Montana is right next to North Dakota

The disease is spreading. Montana legislators have introduced a new law.


WHEREAS, the purpose of K-12 education is to educate children in the facts of our world to better prepare them for their future and further education in their chosen field of study, and to that end children must know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory; and
WHEREAS, a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation and is for higher education to explore, debate, and test to ultimately reach a scientific conclusion of fact or fiction.

That isn’t how it works! That isn’t how anything works! The legislators clearly don’t know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory, and it sounds like their understanding is straight from the Answers in Genesis school of ignorance.

If I were to dig up a trilobite fossil in my backyard, a location that makes finding 350 million year old fossils highly improbable, it is still a fact; it is a demonstrable phenomenon, even if I can’t repeat it and find more of them. I would then have to formulate an explanation for how the fossil got there, that’s the theory part, and it’s often the more interesting scientific question that requires further investigation and hypothesis testing.

There isn’t a progressive scale from theory to fact. Theories are explanatory frameworks to integrate a body of facts. They don’t ‘become’ facts, although they can be so well supported that you’d have to be a fool to reject them.

It’s clear that this is a bill targeting evolutionary theory, composed by ignoramuses who know nothing of science. Evolution is a fact and a theory. There is a body of facts that creationists would like to disappear, such as it is a fact that the Earth is billions of years old, it is a fact that life exhibits a pattern of constant change on a geological time scale, it is a fact that there was no global flood, but that there have been many cataclysmic geological and geochemical changes, it is a fact that organisms share genetic properties that reveal common descent. Then there are theories to explain those facts: evolution is a good one that robustly accounts for the phenomena we observe, and creationism is a bad one that fails multiple tests and does not explain the facts we have.

Trying to associate scientific theory with the colloquial interpretation of “theory” with unsupported guesswork is a tired old stratagem that creationists have been playing with for decades and it doesn’t work, it just flags them as idiots and fools and liars.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    There we go. I was wondering when the current crop of redneck blackshirts would be getting around to the “teachin’ evil-ution in our scrools!”

  2. wzrd1 says

    No! They’re absolutely right.
    As Einstein produced general and special relativity outside of academia, all nuclear devices of every sort need to be destroyed as mere theory that hasn’t been academically examined.
    Indeed, that is fiscally responsible, as why waste taxpayer billions on a mere theory?

  3. birgerjohansson says

    When Adolph took over Germany the American universities suddenly got a huge influx of German scientists.
    I am looking forward to universities in the European union getting a huge influx of American and British scientists.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    wzrd1 @2:

    Einstein produced general and special relativity outside of academia

    True for special relativity (1905), not true for general relativity (1915).

  5. cgilder says

    Montanan here with kids in public school. There’s a never ending stream of alarming proposed legislation right now because the Republicans gained a super majority this session. Some of their other campaigned-upon goals were amending our state constitution to eliminate our right to privacy and our right to a “safe and healthful environment.”

    On the plus side, the legislative session just started in January, and most of what is being proposed right now is likely more puffery to show the voters than actual passable legislation. However, I don’t know what fraction of insanity will actually end up passing or in what form and that’s worrying enough.

  6. raven says

    Evolution is a fact and a theory. There is a body of facts that creationists would like to disappear, such as it is a fact that the Earth is billions of years old, it is a fact that life exhibits a pattern of constant change on a geological time scale,

    This is true.

    Evolution the fact: Life changes through time.

    Evolution the theory: How and why life changes through time.

    Basically, E = RM + NS (Random Mutation plus Natural Selection)I
    It is a lot more complicated than that but this is a good start.

  7. acroyear says

    Interesting that the pdf doesn’t actually list who introduced it. first passes through google isn’t able to find that out.

    I mean, it is obvious which party, but i’d like to put a name to it.

  8. mordred says

    Gravity is only a theory, of course. Fact is only that every stone we dropped so far fell downwards. It’s pure speculation that all stones will always fall downwards.

    So you should teach your kids that jumping of the roof is totally okay?

  9. raven says

    Here is another cuckoo bill from Montana.

    An old white guy wants to get rid of their Native American Reservations. Because 4 centuries of genocide left a few of them still alive after we took all their land and stuff.

    Of course there is more wrong with this bill.
    These reservations were set up by treaties and are Federal not state.
    And, we already tried this. A lot of reservations were terminated in the mid 20th century and the Native Americans given cash payments. It was such a disaster that the whole idea was dropped and the reservation terminations were reversed.

