Discoveroids and South Carolina Creationism

That graphic is our presentation of the Party slogans displayed outside the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Thoughts of Orwell’s novel naturally arise as we report on the activities of the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — as they ceaselessly promote The Controversy between evolution and creationism. Their propaganda efforts reek of Newspeak — not Orwell’s version, but their own specialized vocabulary designed to discredit science. It’s one of their primary tools in furtherance of their wedge strategy, the goal of which is theocracy.

With that as an introduction, we now turn to the latest at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: In South Carolina, Students May Soon Critique Natural Selection. It’s written by Joshua Youngkin, a lawyer whose job they euphemistically describe as “Program Officer, Public Policy and Legal Affairs.” He’s a lobbyist. Science research organizations always have such people in their employ, don’t they? No? Well, the Discoveroids do. Here are some excerpts from Youngkin’s post, with bold font added by us:

South Carolina’s Education Oversight Committee recently sent a memo to the South Carolina State Board of Education urging that body’s adoption of a new science standard, H.B.5C.4, which reads: “Construct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian natural selection.”

We know all about it, because less than two weeks ago we wrote South Carolina Creationist Chaos Continues. As we reported then:

New language for high school biology standards is headed for consideration to the State Board of Education that would have students learn “the controversy.” The S.C. Education Oversight Committee on Monday sent proposed language to the board that would require biology students to construct scientific arguments that seem to support and seem to discredit Darwinism.

What does the Discoveroid lobbyist say about it? Let’s read on:

[A] representative of the Education Oversight Committee advised me that the State Board of Education will likely vote on adoption on June 11. Today, a representative of the State Board of Education confirmed that the Board will take up the matter then.

That could be true. It’s Youngkin’s job as a lobbyist to keep up with such things, and his article at the Discoveroids’ blog confirms our suspicion that they’re knee-deep in what’s going on in South Carolina. This isn’t surprising. We already know that the Discoveroids’ front man in this initiative is state Senator Mike Fair. He’s been active in promoting the Discoveroids’ “academic freedom” act, but so far without success. This time he may get the job done through the back door, by degrading the state’s education standards.

Does Younkin say anything else worth mentioning? Ah, how about this:

[I]t should be uncontroversial for students to construct scientific arguments that support and discredit natural selection as the sole or major engine of evolution, an exercise that would help them learn what scientific argumentation looks like and how it works.

That’s slick. The problem is that the proposed revision to the education standards isn’t limited to questioning whether natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism. It’s much broader than that. The Discoveroids have posted the Education Oversight Committee’s proposed standard for biology education. At the end, in red, you can see what Mike Fair managed to get included. It requires that students learn to: “Construct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian Natural Selection.” That’s what the fuss is all about. Here’s more from Youngkin:

If H.B.5C.4 [the language in red] is added to South Carolina’s 2014 Draft Academic Standards and Performance Indicators, the standard would join many other lines in the document that hew to a critical perspective, which, frankly, is a great thing for kids to learn.

Yeah — critical thinking. We’ve discussed that Discoveroid Newspeak phrase before — see What Is “Critical Thinking”?

Youngkin doesn’t say much else. But his article confirms that the Discoveroids are behind this mess in South Carolina. If it works for them, then in addition to promoting their “Academic Freedom” bills, they’ll also be working to sneak stuff like this into the states’ education standards. So now we have something else to keep an eye on. And they’ll never quit, at least not as long as their generous patrons continue to fund their little “think tank.”

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

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15 responses to “Discoveroids and South Carolina Creationism

  1. The essay portion for the second part should be pretty brief. “…scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian Natural Selection.” ans: there are none.

  2. The problem with being stupid and working at the Disco Tute where you are surrounded by other stupid people, Gerb and Kinky come to mind, is that you begin to think the rest of the world is stupid, too.

    For years the Disco Tute has bellowed and howled about how they don’t want to “mandate” the teaching of ID, and it’s the same thing here referring to natural selection as the “sole” mechanism.

    Of course, ID promotes a “soul” mechanism so maybe they just made a typo.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    So the kids are supposed to come up with critical scientific arguments that can’t be published in their textbooks? Knowing my kids, that means there must be a handy Wikipedia page. The ID page starts like this:

    This article is about a form of creationism. For generic arguments from “intelligent design”, see Teleological argument. For the movement, see Intelligent design movement. …
    Intelligent design (ID) is the pseudoscientific theory that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process

    I don’t see any science coming out of a wiki article that starts like that.

