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View Diary: Texas State Board of Education: 2010 or 1950? (212 comments)

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  •  If and when you get elected... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKDAWUSS

    can you do me a flavor? Can you make sure that the science books offer alternative arguments to any theories that remain unproven? e.g. Big Bang, Pangaea, Global Warming, Evolution. Granted, all of these have a strong consensus if not near bona fide proof, but until any theory is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, there should be at least a single sentence offering the possibility of an alternative reality.

    For Example:

    Theory: All life as we know it was created via the process of evolution.

    Alternative Theory:

    However, despite the strong empirical evidence and an overwhelming consensus among the scientific community in favor of evolution, at least one alternative theory remains widely believed: The theory of Creationism. (And a brief explanation, blah, blah, blah...)

    I'm an atheist but I still believe that we have an obligation to offer widely believed alternative viewpoints even if they offer no proof of their own. On the other hand, if only a very minute fraction of the population holds the minority belief then it might not be significant enough to be worthy of mention.

    Just a thought...

    "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

    by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 02:42:54 PM PDT

    •  Sorry but I have to disagree (17+ / 0-)

      It's one thing to say that there is no consensus on a Unified Theory that explains dark matter and dark energy etc. and there String Theory is one of the most common though not the only theory in contention but Evolution doesn't have a real competitor.

      "I agree with you now make me do it!" FDR

      by JC Dufresne on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 02:57:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, yes and no... (0+ / 0-)

        It doesn't have a "real" competitor, but it has a competitor that a significant minority of the population thinks is real.

        Is it then not significant that although the "imagined" alternative offers no empirical evidence to support it in any scientific kind of way, enough believers exist to have an impact in a political way.

        I'm not arguing that the believers are correct, I'm simply stating that they are significant, both in terms of percentage of population and in terms of political implications, and should therefore be mentioned.  

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:00:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The only mention that (7+ / 0-)

          creationism should have in the classroom is something along the lines of...

          "Anyone who think creationism is real is a fucking idiot.  Now lets move on to reality."

          As it is a public classroom, I might be willing to not say "fucking", the rest stands.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:06:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm cool with that, that's basically my argument. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            m00finsan, majii

            Although I worded it a bit more diplomatically.

            We both are willing to mention the alternative viewpoint, I was just looking for a more scientific way of presenting the common alternative from a historical point of view.

            Creationism was the "only" theory for the better part of history until evolution blew it out of the water with actual empirical evidence.

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:15:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ummm....you do realize that there are non- (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mollyk, MichaelNY, SocialRazor

              Judeo-Christian societies on this planet, right?

              •  And they ALL have Creation Myths...all different! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                revsue

                If it's
                Not your body
                Then it's
                Not your choice
                AND it's
                None of your damn business!

                by TheOtherMaven on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:52:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  All creationist myths have one thing in common. (0+ / 0-)

                  All creationist myths believe that life was created by supernatural being(s). That's why I never mentioned any specific religions.

                  The only time I mentioned any specific religion was when I mentioned Galileo and his struggle against the Catholic church with his theory of heliocentricity. In that case it was specifically Christians who persecuted him.

                  "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

                  by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 08:11:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I have included all belief systems. (0+ / 0-)

                I never referred to any specific religions. I believe it is necessary to discuss the fact that prior to Darwin, the creationist myth was the only explanation that people had for the existence of life. Since Darwin, there has been an ongoing struggle to educate people because the traditional beliefs have managed to hold strong in many communities. And yes, that includes many Christian communities, Jewish, Islamic, and etc...

                "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

                by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:56:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you in sentiment but (5+ / 0-)

          we're talking about a science class here. Among scientists there really isn't another theory for evolution. Just because there is significant doubt among non-scientists doesn't mean this doubt must be acknowledged in the science classroom. Let's remember, the "science" of Intelligent Design only exists to cast doubt on Evolution. It is not a science with any properties of its own.

          "I think the earth is a living being. I keep waiting for it to rear up and scrape us all off its back." - Tom Waits

          by frankzappatista on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:40:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is no "science" of inteligent design. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            m00finsan

            the "science" of Intelligent Design only exists to cast doubt on Evolution.

            I'm not advocating calling it "science". It is no more than a "widely held belief". It's relevance is in the historical context of the theory of evolution and the struggle that Darwin had against the prevailing superstitions of his time. We talk about Darwin in science, so why not talk about the strong opposition that he faced and give it a name:

            Darwin discovered the process of evolution that revolutionized the way we understand heredity. Despite this monumental breakthrough he faced stiff opposition due to religious superstitions.

