Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

Friday, February 1, 2013

GOP Anti-Science State Legislators Are At It Again!







In their never-ending battle to insert religion into science class, various GOP state legislators  apparently believe the most pressing problem their constituents face is not getting enough religion in their lives, so they're trying, by stealth, to slip it into public school science classes.  Not content with the freedom to instruct their children in their religious beliefs in their homes and places of worships, these anti-Constitution GOPers believe that introducing this bound-to-fail legislation will somehow win the day, and no one will notice that it is unlawful.  A perfect definition of idiocy--doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.





"Fresh legislation has been put forward in Colorado, Missouri and Montana. In Oklahoma, there are two bills before the state legislature that include potentially creationist language. And Arizona as well, is encouraging the teaching of religion in science classes.

A watchdog group, the National Center for Science Education, said that the proposed laws were framed around the concept of “academic freedom”. It argues that religious motives are disguised by the language of encouraging more open debate in school classrooms. However, the areas of the curriculum highlighted in the bills tend to center on the teaching of evolution or other areas of science that clash with traditionally religious interpretations of the world.


Montana Rep. Clayton Fiscus, R-Billings, said evolution isn’t settled science and called it a “monumental leap” to believe it is true. His bill would allow teachers – if they want – to address perceived weaknesses in evolution studies in the classroom. “This is just a bill to instruct what we have presently in the science on the origins of life,” Fiscus said. “We should teach what we do know. We should also teach what we don’t know.”


To answer Rep. Fiscus, R-Billings:

Is evolution "just a theory?" 

 In detective novels, a "theory" is little more than an educated guess, often based on a few circumstantial facts. In science, the word "theory" means much more. A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world.

The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory." It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

Is there "evidence against" contemporary evolutionary theory?

No. There are still many puzzles in biology about the particular pathways of the evolutionary process and how various species are related to one another. However, these puzzles neither invalidate nor challenge Darwin's basic theory of "descent with modification" nor the theory's present form that incorporates and is supported by the genetic sciences. Contemporary evolutionary theory provides the conceptual framework in which these puzzles can be addressed and points toward ways to solve them. 

Is there a growing body of scientists who doubt that evolution happened?

No. The consensus among scientists in many fields, and especially those who study the subject, is that contemporary evolutionary theory provides a robust, well-tested explanation for the history of life on earth and for the similarity within the diversity of existing organisms. Very few scientists doubt that evolution happened, although there is lively ongoing inquiry about the details of how it happened. Of the few scientists who criticize contemporary evolutionary theory, most do no research in the field, and so their opinions have little significance for scientists who do.


Why do these people waste their time and their states' monies in pursuing this idiocy?

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our competitors, in the global market place, must love it everytime the GOP tries to further degrade science education in the United States.

Jerry Critter said...

Why? Because stupid people vote.

BB-Idaho said...

"Why do these people waste their time and their states' monies in pursuing this idiocy?" ..IMO, because for biblical literalists,
it was a 6 day affair 4000 years ago. Doesn't it say somewhere between Genesis and Exodus, that thou shalt smite thine ememies, preferably with an assault weapon?

Finntann said...

As if it were a GOP problem.

While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/hold-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx

Tennessee's "Monkey Bill" passed with "strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin"

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75014.html

Stupidity is not confined to either party.

Cheers!

Shaw Kenawe said...

But by your own stats, it is painfully evident that the GOP is the worst when it comes to believing rubbish.

Almost 60% believe that humans were created by God within the last 10,000 years? That's astounding.

For Democrats, it's 40%? No comparison.

I'm guessing that number is high for the GOP because of the almost solid support they have in the "Bible Belt."

Stupidity may not be confined to either party, but there's a lot less of it when it comes to this subject in the Democratic Party.

And I can't find a Democratic legislator, state or federal, who introduces legislation to teach creationism/intelligent design in the classroom. That's something, per my post, the GOP champions on a regular basis.

GOP US representative Paul Broun of Georgia has this to say about it:

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."

Imbecilic.

