Darwinian Evolution "Incredibly Bigoted" Says Montana Republican Lawmaker

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Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) asked a crowd of school children, parents and teachers who thought that the world was millions of years old to hold up their hands. According the AP, most people held up their hands. He then asked how many thought the Earth was only a few thousand years old? State Rep. Roger Koopman (R-Bozeman) gamely held up his hand. Schweitzer later suggested that the legislature did not need "people who think the Earth is 4,000 years old."

An infuriated Koopman retorted that the Governor as a supporter of evolutionary biology and geology is "bigoted." I wonder how Koopman will react when the Governor suggests that the Earth is not flat and is not at the center of the universe?

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  1. I wonder how Koopman will react when the Governor suggests that the Earth is not flat and is not at the center of the universe?

    Probably by trying to have the man banned from speaking in public.

  2. The worst part is they’re both wrong. The Earth is _billions_ of years old.

  3. Well, a couple weeks ago we had a lively debate over the geocentric model at Inactivist. The fact that you can transform equations into a non-inertial reference frame apparently means that Galileo was just as wrong as the Church. Or something.

    Don’t ask me to explain it, I’m not insane.

  4. I guess a high school education is not necessary to convince the fine people of Bozeman your good enough to represent their district.

  5. I don’t think Bigot means what Koopman thinks it does. But then, I’m Jewish. I went to school.

  6. Reason #738 I love my fellow westerners:

    We may be bigoted rednecks, but at least we believe in real science!

  7. The Earth is exactly 5,767 years old.

    Damn Gentiles can’t even count.

  8. “An infuriated Koopman retorted that the Governor as a supporter of evolutionary biology and geology is “bigoted.”

    I’m surprised someone so dim is capable of even using a multisyllabic word like “bigoted.”

    Maybe next he can work on actually using it properly.

  9. I just have a question….

    Does believing the Earth is 4,000 (or whatever they say) create some sort of problem in everyday life, and mess with any real practicle abilities?

    As much as evolution is a wedge issue to get support from the Christian Right, it is a wedge issue to get support from the “Liberal” Left. I mean, unless you are scanning for oil deposits or running an escavation, it shouldn’t make any real difference if you are creationist or not. The reason people are disgusted with creationists is because it is so d?class?.

    Creationists are the disgusting sorts of people who drive pickup trucks, drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, and have never read Proust.

    Which is why we don’t reserve the same sort of disgust for the Sedona living, crystal wearing, New-Agers who believe foot-massages (reflexology) can cure heart disease. While they have just as unscientific and insane world views, they clearly are at least upper-middle-class or above.

    Ignorance is only disturbing when it is the poor and lower classes that are ignorant.

  10. I always thought Ann Coulter was clever and funny, then I read her book about Godless Liberals. Her criticisms of Darwinian Evolution were….I don’t know whether to write stupid, dishonest or delusional. How can intelligent, highly educated people “think” this way? It is truely mind boggling.

  11. “An infuriated Koopman retorted that the Governor as a supporter of evolutionary biology and geology is “bigoted.”

    I’m surprised someone so dim is capable of even using a multisyllabic word like “bigoted.”

    Maybe next he can work on actually using it properly.

  12. You buy’em books you send’em to school and all they want to do is fuck the teacher.

  13. what’s wrong with Pabst?

  14. Ignorance is only disturbing when it is the poor and lower classes that are ignorant.

    No, ignorance is disturbing when people try to foist their idiocy on my children. Do New-Agers try to insert reflexology into school curriculums?

  15. >Does believing the Earth is 4,000 (or whatever
    >they say) create some sort of problem in
    >everyday life, and mess with any real practicle
    >abilities?

    Not directly, but the type of person who finds arguments for creationism to be compelling is likely to be wrong about many other matters that do create problems in everyday life.

  16. Which is why we don’t reserve the same sort of disgust for the Sedona living, crystal wearing, New-Agers who believe foot-massages (reflexology) can cure heart disease. While they have just as unscientific and insane world views, they clearly are at least upper-middle-class or above.

    Most of them, to the best of my knowledge, don’t try to include reflexology, crystal healing, and homeopathy in high school biology textbooks. They compartmentalize.

    I knew people in grad school who believed unsubstantiated claims about “natural” healing and “natural” foods and all that, but they didn’t go on crusades against the biology department. They showed up to the lab, did their experiments, did their calculations, and then pursued their “all natural” kick at home. It never dawned on them to go to, say, a class on biomedical engineering and demand that the professor talk about alternative remedies.

