Crazy Science Legislation Proposed in Montana

Once again, our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have posted another glorious news item. It’s titled A draft antiscience bill in Montana, and it was written by Glenn Branch, their Deputy Director. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A draft bill in the Montana legislature would cripple science education in the state by excluding anything but “scientific fact” from curriculum and instruction.

We’re not quite sure what a “draft bill” is, but if it’s filed in the legislature, we have to pay attention to it. Glenn says:

In its current form, LC2215 declares, “the purpose of K-12 education is to educate children in the facts of our world to better prepare them for their future and further education in their chosen field of study, and to that end children must know the difference between scientific fact and scientific theory; and … a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation and is for higher education to explore, debate, and test to ultimately reach a scientific conclusion of fact or fiction.”

This brilliant piece of legislation sounds like it came from that old TV show: ‘Dragnet,’ where Sgt. Joe Friday frequently implored female informants to provide “Just the facts, ma’am.” Anyway, NCSE tells us:

The bill then provides, “Science instruction may not include subject matter that is not scientific fact.” The state board of public education, the state superintendent of public instruction, and the trustees of local school districts would be charged with ensuring that state education standards, science curriculum guides, and science curriculum and instructional materials, including textbooks, include only scientific fact. “Scientific fact” is defined as “an indisputable and repeatable observation of a natural phenomenon.”

That would make science class rather simple. Even a Montana legislator should be able to get a passing grade. Glenn continues:

LC2215’s presumption that only facts are important in science education conflicts with the views of professional associations of science educators. The National Science Teaching Association’s position statement on the nature of science, for example, states that “[a] primary goal of science is the formation of theories” and endorses the importance of the eight principles of the nature of science described in Appendix H (PDF) of the Next Generation Science Standards, which include “Scientific Models, Laws, Mechanisms, and Theories Explain Natural Phenomena.”

Yeah, well, what do those fancy-pants science educators know? Kids in Montana should learn just the facts! Let’s read on:

Montana’s present state science standards, adopted in 2016, are based on but diverge from the performance expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards. The only two theories described as such are the Big Bang theory and the theory of plate tectonics (both in Earth and Space Science for grades 9 to 12), but the standards are permeated by implicit references to scientific theories, none of which are characterized as speculative. There are abundant references to scientific models, mechanisms, and laws as well as theories.

This proposed new law will put an end to that nonsense! Here’s the rest of NCSE’s post:

LC2215 was drafted at the behest of Daniel Emrich (R-District 11), a new member of the Montana state senate; it has not yet been introduced as a bill.

Ah, so that’s what a “draft bill” is. Well, why doesn’t Danny Emrich make up his mind? Either introduce the bill or trash the thing!

You’re probably wondering who this Danny Emrich guy is. We Googled around and can’t find out much about him. All we can do is judge him by his work — which tells us he’s an idiot. So what will become of his brilliant piece of legislation? Stay tuned to this blog!

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32 responses to “Crazy Science Legislation Proposed in Montana

  1. So basically, if we can’t have creationism, burn the whole thing down.

  2. Charley Horse X

    The Retaliban Party has a super majority in its legislature. So, attacking the teaching of science, laws limiting abortion, laws limiting non-heteros rights, using tax dollars to support religion run private sKools can be expected. Those suggested for determining what is fact and what isn’t…I suspect allowing Baptist preachers to determine that would be on par with those.

  3. I know why they don’t like theory. It’s because it’s one word away from evolution in “theory of evolution”. They’re practically neighbors. Ooh yucky, theory has the evolution cooties on it. There goes the theory neighborhood.

  4. This goes back a long way in creationism, at least as far back as McCready Price, while I seem to remember that Darwin was criticised in his lifetime on the basis of similar arguments.

    ” a scientific fact is observable and repeatable, and if it does not meet these criteria, it is a theory that is defined as speculation”; as evolution science out of the window. And geology. And archaeology. And cosmology.

    But you missed out the worst bit: “”Scientific fact” is defined as “an indisputable and repeatable observation of a natural phenomenon.” ” So, for example, all the data obtained about the impact of comet Shoemaker-Levi into Jupiter are not scientific facts, because we can’t arrange for more comets to impact Jupiter and therefore the observations are not repeatable. And is there anything at all that is indisputable? Descartes, you may remember, tried to find something indisputable, and failed miserably

  5. “And is there anything at all that is indisputable?”

    Yes, because if there is something indisputable, then there is something indisputable. But if there is nothing indisputable, then it would be indisputable that there is nothing indisputable, which wouldn’t make any sense.

  6. I seem to be lonely in saying that evolution is *not* a theory. It is something that happens in the world of life, it can be observed in the wild and repeated in experiments.
    Yes, there are theories of evolution. Just as there is a theory of flight, a theory of music, and a theory of the earth. Nobody is suggesting banning teaching about flight, music or the earth. (Heck, there is even talk about a theory of everything. Let’s ban teaching about everything?)
    Theories of evolution? Natural selection, sexual selection, randomness, Lamarckism, etc

  7. Emrich has a Facebook page, and a news station did a video interview.

    Bottom line: ignorant, uneducated, religious dolt who says “you know” way too much. Complete moron.

