Monday, December 10, 2007

US Student scores grim!

This is a headline that should be in bold print above the fold of every newspaper in the US, but alas it's relegated to the back pages. That in itself is shameful. But please read the article! It's worth considering. Especially the closing line: "The United States will never take the lead in science as long as state departments of education are willing to sacrifice the integrity of the classroom to politics."

Look at what it's saying! Now this isn't the only problem with science education, but it is one that can cause serious and expensive issues. I'm sure the people of Dover PA could have found other things to do with their school budget than pay for an expensive legal proceeding brought about by a small group of incredibly small minded people attempting to inflict their personal views on science education. Add in the fact they LIED about their motivations under oath just really irritates the hell out of me.

As long groups such as the Discovery Institute use politics and lawyering rather than science we will have this problem. When they try and confuse by using two definitions of the word 'theory', one supports their contentions and use the other one to prove to the world evolution isn't factual we have a problem. When they, after failing to eradicate evolution education, try a new tactic called "Teach the Controversy" we will have this problem. When they discount millions of years of evolutionary evidence for their own purposes we have this problem. This was typified by Michael Behe when faced with a literal pile of evidence that the examples of irreducible complexity he wrote about in his book "Darwin's Black Box" were in fact not irreducible at all , he said that it wasn't good enough. Over 50 articles on the evolution of the immune system, articles he hadn't even read and he claimed it wasn't good enough to refute his idea of an irreducibly complex immune system. See what happens when you close your mind!

Tactics change and so must our responses. In recent months the hue and cry over "Teach the Controversy" and "Free Speech" have been used to inject Intelligent Design into the science classroom. The politics of the school board are being manipulated to replace the science that should be used to determine what gets presented to our young.

Briefly let's address controversy, as in what controversy? The Modern Synthesis of Evolution is a widely accepted scientific theory with support in many disciplines of science including Paleontology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, just to name a few. Intelligent Design advocates point to contentions in how things occur and the fact work is still going on, as it is in all branches of science, as some sort of deep seating dissatisfaction with Evolution. The only people with that level of dissatisfaction are the William Dembski's and Phillip E. Johnson's of the world. Scientists have no controversy and for years ignored the Intelligent Design political movement until it started interfering with the education of our young.

Is Free Speech an issue? More smoke and mirrors. When they failed to get Evolution banned by law they [Creationists and ID Supporters] tried new ways to get a foot in the door. Claiming that denying students a hearing on Intelligent Design and not allowing it in the science classroom is a violation of free speech. Hmmm since when do we design curriculum based on free speech? In order to be a topic in a science classroom, it must be a science, a level Intelligent Design hasn't reached yet. All the rhetoric in the world doesn't make something a valid scientific theory! It requires explanations that don't end with "And the magic occurs!". It requires experimentation, it requires publishing not only opinion, as folks like Johnson, Behe, and Dembski do in the popular press, but publishing details, explanations, and experimentation results for other scientists to see. Even unpopular ideas have become accepted scientific theories once the finding and data are completely presented and the ability to refute starts to die off. Look at the struggle for Plate Tectonics to be accepted. It was a long arduous struggle and resulted in an increase of scientific knowledge.

That's the route that must be taken before Intelligent Design belongs in the science classroom. The longer we dither and delay, the longer people like Ms. Comer are removed from positions by Creationists with hidden agendas and the longer a school board has to argue over which textbooks to use because of a personal bias against evolution the worse our science education will become and it will be a much harder road back from the abyss of ignorance.

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