South Dakota: America’s Dumbest State?

YOU may have already seen some articles about the latest creationism-inspired legislative fiasco — this time in South Dakota. For example, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reported From evolution to global warming? and said:

House Concurrent Resolution 1009, now under consideration in South Dakota’s legislature, borrows language from antievolution legislation in encouraging teachers to present “a balanced and objective” presentation of global warming …

Here’s a link to this legislative gem: HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 1009. We’ll excerpt a few portions for your entertainment, and add some bold font for emphasis:

WHEREAS, the earth has been cooling for the last eight years despite small increases in anthropogenic carbon dioxide; and

WHEREAS, there is no evidence of atmospheric warming in the troposphere where the majority of warming would be taking place; and

WHEREAS, historical climatological data shows without question the earth has gone through trends where the climate was much warmer than in our present age. The Climatic Optimum and Little Climatic Optimum are two examples. During the Little Climatic Optimum, Erik the Red settled Greenland where they farmed and raised dairy cattle. Today, ninety percent of Greenland is covered by massive ice sheets, in many places more than two miles thick; and

[...]

WHEREAS, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life on earth. Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as “the gas of life“;

[...]

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty-fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming include the following:

(1) That global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact;

(2) That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative; and

[...]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature urges that all instruction on the theory of global warming be appropriate to the age and academic development of the student and to the prevailing classroom circumstances.

Laughing at this over-the-top goofballism has now gone mainstream. At the website of Forbes we find South Dakota legislature declares that astrology can explain global warming. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Here in the U.S. we have a never-ending competition among the states to see which one can enact the dumbest laws. This past week, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a law that tells schoolteachers how to present the evidence for global warming. … Interestingly, they used the same strategy used by creationists in their efforts to ban the teaching of evolution: the “teach the controversy” approach, where you claim you simply want children to hear both sides of the issue. But the part that really got my attention was the law’s claim that “astrological dynamics” are one of the driving forces behind global climate change.

It seems that when creationists apply their thinking to topics other than evolution, they appear even sillier than usual. Resuming with the Forbes article:

The South Dakota bill, which was passed 36-30 (not all the legislators are idiots; here’s the roll call vote), includes a number of delightful errors, which are worth examining one by one. Let’s start with the most entertaining claim: [It's quoted above.]

Wow! The South Dakota legislature has declared, by majority vote, that the ancient pseudoscience of astrology “can effect world weather”! Astrology, of course, is a superstitious belief that the movements of stars and planets can affect our daily lives here on Earth, a belief that has no basis in science. Some people – including, apparently, the South Dakota legislature – still take it seriously, although most view astrological forecasts as light entertainment.

Let’s read on, regarding another portion of the law we already quoted:

Do the lawmakers in South Dakota really think that the enormous Greenland ice sheet formed in just the past thousand years? The best scientific evidence suggests that the ice sheet is over 100,000 years old. Maybe one of the South Dakota lawmakers is a descendant of Erik the Red, and he just wanted to mention his ancestor in the law.

We continue, as they remark about the bill’s “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant” provision:

The “gas of life” – so I guess this means it can’t possibly harm us. A stunning piece of logic. The mind boggles, the room spins about us.

Here’s more, regarding the bill’s provision that “global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact”:

This language is identical to that used by creationists in their attempts to undermine the teaching of evolution. Revealing his true agenda, Republican state representative Don Kopp said to the Rapid City (SD) Journal, “If you’re going to teach science and there are two sides, you need to teach both, or it’s about politics.”

Sorry, Mr. Kopp, but no. Any idiot can take an opposing side on any issue – some people think the Earth is flat – but that doesn’t mean we should teach it.

You get the general idea. Once again, your Curmudgeon fears that all hope is lost. But maybe not. We’ll keep doing what we do at our humble blog. Maybe things will somehow work out. If not — hey, our ancestors survived the last Dark Age. Maybe we’ll survive the next one.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “South Dakota: America’s Dumbest State?

  1. affect-effect? Faith-based word usage, as well.

  2. Astrological? Does that explain why they threw in cosmological too? Just put in all the -logical words they could think of huh?

    I guess the S.D. legislature doesn’t trust their school board much if they have to weigh in on specific items of education.

  3. Thank God for the S.D. legislature. Now we in Louisiana can rest assured that we are not the dumbest state in the Union.

  4. In case it isn’t clear, this is not a proposed statute but simply a resolution with no force of law. I’m not sure if that makes it worse or not.

  5. Biokid says: “Now we in Louisiana can rest assured that we are not the dumbest state in the Union.”

    It’s not decided yet. But you’re both in the playoffs.

  6. It’s not decided yet. But you’re both in the playoffs.

    WHO DAT?

  7. James, any bets on the sudden death playoff?

    I’m busy building a several kilometre tall ice and snow barrier between my province and North Dakota. Up here we’re afraid ND isn’t enough of a buffer to keep the stupid out. It could slither right past the Bismark.

  8. Gary points out

    In case it isn’t clear, this is not a proposed statute but simply a resolution with no force of law.

    Your tax dollars at work.

    Seriously, what is the cost of paying legislators and their administrative staffs to draft and debate ‘resolutions’ of no more value, utility or even sense than a list of ‘hopes for world peace’ as delivered by Miss World Beauty Pageant contestants?