            Does it really hurt that much to hear the truth?

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 06:12:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Since when (21+ / 0-)

      did biology class become Public Polling 101?

      Evolution is reality. The fact that a handful of varieties of alternative fantastical nonsense is "widely believed" has nothing to do with biology. Why in the world should we teach the latter in a biology class?

      Plenty of people believe that the Earth is flat, that the global climate is not changing, that Ronald Reagan never raised taxes, and that Barack Obama is the Antichrist. Would you have us teach those "widely believed alternative viewpoints" too?

      Isn't reality--especially in classes, such as biology, that are supposed to be about reality--more important to education than ignorant nonsense is?

      •  It also depends on what level of evolution you're (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        majii, DickMacgurn

        talking about. Not everyone accepts evolution at the same level.

        Controversial subjects should be given all viewpoints for the sake of education. Fringe beliefs and discredited claims should be given a passing mention at most.

        •  "level of evolution" ???? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChemBob

          Please tell me you're not differentiating evolution from speciation.

          "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

          by Empty Vessel on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:07:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Macro vs Microevolution (8+ / 0-)

            is what I think MKD refers to.  A good friend (masters degree in Engineering, no less) stunned me one day by declaring they didn't believe humans and apes were related ("macroevolution" - one species changing into another), but could accept "microevolution" (changes within a species).
            This is one way the more moderate religious right has found wiggle room between Genesis and science.  I concluded that the level of education in biological sciences, even for the highly educated, leaves many scientifically illiterate.

            "If you talk about helping the poor, they call you a Christian. If you actually do something to help the poor, they call you a socialist." Pastor Jim Rigby

            by karmacat on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:25:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'll settle for a passing mention. (0+ / 0-)

          Fringe beliefs and discredited claims should be given a passing mention at most.

          "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

          by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:17:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Anyone who (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChemBob, gsenski

          "accepts evolution" at some particular "level" is ignorant about evolution.


          Controversial subjects should be given all viewpoints for the sake of education.

          Perhaps so. Maybe someone should provide an example of a controversial subject, though--because there is no controversy over evolution. Lies and ignorance from people who don't understand the first thing about evolution do not a "controversy" make.

          •  Not as controversial now as it was then. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RebeccaBellMetereau

            It was very controversial in Darwin's time. We've got to keep it in historical context. These days, deniers of evolution are the minority, but that doesn't stop them from effecting school policy in Texas where somehow the school board was hijacked by the religious right.

            It's very valid to point out that during Darwin's time the concept of evolution directly contradicted a long held belief system that continues to this day. Otherwise there would have been no controversy in his time at all. But there clearly was, and it effected him so deeply that he delayed in publishing his ideas for over a decade after writing his first book.

            Read, Darwin's biography. The controversy was a very real part of his life leading up to the publication of his first book and all the way up until his death.

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 11:29:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oy. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ChemBob, tommymet, gsenski

              It was very controversial in Darwin's time.

              No shit. This has what to do with biology?


              We've got to keep it in historical context.

              Not in biology class we don't.

              Wake up: "Teach the controversy" is a creationist strategy. You are not helping matters by fervently demanding that science classes be loaded with anti-science bullshit or history classes be full of fictional nonsense. Is it too much to ask that you not advocate teaching creationism?

      •  Amen!!! (7+ / 0-)

        Fringe beliefs & discarded alternative views deserve some mention if & only if you are teaching a class that goes into evolution in depth, including the history of changes in evolutionary thought, (the "evolution" of evolution???) Creationism & "Intelligent Design" do not deserve any time in a science class, because they have no basis in science. They start with a religious premise and cherry-pick evidence to support it.

        -5.12, -5.23

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 03:50:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, and we should teach evolution in depth. (0+ / 0-)

          There is no "evidence to support" creationism. So they couldn't have "cherry-picked" anything. But, it is a historical fact that creationism was the only belief for thousands of years. It is also probably a "fact" that creationism is pure fantasy and fiction, but unfortunately a very large and significant minority of Americans still believe in the old theory. It deserves at least a passing mention despite the obvious absurdity of it.

          "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

          by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:29:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, "creationism" (4+ / 0-)

            was never a prevailing belief, because "creationism" is a thinly-veiled pseudo-scientific propaganda, created in the last few decades and designed to give a scientific veneer to one of hundreds of non-scientific creation stories that are believed in around the world. You probably mean that, in the Christian world, the Biblical story of the Creation was more or less universally believed in before science discovered another explanation. And that's important for students to be taught - in a history class.

