The Discoveroids’ Latest Campaign

You are probably familiar with the Discovery Institute’s legislative model, their Academic Freedom Bill. It’s filled with creationist clunkers. Six years ago we wrote Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws. Versions of the Discoveroids’ bill have been introduced in state legislatures for years, and two have actually become law — in Louisiana and in Tennessee.

But lately we’ve seen a few states trying to pass something different. It’s definitely creationist, but it’s not based on the Discoveroids’ “Academic Freedom” model. The last time one of these new things popped up we wrote Strange Creationist Bill in South Dakota. It was suggested that the source of the creationist resolutions was the anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center.

But that’s not the whole story. Today at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog they posted Academic Freedom Resolutions — For Darwin Day, Another Valuable Option for Citizen Activists. It was written by Sarah Chaffee, “Savvy Sarah” to us. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Charles Darwin affirmed the need to consider scientific questions from a balanced perspective. As he famously wrote, “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” It’s a sad irony that that his modern day followers have largely disregarded this advice, insisting that students learn only one side of the evidence about evolution.

Classic quote-mining. We’ve discussed that one often — see The Discoveroids Continue Celebrating, and also The Creationist Vomit Show from Seattle. Then Savvy Sarah says:

With this in mind, Darwin’s birthday, aka Darwin Day, February 12, is celebrated around here as Academic Freedom Day. [No one cares what the Discoveroids call it.] As that special occasion approaches, ask yourself: Are teachers and students in your state encouraged to evaluate and analyze, in a balanced and objective way, the evidence about life’s origins and diversity? Too often, textbooks present a dogmatic, one-sided view [i.e., no creationism] . What can you do to promote critical thinking and scientific inquiry in evolution instruction?

In other words, what can you do to make everyone ignorant? She tells us:

You may already know about academic freedom bills — such as those passed in Louisiana in 2008 and Tennessee in 2012 [Oh yeah!] These laws provide freedom for teachers to discuss the scientific controversy over evolution, and other debates in science, in an objective manner while adhering to the state’s curriculum. [BWAHAHAHAHAHA!] But since 2017, states have been able to opt for an alternative, academic freedom resolutions, which are simply statements of legislative support. Both are valuable in advancing the cause of freedom to teach and learn.

Ooooooooooooh! An alternative! She continues:

Do you feel that new statutes could be a hard sell in the state legislature and with the governor? That’s where an academic freedom resolution proves its worth. These measures are not binding. However, they show support for critical thinking in evolution education. This moves a state in the right direction [Hee hee!], signaling to the state board of education, as well as to districts, administrators, and teachers, that the legislature has taken a stand on this issue.

In other words, a Discoveroid-style resolution encourages drool. And if a state passes such a resolution, the Discoveroids can report to their generous patrons that they’re making progress, so the funds should continue flowing.

Sarah’s post goes on a bit, but there’s no need to excerpt any more. The general idea is clear. If the Discoveroids can’t get one of their “teach the controversy” laws passed, they’ll take whatever they can get — even a non-binding resolution.

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19 responses to “The Discoveroids’ Latest Campaign

  1. Well, if the UK Parliament is satisifed with non-binding resolutions on Brexit, why should the DI aim any higher?

    Seriously (as if Brexit were not serious), could Academic Freedom resolutions evade challenge in the courts, since they are merely expressions of belief opinion, and therefore evade the language of the 1st Amendment, which states explicitly that “Congress shall make no law…”

  2. Paul Braterman, I doubt that a non-binding resolution could be challenged in court. They don’t mean anything, so there’s nothing to challenge.

  3. 😦

    Though of course such a resolution could be used as evidence if a teacher were to be sacked for incompetence as a result of telling the class that evolution was a theory full of holes and increasingly rejected, and besides, the Cambrian explosion and Piltdown Man.

    Maybe that’s the way they plan to go. A sort of reverse Scopes.

  4. I can’t help wondering if these people would be so keen on “academic freedom” if it were creationism which was being taught in public schools and adherents of Darwinian evolution were the ones trying to get their ideas taught.

    Never mind. We already know the answer, from the good old days before Epperson v. Arkansas when some states actually had laws banning the teaching of evolution.

  5. Personally. I think creationism of the sort Sarah espouses has elements of racism and segregationist thought in it. Its interesting to me that so many creationists hail from the south and the rural mid west. I wonder if this element of creationism has been explored by anyone. If so, who?

  6. Holding The Line In Florida

    I want to see a theologic freedom bill. Preachers would be required to tell about all religions and no religion equally to allow the people to form their own opinions as to which one is right. See how that would go over. I know, religion is different from public education. Still one can dream.

  7. “… the Cambrian explosion and Piltdown Man.”

    Don’t you mean the Cambrian flood and the Piltdown Man explosion? Remember that everything must be forced into fitting into the large number of conflicting creationists viewpoints, no matter how impossible the task.

  8. Our dear SC is charitable towards the IDiots from Seattle today:

    “Classic quote-mining.”
    I call

    “his modern day followers have largely disregarded this advice”
    a straightforward lie.

    Savvy Sarah asks an important question:

    “What can you do to promote critical thinking and scientific inquiry in evolution instruction?”
    One of two things:
    1. Explain why IDiocy is IDiocy;
    2. Neglect IDiocy and all other creacrap.

