Barbara Forrest Eviscerates Casey

There isn’t much we can say about this except that you’ve got to read the latest post by a Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, and a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Actually, our title isn’t entirely accurate. Barbara not only disembowels Casey (and all the Discoveroids), she does the same to the stalwarts of the creationist movement in Louisiana — especially the Louisiana Family Forum and its co-founder, Darrell White. (We didn’t know that White is a lifetime member of Answers in Genesis’s Creation Museum.) Her exposé also deals with creationist “historian” David Barton.

Here it is: Bogus Louisiana Teacher Survey Used to Support Central Community School System Creationism Policy — and Discovery Institute’s Academic Freedom Laws.

Barbara’s blockbuster post is all about a phoney teachers’ survey purporting to show that Louisiana teachers are “intimidated into silence when covering controversial scientific topics.” That survey was the basis for passing the infamous Louisiana Science Education Act and a similar law in Tennessee.

In actuality, those who responded to the survey were only about one-half of one percent (.0058) of the roughly 48,000 public school teachers in Louisiana. Those who indicated (in a loaded question) that they felt “intimidated” about teaching the alleged controversy over evolution were only two-tenths of one percent (.002) of the public school teachers in the entire state.

Here’s one little excerpt to give you a hint of what awaits you when you read Barbara’s article:

Casey Luskin, a DI [Discovery Institute] staffer who — as his DI bio informs us — is also “an attorney with graduate degrees in both science and law,” has incorrectly cited misleading statistics from a seven-year-old, bogus teacher opinion survey to support the need for the creationist academic freedom laws that DI is peddling around the country.

As always, Barbara is in full command of the facts and she links to even more. Her attention to detail is meticulous. Her scholarship is outstanding. She’s a national treasure! You’ve got to click over to her website and read her post. It’s a vital resource to be used when that same survey is cited in support of creationist legislation in your state.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Barbara Forrest Eviscerates Casey

  1. Why are we not surprised. Casey Lusking has been shown to be a liar over and over again, but that’s typical of the Dishonesty Institute’s fellows.

  2. Charley Horse

    Shouldn’t the survey have asked who the teachers were
    being intimidated by? Why assume that the few who
    say they felt intimidated were pro teaching against the facts
    of evolution?

    It is my opinion that the fundie Xian lobbyists, school boards and
    La. governor are the ones intimidating/ threatening.

  3. Biology teachers should teach only Darwin’s model of evolution, and the scientific evidence that supports it.

    Darwin’s model of evolution is now only of historical interest. He knew nothing of genetics, he supported lamarckian processes along with natural selection, etc.

  4. Completely eviscerated. A survey response rate less than 5% is worse than miserable, and an indication that very few have any interest in the survey to start with.

  5. TomS: “Darwin’s model of evolution is now only of historical interest…:

    Baiting the quote-miners? :-)

    I see 2 ironies. One is that what the scam artists call the “Darwin lobby” are the ones who really want students to critically analyze evolution, e.g, learn that it’s a fact and a theory, not to confuse the 2, or confuse either the the fact and the (yet-nonexistent) theory of abiogenesis. Wheres the scam artists say as little as possible about any alternate “theory” precisely so that students don’t see it’s fatal weaknesses.

    The other irony is that if all teachers were polled, the % that clained to be intimidated would undoubtedly be higher, because it’s the teachers who want to teach evolution correclly and thoroughly – real critical analysis and all – who are pressured into watering it down and omitting topics that offend deniers.

    BTW, do we know that that 5% response rate is real? Or could it be selected from a higher response rate because too many answers were not what they wanted?

  6. @FrankJ: The whole thing could be made up, but if they were going to lie about it, they might as well have made it seem useful. I’m willing to attribute this one to incompetence, rather than than malice.

    While I am at it, pie-charts like those presented in the survey are a really bad way to present information. Three-dimensional pie-charts are worse by an order of magnitude.

  7. Tomato Addict: I agree with the comment about pie-charts. Despite very wide use, pie-charts are about the worst way to presnt information.. Humans find it much more difficult to interpret angular information than say the difference in height of vertcal bar graphs or in difference among horizontal bar lengths.

  8. I like pie!

  9. doodlebugger

    What kind of pie are we talkin here fellas?

  10. Retired Prof

    What kind of pie?

    I’m guessing pecan. Making it required many nuts.

  11. Jim Thomerson

    Supposing a random sample, and unbiased questions, isn’t the accuracy of a poll dependent on the number of individuals polled rather than the percent of the population polled? No political poll I have seen includes more than maybe 1500 respondents, and many less than that. Most claim an error range in the +-2% to 4% range, depending on number polled.

  12. @Jim Thomerson
    You are correct; the margin of error depends on the sample size, not on the percentage of the population sampled. For a yes-no type question (Republican or Democrat? Mac or Windows? etc.), with roughly equal percentages (say, no more than a 60-40 split), a sample size of between 1,000 and 1,100 will give you a 95% confidence interval of plus or minus 3%, which is why reputable national polls usually have about 1,050 respondants.

  13. So the “survey” by an anti-gay teachers org says 55% were “not intimidated”, and Luskin says 55% were intimidated. Thus, ID mandatory. Lying little weasel.

  14. @JT The margin of error here would be about 7-8%, assuming they had a true random sample of the population. The problem is you cannot really get a true random sample in a survey like this, because people are more or less likely to respond to a voluntary survey depending on their views. We don’t know how strong this bias might be, but the volunteer bias tends to be related to people’s feeling on a topic. When the response rate is very low, it is increasing likely that the volunteer bias can strongly skew the results.

    There are statistical methods that can be used to help control for known influences on the response rate, and the big political polling firms use these to improve their results. Even then there can be significant biases between the methods used by different polling companies (bias isn’t always a bad thing, and consistency of methods is crucial). Nate Silver of the 538 blog often writes about this sort of thing.