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New Creationist Bill in Colorado

With the new legislative session beginning in most states around the country, this is the time that we see creationist bills crop up all over the place. Colorado has one (HB 13-1089), disguised, as many of them are, as a bill to boost “academic freedom” — but only about subjects where they think the textbooks and the scientific consensus are wrong.

The bill creates an “Academic Freedom Act” (act) for both K-12 public schools and institutions of higher education in the state of Colorado (act). The provisions of the acts direct teachers 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.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the bill just happens to require “academic freedom” on those ideas on which they think the scientists have it completely wrong. Because if they were actually interested in “academic freedom” and wanting students to “intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions,” wouldn’t that apply to all scientific questions? The text of the bill uses creationist codephrases about teaching the “controversy” and teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific ideas they don’t like.

THE EDUCATIONAL AUTHORITIES IN COLORADO SHALL ALSO ENDEAVOR TO ASSIST TEACHERS TO FIND MORE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRESENT SCIENCE CURRICULUM WHERE IT ADDRESSES SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES. TOWARD THIS END, 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.

And of course, helping them to do that will require that they use supplemental materials from the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations to show purported “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution. Those handouts will contain claims from the creationist jokebook that have long been debunked.

Comments

  1. jasonfailes says

    Great, now even Creatonist legislators are using ALLCAPS to “enhance” their message.
    Why are you SHOUTING?

  2. anubisprime says

    jasonfailes @ 2

    blockquote>Why are you SHOUTING?

    ‘BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING TO THEIR GOBBLYGOOK’

    Fear, desperation and panic…the great amplifier in the sky!

  3. patricksimons says

    If creationist and or, intelligent design, ideas had any validity, their proponents would not have to resort to legal means to force them into the classroom.

  4. says

    intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions

    But that rules out “Were you there?”, on both counts. So is Ken Ham protesting the bill then?

  5. peterh says

    Since the states insist on cut-n-paste for these idiotic proposals, I’ll do the same with my comment on a similar bit of idiocy in Arizona. The State’s name may change, but the foolishness cannot protect the guilty:

    There’s a problem right off with “scientific evidence.” Since science is not a thing but a structured method of inquiry, the phrase ought to be “credible evidence.” Or, possibly, “testable evidence.” Those legislators are certainly lacking in imagination as well as an understanding of the fundamentals of rational inquiry. To encourage critical thinking in the young, they ought to display it in themselves.

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    As long as the Christian lobbyists throw money at them, the politicians will be only too happy to introduce what ever bills they are told to introduce. They are not looking for fame, or power, or to help the country. All they want is the cash and they can’t believe how much of it the Christians are prepared to give them.

  7. rsqr says

    I enjoy the many attempts by creationists to craft language that seems religiously neutral. But here, and elsewhere, aren’t they getting very close to outsmarting themselves? Is is just me, or is this not a license for good instructors to put creationism/ID in a box, nail it shut, and drop it into the deepest well ever? Maybe I am just channeling Gould.

  8. peterh says

    An honest instructor can merely tell the class there is not any credible support of creationism / ID, and it’s time to move on to those areas where the credible evidence leads.

  9. hunter says

    “. . . MORE EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PRESENT SCIENCE CURRICULUM WHERE IT ADDRESSES SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSIES.”

    Easy — “Class, there is no scientific controversy about the validity of the theory of evolution.”

  10. says

    And from the comments section of Phil’s blog:

    People: we need to get critical philosophical thinking taught in high schools in addition to science, not in order to support one side of this ongoing tension, but rather to provide an appropriate, i.e., philosophical, setting for students to examine legitimate religious criticisms of naturalistic explanations of human origins. Students and people on both sides of this tension need a better appreciation of the methodological naturalism that bars science a priori from thinking beyond natural causes. This is a disciplinary limitation that both sides can respect, but its recognition is sorely lacking around this debate.

    I hope Slate paid Phil a lot of money to move his blog to their site, but the collective IQ of the commenters there is about 1/100th of what is was at Discovery Mag’s site.

  11. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    Ignoring the sheer duplicity of the proposed bill, I’ve never understood what kind of “scientific controversy” there could be over human cloning. Ethical issues, sure, but scientific? Are they claiming that it’s not possible because of the uniqueness of the human genome or something? Do they just not understand that there is a difference between an ethical and scientific controversy?

    I know that these idiots don’t understand science, but to not even understand what the word science means?

  12. slc1 says

    Re d.c. wilson @ #12

    I don’t know the particulars of why Dr. Plait left the Discovery blog but I suspect that money was, perhaps, not the motivating factor. I note that several other bloggers also left Discovery at about the same time, including Ed Yong and Sean Carroll, and Carl Zimmer. Prof. Carroll is currently blogging as an independent so it was certainly not money that motivated his move.

  13. baal says

    “SCIENTIFIC WEAKNESSES OF EXISTING SCIENTIFIC THEORIES.”
    Unfortunately for the bill’s proponents, ‘scientific theories’ are better known as ‘reality’. Also, if they stick to the actual ‘scientific weaknesses’ spots, they won’t be trolling the xtian-creationist tropes. Those tropes have been dis proven ad nasuem.

  14. wscott says

    Re ALL CAPS: Actually that’s pretty standard in proposed legislation (at least in Colorado), where they use all caps to designate revisions from previous versions. It’s basically Track Changes for ASCI text. Annoying to read, yes, but it’s not a fundie thing.

    By the way, does anyone have links to good information for legislators explaining the background on these “teach the controversy” bills and why they’re BS? I know my legislators already oppose such a bill, and I’d like to give them ammo they can use more effectively. I’ve read a lot of blog posts, etc on the topic, but for a politician it needs to be short, concise, and non-technical focusing on the legalities not the science. [Insert your own Politicians Are Stupid joke here.] Anything like that out there?

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