This is What Happens to Science Teaching in Government Schools

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Dinos against Creationism

From the front page of the New York Times today:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation's classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools.

In Kentucky, a bill recently introduced in the Legislature would encourage teachers to discuss "the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories," including "evolution, the origins of life, global warming and human cloning." …

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Sigh.

Here's my solution to the science wars in government schools:

So what to do? It is not the role of public schools to confirm the religious beliefs of their students. Parents who want their children to benefit from the latest findings of science would reasonably be irked if evolutionary biology were expunged from the public school curriculum. There is another way around this conundrum. Get rid of public schools. Give parents vouchers and let them choose the schools to which to send their children. Fundamentalists can send their kids to schools that teach that the earth was created on Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC. Science geeks can send their kids to technoschools that teach them how to splice genes to make purple mice. This proposal lowers political and social conflict, and eventually those made fitter in the struggle for life by better education will win. At least that's my theory.

Read the whole disheartening Times article here.

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  1. But, but, but, I know best what all children should be taught!

  2. Your argument will be rejected because people are now willing to openly admit that they like universal public education because it imposes a single orthodoxy of thought on students, which then gives us “something in common” or “a shared basis for citizenship” or some such nonsense.

    Even though the imposition of orthodoxy is exactly what the state is not supposed to be allowed to do, there are many, many people who don’t mind telling you that they want the state to do exactly that.

    1. Somehow the world has managed to have nearly a 1000 years of uninterrupted scientific progress without public schools. I think life will go on without them.

      1. There have been devastating interruptions in the past (Dark Ages, for instance) and there’s no reason to believe that they couldn’t happen again. Creationists are comical, but their philosophy is deadly. Civilization is only one mega-disaster away from another plunge into the abyss.

        1. Popular belief has it the Dark Ages came about when religion ruled the day, but they were really the result of continual warfare following the collapse of the Roman Empire. Resources otherwise devoted to science and knowledge were instead allocated to warfare. Hence, religion is not the science and knowledge-killing monster we should fear.

          1. In that case, America’s hawkishness in the past 60 years means we’re totally screwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwed.

            1. Spending a whole 4% of GDP on our military isn’t going to screw us over in anyway. Consider that during the Cold War our defense budget was around 9 to 10% of GDP.

              Getting back to education: it works best when parents are allowed to decide for themselves when, where, and how their children are taught. And whether the parents want religious instruction for their children has little bearing on how society with progress or revert.

        2. The dark ages are a myth. Science did advance clear through the middle ages. It was the political world that declined.

          1. Researchers have found that most people were better feed in the dark ages, than most people were in the middle ages. When you aren’t a serf you get to keep more of your food.

            1. And fall of the Roman empire was a good thing for most of the people. The Empire was built on stealing from the rural (and majority population) to provide bread and circuses for the Roman urban elite. If you were a subsistence farmer living in France, the barbarians coming just meant you taxes went down.

          2. Somebody just made up The Dark Ages? Wow.

    2. “Shared basis for citizenship” was one of Dewey’s original arguments for public education. Lots of folks have been willing to admit this for quite a while.

  3. Separation of school and state.

    Problem solved. 99.99% of all school problems solved, in fact.

    1. I realize Im just agreeing with Ron here, but wanted to point out that it solves a bunch of other problems too.

      Knives in school? Kids using finger guns on the playground? Leave it up to the individual school.

      1. Are marksmanship teams completely gone from American public schools now? Knew of some just a few years ago.

        1. I think they still exist at a handful of reasonable rural schools.

          1. We have a first rate shooting team in the local public high school. It is part of the JROTC program.

            1. Thank you!

              Now, how to get rid of the public schools . . .

          2. My cousin was on a skeet shooting team in his high school just a few years ago.

      2. The administration of education requires arbitrary authority and decision-making power.

        But that’s exactly what our schools can’t have if they are state institutions.

        And so we have an eternity of court cases, where we try to pretend that we’re applying constitutional principles to the running of schools, while not actually applying them so that the schools can continue to function.

        You couldn’t run a business if you gave all your employees all their enumerated rights in their dealings with you as the employer. There’s no reason to believe that schools can successfully be run that way either. The sham of public education in the US only worked as long as we allowed them to be run in open defiance of the constitutional rights of students and parents. Now that the cat’s out of the bag and that can’t be done any more, the public schools are in terminal decline, albeit a decline that is happening in as long and drawn-out and painful a way as possible.

        1. Yep.

          Now, once we have separated school and state, we will have to accept that some school may suspend a kid for a “Bong Hits for Jesus” sign, EVEN off campus at a non-school event. And that will be okay. If the parents dont like it, they can find a school that will accept that kind of behavior.

