to look deeper, go exploring subjects of interest to them. In these fields, there's plenty to explore that is not being presented in your basic jr. high or high school biology section.

      •  You have a flawed assumption there (11+ / 0-)

        You sem to assume the teacher, text, and class materials will foster an open and honest dialogue and study fo the facts. In fact, it gets presented as a sort of "false equivalency" - evolution and intelligent design are taught as equally viable theories, with equal support from the science community. And then they go on to study the structure of the leaf, and dissect a frog.

        "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

        by Catte Nappe on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:29:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As a biology teacher (6+ / 0-)

          if I were forced by such a law to take a critical thinking approach to evolution, it wouldn't change one darn thing I do.  Since I do that already.  

          What I DON'T do is pretend that pseudoscientific poppycock has equal standing, and I spend enough time on the basic philosophy of science to insure that students can recognize pseudoscience when they see it.

          I might devise a unit that takes the students way down in the weeds on a key issue.  Taking the diarist's example, there is plenty to say in the literature about the relative effects of mutation and natural selection. On evolution.

          We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:01:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, ID is not to be taught (0+ / 0-)

          at all, much less as an "equally viable" theory. That has already been established in law, and that's why these pieces of legislation - which may or may not even pass - fail to iterate such a thing.

          •  Maybe shouldn't be, but it is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            "Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it's a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it," Perry said. "In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools — because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."
            Penn State University political scientist Eric Plutzer, who helped conduct a 2007 national survey of more than 950 science teachers in 49 states, including Texas, told us in an interview that in any state 10 percent to 20 percent of science teachers are "endorsing creationism in their classrooms, often devoting one to four class hours to creationism over the course of the year."
            As we looked into Perry’s statement, his spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, said by email: "It is required that students evaluate and analyze the theory of evolution, and creationism very likely comes up and is discussed in that process. Teachers are also permitted to discuss it with students in that context."

            The Texas Education Agency sent us a similar statement.


            "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

            by Catte Nappe on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:31:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Huh. My biology-II teacher (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              was a Baptist preacher on the side. He did an excellent job with what was current theory at the time. And somehow managed to impart the understanding that more still waited to be known. Maybe a lot more. And he was right.

              He never confused his religious dogma with his science. Used to take a short bus every Saturday in good weather out to Tenkiller Dam to dig fossils. Great fun. He taught three of us siblings, one year apart. We all went into science, biological science at that. Now there's the internet. An undreamed-of tool in my ancient days, that would have directly linked me to everything known about this subject or that - so long as I had some good critical thinking skills with which to go wading...

              Hard to say where it'll all lead. I am hopeful. The kids are smarter than many people wish to give them credit for. The ones paying attention most of all - everybody else just seeks to get past The Test. It's hard to really hurt their questing, especially not by examining some detail.

      •  if that were true, it would be wonderful--but (7+ / 0-)

        honestly, have you seen any evidence that the result of this sort of thing from far-right school boards, state legislators, etc. has done anything to raise the critical thinking bar?  I'd say that it has plummeted to rock bottom...

        Trust me, Joieau--there will be  no critical thinking that results from this sort of nonsense.  Because the people involved in this sort of thing don't want it--and most of the teachers simply wouldn't have the skill to facilitate legitimate inquiry at that level.  We're talking about school kids, not metaphysics classes..

        I do see where you're coming from, but I see no room for optimism here.

        •  My daughter was 'gifted'. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Back when offering the gifted children something more than the standard curriculum was new. She had a very good gifted class up to junior high, then when she made the transition ended up assigned to a school where 'gifted' meant nothing more than a whole helluva lot of extra homework. Waste of childhood.

          Before we could pull her out, she got into a regular Big Deal conflict with her science teacher. Who told the class flat-out that there were "Nine Planets In The Universe." Period, end of impartation of Absolute Truth.

          Daughter of course raised her hand, and offered the observation that perhaps the teacher had misspoken, really meant nine planets in our solar system? (This was before Pluto was demoted). The teacher flipped right out, marched her straight to the principal's office and insisted she be suspended from school entirely for challenging the teacher.

          I went to the office, and listened to about 20 minute's worth of "she challenges her teachers," "she says things we don't like," etc., etc., etc. His decision? She was suspended indefinitely.

          When he was done, I asked politely if this was how his school treated all their 'gifted' students. His jaw dropped onto the desk, totally shocked. He hadn't even bothered to look at her records before suspending her! I said I was withdrawing her permanently right now, would be enrolling her in a private school closer to our home. He tried to backtrack, of course, I wouldn't have it.

          I said as we left that he might wish to say something to the science teacher about the number of planets in the universe, since she was teaching bullshit.

      •  I see the problem being that in many communities (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bevenro, Catte Nappe, Joieau

        the science teachers are not really well equipped to handle this. The students are students after all so it will only be the very exceptional one that could even come close to doing a truly critical analysis of current state of science here. In many areas even some less exceptional ones might be able to nail some obsolete or Texas influenced text book "science" with material out of current scientific journals or other sources.

        To have actual learning value both need to then be subjected to knowledgeable "peer review" so to speak by a teacher really up to the task. I, and I'd bet you, have run into science teachers that really need to go back to class themselves or "get out more" in checking the state of their knowledge against the current scientific thinking. We have many in public schools that could do the job. Unfortunately I know and knew, particularly during a period I lived in such an anti-evolution region, of more that can barely handle the subject themselves.

        I'd have no problem with encouraging students to challenge these things if I knew their challenge would be met by someone with real knowledge and ability to go into a critical thinking analysis. I have no such confidence, particularly in the schools within the areas this movement is operating. I expect instead a pat on the back for "thinking" and reinforcement of some badly out of kilter "scientific" views.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:30:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I graduated high school (0+ / 0-)

          in Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA way, way back in the day. So far back, in fact, that evolution wasn't even broached as a subject for required biology courses - you had to pass prerequisite courses and get permission from the teacher to take advanced biology (came with chemistry and physics). So not very many in my class got exposed to formal instruction on Darwinism. That was even before acknowledged Neo-darwinism, a good dozen years before the first GMO got plot-tested.

