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Dec 23 2011

Dumbest. Bill. Ever.

Greg Laden reports on a bill submitted to the legislature in New Hampshire that may be the dumbest piece of legislation ever submitted in this country. The proposed bill adds the following language to existing state law:

XXXVII. Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

Absolutely idiotic. Whose political, ideological and religious viewpoint should be spelled out to the students? Ken Miller and Joe Levine are the authors of the most commonly used biology textbook; one is a Catholic and the other is likely Jewish, at least culturally, though he may be an atheist as well. Both are also “theorists” in the sense that they do original research in evolutionary biology in addition to their textbook writing.

But their textbook includes the work of hundreds of other scientists as well that undoubtedly span the full range of possible political and religious viewpoints. The fact that they all agree that common descent is the only coherent explanation for a vast range of facts despite those ideological differences is all the evidence one should need that such ideologies have no bearing on the scientific question at hand. Simply moronic.

26 comments

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  1. 1
    KathyO

    Is it possible that the people behind this bill think that no research in evolution has been done since Darwin? That is, that Darwin and perhaps a small handful of people are the only evolution ‘theorists’? Do they think their bill will allow teachers to dismiss evolution by saying, ‘see, these are the three people who put together this theory and they’re all communist atheists’?

    Won’t they be in for a shock when they find out their bill will require science teachers to spend the entire year going over the political and ideological viewpoints of every working biologist in the world.

  2. 2
    noastronomer

    “Whose political, ideological and religious viewpoint should be spelled out to the students?”

    Well, everybody’s of course.

    In fact that should be inserted into the bill. The political ideological and religious viewpoint of everyone who has ever published any paper regarding the theory of evolution should be listed explicitly in the bill.

    Mike.

  3. 3
    raven

    and their position on the concept of atheism.

    This is relevant to a kid’s science class and how?

    And who really cares what their thoughts are on atheism?

    A better question would be:, who in New Hamshire elected these morons and what rocks do they live under?

  4. 4
    d cwilson

    @kathyo:

    That is exactly what they’re hoping for. If the entire year is taken up with attacks on the political/philosophical/religious (or lack thereof) views of biologists, then teachers won’t be able to indoctrinate children into godless atheist evilution.

    There have been a number of studies that show people with a rightwing authoritarian mindset have a very different way of viewing reality than other people. To the rightwing authoritarian, things are considered true not based on the evidence, but on whether or not the idea has been endorsed by a trusted authority figure.

    This explains why so many are obsessed with stories about Darwin having a deathbed recantation. Because if the father of evolutionary theory isn’t a reliable authority, then the theory itself must be suspect.

    We see this also among climate change deniers. How many times have we heard someone say, “Global warming is a hoax because Al Gore is fat/has a big house/flies in jets/gave a speech on a snowy day in February? None of these ad hominems have anything to do with the evidence for or against global warming. They’re just repeated in the belief that the idea can be defeated by eliminating the authority (Never mind that Gore isn’t a climate scientist).

    I think this explains a lot about what is behind this bill. If you don’t have a good argument to refute the evidence, attack the people behind it and undermine their credibility.

  5. 5
    Aquaria

    Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

    LOL wut?

    Whatever viewpoints a particular scientist might have has absolutely fuck all to do with the reality of evolution.

    These conservatards are out of their fucking gourds.

  6. 6
    MikeMa

    It might be hoped that this bill crap will suffer ignominious defeat. To pass it will insure that science students from NH will be ill-equipped to compete at college. What a waste.

  7. 7
    had3

    I saw this bill and then read Chris Stedman’s Huffpost article and thought, “This bill is the manifestation of personal religious belief, and Stedman, presumably, doesn’t think that opposing this bill would be perceived as being anti-religious and yet I would assume he’s against it.” Atheist = anti-religious, at least in implementation of policy, and i’m all for that.

  8. 8
    had3

    Sorry, I got side-tracked there.

  9. 9
    laurentweppe

    This is obviously another case of a law written in Wingnutglote: allow me to translate into english:

    XXXVII. Theory of Evolution. Require teachers in the public schools of this state to lie to their pupils by pretending that the Theory of Evolution was invented by a perfidious, civilization-kiliing cabal of atheistic socialists.

  10. 10
    Jasper of Maine

    Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory

    So basically, it be taught normally? I don’t get it.

