Saturday, November 08, 2008


Ignorance is Strength

Oh, look! Casey Luskin, the Gofer General of the Discovery Institute's anti-science division, has a new title! Now he is "an education policy analyst"! Funny, I knew that Luskin has a law degree and a Masters in "Earth Science," but I can't find where he has any training in education.

Oh, and here's a surprise! The three ringers the creationist members of the Texas State Board of Education installed on a panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards for the state's public schools have come out in favor of keeping the "strengths and weaknesses" language, previously used by some of the Board members to try to block the purchase of standard biology textbooks. Their recommendations:

~ the TEKS should not only retain the "strengths and weaknesses" language, but strengthen critical thinking skills by explicitly applying this approach to the study of specific scientific theories and hypotheses, including biological and chemical evolution.

~ the TEKS should not include pejorative or inaccurate language in their definition of science, but they should encourage students to understand how scientists think skeptically and critically and engage in scientific debate when solving scientific problems.

~ the TEKS should encourage students to learn about the impact of science on culture and society, providing both positive and negative examples of such impacts.

Stephen Meyer, who is, along with Bruce Chapman and George Gilder, a founder of the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture and serves as the Center's Program Director, goes on to say:

Science education that does not encourage students to evaluate competing scientific arguments is not teaching students about the way science actually operates.

But wait! The Discovery Institute pinkie swears that they don't want the teaching of ID mandated in Texas schools. So, just what are those "competing scientific arguments" anyway?

And, while we're at it, just what "pejorative or inaccurate language" in the definition of science are they talking about? Could it be this, from the proposed standards, by any chance?

Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods. (Emphasis added)

I don't think we have to guess very hard as to what "impact of science on culture and society" they are claiming and which "negative examples" they want to hump.

Do you suppose we can get something about Godwin's Law into the standards?

Perhaps the Board should be encouraged to include training in logic as part of the standards, with particular emphasis on the fallacy of begging the question. The Discovery Institute should be of great assistance here, with many of their utterances citable as textbook examples of the error.
If there is anything that the creationist members of the board have demonstrated is that they don' need no steenkin' logic!
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