          I'd wager that 2/3 to 3/4 of my class has never had a problem with evolution. They all let their kids watch dino-cartoons and movies. They all watch the critter-channels. Evolution and an ancient earth are SOP in our culture. Nobody who isn't Amish knows that. It takes some real effort to believe otherwise these days. Really.

          •  Then far too many people are making that effort (0+ / 0-)

            because otherwise there would be near zero support for and certainly zero chance of some of the anti-evolution, teach ID and Creation "science" efforts being implemented.

            They are being implemented so your assumption about actual science being SOP is more than a bit off.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:21:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  You Haven't Suggested Any Scientific Basis for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hnichols, Joieau, radical simplicity

    students to be challenging these theories. Have those promoting these bills?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:51:19 AM PST

    •  well, to Joieau's point there are certainly (6+ / 0-)

      scientific bases for questioning all established scientific theories and laws--I don't have a problem with that aspect--or else how would science advance?  

      The problem is substituting a purely faith based 'rationale' for actual scientific inquiry.  That's the issue...I would encourage discussions on the merits and weaknesses of all scientific 'truth' (truth in quotes because we don't really know the true reality of anything).

      Just not on these terms--which are insane.

      •  When Dalton's atomic theory (4+ / 0-)

        (as least the part that said atoms are indivisible and indestructible) was challenged again and again by new discoveries -- electrons, a nucleus, radioactive decay, atomic theory evolved.  It wasn't chucked out in favor of the four elements of the ancient Greeks.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:27:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What 'terms' are insane? (0+ / 0-)

        One of these bills mentions Natural Selection exclusively, the other mentions Random Mutation exclusively. Neither of these bills puts them together as the RM-NS sound byte most public schools teach as some sort of 'Absolute Truth' these days about evolution, and neither demonstrates much grasp of the subject at issue, which is more than just the classic Darwinian theory. Evolutionary biology is much broader than that, and has been for awhile now.

        I don't think it would hurt a single interested student to go looking for how much more is currently included in the evolutionary paradigm than just the simplistic pablum kids are required to regurgitate on The Test. Hell, they might even learn something useful.

        My grandson's biology section on evolution some years ago came from a 'new' at the time textbook in part sponsored by National Geographic Society, and included in each sub-section URLs to sponsored educational websites devoted to exploring the subjects in as much depth as any student might wish to dig. I thought it was really very cool, and waded through several of those sites myself (though I doubt many sophomores in McDowell High bothered). Teaching science as if it's NOT a 'done deal' is highly advisable, since none of it's actually done.

        •  I don't mean the 'terms' in the text--I mean the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pelagicray, Joieau

          'terms' of discourse.  Students don't need intelligent design mythology in order to set them on the course of critical thinking and dissection--doing so elevates faith in the classroom to an equal realm of 'science'.  That's the insanity I'm referring to.

          Again--I support your arguments for critical thinking and evaluation-- (as a tutor I argue for these things constantly--it's missing from our educational system) but the terms of these bills serve to promote, not to evaluate.  The idea is to view the so-called 'weaknesses' in evolutionary theory to accept the possibilty of design--  but what teachers at this level will be equipped to REALLY address the scientfic weaknesses of the theory?  And if they are (which would be   a great thing) those teachers should recognize that the way to addresses these weaknesses is certainly NOT to fill them in with religious filler--which is what legislators want to see happen (and, in fact, would happen in many cases)

          •  And there you have the core of the matter. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bevenro, Joieau, GreenMother
            but what teachers at this level will be equipped to REALLY address the scientfic weaknesses of the theory?
            This would be a good thing with a truly great science teacher up on current knowledge and research. In most of our public schools, particularly in the long term anti-evolution regions, finding teachers truly qualified to turn such student challenges of current evolutionary theory into a real learning experience is not highly probable as I noted above.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:39:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  True. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              But as has always been the case, if your child's school is teaching religion rather than science, you have every right and responsibility to sue the holy crap out of them. ACLU would take it if it's obvious, and though it'll take years, the verdict is a foregone conclusion.

              I dunno. Things are so polarized these days on so many levels, that I'm just trying to find a reason for hope. I'm willing to trust the kids - I think people don't give them enough credit, for a kind of plugged-in 'smarts' (or at least access to it) that is of a whole different order than what I've spent most of my life familiar with. Social evolution, which is now known to be at least as important to human evolution as physical structure/processes. It's still all about evolution, n'est ce pas?

              •  Easier said than done Joieau. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau, pelagicray

                When a family in a conservative area, goes after the school, the town goes after the family.

                Jobs disappear, property might be vandalized, children might be bullied or beaten, etc., and so on.

                When you tell someone to tilt that kind of windmill, I want you understand that they shouldn't be forced to go it alone, but that is what happens.

                Whistle blowers are universally hated. Even these kinds.

                •  Sigh. Also true. (0+ / 0-)

                  Guess we're all fairly dependent upon the popular culture to shape the reality we perceive. It kind of surprising if you've ever had the opportunity to observe, how resistant to indoctrination (from formal education) the cultural reality truly is. It's considerable.

                  Fantasies have their fans. Most people recognize the scam when they encounter it. At this chaotic juncture of history it's a struggle just to breathe, some will fall behind. It has always been thus.

              •  Blatant "teaching religion" is not the reality in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GreenMother, Joieau

                most of the schools where this is an issue. School boards have learned that lesson fairly well, though a few truly dumb types still think they can get away with it for a while.

                The real problem is teaching something other than science as science, in particular those efforts to redefine what science is all about. The ID group is an example. Creationism certainly makes a stab at it, though it is easier to see through and expose as religious. Unfortunately a skilled counter to organized and sometimes clever redefinition of science itself is not mounted by primary and secondary school science teachers. It is more unfortunate that actual scientists are not more involved in dealing with this social issue. That has been recognized by scientists and some efforts to get individual experts more involved have been made.

                It is still too little and I'm not sure numbers have changed much from this state or that described in the New Scientist 2006 article "Why doesn't America believe in evolution?" with that damning graph putting us 19th down between Greece and Turkey. Yep, with my emphasis from that article:

                Religious fundamentalism, bitter partisan politics and poor science education have all contributed to this denial of evolution in the US, says Jon Miller of Michigan State University in East Lansing, who conducted the survey with his colleagues. "The US is the only country in which [the teaching of evolution] has been politicised," he says. "Republicans have clearly adopted this as one of their wedge issues. In most of the world, this is a non-issue."

