Tennessee Creationism Bill: Night and Day

We’ve been posting quite a bit about the creationism bill now pending in the Tennessee legislature. That’s because of all the similar bills that are sitting in the legislatures of other states, the one in Tennessee seems most likely to be enacted. For background, see Tennessee’s Creationism Bill: 11 Mar ’11 Update.

In that post we wrote about a column by Robin D. Zimmer, Ph.D., whose doctorate was in an unspecified field, and whose article appeared to us as if it were written by the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

There was a hearing on the bill yesterday in the legislature, and we found two very different descriptions of what happened there. Indeed, the descriptions are polar in their perceptions — like night and day The first is from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE): Opposition to antievolution bill continues in Tennessee. They say, with bold font added by us:

As a third subcommittee hearing on Tennessee’s House Bill 368 approaches, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and the executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee are expressing their opposition to the bill.

That’s impressive. NCSE also says:

Alan I. Leshner, the chief executive officer of AAAS [the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society], and executive publisher of its journal Science, explained to two of the members of the subcommittee, “There is virtually no scientific controversy among the overwhelming majority of researchers on the core facts of global warming and evolution. Asserting that there are significant scientific controversies about the overall nature of these concepts when there are none will only confuse students, not enlighten them.” He concluded, “We encourage you to continue to support a rigorous scientific education curriculum in Tennessee schools by rejecting HB 368.”

Very good. This is NCSE’s link to Leshner’s statement (2-page pdf file). The NCSE article also describes what others told the subcommittee, and it ends by saying that there will be another hearing on the bill on 16 March.

Fine, but then we found a totally different description of what’s been happening in the Tennessee legislature. At the Discoveroids’ creationism blog we read: Tennessee Academic Freedom Bill Backed by Scientists. What? It’s backed by scientists? But NCSE tells us that the bill is opposed by scientists. What’s going on?

Maybe you can figure it out, dear reader. Here are some excerpts from the Discoveroids’ post, with bold font added by us:

Tennessee House Bill 368 will move to a vote by the House General Subcommittee of Education after expert testimony from scientists and educators who expressed their concern that students need to learn more about science and develop critical thinking skills.

Among those who testified in favor of the bill were Ph.D. biologist Robin Zimmer, Executive Director of Center for Biomedical Research in Knoxville, and Harold Morrison, a recently retired biology teacher with 30 years experience teaching evolution in public school biology class.

Zimmer is a biologist? It’s time we figured out what that guy’s doctorate signifies. In our last post we gave you a link to his his Center for Faith and Science International. Let’s look again. We find lots of creationism, but no biographical information. So we turn to Google and find a reference to someone by that name who “received a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers University.” Is that our man? We can’t find anything else, except a reference to a gynecologist with the same name.

What about the only other name we were given by the Discoveroids — Harold Morrison? He also testified in favor of the creationist bill, and they describe him as a “retired biology teacher.” We can’t find anything else about him, but we can infer that he and Zimmer are the best the Discoveroids could do to make their case before that subcommittee.

So there you are, dear reader. NCSE gives us one viewpoint, and the Discoveroids give us another. Which side of this controversy do the scientists favor? It’s so difficult to figure these things out.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Tennessee Creationism Bill: Night and Day

  1. Ah, the definition of scientist stretched to the point of inaccuracy by the DI.

  2. Dang! I met Dr. Robin once upon a time, but cannot precisely remember his discipline – toxicology comes to mind.

  3. From http://www.spoke.com/info/p60UHBf/RobinZimmer
    Robin Zimmer’s Biography
    Robin D. Zimmer, PhD Vice President of Business Development Dr. Rob Zimmer focuses on business development and assists in expanding MPLN’s clinical trials testing and research services business.Dr. Zimmer was a special consultant to the US Patent and Trade Office for computational DNA sequence analysis and intellectual property. He is the former president and owner of ApoCom Genomics, one of the largest commercial providers of DNA analysis software now used by pharmaceutical and biotech researchers worldwide. A board of director for Epic Secure Solutions, Dr. Zimmer earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lycoming College, a master’s degree at Long Island University and a doctoral degree in environmental toxicology from Rutgers University. He is a former director on the Board of the Tennessee Biotechnology Association and former member of the Governor’s Task Force on Biotechnology. Zimmer also served as director of strategic planning and business development for IT Corporation and focused on the strategic expansion of the firm’s 18 analytical laboratories.

  4. This is embarrassing. Zimmer’s name is on the pathetic “dissent” list, which admits (based on comparison with “Project Steve”) that <1% of scientists, mostly non-biologists, have vague problems with "Darwinism" (whatever that is), and that only a small minority of biologists on the list (based on the results of a survey) deny common descent. And probably most of them are old-earthers.

    Morrison's name is not on the list yet, but it's a good bet that we can expect it soon, because the one thing that nearly all signatories have in common is an an extreme political objection to mainstream science.

    One of these days I expect some Discoveroid to say “You ‘Darwinists’ are right about the science, but we’re still better at fooling the masses.”