    His FB page is almost entirely One America News (OAN) clips of one conspiracy theory after another. Even FB flagged some of his posts as “False” but he left them on his page.

    When asked about “issues” all he brought up was “hunting and issues about hunting. And fishing.”

    Former car salesman now has a handyman business.

    One thing for certain he has no business doing is writing legislation about science education.

  8. @richard
    There is a saying, that when someone sneezes, they are telling the truth.

  9. “One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity’s sake, let’s stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact.” –Richard Dawkins

  10. @richard

    Unfortunately the Montana Moron ain’t gonna hear you. ‘Cause he knows better. In fact, he done knows everything! The interviewer asked him, “Why are you running for office?” and that question genuinely stumped him! He hemmed and hawed around with a flurry of “you knows” and settled on … wait for it …


    Yes, by hecky, our Freedoms done bein’ taken away! Then he got back to his main issue of huntin’ and fishin’ because he couldn’t think of any “freedoms” that had actually been taken away.

  11. He’s all about freedom, but his first legislation would restrict science teachers in what they may teach. He’s about freedom, all right – the freedom to be just like him – ignorant, lacking understanding, and vaguely distrustful and resentful of the knowledge of others.

  12. Eddie Janssen

    I just read on “Why Evolution is True” that today is Curmudgeon Day. A nice and good 29th of January to you, dear host!

  13. @richard
    Do you have a citation for that quotation from Dawkins?
    @Paul Braterman
    I agree, but …
    Descartes decided that “I think, therefore I am” pointed to indisputable truth, and then to more. (But I find it easy to doubt that Descartes is. I also find it easy to doubt that D really doubted everything else. Did he doubt his learned knowledge of Latin?)

  14. @TomS: Richard Dawkins, “The Illusion of Design,” Natural History 2005; 114 (9): 35–37. Online here:

  15. @Glenn Branch
    Thank you.
    I am sorry to report that I am deeply disappointed in that essay.
    To begin with the quotation that @richard reported. I would take as a definition of evolution, the factual process, which we can observe happening in the wild and can repeat on demand under controlled conditions: the variation in inheritable properties in populations of living things. The relationship of humans with the rest of life is not that. It is not to doubt the relationship to point out that it does not fit the definition, or to point out that we cannot repeat our ancestry.
    I also (but who am I) disagree with the opening statements about the appearance of design. The variety of life is, as is universally agreed, far beyond, even in small parts far beyond, anything that we have any experience of designs. Evolution, the factual process of life, bears no resemblance to any design. (And I would say that before Copernicus et al. the motions of those points of light were simple enough to be thought of as designed.) And moreover, it has been pointed out that that it is incompatible with the concept of the super-natural (let alone omnipotent) to be constrained by design.
    But then I’ll just shut up.

  16. @ Eddie Janssen: Curmudgeon Day? I can’t find it on that website.

  17. Re: Curmudgeon Day
    It is observed as the birthday of W. C. Fields.
    Of whom it was said that anybody who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.

    Today is also called Freethinker Day, as the birthday of Tom Paine.

  18. Eddie Janssen

    Curmudgeon’s Day
    Below the sandwich.

  19. @TomS
    I got the Dawkins quote via the “Evolution as fact and theory” wikipedia page

  20. @richard

  21. I wouldn’t say that this is an attempt to burn down science education – I’m quite certain that the people backing this consider creationism to be based on “facts,” not theory because the book of Genesis exists.

  22. @dweller42
    The “fact” that The Eye is well designed.
    But ….
    It says that a fact is observed *and repeatable”.
    The “facts” of Genesis 1?
    God observed them and repeated them?

  23. The bill was introduced today (1/30/2023) as SB 235.

  24. Thanks, Glenn, for the update

  25. @dweller42 “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your their opinion, man.” 🙂

  26. Observable in Genesis 1, repeatable in Genesis 2, QED.

  27. That and literally millions of people have read Genesis 1. MILLIONS.

  28. When you have a bunch of facts and then you don’t do anything with them, you got yourself a cool game of “science trivial pursuit”, which can be fun I guess. How does he expect them to grow up to be scientists? Wait till they escape from Montana?

  29. A follow up on the James Webb Space Telescope and early galaxies:
    No, the Big Bang theory is not ‘broken.’ Here’s how we know
    By Paul Sutter (about 10 hours ago)

  30. Scientist: Look at these cool facts I wonder they mean. If we put them together maybe we can have a [CENSORED].

    Creationist: Oogity boogity don’t make the sky god mad or the crops will fail.

  31. @richard
    I think of a three step process
    1. To see a pattern when there is none.
    2. To see purpose to the pattern.
    3. To see an extraordinary agency with that purpose.

  32. @docbill1351
    I looked at his facebook page and you’re right he’s dumb as hell. I think we can safely assume he wants to end public schools, period. If we can’t have creationism., burn it all down.