                Miller's report makes for grim reading for adherents of evolutionary theory. Even though the average American has more years of education than when Miller began his surveys 20 years ago, the percentage of people in the country who accept the idea of evolution has declined from 45 in 1985 to 40 in 2005 (Science, vol 313, p 765). That's despite a series of widely publicised advances in genetics, including genetic sequencing, which shows strong overlap of the human genome with those of chimpanzees and mice. "We don't seem to be going in the right direction," Miller says.

                A fundamental flaw in our education system is in teaching exactly what defines science itself. Otherwise reasonable people I have known, with degrees, have demonstrated poor grasp of that and a ready acceptance of pseudo science. That is a sad state of affairs.

                The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

                by pelagicray on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:52:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  You know, (0+ / 0-)

            I have this whole other point-of-view 'problem' in that I don't see that it matters one whit whether or not any individual wants to believe there's design in evolution. Life is certainly complex and at times breathtakingly beautiful. And I've just never spent any real time or energy fretting about what other people choose to believe about things like that. So long as they're not actually dangerous, of course.

            Education in this nation is in awful shape, has been for awhile now. Science education isn't anywhere that it ought to be, but at the same time there is so much more available to kids these days in sating their thirsts... I figure it'll all work out in the end.

            •  I don't have any problem with religion myself. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joieau, GreenMother

              Unlike a lot of posters here with a vehement distaste and distrust for religion, I find it fascinating and beautiful (and, like anything else including science, subject to misuse)  I'm a fairly secular/agnostic Jew myself--I don't know what to believe and I'm not particularly fussed about it :)

              My issue is school board/state reps using it directly to subvert the science programs, though--and that's already happening.

    •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

      what the sponsors of these bills have said about them in private to their right wing constituents when they're sure nobody else is listening. But since there are specified limits to any kind of anti-scientific claptrap a teacher can teach - or a legislator can expect to pass constitutional muster in proposed legislation - I don't think it matters.

      In other news, there are a number of facts, observations and theories about those that 'challenge' the simplistic RM-NS Darwinian paradigm. Which is why evolutionary biology isn't exclusively about Darwinism - or even Neo-Darwinism - today. Worse, new details are becoming known just about every week on the research front that make the several branches of evolutionary biology exciting enough to lure students toward possible specialty careers. Examination of them - or just awareness of them - won't hurt anybody.

  •  What is the need for these bills? (8+ / 0-)

    Do you believe that science teachers are cutting off critical thinking about various elements of science, and that a bill like this from the legislature will suddenly make them good science teachers?

    Why is it specific to evolution and not about, say, relativity, quantum mechanics, or the calculation of molar values? If my Punnett Square submitted is:

         T   T
    t   TT  TT
    t   TT  tt

    Do I get full credit for challenging orthodoxy?

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:56:38 AM PST

    •  Hard to beat quantum mechanics or relativity (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hnichols, Joieau, GreenMother

      for a bit of science that's obviously completely ridiculous. :-)

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:57:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is no need (0+ / 0-)

      for these bills in most states where science teachers don't succumb to the 'easy' temptation to teach science as if it's some sort of 'Absolute Truth'. There are some great science teachers out there, I was lucky enough to have a few of them. Also had some singularly lousy ones, but even they couldn't discourage students who were smarter than them.

      In school districts in states like these two, there are very likely some science teachers who use their privilege to violate the law on a daily basis. It happens, there are more states with the same problem. Some students will no doubt abuse the freedom granted by legislation like this to write 5-page missives on how the planet's only 6,000 years old and God created humans to be incestuous breeders because He likes it that way. But that's not a science paper, and cannot be properly graded AS a science paper. It's just a declaration of faith. Cheap at half the price.

      I'm looking at what ELSE these legislated freedoms to explore might encourage, and I like it better than the 'done deal' deal.

      •  You are living in an ivory tower (0+ / 0-)

        if you think that's what's going to happen.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:38:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A student will write a paper purporting to examine ID and evolution critically, but it will be through a theological perspective without the use of scientific method. Turning the paper back to the student will bring cries of repression and violation of first amendment rights, facts be damned. The lawsuit follows, along with much notoriety. It is a Christofascist foot in the door.


      •  Science is built upon research with reproducible (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, IamGumby


        So yes, Science is in the material world, Absolute.

        It is not the place for measuring the weight of souls or counting the number of angels that dance on the head of a pin.

        It is about teaching children the value and technique of the Scientific Method and showing taking those children through a very basic survey of scientific thought and history.

        Imagine in that class if you we also of the wrong religion. How would challenge the "orthodoxy?"

        Its a messy non-solution to a self inflicted problem by religionists.

        The discussion you want to have is in a religious studies class, or a philosophy class.

        •  Not me. (0+ / 0-)

          The linked diaries in this post talk about specific legislation introduced by state legislators in Missouri and Oklahoma. That aren't likely to be passed, but if they are, won't prove to be of much effect. There's no time for what's already in the curriculum, no room for whole other theories (with zero-to-scant evidence).

          I know there are science teachers in these states already teaching full-fledged Creationism. Nobody's sued them yet, that's all. This doesn't represent a change from what they've already been teaching, it's a Get Out Of Jail Free card, that's all. Nothing really changes. Better science teachers will still manage to impart what's necessary to The Test (and point interested students in the right direction). It's an issue, this vast inequality in education and educational opportunities, that we definitely need to address. Seriously. But we've got this goddam War On Terror to deal with, not to mention tens of thousands of incarcerated pot smokers to torture into submission...

          Argh. Just Argh.

  •  Stole this from Science Based Medicine (13+ / 0-)

    and I think it holds true here.

    When you mix apple pie with cow pie it doesn't make the cow pie better. It makes the apple pie worse.

    These legislators want to mix theology with science. They have no expectation that a student will apply critical thinking skills. The student is expected to go to the internet and copy down the creation/ID talking points and spit them back at the teacher.