            •  Not necessarily only Christians or Bible readers. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RebeccaBellMetereau

              The concept predates the Bible and Christianity.

              I would rephrase that slightly:

              ...the concept of supernatural creation (creationism) was universally believed before Darwin presented his theory of evolution. Although debunked by rigorous scientific research, the superstitions about the supernatural origins of life are still widely believed in modern society.  It's important for students to be taught that creationism is a superstition when discussing evolution.

              If you don't discuss the creationism myth when discussing Darwin, you're doing your students a disservice, and ignoring Darwin's very real struggle.

              I agree, that it should also be discussed in history class, but we should also be teaching theology as early as middle school as well. What better way to combat ignorance?

              "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

              by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:48:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Again, not "creationism" (0+ / 0-)

                "Creationism" is pseudo-science. It's not the same as a belief in a creation story.

                •  What would you call the theory of creation (0+ / 0-)

                  ... if not "creationism"?

                  Is there another word for that?

                  "Divine creation" is two words.

                  "Intelligent Design" is too modern.

                  The term creationism dates back to 1847. The word wasn't used to oppose Darwin's theories until 1880.

                  Is it not the best single word to describe the myth of supernatural creation?

                  "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

                  by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 08:44:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  I agree completely. (0+ / 0-)

        We should not "teach" the alternative point of view. We should only mention it when it is relevant. "Ignorant nonsense", although not something we want our students to believe, is something that we want them to be aware of, especially when the "nonsense" was the only theory for most of history and remains a theory that holds the belief of a very significant portion of the population, even if the preponderance of the evidence seems to debunk it beyond any reasonable argument to the contrary.

        I am not arguing in favor or teaching creationism. I am arguing in favor of mentioning the "fact" that the creationism theory was the only theory leading up to the theory of evolution and amazingly remains a widely held belief.

        I believe in teaching facts, and historically, it is a "fact" that creationism was and still is believed to be true even though I personally believe in evolution.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:10:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm afraid (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChemBob, tommymet

          that the school day is going to have to be lengthened by several hours to accommodate all of the nonsense that, within your model, students need to learn.

          I'm talking about biology classes. Evolution belongs in biology class. Creationism does not. Anything else is a silly irrelevancy.

      •  We do teach those points of view and (0+ / 0-)

        for good reason.

        ...the Earth is flat

        Textbooks still teach that most people believed the Earth was flat. It's in every history textbook as it well should be. Not because it was ever true, but because it was part of the reason that it took so long for explorers to try and sail to the ends of the Earth. It wasn't until around the time of Columbus that a growing minority of explorers were willing to test their new hypothesis. Then it was only a matter of time before someone got the financial backing to check it out.

        ...Barack Obama is the Antichrist

        When the story of Obama becomes something we teach in the history books we no doubt will mention the opposition to his policies in order to put them into historical context. We might not go so far as to mention the extreme fringe belief that he is "The Antichrist" but we should definitely mention the widely held belief that he is a "socialist". Not to convince anyone that he is or was actually a socialist, but to teach our students the kind of ridiculous claims that his opposition used to vilify his agenda.

        We shouldn't teach our kids that Obama was a socialist, but we certainly should teach the "fact" that a ridiculous percentage of ignorant Americans believed it. This viewpoint, although moronic, will always remain relevant in the context of history. Otherwise how would you illustrate the battle that we had to endure leading up to the passage of HC reform?

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:55:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How symptomatic. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChemBob

          Textbooks still teach that most people believed the Earth was flat.

          Cite?


          It's in every history textbook....

          No, it isn't.


          ...as it well should be.

          No, it shouldn't.


          Not because it was ever true, but because it was part of the reason that it took so long for explorers to try and sail to the ends of the Earth. It wasn't until around the time of Columbus that a growing minority of explorers were willing to test their new hypothesis.

          You seriously believe that?

          "Explorers" have widely known that the world was round since thousands of years before Columbus.


          You're a case in point of why your approach doesn't work. You, personally, have lost track of what's reality and what's bullshit myth. Spending time, energy, and material resources filling kids' heads with nonsense is somewhat less important than studying reality--something you'd do well to practice.

          •  Straight from my 14 year old's history book: (0+ / 0-)

            The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, was published and mistaken by many for a scholarly work. In Book III, Chapter II of this biography, Irving gave a largely fictional account of the meetings of a commission established by the Spanish sovereigns to examine Columbus's proposals. One of his more fanciful embellishments was a highly unlikely tale that the more ignorant and bigoted members on the commission had raised scriptural objections to Columbus's assertions that the Earth was spherical.