    Our dear SC really is charitable towards IDiocy today:

    “In other words, a Discoveroid-style resolution encourages drool.”
    I am no lawyer and even less so regarding American law. Given the fact that IDiots, like all creacrappers, are notorious liars Savvy Sarah’s word on it is not nearly enough for me. So I dare to doubt that the legislation in Louisiana and Tennessee is anything more than window dressing. It’s main goal, as our dear SC himself already points out is

    “so the funds should continue flowing”.
    Indeed I’d be curious how many schools in those two states actually teach creacrap.

  9. @Och WIll should rely on our trusty SC a bit more:

    There is also

    Me being defiitely non-American cannot be conclusive on that country, but I know that some orthodox-protestant theology (whose fans like fundagelicals strongly tend to be creationists) justified racism by referring to the sons of Noah. This used to be popular in The Netherlands and especially in South-Africa and is based upon the curse of Ham (not to be confused with Ol’Hambo).

  10. @>Holding The Line In Florida
    theologic freedom bill
    That could be interpreted as saying that there is something theological about evolution. That there is a parallelism.
    If you want to introduce a “freedom bill”, let it be about something that the taxpayers would be concerned about. Ask for a freedom bill about football.

  11. Frank B . You’ve been doing your Curmudgeon research. I’m an american. We tend to try to build bridges. However, I worked with a couple of dutch geoscientists in Edinburgh a few years back, They were a lot like you.

  12. This is, in fact, the problem with all of these bills: if enacted what exactly would they teach. Of course, the promoters of these idiotic ideas are ignorant idiots and have no clue!

    In Texas, a school district actually passed a “Bible” course as an elective in high school. Not only did they never develop a syllabus, they never found a teacher to run the course nor students to sign up for it. It was a great boondoggle, became a laughingstock of the town and was quietly abandoned.

  13. @Och Will: “They were a lot like you.”
    Many of us Dutch like our bad jokes. The next FFZ I’ll post some stuff from comedians (with subtitles).

  14. Eddie Janssen

    Why don’t these people simply stick to teaching creationisme at voluntary sunday-school. Their children will be taught the controversy and the other kids are not forced to have religious ‘science’ at public schools.
    Faked moonlandings, climate-change denial and what have you not can be added to the sundayschool curriculum if deemed necessary.

    Everybody happy. Well, maybe a few kids not so much…

  15. @Eddie Janssen
    I think that one answer that you would get is:
    Why don’t you people stick to teaching evolution in voluntary evolution school? Your children will be taught evolution and the other kids are not forced to have evolution at public schools.

    The point must be made by us that there is a important difference in kind between teaching about evolution and teaching about creation.
    The creationists could say that there are all of those cases where the scientific consensus was for such-and-such, and those who questioned the consensus were not given the opportunity to make their case. This is, they may say, just like the establishment against Galileo, where he was not allowed to speak.

    In brief, I would suggest two ways of approaching this;
    1) There is no competing “theory of creationism” asking for a fair hearing. The creationist have had more than a century, they have their media for describing their alternative theories, and – so they say – they have had many scientists and other competent writers. They have not availed themselves of the opportunities. Galileo did not rest with saying “geocentrism is wrong”.
    2) The appropriate place to study new, revolutionary theories is not in K-12 classrooms. Gallileo did not argue to the Inquisition that his theory shuld be taught to children.

    There are competing theories to how evolution takes place. Theories which are rejected by the consensus. For example, there is Margulis’ symbiotic theory. This addresses (1) – there is a full-blown alternative to the consensus.
    Yet it is inappropriate to present all known alternatives to the consensus in K-12 classes (2).

  16. @EddieJ: “Why don’t these people simply stick to teaching creationisme at voluntary sunday-school.”
    Propaganda. Creacrappers want to ride the bandwagon called science, because they realize very well that science has had enormous success last 200+ years. So if they can sell their crap as legitimate science it gains enormously in credibility and respectability.
    I back up TomS’ suggestions.

  17. @TomS, Margulis’s suggestion that eukaryotes arose from endosymbiosis is now established science. I don’t think anyone would have called a teacher to task for discussing it while it was still controversial, though I can’t imagine how they could have found the class time for doing that.

    I really would love creationism to be taught about in schools, starting with the Great Disappointment of 1844 and going on to Kitzmiller. Creationists complain that the teaching of evolution gives no basis for morality, but the heroism of the Dover area teachers in refusing to follow the school board’s instructions regarding Of Pandas and People was moral courage of a high order.

  18. @TomS
    Very well put.

  19. @Paul Braterman
    Yes, I know that the endosymbiosis origin of eukaryotes is established consensus. I was thinking of her wide extension of symbiosis to, for example, flagella, and beyond that to being a widespread mechanism in evolution. “Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking.”

    As far as teacing about creationism, that is apt to be tricky for a teacher. What teacher has the appropriate education on the subject? I know of graduate couses in Religious Studies which cover the subject, but how many science education students would find time for that?

    As far as creationists complaining about evolution’s suposed faults, I have yet to hear of any creationist better treatment of the subject, any subject. (My “hobby-horse #1”: What is the creatonist solution?)