State Legislators Prove Devolution Is Possible

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Fox News reports on various state level efforts to smuggle the teaching of intelligent design (creationism in modern drag) into public school science classrooms:

The debate over evolution is evolving. Although federal courts have banned teaching "creation theory" or "intelligent design theory" in public schools, legislators in several states are seeking new ways to allow teachers to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill this week that will require schools to teach "critical analysis" of evolution.

On Tuesday Michigan introduced a similar "academic freedom" bill. Louisiana, Alabama and Missouri also have legislation under debate, although no state has adopted a law yet.

Intelligent designers like the folks at the Discovery Institute are pretending that all the legislation aims to do is protect "free speech."

John West, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute — a Seattle-based think tank that supports intelligent design and offered language that most state legislatures have used to pattern their bills — said the measure merely encourages discussion, not outright teaching, of intelligent design.

"We oppose intelligent design mandates," West said. "The text of both (Florida) bills make very clear that this isn't protecting the right to give religious critiques."

http://www.geocities.com/hands_off_lb/calvinpee.gif

Fox News adds:

Dean Falk, Chairwoman of Florida State University's Department of Anthropology, agreed. "I was totally taken aback. Florida already has a reputation for being very conservative when it comes to education and teaching science. This underscores that, so I think it's an embarrassment," she said.

Embarrassment. That's an understatement. Whole Fox News item here.

Hat tip to RS Davis over at Freedom Files.

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  1. “The debate over evolution is evolving.” No, sorry, we can’t have any evolution, even in our debates.

  2. I can’t tell … is that little cartoon meant to be anti-evolution or anti-clerical?

  3. Ronald Bailey,

    Does the significant opposition to evolution in the U.S. demonstrate that Leo Strauss was right about the need for philosophers to be circumspect when it comes to a population’s religious views?

  4. Hello, Boojie Boy. Did you bring the papers the Chinaman gave you?

  5. While I believe religious creation myths have no place in a science class, the re-introduction of “critical analysis” into the public school system is long overdue.

  6. Now the truth can be told. Every man, woman, and mutant shall know the truth about de-evolution!

  7. uh oh…a Strauss question?

    I hesitate to ask, but…GG, is that you?

    You old sailor you!

  8. Oh dad, we’re all DEVO!

  9. I believe in evolution, but I also believe it’s just a theory that can be falsified. The same way that gravity can be falsified and the roundness of the earth can be falsified.

    Evolution should be taught as a theory with a great bulk of evidence that could be falsified by other evidence. The evidence should be taught like any other scientific matter, both presenting the positive and negative evidence.

    This will kill two birds with one stone. First off it will teach children the overwhelming data in support of the theory as well as the healthy skeptical mind that is crucial to science.

    Honestly, even though I believe in evolution a lot of evolutionists piss me off when they assume the tactics of the Global Warming crowd out of the some inferiority complex. Don’t worry, the evidence behind evolution is overwhelming. If standing on even ground with competing theories will always crush.

  10. The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill this week that will require schools to teach “critical analysis” of evolution.

    A lot of teenagers can’t even fucking spell, much less “critically analyze” an undeniable mountain of evidence.
    Why don’t we have the little bastards “critically analyzing” heliocentrism?
    Oh, that’s right, because they don’t even know what the fuck it is.
    What a goddamn joke.

  11. For my part, I cannot believe that there are still parents who believe that if they pay taxes that they should have a voice in what benefits their taxes provide.

    You’d have thought that the education system would have hammered that out of them.

    That said, it saddens me greatly that it’s in service of mythology.

  12. Glad I grew up in Southern Louisiana, the one region of the south where Catholics, and not fudie-nutballs, are the majority…I remember my Biology teacher in my Catholic High School teaching evolution, and pointing out that if we where in a public school “I couldn’t teach you this”.

  13. Next up in the Florida curriculum:
    “Gravity: Trillion of Little Jesus Magnets?”

  14. Sure, when they start “critically analyzing” physics, chemistry and mathmatics, then maybe you’ll have a valid point. After all, who the hell are you to tell another that 2 + 2 = 4 and that we can’t divide by zero? And e=mc^2? Bah, that is a modernist and capitalistic approach to physics and the physical world and constrained by your imperialisitic neosymanticism. It should be utterly rejected in favor of considering other subsemiotic possibilities.