            The flat Earth concept lives on in the history books because it demonstrates how ignorance often impedes scientific discovery and exploration.

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 11:19:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Whaa? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tommymet

              You caught that Irving made the whole thing up, right?

              I.e., it's not actual history regarding Columbus?


              You think it's worthwhile to waste valuable educational time with this fictional nonsense? That's ridiculous. It leads to people--for example, you--saying silly things like "It wasn't until around the time of Columbus that a growing minority of explorers were willing to test their new hypothesis." When by "new" you meant "thousands of years old."

              You've openly confused reality with fiction, and you think this testifies in favor of teaching more such fiction in schools? Pull the other one.

    •  Uh, no (7+ / 0-)

      Please don't do that.

      Teach the controversy is just another way to teach creationism.

      Here's the facts.  

      1.  Creationism wrong.
      1.  Anybody who thinks its true is an idiot.
      1.  Teachers aren't paid to to teach things that are wrong, or turn their students into idiots.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 03:59:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, don't teach the controversy. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frankzappatista, karmacat

        Don't do that!

        Don't teach the alternative viewpoint.

        But do mention the "fact" that leading up to the monumental scientific breakthrough of evolution were thousands of years of the belief in supernatural power. And amazingly, although debunked by the discovery of heredity and then DNA proof, many religions cling to the belief in the supernatural origins of life.

        This is an indisputable fact:

        Creationism was the dominant theory for thousands of years leading up to the development of evolutionary science.

        Why would we omit such a relevant fact? Just because it has no place in science? Should we ignore it's relevant place in history? Should we ignore the "fact" that many still believe it?

        Wouldn't it better serve the goal of ending superstitious beliefs if we identify them for what they are?

        Creationism is a superstition. This is a nearly irrefutable fact. However, it is an irrefutable fact that many still believe in this superstition and work to rewrite our science and history books so as to willfully promote ignorance.

        It certainly deserves a mention, and rather than lead to more ignorance, it would put a name on the ignorance that at the moment has a prevailing vote in the Texas school board.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:42:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Right... (10+ / 0-)

      And be sure to include alchemy in there, because we all know that atomic theory is only a 'theory'.

      Oh, and germ theory is only a 'theory' as well, so we should probably make equal time for the 'alternative viewpoint' that sickness and disease is cause by demonic possessions.

      /snark

      Science is based on fact, not public opinion.  'Alternative viewpoints' deserve ZERO mention in a science class if they hold neither factual basis nor intellectual merit.

      As an atheist AND a scientist, we have an obligation to spread knowledge, not a gross lack thereof.

      •  And dont forget to teach that the sun goes around (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        powderblue

        the earth, because a lot of people believed that and some people were even executed for believing otherwise.  Or how about that each sperm contains a little human inside, the homunculus, because no one wanted to admit the female had an equally important biological role in creating a child.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 04:57:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We do teach that also. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          frankzappatista

          The whole "heliocentric" controversy is very well taught both in high school and in college textbooks and for good reason. Galileo went through hell to bring us the truth. He was persecuted by the Christians until his dying days.

          Darwin faced similar opposition to his theory.

          Why would we not teach that? Are we that fearful of ignorance that we would ban the teaching of its existence? That is itself ignorance, is it not?

          I'm glad they still teach the "heliocentric" controversy. I'm glad they still teach that many believed the Earth was flat. And I think we can add "creationism" to the long list of debunked theories in the context of history. The history of the struggle against ignorance in all areas of scientific research.

          "The little human inside" might be a tad irrelevant since it never really gained any steam. "Creationism" has done well enough to cause this diary to be written. That's relevant.

          "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

          by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:12:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No problems with teaching these things in history (0+ / 0-)

            I do object when they infiltrate science and corrupt the scientific method.  Which should always ask questions, of course.

            Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

            by barbwires on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:06:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Alchemy is taught in the textbooks. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frankzappatista

        And be sure to include alchemy in there

        Yes, that's a great example. In fact, alchemy is mentioned in high school textbooks. The teachers don't try to convince our students that alchemy was legitimate, they just point out the "fact" that alchemy was a widely held belief leading up to the discovery of chemistry. It's important to teach our kids about the opposition that scientists endured while in the search for truth. Darwin's theories were vehemently opposed even by his own wife. To ignore that reality wouldn't do Darwin justice. He, like Galileo, had to fight to present his point of view and that is a very important aspect to teach our students.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:04:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Germ theory" is also taught in schools. (0+ / 0-)

        Not specifically. Not in the context of an actual theory. But the concept of "blood letting" and the ill informed ideas about how "germs" worked before the microscope are still discussed in the textbooks.

        the reason they're discussed is because its relevant. In the same way that creationism is relevant to Darwin's struggle. In the same way that the persecution that Galileo underwent during his lifetime after introducing his theory of "heliocentricity".  

