Computer Catastrophe — Free Fire Zone

This doesn’t make any sense, but it’s what we’re dealing with. We can’t scroll. We can’t do much of anything. We changed one mouse for another. No results. We changed batteries. No results. So all we can do is blunder around. We can’t do searches, so we can’t find stuff to blog about.

We have some computer geeks who can get things going again, but until they do what only they know how to do, we can’t do much blogging.

Therefore we’re declaring another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. Wanna talk about the British monarchy? The Chinese balloon? US politics? Something else? Go right ahead!

You know the rules. Feel free to use the comments for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

A Trip with AIG to the Galápagos Islands

This is so exciting! We found it at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo’s post is titled Explore the Galápagos Islands with Answers in Genesis!, and it was written by Hambo himself. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

What comes to mind when you think of “the trip of a lifetime”? How about an epic adventure to a beautiful and remote corner of God’s creation — a string of islands rising out of the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador? Yes, I’m talking about the islands made famous by Charles Darwin — the Galápagos Islands — and you can join Answers in Genesis to discover them through the lens of a biblical worldview!

Ooooooooooooh! A trip to the Galápagos Islands — with Answers in Genesis! You’re not dreaming, dear reader. This is an actual post from ol’ Hambo! Let’s keep reading. Hambo says:

When people think of the Galápagos Islands, most immediately picture Charles Darwin (along with giant tortoises — and, yes, you get to see giant tortoises on the trip!). After all, Darwin made this isolated archipelago famous with his ideas about natural selection and the supposed evolution of “Darwin’s finches.”

Why in the world would ol’ Hambo be promoting a trip to such a place? He tells us:

But these islands are far from the “laboratory of evolution” that so many scientists consider them to be. Rather, they’re a tremendous confirmation of the biblical worldview and created kinds!

Aaaargh!! Can that be possible? Hambo continues:

Discover the truth about the Galápagos Islands for yourself as you snorkel in crystal-clear waters among creatures as diverse as sea turtles, penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, reef sharks, rays, and a whole host of reef fish. You can also see giant (and we do mean giant) tortoises, birdwatch for exotic species, explore 1,200 species within the orchid kind in an orchidarium, and so much more.

Wowie — you can discover The Truth for yourself! Let’s read on:

During this guided trip, in partnership with Living and Learning [Whoever they are!], you’ll learn from Answers in Genesis’ Dr. Jennifer Rivera and Jessica Jaworski, along with Galápagos botanical expert Vivian Rivera. It’s an exciting time of adventuring and learning in the most incredible classroom of all — God’s creation!

If the guides are all people who work for or who were chosen by Hambo, then how can you go wrong? Another excerpt:

“Explore the Galápagos Islands” next year is taking place May 28 – June 7, 2024, and registration is coming soon. Find all the details, including the trip itinerary, on our event page.

Wowie — a ticket costs only $5,999. And now we come to the end:

Space is limited, so if this trip grabs your interest [How could it not?], be sure to stay tuned and secure your place as soon as registration opens. What a unique opportunity!

You don’t want to miss this one, dear reader. And when you go, tell ’em the Curmudgeon sent ya!

Copyright © 2023. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

More Crazy Legislation — This Time in Texas

It’s amazing, but once again our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have posted another wild news item. It’s titled “Strengths and weaknesses” bill in Texas, and it was written by Glenn Branch, their Deputy Director. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look like this]:

Texas’s House Bill 1804 would, if enacted, amend the state education code to require that instructional material adopted by the state board of education “present a scientific theory in an objective educational manner that: (i) clearly distinguishes the theory from fact; and (ii) includes evidence for both the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory.”

Ah yes, another Texas bill about evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses.” It’s been a while — 14 years! — since we blogged about that flaming nonsense — see Texas Creationism: Strengths and Weaknesses. Let’s see what Glenn says about the new Texas bill:

Clause (i) appears to reflect a common misconception about facts and theories. “In scientific terms, ‘theory’ does not mean ‘guess’ or ‘hunch’ as it does in everyday usage,” as the National Academy of Science explained in its publication Science and Creationism, second edition (1999). “Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses. Biological evolution is the best scientific explanation we have for the enormous range of observations about the living world. … [S]cientists can also use [“fact”] to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact.”