  15. Mick,

    I believe the issue and umbrage over these bills is less to do with critical thinking re: evolution theory, and more to do with trying to bring, or even allow, “intelligent design” into the classroom. That’s not a SCIENTIFIC theory, it’s a religious one. In a theology class it’s perfectly valid, but lacking any scientific proof whatsoever, it’s on par with the theory that the human race evolved from alien fecal matter (a la Venus on the Half-Shell).

  16. Mick,

    The same way that gravity can be falsified and the roundness of the earth can be falsified.

    Evolution should be taught as a theory with a great bulk of evidence that could be falsified by other evidence.

    Bzzzzt. Wrong. Gravity and evolution are facts. The theory of gravity and the theory of evoluiton are just theories. These are constantly tested, revised and are not static.

    You fail philosophy of science 101, go to the end of the line and start over.

  17. Barry,

    When was that exactly?

  18. If you conducted an experiment by dropping a rock from your head hight to see if its attracted to the center of the earth and you find and confirm that the rock levitated mid air you would be forced to reconsider the theory of gravity.

    It doesn’t matter if you never expect to find that result, it’s that it is theoretically possible to falsify.

    Take some logic Verdon.

  19. For my part, I cannot believe that there are still parents who believe that if they pay taxes that they should have a voice in what benefits their taxes provide.

    You’d have thought that the education system would have hammered that out of them.

    Are you kidding me? Are you taxation without representation?

    With that said, tax money shouldn’t even go to schools. There. Problem solved. Then there shouldn’t be any political controversy about how people are running schools.

  20. Daniel — I think he was being sarcastic.

  21. “With that said, tax money shouldn’t even go to schools.”

    Actually, I kind of take that back. I’m not sure if I prefer vouchers or a completely free market systems. And as we know, with vouchers, tax money goes to the schools. Also, sorry for being so unlibertarian, comrades. Don’t rub it in.

  22. I was taught evolution by a nun.

    She even gave a little aside about the difference between Biblical truth and scientific truth.

    Screw you, fundies.

  23. Sorry, I just took a hardcore math test and it’s a Friday. I’m done thinking.

  24. I remember way back in Libertarianism 101 class, we were taught that the issue was not whether creationism or evolution should be taught in public schools. The real issue was whether or not we should even have public schools. So stop demanding that evolution be taught in public schools, and start demanding an end to the government school monopoly.

    The state monopoly over education is far more damaging to your children than their exposure to ideas you don’t agree with.

  25. Mick:

    You appear to mean well, but you also appear to be confused by the technical definitions of fact, hypothesis and theory.

    Verdon is right. The existence of gravity and evolution are facts (independently observable phenomena). The explanations for how gravity and evolution occur are the theories.

  26. Daniel Reeves,

    While I don’t think that defunding primary and seconary schools is a crazy idea, I wonder, is there any modern nation we can look to as a model for what would replace such schools after that happened? First, I would imagine that such a process would be a, gradual, or, even less boldly, an experimental one.

  27. the innominate,

    I’ve heard and read that theories are in part collections of facts.

  28. Screw you, fundies.

    Screw you, virginal penguin student.

  29. If we eliminated all public schools and public funding for education, middle-class and above people would send their kids to school, and poor people (and those that didn’t care about their kids) would seek charity or give their kids no education at all.

    This seems like a pretty negative outcome to most people, which is why it’s not going to happen until the libertarian rEVOLution. If anybody has a good way to get to a better outcome, please tell, I’d love to hear it.

  30. If we eliminated all public schools and public funding for education, middle-class and above people would send their kids to school, and poor people (and those that didn’t care about their kids) would seek charity or give their kids no education at all.

    You see the inner city schools? The poor will be better off with charity or nothing at all than the we’ll turn your kids into worthless criminals gun run schools.

  31. Calidore: In re Strauss: May I direct you to my article “Origin of the Specious“?

  32. @ Calidore:

    from the National Academy of Sciences’ book Science, Evolution and Creation:

    “The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.”

    The vast body of evidence are the “facts” observed, or you could call them “observations”. The observations must be independently verifiable, i.e., not subjective.