Infidel753 said...

Finntann: Stupidity about science is not confined to Republicans, but political efforts to teach stupidity in science classes are pretty much confined to Republican politicians. I've never heard of Democratic politicians making such efforts.

Actually I reserve a lot of scorn for those 42% of Republicans who know evolution is a reality but continue to vote for a party which wants our schools to teach otherwise. They, at least, should know better.

The first commenter makes the point we need to hammer away at again and again. The kids in Missouri, Oklahoma, and the rest of these states will grow up to compete with their Russian, German, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, etc. contemporaries who went to schools that taught real science. Even Iran teaches evolution in its schools.

In the name of "academic freedom" and "teaching the controversy", one might just as well teach "flat Earth science" in geography classes, or the stork theory in sex education. This is a hideous embarrassment to our country.

Infidel753 said...

Shaw. Yes, apparently 58% of Republican voters believe that the universe was created 3,000 years after the development of agriculture. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

Rational Nation USA said...

As Forest Gump's mother (Sally Fields) would say... "Stupid is as stupid does."

May the Great White Buffalo help us all.

Jerry Critter said...

There is one thing that I agree with Paul Broun about. Republicans do need a savior. At the rate they are going, the republicans will be politically extinct within a few years.

Ducky's here said...

@Infidel753 --- Stupidity about science is not confined to Republicans, but political efforts to teach stupidity in science classes are pretty much confined to Republican politicians. I've never heard of Democratic politicians making such efforts.
----------
Can we get an amen from the congregation?
This is the crux of the matter, no?

Dave Miller said...

Ducky, yes it is... GOP leaders routinely try and move to legislate this type of stuff.

Finn... any comments?

Shaw Kenawe said...

PZ Myers over at Pharyngula covers the story in Missouri.

okjimm said...

I find it rather ironic that there is a conservative base that pushes 'less government' and then passes more needless and ridiculous rules. Of course, though, if you can change the text books....someone is making money selling those books.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I've tried to explain that to our friends on the right who believe liberals like to use government for their purposes, but howl when conservatives do it. That's not why we call them out. We call them out because it is THEY who remind us daily that government is too big and does too much. And then lawmakers like the ones in Missouri, Colorado, Montana, etc., introduce wasteful legislation that everyone knows will never pass the test of constitutionality. The party that doesn't believe in government imposing ANYTHING on them continually tries to impose their ideology on the rest of us all the time.

Jerry Critter said...

F you want to look for wasteful legislation, look no farther than the House of Represenatives. They are continually passing legislation that they know has no chance of passing the Senate or getting signed by the president. They are a big waste of time.

Shaw Kenawe said...

How many times has the House proposed legislation to overturn the ACA?

40? I can't remember.

A total waste of tax payers' time and money.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Comment moderation is on again.



Silverfiddle said...

Here's an excerpt on the threatening language in the Colorado bill...

It would...

...protect “the teaching of scientific information ... and must not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine.”

The Academic Freedom Act, House Bill 1089, would direct teachers in public schools and colleges to create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution, global warming and human cloning.

[...]

“Public school authorities and administrators must permit teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in a given course,” the bill reads."


In a particularly ominous development, the conservatives pushing the bill invoked "tolerance."

Careful lefties! The righties are learning and adopting your tactics.

Never fear though. It's going nowhere in the democrat controlled statehouse.

And Shaw, I am saddened that you've had to turn moderation back on, but I understand, but I understand and sympathize.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"...protect “the teaching of scientific information ... and must not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine.”


What is a "nonreligious doctrine?" That could encompass a scientific principle or set of scientific principles--which would constitute a "nonreligious doctrine."

This seems to cancel out being able to teach anything that encompasses a set of accepted principles.

What's the point of that language?

"The Academic Freedom Act, House Bill 1089, would direct teachers in public schools and colleges to create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution, global warming and human cloning.

[...]

“Public school authorities and administrators must permit teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in a given course,” the bill reads."