        Science is based on fact, not public opinion.  

        I couldn't agree with you more, BUT, and this is my whole point: "Public opinion" is relevant in the context of teaching our students about what came before the scientific theories were introduced. If we exclude mentioning the elephant in the room, we do the science a disfavor. Kids are better educated when they are informed of the existence of a widely believed superstition and when it is labeled as such.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 06:05:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ok yeah (0+ / 0-)

          and the cell theory.
          cells are the basic unit of life
          Cells come from other preexisting cells.

          Shelterbox http://www.shelterboxusa.org/

          by TexMex on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:23:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

          Phlogiston theory is mentioned in science class as is the Catholic Church's opposition to Galileo - but in a historic context.  Creationism is really a political issue.  Darwin may have (I don't know) run into scientific opposition to his theory of evolution; that's history of science.  His theory ran into religious opposition with the Scopes Monkey trial and has religious/political opposition now - that has nothing to do with the progress of evolutionary biology - which now takes place within the field of genetics.

          Scientists think that the mouse genome will be even important than the human genome to medicine and human welfare. That seems bizarre: why is that? The reason is that, because of the relatively 'recent' divergence of the mouse and human lineages from our common ancestor (about 75 million years ago), an astonishing 99% of mouse genes turn out to have analogues in humans.

          Not only that, but great tracts of code are syntenic - that means the genes appear in the same order in the two genomes. http://www.evolutionpages.com/...

          Creation science or whatever its advocates call it is not science - it doesn't follow the method of using experiment to test theory.  When I isolated DNA in high school biology class there was no mention of creationism or god.  My lab partner and I were amazed that we did it.  Read the Voyage of the Beagle - Darwin could be a scientist and at the same time marvel at the wonders of creation. I'm sure he didn't confuse his science with his wonder.  I'd leave it up to teachers to decide whether to introduce the creationism issue, remembering that scientific rigor doesn't countenance non-scientific ideas.      

    •  You do not understand what a "theory" is in the (5+ / 0-)

      context of science.

      Science is an ongoing exploration of the real world--it's as if we are finding our way through a dark cave. Never, never,is anything "proven beyond the shadow of a doubt."

      Despite that, we still have solid knowledge. These other theories you talk about--relativity, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, etc., are all still theories--they are works in progress, having solid basis in proven fact but not complete, still being built upon. But the knowledge we have amassed about them enables us to run the modern world. Those PARTS of these theories are proven to the extent that we can make practical use of them.

      It is the same with evolution.

      There is a very large body of knowledge in evolution that is already proven. The entire theory, however, is still being explored and will continue to be.

      You can't just come in with some other "theory," call it Intelligent Design and expect it to have the same scientific credibility as evolution. That "theory" has not yet earned the right through hypothesis and experiment to be considered on the same level with the theory of evolution.

      In fact, intelligent design is currently on the same level with the "flying spaghetti monster" conjecture of our origins. --Just something a bunch of yahoos threw up against the wall out of ideologiecal conviction without even a slight thread of evidence, proof or coherence. And you seriously expect it to be considered on the same level as evolution?

      •  That's why I used the term "viewpoint" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RebeccaBellMetereau

        rather than theory.

        Some view points that we still discuss in textbooks:

        The Earth is flat.

        That viewpoint is still discussed because of its relevance to the struggle to bring to light the "Spherical Earth" theory which was later "proven beyond a shadow of a doubt."

        I disagree with your assertion:

        Science is an ongoing exploration of the real world--it's as if we are finding our way through a dark cave. Never, never,is anything "proven beyond the shadow of a doubt."

        There is no longer any doubt that the Solar system is "heliocentric". Not even among the Catholics who opposed it due to its Biblical contradictions. Even they have come around on that one.

        They're still coming around to the theory of "evolution". But ignoring the fact that a large portion of the population is still opposed to good science does less to expel the willful ignorance of creationism than exposing it for what it is.

        We should mention the debunked "viewpoint" of creationism in the same context that the textbooks currently discuss the debunked viewpoints of heliocentrism and the flat Earth.  

        "The Flying Spaghetti Monster" isn't relevant in teaching evolution in schools because:

        1. It wasn't the widely held belief for thousands of years whereas creationism was.
        1. It was invented only as a way of mocking creationism, and not as a serious belief.
        1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster isn't currently a part of the textbook debate because it has no traditional roots or basis on any relevant literature.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:44:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yay! I was wondering when someone was going (0+ / 0-)

        to mention the FSM!