    “In science, a “fact” typically refers to an observation, measurement, or other form of evidence that can be expected to occur the same way under similar circumstances. However, scientists also use the term “fact” to refer to a scientific explanation that has been tested and confirmed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing it or looking for additional examples. In that respect, the past and continuing occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact. Because the evidence supporting it is so strong, scientists no longer question whether biological evolution has occurred and is continuing to occur. Instead, they investigate the mechanisms of evolution, how rapidly evolution can take place, and related questions.”

    thanks to Ron Bailey for posting a link to that book a while back

  33. Mick,

    If you conducted an experiment by dropping a rock from your head hight to see if its attracted to the center of the earth and you find and confirm that the rock levitated mid air you would be forced to reconsider the theory of gravity.

    It doesn’t matter if you never expect to find that result, it’s that it is theoretically possible to falsify.

    Take some logic Verdon.

    “Gravity” is the uncountable number of observations that when we drop that rock it falls to the ground. All those observations are facts–i.e. data. We call those data “gravity” just as we also note all the changes at a genetic level organisms go through during the course of their life cycle as “evolution”. These are all observable events and hence are facts.

    We then take these facts and use them to check our theory. We do this by looking at the theory and derive testable hypotheses which we then check against the data. If the observations are in accord with the hypothesis we consider that as additional support for the over-arching theory. That is, our belief that the theory is, at least for the time being, true is strengthened.

    A popular way to do all of this is via Bayesian probability theory which rank orders the various theories via their probabilities of being true based on our initial beliefs, and then are updated with the date–i.e. the facts we’ve observed.

    So, “gravity” and “evolution” are facts. The explanations as to why are the theories and they are subject to change. No theory is ever “proven” (in terms of Bayesian probabilities, no theory is ever given a probability of 1).

    There, does that work for ya, or you going to tell me that I’m talking nonsense?

    All that being said, there is not much in the way of viable theories that replace evolutionary theory. Even somebody like Lynne Margolies’ ideas have been incorporated into the current dominant theory; they did not supplant it. And even if we did find an alternative theory, that alternate theory would still have to explain everything the current theory explains. To grossly over-simplifiy, suppose we have Theory X, and X explains Facst F1, F2,…,F100. What isn’t explained if F101 and F102. Now Mick comes up with a theory that explains F101 and F102, but can’t explain F1 – F100. Should we throw out X in favor of Theory Mick?

    With regards to Intelligent Design, we don’t even have this. We simply have some ill-thought out nonsense that explains nothing, has no evidence, produces no experiments, and often appeals to ignorance as an explanation. This not a theory we put on equal footing with evolution. Do what Margulies did, get your sorry butts in the lab and out in the field and do the grunt work to get the data. Until then STFD and STFU.

  34. Fuck these fundies and this dumb argument. Let’s get into the real deal: punctuated equilibrium vs. phyletic gradualism.

    Oh, and I have to go.

  35. Let’s get into the real deal: punctuated equilibrium vs. phyletic gradualism.

    Ahhh, a false dichotomy and a strawman at the same time. Got to hand it Gould and Eldridge.

  36. I came here for an argument and all I’m hearing is contradiction.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM

  37. The debate over evolution is evolving. Although federal courts have banned teaching “creation theory” or “intelligent design theory” in public schools, legislators in several states are seeking new ways to allow teachers to cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

    If this statement is true, (a big if) I do have a problem with the federal courts ‘banning’ such things. If various states want to wallow in pseudoscience bullcrap mysticism in their educational systems that’s their ninth (tenth?) ammendment right. As long as it’s neither of the two states I pay taxes in, I really don’t care. I do have nieces in Florida, but their science education is my sister’s concern, not mine, as I ain’t paying for it.

  38. Of course evolution has almost as much factual evidence as the multiple rock tests. That said, the possibility of such a test is what makes it science.

  39. Next up in the Florida curriculum:
    “Gravity: Trillion of Little Jesus Magnets?”

    Don’t be ridiculous. There’s a scientific consensus (r) around the Boojum* Theory of Gravity.

    *Boojum (n), colloquial term for Big Underground Jesus Magnet (BUJM).

