Friday, August 22, 2014

IS it really fair?

I was posting on another forum and someone raised what seemed like a nice, simple, innocuous point.  Isn't the wording of OH HB 597 simply being fair?

I'm reminded of several articles I read about journalistic 'fairness'.  All too often journalists seem to think that presenting both sides of an argument is an effort to be fair and concise.  I tend to disagree.  I know, that sounds harsh, but here is my thinking. 

Say you have a story with two sides.  Can you automatically assume both sides are equal?  No, not without actually examining both sides.  But when they are presented as equal, any examination gets harder to do, because of this artificial perception of equality.  Let's briefly look at one of my favorite examples, racism.  Should someone doing an article on the Civil Rights movement have to provide the Ku Klux Klan with an equal perspective?  Sounds ridiculous, and it is.  Might the article, or class, or film, on the Civil Right Movement mention the KKK?  Sure, probably for about a moment or two.  Without a doubt, the correct balance in any reasonable examination should lean nearly 100% on the Civil Rights side!  No one seems to complain about that.  In fact if you gave the KKK an equal billing, people would be screaming, and rightly so!  But wouldn't it be fair?  Of course not.

Yet, when it comes to science, like Evolution and Climate Change.  One side has tons of actual evidence, the other side has politics, religion, hearsay, wishful thinking and conjecture.  Is presenting them as equal really fair?  Every idea is not automatically on par with every other idea!  Whether we are talking about science vs religion, men vs women, Apple vs Microsoft, artificially inflating one side to give the appearance of fairness is a disservice to one side and offers an artificial -- and false -- support to the other.  Yes, even Apple vs Microsoft.  Some people believe Apple makes better computers.  However in any economic examination, you have to realize that Microsoft has the lion's share of the market and treating them both as equal brings down the market leader while artificially raising up the contender.  It's not fair to either of them.

Looking at HB 597 again, when asked whether "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution, Thompson [Andy Thompson (R-District 95)] answered,

"I think it would be good for them to consider the perspectives of people of faith. That's legitimate."
When introducing his bill, Thompson said:
"we want to provide them the flexibility to consider all perspectives,  not just on matters of faith or how the Earth came into existence, but  also global warming and other topics that are controversial."

Sounds pretty fair, huh?  Why didn't Andy mention that teaching Creationism/Intelligent Design as science is unconstitutional?  That kinda tilts the teeter-totter in a different direction.  Did Andy forget to mention that the last time a school district tried this (Dover PA, 2005) they wound up in expensive and time consuming litigation?  Now the it should be at full tilt!  While his words sound fair and reasonable, you need to look a little harder to realize they are anything but.

Several times in the past certain groups and people have tried to inject their religion into the science curriculum.  SO far it's failed here in Ohio and in most states.  Notably, Louisiana has a law that would theoretically allow it, but as far as I know, no one has tried to implement that part of the law.  This bill is another designed to allow just such a thing.  It's subtle, but it's there. 

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) writes  about the bill:
 "The problem here," explained NCSE's executive director Ann Reid, "is that there simply isn't a debate within the scientific community over evolution or over climate change. Instead, there's a consensus, with the vast majority of scientists, of whatever political or religious inclinations, agreeing on the facts. By encouraging local school districts to misrepresent the overwhelming scientific consensus, HB 597 is a recipe for miseducation." (Antiscience legislation in Ohio)
Patricia Princehouse, director of Case Western Reserve University's Program in Evolutionary Biology, told the Dispatch, "It sounds exactly like the kind of things intelligent design and creationist promoters say." (Update on Ohio's antiscience bill)
 I'm sure we will be hearing much more!  Hopefully sanity will break out again in Ohio!

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