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

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  •  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

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      •  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

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      •  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.

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