  40. Warty’s Intelligent Design Primer

    Table of Contents

    i Foreword

    iv Introduction

    1 Ch. 1: I don’t really understand science, and neither do scientists, and neither should you

    48 Ch. 2: Where does life come from? I dunno, God some mysterious cosmic designer did it

    89 Ch. 3: Look! Something that appears to be a flaw in the theory of evolution! Look look look!

    154 Ch. 4: Darwin killed Jews for Hitler

    201 Ch. 5: Those scientists laughed at me, they think they’re so great…I’ll show them…

    232 Ch. 6: Join me in the fight against Big Science and bring money

    Bibliography

    Acknowledgments

  41. Ron Bailey,

    Philosophers know the truth…

    Actually, this runs counter to what Strauss actually believed; he believed that those who claim to know the truth are ideologues and that philosophers were zetetic in their approach to the truth. At least that is the conclusion that I have come to based on the primary and secondary literature I’ve read. To be fair though, there are competing schools of Straussians.

  42. To be fair though, there are competing schools of Straussians.

    Johann, Richard, Levi …

  43. “Gravity: Trillion of Little Jesus Magnets?”

    We covered that at Urkobold a while ago.

  44. Ron Bailey,

    BTW, I don’t really think you answered my question.

    One observation:

    It was a commonplace observation during the Enlightenment that religious belief, superstition, etc. would be eradicated by the rise of science, engineering, etc. (Condorcet even thought this while he was hiding from hose in French society who were out for his blood.) For better or worse that never happened and I don’t believe that it will happen.

  45. Ayn_Randian, I believe you are correct.

  46. “Dean Falk, Chairwoman of Florida State University’s Department of Anthropology, agreed. ‘I was totally taken aback. Florida already has a reputation for being very conservative when it comes to education and teaching science. This underscores that, so I think it’s an embarrassment,’ she said.”

    I suppose that the good Dean is thinking of such noteworthy conservatives as William Jennings Bryan, once the foremost evolution-basher in the country (and a Florida real-estate promoter, if you want a Florida link). Bryan was also associated with such conservative causes as the income tax.

    On the plus side, he opposed President Wilson’s march to war with Germany.

    “If we eliminated all public schools and public funding for education, middle-class and above people would send their kids to school, and poor people (and those that didn’t care about their kids) would seek charity or give their kids no education at all.”

  47. I for one welcome the great JB back to the blog. Missed ya, big guy.

  48. “If we eliminated all public schools and public funding for education, middle-class and above people would send their kids to school, and poor people (and those that didn’t care about their kids) would seek charity or give their kids no education at all.”

    Abolishing government schools would still leave the compulsory-attendance laws intact, which even today allow parents to satisfy their legal obligations either by sending their kids to a government school or by giving them some form of private education (including home schooling).

  49. Leo Strauss *said* that philosophers should be circumspect in disclosing their true views, but that was only Strauss’s *exoteric* doctrine. His *esoteric* doctrine, accessible to those who read between the lines, is that philosophers should always be forthright and make full disclosure of their beliefs to the public.

    Thank you, I’m here all night.

  50. Something about creationists’ logic (if that isn’t an oxymoron) reminds me of the old Ernie Kovacs “Dear Answerman” bit:

    Q: if the world is round, why don’t people slide down the sides and fall off?

    A: You’ve stated a common misconception: people are falling off all the time…

  51. just as we also note all the changes at a genetic level organisms go through during the course of their life cycle as “evolution”

    Umm, no, those changes are EVIDENCE that currently appear to (very, very strongly) support the theory of evolution.

    Evolution is when a species changes over time in response to various selection pressures. An organism going through changes in its lifecycle isn’t evolution, because evolution doesn’t happen to individuals, it happens to populations.

  52. Let’s get into the real deal: punctuated equilibrium vs. phyletic gradualism.

    Ahhh, a false dichotomy and a strawman at the same time. Got to hand it Gould and Eldridge.

    Ummm, if you kind of squint sideways I could sorta see the “false dichotomy” statement — evolution can happen at any pace, from nearly instantaneous (such as when a tiny handful of members of a species all acquire a genetic mutation that makes them unable to successfully interbreed with the rest of the species, thereby creating a new species), to a few species that have remained nearly unchanged for tens of millions of years, and everything in between. So those two categories above are kind of like the Team Red versus Team Blue of biological categories, when the reality is much messier and more complicated.

    But where’s the fucking strawman?

  53. prolefeed, I think the strawman set up by Gould and Eldridge is that the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

  54. Take some logic Verdon.

    Mick, don’t be so hard on him. They don’t teach Hume in philosophy of science 101.

