Sunday, July 24, 2011

Texas and the Discovery Institute

I know, I know, I am still catching up on my blogging. But here is a fun one. Did you know that on June 7 the Discovery Institute released their own report on the supplemental materials submitted to the Texas School Board for review. Here it is, if you need a good laugh. "An Evaluation of Supplemental Biology and Evolution Curricular Materials Submitted for Adoption by the Texas State Board of Education"

According to the DI:

"Most proposed supplementary curricula fail to follow 2009 TEKS and/or contain glaring scientific errors."
Now, did you know that according to the rules the reason supplemental materials could be rejected is if they contain glaring errors or fail to follow the TEKS. The TEKS are the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards adopted in 2009. You might remember those, they were the ones in which the Discovery Institute failed, yet again, to include their 'strengths and weaknesses' arguments. They did, however, manage to get some wording about 'critical analysis' included.

So now that the voting has passed, obviously the statement that most of the material failed is not true. Plus, I have to remind you that the material passed unanimously -- which means even the hard-core conservative creationists voting in support of it.

The voting has passed and most of the material was not rejected. That does lead me to believe that the material certainly did follow the TEKS and did not contain any glaring scientific errors. Gee, it looks like the Discovery Institute lied. What a shock.

Now, also according to the DI:
"Unfortunately, as regards to the TEKS, that pertain to biology and evolution, only one of the proposed curricula (International Databases, LLC) makes any serious attempt to fulfill the call for meaningful critical analysis of biological and chemical evolution."
So the International Databases, LLC, is the only one that meets the standards, right? Apparently that too is a lie because guess which one got rejected in another unanimous vote? You got it, the submission from the International Databases, LLC.

The DI also tried to use some very common Creationist canards of Haeckel's drawings, the Miller-Urey experiment, dark and light moths, finches, and vestigial organs. All tactics attempted to be used in the past and each one continues to fail miserably.

They, the DI, also tried to sell us on the idea that they are opposed to the teaching of Intelligent Design . . . Right, this is the same organization who has failed to achieve their own goals about Intelligent Design. The same organization who when it found it was going to lose the fight in Dover suddenly claimed to have advised them down a different path. This is the same organization who regularly publishes unscientific books, articles, and holds seminars on Intelligent Design year after year. This is the same organization whose 'Wedge Strategy' clearly lays out the purpose of Intelligent Design. Yea, sure, the DI is opposed. In my opinion they should add the term 'currently' when they tell this little bit of PR. Oh they are opposed to it . . . right up until they think they can actually get it inserted into the curriculum -- then suddenly they will remind everyone that they have been championing ID for years.

I do have a question though. Who commissioned this study? Did someone in Texas ask for it? Who was it sent to and was it used during the hearings? My feeling is that the DI did this one on their own. It's more marketing, which does seem to be par for the course. They dressed it up in scientific sounding terms and even gave it a science-y title. but all it is -- is more marketing.

One last thing, their recommendation at the end of the 'study':
"Both because they fail to fulfill the 2009 TEKS and/or because they contain glaring scientific errors, 9 of the 10 proposed curricula which have posted material for online analysis clearly require significant revisions. One curriculum (International Databases, LLC) adequately fulfills the evolution-related TEKS, but it contains typographical and other errors that need to be corrected. It also goes beyond the TEKS because it addresses intelligent design, and so the material on intelligent design needs to be removed."
If school science standards were biological organisms, I think we could use this as a wonderful example of Natural Selection! So outside of the imagination and wishful thinking of unnamed members of the DI, the 9 proposed curricula was accepted unanimously and the only one seen fit by the DI was rejected, also unanimously. Oh if they had any shame their heads would be down for weeks over this one.

Well I am sure you can see how much fun it was looking this document over. The DI makes itself look foolish so very often I wanted to make sure this one wasn't lost in the crowd of errors, lies, and mistakes. I can't wait to see how they try and spin this.

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