        A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. -Greek proverb

        by marleycat on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 06:04:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You betray a fundamental ignorance (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      salmo, Philoguy, Lady Libertine, marleycat

      of how the scientific method works in your statements here. Theories are never "proven beyond a shadow of a doubt", though they may be made stronger by observation or testing.  In that regard, big bang, plate tectonics, anthropogenic climate change and evolution are widely accepted because of the depth and quality of supporting evidence in their favor.  Creation, on the other hand, isn't even a theory because it's not falsifiable--at best, it's a hypothesis, and it certainly has no business being included in a science curriculum.

      What we really need is to do a better job of teaching the scientific method, as a foundation for broader scientific learning and critical thinking.

      •  Big bang has some serious doubts too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane

        I'm glad you mentioned "Big Bang" theory.

        As you probably know, Einstein himself never believed in that theory, which was invented by a priest in order to allow for Genesis and cosmology to coexist.

        There has always been a significant opposition to the Big Bang theory. And when new evidence came up which seemed to debunk it, even an ad hoc explanation hasn't filled in the gaps. Namely: the evidence that not only is the universe expanding, but it seems to be expanding at an ever increasing rate. Since this was discovered using the same "red shift" principles, no one has been able to explain how that doesn't contradict the Big Bang theory of a universe that expands at an ever slower rate.

        Creation, on the other hand, isn't even a theory because it's not falsifiable--at best, it's a hypothesis, and it certainly has no business being included in a science curriculum.

        I refer to creationism as a "viewpoint" rather than a theory, and I wouldn't elevate it to hypothesis either. It's a widely held "belief" or "viewpoint" just like "flat Earth" and "Earth centric universe" beliefs had no basis in scientific fact.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 05:52:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You've made a convincing argument. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, marleycat

          I refer to creationism as a "viewpoint" rather than a theory, and I wouldn't elevate it to hypothesis either. It's a widely held "belief" or "viewpoint" just like "flat Earth" and "Earth centric universe" beliefs had no basis in scientific fact.

          The difference is that textbooks readily debunk these theories (flat earth, earth centric) in their quest to enlighten the student to current scientific thinking.

          To introduce ONE religion's current philosophy into scientific learning is different ballgame.

          I'm a Kennedy Catholic.

          by EquiStar on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:46:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I couldn't agree more! n/t (0+ / 0-)

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 07:49:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  In case I didn't make myself clear: (0+ / 0-)

            To introduce ONE religion's current philosophy into scientific learning is different ballgame.

            I wouldn't pick on any specific religion. And I wouldn't "introduce" anything. I would simply state the irrefutable fact that prior to Darwin, the creationist myth was the only "ball game". It's relevant, and should be discussed when "introducing" evolution to students because to ignore the mythology only permits ignorance. We need kids to know that these beliefs have been debunked in the same way we discuss the problem that Columbus had in convincing people that the Earth was spherical and the problem that Galileo had in convincing Christians that the planets revolved around the sun.

            Galileo specifically dealt with Catholic priests whereas the creationist myth is pervasive in all societies and religions. This information should remain in the textbooks that it is already in, and be added to those that ignore it.

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 08:05:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "The" creationist myth? (0+ / 0-)

              To say that "the" creationist myth was the only ballgame prior to Darwin is simplistic and inaccurate.  Simplistic because there have been many creation myths among the various religions of the world, not just one, and inaccurate because beyond those creation myths there were also naturalistic/rational attempts at explaining the origins of life and the universe.  Creation myths might be relevant in a philosophy class, or as part of an examination of the history behind the development of our modern understanding of the universe, but they're not science and shouldn't be treated as such.

        •  Where to begin? (0+ / 0-)

          First, it's not true that Einstein never supported the Big Bang theory. He did reject the theory when it was first proposed, but came to support it a few years later after Edwin Hubble's observations gave added credibility to the theory. Second, while it is true that Georges Lemaitre was a priest, he was also a physics professor who received a number of awards for his scientific work.  Even if he saw his theory as a validation of his religious beliefs, it doesn't change the fact that his work on the theory was subjected to rigorous peer review.  And the opposition to Big Bang theory isn't anywhere near as significant now as it was when the theory was first proposed--it's widely accepted by most credible scientists.  Yes, there are unsolved problems with the theory, much as there are with pretty much every scientific theory, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a substantial amount of support for it.  And there have been credible explanations offered for the accelerating expansion rate.

