South Carolina Battle over Science Standards

There hasn’t been much creationism action in South Carolina lately, but that may be changing. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from SC senator’s Darwin skepticism halts adoption of state K-12 science standard for evolution, which appears in the The State, located in Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. The headline and the story keep changing, but we’ll go with the latest version, to which we added some bold font for emphasis:

A state senator’s skepticism about Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory held up the full adoption of South Carolina’s K-12 standards for what students learn in science class. The S.C. Education Oversight Committee — the state’s education research and accountability arm — approved most of the state’s revised science standards at its meeting Monday, sending the standard on evolution back to subcommittee for review. The standards were last updated in 2005.

One state senator’s skepticism did that? Let’s read on:

State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, objected to the proposed revision of the evolution standard, which asked students to “analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that may occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another.”

That sounds like a good version of critical thinking. What was Fair’s objection? We continue:

“There’s not but one theory coming from the principles of natural selection,” Fair said, before the committee voted to give the standard more review. “There are more than one (theory of evolution). But the one that is being taught and will continue to be taught is Darwinism,” Fair said.

Mike Fair … that name sounds familiar. Haven’t we run into him before? Yes, back in 2008 — see South Carolina — Creationism in Science Class? He was also a state Senator back then, and he submitted an Academic Freedom Bill in the South Carolina State Legislature. Casey blogged approvingly about it, so Mike Fair has been one of the Discoveroids’ useful idiots for a long time. His bill died that year, but he’s still fighting. Wikipedia has a writeup on him, Mike Fair, which says:

Fair, a conservative Christian, has been a supporter of abstinence based sex education and has proposed legislation mandating that sex education classes include information that homosexual behavior is “unnatural, unhealthy and illegal.” Fair has also been an outspoken opponent of evolution. In 2008 he introduced a bill that would have specifically allowed public school teachers to critique evolution in their classrooms.

The procedure for approving the new standards in South Carolina seems complicated, so we’re not clear on what’s supposed to happen next. Anyway, here’s one more excerpt from the news story:

The state Board of Education approved the standards at its Monday meeting, rejecting an effort to include “creation by design” as an alternative theory to how life on earth began.

So the news isn’t all bad. We’ll let you know if we learn anything more.

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11 responses to “South Carolina Battle over Science Standards

  1. In case American creacrappers become temporarily quiet again you might like this (it’s in Dutch, so I hope Google translation will work):

    http://www.oude-wereld.nl/stichting-de-oude-wereld

    So you can rest assured that Dutch can be as …… as Americans. Now why is this relevant? They send a letter to Dutch Department of Education complaining about a new biology book uses at secondary school (my colleagues biology in Suriname use the same method; it’s pretty good afaIcs). It made exactly one Dutch newspaper, a (how surprising) orthodox-protestant one:

    http://www.oude-wereld.nl/nieuws/98-persbericht-de-oude-wereld-4-2-2014-nieuwe-schoolboeken-zijn-achterhaald

    http://www.refdag.nl/nieuws/binnenland/de_oude_wereld_nieuwe_biologiemethode_nu_al_achterhaald_1_803307

    The paper was fair though and also offered the reaction of the publishers:

    http://www.refdag.nl/nieuws/binnenland/uitgevers_biologiemethode_voldoet_aan_exameneisen_1_803683

    Dutch Department of Education basically neglected the letter and so did all other media.

  2. OK, to wet your appetite I have translated two of the questions plus the answer:

    “Hebben massaslachtingen zoals in nazi-Duitsland plaatsgehad of niet?”
    Did mass slaughterings like in Nazi-Germany actually happen or not?

    “Leefde de mens samen met dinosauriërs of niet?”
    Did Homo Sapiens live with dinosaurs or not?

    “Deze antwoorden zijn alle “ja”.”
    The answers are all yes.

  3. Have you seen that Jerry Coyne won the D.I.’s “Censor of the Year” award? Those “intellectual giants” called his website (Why Evolution Is True) a blog. Jerry’s thrilled that he won.

  4. Wikipedia reports about State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville—

    Fair … has proposed legislation mandating that sex education classes include information that homosexual behavior is ‘unnatural, unhealthy and illegal.’”

    (Emphasis added.)

    State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, needs to extend his reading list beyond a single book.

  5. State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville

    Ah, yes, Greenville! Home of Bob Jones University, a.k.a. BJU.

    From the mission statement of this august body of higher education:

    Build Faith. Challenge Potential. Follow Christ.

    At Bob Jones University we inspire you as a disciple of Jesus Christ to push the limits of your own creativity, skill and faith—all for the glory of God. We infuse every course with a biblical worldview and strive to offer the best academic experience of any Christian university. Our vibrant Christian community will support you as you build your faith, challenge your potential and prepare to follow Jesus Christ.

    What about the DI’s insistence on “following the evidence”?

  6. MNb provides some interesting samples of Creacrap in Dutch:

    “Hebben massaslachtingen zoals in nazi-Duitsland plaatsgehad of niet?…Leefde de mens samen met dinosauriërs of niet?…Deze antwoorden zijn alle “ja”

    With the wonders of Google Translate, this may be rendered into Welsh:

    A oedd màs lladd fel yn Natsïaidd-Almaen mewn gwirionedd yn digwydd neu beidio?…A oedd dyn yn byw gyda deinosoriaid ai peidio?…Mae’r atebion i gyd yn ie.

    It is very clear that Dutch has a surfeit of vowels, while Welsh has a marked deficiency of the same.

    I would like to make an urgent appeal to the Netherlands to kindly make a donation from your vast trove of doubled-vowels to Wales, which has suffered a vowel-drought for centuries and whose parched language is nigh unpronounceable…

  7. As much as it chokes me to admit it, Sen. Fair’s criticism has some scientific merit: the mechanisms for evolution are not just natural selection but also mutation, migration, and genetic drift, all of which can and do change the frequency of genes in populations. Teaching about evolution – changes to life over time – should include the mechanisms that cause these changes.

  8. BJU has a massive ongoing scandal of widespread sexual assault by male authority figures. For a while they were working with a Christian organization called GRACE which specializes in religious responses to child abuse (BJU and GRACE consider college aged rape victims “children” because they’re female.) But apparently GRACE must have uncovered evidence of the men at the top doing something bad, because BJU abruptly gave them the boot, without explanation.

    BJU is what male creationist authority figures order from their female subordinates: “BJ– you!”

  9. Foe clarity, BJU gave GRACE the boot, but kept the rapists.

  10. “A state senator’s skepticism about Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory…”

    If you want to know why this is still an issue 8 years after Dover and 27 years after Edwards, that excerpt says it all.

    What that senator has is not, repeat not skepticism. It’s either “pseudoskepticism” (claiming to have “no dog in the fight,” but whining incessantly about one and merely ignoring the others), or irrational incredulity (admitting having another “dog in the fight,” but claiming victory even though his dog ran away instead of fighting).

  11. As to the answer did (or do) homo sapiens coexist with dinosaurs being yes. Close enough. If you consider crocodiles, turtles, alligators and a myriad of other reptiles dinosaurs, then yes, We still do. Bunch of animals have survived that lived millions of years ago. So yes. If you mean T Rex, Veciloraptor and ones that like. Then no.