          1. Criticizing such stupid decisions is still okay though, it is fine to influence market decisions by spreading your opinions about how someone does business.

            1. Accepting doesnt prevent criticizing.

    1. “Intelligent design” ? a meaningless concept.

      … with a link that works!

          1. Interesting article. The best part was how the writer can post his opinion on the interwebz and then we can read it from a post on a thread on Reason and it was all made possible by random circumstance!

            Ignorance of a design function does not disprove the existence of a designer. Consider the appendix

            1. Linkfail. And what the hell are you talking about?

            2. evolution isn’t entirely random, but don’t let that stop you from misrepresenting evolutionary theory

              1. Sorry, that was my lame attempt at html. Here’s the link, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21153898/

                Essentially for years no one knew what the appendix did and discounted it as an extraneous organ. Now they realize that it does indeed serve a purpose after all.

                @the innominate one – The alleged result of evolution, natural selection, is not random. However the act of evolution is random genetic variation. But don’t let that stop you from defending it.

  4. deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

    Yeah; and as a phrenologist, I could tell you some tales of “academic” prejudice which wold curl your hair!

    They’re oppressing me!

    1. As a phrenologist, why would you care about hair?

      Doesn’t it just get in the way?

      1. He wasn’t talking about the hair on your head!

  5. Get rid of public schools. Give parents vouchers and let them choose the schools to which to send their children.

    If we get rid of public schools what do we need vouchers for? We can just get rid of the taxes that go toward public schools . . . For Great Justice!

    1. Its an intermediate step, for those who support “public education” but not “public schools”. Also, totally getting rid of public schools would have to be step 2.

      Step 1. Create vouchers, but allow them to be used at current public schools too.

      Step 2. Get rid of the public schools. I think this would happen naturally, but we might have to privatize the few good ones that remain at a certain point.

      Step 3. Get rid of the vouchers.

      [step 0 – apply standard libertarian disclaimer at any point you feel it is necessary]

      1. It may have to be a permanent fix and not a temporary solution, because many state constitutions mandate that every citizen receive an education, and the only way to achieve that end while not having full-blown public schools is to employ vouchers.

        We might not like the transfer-payment aspect of them, but if we can smash the education establishment I’ll still take it as a win.

        1. I agree. Once again, feel free to sprinkle SLDs over the previous 2 word sentence.

          As STATE spending goes, public education isnt the worst thing they do by far (while public school spending is). If we could shift from public school spending to public education spending (via vouchers) Im gonna call it a win too, even if step 3 never happens. Hell, even if step 2 never happens.

      2. I was talking more about the way Ron wrote it and then I rambled.

  6. It’s a good thing AGW isn’t a religion.

  7. I would be willing to bet that any voucher scheme will be accompanied by a licensing scheme, as vouchers could only be spent at licensed schools.

    And the requirements for licensing schools would probably duplicate many of the problems we have with state schools.

    It would be an improvement, sure, but probably not as much of one as you think.

    1. Not necessarily. There already exist accreditation agencies for K-12 schools, so there is no reason they could not just require vouchers to be used at a (regionally) accredited school.

      I could write a really long post about the problems with the regional accrediting agencies, but the point is there is already a filter in place, so there is no reason to set up a licensing system.

    2. Licensed schools must have at least 75% of the workforce certified by the union. Such certification, of course, can only be acquired through union membership.

  8. I have a couple suggestions, one of which is to sign the Proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. The text of the Proclamation is: ‘”I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”

    The catch is that you’re on their mailing list, and your name and address get published, but I suppose you could give a P.O. Box to discourage the stalkers.

    Less radical is basically robc’s #1 suggestion, with the understanding that government schools would charge tuition just like private schools – with vouchers allowing poor families to pay at least part of the tuition at the school they choose. This also happens to be John Stuart Mill’s idea.

    1. My mistake, the Alliance only publishes town, state and zip code, not street address.

    2. Even with my #1, I suspect that if it happened (based on places that have done vouchers) that the voucher amount will be less than the amount public schools get per student now. Which is okay. Make it reasonably high, but still less than is currently spent at the public schools and everyone who uses the voucher would INCREASE the per student spending at the public schools.

      Yes, yes, there is an adjustment for current private school students who would suddenly get a voucher, so there is an initial step down, this can go into the amount of voucher calculation.
      Lets say a district currently spends 10k per student and 20% of eligible students are in private school already.

      Hmmm…lets play with some numbers here…lets just assume 100 students (for ease of math). So currently 80 are in public schools, so the district is spending 800k.

