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Tag: evolution

Reversing the Damage

A high school senior in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is leading a fight to repeal a state law that allows science teachers to present creationism and evolution as theories with equal weight.

He seems to have a good grasp on the politics needed to sell the bill.

“The single most important reason why I took on this repeal was jobs,” Kopplin told me. “This law makes it harder for Louisiana students to get cutting-edge science-based jobs after we graduate, because companies like Baton Rouge’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center are not going to trust our science education with this law on the books.”

Although getting support from a bunch of actual experts on the subject may not go over well in an area of the country where anyone with a good education is suspect.

He also won the support of major scientists and national and local organizations in support of the repeal; more than 40 Nobel laureates signed a letter that was just sent to the Louisiana Legislature. The National Association of Biology Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Biology Educators also back Kopplin’s campaign.

Maybe if we had more kids involved in the process of determining education policy, we would have fewer politicians pushing these anti-science, anti-education laws.

The Third of the Population With No Clue

With today being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, Gallup did a poll in which they asked people if they believe in the theory of evolution.

A more valid question would ask if they understood the concept, but the study types at Gallup went with belief.

Anyway, in the results 39% of the respondents said they “believed”, 25% did not, and 36% had no opinion.

While I would have expected more than 25% to say no, I think the more than one-third of the pool that made no choice is more significant.

That response probably means most of them had no clue what the interviewer was talking about.

We really need to do a better job of science education in this country.

Something That Needs Changing

I wonder if having an intellectually curious president who accepts the evidence of science will help to reverse this kind of crap.

Some students burst into tears when a high school biology [teacher] told them they’d be studying evolution. Another teacher said some students repeatedly screamed “no” when he began talking about it.

Other teachers said students demanded to know whether they pray and questioned why the had to learn about evolution if it was just a theory.

“I’ve seen churches train students to come to school with specific questions to ask to sabotage my lessons,” said Bonnie Pratt, a biology teacher at Northview High in north Fulton County. “We need parents and the community to understand why and how we teach evolution.”

Probably not.

But at least it will be wonderful not having the leaders of the federal government trying to write “intelligent” design into public policy.

The Freedom to Make It Up

Academic freedom. Sounds pretty good, right?

Except when the words (but not the concept) were used to sell the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), a law that allows “local school boards to approve supplemental classroom materials specifically for the critique of scientific theories”.

In other words, to allow them to inject the teaching of “intelligent” design into the curriculum as if it was actually a valid scientific concept.

The text of the LSEA suggests that it’s intended to foster critical thinking, calling on the state Board of Education to “assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.” Unfortunately, it’s remarkably selective in its suggestion of topics that need critical thinking, as it cites scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Oddly, the last item on the list is not the subject of any scientific theory; the remainder are notable for being topics that are the focus of frequent political controversies rather than scientific ones.

And the bill was signed into law by the governor of the state, who was a Biology major. At a real college. Now there’s a wasted education.

With any luck someone will challenge the law on Constitutional grounds as was done successfully in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

But how many kids will receive a lousy science education before the courts throw the stupid law out?

Year of Evolution

Well, this should piss off more than a few people from the intellectual back woods.

Nine academic, scientific and cultural institutions around [Philadelphia] are holding a Year of Evolution, a series of exhibitions, seminars and lectures to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin next February, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, “The Origin of Species.”

Events will include a talk by John E. Jones III, a federal judge who ruled in 2005 that teaching intelligent design – the belief that some aspects of nature are so complex that they must be the work of a higher power rather than of evolution – in public school science classes was unconstitutional.

The intent of the citywide event, said Janet M. Monge, one of the organizers, is to increase public understanding of evolution and science in general at a time when polls show that a majority of Americans believe God created man in his present form and that the number of people who accept the evolutionary model of human origins is declining.

Of course, the creationism/”intelligent” design folks cry that the government is trying to force a “religious” viewpoint on all of us.

That their “theories”, supported by absolutely no physical or reproducible evidence, carry just as much weight as 150 years of real scientific research.

As always, they’re full of crap.

Bravo to the organizers of this program for making a major effort to educate the public at a time when large numbers of them want to remain ignorant.

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