    OTOH, I know a creationist who teaches science at a religious college. The syllabus includes a few readings from Dembski. He’s a great guy otherwise, so I compartmentalize and don’t hold it against him.

    Which is not to say that all religious colleges and universities are like that. Catholic universities and colleges, for instance, often feature world-class faculties in science, medicine, and engineering.

    Bottom line: My anecdotal observation is that creationists want to infiltrate academic disciplines (from k-12 to college, in both public and private schools, hence my friend who lectures on creationism at a religious college), while “all natural” yuppie types are more likely to compartmentalize. Of course there are exceptions on both sides, so my anecdotes may not be representative, but that’s what I’ve observed.

  17. Get back to me when they start trying to put warning stickers on cardiology textbooks, RexRhiino.

    My, my, you DO love the idea of being persecuted, don’t you?

  18. “Ignorance is only disturbing when it is the poor and lower classes that are ignorant.

    No, ignorance is disturbing when people try to foist their idiocy on my children. Do New-Agers try to insert reflexology into school curriculums? ”

    Here’s an interesting twist. When I was a student teacher back in the late 80’s, NM implemented (briefly) an interesting regulation that attempted to keep “new age” practices out of classrooms (Santa Fe is both the centre of all things New Age and the seat of State Government). The resulting wording, aimed at restricting meditation, yoga, aroma therapy and the like from the classroom, said something along the lines that “no practice which is thought to cause a lasting change in the behavior or functioning of children’s brains” would be allowed in the classroom.

    I think that is close to a definition of learning.

    During the same year, children in my class were not allowed to meet with their favorite author (who they had written many fan letters to, prompting the visit) because she wrote ghost stories… this was thought to promote religion (satanism) and therefore violated the church/state split somehow.

    The tenents of academic freedom are very important, but can get tangled up in knots quite easily.

  19. Neu Mejican wins the thread. His(her) school district was stupider than Koopman.

  20. Most of them, to the best of my knowledge, don’t try to include reflexology, crystal healing, and homeopathy in high school biology textbooks. They compartmentalize.

    I learned of “Gaia Theory” in my high school biology class. It is basicly the same as “intelligent design”, except it isn’t popular with Christians, so it is OK.

    Also, the last hospital I was in (a Canadian government run hospital… just so you know, there is a serious shortage of MRI machines, long waiting lists for treatment, there are definitly no resources to waste), had completly redone the hospital layout at great cost to have proper fung-shui.

    So the New Agers most definitly force their views onto the public. It just doesn’t get as much attention or generate as much outrage, because the people aren’t poor or declasse.

  21. I learned of “Gaia Theory” in my high school biology class. It is basicly the same as “intelligent design”, except it isn’t popular with Christians, so it is OK.

    I don’t think it is worth our time to debate the details of the Gaia hypothesis, but the man who proposed it already rebutted you:

    “Nowhere in our writings do we express the idea that planetary self-regulation is purposeful, or involves foresight or planning by the biota.” ? (Lovelock, J. E. 1990).

    As goofy as it may be, it has a leg up on ID.

  22. Surely there are some instances of weird lefty pseudoscience creeping into schools, but these are exceptional cases. On the other hand, most of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution, and a large number of Americans want evolution discarded altogether. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml

    Let’s not feign equivalence between creationists crusaders and crystal-wearing dimwits. It’s just not a serious argument.

  23. In my country there is problem. This problem is reflexologist. We call him “Foot Man” or is just “Foot” as he always want to touch the foot. You sit, try eat meal in peace, he come say, “hey me touch foot, okay?….me touch foot, you heart disease go, you cancer go, you pendulous male breasts go (but I say ‘hey, wife like, why you want take from me?’) you eat good, sex good good, all day. No divorce, children love love you, dog like your leg no more. All problem go.”

    So, me wrote little song, you sing me, okay. I am pleased to be thanking your impress. Okay?

    “In my country there is problem…this problem is the Foot. This Foot is transport. But if this Foot is no more, we can have big parTY, and my country can be free… so, throw the Foot down the well.”

  24. Unbeknowst to me at the time, Schweitzer was sitting across from me on a flight into Helena. His eyes kept floating over to my Washington Post… I say we don’t need people in the governor’s “mansion” that don’t know the concept of “personal space.”

    I’ve been waiting almost a year to take a swipe at the guy… he was really, really obnoxious. Spend your own damn 35 cents.