      If they gave an 6k voucher and no one currently in public school switched, it would cost 120k, so they would only have 680k for the 80 students or 8.5k each. However, if the 6k voucher caused another 20 to go to private schools, that would leave 560k for 60 students, or 9.3k each. The break-even point for a 6k voucher is 50% of the students in private school.

      For an 8k voucher there is no break even point. The calculation depends on current % of students in private school and expected rate of change due to the voucher. In a district with very low private school percentages, if it leads to creation of private schools, it would boost the per student spending in the remaining public schools a good bit.

      1. Here’s a third idea – taxpayer choice (which was, I believe, endorsed in some form by the guy who coined the term ‘compassinate conservative’ – not Bush, was it Olasky (sp?)).

        Taxpayers would, as now, be required to pay for the support of education in their communities, but they could choose between paying taxes to the local government schools or donating an equivalent amount to local private schools or home schools. If they have kids, they could spend the money on whatever school their kids go to. If they’re childless, they could decide which schools deserve their education dollar.

    3. The Alliance no longer publishes the names or any other information about the people who sign our Proclamation at our website. The names are simply put into our database.

      We do maintain a list of “high-profile” people who agreed to have their names published on our site.

  9. I’ve already made this point here, but I’m going to repeat it.

    There is a connection between the evolution theory and anthropogenic global warming. The “educated class” believes in the AGW and evolution for the same reason, namely that all other smart, educated people believe in it. The key word here is “believe.” Few people studied biological, paleontological, or geological arguments in favor of the evolution theory.

    Fortunately, the evolution theory is not very important in terms of its practical applications and as far as I know correct. On the other hand, the AGW theory has drastic implications for humans and failed to make predictions that were later verified. But the “educated class” doesn’t have ability to distinguish between testable scientific theories and theories that only claim to be scientific.

    I’d go further and say that the “educated class” has discredited itself by falling for a junk science. And much of the blame should go to the role that the evolution theory plays in the Western society. It is not used to illustrate how the scientific method works; instead it serves only as a cultural marker. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

    1. Whatever.

      Do you know how the bad AGW science was exposed?

      Here’s a hint: it wasn’t because some moron in Texas read his piece of shit Bible.

      If you convince me that evolution theory [and everything that supports it, like the entire science of geology and the entire science of physics] is the same as AGW, then I’ll have to believe in AGW. Not the reverse.

      Dumbass.

      1. Reading comprehension. Fail.

      2. Fluffy-

        Is URL attached to your handle a link to your blog? You’ve always been one of my favorite commenters and if you’ve written a book I’d like to check it out.

    2. It’s interesting that someone ignorant enough to write “the evolution theory is not very important in terms of its practical applications” can call other people ignorant.

      1. Please list the most important practical applications of the evolution theory.

        1. Ok, but only after you promise to list the most important practical applications of the gravity theory.

          1. Easily. Since we understand gravity we can fly and build tall buildings. Now, your turn.

            1. People built tall buildings before Isaac Newton. See: the pyramids, Gothic cathedrals, the Sistine Chapel.

        2. first in a list too long to contemplate would be the annual flu vaccine.

          1. See an article in the November 2009 issue of the Atlantic.

            “Tom Jefferson has taken a lot of heat just for saying, ‘Here’s the evidence: it’s not very good,'” says Majumdar. “The reaction has been so dogmatic and even hysterical that you’d think he was advocating stealing babies.” Yet while other flu researchers may not like what Jefferson has to say, they cannot ignore the fact that he knows the flu-vaccine literature better than anyone else on the planet. He leads an international team of researchers who have combed through hundreds of flu-vaccine studies. The vast majority of the studies were deeply flawed, says Jefferson. “Rubbish is not a scientific term, but I think it’s the term that applies.” Only four studies were properly designed to pin down the effectiveness of flu vaccine, he says, and two of those showed that it might be effective in certain groups of patients, such as school-age children with no underlying health issues like asthma. The other two showed equivocal results or no benefit.

        3. Dealing with antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, for one.

        4. Understanding how to crossbreed to alter certain traits and how likely such an alteration is to be successful.

          If you know a certain organism is closely related to another organism, then you can reasonably believe that the traits in one organism could be transferred to the other.

          1. So I really can’t make titanium talons that extend and retract from under my nails with bio-mod techniques?

            1. Nope, just adamantium talons.

            2. No you can’t be Lady Deathstrike.

    3. And what the hell are you trying to say with ‘educated class’? Why don’t you just say what you mean?

    4. The difference is, of course, that evolution isn’t junk science.

    5. To clarify one thing. I called the AGW a junk science. I’ve never called evolution junk.

      1. I read your post and got your point first time around. There might be some minor quibbles as to how significant or insignificant (or how utilitarian) the theory of evolution is, but I got your larger point.

