Monday, February 18, 2008


Centers of Education

The Lakeland, Florida Ledger has Casey Luskin (dis)gracing its pages with another of his PR attempts at smoke and mirrors. The main complaint is that the factually accurate report by the proposed science standards that evolution is "the fundamental concept underlying all of biology" will "elevate Darwin's theory to a dogma that cannot be questioned." I suppose truth has the look of dogma to those who are grimly determined to believe in a falsehood.

Luskin's complaint boils down to the fact that the standards reflect the view of the most prestigious scientific bodies in the U.S., including the National Academy of Sciences, that there is "no scientific controversy about the basic facts of evolution," instead of listening to the kvetching of a few scientists, overwhelmingly religiously-motivated, mostly non-biologists, who have [cough] "fundamental doubts" about something unfairly portrayed as "Darwinian evolution." As far as I know, the NAS also doesn't think there is any scientific controversy about the Earth orbiting the Sun just because there are a few people, some with credentials, who think otherwise.

Fortunately, the editorial staff of the same paper is not buying Luskin's blather:

[The standard on evolution] accurately reflects the state of science on the subject. While critics will point out certain scientists who object to the idea of evolution as science, they are a slim minority, often with religious concerns.

Evolution is so firmly embraced by the nation's scientific community that the National Academy of Sciences has produced three books in support of evolution. The most recent, "Science, Evolution and Creationism," was released Jan. 3. ...

That certainty has inspired opponents to object heartily. They mostly represent Evangelical Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. They take the biblical description of Earth's creation literally.

They insist on the teaching in public school of creationism or the related idea of intelligent design.

Evolution is science. It belongs in science class. ...

While voting to uphold evolution as an appropriate subject for teaching in science class, the Education Board should advocate teaching about creationism and intelligent design in sociology class.

Further, when the category of standards pertaining to sociology come up for revision, the Education Board should ensure that these subjects of study are spelled out as specifically as those for evolution.

Sociology is the study of society, social institutions and social relationships - and how groups develop and interact.

The maturation process of students produces the ideal opportunity for undertaking such sociological studies. This would allow the students to learn how others have come to their conclusions and help them understand their own decisions as they form their beliefs. ...

Creationism and intelligent design, as beliefs, are sociological. They belong in sociology class.
While the editorial is, no doubt, somewhat naive when it suggests that creationists "will support this two-pronged approach to the study of our world's beginnings," it is, in fact, the only appropriate way for taxpayer-financed schools to deal, if at all, with the faith-based objections to science.

I knew Casey was an idiot, but to quote Dr. Coyne in an anti-evolution rant is completely absurd. Even worse is placing him in the same company as Michael Egnor. Seeing as how Jerry went off on the recent NY Times article on hopeful monsters I cannot imagine his response to Casey's article. On second thought, maybe it won't be as harsh; I heard he looks down on people picking on the retarded.
I have to say that several years ago when ID creationists were pushing a "teach the controversy" approach in my local school district, the suggestion that ID and creationism belonged in social studies nearly gave the social studies teachers strokes. :)
Luskin's abuse of Coyne was mere sleight-of-hand misdirection anyway. The value and central nature of various concepts in science are in no way measured by their practical use (though Luskin was doubtless exagerating Coyne's point). Black holes haven't produced much in the way of technology but you can't understand cosmology today without an understanding of them and the forces that create them.

As for the social studies teachers, they should consider it incentive to get their credentials in science education. ;-)
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