Louisiana Creationism: Forrest v. Passman

You know all about the recently-failed attempt to repeal the infamous Louisiana Science Education Act (the “LSEA”), which the legislature passed almost unanimously in 2008.

If you need background, see Louisiana Creationism Repeal: Hearing Tomorrow, and also our Hearing Report (in which we said the “wildest witness of all was some woman who home-schools her kids”), and finally The Full Story, which has links to videos of the hearing.

That “wild witness” we spoke of was Suzanne Passman, and as was reported in The Advocate, she was scheduled to have a debate on the subject today at the Press Club of Baton Rouge. Her debate opponent is none other than Barbara Forrest, philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, co-author of Creationism’s Trojan Horse, a founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science, and a star witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

We wish we could find a video of the event, but we can’t — not yet. If something turns up latter, we’ll add it to this post. At the moment, we can’t even find a newspaper account of the debate. When something shows up, we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, what we have is a video of Passman’s testimony before the Senate Education Committee. It’s really outrageous stuff — full-blown, hard-core creationism — which is why we’re anxious to learn about today’s debate. But for now, this will have to do:

Update: We have some news in The Advocate of Baton Rouge.: Science law debated during forum. Some excerpts:

… Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, called the law an embarrassment to the state. “It makes us look like idiots down here,” said Forrest, who is co-founder of the Louisiana Coalition for Science.

Forrest said the measure only won approval because it was pushed by the Louisiana Family Forum, which she said is likely the most influential social issues lobby group at the State Capitol.


Passmann said the issue is gaining traction nationwide.

If we find more we’ll let you know.

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19 responses to “Louisiana Creationism: Forrest v. Passman

  1. Ceteris Paribus

    Nice performance. Really happy she didn’t stab herself in the foot during the show. If home-schoolers would allow Dr. Seuss books into their curriculum, this lady could put on a great performance of the Lorax, or the Cat in the Hat for the pre-readers. Or even the Louisiana Legislature. But I repeat myself

  2. Christine Janis

    Fish, amphibians and reptiles in the Cambrian explosion? Oh my.

  3. David E. Levin

    What an idiot! Darwin promoted the idea of evolution by acquired characteristics!?

  4. What is going on?!? Why are these Gish Gallopers going unchallenged? This woman knows how to speak without breathing and very little else. However, without a sound rebuttal, “historical science” will seem plausible enough to continue teaching the controversy.


  6. Barbara Forrest is going to annhilate her.

  7. Stan Baskem: “What is going on?!? Why are these Gish Gallopers going unchallenged?”

    Even when they are challenged, the opponent too often lets the pseudoscience peddler (in this case probably just a trained parrot of the scam artists) set the terms of the “debate.” Namely keeping in on bogus “weaknesses” of evolution instead of the fatal weaknesses and mutual contradictions within “creationism.”

    Adrian: “Barbara Forrest is going to annhilate her.”

    But in whose eyes? To anyone who values both science and “thou shalt not bear false witness” she has annihilated herself already. If Barbara Forrest refuses to let her whine about “Darwinism” and forces her to discuss the whats, whens and hows of her own “theory” and support them on their own merits, not the same old long-refuted misreprsentations of “Darwinism,” then she might win over a few fence-sitters.

  8. Found one news story. It’s added at the end of the post.

  9. Suzanne Passman is really not the biggest problem here. As Frank J points out, anyone with half a brain knows there’s a… problem… with her teaching credentials. (If you don’t believe me, skip to 2:45 in the video and listen as she pronounces “construed” as “construded”.) (Pause for another Tylenol.) The bigger problem is the man sitting on “Construded” Passman’s right, Gene Mills. Go to the full video and listen to him as he presents in favor of the LSEA. He’s smoother than 200 proof moonshine and slicker than whale poo on an ice flow. He’s articulate, polished, and he gives his delivery with no “ums” or “uhs”. He’s the ultimate used car salesman. The man could probably sell ice to an eskimo. But his gleaming delivery is not what makes him such a threat to rationality. What makes him the biggest threat (IMO) is that he is completely, totally and utterly unencumbered by the truth. He sees that whole “bear false witness” thing as more of a guideline than a rule.

  10. Barbara Forrest

    What the newspaper account left out is that Suzanne Passman called me a liar.

  11. I definitely want to see that debate.

    I have nothing to add; Gish Gallop, Cambrian explosion, it’s all been covered by commenters here.

  12. Barbara Forrest said: “Suzanne Passman called me a liar.”

    It’s not easy to make friends in this business. But we love you.

  13. @Barbara: Wait, “Construded” called you a liar?!? I’m shocked… SHOCKED, I tell you! But what can she do? She doesn’t have any evidence, facts or logic on her side. She’s gotta do something. You have her out-classed, especially in the “class” department. So what does she have left? Personal attacks and “whatever I can make up”. It’s annoying, sad and pathetic, all at the same time.

    Oh, and I agree with SC. We love you!

  14. Couldn’t take it. I turned off the sound 40 seconds into the clip, and just looked at the lady’s legs in the front row. Much better.

    Give her hell, Ms. Forrest.

  15. If she said rabbits are in the precambrian, wouldnt that mean she perjured herself. Ms. Forrest you are awesome… I’m thinking about going back to SELU just to take your class lol.

  16. Stan Baskem

    I’m at wit’s end! Ms. Forrest gets no time to refute being called a liar? How can Ms. Passman legally impugn someone’s testimony without consenting to a rebuttal? Where can I go to raise my voice up?

  17. Stan Baskem

    Here’s what concerns me:

    Remember this guy: http://howcanoneknow.org/blog/2011/05/31/censored-by-the-sensuous-curmudgeon/

    He’s someone who sparred with Sensuous Curmudgeon over carbon dating practices and radioactive decay. As presented, you’d think he won his point! He’s number four on the Google page if you search “Sensuous Curmudgeon”.

    What I wish to know is where people are going — scientific people like myself — to organize scientific discoveries into political rhetoric. I do believe at this crazy juncture that it’s the only way forward.

  18. David E. Levin

    On the “two different half-lives for the same radioisotope (Potassium-40)” issue, this claim is almost too stupid for words. Consider this: The Hawaiian island and Emperor seamount chain extends about 3000 miles northwest of a hotspot under the Pacific plate (currently under Hawaii itself), which is moving northwest at a few inches per year. This chain of islands has been K-Ar dated at about 100 sites along the chain. The important observation is that there is a linear relationship between the measured ages of these islands and their distances from the hotspot under Hawaii, ranging up to 60 million years for the islands furthest away. The data fit beautifully the traditional interpretation of NW plate movement at its current rate for many millions of years, coupled with periodic episodes of volcanic island building. So, how can one explain these wonderfully consilient data in terms of a short-lived form of K-40? Answer: you can’t.


  19. Double talk. Fast double talk. Kitchen sink double talk. Did I hear her say that she teaches biology? I want so badly to see the debate with Ms. Forrest.