        1. Thanks.

      2. Ah. Sorry for misinterpreting it.

    6. “The “educated class” believes in the AGW and evolution for the same reason, namely that all other smart, educated people believe in it. The key word here is “believe.” Few people studied biological, paleontological, or geological arguments in favor of the evolution theory.”

      I think there’s something to this.

      I don’t think the average person who scoffs at ID could explain evolution beyond the elementary basics, and they believe in evolution for the same reasons they believe in global warming, Saddam Hussein’s WMD and their favorite football team.

      And it’s certainly true that believing things just because the rest of the people you want to identify with believe them is not a scientific way to go about things.

      Having said that, surely it’s true that the average person who is skeptical of evolution and the evolutionary origins of humanity doesn’t know much about science and what differentiates it from other disciplines–the average person who’s hostile to evolution probably thinks that science will ultimately confirm their biases (namely what they read in the Bible), and that isn’t exactly scientific thinking either.

      It’s certainly true that all God’s creation, if that’s what it is, struggles with uncertainty and tries to make sense of what it doesn’t understand, and that’s especially true of people trying to grapple with who they are and how they came to be here. Our thoughts may ultimately be explained by scientific processes, but scientific thinking doesn’t come to any of us naturally. …and I can confirm sightings of people like that on the evolutionary side of the fence, personally.

      1. I pretty much agree with what you say. That’s why I emphasized that it’s a responsibility of the “educated class” to figure out which scientific theory is high quality and should be acted upon and which one is only good enough to renew an annual NSF grant. I don’t expect an average person to discuss Popper and Kuhn.

      2. I agree. And also evolution, unlike AGW, really doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot in the real world. Name one policy in the real world that should change because of the truth of evolution? I can’t think of a single one.

        1. That’s because you don’t work in pharma. Drug development is one practical application of evolution. Dealing with antibiotic strains of bacteria is another. Agriculture is evolution over 1000s of years, applied before people understood why it happened.

          You are not the cosmos, John. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

          1. True, that. I don’t understand most women. Yet they clearly exist.

            I also don’t understand much of the Internal Revenue Code. Yet it doggedly persists, dammit.

          2. Human beings engaged animal and plant husbandry for 1000s of years before Darwin. Do you think people lived in caves before 1859?

            1. Are you illiterate? I specifically said, “Agriculture is evolution over 1000s of years, applied before people understood why it happened.” Just because people don’t understand why it happened doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply.

              1. Are you illiterate? Agriculture is not evolution. It is not speciation. Sepciation is something different. It is one thing evolving into another species; a fish eventually becomes and amphibian and and so fourth. Evolution is one species turning into more species.

                Animal husbandry is nothing like that. It is just humans producing different varieties of species. It is an example of natural selection. But it is not, strictly speaking an example of evolution. That is why people did it for so long but no one thought of evolution until Darwin.

                Don’t call people illiterate when you don’t even understand the theory you are defending.

                1. Evolution is not speciation and speciation. Evolution also includes changes within a species due to natural selection (or selective breeding). Changed in phenotype due to selective breeding is what agriculture and animal husbandry are all about.

          3. And animal husbandry is not speciation. That new strain of wheat that is resistant to drought is not corn. And that bull that produces super milk producing off spring is not a goat. You don’t have to believe in evolution to believe in genetic engineering or animal husbandry.

            1. It can, but doesn’t necessarily lead to speciation. Some domesticated animals can no longer successfully mate with their wild ancestors.

              To use an earlier example, one doesn’t need Newton’s theory of gravity to build tall buildings. However, applying those theories and using advanced modeling techniques allows us to build taller, more interesting looking buildings than were possible before.

              And to be internally consistent, you do have to believe in evolution to believe in husbandry. The theory of evolution is what explains changes within species and speciation. Evolution is just changes in trait or gene frequency in a population of organisms from one generation to the next. Sometimes these changes, along with population isolation, are sufficient to lead to speciation. Though the mechanism isn’t completely understood yet.

              1. “And to be internally consistent, you do have to believe in evolution to believe in husbandry.”

                That will come as one hell of a surprise to the scientists who came before Darwin. That is just nonsense. We had thousands of years of animal husbandry and an enlightenment all before Darwin. Evolution is a scientific debate with religious and philosophical consequences. But its existence does not preclude animal husbandry or really any other line of science.

                1. You do know that people can engage in things before they understand the scientific theories behind them. One can start a fire without understanding combustion.