          You're right that it's far more accurate to call creationism a "viewpoint" than a theory or even a hypothesis. And that's precisely why it has absolutely no business being mentioned in the context of a science curriculum.  The fact that a lot of people believe it means nothing from a scientific standpoint, because it's still not science.  Mentioning it in a philosophy or comparative religion class might make sense, but certainly not in a science class.

          •  Are you saying that only the concensus view (0+ / 0-)

            is valid in regards to Big Bang theory?

            Einstein called Big Bang a "perversion of the cosmological constant" that he introduced. After seeing how it was used to invent the Big Bang concept he said the constant was, "the biggest mistake" of his life. He asserted that the Big Bang theory contradicts his "conservation of energy" theory. He believed that there could be no center to an infinite universe, no starting point, no outer limits or perimeter. He never withdrew his theory and in fact he proved that it was possible.  

            I think it's important that students, whether they're learning about evolution, cosmology, plate tectonics, or any other scientific fields should be aware of contradictory viewpoints even if the consensus view is strongly opposed to them. If not for the fact that too often consensus views turn out to be wrong later on, then to keep the time of their introduction in historical context.

            Darwin had to deal with a lot of negativity during the 20 years that it took him to publish his work and long after, not the least of which came from his own family. The prevailing view of the time was creationism and although that belief has been thoroughly debunked with concrete evolutionary science, it was still a historical factor in gaining a consensus on his theory, and the struggle continues due to the kind of willful ignorance we're seeing in the Texas school board of late.

            The textbooks continue to discuss debunked beliefs like "blood letting", "Earth centric universe", "flat Earth concept", etc and "creationism" rightly belongs in the dialogue whenever Darwin's struggle against the consensus of his time is discussed. And since Darwin and his life is discussed in biology books, so should the "fact" that he withstood very stiff criticism from his piers at the time. Nearly all of that criticism had to do with the way his theories contradicted creationism. And that's why it's relevant.

            As for the "physics professor" priest, let's not forget that award winning PhD professor Michael Behe" wrote "Darwin's black box", so I don't hold too much respect for someone just because they got a PhD and won some awards, that doesn't mean they can't be biased for their faith. Behe is certainly wrong and the physicist priest could be wrong as well. Don't forget that he formulated the Big Bang theory long before there was even the slightest evidence to support it. For a while the red shift evidence seemed to support his theory of expansion and later when the data showed that the red shift was accelerating, which directly contradicted the standard model, any number of ad hoc explanations have been presented none of which jives with any mathematical formula that we know of. It's problems like these that make it clear that we need to keep all options on the table.

            In the case of Creationism, it's not really an option for any rational minded person, but because so many people continue to use the mythical concept of creation as an argument against evolution, it's worth a mention if for no other reason than to educate the student as to why it isn't taken seriously by scientists these days any more than an Earth centric universe is.

            Question: Do you believe that India broke away from Antarctica so that it could dock into Asia and create the Himalayas? Do you believe in Pangaea? Because many textbooks these days don't offer any alternative to that theory. The closest they get is with the "land bridges" theory, but they manage to talk about it without saying that it contradicts Pangaea in any way. Plate tectonics is a very real and valid science, but to extrapolate a very small amount of data and say that India floated past Africa thousands of miles while retaining it's relative shape is so absurd that it boggles my mind that the textbooks don't point out the obvious problems with that theory which started to take shape 450 years ago.  
                 

            "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

            by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 10:46:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What I'm saying (0+ / 0-)

              regarding the Big Bang theory is that there is a widespread consensus in support of the theory, and that there's a reason for that widespread consensus--namely, the overwhelming body of scientific evidence in favor of the theory.  And again, whatever Einstein may have initially said after the theory was introduced, he later came to support it as added evidence contributed to its credibility.  For some reason, you seem to think that the debate over this theory that occurred within the few years after its introduction is the only part of the dialogue that matters.

              When students are learning in the context of a science classroom, "viewpoints" shouldn't be part of the equation. Students are there to learn about valid, falsifiable scientific concepts.  And while some science textbooks occasionally reference debunked ideas like geocentrism and belief in a flat earth, they do so within the context of a discussion about the history of scientific development--they certainly don't present them as valid viewpoints.  Yes, students should be exposed to scientific theories that aren't necessarily mainstream.  And yes, Darwinian evolution evolution was once considered outside the mainstream of scientific thought, and yes, Darwin did have to deal with a lot of negativity related to his theories.  But--and this is the important part--they were scientific theories, that could be (and were) subjected to the rigors of scientific research.  Creationism is NOT SCIENCE.  It is philosophy.  Science teachers have no more business discussing creationism in their classrooms than they do discussing Hegelian dialectic.

