Creationist Wisdom #413: Louisiana Bureaucrat

We found a letter-to-the-editor in support of the Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA). There is currently a bill in the legislature attempting to repeal it — see Louisiana’s 2014 Creationism Repeal Effort. As you know, that odious law is based on the Discovery Institute’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act (about which see the Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws).

This letter doesn’t mention the pending repeal effort; it just praises the existing law. Like so many other creationist letters-to-the-editor, it appears in the Shreveport Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. The title is Getting down to the truth about evolution. Ah, The Truth.

The letter-writer is Randy Passaniti. He’s a bureaucrat. We found his name at the website of the Assessor’s Office, Caddo Parish, Louisiana (Shreveport is the location of that parish’s courthouse), where he’s listed as Department Director of the Land Ownership Division. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:

As I prepared this letter, I wanted to read the law that encourages educators to present evidence that evolution is not true. It wasn’t quick and easy to find.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Finding a statute is a difficult task for a bureaucrat in the tax assessor’s office. He tells us:

When I checked the Internet I found site after site that raged against the law. This is a hot-button topic and the proponents of evolution are furious that anybody would dare question “reality.”

Note the scare quotes around “reality.” Then he announces that he somehow found the statute, and he quotes a bit of its verbiage, after which he says:

How can someone be against a law that promotes critical thinking, logical analysis and objective discussion? The law attempts to keep critical thinking alive and well in a society where many of its leaders want conformity of belief (evolution is a fact). Many scientists and religious leaders firmly believe in evolution and oppose any effort to challenge it.

Buncha sickos! Let’s read on:

But, if you are curious as to what evidence exists opposing the theory it is ready at hand, just go to the Internet.

As you might guess, the bureaucrat went to a creationist website. He even gives a link to it, but it’s not one of those where we do our dumpster diving, so we’ll let you click over to his letter if really want to find it. Then he continues:

If you believe in evolution, why do you believe in it? Do you believe it because it was taught in your church? Or do you believe it because it is constantly promoted in newpapers, magazines, books, movies and even in childrens’ cartoons? Are you just going to believe in it because “all educated people do?”

Well, dear reader, do you have the honesty to answer the bureaucrat’s question? Do you “believe” in evolution just because it’s supposed to be the smart thing to do? The letter-writer is bold enough to go beyond that, and to seek the answers for himself. Here’s more:

Have you studied the books and articles written by doctorates from secular universities that are critical of it?

Another good question! Well, have you read the writings of all those “doctorates”? What are you afraid of? And now we come to the end:

If evolution is not true, how will people ever know it if the evidence is suppressed? If good solid evidence existed that lead people away from believing in the theory of evolution, would you want it suppressed?

Suppressed! The evidence is being suppressed! But if that were true, how does the bureaucrat imagine that he found it when he had so much trouble finding a Louisiana statute?

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #413: Louisiana Bureaucrat

  1. Tax Assessor in LA said:

    if you are curious as to what evidence exists opposing the theory it is ready at hand, just go to the Internet.

    Yes, because that’s where you find everything. Did we land on the moon? Check the internet. Did dinosaurs and humans live together? Check the internet. How old is the universe? Check the internet. Did aliens probe this man up his… assessor? Check the internet.
    It all makes sense now.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    Internet? Oh crap, no wonder I thought all the real info was being suppressed. I have been wasting time searching the intertubes that some senator told us about.

  3. A Louisiana creationist twit writing a letter to the Shreveport Times?

    Our Curmudgeon is picking the low hanging fruit this weekend. 🙂

  4. waldteufel observes: “Our Curmudgeon is picking the low hanging fruit this weekend.”

    Would you prefer discussing Noah? Fear not. Cosmos is on tomorrow.

  5. Ah, the good ol’ Shreveport Times! Another letter confirming the creationism burning in the brains of the editorial staff.

    Well, I gotta go. Need to see a doctorate to reattach my ass(essor) that I just laughed off.

  6. Ol’ Hambo hates the Noah movie so much, I’m for sure gonna download and watch it when it’s available. As to the Shreveport Times, methinks their editorial staff are creationists, they have absolutely no editorial standards, or both. A creepy rag, to be sure.. . .but a source of mirth.

  7. Stephen Kennedy

    @waldteufel

    I never even considered watching the Noah movie when I first heard of it, but now given how much it unhinges Hambo, I think I may watch it after all.