            2. animal husbandry is not speciation, but it does not follow that animal husbandry is not evolution because not all forms of evolution involve speciation.

              evolutionary theory explains both changes within a species, like the development of antibiotic resistance and artificial selection for different breeds of cattle and dogs and different strains of crops.

              breeders and farmers engaged in artificial selection, resulting in evolution of those lineages, before they had a comprehensive theory explaining what was happening and why it worked.

              Darwin + Mendel + the neo-Darwinian synthesis = a more comprehensive, though still incomplete, understanding of how evolution works.

        2. Evolution might have played a part in justifying Eugenics, etc., and, I suspect, it may play such a role in the future–even for policy.

          But it’s true that the ramifications of it are not nearly so widespread, if they’re present at all. And Biblical fundamentalism (based, in my view, on erroneous readings) has its own tangible, serious ramifications.

          The point? Bad policy is bad policy. Truth can be exploited as easily as fiction. This is something the anti-Global Warming people need to stress; we don’t think it’s junk science because we hate the policy it perpetuates, we think it is because, well, the facts don’t line up. Now, I readily admit that I’m no scientist and take more of this on authority than scientists would or should be comfortable with. But that’s how I see it from where I’m sitting.

          The fact that it’s junk science AND it’s being exploited just makes it all the more hilarious/tragic.

          I’ll stop stating the obvious now.

        3. Besides the one that’s raised in the blog post we’re commenting on, I presume you mean? I can’t think of any other, offhand. But that one’s a hot potato!

          1. Also, are you (John) talking about the “truth” of evolution or the *belief* in it. Because Mo seems to be answering you based on your use of the word “truth”. But you seem to be replying to him as if you used that word to mean “belief in” of “understanding of”. Regarding whether whether “evolution” includes variation within a species, I would think it would have to since that kinda has to come first before speciation occurs. Though I also realize that it’s at speciation that evolution deniers draw the line. I.e., they say they believe in variation within species but not naturally selected speciation. So maybe that’s why you (John) draw that distinction?

  10. I’m surprised we haven’t already seen a ballot measure on this somewhere. Maybe we have?

    I suspect it would fail, obviously a court challenge, but even a popular vote. School board members have been voted out in states as evangelic as the the Carolinas for being in favor of teaching ID.

    I doubt there is even a majority of evangelicals who want their kids subjected to ID. People nod at the preacher from the pews on a lot of things, but when they go home, they do what they want just like everybody else.

    Protestants thinking for themselves, it’s been a real problem for religious leaders for at least 500 years.

    1. Check out the glorious state board of education in Texas.

  11. Brilliant placement of some important research. We placed this great headline on the front page, now anyone who is against carbon taxes is associated with Kentucky creationist in the minds of NYTimes readers. We still control your weak minds.

    1. Sweet fuck. You aren’t even beating a dead horse with any flesh left on it at this point. Will the bones have to be powder for you to get that this stopped being funny about ten posts after you started it?

  12. So you teach about the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories. If you have a theological mindset, you start by showing how some scientists massaged the numbers to make AGW seem more true. Then you wonder outloud if scientists have been massaging the data to make evolution theory seem more true. Then you can refute the claims of evolutionists and their theories in a public school classroom. Hellfire! Even a dullard like me can figure out that stragedy.

    1. stragedy

      Brotherben, I think you’ve admitted before to some dyslexia, but I have to say: what a great portmanteau word!

    2. “So you teach about the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories. ”

      Of course not. We want good little robots who don’t question anything.

      1. Roger Waters’ view of school was pretty accurate.

  13. Oh boy, I hope they don’t piss off Focus on the Family.

  14. I’ve never understood why high-school students need to be taught creation science. Of what importance is this?

    How about teaching them the basics right first?

    1. By the basics, do you mean that the sun moves because a dung beetle pushes across the sky?

      1. Word…teach them the basics of math, history and English, then science and philosophy and then bam, problem solved.

    2. If you’re still teaching kids the “basics” in high school, I think you’ve screwed something up. Unless you think calculus, physics, advanced language courses also count as the “basics”.

  15. Any 15 year old boys out there? How many of you would have the guts to stand up in class and say you believe in Adam and Eve? I think the teaching of creationism and, to a lesser extent, intelligent design would end up being mocked in most schools. Do fundy parents really want an atheistic science teacher presenting God as creator views to their kids?

  16. …and good on those Kentuckians, cause we want to be sure to establish good, Christian thoughts in our pubic schools before the damned Muslims come in and take over.

    They tuk r skrewls!!!

    1. What, forcing Christianity on the population isn’t one of “the basics”? Sheesh – what country are YOU guys living in…

  17. This is precisely what I was worried about. When AGW proponents tout climate modeling as science and try to conflate it with theories derived empirically via the scientific method, it is damaging to science as a whole.