  55. Leo Strauss *said* that philosophers should be circumspect in disclosing their true views, but that was only Strauss’s *exoteric* doctrine. His *esoteric* doctrine, accessible to those who read between the lines, is that philosophers should always be forthright and make full disclosure of their beliefs to the public.

    Thank you, I’m here all night.

    LOLOLOLOLOL

    You made my night. I had to read a crap-load of Strauss when I was doing research on Neoconservatism, and it occurred to me that the funniest way to tweak neoconservative thought (from the perspective of the paper I had to write then) was to assume that Neoconservatism is a parasitic hyperreal ideology built upon a mythic abstraction of Strauss, rather than upon he himself or anything he taught. I thought slapping Neocons by using Strauss read through Baudrillard was too perverse to not be fun.

    I was right about that. The sheer amount of silliness and myth-making that has been built up around Leo Strauss’ supposedly “esoteric” teachings is enough to give one nausea, but popping the bubble is nothing if not cathartic.

    Fukuyama recently wrote a good book on the embarrassing origins of Neoconservatism. Something about crossroads in the title, too lazy to look it up. Good read, kind of self serving, and enlightening, though he takes more than a few swipes at libertarianism for no good reason.

  56. Mick, don’t be so hard on him. They don’t teach Hume in philosophy of science 101.

    When I T/A’ed it, we did. In fact, the curriculum was very strange for a PHL101 class because it began with deduction, and then the bulk was Bayesian ideas.

    Then when the class finally had a handle on Bayesian induction we hit them with Hume’s PoI. In retrospect, it was pretty cruel.

    One student actually wrote on a quiz paper: “You know what? Fuck the PUN [principle of the uniformity of nature].” Dude got an A.

  57. Mad Max,

    Well, that’s how some scholars view it. It isn’t the one I subscribe too however.

    Elemenope,

    I think Strauss would be amused at much of what is written about him today. That he is linked with neoconservatives hasn’t made much sense to me for some time.

  58. i think a large part of what confuses the lay public is the use of theory and law…they sound like one can become the other as in a tiered progression. I taught science in a baptist high school and had to repeat over and over that theories dont become laws because laws describe and theories explain.

    mike

  59. If we eliminated all public schools and public funding for education, middle-class and above people would send their kids to school, and poor people (and those that didn’t care about their kids) would seek charity or give their kids no education at all.

    Well instead of education, we could always mandate and provide vasectomies and tubal ligations. You know, just to be safe.

  60. So, IF these schools already teach AGW what is wrong with creation theory?

  61. It appears that science simply confirms Intelligent Design by discovering the prescribed universal laws and evolution of the Universe as a whole since the Big Bang. Intelligent Design provides a plausible explanation that since something can come from nothing (Big Bang) only an eternal being could be responsible. Science has shown that evolution explains a lot in regards to life on Earth – but not everything.

  62. intelligent Design provides a plausible explanation that since something can come from nothing (Big Bang) only an eternal being could be responsible.

    Of course, this is under the presumption that the Big Bang started the universe. I’d argue more that the Big Bang started the universe as we know it.

    The universe is existence; it’s infinite and it’s timeless. Any other explanation requires mystical thinking.

  63. “Barry,

    When was that exactly?”
    early 80s; Redeemer High, Class of 85!

  64. Public education is public indoctrination. It should be abolished.

  65. I’m starting to think we should just saw off the bottom half of the US and let it rot in its own juices.

    Hope you like learning how to say “And will you like rice with that?” in Chinese, because that’s all what your sanitized-so-it-doesn’t-spook-the-fundies education will do for your kid. Keep him really dumb and unable to participate in the development of any new technology. Great work, monkey-boys.

  66. Mark Brotherton:

    Big Bang and origin of the universe are irrelevant, because Darwinian evolution, the topic at hand, doesn’t propose to explain the origin of the universe. Evolutionary theory doesn’t even propose to explain the origin of life. “The Origin of Species” refers to speciation events, i.e. new species arising from ancestral species. Your comment is a red herring.

    In general, you can always fall back on “things are the way they are because God (Intelligent Designers, Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc) wanted it that way”, but there is no positive evidence in favor of that postulate. Further, since the existence of supernatural beings, such as an omnipotent god, cannot be falsified by observation or experiment, those sorts of explanations are still not science, and therefore do not belong in science curricula.

    Hugh:

    Mick was right about the necessity of falsifiability, but wrong on semantics.

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