    An anecdotal story that I read said that a student questioned the teaching of evolution by asking the teacher if she was there when it happened? That's the typical smug crap you get from creationists and that's exactly what this bill is all about.

  •  The "strengths and weakness" approach (8+ / 0-)

    That is boilerplate language. It is being disseminated by the Discovery Institute, in much the same way ALEC puts together model bills on other subjects. The Discovery Institute is all about Intelligent Design

    Scientific research and experimentation have produced staggering advances in our knowledge about the natural world, but they have also led to increasing abuse of science as the so-called “new atheists” have enlisted science to promote a materialistic worldview, to deny human freedom and dignity and to smother free inquiry. Our Center for Science and Culture works to defend free inquiry. It also seeks to counter the materialistic interpretation of science by demonstrating that life and the universe are the products of intelligent design and by challenging the materialistic conception of a self-existent, self-organizing universe and the Darwinian view that life developed through a blind and purposeless process.

    They have just eventually come around to the "critical thinking, questioning the theory can only strengthen it if you decide it's correct" approach because it stands up to legal challenge better than "we wan't a religious viewpoint taught in publich school science classes". It's doublespeak.

    Texas State Board of Ed is way ahead of the other states on adopting this shit. We may have been the pilot for it, for all I can recall.  And that is really ironic, because on the subject of "critical thinking" there is this:

    In the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department, here’s what the Republican Party of Texas wrote into its 2012 platform as part of the section on education:

    Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

    Those laws have nothing to do with "critical thinking", and if you think they do then you may need remedial work on that very subject.

    "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

    by Catte Nappe on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:20:15 PM PST

  •  I think people supporting Intelligent Design (7+ / 0-)

    don't understand how a savvy science teacher could tear it apart. If you made me teach it in my class, I would take great pains to truly compare evolution and ID side by side and show how ID fails in every measure of a true science.

    "Life is too important to be taken seriously" Oscar Wilde

    by Annie B on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:21:41 PM PST

    •  actually I don't think you really CAN tear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, Joieau

      'ID' (whatever that actually is) apart.  It's the 'well, God made the world to appear old' argument.  There's nothing to contest, aside from simply not buying it.

      That's why they use it.

      •  They cannot prove which god, much less produce (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "the" god that is alleged to have done this.

        There are no reproducible results to provide any sort of conclusion, except for empty air. In science class, we call that gas.

        •  how does that address my comment? (0+ / 0-)

          there's nothing provable or disprovable.  That's why it doesn't belong in as science class.  It's just random conjecture.

          •  Just because you cannot disprove a statement (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            doesn't make it true or logical.

            I can also claim that our genetic ancestors are aliens. Which we have more chance of making that technically true now that we understand how viruses live in space ice---

            but seriously, little green men, and you cannot prove otherwise due to "weaknesses" in the theory. But that doesn't make it true.

            Without reproducible, verifiable results either encoded/discovered in our DNA or found within our fossil record, it is nothing more than conjecture.

            A god is as likely to be a neurological phenomenon more tied to our brain chemistry at this point. It certainly makes more sense from this standpoint. It doesn't matter what yours or my personal feelings are on the matter, or any unverifiable supernatural experiences we claim to have had individually--without something absolute and tangible, it's just gas--i.e., empty air + imagination.

            Which god would it be? Shiva? Thor? Brigid? YHWH? Because when you claim that empty air space and give it a name, you're also claiming dominion of the classroom, and of the teaching material--"My god is bigger than your god," etc., and so on, because he/she/it appears and yours doesn't, therefore is only an evil spirit or a false spririt [more empty air] and so where does the discussion of science take place in that mess?

            Why not save all that for CHURCH? And leave it out of the classroom at a public school, where we are supposed to be teaching people to get along.

            •  who said it was 'true' or 'logical'? (0+ / 0-)

              you're suffering from the same thing that I see from a lot of posters on DKos--you're so opposed to religion that you answer all questions from within a certain framework rather than relaxing a bit to try to consider what commenters are even talking about.

    •  Still risky for the savvy impaired (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Intelligent Design is very weak, but debunking it methodically (as opposed to resorting to authority or popular opinion) requires a good grasp of biology and its attendant math.

    •  Oh yes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 01:06:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Go for it! (0+ / 0-)

      Tearing apart faith-based claptrap won't hurt 'em either.

    •  No one has been able to produce a god in a petri (0+ / 0-)

      dish. And if we dug a god up as a fossil, what would that say?

  •  Here's the problem with these bills (9+ / 0-)

    Given that the ID and anti-climate science positions are built on bullshit, lies and ignorance, there is no way to write a 'good' paper for a science class that espouses anti-evolution or anti-climate science POV.  So, as a matter of practical grading, the anti-science and anti-climate change papers will be graded lower than those that do not.

    Basically, these bills are demanding that students not be marked down for writing clearly stupid arguments.  There is literally no way for this not to be the case, unless you think there are non-stupid SCIENTIFIC arguments against evolution and climate change.  Since no such arguments exist, the law demands that stupid arguments be rewarded.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:32:31 PM PST

  •  Learn to walk before you run. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You can't offer an effective rebuttal unless you actually understand what you're critiquing.  HB-179 actively interferes with that learning process by introducing weak and manifestly incorrect notions into a class setting oriented towards developing a mechanistic familiarity with a subject.

    •  All the "mechanistic familiarity" (0+ / 0-)

      your basic jr. high or high school student gets is RM-NS, possibly complicated by a couple of paragraphs in the text about epigenetics. May even know enough to identify current orthodoxy as "Neo-darwinism" as opposed to mere "Darwinism." Or not. Anything 'extra' doesn't count on The Test, and most hormonally-challenged teenagers won't remember any of it the day after The Test.

      I think these laws will, even if they pass, not significantly affect the teaching of evolution in teenage biology classes in those states. Papers about religious beliefs [to the subject] are philosophy, not science. Philosophy papers might be acceptable on that level, but don't qualify as science. I might give a student extra credit for the philosophical treatise, but I'd insist s/he turn in the required SCIENCE paper too. If I were a science teacher. I am not.

      The teaching of ID as science is unconstitutional. That was established years ago. Legislators can't arbitrarily change that.