    Climate prediction is not science. It’s guesstimation, and compared to the actual complexity of our global climate system, it’s so woefully primitive as to be useless as an indicator.

  18. Actually, I think this should be followed. 99% of science teachers are going to go, “Here’s the scientific theory and its merits and now here’s the completely speculative case for ID and its weaknesses.”

    The wording was that the merits of both would be discussed. Most kids are going to come away knowing ID is BS.

    1. Actually, if I were a science teacher, I would order a supply of Creationist texts for my class.

      Then I would analyze the errors in class to help the students understand the difference between science and pseudoscience.

      1. Analytical thinking is no longer in the public school curriculum. It has been my experience in recent years that it isn’t taught because most of the teachers aren’t capable of it themselves.

        1. I am not sure what is being taught in classrooms anymore. Sit down and talk to a recent college graduate sometime about history and politics. They are so off base, they are not even wrong. There is a guy I work with, a 27 year old recent law school grad, who honestly believes that there was no middle class in this country until the New Deal created one. And he also believes that the US was a radical anarcho capitalist state run by robber barons until Roosevelt. I am not kidding. And he is actually a pretty sharp lawyer and a very earnest person. My nephew, who is now getting his masters and has always been a straight A student, when he was in high school asked my father about all of the innocent people the US soldiers murdered in Vietnam. Yet, he had no idea there was such a thing as the Khmer Rouge.

          1. That is why you should give all reasonably smart 15 years olds Atlas Shrugged. They’ll be insufferable assholes for a little while, but they’ll have a lifelong hatred of dirty fucking hippies, and that’s a good thing.

            1. Ha, I didn’t need help being an insufferable asshole when I was 15!

              1. Me either. Hell I still don’t need help.

              2. Me either. Hell I still don’t need help.

              3. You still don’t!

                ;P

          2. They’re being taught whatever the relevant state-wide multiple choice test asks for. And no more. Unless analytical thinking can be bubbled in with a #2 pencil, it’s not going to be taught.

            It’s eye opening talking with elementary school teachers about how much they teach to that test (in Texas, the TAKS) and how the school year basically shuts down after the test is taken. I think this is another disaster we can lay at the feet of W.

            1. Unless analytical thinking can be bubbled in with a #2 pencil, it’s not going to be taught.

              It can be. There is a whole section of it on the GRE.

              1. not anymore

      2. I suggest starting with “Peanut Butter, the atheist’s worst nightmare” on Youtube.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZFG5PKw504

  19. IMO, the big problem is that whereas evolution within species has many examples throughout the world, evolution of species is still just a theory in search of some facts.

    If they just stuck with that, they would probably be ok.

    1. It’s 2010 for Christ’s sake, if you haven’t figured out why this argument is total nonsense then you are deliberately ignoring reality.

      1. Actually, Kroneborge’s right. But still, evolution (by natural selection) is the best theory going. ID is more a philosophical idea.

        1. Right about what? That there is some as-yet unknown, invisible mechanism that prevents parent species from splitting into daughter species via incremental evolution over long periods of time?

          ID isn’t a philosophical idea, whatever that means, it’s a truckload of bullshit meant to wedge theocracy into public schools.

          1. No, he’s right that the mechanisms whereby one species transitions into another is not completely well understood yet. There is still a lot of evolutionary theory that is not yet well-defined. That’s all I was saying. But until evolution by natural selection is replaced with evolution by some similar but other mechanism, it’s the best theory going.

            I agree with you, Tony, that ID is being used as you define, but not all ID proponents are so crass AFAIK.

            1. I should point out that I know the theory is being refined and revised a lot and that no such comprehensive theory pops out of anyone’s head already completely well-formed and fully detailed.

            2. What mechanism are you looking for? The only thing needed for species to give rise to new species is time. The principles of evolution are the same no matter how small or drastic the change you’re talking about.

              1. I was talking about how well-understood evolution is. Obviously it happens. Horses and donkeys are a pretty good example of speciation.

                1. I largely agree with you, Tony, but there are clearly selective pressures, time, and something else. There are still a lot of epiphenomena related to junk/dark DNA that I think will be illuminating. Obviously, I’m not an expert, so I will defer to experts. Good talk.

                  1. I guess I could say that mutation is fairly well-understood, but its effect on many parts of the genome are not yet.

          2. I made two simple statments, one that evolution within species has been shown to be true. You can see this clearly, you can breed dogs together, and they will get bigger, and smaller, or longer or shoter hair etc.

            However, evolution of species has not been shown to be true. We have not ONE example of it. IE, no matter how many times we breed two dogs we don’t end up with a cat.

