R’amen! »« How bad it is on Texas’ textbook review board

Can you believe this is still going on?

This last Tuesday, I found myself once again in Austin taking part in the media circus and associated freak show that is the creation/evolution debate still being presented before the heavily-creationist state board of education.

People living outside the US may find it difficult to believe that this debate is still going on, that it is even possible for someone to have legitimate science degrees and still believe in the fables in the Bible. They may find it difficult to believe that one may claim as “current science” claims that were proven fraudulent in a court of law a decade ago.  Welcome to the madness that is Texas education.

While there were many cameras there initially, the only cameras to record this entire event were mine the one belonging to the National Center for Science Education.

Comments

  1. torzonborz says

    Romania (eastern europe) is just as fucked up, or even worse. Here religion (dogmatic brainwashing) is part of an obscurely “optional” matter, for 13 years of school. Evolution was never taught at any grade. Maybe only at the univesity level.

  2. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Aronra, or anyone else. I’m curious about the speaker at ~6 min in. I’d like to further understand his position.

    Obviously he’s against evolution. More specifically, it’s pretty clear that he’s also against common ancestry as he references christian biblical kinds.

    However, he also supports continental drift theory and sea floor spreading. Does that mean he’s a old Earth creationist who denies common ancestry? Or is it more likely that he’s a young Earth creationist who attributes continental drift and sea floor spreading to like… Noah’s flood bullshits?

    I’m genuinely confused. I’d guess the young Earth creationist angle, because if they’re going to have one break with reality, they might as well have another with their flood geology. Whereas, you accept the age of the Earth and the fossil record, I cannot see how you can possibly see consistency with any biblical account and biblical “kinds”.

    I’m curious as to what you think the speaker in the video might think, and more generally if there are old Earth creationists who deny common ancestry. If there are old Earth creationists who deny common ancestry, what the hell does their world view look like? Have humans been around for billions of years? What about the fossil record?

    • moarscienceplz says

      That’s Don McLeroy, formerly the chairman of the very board he is now testify to before he was voted out of office.

      From Wikipedia:

      According to a 2008 article in The New York Times, “Dr. McLeroy believes that Earth’s appearance is a recent geologic event — thousands of years old, not 4.5 billion. ‘I believe a lot of incredible things,’ he said, ‘The most incredible thing I believe is the Christmas story. That little baby born in the manger was the God that created the universe.'”

      It seems his primary motivation is the denial of naturalism. As long as you accept that God/Jesus is pulling the puppet strings, the actual details don’t seem to matter to him too much.

    • dthunt says

      I actually was also confused by this guy, but for different reasons. Discounting the question about whether historical predicitions of the unknown are suitable for validating a scientific theory, he appeard to either be ignorant of, or to have dismissed, several well-known evolutionary studies that ought to satisfy him even with this concern. I’ve since sent him a very courteous note asking him to clarify his position on these studies. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get a response.

    • Fenicks says

      What I found most disheartening, especially considering his past position on the board of education, is that he would willing promote providing incomplete information to children in order to further his own religious agenda.

  3. Fenicks says

    I must say I disagree with your impression of what has happened here, AronRa. I also attended the meeting with my two children, and, while the members themselves may be creationist or not (this information I do not know), it seemed abundantly clear to me that they were not interested in removing evolution from the textbooks nor were they interested in adding creationism. You could almost feel the eye-roll or facepalm every time someone brought it up. The one thing they did show interest in was whether or not the *current* updated information was being included int he books. Unfortunately, their position required that they listen to every speaker, regardless of that speaker’s content/intent, and it seems they did their best to assuage any concerns that arose, but I did not see at any point that there was any kind of serious debate on evolution/creation.

    • Entrak Entshuldiga says

      The problem is that there is no “current updated information” besides what evolution offers.
      So what they wish to to implement is creationist pseudoscience, which have credible backing within the scientific community, as what they wish to call theories are no more than unprovable hypotheses, which, ironically, they claim have more credibility than the well proven, well documented and well tested theory of evolution.

      So the issue is not that alternatives should be taught, but that provingly false alternatives should not be allowed to be presented as such.

      • Fenicks says

        The science of evolution itself has evolved greatly over the past years. This is why creationists are so wrong when they point out the failures of what they refer to as “darwinian evolution.” What I meant by “current” information is what David points out near 22:56 – which is that the knowledge we’re sharing in these textbooks is nearly a decade behind where the science itself is at. To this, Board Member Ratliff replied that the teachers and students would not be relying on the textbooks as their only source of information, and Chairman Cargill expressed serious concern that the textbooks were that far behind.

        • Monocle Smile says

          Again, if the true intention was to produce valid criticism and update the textbooks properly, that would be fine.

          But we know from history that this simply isn’t true. It’s an insulting Wizard of Oz-style tactic.

