Kentucky: Trouble over Science Standards

The last time we wrote about Kentucky was back in December: Kentucky, Darwin, Pluto, and Uranus. That was about Hart County school superintendent Ricky Line. He didn’t like evolution. He didn’t like the Big Bang, and he didn’t like scientists — because they had recently changed their minds about whether Pluto was a planet. Well, good ol’ Ricky is back in the news.

We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from GOP lawmakers question standards for teaching evolution in Kentucky, which appears in the Lexington Herald-Leader located in Lexington, Kentucky — the second-largest city in that state, and known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” The bold font was added by us:

Kentucky’s Senate Republicans pushed successfully in 2009 to tie the state’s testing program to national education standards, but three years later, they’re questioning the results. Several GOP lawmakers questioned new proposed student standards and tests that delve deeply into biological evolution during a Monday meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education.

The proposed standards “delve deeply” into evolution. Let’s read on:

“I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution,” Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Tuesday in an interview.

And so another creationist genius comes to our attention. Here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Senator David Givens (R). This is his campaign website. Back to the news story:

Givens said he and other legislators have been contacted by a number of educators with concerns about Kentucky’s proposed new science standards, which are tied to ACT testing and are scheduled to be adopted this fall. [ACT is the company that prepares Kentucky's new state testing program.]

“I think we are very committed to being able to take Kentucky students and put them on a report card beside students across the nation,” Givens said. “We’re simply saying to the ACT people we don’t want what is a theory to be taught as a fact in such a way it may damage students’ ability to do critical thinking.”

Givens is concerned that learning science will damage the kids’ ability to think. The story continues:

Another committee member, Rep. Ben Waide, R-Madisonville, said he had a problem with evolution being an important part of biology standards.

“The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up,” Waide said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.

Yet another creationist genius rises from obscurity. Here’s his page at the legislature’s website: Representative Ben Waide (R). And this looks like his own website.

The newspaper also spoke with Ricky Line, the guy we wrote about last year:

“When it says evolution as if there is no other option, then over time our students are going to assume that is the only option when there are other options out there,” Line said.

There’s much more to the news story. They even talked to people who were in favor of the pro-evolution standards. But at this point, it looks to us as if there’s trouble brewing in ol’ Kentucky. Those fancy new science standards won’t get adopted without a fight.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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20 responses to “Kentucky: Trouble over Science Standards

  1. You know it’s bad when you have to embolden the entire quote you know it’s bad.

  2. My quick, informal check of the comments puts it about 4/5 pro-evolution, and 1/5 pro-ignorance.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    I repaste this bit just for the sheer joy of re-reading the stupidity of Waide:

    “The theory of evolution is a theory, and essentially the theory of evolution is not science — Darwin made it up,” Waide said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

    This reminds me of how geeks must feel when called to testify to congress and explain at a second-grade level how the internet works (and the congressmen still don’t get it).

  4. Indeed, truely sad, but Republicans seem to display as well as admire this mental illness, this lack of rationality, that seems to permeate through their little brains.

  5. “Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

    Says who? The overwhelming majority of scientists or a bunch of under educated religious crack pots?

  6. “Bishop” Eddie Long said the same g.d. things.

    When I hear male authority figures say these things, I wonder: how long before these guys are found in bed with a 15-year-old full of quaaludes?

  7. Another Republican legislator has expressed similar opinions. State Rep. Bubba Joe Choirhumper (R-Lexington) has taken on the scientific establishment:

    “The theory of gravity is a theory, and essentially the theory of gravity is not science — Newton made it up,” Choirhumper said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of gravity has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

    Not only that, but State Rep. Billy Joe Klancracker (R-Hart County) has another objection.

    “The theory of germs is a theory, and essentially the theory of germs is not science — Pasteur made it up,” Klancracker said. “My objection is they should ensure whatever scientific material is being put forth as a standard should at least stand up to scientific method. Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of germs has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

  8. retiredsciguy

    Rep. Ben Waide bloviates, “Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

    Where are the educated minds in Kentucky who will challenge Rep. Waide to provide his source for this tidbit of stupidity? The University of Kentucky is a fine academic institution; surely there is a professor who will enlighten Rep. Waide. What a doofus!

  9. @DavidK – If you think this is a republican only viewpoint, you obviously do not live near Chicago. We have a lot of whacky creationists and very nearly zero republicans. In fact I work with a gentleman who is working toward becoming a deacon at Pres. Obamas church and lucky me, I get to hear about it all the time.
    Chicago hasn’t had a republican mayor since William Hale Thompson 1915-1923. Even now we only have token republican candidates.

