Texas Creationism Update (19 Jan 2009)

BACKGROUND: The Texas Board of Education (BOE), which is dominated by creationists, is currently deciding whether it should keep the anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly “strengths and weaknesses” language in the state’s current standards for science education. They’ve had one hearing on this, and a second hearing is scheduled for January 21.

In the Austin American-Statesman we read State ed board to vote on evolution instruction, subtitled: “Public hearing on hot topic planned for Wednesday.” Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

As recently as November, the panel of experts was effectively trying to reintroduce the requirement to teach the weaknesses of scientific theories by mandating that students “analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations” of scientific explanations.

Yes, “panel of experts.” Imagine, dear reader, a bureaucracy so incompetent that it’s struggling to decide whether state schools should teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of the history that we landed men on the moon. To help with this terribly confusing matter, the bureaucrats convene a “panel of experts” that is evenly divided — half are astronauts who have been to the moon and the other half are moon-landing denialists. That’s a good analogy to what’s going on in Texas regarding evolution.

Let’s read some more:

The expert panel, appointed in October, included one of the leading proponents of intelligent design, which holds that the origins of the universe stem from a higher power, and two scientists who have said they have doubts about the theory of evolution.

That “leading proponent of intelligent design” is probably Stephen C. Meyer, whom we’ve discussed here: Texas Creationism — Boycott Brewing? As we said, the equivalent of moon-landing denialists. We continue:

“Scientific theories do not have weaknesses, and high school students do not have the skills to critique theories; they need to learn them,” Schafersman said of the potential change to the curriculum. “The word ‘weaknesses’ has been removed because it’s very limited in that context. The scientific theory of evolution is complete.”

The article is quoting Steve Schafersman, president of Texas Citizens for Science and described in the article as “a curriculum expert who is part of a separate group responsible for writing the earth and space science standards for the state.” Moving along:

But Ken Mercer, a member of the State Board of Education, says that excluding the phrase about strengths and weaknesses “raises a huge red flag about academic freedom and freedom of speech” by essentially telling students that they are not qualified to ask questions about scientific theories, he said.

Words fail us when it comes to that guy. We’ve written about him here: Texas Creationism: Meet Ken Mercer, in which this brilliant Texan was quoted as criticizing evolution by asking: “… have you ever seen a dog-cat, or a cat-rat?”

On with the article:

The board will hear testimony Wednesday, vote Thursday and prepare a final vote on the recommendations Friday, Schafersman said.

That’s confusing. We knew the hearing was Wednesday, but we thought the final decision wouldn’t be until March. Well, it doesn’t matter when, because we’re fairly confident in predicting what will happen. The BOE, chaired by Don McLeroy, a creationist dentist, and comprised of other intellects like Ken Mercer, would probably vote to authorize witch trials if they thought they had the power.

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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