Why on earth is a piece of legislation needed for this? When I was in school and took science courses, nothing of the sort was needed. We learned the scientific method and we learned what a scientific theory is. We also learned that science, unlike religious doctrine, is always open to new data and always ready to revisit or build upon new evidence.

I find it suspicious that these legislators would waste time in writing up unnecessary bills on how teachers should teach science.


Shaw Kenawe said...

Here's the money quote:

But Humphrey says the bill is not an attack on instruction of evolution. Instead, he said it aims to foster a culture of tolerance for students and teachers to express beliefs that could be viewed as outside the mainstream.

So when teacher is talking about the Jurassic period in geology and Johnny raises his hand to say that he believes cavemen rode on dinosaurs, the teacher has to tolerate it? IOW, she can't tell Johnny he wrong?

Or if Johnny says there couldn't be any Mesozoic period that existed from 250 to 65 million years ago because he was taught in Bible school that the world is only 6,000 years old, the teacher has to respect that? And discuss and encourage discussion on it?

It's B.S., a waste of time and a disservice to the other students.

“I imagine there will be some students who come to testify at the committee hearing who will be able to talk about how they weren’t able to express views on this, that or the other thing,” he said."

I imagine students have been able to express their views, and what they and their parents don't like is being told it's wrong; that the earth is not 6,000 years old; and that cavemen and dinosaurs didn't coexist, despite what Bibleland theme parks promote.

Rational Nation USA said...

First Shaw I agree with what you argue here. But this is becoming so very tedious, at least for me.

I attended public schools during the 50's and 60's and at the same time visited, and to varying degrees frequented many different denominations of Christian Churches. Ultimately, after weighing all I had learned in school and from churciih, as well as reading the entire Bible I choose my path as a non believer, although I do believe in the concept of spirituality. I leave it to each individual to decide exactly what spirituality means to them.

Having said the preceeding, does it not make sense to allow each child to decide for themselves their own path to follow? Schools need to teach science and churches and parents have the responsibility for the religious aspect of a child's life. Guide, and encourage child to question, then trust they will make the appropriate choice for themselves. I thank my parents for doing exactly that. They were both believers.

Always On Watch said...

I dunno.

I attended high school at what most would consider a fundie school. We did study about evolution and principles of genetics. The teaching wasn't from the apologetics approach either.

Of course, I went to high school a long time ago (1964-1968).

Shaw Kenawe said...

I know a number of devout Christians [family members included] who managed to get through public school and its science classes and still retain their faith. There was never any "young earth" questions raised in class because I think these folks understood what belonged in religious class and what belonged in science class. Somehow, they were able to keep each separate, and never did their parents insist on equal time for their religious teachings in science class.

I don't know what has happened to make it so that legislation has to be introduced to allow Bible passages to be seen as an alternate view of science.

Silverfiddle said...

"What's the point of that language?'

Like most legislation churned out in this country, it is pointless nanny-state meddling.

Jerry Critter said...

"Instead, he said it aims to foster a culture of tolerance for students and teachers to express beliefs that could be viewed as outside the mainstream."

Does he mean things like homosexuality, beastiality, devil worship, benefits of various recreational drugs,....all of which can be considered outside of the mainstream? How progressive of him!

Always On Watch said...

Shaw,
I don't know what has happened to make it so that legislation has to be introduced to allow Bible passages to be seen as an alternate view of science.

The increased polarization and Balkanization of America?

All sides are screeching, screeching, screeching.

Yes, I do screech too. And I complain. But not all the time.

We have, overall, become a nation of moanin' and whinin'. Sheesh.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Can't disagree with that at all.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing but insulting discussion going on at Western Hero, where all your new commentators come from. Insults are the way they treat any ideas different than their own. That's not fostering understanding, just anger and stupidity. Shaw has been the main recipient of their insults.

S.W. Anderson said...

Same ol', same ol': "Hey, everyone has a right to their own opinion, and my opinion is just as valid as what you claim to be fact. So there."

Shaw Kenawe said...

Isaac Asimov addresses that, S.W.A. with this quote:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov