This is the day after the big Texas textbook shootout — which we last wrote about here: Texas Creationism: Big Shootout Tomorrow. We warned:
Will the Board’s decision tomorrow be a victory for sanity and a defeat for the creationists? Everyone seems to think so, but your Curmudgeon isn’t so sure. We haven’t forgotten their Plan B from four years ago, and how it took everyone by surprise. We’re expecting them have something cooked up for tomorrow — a new Plan B — designed to throw Texas science education into chaos for years to come.
If we’re wrong about this, we’ll be delighted. But we don’t trust those people, and neither should you. So we’ll be watching how things turn out tomorrow, and we caution everyone involved: Beware of Plan B!
Okay, the big shootout is over now, so what happened? Our friends at the National Center for Science Education seem to be celebrating. They posted this: Victory in Texas, in which they say:
The integrity of science education triumphed in Texas when the state board of education gave its final approval to all of the proposed textbooks for high school biology and environmental science courses at its November 22, 2013, meeting.
Well, yes … however, they also say:
But the triumph was slightly tainted by two attacks, launched late in the board’s November 21, 2013, meeting, against one biology textbook and one environmental science textbook.
“Slightly stained”? Let’s see what happened with that “one biology textbook”:
The biology textbook, by Kenneth R. Miller and Joseph Levine, was previously criticized by creationists on a state review panel for twenty supposed errors in its treatment of evolution. In response, the publisher denied that the passages contained errors and declined to make the suggested changes to the textbook.
Yes, yes … and then what? Oooops, we’re told this:
At the November 21, 2013, meeting, the board quarreled about whether to heed the panel’s criticisms of the textbook (which Ron Wetherington already thoroughly debunked). Eventually the board voted to adopt it contingent on the outcome of a further review by a panel of three outside experts. The vice chair of the board Thomas Ratliff was not happy with the idea, quoted by the Associated Press (November 22, 2013) as saying, “I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes,” and adding that the book is already used in “over half of the classrooms in the United States.” [Emphasis supplied.]
The board agreed to the further review? They actually agreed to that? We’re talking here about Miller & Levine — a standard text. But of more importance, we’re also talking about Kenneth R. Miller. Wikipedia reminds us that: “Miller was also the plaintiff’s lead expert witness in the [sic] Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, challenging the school board’s mandate to incorporate intelligent design into the curriculum.”
That’s right, dear reader, we’re talking about the Kenneth Miller. The creationists know who he is, and they haven’t forgotten about the thrashing they suffered in the Kitzmiller case.
It’s supposed to be tasteless to say “We told you so!,” but even if it is tasteless, your Curmudgeon’s warning was correct. The creationists did have a Plan B. Given the political reality of the votes available to them on the board, they focused all their hate, all their insanity, and all their malevolence against a single and very symbolic target — Biology: Discovering Life, by Miller & Levine (Amazon listing). And we’re told that they did it late in the hearing, just before midnight, when everyone was tired and wanting to go home. They knew just what they were doing.
So we ask you: Is this as big a victory as NCSE and a number of others are claiming? In a way, yes, because so many other texts were approved, and we agree with NCSE when they applaud the efforts of:
the Texas Freedom Network, Texas Citizens for Science, NCSE members and allies in Texas, and the various scientific, scholarly, and education societies that urged the board to adopt the textbooks.
However, in spite of their fine work — which we all appreciate — your Curmudgeon is troubled. Look at it this way: Suppose a madman in your town held an entire school full of teachers and students as his hostages. Suppose further that the police arranged for: (a) the release of all the hostages — except for one; and (b) not only was the madman allowed to keep that one hostage, but he was then allowed to go free. Would you congratulate the police on their victory? You would, of course, join with the whole town in rejoicing that so many innocent victims survived unharmed, but the fate of one is still in doubt. Is this really a victory?
Please, don’t misunderstand us. Texas certainly wasn’t a loss, but it wasn’t a total victory either. The victory was limited, and the adversaries of science, of reason, and of all the gains we’ve made since the Enlightenment can accurately claim that they achieved something. They accomplished the best they could do under the circumstances, and it was far more than had been expected.
That’s how it is with creationists. If they can’t get in through the front door, they don’t go away. They’ll use Plan B and bite you in the behind when you’re not looking.
Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.