Friday, February 06, 2009


Riding North

Larry Moran has accused me of reveling in the creationism that pops up outside of the United States. ... Okay, misery does love company. But you shouldn't think that I find particular pleasure when Canada is the victim ... not that it isn't true, you just shouldn't think it. Anyway, Bill Kaufmann of the Calgary Sun has a case study:

In Alberta, teaching kids creationist fairy tales as an alternative to real biological science is even paid for with our tax dollars. Last summer, the province quietly began shipping more of our dough to private and religious schools by upping their per student grant from 60% to 70% of the total instructional cost.

Our tax dollars are underwriting ignorance in religious schools peddling myth as science throughout the province, some of which have attached themselves to public boards in a bid to receive full funding.

Kaufmann is worried that a newly science-friendly US may touch off something of an intellectual trade war:

[A]t a time when the anti-science agenda of the Bush administration fades south of the border, [there is] increasing pressure on Canada to compete in research and knowledge-based pursuits, as our university heads warn.

The fly in the ointment?

The principal of Airdrie's Koinonia Christian school is proud creationism and its more sophisticated offspring, intelligent design, is part of his school's science instruction, even though Alberta Education says it forbids creationism being taught as science.

"When I was in school in the 1970s, creationism was not considered science, it wasn't even considered a scientific theory," says Driedger.

It still isn't, but Driedger clearly thinks education has come a long way -- and the future is bright.

"Intelligent design is certainly taking off due to the lack of evidence in evolutionary science," he says.

Despite the supposed ban on teaching creationism, Kaufmann says that "[u]nder the banner of 'flexibility' and 'choice,' those standards don't exclude pseudo science being taught at taxpayers' expense."

As Kaufmann duly notes, PZ Myers was recently in Calgary sounding the warning. Maybe he should change his last name to Revere.

It strikes me we should probably ask these people what they think the word "evidence" means. They don't seem to define it the way a literate person would.
"Evidence" to many (most?) people, not just creationists, is "that which I cannot deny and remain consistent with my pre-existing beliefs." "Good evidence" is "that which confirms my pre-existing beliefs."

You know for sure that you have hit real evidence when it makes your pre-existing beliefs change.
I take evidence to mean data that can be shown to fit within an explanatory framework and thus becomes evidence which supports or tends to confirm the explanation.

Thus, data about the widespread and growing ownership of cats as pets is evidence for my hypothesis that they are cleverly taking over the world but not looking like they're taking over the world.
... they are cleverly taking over the world but not looking like they're taking over the world.

Every cat I was ever owned by could only be said not to look like it was taking over the world in the sense that it was already "Mission Accomplished!"
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