  8. I think Hambo is worried about how the Noah movie will affect the rubes, and therefore how much he can fleece them if and when his Ark Amusement Park ever opens. Reportedly awesome computer generated graphics vs. a big landlocked wooden caricature of an imaginary boat. . . Hmmmmmm. Which, Hambo must be wondering, will the droolers go for?

  9. If you believe in heliocentrism, why do you believe in it? Do you believe it because it was taught in your church? Or do you believe it because it is constantly promoted in newpapers, magazines, books, movies and even in childrens’ cartoons? Are you just going to believe in it because “all educated people do?”

    Seriously, why do you? And I think that a plausible reason to accept descent with modification is more accessible to us laymen than is the case with heiocentrism.

  10. TomS: That’s very beautiful. I like to ask people if they can independently prove the Earth goes around the sun while the Moon goes around the Earth. No cheating!

  11. “I think I may watch it after all.”
    I’m still mainly interested in Russell Crowe’s naked butt – it seems there for a couple of seconds.

  12. Well Mark I could but it would require getting a telescope and duplicating the work of Copernicus and I don’t have the time nor telescope. Unfortunately I can’t think of a shorter method. But then there is the other method of asking other scientists what they did and comparing their results (lots) with the test results of the earth-centrists which is about … well none.

  13. I don’t believe in Heliocentrism. I don’t believe that the Earth is the centre of the Solar System either. I believe movement is relative according to Newton. So when doing calculus on the movement of the planets, including the Earth, I am a Heliocentrist. When doing calculus on the movement of the Moon I place the Earth in the centre. When doing calculus on my little cycling-tour to school I believe the Earth is flat.

  14. I don’t want to see Russell Crowe’s naked butt, because then JHVH would curse my youngest son and all his descendants to perpetual slavery.

  15. mnb0 confesses: “I’m still mainly interested in Russell Crowe’s naked butt”

    The internet never forgets things like that.

  16. Realist1948

    “Reality” (in quotes) reminds us that some aspects of reality can be subjective. This reminds me of something that happened when our son was about 4 years old. He had been playing with a neighborhood kid, and they had been talking about dinosaurs. The neighbor kid had told our son, “I don’t believe in fossils.” Nothing like warping young minds as early as possible.

    A few days later I ordered a copy of our state (Illinois) geological survey, and we were soon out fossil hunting. “Reality” confirmed that there were fossil seashells in some Ordovician limestone near Yorkville … right where the geologists said they were. Our fossil hunt took place on “Good Friday” which was a day off where I worked at the time. It’s nice to be given time off to affirm our faith … in fact-based reality… and teach it to our kids.

  17. @L.Long But what is your real reason for accepting heliocentrism? You have’t checked it out with a telescope. You haven’t duplicated the work of Copernicus. Nor have I. I have accepted heliocentrism ever since I heard about it as a kid, and I never came across a reason do doubt it. It is a part of my way of making sense of things. If there were any one fact that keeps me in this belief it is that the “other” planets are so much like the Earth, so why should it be special?

    @mnbo Heliocentrism has changed from the models of Aristarchus, Copernicus and Kepler, to include Galilean relativity and later discoveries in astronomy. Biblical geocentrism cannot accept relativity of motion – when the Bible says that the Earth does not move, it is no better to say, not the Bible is false, but that it meaningless.

  18. TomS see my2nd statement above. Although I have not personally duplicated Copernicus others have and I have seen there data and it is consistent with other observations.

  19. Prove heliocentrism? If we assume the distant stars are not themselves revolving around the earth, we can see that we are in fact revolving around the sun. We can observe that the zodiacal constellation behind the sun in June, say, is in the midnight sky six months later — in other words, opposite the sun in the sky. (This is much easier to grasp with an illustration.)

    That, and the retrograde motions of the outer planets. Ptolemy thought he had that all figured out, but now we know that his “epicycles” would violate all the laws of physics. The apparent retrograde motions of all the outer planets can only be explained if all planets, including the earth, are revolving around the sun.

    The amazing thing is that it took humankind so long to figure this out. Well, maybe not so amazing, considering how open inquiry and questioning “authority” could prove fatal.

  20. @L.Long I mean this seriously: what data & observations are there that indicate heliocentrism? I am particularly interested in the annual orbital revolution of the Earth (I think that the daily rotation of the Earth is easier).
    And in anticipation, I will say that stellar parallax, while saving heliocentrism, is consistent with geocentrism.

  21. TomS asks:

    I mean this seriously: what data & observations are there that indicate heliocentrism?