      •  I don't know what The Test asks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but it seems a perfectly reasonable goal for HS students to understand basics of transcription & translation for bacterial DNA, to be able see how RM-NS would produce new bacterial strains, and to be able to apply this to health problems such as drug resistant bacteria.

        Eukaryotic DNA and epigenetics may have to wait until college.

        •  Evolution usually comes in the (0+ / 0-)

          section of the textbook dealing with cellular structure and biochemistry, right after the discussions/illustrations and possibly microscope exercises dealing with nucleic acids and vertical inheritance. Which these days may or may not include Mendel and his peas, as it turns out he fudged those results. Still, at least a screened sidebar, along with the page and a half on Darwin's life and work.

          At least, that's how my grandson's textbook was organized. It seems that in teaching these things over a period of time so that it all sort of fits together in a natural progression of forms and processes, there's just no room in there for bullshit religious arguments against it. Religions recognize that life exists, and that it reproduces. The biology and biochemistry are what they are, nothing "magic" about it.

          The only place for that kind of stuff is at the introduction level, like when introducing astronomy with cute little sidebar stories about the silly things people used to believe about the sun, moon, planets and comets. You don't confuse an actual examination of planets, moons and objects in our solar system with ancient Greek mythology. That should have been dispensed with on Day-1 with a little discussion about how culture and knowledge color people's understandings. If they insist on introducing ancient religious mythologies about life, it needs to be dispensed with quickly at the beginning of the chapter.

  •  reading the text of MO HB 179 in full, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, marina, Joieau

    You 're missing some key points (and underhandedness)

    What's in there is the basis of scientific education anyway.  Except for one thing--

    Why single out 'evolution'?  You can find scientific debate (I won't say 'controversy' in all sciences.  The  point of this bill is to weaken the standing of evolutionary theory without expressly stating 'intelligent design'.  It's is plain as day.  Otherwise there would be no need for the bill.

    Also, why this line:  The provisions of the bill must not be construed as promoting any doctrine or discriminating for or against any belief?  What does belief have to do with a science class anyway?  Why would/should science discriminate against any belief systems?  It doesn't go there--it presents and evaluates data/evidence.  Outside of that, you're free to believe anything you want.  

    So while the bill is cleverly worded, it's no less obvious what it is trying to do.

  •  I would hope (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Joieau
    "A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations."
    that anyone who is teaching biology would know how to effectively counter this argument - in fact I would hope that when evolution is being taught this question would always be raised and discussed fully; if it isn't then the subject has not been well taught. Anyone encountering the concept of evolution for the first time will naturally wonder whether an eye can really evolve by chance. The issue must be explored. All the issues that would be raised by an evolution doubter or denier must be explored and addressed.

    Which is to say that I agree with the diary - but only presuming, however, that the teachers are qualified to teach the subject and critical thinkers themselves. A science classroom in the hands of someone who believes in ID is a disaster.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 02:02:04 PM PST

    •  Quite often these bills are written with the .... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, GreenMother

      express purpose of promoting a foot in the door for ID.

      As you say:

      A science classroom in the hands of someone who believes in ID is a disaster.
      Indeed it would be a disaster.  The problem is that we are dealing with people who are not really that interested in critical thinking and who would use the language of the law to inject religion. I have no problem with teaching religion in a comparative religion class, or a philosophy class, or as a background for history classes, but I object strongly to using carefully worded legislation to undermine the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Yes, we should examine scientific ideas to see if they are reasonable, or should be modified or rejected, but only in the framework of science.
  •  Don't agree that RM-NS unimportant for their lives (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's pretty important for citizens in general to understand things like how bacteria and viruses evolve resistances to drugs.

    •  That is true. (0+ / 0-)

      And how many people old, middle-aged or young do you know who adamantly disbelieve in resistant bacteria (not viruses, for those all we've got is innate resistance, even if accomplished via vaccine)? It's all the rage, everybody's been exposed to it one one level or another. Most people believe dinosaurs existed, too. A lot longer than 6,000 years ago. These things are integral pieces-parts of our very culture.

      It's sort of like a corrupt legislator with a mistress and love child on the side trying to impeach a President for having "inappropriate sex." So absurd as to be entertaining.

      ...but not likely to 'disappear' a President. I think teenagers today know the score. Aren't the plasticine minds some like to think they are.

      •  Virises do have the potential to evolve resistance (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, GreenMother

        to anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu, which interferes with viral proteins (neuraminidase) involved in the virus passing through the plasma membrane to enter and leave the host cell. These viral proteins can evolve by MR-NS, just like bacterial proteins. In fact, cases of Tamilfu resistance have already been reported.

        •  Whoa. Thanks for the useful info. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I have merely noted the side-by-sides of Tamiflu versus Elderberry tincture for influenza, during the Swine Flu epidemic of a few years ago. Turned out the elderberry was better at protection, shortening of duration, and lack of serious side effects than Tamiflu. I am not the least bit surprised that resistance has developed, given the nature of the concoction.

          This informs everyone paying attention that "Evolution Happens." Thanks again.

  •  well, Evolution is fact regardless of whatever (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    little religion comes along and says it's not.

    I get you don't see the harm, but I do. These are laws written by the Discovery Institute, which is a fundamentalist  Christian outfit that is trying its best to get creationism (and ID, which basically is just Creationism warmed over) taught in schools, despite it being illegal.

    they're basically looking for a new test case to get ID, since their last test case in Kitzmiller v. Dover didn't go their way and the district chose not to chase it all the way to SCOTUS since it cost them a couple million dollars to defend their very stupid decision to teach intelligent design.

    sorry, there's no critical thinking here. There's just a certain narrow segment of Christianity trying to poison everything as usual.

    •  'fact'? Even scientific law is not 'fact'. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PubliusPublicola, Joieau

      I'm on your side, but you need to tone down the determinism a bit!  Newtonian mechanics were fact until relativity came along...

      •  Actually, it is. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GreenMother, Joieau

        Evolution is both an established fact and a scientific theory. Evolution and natural selection have both been observed. And as far as ID goes, complexity is not a hallmark of design, simplicity is.  

        •  AND, let us not forget how we benefit from (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Artificial Selection on a daily basis.

          Holstein Cows? Great Danes? Persian Cats or Scottish Folds? Etc., and so on....