            Perhaps evolution of species is true, it’s definitely a good theory, but that’s all it is right now, just a theory. No more or less proven than ID, or any number of other “theories” about how life or the universe came to be.

            Let’s by all means continue to use the scientific method to try and determine how things came to be, but when we pretend a higher level of certainity is there than actually exists we are not doing anyone any favors.

            1. no matter how many times we breed two dogs we don’t end up with a cat.

              You’re right. Because that’s not how speciation works. Species arise when a parent species is split into two populations because of some environmental factor. If they stay separated, eventually the two groups won’t be able to interbreed. Hence the definition of species.

              Every offspring is the same species as its parents. But if you go back in time far enough there will be an ancestor of a different species. But that ancestor was the same species as its parents and offspring. It’s a gradual process.

              You cannot accept “microevolution” and not realize that, over many generations, those small changes will add up to big changes.

            2. See if any of these satisfy you. There have been a number of experiments where populations have been separated and their descendants were unable to breed. I don’t really know shit about biology, but isn’t that pretty much the definition of speciation?

              1. I like that one. It got me thinking about soeciation between horses, donkeys and zebras.

              2. That brings up a good point: rather than waste your time arguing with evolution skeptics (or outright deniers), just point them to talkorigins. If they have a misconception that isn’t addressed there, I’d be surprised.

            3. Perhaps evolution of species is true, it’s definitely a good theory, but that’s all it is right now, just a theory. No more or less proven than ID, or any number of other “theories” about how life or the universe came to be.

              How can you call it a good theory, when it’s clear that you don’t have a basic understanding what the theory of evolution actually is?

              There are plenty of good books on the subject, so what’s your excuse for repeating the same old bunk?

              1. +1

                It really takes willful ignorance and conscious avoidance of readily-available information for an adult to not realize that there is no scientific theory supported by more evidence than the TOE. Speciation *has* been observed and proven. Read a book or two if you don’t understand it. Start with Dawkins, perhaps.

    2. Occam’s razor, perhaps – where else did all these species that arise over the course of the fossil record come from?

      And, of course, the fossil record showing transitional species?

      Vestiges of previous species contained in existing species (i.e., the footbones in whale flippers)?

      Of course, no species is going to turn into a whole new species overnight. Rather, it is going to slowly change from its current form into new, better adapted form(s), that eventually wouldn’t be able to reproduce with previous forms, if any were still around.

      1. my understanding though, is that we haven’t found the “missing link” yet though, that actually proves evolution of species.

        There’s certainly clues that point to it, but no hard proof.

        1. What missing link? Every species is transitional from one to another.

        2. the missing link is a red herring – as Tony points out, every species is a potential transition (or “missing link”).

          and we do have examples of clearly transitional forms, even if they aren’t in the direct lineage – Archaeopteryx lithographica is a fossil which has a reptilian skeletal structure and feathers. you could also look up “fishapod”.

          1. The red herring is the missing link between ancient and modern herring.

            1. well done

              I like my red herring well done, that is.

      2. In evolutionary terms, there are no hard lines between one species and another. Obviously, we know that wolves and tigers are different species. But their Carnivore ancestors didn’t wake up one day and give birth to a Proto-Dog and a Proto-Cat. Carnivores gradually changed into Proto-Dog and Proto-Cat until they were separate species.

        Remember, the species line is a category line, and all category lines are a bit arbitrary.

    3. evolution of species is still just a theory in search of some facts.

      Depends how you define “species” of bacteria and viruses.

      We’ve watched them change to adapt to different hosts, develop immunity to antibiotics, survive measures that once insured disinfection.

      How much does a baterium or virus have to change to become a different “species”?

  20. Most people here think ID is BS. Well some people don’t. But what many of you miss is that thanks to the public school system you are forcibly taxing people and using the money to force their children to learn ideas that they find objectionable. It is a disgraceful abuse of government power.

    1. There is a big difference between using tax money to teach facts some people find objectionable and teaching religious bullshit. One is the specific role of public schools, one is illegal.

      I believe a legitimate purpose of public schools is to give children the opportunity to escape the nonsense their stupid parents would teach them otherwise.

      1. Tony you fascist little fucking twit. It is none of yours or anyone else’s business what parents teach their children. Shut the fuck up and stay out of other people’s business before you finally do something that will get you hurt.

        1. Don’t bother. He’s previously admitted that the State owns people’s minds.

        2. So young people should be forced to be exposed to only what their parents happen to teach them? How is that freedom?

          1. Meanwhile, being forced to be exposed only to what complete strangers happen to deem appropriate is…?

            1. But Jordan, don’t you understand: we’re talking about good, caring complete strangers here. It’s because their hearts are so pure (as indicated by their government teaching certificates) that they should be free to kidnap your children and indoctrinate them for several hours each work day.