    It explains the apparent retrograde motion of the other planets. It accounts for our observations of the phases of Venus (easier to show with a model than with mere words).

    And in anticipation, I will say that stellar parallax, while saving heliocentrism, is consistent with geocentrism.

    Not really, because the parallax effect is reversed when we’re on the “return” of our orbit.

  22. @SC: “The internet never forgets things like that.”
    Me not living and not planning to live in the USA doesn’t care.

  23. @TomS: “Heliocentrism has changed ….”
    Really? Thanks for telling me. As a teacher math and physics with an interest in the history of science I obviously was totally unaware.

  24. I seem to be in the wrong, by mnbo, for uncritical accepting of heliocentrism; by Curmudgeon, for criticism of evidence for heliocentrism.

  25. TomS I will not look up the data and then tell you how this all connects to make sun-centered motion correct. Thee are plenty of utube instructions and any good tree type encyclopedia can also show you. I don’t care is you think the earth-centered view is right or wrong, you want to know-then find out, I’ve got better things to do.

  26. TomS: Please re-read my response above, and let me expand on it here.

    The constellations of the zodiac are on the ecliptic plane. That is, if we project a plane through space from the sun through earth’s orbit all the way out to the stars, it will intersect the constellations Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, and the rest of the zodiac. If we are in the northern hemisphere facing south and look up to the ecliptic plane at sidereal midnight, we are looking out into space directly opposite the sun. If it’s March, we’ll be looking at Leo. A month later, we’ll be looking at Virgo, the next constellation of the zodiac to the east. A month after that, Libra will be opposite the sun, then Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, etc. all the way around the calendar until we are back at Leo in March. This shows very clearly that we are moving around the sun toward the “east”, as it were, or counterclockwise in our orbit as viewed from above the sun’s (and earth’s) north pole. By observing the positions of the planets over time, we can clearly see that they too are revolving around the sun in the same direction as earth. And, we can see that the sun is rotating in the same direction as well.

    Since all the observable mass of the solar system is rotating and revolving in the same direction, it leads us to believe the sun and planets condensed by gravitational collapse of a vast cloud of slowly rotating gas and dust. As the matter fell toward the center of gravity, its rotational rate increased because of the conservation of angular momentum, but because of the rotation, it wouldn’t all fall into the center to form the sun, but instead, it formed a disk. Eddies formed in the disk which would then collapse further to form the planets. Voila! Behold the Solar System!

    The apparent retrograde motion of the outer planets is explained by the fact we are revolving around the sun at a speed greater than the outer planets. We are all going around the sun in the same direction, but as we pass an outer planet (Mars, say) it appears to move backwards against the distant stars. It’s just like what we see when we pass a slower car on the highway.

    These are observations we can make personally. I also believe heliocentrism
    to be accurate because I don’t believe NASA or the USSR faked all of the space missions to the planets. All the orbital dynamicists were assuming heliocentrism when calculating the flight paths of the Pioneer missions, the Voyager missions, the Viking missions, Venera missions, Cassini, etc., etc.
    Since all these missions were successful in reaching their targets, it would seem to confirm heliocentrism.

  27. TomS, just curious. What is your background, or profession? Please excuse my lengthy explanation. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

  28. I am not a geocentrist. I have interest in it, just as I have long had in creationism. As mnbo has pointed out, any of the geometric or dynamic calculations of the Solar System can be done with the Earth as the center as well as with the Sun as the center (as well as with the center of the Galaxy as the center, or anything else).
    At the moment, seems to be that the simplest reason to reject geocentrism is rather that we now see (first inklings of this due to Galileo) that Mars, the Moon, etc. are bodies just like the Earth, so it no longer makes sense to treat the Earth as anything special (like the fixed center of all things).
    But I am seriously interested if there is any “better” reason. (I think that there is a more “technical” reason to accept the daily rotation of the Earth. See the RatioPedia article on “Modern geocentrism”. I would like to fill in the embarrassing lacuna there on the annual orbital revolution of the Earth.)

  29. Part 2:
    I like to compare and contrast heliocentrism with evolution.
    1) Almost all evolution-deniers freely accept heliocentrism.
    2) The simplest publicly available evidence which can be understood without trusting on experts is rather for evolution, than heliocentrism. (I am open on this issue, pending hearing on the side of heliocentrism which is almost as good – but I can’t imagine anything better.)
    3) The Bible, on the face of it, and by the history of interpretation, is clearer for the fixity of the Earth, rather than the fixity of species
    4) I cannot credit anyone takes refuge in the Bible, in denial of the evidence for evolution, who accepts heliocentrism. If modern science is good enough to change one’s approach to the Bible on h., so much so it should, on e.