          It always irked me how these people would reject Natural Selection, but then embrace Artificial Selection in 4H or at the Dog Show, or in the Garden.

          Talk about cherry picking!

        •  And lots of other mechanisms (0+ / 0-)

          as well as influence-peddlars have been observed and established. Let's face it - evolutionary biology (all branches) is a regular growth industry. It won't hurt any student on any level to learn as much about it as possible.

          Individuals will choose to believe whatever they choose to believe about the origin and nature of life on a philosophical level. I don't have a problem with that. What gets taught in public schools about it has already been adjudicated. I'm just not seeing a lot of danger here, over what has been there all along.

        •  this is what I mean: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow.

          •  But peer reviewed science is based on studies and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            experiments with reproducible results. That is where the facts come in.

            Scientists may later state that they miss-labeled a process or discovered a new driving mechanism, but the results are reproducible, even if the semantics may sometimes be subject to redefinition.

            Just because we discovered new things about how gravity works at some later date, didn't suddenly change how apples fall from trees back in Newton's day nor in the present day. We simply gained a greater, indepth understanding about how the apple falls, why it falls and what happens that leads up to that fall and what happens after the fact.

            But two people, one in Oklahoma and one in Texas, can pray for rain. One might get rain and the other drought. ---Why did one get drought? Did they not believe hard enough? Did they not pray correctly or fervently enough? Perhaps they used the wrong incantation in this petition to an invisible force to make it rain? Who knows. What we know is that the process of faith and prayer do not stand up to the scientific method when attempting to create material, verifiable, reproducible results. Other than potential psychological effects that might be measurable or noteworthy in a different scientific discipline, we know that prayer cannot cause people to win the lottery, cannot make it rain, cannot make a person love another person, cannot kill people [see imprecatory prayer], etc., and so on.

            Science is about the Mechanics of Reality. It has nothing to do with what we imagine or believe might be a "higher Power". Saying that a god might be a ghost in the machine --prove there are ghosts or spirits or gods first. Give us measurable data, give us constants, some kind of tangible proof.

            What would ID folks do, if a person outside of their religion did some day provide that tangible proof, and the deity or higher power revealed wasn't the one that the ID folks worship? What then?

            They would deny it just as vociferous as they do Science because it would not fit their narrative.

            Narratives are not necessarily indicative of reality.

            •  I wasn't really talking about faith/prayer at all (0+ / 0-)

              I just found the statement that 'evolution is fact.  So there' (which is the way the original comment came across) to be extremely dogmatic and therefore unscientific.  That's why I called the poster on it.

              Faith has nothing to do with this stuff...different realm.  The only reason it comes up in these discussions is because the fundamentalists managed to put it there.

              •  Evolution is fact. (0+ / 0-)

                How do you think we have managed to breed cows that give more milk, or that carry certain physical traits like color, build--same with horses, dogs, chickens, domestic bees--even?

                How do you think these things get here?

                Artificial Selection. The counterpart of Natural Selection, in which humans breed certain compatible species together in order to fix desired traits, or to remove undesired traits from a breeding line.

                •  Well, selection is certainly (0+ / 0-)

                  a fact. In fact, religious people (all ancient religions) were very much involved in both animal husbandry and crop breeding for about 10,000 years. There's passages in the early books of the Bible/Torah specifically about properly managing livestock and seed stores. These subjects are in no way challenged by ID, and asserting them in no way falsifies ID.

                  Random mutation, not-so random mutation, and serious inheritance issues are also long known to humanity and are not denied by either Creationists or ID believers. So asserting that mutations happen doesn't mean anything to the objections the religios are asserting. Even religious people know and fully acknowledge that life exists, reproduces (even sexually!), passes along heritable traits (kinds), and occasionally suffers apparently heritable weaknesses, disabilities, etc. if you stay too close to home. These are all things people religious and irreligious have known for millennia. It's not what ID denies.

                  So attacking a scarecrow doesn't do justice to the actual situation with these states wanting laws to absolve students from having to learn basic biology.

                  •  A millenia? I fail to see how they can justify the (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    compartmentalization of this process, whether driven by humans or nature.

                    What you are suggestion smacks of some bizarre form of Predestination on par with accounts in Malleus Maleficarum.

                    Does Mutation happen because this god wills it to or does it happen because this god allows it to happen.

                    Either way--it's evolution.

                    And at the end of the day it is still the same tired old stuff of one particular group attempting to circumvent certain court rulings that clearly indicated it should be illegal, because it was surely unethical to force religious indoctrination upon students in public school classrooms because they are a Captive Audience.

                    The entire premise of their assumption is that we will by default accept their unique interpretation of deity--their own, as opposed to any other deities from any other religion, and that assumes that one accepts the notion of deity at all.

                    This comprises absolute acceptance of Monotheism, a male god, and their moral code culturally, if not devoutly.

                    Accepting Scientific Evolution is as the sin of Witchcraft. Because in that one does not necessarily recognize or accept a divine intelligence [much less the correct one] drives the process at all, assuming such a being would directly care.

                    •  ok, now I"m confused. you don't seem to be (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      acknowledging what Joieau is even talking about but going off on some tangent about how stupid religion is.

                      Joieau's larger point is actually quite interesting--which is the fact that people who were deeply religious regularly engaged with evolutionary processes.  That's an interesting topic in itself.  So perhaps they weren't as 'fundamentalist' as people living today who are less connected with natural processes may be?  Seems like they found ways to work with science, and ways to incorporate faith.

                      •  I don't believe religion is stupid, just not (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        appropriate in a public school classroom, and not the font of all wisdom.  Religion is not a god. It is a man made construct that seeks to exalt or worship or revere a power or a deity and therefore flawed, just like it's human inventors.

                        And I came to thank Joieau for a lovely discussion. I am repeating myself at this point.

                        Seriously, to me, this has been a good discussion.

                        Thank you all.

                        •  Thank you as well GreenMother. (0+ / 0-)

                          This has indeed been a lively and (to me) very interesting discussion. Which is why I wrote the diary, and don't mind at all that it didn't get many recs. I'm used to that!