  10. “I would hope that creationism is presented as a theory in the classroom, in a science classroom, alongside evolution,” Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said Tuesday in an interview.

    Lemme guess. No one has yet said “Well, Sen. Givens, you need to take your complaint to the Discovery Institute, because they insist that they do not want ‘creationism’ taught in the classroom.”

    If not, feel free to be the first. Of course you’ll know what Givens doesn’t, or pretends not to, which is that the DI will not dare teach what most people identify as “creationism” because students might discover where the real weaknesses are. So the DI just demands that students learn long-refuted “weaknesses” of evolution. With the refutations censored, of course.

  11. @PaulS -
    Does Chicago have a voucher program for creationist madrassas?

    When the Democratic party in Illinois or elsewhere starts demanding taxpayer-funded vouchers for creationist madrassas, that’s when I’ll start to believe both parties are equally dominated by anti-rationalists.

  12. Lemme guess. No one has yet said “Well, Sen. Givens, you need to take your complaint to the Discovery Institute…

    Please don’t! Givens is the best sort of opponent we could ask for. Let him speak his mind on creationism without being advised by others – it can only help.

  13. @Diogenes –
    You mean something like this?

    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2010/04/19/chicago-school-vouchers-plan-moves-forward-in-legislature

    It’s been a topic here for a long time.

  14. “Under the most rudimentary, basic scientific examination, the theory of evolution has never stood up to scientific scrutiny.“

    Says who?

    Ben Waide is a physical therapist and, therefore, under standard creationist credential inflation, “a health care professional specializing in anatomy”.

  15. retiredsciguy

    Givens and Waide are the Florida Republican counterparts of Joe Biden when it comes to shooting from the lip.

  16. 1. eric: “Please don’t! Givens is the best sort of opponent we could ask for. Let him speak his mind on creationism without being advised by others – it can only help.”

    He has already spoken his mind and said exactly what the Discoveroids don’t want him to say. So we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by putting him and the Discoveroids on the spot. If he insists on using his language, he is honestly deluded, and will keep being a thorn in the DI’s side. But if he backpedals into Discoveroid language, he is almost certainly in on the scam. Either way we will have a net win with the fence-sitters.

  17. @eric:

    Recall Buckingham and Bonsell who are on record as backpedaling after DI “advice”. Judge Jones even considered nailing them for perjury.

  18. @Paul S-

    Thanks for the link, but this is what it says:

    A quick vote could conceivably move it [voucher bill] to the House floor, where support among Democrats—who are split over the proposal—may well add to the traditional Republican backing for vouchers and seal a victory for Meeks…

    Rep. Roger Eddy, a school administrator in Hutsonville and one of the few Republicans opposed to vouchers, says momentum is clearly building.

  19. @Diogenes -
    Maybe I didn’t express myself clearly. I wasn’t saying that republicans don’t promote this kind a legislature, because they do, only that it is promoted in the Chicago area by democrats as well because that’s basically all we have. The bill sponsored by Meeks D-Chicago was shot down in 2010 by democrat and republican alike. As I recall, it was an odd vote because the inner city democrats from Chicago and East St. Louis along with suburban Chicago republicans both voted for the bill which doesn’t happen often. I’m not sure how familiar you are with Illinois politics, but it is a mostly republican state by area, and democrat by population. Chicago and the outlying metro area is decidedly democrat while there are several pockets of republicans thoughout the state in smaller communities.
    A quick Google search shows Illinois population around 12.8M, Chicago 2.7M, and if you include the metro area, that increases to 9.7M. Illinois politics at the state level is divided into Chicagoans and “down-staters”, meaning anyone not from metro Chicago regardless of location, and the division is nearly as rigid as democrat/republican.

  20. Paul S: “I wasn’t saying that republicans don’t promote this kind a legislature, because they do, only that it is promoted in the Chicago area by democrats as well because that’s basically all we have.”

    As you probably know the latest Gallup poll of the general public shows that 41% of Democrats (& 58% of Republicans) choose the “humans created in their present form in the last 10,000 years” option. Since politicians are no more science literate than their voters, it’s reasonable to conclude that many Democrat politicians are private evolution-deniers, who only defer to mainstream science because they think it would win votes. Conversely, many Republican politicians who personally have no problem with evolution likely fake their denial because they think it wins votes. But as you note, many Democrat politicians are passionate enough about their anti-science agenda that they risk losing votes. My own rough survey a few years ago (from NCSE data) was that, nationwide, the politicians who introduced anti-evolution legislation were ~20% Democrats.