It’s always good to see foreign governments promoting sensible motions like this:
That this House shares the concerns of the British Centre for Science Education that the literature being sent to every school in the United Kingdom by the creationist religious group Truth in Science is full of scientific mistakes and fails to disclose the group’s creationist beliefs and objectives; and urges all schools to treat this literature with extreme caution.
[links added by me.]
The BCSE is a good new group organized to combat the slowly growing creationist movement in the UK, while Truth In Science is one of those ironically named theopseudoscientific outfits that recently got some attention because it mailed a “resource pack” of two DVDs (source of one is the Discovery Institute, and Focus in the Family for the other) and creationist literature to every school and college science department head in England—they’ve got some money!
Here in the US, I’d expect to subsequently some pandering government toad promoting some motion applauding an action like that of “Truth in Science”—it looks like the first response in the UK is to condemn it, and condemn it accurately.
G. Tingey says
The DfeS (Education dept of govmint) has already issued a warning (in fnot a directive) that this stuff is rubbish, and will schools please not use it, as it is contrary to our National Curriculum guidelines …..
PZ Myers says
That’s what an education department should do — it annoys me greatly when our education administrations dither and wonder if they should take creationist PR seriously.
Hey, you know you love it here! Beer, Drawin and sense. ;)
Well if you have to love an angle, it’s best to make it acute angle.
Excellent news. I’ve emailed my MP to ask him to get his name on it. Even if the DfES has already got on to it, more names on the motion can’t do any harm.
Peter Barber says
I will ask my MP to support this EDM – thanks for pointing it out.
Sadly, PZ, Early Day Motions have nothing to do with the government – they are MPs’ individual initiatives, and as such they rarely end up as legislation. Their main value seems to be to shame the government into action on an issue. Given the utter disregard of our right-wing “left-of-centre” government for public opinion, their own manifesto commitments or the evidence, and King Anthony’s devout faith, I’m not sure that even >400 signatures would force their hand.
(My apologies if you already knew this!)
Peter Barber says
Sorry, I meant to finish off my previous comment by saying:
And therefore I am sceptical that even despite the DfES’s warm words that anything concrete will be done to stop creationism gaining a foothold in schools. After all, both Blair and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly are both devout Catholics and are in favour of increasing the number of state-funded single-faith schools, a few of which are already teaching creationism.
Peter Barber says
Aaaarrgh! Two that‘s and two both‘s in one comment. I am mortified!
Anyone from the UK who’s reading this: go email or phone your MP, ask them to support EDM 2708
Tim Hague says
If it helps there’s a handy little portal for emailing your MP: http://www.writetothem.com/
I’ve always been an Anglophile, fond of many things English. If I were ever to want to live outside the U.S., I’d want to live in England.
Blake Stacey says
Am I just too obtuse to see the humour in your comment? That can’t be right. Once upon a time, isosceles tatements like that and laughed out loud. . . .
Graham Douglas says
I’ve long held to the maxim:
Never trust an organisation with the words “Truth” or “People’s” in its title.
It rarely lets me down.
Well if even the Public Broadcasting Service offers DI shitt under the false pretense of being science it is no wonder that those folks do have some very influential members on the board.
You certainly won’t become a Poleophile.
“WARSAW: Poland’s deputy education minister called for the influential evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin not to be taught in the country’s schools, branding them as lies in comments published on Saturday.
“The theory of evolution is a lie, an error that we have legalised as a common truth,” Miroslaw Orzechowski, the deputy minister in the country’s right-wing coalition government, was quoted as saying.”
“The theory of evolution is a lie, an error that we have legalised as a common truth,”
That may be the most profoundly wrong thing I have ever heard.
PZ, I trust you will be giving us further reports on your encounters with Darwin and Dawkins?
So then, it is implied that the dissenters of their views must be espousing the “Lies in Science”. I wonder if they could show those lies to us.
Dishonest manipulators. Using clever language and distorted ideas to confuse the uninformed into granting them credibility. Disgusting.
PZ Myers says
I don’t know that I will be disclosing much about our conversation. It was a private talk, after all — I really don’t want to get a reputation for regurgitating everything someone says to me on the ol’ blog.
I might be saying more about Down later.
