Creationist Wisdom #269: Louisiana Physician

Today’s letter-to-the-editor isn’t the typical creationist nonsense penned by a maniac in a shack. This one appears to be part of a well-orchestrated campaign to jam creationism into Louisiana’s public schools.

We wrote about the situation two weeks ago (see Louisiana Capitol’s Schools Teach Creationism). One of the school districts in Baton Rouge, the state’s capitol, had adopted a “teach the controversy” policy that we speculated was drafted by a certain theocratic think-tank in Seattle.

Now we’ve encountered a letter-to-the-editor published in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which supports the creationist school board and which also appears to have been drafted in Seattle. This isn’t the first time we’ve suspected a Discoveroid propaganda piece had found its way into that newspaper (see Creationist Wisdom #260: Hook, Line, & Sinker).

Today’s letter is Academic freedom isn’t religion. We’re immediately suspicious because no one talks about creationist indoctrination as “academic freedom” except the neo-Luddite, 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).

Although we usually omit the writer’s name and city, we’re making an exception this time. The author of today’s letter is Keith Holmes, described as a physician in “Central.” We assume that refers to the Central Community School District, which is the creationist school district about which we wrote earlier. Google informs us that there are six people by that name in Louisiana, but only one lives in Baton Rouge, and he’s a physician. We’re not certain, of course, but we think that’s our letter-writer. We always assume that creationist physicians are proctologists, but this one is an internist. Here’s his webpage: Keith Holmes, MD.

The good doctor’s letter contains nothing but Discoveroid talking points which we’ve all seen before, so we won’t bother with too many excerpts. He quotes from Louisiana’s 2008 Science Education Act where it says that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.” Yeah, but it doesn’t prohibit teaching creationism or intelligent design, because that would be the opposite of its purpose. We’ve referred to that language as a pathetically transparent “cloaking device,” and we put it this way:

The ridiculous “Hey, Judge: Here’s how to construe this law” section of such bills is comparable to a suicide-bomber’s explosive-laden vest being sewn with a tag saying: “Attention Bomb Squad Coroner: The deceased wearer of this garment should not be construed to be a suicide bomber.”

Then the letter talks about teaching the “strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” but the good doctor never bothers to tell us what those imaginary “weaknesses” of evolution might be. It’s all right out of the Discoveroids’ play-book. Here are a few excerpts from the end, enhanced by some bold font for emphasis:

Critics of academic freedom are trying to mislabel scientific critiques of evolution as “creationism” in a bid to censor from students the right to learn about current scientific controversies. I would hope that all parties would encourage critical thinking and analysis on all issues discussed in the classroom.

Uh huh — “censorship” and “critical thinking.” Who really wrote this letter? We suspect it was Casey. Let’s read on:

This new policy allows teachers the freedom to present scientific evidence for the pros and cons of all controversial issues. How can anyone be opposed to letting the students analyze the information and decide for themselves what they believe to be true.

We’re opposed, for the simple reason that the victims of the policy are children, and they’re not qualified to make those decisions. The function of the schools is to teach them the best information available — not to confuse them with pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. We hope the good doctor doesn’t run his medical practice the way he wants the schools run. He probably practices only the best medicine, and doesn’t prescribe quack cures proposed by every alternative “theory” that’s drifting around the internet. Nor does he offer his patients a choice between medical treatment and faith healing. Patients aren’t qualified to make those decisions. But he somehow thinks the public schools should be run differently. Okay, here’s how the letter ends:

I strongly encourage other school boards to step forward and provide similar guidance to their teachers and institutions.

So there you are. If you’re looking for a physician in Baton Rouge, now you know the name of one. Good luck.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #269: Louisiana Physician

  1. If these clowns really wished to “teach the controversy” they would be arguing that local churches need to holding debates about whether “God is real or not” or that “Our Faith is the one True Faith or not.”

    How can a faith in which there are 20,000+ sects be so righteous about their supremacy. They think all of the others are wrong, too, so their “one true faith” consists of a few hundred, maybe a few thousand people.

  2. Those poor proctologists, always the butt of the joke.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    CS says “But he somehow thinks the public schools should be run differently. “

    I’d like to see the doctor explain how he thinks this is different. Really!

  4. One of the most underhanded things I find about the teach the controversy ideas is the utter hypocracy of it.

    Any teacher that teaches his class about all the CONS of creationism would lose his job for religious discrimination.

  5. @Spector567: That’s a pretty good test in itself. If the criticisms overlap into religious discrimination, then there is already a religious concept that does not belong in a science class.

    But then the Creationists will proclaim Darwinism is just another religion. Oh well.

  6. Curmudgeon: “Then the letter talks about teaching the ‘strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories,’ but the good doctor never bothers to tell us what those imaginary ‘weaknesses’ of evolution might be.”

    He only said “of existing scientific” theories; you said “of evolution.” Sure, it’s the only scientific theory for the origin of species, but he doesn’t think so, so why give him the benefit of the doubt? Maybe he meant that students should learn the weaknesses of ID, or of “baraminology,” or of “young-earthism.” Maybe he’s the first scam artist who will have students dissect the mutually-contradictory creationist positions, just the basic “what happened when, where and how.” And maybe a write-in candidate will defeat Obama and Romney in November. But it’s infinitely more fun to force the good doctor to admit his blatant double standard than to just assume it.

    @ Spector567

    I wrote the above before reading your comment. No teacher will lose his job for discussing “the CONS of creationism,” as long as he sticks to its testable, mutually contradictory, easily falsified claims (or in the case of ID, evasion tactics), and avoids “ultimate causes.” The catch is that no anti-evolution activist would ever dare advocate that, and almost no teacher, whether critical or sympathetic to those activists, would do it.

  7. Long ago, Walt Kelly wrote a satirical cartoon strip featuring “Flim, Flam and Flo” — an imaginary underwater songstress trio called “The Louisiana Perches.” They were represented by an “agent” named “Roogy Batoon” (a play on Baton Rouge), who just happened to be a hungry pelican. It had nothing to do with creationism — more of a comment on exploitation and opportunism — but art can parallel real life in ironic and unexpected ways. Many decades later, the real Flimflam is taking shape in the Pelican state. There’s something mighty fishy in Louisiana.

  8. The letter writer, Keith Holmes, MD, is being deliberately misleading when he writes, “…a bid to censor from students the right to learn about current scientific controversies.”

    Creationism vs. evolution is most definitely NOT a scientific controversy. It is a religious controversy, and has no place within the science classroom — public or parochial. If any parochial school wishes to discuss any philosophical differences they have with the idea of evolution, they should confine those discussions to a religion or philosophy class, and not take any of the students’ time from science instruction.

    We must stress this — it is a religious controversy. There is absolutely no controversy within science about evolution.

    Curmy, I agree. This letter smells exactly like Casey Luskin. I bet that if someone were so inclined, a little poking around would find a “suggested letter” written by the DI that their followers could put their name on and send to their local paper.

  9. This guy is a bigger embarassment to the profession of medicine than Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vax physician friend. I hope he didn’t train at my medschool.


    I completely agree – this is a religious and philosophical controversy. The place to settle it is not in the science classrooms of public grade schools and high schools. If the proponents of creationism, whether they support ID, YEC, OEC, or some other form, need to submit to peer reviewed journals, and alternative that offers testable predictions on what happened and when.

    Until such time, their “theory” is nothing more than an argument from faith based on the best Babylonian science had to offer. Unless they can do that, they need to restrict their feelings on the matter to their churches, homes and college level classes on world religions and the relationship between religion and science. I had just such a course at my college (St. Louis University), which happens to be Catholic. It was actually taught by a priest who did a wonderful job guiding the philosophical discussion without imposing his personal feelings (at least not overtly). Way more gratifying to share that discussion with people of many different backgrounds than to have a brow beating from a preacher on Sunday.

  10. Why would you insist that a scientific issue needs to be debated among the high-school students who are still being educated about science? Oh wait, it’s because you get nowhere when you try to debate “intelligent design” with grownups who actually understand science. Of course.

  11. TJW: “…the proponents of creationism, whether they support ID, YEC, OEC, or some other form, need to submit to peer reviewed journals, and alternative that offers testable predictions on what happened and when.”

    Peddlers of YEC and OEC have testable predictions on what happened and when. They have been tested, though “strangely” never by proponents. They have failed miserably, and, adding insult to injury, contradict each other to boot. Which is why we have the ID scam and all its variants (e.g. “strengths and weaknesses,” but only of strawman of evolution).

    But let’s all remember that students spend only a few hours learning evolution, and have 1000s of hours available on their own time, and their parents’ dime, to learn any pseudoscience they want. In my perfect world every student would learn all about “creationism,” and how it evolved from “honest, if mistaken belief,” to pseudoscience, to an all-out scam to mislead. Sure, a tiny fraction of students would find it lucrative to join the scam, as they do now. And another ~20% (the most seriously brainwashed Fundamentalists) might remain evolution-deniers, though more would be Omphalists, rejecting “scientific” creationism and ID because they bear false witness. But that’s infinitely better than what we have now: ~45% that deny evolution in various degrees, another ~25% that claims to accept evolution but still thinks it’s fair to “teach the controversy” in science class, and another ~20% that understand evolution poorly and accept it for all the wrong reasons.

    By the way, I see the word “censor” above, and once again it is an audacious accusation from an anti-evolution activist. If that is challenged with a mere “we don’t censor, and here’s why…” we have dropped the ball. The correct answer is “we don’t censor, but you do, and here’s why…”

  12. I asked The Advocate why they keep publishing these creationism letters. They responded and defended their decision to keep doing that. So, the next question logically is, “Hey, do you publish letters from the KKK too?”
    If not, why not?
    Same basic concept I would say.
    Yes I tend to my head against the creationsim wall I know.
    Oh well.