          2. I believe a legitimate purpose of public schools is to give children the opportunity to escape the nonsense their stupid parents would teach them otherwise.

            You mean nonsense like “The New Deal ended the Great Depression?”

          3. Yeah Tony. When you parents pay the bills they get to make the rules, you dumb shit. And on the scale of things, having to listen to your parents is a hell of a lot lower on the scale of harm than having the government control what everyone can teach their children and thus by extension what they can think.

            I think that the prospect of you teaching your insane ideas to defenseless children is a pretty damned disturbing prospect. But, no matter how disturbing, I don’t want the government tell you you can’t do it.

          4. That’s not what force means.

          5. So young people should be forced to be exposed to only what their parents happen to teach them?

            No, if the parents choose to put their kids in public schools and have them taught a public school curriculum that’s their decision. What’s key is the parents’ right to choose the content and form of their child’s education. The UN thought this right was so important that it was prominently noted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        3. Hey, John. Stay classy.

          Parents have a responsibility to their children and authority over their, but they don’t own their children. Unless you want to defend children as chattel property. Also, child abuse.

  21. Global warming theories aren’t even something that can be understood without first knowing about chemistry, weather, the sun, how climate works, the past climate cycle, and then getting in to the composition of the atmosphere and sources of various gasses. Its college level shit. What possible reason could there be for introducing AGW to fourth grade kids? Unless the people in charge are trying to influence something…

    1. Why teach surface tension to fourth grade kids? Understanding electron orbitals, unshared electron pairs, how surface tension works because of physicochemical factors is college level shit.

      1. Not a great analogy. Surface tension is right there in your face, you can experiment with it without knowing exactly how it works. AGW… not so much.

        1. it’s not a perfect analogy, but we still teach fourth graders the (accepted, current consensus on) facts of science, even though we don’t teach them the full explanation for how those facts work, and even if the “facts” change later, or if the explanation changes later

          1. Maybe look up the words ‘falsifiable’ and ‘theory (scientific)’ then get back to us. ‘Objective evidence’ and ‘scientific method’ might help, too.

  22. This is What Happens to Science Teaching in Government Schools

    This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!

    1. Moriarty, is that you?

      1. Ha! I had to re-read that a few times, but it was worth it.

  23. Dealing with antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, for one.

    As a phrenologist, I feel it’s only fair to tell you- God wants you dead!

    He is busily building bigger, faster, stronger microbes, to make a mockery of your puny science. Kneel!

    1. Which ties in nicely with the argument:

      “I know there is a God, because He is out to get me.”

      1. This argument is put forth by the great Vin Diesel in Pitch Black.

    2. “I feel it’s only fair to tell you- God wants you dead!”

      I like that. I will remember that the next time I run into some religious person trying to sell me on this or that government scheme to make the world better.

  24. Read the comments in the original New York Times article. At least the highlighted ones. Readers of the New York Times are members of “the educated class.” They sure as hell think so themselves. And the vast majority of them see no difference whatsoever between the quality of science behind the evolution theory and AGW. This is exactly what I wrote about in my post above.

  25. I asked one of my very Christian friends if a God who could create a universe in which something as complex and miraculous as evolution could occur was any less omnipotent.

    His reply was, “That’s not what the Bible says happened.”

    I think the core issue for creationists is that some of them apparently need the Bible to be 100% literal, with no wiggle room.

    1. It also takes away the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing that God created humans as a special entity separate from the other beasts of this world.

      1. If you want to have “warm fuzzy feelings” for “the other beasts of this world”, that is your concern. Take it up with PETA.

        (Also, I suggest you check the laws in your state.)

        1. What’s the Godwin equivalent of “as the length of a thread increases, the probability that someone will bring up bestiality will approach 1.0”?

          1. prolefeed’s axiom

            1. I hope to bring up prolefeed’s axiom in a future thread. Look for it.

    2. Its the same ones who need a light on to sleep.

  26. This proposal lowers political and social conflict, and eventually those made fitter in the struggle for life by better education will win. At least that’s my theory.

    Ironically, the fundies would likely win that evolutionary battle by outbreeding everyone else.

  27. the standard of science school going down day by day.so the government should find solution for this problem as far as possible

  28. the standard of science school going down day by day.so the government should find solution for this problem as far as possible

  29. It would also slow the breeders down a bit if they had to put more thought into their child’s education.

    I had to explain basic biology to a 16 year old the other day. WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING? If anything?

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