  9. b_sharp proclaims

    I’m busy building a several kilometre tall ice and snow barrier between my province and North Dakota. Up here we’re afraid ND isn’t enough of a buffer to keep the stupid out.

    A snow barrier to keep out the tornadoes of hot air from bloviating Creationists?

    Mr Gor-b_sharp, tear down this wall!!!

  10. Great Claw says: “Mr Gor-b_sharp, tear down this wall!!!”

    Fabulous line.

  11. WHEREAS, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for all plant life on earth. Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as “the gas of life“;

    And the people of New Orleans were complaining about water!

  12. IIRC, Greenland got its name as a propaganda exercise. Erik wanted volunteers to settle it, so he gave it a nice name…but even back then the island was mostly covered in ice.

    OTOH maybe they have a point. If greenland must have been green, then legislators in ‘Pierre’ must be French.

  13. Dakota Smith

    I’m actually thrilled with this legislation .

    AGW isn’t science. Period.

    Everything about it — from its basic underpinnings to its conclusions — are nothing more than a vast array of interdependent assumptions, none of which can be proven. In fact, alter just one of its assumptions even slightly, and the entire thing falls apart like the house of cards that it is.

    No control group for any of it, it’s just that simple. No control group, no science. Period.

    And if you argue otherwise, you’re arguing against enlightenment, reason, and the scientific method itself. Period.

    Anyone who argues otherwise only displays their own utter ignorance of the scientific method.

    That understood, AGW is probably even LESS scientifically accurate than astrology or tarot cards. That’s the category in which it belongs: a nonsensical superstition that happens to have reached the cult level.

    We don’t listen to cultists who think the world will end in 2012, so why should we listen to cultists whose end of the world myth happens to devolve to, “We were mean to the Earth, and she’s not going to stand for it much longer”?

    Luddite ignorami. No school anywhere in the world should be giving more than even passing mention to this insanity.

    Oh, and yes, carbon dioxide is good. There’s ample evidence that in the distant past, when CO2 levels were considerably higher than anything we can imagine, that there was considerably more vegetation. This is hardly surprising, since CO2 is the primary requirement for photosynthesis.

    More CO2 may mean more plants. More plants means more food. More food means less starving people in the world.

    Now, that’s just a theory, mind you, with no empirical evidence — I admit it freely. But that’s more than the Cult of AGW will do.

    AGW is about to be consigned to the dustbin of history, like sacrificing a goat to Zeus for a better harvest. It’s exactly the same utter nonsense. Kudos to the SD legislature for having the cohones to speak the truth on some level.

  14. Dakota Smith says: “I’m actually thrilled with this legislation.”

    We’re all happy for you.

  15. On reflection, I’ve changed my mind.

    Mr. Gor-b_sharp, let me help you build that wall…

  16. No control group, no science.

    Which explains why astronomy is not as scientific as astrology.

    After all, nobody has built a control solar system, one without gravity, to check Newton’s explanation.

  17. TomS
    Your comment about control solar systems made me think about Dakota’s claim that we have no control planet. And then I thought of Venus.

  18. I’m not a follower of science fiction, so maybe somebody has already written this: I thought of a plot where the exploration of Venus finds evidence of a civilization, and when the writing is decoded, provides a discussion about the possibility of venusian-generated climate change.

  19. TomS says: “I’m not a follower of science fiction, so maybe somebody has already written this …”

    Undoubtedly. Besides the several magazines devoted to SF, there are probably around 1,000 book titles published each year.

  20. So according to Dakotasmith, it can only be a science with a control group. Well there goes Paleontology, since there’s not a planet of primordial ooze or something as a control group. Guess I’m wasting my time. Anyway, let me go ahead and let everyone know that there are controls for AGW models. They’re called the actual recorded temperatures. At least five different agencies have climate models with which they use to recreate those temperatures. They include things like solar variance, ocean temperatures, and as many known factors as they can to create these models. And guess what, those models work perfectly until the last five decades. After that the temps are too low for the recorded data. However, once CO2 was factored in, voila, it fits. That would be why ifs the SCIENTIFIC THEORY of Anthropomorphic Global Warming. A theory that fits the data AND is used to make reliable predictions. Pretending otherwise is to reject the Scientific Method and rational thought.

  21. Albanaeon says: “So according to Dakotasmith, it can only be a science with a control group.”

    Yes. That’s what makes creation science so scientific. You see, back during creation week there was another First Couple. Their names were Spike and Sadie. They became evolutionists, and that’s why you don’t know anything about them or their world. Which proves that everything the creationists say is true.

  22. Non-Dakota Jones

    I could not be happier that I left South Dakota after high school and never went back!!

  23. I’ve given up on building an ice wall, the hot air just keeps melting it. I’m now working on ice & toothpick bullets to pick off any creationist who attempts to blimp across the border.

    Since Dakota Smith seems so clueless and harmless, I’ll let the dogs have him. (I’d ask him why there were CO2 scrubbers on the Apollo missions but I don’t want to get too close to him, I have to stay on friendly terms with the dogs)

  24. Tundra Boy says: “I have to stay on friendly terms with the dogs”

    A bit more global warming and you won’t need sled dogs any more. Then you can eat them.