                          My thanks to all commenters for not descending into a pie fight, which I do realize was a possibility here. I guess we'll just have to see what comes of these proposed bills, and how they might get translated to classrooms. For ID - but not with YEC hard core Creationists - I don't see much of anything in the standard course material to cause serious issues. So long as the philosophical belief-sets are left out, there should be no controversy - the facts are the facts, the theory is what it is, the sub and expando-theories are what they are as well, enough in scientific flux to encourage interested students to dig deeper. More power to them, and legislation which encourages that very thing probably won't accomplish what the religios believe it will. Ha, ha.

                          Just my opinions, of course. Certainly something worth following. §;o)

                      •  No human being (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        lives long enough to observe 'evolution' in the broad sense, even if they're farmers who pay close attention to both their peas (yea, Mendel!) and their sheep. Any sheep-herder who gets a hairless lamb in this year's cote crop is going to either have that lamb for dinner or keep it as a curiosity and never let it breed. Nobody needs a hairless sheep.

                        Thus while people have for millennia recognized and worked with the physical mechanisms of evolution - even long before they understood the particular nature of inheritance - they do not observe dinosaurs evolving into turkeys or rats evolving into primates. Obviously much of life appears to be closely related, at least the life forms humans have dealt with most for the longest amount of time. This is really not controversial outside a very few stubborn denialists so brick-brained ignorant one wonders how they manage to get by day to day.

                        ID is not the belief that God personally creates by magic every critter in the womb/egg/whatever, which if someone DID believe that, I'd ask how come this god always uses the same template. YECs don't even know what "template" means, so it would be pointless to ask. ID is the belief that some, many, or even most significantly adaptive developments of form do not happen by pure happenstance sifted purely by the luck of the reproductive draw. Hence I do not see why it's a regular Big Deal in any biology classroom simply to teach what's in the textbook, discuss mechanisms and processes, impart the 'proper' test response and move on to the next chapter.

                        IOW, there is no real reason to teach the philosophical aspects at all in basic education classes. Either the position that life arose by random chance and evolved with zero guidance - thereby somehow 'disproving' the existence of a creator god or godling - or that life arose by miracle and became what it is by loving guidance - thereby 'proving' the existence of a creator god. None of that has anything to do with the science of biology, IMO.

                        •  Perhaps my sample population of ID believers (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          is homogenous in that most seem to believe that yes, ID does describe how their god created each and every bit of life and living tissue.

                        •  the problem is that the term 'ID' is a ploy. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          It's made up for legal reasons:

                          Intelligent design was developed by a group of American creationists who revised their argument in the creation–evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings such as the United States Supreme Court's Edwards v. Aguillard decision, which barred the teaching of "Creation Science" in public schools on the grounds of breaching the separation of church and state.[12][n 5][13] The first publication of the phrase "intelligent design" in its present use as an alternative term for creationism was in Of Pandas and People, a 1989 textbook intended for high-school biology classes.[14][15] From the mid-1990s, intelligent design proponents were supported by the Discovery Institute, which, together with its Center for Science and Culture, planned and funded the "intelligent design movement".[16][n 1] They advocated inclusion of intelligent design in public school biology curricula, leading to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, where U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science, that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents", and that the school district's promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[17]
                          It doesn't even have much to do with religion, let alone science--it's a farce.  
                          •  If indeed ID is this ploy, (0+ / 0-)

                            it was designed (intelligently? No so much?) to fail utterly in supporting what the YECs believe. Perhaps they have sown their own demise by attempting to be so clever.

                            The people I am familiar with who subscribe to ID more or less (and without much detailed analysis) believe that the existence of life and its evolution to this point were intended and guided. That's about it, and I see no good way to challenge that belief on a purely scientific - i.e., not philosophical - level. So I shrug and leave them alone. It does not damage me and mine for someone to believe such a thing. And I have much better things to do with my time than attack other people's spiritual beliefs just because I can.

                            I'm not a science teacher, but I have taught some science in my time. I've found that the best approach is to simply deal with basics and then let the person ask for details they want to understand better. I'd be a terrible jr. high or high school teacher of any kind, given my notable lack of patience with teenage stupidity. I didn't like ME when I was 13, nobody should be too surprised I'm not fond of 13 year olds... §;o)

                    •  Not sure what you're saying (0+ / 0-)

                      with all this "Malleus Maleficarum" stuff. I merely pointed out that people who believe in ID are not 'unbelievers' in sexual reproduction, descent with modification, etc. They're not young-earth Creationists, who consider ID to be as blasphemous as Darwinism. There's really nothing anybody can do about YECs other than ignore them, exclude them from class if they're too disruptive. YEC isn't the subject here, though. The diaries linked are about ID.

                      Yes, the mechanisms of evolution are entirely evident. In fact, kids should already have known about cells and DNA and both sexual and asexual reproduction before they ever got into the history and theories of evolution. What I've said is that religious people in general - pretty much all religions - have no problems with the mechanisms of evolution. These are not what is disputed. Beyond the idea that some adaptive developments may not have arisen entirely by random chance, but instead by design.

                      IOW, it's the 'why' of evolution these people take issue with. Science deals with 'how' things happen, doesn't usually get much into the why questions and has no actually 'scientific' responses to them. Why is more an issue of philosophy, and the philosophy of science (broad subject) isn't taught in jr. high or high school.

                      Regardless of what any legislator's bill might say, papers that do not deal with the subject being taught are not acceptable toward earning a grade in the subject being taught - a paper on the philosophy of cake-baking won't get you an "A" in algebra, and no legislation can magically make algebra about baking cakes. Such legislation would simply prevent you as teacher from flunking a kid for turning in a paper about cake. It could not prevent you from requiring a paper to the subject being taught.

                      •  There were kinds of arguments in the maleficarum (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        that remind me of some of these discussions. The problem of accepting evil and the part that the Christian god plays in it. Does this deity cause evil? Or does this deity allow it to transpire? The answers to these questions in that book sort of reminded me of this intelligent design issue.

                        Did the Christian god cause evolution or allow it to transpire. When that question is posed, even surreptitiously the game is up. Then the hand has been revealed at that point and makes it abundantly clear that this isn't about an interfaith acceptance that higher power could have lots of meanings, but that this is simply another sneaky attempt to slip a specific religion's indoctrination into a science class.

