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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The staggering commitment to ignorance

Posted by: Hammer / 10:33 AM

When the entire weight of the scientific community is behind you, you don't need to make stuff up:

The head of a pro-evolution think tank has issued a retraction for factual misstatements and false allegations she made in an article attacking a California man who wants the scientific weaknesses of Darwin's theory of evolution taught in public school science classes.

In her retraction, director Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) conceded that she wrongly accused Roseville attorney Larry Caldwell of submitting two books on young-Earth creation to the local school board for adoption -- one of which was published by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Scott also admits to erroneously claiming that a science expert found Caldwell to have "a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science."

WorldNetDaily summarizes the retraction thusly:

Scott's article claimed Caldwell attempted to get the district to adopt materials advocating biblical creationism, including a young-earth creationist book, "Refuting Evolution," by Jonathan Safarti; and the Jehovah's Witness book "Life: How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation?"

Scott retracted that claim and also conceded her allegation that a science expert had said Caldwell had a "gross misunderstanding of science" was false. She also backed off on her contention that the Roseville board had passed a resolution "recommending" that "creationist" materials be used in science classes.

This is important, important stuff. You've got the President of the United States supporting Intelligent Design now. The nationwide campaign for ignorance is gaining steam. I don't think we can afford misstatements that allow creationists to confuse the issue and play the victim.

We are in step one of the Religiously Correct's ID plan: create the impression of controversy. Any controversy will do. Take this exchange from a Missouri hearing:

"The theory of evolution has stood the test of time," says Boldt, a freelance video producer from Jefferson City who says that real scientists long ago stopped scratching their heads over evolution. "It comes as close as any theory in the life sciences can to being an absolute law."

"It struck me as odd," Muschany observes, "given where we are and what we’re talking about, when you said there is no controversy."

"The controversy is definitely a social controversy," Boldt says.

"Well, what other kinds of controversies are there?" wonders the politician.

Exactly the point. Gin up the controversy. Stoke the fires to inflame the debate. Conflate evolutionary biology with Columbine and Hitler:

Sitting before the committee, Davis abstains from making scientific claims. Instead she turns the floor over to Ann Ihms, a chemistry teacher from Indiana, who gasps through her testimony without pause.

"Columbine. Despair. There’s trauma, there’s panic, there’s depression among our young people at levels that have never been before," Ihms says. "And part of that is the evolutionary teaching."

A few committee members fidget in the chairs. The evolutionists who have come to testify put palms to foreheads as Ihms continues.

"There are some reasons that evolution does lead to the conclusion that some human beings cleanse the gene pool -- Hitler’s ideas -- which is an evolutionary idea."

Read the whole article. The commitment to ignorance is staggering:

[Mo State Rep. Cynthia] Davis asks the committee to grant students academic freedom by delivering the best materials to future scientific Missourians, like the books they have in Ohio and Texas and Minnesota. They’re excellent textbooks, she says, that don’t treat evolution as dogma but examine it critically and introduce students to the controversy over origins.

Davis says she has never seen these textbooks, but she has heard that other states have these chapters in their books. They don’t.

Wait, it gets better:

At the time they crafted their bill, neither Davis nor co-sponsor Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, knew who was responsible for monitoring textbook content in Missouri, although Davis imagined that the State Board of Education had some review process. It doesn’t....

Davis knows that now but says it’s not an obstacle. She’s confident that if her bill passes, local book buyers would strive to comply with the new state mandate, even if there were no penalty for noncompliance.

And, of course, the cherry on top:

Davis acknowledges that her books might not exist. In fact, they don’t, say her advisers, creationists and proponents of the theory of intelligent design.

Davis wants to pass a law mandating the adoption of textbooks that don't exist enforced by no one and with no penalties for noncompliance. It would be a joke, if it weren't so damn serious.



By Anonymous therealrepublican, at 11:39 AM  

So are the Minnesota books among the ones that don't exist or are we using some crank textbooks that the public needs to know about?

By Blogger Jambo, at 6:43 PM  

You can review the state standards here. Looks to me that M.S.A. § 123B.02 gives the power to purchase textbooks to individual school districts. School boards are required to provide free textbooks to students.

Here's the appropriate standard: The student will understand how biological evolution provides a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms.

According to the National Science Teachers Association: Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke said that evolution would be part of Minnesota's science standards, but that other views on how life evolved should be discussed in Minnesota classrooms. Yecke noted, however, that alternative theories to biological evolution would not appear in state standards or be tested.

The state mandates that students learn evolutionary biology and permits independent school districts freedom to discuss intelligent design.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:16 AM  

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