Monday, January 26, 2009

So Predictable, Knee-Jerk reaction from the DI on Texas

The Discovery Institute mouthpiece, John West claims that the evolution supporters are mounting a smear campaign against members of the Texas School Board. Interesting that the only thing mentioned about specific school board members I have seen anywhere is calling the Chairman, Don McElroy an avowed Creationist. Since he has publicly stated his position numerous times in the past, is this a smear?

When an evolution supporter claims the last minute amendments passed by the school board 'promotes the inclusion of Creationism', that is an opinion -- a well supported opinion based on history -- but it's not a smear campaign. In fact a number of school board members, as reported in the NY Times, were unhappy with the way the amendments were rushed through. No smear there either, just reasonable reporting. But then isn't anything anyone says that differs from J. West and the DI always represented as some form of smear campaign? Seems like it to me. Smear campaigns and Conspiracies, their stock in trade!

The NCSE, among others, is unhappy McElroy slipped in amendments that expect the student to:

  • analyze and evaluate how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies including anatomical, molecular, and developmental;
  • analyze and evaluate how natural selection produces change in populations, not individuals;
  • analyze and evaluate how the elements of natural selection including inherited variation, the potential of a population to produce more offspring than can survive, and a finite supply of environmental resources result in differential reproductive success;
  • analyze and evaluate the relationship of natural selection to adaptation, and to the development of diversity in and among species; and
  • analyze and evaluate the effects of other evolutionary mechanisms including genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, and recombination.
  • Analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.
Is this a potential backdoor for Creationism? It certainly can be used as such, since normally to evaluate you normally have to see other sides of an argument. The negative for the DI is that a real science teacher won't bring in religious arguments -- whereas the 'strengths and weaknesses' argument practically mandates the inclusion of opposing views -- of which the religious views are the only opposition. 'Analyze and Evaluate' is much weaker than the DI wanted, but they are still busy declaring victory!

No smear campaign, just accurate reporting of the things that the Board did approve -- and the objections of the scientific community. I see this as nothing more than the opening salvo of the DI marketing toward the formal vote in March. Let's support Texas and Science Education!

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