  25. RexRhino, I get what you’re saying, and I’m willing to consider the possibility that the left’s version of pseudo-science is more pervasive than I realized.

    However, I don’t think you’re entirely correct about creationism and class. Creationism is moving upscale. Fundamentalist churches have a lot of expensive SUVs in their suburban parking lots. Fundie Christian groups recruit at elite colleges. OK, they aren’t terribly popular on campus, but they have their footholds. They have well-funded think tanks.

    I haven’t looked at the numbers, it may very well be that creationists still have lower incomes on average, but fundamentalist Christianity (and the associated Biblical literalism) is by no means an exclusively lower class phenomenon these days.

  26. thoreau is right. Fundementalism is no longer relegated to the denizens of Southern trailer parks who drive rusted out, decade-old mini-vans to ferry their 8-9 children to Bible-study and send their last $5 to Peter Poppof our some other televangelist huckster. Drive past the Mega-church on any given Sunday and you’re going to see a lot of currect high end autos parked out front.

    And why not? Where’s is the Evangelist Preacher going to find more money for the collection basket (and that Sport SUV he’s been eying)? From a devout gas station attendent who can bearly rub two-nickles together, or the banker or businessman who wants to find JEEZ-us?

  27. I don’t think Bigot means what Koopman thinks it does.

    Let’s not forget that Christianity is a faith founded on a persecution complex. 2000 Years ago, it was the Romans. Today it’s the “liberal, atheist, sec-u-lar humanists” who are try to repress Christian faith by banning prayer in school, removing monuments of the 10 Commandments from the courthouse lawn, giving women the right to vote and to abort possible future Christians, not to mention allowing homosexuals to walk the same streets as the faithful.

    However, I do note the irony of conservatives playing the “bigotry-card” after all the screaming they did in the 1990s about “left-wing political correctness” in academia (some of it real depending on the school and/or department, but most of it was just hot air).

  28. Rex Rhino’s thesis is interesting though it seems to lump a lot of things together, not all of which belong in the same category: creationism vs. wiccan or pyramid power is a fair comparison but creationism vs. reflexology? The first is merely a belief system based on a religious book written thousands of years ago. The second is a health practice. I don’t know that reflexology can cure heart disease but I do know that it has health benefits, stress relieving benefits, which can at least be beneficial to people with heart problems.

    On the other hand, yeah, those crystal wearers have it all wrong. I had aluminum siding grafted under my skin long ago to ward off the wear and tear on the body AND the alien mind readers.

  29. “Let’s not forget that Christianity is a faith founded on a persecution complex.”

    A complex or historical fact? The Romans persecuted the Jews and then both the Christians and the Jews. But in actual fact, Jesus himself said he came to reform Judaism not to create a new religion. That came later.

    Also, while the Christian right has done all those repressive acts mentioned by Mr. Mackenzie there are many other kinds of Christians who abhor that behavior, speaking of lumping everyone together. Not all Christians are fundamentalists who also want to put their faith into law, forcing you to conform to their world view. There’s another form of Christianity which views the Bible not as historical truth but as a set of moral and spiritual insights, inviting the reader to engage with the ideas considering the context of the times. It’s way to connect with the past, with one’s cultural and spiritual heritage, with moral and spiritual ideas weaving their way through time, to discuss and connect with ideas not limited by temporality, to move outside the trivial.

  30. So the New Agers most definitly force their views onto the public. It just doesn’t get as much attention or generate as much outrage, because the people aren’t poor or declasse.

    No, it doesn’t get as much attention because this New Age push to get their views into the schools is miniscule compared to the push to force the teaching of creationism.

    Oh, and by the way, at least many New Age views on alternative medicine could conceivably one day have some evidence for them. Creationism, alas, cannot.

  31. RexRhino,

    The fundamentalist attack on science is simply a bigger threat than lefty pseudoscience. As I posted above, the numbers bear this out — creationism has a huge and aggressive following. Additionally, as others have pointed out, the fundamentalist movement also isn’t limited to the poor, and it includes a number of well-funded lobbying groups.

    Is George Bush poor? Or am I wrong about him supporting the teaching of ID in school? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/02/AR2005080201686.html

  32. There’s already evidence that acupuncture is effective for certain kinds of ailments and I believe acupuncture has been categorized before as new age or woo woo medical science. But as yet, no one has been able to show any evidence that the Adam and Eve story or the idea man walked with the dinosaurs is fact.