    • says

      Ken Mercer and David Bradley both advocate teaching the “strengths & weaknesses” of evolution, by which they mean to introduce creationist arguments critiquing what they think evolution cannot explain. They assume that whatever cannot be explained by science can be explained by God.

      During the meeting you and I both attended, Bradley lamented being ‘sand-bagged’ on previous attempts to introduce creationism, and he defended his choice of specifically selecting fellows of the Discovery Institute to alter the science standards. Meanwhile Mercer went on about how they could either teach creationism and evolution at the same time, or they should at least teach that morphologies and biochemistry indicate two different, discordant trees. He still believes that, and that’s what he thinks ‘convergent evolution’ means.

      • dthunt says

        This claim has come up several times in videos of this board that I’ve seen, but I’ve heard no specifics.

        Can you provide some context as to one of the specific claims people have raised regarding this “morphologies and biochemistry indicate two different, discordant trees”, thing?

        • Fenicks says

          1:50 in the above video. I think part of his testimony was cut, but he does talk about the conflicts between the two.

          • dthunt says

            Re-listening to that segment:
            “2004 edition compared anatomical and molecular relationships and the teacher was instructed to be sure that the student understood they were in conflict” … (and then, he says that he’s upset that this clause had been removed from the standards in the latest edition.)

            In fact, this is not remotely what I meant by specific objection. His remarks were under two minutes, even according to the people on the board. I suspect, if he was edited, that these edits were not relevant to my inquiry.

            I’d love to see someone NAME A PROTEIN in these speeches on this particular subject. Then you can have molecular biologists come in and talk about that particular complaint, the odds of that observation given evolutionary theory, instead of having a bunch of people waffling around subjects they don’t apparently know squat about.

      • Fenicks says

        I don’t disagree that there were indeed folks there pushing creationism, both blatantly and more subtley, what I disagree with is the extend to which this was prevalent. Of the 55 speakers, the vast majority of them (some 75%) came out in support of the textbooks as they were.

    • Alan says

      “..while the members themselves may be creationist or not (this information I do not know)…”

      Several definitely are creationists.

      “…it seemed abundantly clear to me that they were not interested in removing evolution from the textbooks nor were they interested in adding creationism. ..”

      Then they achieved their purpose – making it SEEM as if they had no interest other than having good, “current” science information in their textbooks.

      “You could almost feel the eye-roll or facepalm every time someone brought it up.”

      Yes, their feigned exasperation is part of their ploy. After Edwards v. Aguilar and Kitzmiller v. Dover, they are careful not to espouse “creation science” or to advocate removing the teaching of evolution. Their pretense is that they are solely concerned with science, while they actively pursue the “strengths and weaknesses” strategy to try and undermine the teaching of evolution.

      “The one thing they did show interest in was whether or not the *current* updated information was being included int he books…”

      The so-called current information is any information that they can twist into an anti-evolution argument. See Aronra’s video from the 2012 meeting in which Ken Mercer kept trying to make a point about morphologies and biochemistry not always agreeing and being indicative of a weakness in the TOE.

      • Fenicks says

        I won’t make assumptions about what they are or if they have other intentions. What I witnessed with my own eyes says otherwise. What I meant by “current” information is what David points out near 22:56 – which is that the knowledge we’re sharing in these textbooks is nearly a decade behind where the science itself is at. To this, Board Member Ratliff replied that the teachers and students would not be relying on the textbooks as their only source of information, and Chairman Cargill expressed serious concern that the textbooks were that far behind.

        • Daan says

          10 years behind the current findings is not a problem at all, 10 years is no time at all in biology. As a student with a graduate degree in biology, I have worked with an organism that had ‘only just been discovered’ two years ago. That organism was discovered in 2004.

        • moarscienceplz says

          If every American knew the TOE as it was understood a decade or even two decades ago the USA would be a nation of science geniuses! Heck, the chemistry that non-chemistry majors get taught was settled science a century ago.

      • Fenicks says

        And I don’t think the exasperation was feigned. The speakers were invited to make commentary on the textbooks as they are. As they are, they already include evolution and do NOT include creationism. Among the speakers, a very small number expressed interest in changing this (by small I mean less than 10%), yet we had to listen to 55 people talk about it for 4 hours.

  4. James Willmott says

    “They assume that whatever cannot be explained by science can be explained by God.”

    This seems to be the sole thrust of creationism, attempt to debunk the science, so God wins by default… do you, or does anyone know, if creationism was to be taught in schools, what the syllabus could possible entail?

    • Kimpatsu says

      Breathless proselytization that everything in nature is an example of god’s power and glory. Even the plasmodia that cause malaria and bubonic plague, because those are proof (sic) of the Fall.

  5. Fenicks says

    On a lighter note, AronRa, your portion was fantastic. Professional, to the point, relevant, and very clearly articulated. Well done.

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