    I suppose this makes sense. Montana is 0.6% Black and 6.6% Native American.
    If you are going to punch down on minorities, might as well pick on the one that actually exists there.

    Montana lawmaker wants to revisit idea of reservations

    Updated: Jan. 11, 2023, 12:46 p.m.|Published: Jan. 11, 2023, 12:45 p.m.

    FILE – Montana state Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, speaks on the House floor on March 21, 2013, in Helena, Mont. Regier, now a state senator, is proposing asking Congress to study alternatives to Native American reservations. The measure riddled with racial stereotypes is unlikely to pass and would have no practical effect. The draft of the bill became available on Jan. 2, 2023. (Eliza Wiley/The Independent Record via AP, File)AP

    By The Associated Press
    By AMY BETH HANSON Associated Press

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A white state lawmaker in Montana is questioning whether land set aside long ago for Native Americans should exist anymore.

  10. raven says

    Lawmakers debate ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth
    Montana health officials have made permanent a rule that blocks transgender people from changing their birth certificates even if they…

    Of course they have to beat up on Trans people.

    These bills prohibiting medical care have passed in other Red states and are going to do some real damage to real people.

    Lawmakers debate ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth › Archive
    4 days ago — Roughly 150 people gave passionate testimony on Senate Bill 99, a proposal to ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

    Montana permanently blocks transgender people from … – PBS › newshour › politics › montana-p…
    Sep 9, 2022 — Montana health officials have made permanent a rule that blocks transgender people from changing their birth certificates even if they …

  11. whywhywhy says

    Ohio just passed a law that natural gas is green energy (and expanded access for drilling in state parks and state lands). Montana is just trying to keep up.

  12. Doc Bill says

    There is not much to be found about Mt. State Sen. Emrich.

    However, to label him an imbecile is an insult to imbeciles. I found no biography and will assume he’s a high school graduate, and definitely no college. He refers to himself as a “handyman” and is a former car salesman. His Facebook page is chock full of reposts from One America News, OAN, and he is a follower of every conspiracy theory that comes from that outlet. I doubt that he is educated enough or knowledgeable enough to be an actual proponent of any given conspiracy theory, that is, an anti-vaxer or election denier, however he moos along with the herd.

    A TV station did an interview you can watch (I skipped a lot). He was stumped by the question, “Why are you running for office?” He didn’t know. He sputtered a bunch of “you knows,” his favorite phrase, and finally stumbled out, “Freedom!” So, that was his platform. Freedom and huntin’ and fishin’.

    In his anti-science bill he states that science is about facts and theory is mere speculation. Sure, decades old creationist boilerplate. Paging Doctor Dino!

    Bottom line: a willfully ignorant incurious knucklehead infected with Dunning-Kruger, and he was elected.

  13. mordred says

    @10 Bloody Hell, are these fascists still not done with this genocide? I mean, there are still some wankers here in Germany who would gladly kill the few remaining Jews, but they seem to be a tiny number so far and none of them sit in a parliament. Okay, some from the AfD might privately wish for a return to the horrible old times, but for now they keep their mouths shut in public.

  14. says

    I’m sensing a problem with the microbial theory of disease in Montana…

    On the plus side, at least these folks (and others like them) are making it clear which places I should avoid when seeking vacation spots.

  15. jrkrideau says

    Every so often a silly thought crosses my mind: US politicians usually, but not always, it seems Republicans denounce any and all trivial concerns and rouse great indignation among their supporters.

    Could it possibly be that they do not want their supporters to notice no healthcare, mad military expenditures, government corruption, and so on. If so it seems to be working.

  16. antigone10 says

    Would finding in a trilobite fossil in southern Minnesota be that far out of the ordinary? I was under the impression that most of Minnesota was a shallow ocean 350 million years ago, just lousy with trilobites and shell impressions.

  17. lanir says

    This sounds like it would be the most trivial nonsense to disprove ever. Do what little children do. Ask a question. Any question. “Why did you all show up here today?” works just fine. Let them answer. Then ask why. Repeatedly. Until they have no answer.

    When people act willfully stupid sometimes you just have to bury them in the stink of their own bullshit. It’s not a real fix but it pulls the rug out from under the authority they’re happy to steal otherwise. Which can make it more difficult for them to push through their ideas as if they’re better than the sensible option. You know, the one that acknowledges the existence of the real world.