  30. Richard Bond

    TomS,
    It is simply not true that all of the dynamical calculations of the solar system can be done with a geocentric model. Galileo’s and Newton’s relativity, and Einstein’s special relativity, allow you to use any point of view only when describing the relative behaviour of inertial frames of reference. The motions of the Earth and Moon do not take place within inertial frames: they are both undergoing permanent acceleration. The idea that you can treat either the Earth or the Sun (or anything else) as central is only an approximation with a limited range of application.

  31. @Richard Bond, please meet mnbo.

  32. Richard Bond

    TomS,

    I do not see that what mnb0 (not, as you say, mnbo) wrote is necessarily incompatible with what I did. As far as I can tell, he is simply doing what I advocated in my last paragraph.

    To ram my point home, try calculating the mass of the Earth for the Sun to orbit it in 24 hours. The answer is 45 milliard times its actual mass. Now use that to calculate the orbital period of the Moon: 11 seconds. The geocentric model is grossly incompatible with observation. These are Newtonian approximations, and you really need to apply Einstein’s relativity, but they make the point. You did say “any of the geometric or dynamic calculations of the Solar System” did you not?

  33. docbill1351

    It all boils down to this: my grand pappy didn’t come from no helio-eccentric!

    Makes no sense.

  34. TomS, I think I’m beginning to see what you’re getting at, but correct me if I’m wrong. What you’re saying is, “If creationists can accept heliocentrism, which is difficult to personally observe, why can’t they accept evolution?” Is that about it?

    Actually, though, one can personally observe that the earth must revolve around the sun. There is no other way to explain the fact that we look out into the 360º span of space shifted ~1º west per night over the 365 nights per year.

  35. Richard Bond

    Perhaps I have been a little harsh with TomS, but there is actually an easily observed effect that shows that the Earth rotates rather than the Sun orbiting it. Spend a few hours out of doors on a clear night, and you can see it with your own eyes. The pole star does not appear to move. Close by, the Plough apparently describes a small circle around it. Orion, above the equator, rises and falls like the Sun. Either the Earth is rotating, or the stars are fixed to a framework that rotates around it. I suppose that biblical literalists might opt for the latter, but they are beyond help.

  36. Be of good cheer, TomS, I (think I) get what you’re arguing.

  37. The rotation of the Earth about its own axis is readily demonstrated by a Foucault pendulum, provided one accepts Newton’s laws of motion. Delicate measurements of a Foucault pendulum over an extended period will also confirm heliocentric model. The heliocentric model was accepted not because there was clear directly observable evidence for it, but primarily because its formulation was far, far simpler than the Ptolemaic system of cycles, epicycles and deferents.

  38. There are motions of the Earth which are denied by geocentrists:
    1) The daily rotaton about its own axis. I believe that the small effect mentioned in the RationalWiki article on “Modern geocentrism” provides convincing evidence of the rotation. (Although I will still argue that this is not something that is as accessible to lay persons as is the abundant evidence for evolution.)
    2) The annual orbital revolution of the Earth. This, to me, a harder case. This would like to hear better evidence than what I proposed (Mars and the Moon and other stuff are just like Earth, so the burden of evidence lays on geocentrism to tell us why, among all of those bodies, the Earth is not moving and is the center of so many motions.)
    I remind my fellow heliocentrists that geocentists accept the idea that the stars are moving in paths around the Earth. Think of how Newtonian mechanics handles that!

  39. TomS: “I remind my fellow heliocentrists that geocentists accept the idea that the stars are moving in paths around the Earth. Think of how Newtonian mechanics handles that!”

    Indeed! The ancients thought that the stars were all the same distance from the earth, attached to a sphere that itself rotated around the earth. Of course, we know today that the stars and galaxies are all at vastly different distances from the earth, and for even the closest stars to revolve around the earth in 24 hours would require superluminal velocities. But then, if they are too dense to grasp the evidence supporting heliocentrism, the speed of light would mean nothing to them.

  40. Neptune is at about 4 light-hours from the Sun (and Earth), so it’s supposed daily path around the Earth is longer than one light-day (2 x pi x 4 > 24, when Neptune is above the equator). Voyager 1 is even more distant (and we know its distance in speed-of-light terms by the delay of its radio signal).