Discovery Institute: In Full Spin Mode over Texas

YOU ALL KNOW by now that the creationism controversy in Texas is approaching a climax. As reported by the National Center for Science Education in this article: The next step in Texas:

The Texas state board of education is scheduled to hear testimony on the state’s science standards on November 19, 2008, and the treatment of evolution is likely to be a contentious issue.

“Contentious” doesn’t begin to describe the situation. At issue are the state’s education standards, which currently provide for teaching the “weaknesses” in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Don McLeroy, the creationist dentist who serves as chairman of the Texas Board of Education, was quoted by the Austin Chronicle in this article: Texas Fiction Science, discussing the alleged “weaknesses” of evolution (bold added by us):

“I don’t think the evidence supports [evolution],” said McLeroy, a self-described creationist who believes that because “science is always trying to find problems with stuff,” evolution should not be presented as absolute fact. In McLeroy’s opinion, there are three major weaknesses of evolutionary theory that schoolchildren should be made aware of. He arrived at these conclusions by “reading everything [he] could get [his] hands on” and listening to podcasts.

First weakness: the fossil record. “There are gaps,” said McLeroy, that do not include enough transitional forms of life to support evolution. Second, McLeroy says there has simply not been enough time on Earth for the minute changes required by evolution to have taken place. Thirdly, McLeroy says the incredible complexity of cells proves divine design. Information contained in the genetic code is just too mind-blowing to have come from anywhere but an intelligent creator. “Where did this information come from?” McLeroy mused. McLeroy would like to see these assertions and more taught in Texas biology classrooms.

McLeroy is the dominant intellect on the Board of Education — make of that what you will. His opinions are in stark contrast to those of the professional scientists in Texas. For example: Texas scientists overwhelmingly reject antievolution arguments.

To prepare the faithful for this holy struggle, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) have been churning out blog articles at a furious rate, aimed at providing the creationists on the Board of Education with their talking points. Here are just a few examples:

Darwinist David Hillis Recommends Imposing Dogmatism in Expert Review of Texas Science Standards (Part 1), and Darwinist Ronald Wetherington Recommend Imposing Dogmatism in Expert Review of Texas Science Standards (Part 2), and Darwinist Gerald Skoog Recommends Imposing Dogmatism in Expert Review of Texas Science Standards (Part 3).

To appreciate the titles of those articles, you should know that in Discoveroid jargon, “Darwinist” is a hate-word for someone who knows what he’s talking about and who therefore isn’t a creationist.

There were earlier Discoveroid articles on the same topic, too many to mention. Here’s the latest, from which we’ll give you a few excerpts, with bold added by us: Liberal Darwin Activists Spin Push-Poll in Attempt to Water Down Science Standards.

The liberal Darwin lobby group Texas Freedom Network has just published a push-poll of scientists titled, “Survey of Texas Faculty: Overwhelming Opposition to Watering Down Evolution in School Science Curriculum.”

[…]

What is stunning is the TFN’s jackbooted thuggery of threatening parents! Parents reading this should be enraged that liberal anti-science censors are now making veiled threats against any student that doesn’t toe the Darwin party line.

Jackbooted thuggery? Threatening parents? Well, the Texas Freedom Network did say that if kids don’t get a good science education, they’ll have trouble getting into good colleges. It’s all in the spin.

We read on, as the Discoveroid article criticizes the TFN’s poll results:

The report highlights five key findings from the survey:

1. Texas scientists (97.7 percent) overwhelmingly reject “intelligent design” as valid science.

Misleading: Intelligent design has nothing to do with the current discussion of proposed science standards.

Right! A fine example of creationist integrity. One more excerpt:

The TFN [the pro-science Texas Freedom Network] is trying to gut the TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills], in order to advance their own political agenda in the classroom. The current standards with the strengths and weaknesses language have been successfully in place for the past decade, and there’s no good scientific or educational reason to remove that language.

You’ve seen McLeroy’s list of “weaknesses,” so decide for yourself, dear reader. To us, this deluge the Discoveroids are spewing out is nothing but prattle from Seattle, to rouse the cattle for battle.

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17 responses to “Discovery Institute: In Full Spin Mode over Texas

  1. In McLeroy’s opinion, there are three major weaknesses of evolutionary theory that schoolchildren should be made aware of. He arrived at these conclusions by “reading everything [he] could get [his] hands on” and listening to podcasts.

    Whoa, he’s using the intellectual Mother of all Unrefutable Arguments:

    argumentum ad podcastium!

    That will surely smite all the Satanic Evil-ootionists dead in their tracks!

    😉

  2. whoa – lets not put too much faith in teachers opinions on anything. they are union members in the first place a very politically correct union at that. and in the second is it not so that most teachers themselves barely got C’s in the courses they teach ?

    one more thing – respectfully – why are we afraid to allow dissenting views based on good science (ie that catatrophism is much more consistent with the fossil and biological record than gradualism – thusly also potentially consistent with creationism?) seems pretty Inquistion like to me.

    this thought from Ken Ham (ICR) “Science is a collection of knowledge gained by man’s observation of the physical world using one or more of his 5 senses(taste,touch,sight, sound,smell) and you can repeat you experiments.”

    same thing I learned in my days in public school.

    here’s the issue – you can’t scientifically test the past. also even if one could recreate the BIG BANG we’d all be gone so who’d write down the results.

    Point is dealing with the past and origins is always a religious belief issue. at the very least it’s speculative metaphysics.

    seen latest news? dinosaurs had feathers. gotta redo all those old monster movies and figurines I’m afraid.