                        And even if the latter were not true, I would still object to it even as an interfaith explanation, because that still rests upon unverifiable, and unreproducible paranormal experiences which is entirely anecdotal and unscientific.

                        •  Well, I'd most certainly agree (0+ / 0-)

                          that theology has no place in a science classroom. That comes in under the "Philosophy" header that isn't supposed to be covered in the course at all, and isn't a proper scientific subject in the first place. Surely there must be a way of excluding it, because such 'discussions' would be a total waste of valuable teaching time. Like cake baking in algebra class. Allowing teenage troublemakers to so disrupt a required academic subject that it simply cannot be taught is not something public schools are there to encourage or allow.

                          If they want an interfaith exploration, offer an elective religion course and keep it there. Biology is science, not religion.

                        •  I am ignorant of this (0+ / 0-)

                          maleficarum book, but am familiar with the subject of theodicy (which it apparently deals with). Which is also, it seems to me, not a proper subject for any public school biology class. Again, an elective religion class could be offered, where such subjects actually pertain to the subject matter.

                          •  Well the problem with that is that these same (0+ / 0-)

                            groups attack social studies curriculum, and want to rewrite that as well.

                            They reject Durkheim and prefer Dominionism.

                            The Malleus Maleficarum btw is something you might enjoy reading. It translates into the Witches Hammer and it was written by Kramer and Sprenger. There is a Dover Publication available--translated into English, with a forward by Montegue Summers as well. A really fun peak into how the medieval and the later early 20th century mind justified bigotry while trying to explain theodicy vs works of the devil.

                            It seems to me, that Everything Old is New again, so lots of arguments that pop up for this religious-supremacist movement remind me of older documents ranging from the Comstock era, to the Early Modern Witch hunts.
                            See this story from the TX Observer

                            Just one example, but a big one.

                            When people talk about teaching religion or comparative religion in a classroom setting, they are making LOTS of assumptions about the educational background of the teachers.

                            I have met precious few who knew a damn thing about their own religion, much less who were able to give a proper treatment to a subject like comparative religions. Their craft is teaching. That is what they went to school for.

                            And the more conservative areas you enter, the more likely that will be reflected in the teaching pool, either because the poor teacher knows better than to go against the unofficial policy of the administration, or because they are in agreement with it.

                            Unless every school is a magnet school with a teacher who at least got their degree with one foot in Sociology or Anthropology--then most of the time a religion class is going to be awful in this day and age. Just another excuse to teach that one religion is the acceptable one, and all other religions are inferior or false or not serious.


                            Seems a shame too. That's why I advocate that for college, where the standards my be a bit higher with regards to the curriculum. Or at least if someone does attend Bob Jones, well, when they spout that awfulness, we know why.

                •  (I'm an archaeologist, GreenMother--trust me, (1+ / 0-)
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                  I'm familiar with the process!)

                  you are, however, completely missing my point...

                  •  There is some confusion (0+ / 0-)

                    making the rounds between the mechanisms of evolution and evolution itself. Variability - the odd 'modifications' that come along every breeding cycle can be and have long been worked with by humans to 'create' specialized breeds. But a Holstein and an Angus are both bovines - cows. We never see cows born of sheep or pigs or visa versa. Inheritance is all-in-all quite stable. Which is no doubt a good thing for life...

                    I found it fascinating that the critter we know as a vole is experiencing the greatest rate of evolution of any animal (that we know of). Within the family of voles there is an amazing amount of genome variety, even numbers of chromosomes - at least one species has different numbers of chromosomes between males and females! Yet all voles look alike. Some are bigger or smaller, but that's about it. For many species the only means of identification is to count chromosomes, and they're evolving so fast that even a chromosome count might not be definitive. Talk about a monkey wrench in the genetic determinism works!

                    S'alright. I'm just not seeing a big problem with any given high school student's misconceptions about Final Causation, because that's not properly a subject for scientific exploration. Certainly not for what's taught in public schools. That's just me, of course. I don't think it'll hurt anybody to look deeper into subjects that interest them. Anything that encourages that could be a plus instead of a minus.

  •  In some places, vaguely written laws like that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, pelagicray

    are permission for religious bullying by teachers and administrators. Sadly this does happen.  It is another piece of something heavy behind an already ultra-conservative bent in some classrooms and schools.

    We have learned over the years, those of us who live in these places, to be wary of bills like these.

    If this is just a matter of intellectual freedom, why even have a law at all codifying it?

    I have no doubt that intelligent middle school students and above, could express their questions concerning faith, while still memorizing accepted science. No one is going to make them pray to Darwin for salvation, they are not required to sign any oaths, or statements of faith, merely acknowledge that they understand the basics of the material hopefully through well crafted assignments and good test scores.

    However, opening this can of worms up can mean that the minorities in the class who prefer Science to Religion, can be shouted down by their peers or pressured by peers or even a teacher, should they be unlucky enough to find themselves in a zealot's classroom.

    Science is an Academic Discipline. It rests upon Facts.

    Religion is not Fact, outside religious studies and social studies, it is about faith in the unseen and often unknowable. It has no place in a primary school classroom, because children are only learning the Scientific method, and basic scientific facts.

    This isn't a college course on Ethics or Morality in Society or Science--that comes much later as in college.  

    So why confuse the issue? Why use our collective tax dollars to potentially fund, what is essentially favoring one religion over all others, and religion in general over non religion?

    You don't really believe that the authors of these bills and their supporters have any other religion in mind, but the dominant social paradigm, and likely an extreme version at that.

    Is it that the churches are too weak to hang on to their own? What is it that they fear that they need our money to indoctrinate All children in public schools, and undermine Science with superstition?

    If parents are that concerned, let them home school their children, or better yet, pay for a private school.

    Public schools are for everyone. The standards of education should be based on the understanding of our diverse society and not based on some exclusionary religious doctrine that promotes a lot of unsavory things, in addition to anti-intellectualism.

    In short:

    Religious indoctrination belongs in church.
    Science belongs in school.

  •  I thought this alternet story might be in line (0+ / 0-)

    with this discussion.
    How the Religious Right is Helping De-Educate America's Youth.

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