  4. Charles Deetz says: “there must be a handy Wikipedia page.”

    I link to them all the time, but I just discovered something I didn’t know about before. Check this out: Objections to evolution. It’s a great companion to the TalkOrins Index to Creationist Claims.

  5. If SC kids are going to be tested on the requirement to construct an argument that “seems to discredit” natural selection or some other mechanism of evolution, then there will have to be some set of acceptable answers against which their responses can be judged. Developing those answers should be an interesting project…. I can see a Texas school board-like process embarrassing the state of South Carolina.

  6. waldteufel

    For a long time I was sure that the Gerbil was the dimmest bulb hanging on the Disco Tute’s string, but along comes this upstart Youngkin who shows himself to be even dimmer than the Gerb. The mind reels at the stupidity and duplicity that oozes out of the Discoveroids.

  7. Jim Thomerson

    Surely they are supposed the discus the relative importance of genetic drift vs natural selection in allopatric speciation.

  8. I would love to walk into a biology classroom, tell the kids we are going to go over all the evidence that “discredits evolution” (whatever the [edited out] that means) and then play a soundtrack of crickets chirping for 45 minutes. Maybe bring in a couple tumbleweeds, too.

  9. Curious as to how kids would be graded on their arguments. Would the teacher, if likely a creationist leaning teacher in S.C., downgrade those arguments supporting evolution, while rewarding those with great anti-evolution arguments? Who goes to the top of the class, and who loses?

  10. docbill1351

    “Curious how the kids would be graded.”

    Well, that’s a key component to the creationist legislation. All kids get an “A.”

    Yea! Lake Wobegon lives!

    Yes, all the kids get an A because all answers are fine. The legislation put forth in many states (all failed) prevents teachers from grading religious answers as “wrong.”

    Now, isn’t that special!

  11. Mark Germano proposes presenting a classroom with “evidence’ that ‘discredits evolution'” by playing

    …a soundtrack of crickets chirping for 45 minutes. Maybe bring in a couple tumbleweeds, too.

    It’s a nice idea–but I fear you may be underestimating the dogged determination to remain stupid of a full-blown Creationist. Your proposed lesson might end up with some well-indoctrinated pupils thanking you for demonstrating that the crickets did not evolve into tumbleweeds or vice versa, ergo we should stick with the Biblical account of creation instead…

  12. “Construct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian Natural Selection.”

    That would be perfectly fair and appropriate, except for one minor detail that most “Darwinists” never mention, even if they are fully aware of it. Which is that “creationist” teachers, whether in-on-the-scam, or just trained parrots, will (1) censor any argument or evidence that will help students see that what “seems to discredit” does nothing of the sort, and (2) define terms specifically to fool students (and maybe themselves) into concluding that “Darwinian Natural Selection” is discredited when it’s not by any means.

    To further show how the relentless the scam artists are at playing word games, in fact IDers and most Biblical creationists (Ray Martinez if the only exception I’m aware of) do not think that “Darwinian Natural Selection” is discredited – at least on some “micro” scale. But they invariably refuse to be specific as to where that “micro” leaves off and what happens instead where it does leave off. Thus the most crucial questions – for both those few scientists who spread anti-evolution propaganda instead of doing cutting-edge research, and for students who could be doing a real critical analysis – are always censored – by the same scam artists who have the mind-blowing chutzpah to accuse mainstream science of “censorship”!

  13. Megalonyx: ..”ergo we should stick with the Biblical account of creation instead…

    Which one? Can students learn how they discredit each other, even without mentioning evolution or the lack of any evidence for any Biblical creation account? 🙂

    That of course was what the scam artists were wrestling with in the 80s, if not before, when they still had hope of legally teaching “creationism.” In other words the strategy of “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when” was well underway before “cdesign proponentsists” hastily added “don’t ask, don’t tell the designer’s identity.”

  14. There are three accounts of creation in the Bible. Two in Genesis, and a third which can be found in scattered fragments in Job and Psalms – things like the struggle with Leviathan.

  15. I just happened upon:

    “Cosmos and Chaos: Understanding the Bible’s Description of Creation”

    In particular, it describes the third creation account in the Bible, and its relation to other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths and cosmology.