  11. 11
    d cwilson

    @laurentweppe:

    You forgot to mention baby-eating. In order to get children to really hate evilution, they have to associate it with baby-eaters.

  12. 12
    ehmm

    Ad hominems and non-sequiters made law, brought to you by the New Hampshire GOP. Maybe they could also give the kiddies a few courses in basic logic while they’re at it.

    Here’s a question, does anyone think the tea party movement isn’t best described as the same old religious right that got swept into office by successfully cranking the volume way up on the fiscal conservatism message? How many bullshit anti intelligent design or creationist or anti abortion bills have been introduced into various state legislatures since they came into office in January?

  13. 13
    naturalcynic

    XXXX. The Founding Fathers. American History will be taught with the inclusion of the religious thoughts of the first presidents, and will include: George Washington and communion, John Adams on the Trinity, Thomas Jefferson and miracles in the New Testament, James Madison on the role of religious services and personnel in the military…

  14. 14
    d cwilson

    @ehmm:

    No way! The tea party movement was all about government spending and the deficit! They have absolutely no interest in any of those culture war issues. I know this because they told me this repeatedly throughout the 2010 election cycle.

    derpaderp.

  15. 15
    brianwestley

    including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

    If this incredibly stupid bill passes, I’d like to see an atheist connected with a textbook write a very long and detailed position paper on why they are an atheist, which would include arguments against the existence of gods, burden of proof, etc. Give them exactly what they unintentionally asked for.

  16. 16
    raven

    including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

    and

    I’d like to see an atheist connected with a textbook write a very long and detailed position paper on why they are an atheist, which would include arguments against the existence of gods, burden of proof, etc. Give them exactly what they unintentionally asked for.

    LOL. I’m sure PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, and a few other biologists would jump at the chance.

    The entire Freethoughtblogs group would cheer wildly and submit chapters.

  17. 17
    peterh

    That particular emperor doesn’t even claim to be clothed.

  18. 18
    slc1

    Re naturalcynic @ #13

    Jefferson also did not believe in the miracle tales in the Hebrew bible either.

  19. 19
    Nentuaby

    I mentioned this before, but this bill seems quite paradoxical for the type of person who’d introduce it.

    They’re going to force these teachers to instruct their kiddos about atheism? Really? I can just imagine the WND headline if an atheist introduced, well, exactly the same bill.

    “ATHEISTS TO FORCE THEIR RELIGION INTO CLASSROOMS! CAN THE LIE-BERALS BE STOPPED?”

  20. 20
    timgueguen

    You’re making the assumption they’ll teach the truth about atheism, and not the fundy version, which is that atheists are people who believe in God, but pretend not to because they’re mad at him and don’t want to stop sinning.

  21. 21
    ehmm

    Goddammit.

    “…pro intelligent design…”

  22. 22
    ambulocetacean

    What about the so-called “gravity theorists”? What are their political and ideological viewpoints and their positions on the concept of atheism?

    If Isaac Newton was indeed an antitrinitarian don’t you think that’s the sort of information students should be taking into account when deciding whether to accept or reject such theories?

    tl;dr: If gravity makes apples fall off trees, why are there still apples in trees?

  23. 23
    Artor

    XXXVII. Theory of Evolution. Require evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.

    Actually, this wouldn’t be a bad thing, as it would necessitate first teaching students what a scientific theory actually is, as opposed to the colloquial meaning of the term. And while we’re at it, include “intelligent design” in the curriculum, and show students how it measures up to a real theory with evidence & research behind it. And of course in civics class, we can study the political & ideological viewpoints driving those who push for it’s inclusion in public schools.

    I think this could be an excellent example of what we call a “teaching opportunity.”

  24. 24
    Pinky

    Add this to the list of ridiculous bills introduced by Teabaggers flushed down into legislatures all over the country since the 2010 elections.

  25. 25
    hunter

    I think we have to consider the possibility — probability? — that the author(s) of this bill honestly believe that evolutionary theorists are influenced by their religious beliefs and political ideology because they can’t conceive of a position based on evidence. As d cwilson pointed out above, their world view is built on received wisdom, not on observed reality. Anything else is literally incomprehensible to them.

  26. 26
    exdrone

    Maybe the Bill’s author just wants to make science class more socially relevant. I would add “… including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism, as well as their shoe size, blood type, eye colour and astrological sign.”

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