              And comparing Georges Lemaitre to Michael Behe is absolutely absurd.  You can put "physics professor" in scare quotes if you want, but it doesn't take away from the fact that he was in fact a respected scientist who subjected his work to rigorous peer review and who was recognized for his work.  There's no evidence that his work on the Big Bang theory was compromised by religious bias.  Michael Behe, on the other hand, is a Discovery Institute hack who has bypassed the peer review process altogether, and has even been repudiated by the biology department at his own university.

              Your statements about Big Bang theory and plate tectonics show that you have much to learn about both.  You ask if I "believe in Pangaea", refer to the land bridges "theory", and apparently believe that the two contradict each other somehow.  But these aren't separate theories, they're both components of plate tectonics theory.  India didn't "float" past Africa, and nothing I've seen has asserted that the continental drift that caused India to collide with Asia took anything less than tens of millions of years, or that it retained its relative shape while doing so.  In fact, most accounts I've seen specifically mention the fact that the Himalaya Mountains were created by the collision of India with Asia.

              Your understanding of the scientific process, and of the widely accepted theories that you suggest should be offset with superstition and unfalsifiable assertions, is limited, and that has a lot to do with why you think we should be presenting creationism and similar claptrap in our science classes.

              •  Theory vs. Viewpoint (0+ / 0-)

                Big Tex makes a number of sound points, demonstrating a thorough grounding in scientific education. I would like to reiterate that the viewpoints expressed by those who support creationism have nothing to do with science and are therefore not appropriate for the science classroom. Religious studies or even philosophical studies may address such beliefs.

                Candidate for Texas State Board of Education District 5

                by RebeccaBellMetereau on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:52:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely not! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tommymet, saildude

      Creationism is not science, period.  Science is an inductive process, by which we learn through observation, experiment, hypothesis confirmation or refutation, and reproducible results.  We use science to organize and understand empirical information.  It is the very opposite of a belief system.  

      Creationism is deductive, that is it starts from a "truth" and proceeds to explain observations about the world so as to be consistent with that overriding principle.  Think of elaborate theories about the motion of the planets and stars derived from the medieval church's "truth" that the Earth was the center of the Universe, about which everything revolved. Like that, creationism is simply not science.  If someone wants to believe it, and sing its praises in their home and church - fine.  But to teach it in a science class fundamentally misrepresents what science is and how it works.  It is pernicious because it undermines not only the information about specific subjects but the principles by which we know what we know and how we discover what we don't know yet.  

      I had religious study classes in high school, where we studied theology from a historical and philosophical perspective.  Put creationism in that mix, and I have no problem with its inclusion in a public school class.  It has no business in science classes.

      •  Creationism is not science. We agree on that. (0+ / 0-)

        However, to say that the mythical concept of creationism shouldn't be mentioned in the historical context of Darwin's great struggle is the same as saying that Galileo's struggle against the Catholic church also shouldn't be mentioned when talking about a heliocentric universe.

        Of course the textbooks rightly discuss the controversy that Galileo dealt with and so should the controversy about Darwin and the way creationism has, and continues to effect education policy in Texas.

        Galileo was a scientist that had to deal with persecution and ignorance from conservatives, and so was Darwin. The only difference is that they finally excepted Galileo's science and they still haven't accepted Darwin's. These things take time, but ignoring the controversy doesn't help debunk the myth, if anything it allows it to go unchecked.

        "The government has got into the hands of the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy." -- Woodrow Wilson

        by DickMacgurn on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 10:57:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I call bullshit on this (0+ / 0-)

      You've no idea what you're talking about. Besides, high school is where you learn what is known about science; very few teenagers are capable of actually making a contribution to the knowledge base because they haven't yet mastered what is known.

      Evolution is beyond a testable hypothesis, it is a FACT. All we are doing at this point is evaluating the details of how it has occurred.

      Life isn't a battle between good and evil, it's a battle between signal and noise.

      by ChemBob on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 03:32:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  alternate theories (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lirtydies

      Beliefs about origins—what Republican Tom Ratliff has identified as the Who and Why—are the subject of philosophy rather than science.  Evolutionary biologists look a fossil records and what can be observed and measured.  I think it only confuses the issue if we start mixing disciplines and discuss "creative design," when there is nothing to measure or observe. It really isn't a theory, because it doesn't explain phenomena; it simply posits a belief.  There is simply speculation.  I believe a teacher needs to be prepared to address these questions, but non-theories do not need to be included in scientific textbooks.

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