  33. There’s already evidence that acupuncture is effective for certain kinds of ailments and I believe acupuncture has been categorized before as new age or woo woo medical science. But as yet, no one has been able to show any evidence that the Adam and Eve story or the idea man walked with the dinosaurs is fact.

  34. Creationism is more of a hot topic because it is a highly visable manifestation of the larger “culture war” going on in this country. As such, it has the potential to influence how every one of our kids are edujumacated. Now, the new age-y celebrities in Hollywierd certainly have the abiltiy to smear their mystical mumbo jumbo across the nation and the world, but who takes Hollywood celebrities seriously about anything – except maybe the latest diet fad? My city’s school committee isn’t going to change anything because Tom Cruise spews out some illogical scientology crap on Oprah. They may, however, bow to the pressure when 500 of the local Christian wackos show up to a meeting demanding “fairness” through the inclusion of religious dogma in my kid’s science class.

    In any case, you’ve all got it wrong – It’s not that New Age woo woo is more acceptable than creationism, NEITHER IS ACCEPTABLE!! They’re both examples of the complete abandonment of reason by people too stupid to find their way out of a paper bag without appealing to the intercession of some magical sky daddy or “mystical earth force”. Creationism is simply a larger, more noticeable irritating blight on the land than new age mysticism because a) It has more adherents who are very vocal, and 2) it has a much greater potential to affect everyone. No one is trying to force feng shit or reflexology on me (Btw – the brain dead folks who used public resources to feng shit a public building should be killed). There are, howevre, LOTS of people out there trying very hard to force their religious claptrap on me and mine. Which one do you think I’m going to pay more attention to?

  35. How about we postpone debate on the evolution question, which has next to no impact on anybody’s lives, until everyone is up to speed on economics?

  36. How about we postpone debate on the evolution question, which has next to no impact on anybody’s lives, until everyone is up to speed on economics?

  37. “The worst part is they’re both wrong. The Earth is _billions_ of years old.”

    I disagree. There is no contradiction in saying that Earth is millions and billions of years old. The Earth is millions of years old — about 4500 million years old. Earth is also billions of years old — about 4.5 billion. The latter is less clumsy, but the former is not exactly wrong.

  38. Mobile,

    Evolution is one of the bedrocks of modern genetics, which plays a huge and growing role in biotech and medicine. Moreover, every field of science has a stake in this debate: Saying “God did it” every time we come across a difficult scientific question is akin to tossing science out the window. If you want to talk about economics, how would you feel if people tried to tell you that God sets the price of commodities?

    Besides, only really basic economics is applicable to most people?s daily lives, which makes it hardly any more useful to the masses than bio.

  39. I can’t believe that anyone who would call reflexology, ‘mystical mumbo jumbo’ has ever had a good reflexology session. It is soooo relaxing and invigorating; that is if you find a truly competent practitioner.

    That’s it, Reflexologists….to the barricades! We’re under attack from Overgeneralizing but Pure Logic Man!

    (so much easier to make sweeping categorical statements than to actually *reason* through and analyze issues, making discerning and discriminating choices, isn’t it?)

  40. Mr. Hand said: “I can’t believe that anyone who would call reflexology, ‘mystical mumbo jumbo’ has ever had a good reflexology session. It is soooo relaxing and invigorating; that is if you find a truly competent practitioner.”

    No one argues that getting a good foot massage isn’t pleasant and relaxing, but that’s not the point is it? Reflexologists claim to be able to cure all sorts of maladies by manipulating and stimulating areas of the foot. There are no empirical, contolled and scienctific studies that support these claims. Relfexologists cannot even demonstrate that there is any mechanism that would allow for healing through foot rubbing – nevermind that it actually does what they say it does.

    So, in your case, it is easier for you to make the sweeping conclusion that reflexology is not woo woo simply because it feels good than it is to apply reason and logic in analyzing the true issue – healing of disease by means of foot stimulation and not that it does or does not feel good -, evaluating the evidence and making a discerning and discriminating choice about its validity.

  41. Aw, the body is over-rated anyway. I don’t need no stinkin’ touchy feely foot job.

    Actually, Mr. Average, you’re right that reflexologists exaggerate their claims. Yet, you’re wrong to claim that there’s no evidence at all for its efficacy. There is evidence for certain maladies such as foot edema, headaches, PMS, etc. (and I’m guessing that just general relaxation is going to be beneficial generally for good health).

    Medical science has not proven effective for a number of maladies, from cancer to the common cold. That doesn’t make it woo woo science does it?

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