  3. “here’s the issue – you can’t scientifically test the past.”

    There’s a big hole in the ground near Winslow, Arizona. There’s a picture of it here:
    http://www.meteorcrater.com/index.php

    What do you make of it? More importantly, what would Ken Ham make of it?

  4. “why are we afraid to allow dissenting views based on good science”

    We’re not. Read a science journal lately? Of course, there are those disreputable folks who’d rather push so-called ‘controversy’ on unsuspecting kids because those folks don’t have the cajones to subject their data to peer review. You wouldn’t be one of those con artists, now would you?

    “whoa – lets not put too much faith in teachers opinions on anything. they are union members in the first place a very politically correct union at that. and in the second is it not so that most teachers themselves barely got C’s in the courses they teach”

    Oh, heavens, no, we can’t seek a teacher’s opinion on anything. After all, anyone who ever attended school is an expert on education, right? [/sarcasm]

    Got evidence for your last statement? Most colleges require only a 2.0 for graduation, but prospective teachers must have at least a 2.75 – 3.00 before they’re allowed to student teach.

    This physics teacher/member of Sigma Pi Sigma begs you to beware of generalizations.

  5. . . . and in most states, teachers are required to have a 3.0 in their subject matter before they can be certified to teach that subject.

  6. Aauurrgghh!! …

    “here’s the issue – you can’t scientifically test the past.”

    Is there any evidence that your Great Grandmother gave birth to your Grandmother?

    Can she do that again?

    Is there anyone alive today that saw your Grandmother born?

    How do we know it happened??

    Can you prove it??

    … end sarcasm.

  7. “This physics teacher …”

    Cheryl, you can teach physics, but … can you teach the controversy?

  8. Ah well all points taken though not agreed with. You actually can not scientifically test the past and this indeed as noted by the responses is alas where creationists and evolutionist lose each other in discussion.

    Science must be OBSERVABLE AND REPEATABLE. While evidence from the past (ie meteor crators) IS here, how they got here is ultimately in question. True we can extrapolate observations from the current into the past and build models based on assumptions made still one cannot observe or repeat the past and this is not an intellectual argument but a statement on the limits(gasp limits?) of science.

    Were not the poles in different alignments, the atmospheric pressure different, the suns radiation emitted variable, CO2 content of the atmosphere ever changing, climate different?do not these variables not affect geological and biological processes?

    Oh and if the present is indeed the key to the past why then is it that biology is always the exception. We know this is how things worked in the past cause that’s how they work today? Ok then basez on this – since no biological eveolution as it were occurs today, (species being destroyed at an alarming rate in fact)why is it that in this realm of science alone things must have acted differently in the past and in favor of evolution?A little constiency would be nice.

  9. I just stumbled upon this sight and I find it fascinating. I think that it is refreshing to have a anti-creationist view that does not come from the left. I believe in God because of seince, not inspite of sceince. I do think that evolution should be taught in schools and the people who deny it just look like fools. But, I also think that the possibility of an “intelligent designer” (I’ll call Him God) should be absolutly ruled out. It is possible. I don’t know why people think that everything associated with God must be supernatural. If God created nature, why wouldn’t he use it? I also think that the Bible should be taught in school- in World History. You cannot deny that the bible is a history book, if nothing else.

  10. “I think that it is refreshing to have a anti-creationist view that does not come from the left.”

    Welcome aboard, adw. Politics is one thing, science is another. But they both ought to be based on reality. I’m not alone with my views, it just seems like that sometimes.

  11. What do you think about vouchers for schools? Wouldn’t that solve everyones problems? If there is a market out there to teach creationism, then parents who want their kids to learn it can send their kids to that school.

  12. I haven’t spent much time thinking about vouchers, so I don’t have an informed opinion. There are so many problems with the existing system that I don’t think there’s one solution to everything.

  13. “you can teach physics, but … can you teach the controversy?”

    Check out the Wedge document again when you get a chance. The DI is just using biology as the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ to re-create *all* science in their image.

    When the creationists banned evolution from the KS science standards in 1999, they also eliminated the history of the earth and the history of the universe.

    So, yeah, a big part of my job entails teaching why radioactive decay is such a useful clock, and why particle physics research at the Large Hadron Collider is expected to open up the door to more insights about Big Bang theory.

    But the *most* important part of the curriculum is teaching them how to tell science from nonsense.

  14. “Check out the Wedge document again when you get a chance. The DI is just using biology as the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ to re-create *all* science in their image.”

    I’ve long been aware of the Wedge Document, and I know that biology is just the first step. I wish more people understood what’s going on.

  15. mightyfrijoles

    ADW said “If there is a market out there to teach creationism, then parents who want their kids to learn it can send their kids to that school.”

    That exists now with the private religious schools and has little to do with vouchers (which I personally approve of in concept). However, those religious schools then want their states to acknowledge their “alternative theories” when it comes to University admissions and placement exams. They tried that ruse in California and got slapped hard. If you want a scientifically-illiterate kid, that’s your decision, but don’t expect the Universities or real world to roll over and “accommodate” his/her lack of knowledge in state of the art fields. If you want your kid to be a Bible College Professor – go for it.

    There is no equal time between science and those who wish to destroy it.

  16. retiredsciguy

    “There is no equal time between science and those who wish to destroy it.”

    Well-said, Mightfrijoles!

  17. mightyfrijoles

    Every once in awhile, I can’t help it.