Well, Texas is a little bit behind in such matters — at least that’s true of some of its legislators. Glenn tells us:

Clause (ii) betrays the intention of the bill. As The New York Times editorialized of the phrase “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” in 2008, “This is code for teaching creationism.” Employed by proponents of “creation science” and “intelligent design” alike, the phrase appears in antievolution laws enacted in Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012.

Glenn continue with some more history:

In 2017, Texas’s House Bill 1485 would ostensibly have provided Texas science teachers with the academic freedom to teach “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of scientific theories discussed in the state science standards; after receiving a public hearing, during which a member of the state board of education testified that the bill would allow the teaching of creationism, the bill died in committee, as NCSE previously reported.

We wrote about that one — see Texas Creationism Bill for 2017, and More. Ya gotta give those Texans credit for perseverance! And now we come to the end:

House Bill 1804 was introduced on January 30, 2023, by Terri Leo-Wilson (R-District 23). Before her election to the legislature, Leo-Wilson served (as Terri Leo) for three terms on the state board of education [Hee hee!], where she continually sought to undermine the treatment of evolution in the state science standards and in textbooks submitted for state adoption.

This one should be fun, so stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2023. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

Crazy Science Legislation Proposed in Montana

Once again, our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have posted another glorious news item. It’s titled A draft antiscience bill in Montana, and it was written by Glenn Branch, their Deputy Director. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A draft bill in the Montana legislature would cripple science education in the state by excluding anything but “scientific fact” from curriculum and instruction.

We’re not quite sure what a “draft bill” is, but if it’s filed in the legislature, we have to pay attention to it. Glenn says:

In its current form, LC2215 declares, “the purpose of K-12 education is to educate children in the facts of our world to better prepare them for their future and further education in their chosen field of study, and to that end children must know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory; and … a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation and is for higher education to explore, debate, and test to ultimately reach a scientific conclusion of fact or fiction.”

This brilliant piece of legislation sounds like it came from that old TV show: ‘Dragnet,’ where Sgt. Joe Friday frequently implored female informants to provide “Just the facts, ma’am.” Anyway, NCSE tells us:

The bill then provides, “Science instruction may not include subject matter that is not scientific fact.” The state board of public education, the state superintendent of public instruction, and the trustees of local school districts would be charged with ensuring that state education standards, science curriculum guides, and science curriculum and instructional materials, including textbooks, include only scientific fact. “Scientific fact” is defined as “an indisputable and repeatable observation of a natural phenomenon.”

That would make science class rather simple. Even a Montana legislator should be able to get a passing grade. Glenn continues:

LC2215’s presumption that only facts are important in science education conflicts with the views of professional associations of science educators. The National Science Teaching Association’s position statement on the nature of science, for example, states that “[a] primary goal of science is the formation of theories” and endorses the importance of the eight principles of the nature of science described in Appendix H (PDF) of the Next Generation Science Standards, which include “Scientific Models, Laws, Mechanisms, and Theories Explain Natural Phenomena.”

Yeah, well, what do those fancy-pants science educators know? Kids in Montana should learn just the facts! Let’s read on:

Montana’s present state science standards, adopted in 2016, are based on but diverge from the performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards. The only two theories described as such are the Big Bang theory and the theory of plate tectonics (both in Earth and Space Science for grades 9 to 12), but the standards are permeated by implicit references to scientific theories, none of which are characterized as speculative. There are abundant references to scientific models, mechanisms, and laws as well as theories.

This proposed new law will put an end to that nonsense! Here’s the rest of NCSE’s post:

LC2215 was drafted at the behest of Daniel Emrich (R-District 11), a new member of the Montana state senate; it has not yet been introduced as a bill.

Ah, so that’s what a “draft bill” is. Well, why doesn’t Danny Emrich make up his mind? Either introduce the bill or trash the thing!

You’re probably wondering who this Danny Emrich guy is. We Googled around and can’t find out much about him. All we can do is judge him by his work — which tells us he’s an idiot. So what will become of his brilliant piece of legislation? Stay tuned to this blog!

Copyright © 2023. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.