Mike Haubrich says
The truth in science front page lists a poll which shows that over 40% of Brits think that origins should include ‘critical analysis.’ Which reveals that lie in the common non-U.S. world that Creationism is a largely American phenomenon.
Remember, without eternal vigilance, it can happen anywhere.
Mark Frank says
Tim – that’s a great tool – thanks.
I used the portal late last night to ask my MP (Sandra Gidley – Lib Dem) to support the EDM and got a e-mail from her at 6:00 this morning saying it sounded like something should would support and she would check the wording.
She wasn’t even aware of the EDM – there must be lots of MPs that just need a prompt.
Rey Fox says
How about organizations with “Excellence” in the title? In Idaho, a ballot proposition to increase education funding is opposed by a group called “Idahoans for Excellence In Education”. Smells like bullshit to me.
Roger Stanyard says
Thanks PZ for the kind words about BCSE. As you know, I am the spokesman for the organisation. My view is that I am deeply concerned about the spread of creationism in the UK. The fundamentalists here are well organised and well financed and have imported American managerial techniques and expertise and we (as a country) have grossly underestimated them.
Mind-you, we do have to thank heartily the help and support we have received from Americans in setting up and developing BCSE.
BCSE is a single issue organisation dedicted to stopping the teachning of creationism (and ID) in the science classroom. If anyone would like to join our forum it’s at http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum.
And Cambridge are putting the complete works of Darwin on-line. This was also on UK breakfast news this morning.
Just a little aside so you don’t become too anglophile. Today is the 225 anniversary of the Franco-American victory over the English at Yorktown. The French defense minister, Alliot-marie is going to the commemoration in Virginia.
The silence of the MSM on the event is deafening.
“Did You Know?
The 9,000 American forces were in the minority during the Yorktown Campaign. The French army and navy combined for over 25,000 men, while the British army and navy participants numbered over 21,000.”
To John Battle, MP Leeds West:
Lets see if he responds…
Thanks for putting this up, much appreciated. I also emailed the info the Pandasthumb, hopefully they will respond too. In addition, I’ve been encouraging people in my department to contact their MPs and also colleagues in other universities to spread the news.
Tony Blair’s not a Catholic – though Kelly is, and part of the strange Opus Dei secret society. Other remarks about faith schools, etc are spot on.
I have also e-mailed my MP (John Denham).
Well done to all at the BCSE for getting this into Parliament. It may only be an Early Day Motion, but it’s a start. And I’m worried that, given the current vogue for ‘Faith Schools’, the statement in the National Curriculum which ‘Truth in Science’ is hanging its hat on:
is not entirely accidental. We need to keep on our toes.
Any MP praising a group like “Truth in Science” over here would (most likely) be:
a) laughed at in parliament
b) ridiculed in the national press
c) considered a liability by their local party association, which could lead to deselection.
Keith Douglas says
Mike Haubrich: Or that the UK people are unaware that the creationists have co-opted the term. It did have a useful meaning before their using it as a codeword, after all.
That said, of course be vigilant.
I just reread James Stoddard’s hilarious short story _The Battle of York_ in twisted honour of the Yorktown anniversary. US history around the time of independence, as filtered through a thousand years of (imagined) oral historical distortions. Featuring the evil giant Britannia with its terrible tread, the young G. Washington (`G’ is for `General’), Custard, Eisenhower Iron Hewer, the eagles E. Perilous Union and Apollo Leven, the true origins of the Statue of Liberty… and much more. I find more (hilarious, intentional) distortions every time I reread it…
I’ve emailed my MP as well, although I initially mistyped EDM 2708 as 2078. Thinking about it, I’ll ask them to support both…
Brian Jordan says
“the statement in the National Curriculum which ‘Truth in Science’ is hanging its hat on:
‘Pupils should be taught…how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence (for example, Darwin’s theory of evolution)'”
Just shows what liars they are: that’s from an old version of the NC and it was specifically removed, following complaints, when the current version was brought out for the new school year. They are well aware of this, because they quote from the new version as well.
It’s time to repeat Dr. Sidethink’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law:
Just had an email from my local MP’s PA saying that in accordance with my request he is going to support the motion. His name’s not up there yet – but hopefully it will be soon. He’s the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and so pretty high-profile to be lending his name to this cause.