Friday, November 30, 2012


If Montana Won't Come To ...

Well, well, a freshly minted Montana Republican State Representative named Clayton Fiscus (if that isn't the name of a character out of a Coen brothers movie, it soon will be) has asked, even before he is sworn in, for a bill to be drafted entitled "Require public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution."

The Discovery [sic] Institute, ever mindful of the "Disaster in Dover" is already panicking:
However well intentioned this draft bill request, the best place for mulling intelligent design is in the labs and lecture halls that host the scientific community and its activity, and in books and journals read by scientists and non-scientists alike -- not in public schools, statehouses or courtrooms, as these tend to turn science into politics. Our priority is to see intelligent design advance as a science, as well as to promote unhindered public discussion on the issue. None of this is to say that we think intelligent design is unconstitutional -- hardly. Rather, we think that intelligent design should not be pushed into public schools because that would politicize the debate and prevent ID from gaining a fair hearing in the scientific community.
Riiight! After all, the political (social, religious, etc.) debate for 150+ years after Darwin published the Origin has prevented evolution from being seen as science and hindered public discussion of it!
There is, however, always room for more critical thinking about scientific controversy within public school science class. To that end, we urge lawmakers in statehouses across the country, including Montana, to consider following the recent example of Tennessee. ...

[T]eachers in Tennessee can without interference or fear of termination or sanction now teach more about evolution than before academic freedom became state law, more than just one narrow view of what it is, how it works, what it can do, etc. This is provided that the discussion stays within the confines of state-mandated curricular standards and does not veer into religion or personal views.
This is, of course, the "teach the controversy" ploy, at least the fourth incarnation of religious attacks against the teaching of evolution in public schools. There was the "ban evolution in public schools" ploy, slapped down in Epperson v. Arkansas. Then, there was the "equal time for creation science" gambit, ended by Edwards v. Aguillard. Then the "cdesign proponentsists" begat Intelligent Design Creationism only to see it go down in flames in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

So religious opposition to the teaching of evolution has gone from an outright ban because the Book of Genesis must be the exclusive source of doctrine as to the origin of man, to claiming that science supports Genesis, to stripping out mention of God in favor of an unknown and unknowable (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) "Designer" (strangely often capitalized, given the professed ignorance of who or what he, she or it may be), to stripping out the Designer but leaving all the supposed "evidences" against evolution that go back as far as George McCready Price before the Scopes trial.

But they're not afraid of ID being declared unconstitutional, nosiree bob!
Lawmakers: expect more from your state's students. Push for academic freedom in your schools.
Translation from Discoveryspeak: 'Hopefully your kids won't be as dense about the nudge, nudge, wink, wink as their parents have been!'

In one sense, the Discovery Institute is right: it's not against the Constitution to teach idiocy.
I wonder of there's a newly-elected congresscritter somewhere who would table legislation requiring that critical thinking be taught in churches and home schools?
DI has its own fiscal cliff to avoid.
However well intentioned this draft bill request, the best place for mulling intelligent design is in the labs and lecture halls that host the scientific community and its activity, and in books and journals read by scientists and non-scientists alike

Yes, actually doing science isn't the point, it's a matter of "mulling" a bunch of inchoate pronouncements of true believers.

Why should anyone "mull" useless nonsense like ID in a lab--or anywhere else?

Glen Davidson
Good catch. Scientists experiment, observe, and hypothesize with an eye to futher experiment and observation. IDers try to poke holes in science and then "mull" over how they can put it in such a way as to give comfort to those who believe already.
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