Friday, January 23, 2009



Here are some more interesting reactions to events in the Texas State Board of Education:

From the Fox News outlet in Lubbock, Texas:

"The Texas Board of Education took one step back and two steps forward today," said Dr. John West of the Discovery Institute. "While we wish they would have retained the strengths and weaknesses language in the overall standards, they did something truly remarkable today. They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory such as the fossil record, universal common descent and even natural selection."

According to West, these changes, to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, means that teachers and students will be able to discuss the scientific evidence that is supportive, as well as evidence that is not supportive of all scientific theories.

"Analyzing, evaluating, any additional scrutiny of evolution can only help students to learn more about the theory," said West, who is associate director of the Institute's Center for Science & Culture.

West, of course, has his directions mixed up. We can be sure that anything the Discovery Institute finds to be a good thing is bad for science education.

From the San Antonio Express-News story "Evolution teaching provision fails first test":

Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who voted to keep "strengths and weaknesses," said he wouldn't rubber stamp recommendations from the experts.

"This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech," Mercer said. "It's an issue of freedom of religion."

That's from the same guy who also allowed that it was "macroevolution" that was controversial because "[m]ost people of faith agree with what is commonly referred to as 'micro' evolution," but who nonetheless maintains that the creationist members of the board are "not putting religion in books." I wonder how he decides which side of his mouth to talk out of at any one moment?

Finally, there is this from the Baylor University Lariat, demonstrating the effects the kind of fiddling with the facts the board's creationists are attempting can have:

Aimee Ferguson, junior biology major from Camden, Ark., agrees. "(Evolution) was presented as a theory," she said. Having been homeschooled, Ferguson said that evolution has never been presented as fact in her biology classes at Baylor.

"If you're teaching as a theory, I think it should be presented as a theory alongside intelligent design ... I don't see a problem with that," she said.

Considering Baylor's track record, I doubt the biology department's presentation of science was so confused as to encourage the mistaking of ID as a scientific theory. I suspect that Ms. Ferguson got that misunderstanding at home.

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