I am sure that most of my readers are aware of the latest embarrassment going on in Texas, where the Texas School Board have passed a science standard including the following
"In all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental observation and testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those explanations so as to encourage critical thinking by the students."
When taking at face value, it doesn't sound too bad. Who would be against encouraging critical thinking? Well, the problem is the phrase "including examining all sides of scientific evidence", which is a loop-hole for teaching neo-Creationism as an alternative to proper science.
The fact that this is the real purpose of the new standard can be figured out by the reaction by the Discovery Institute.Texas Now Leads Nation in Requiring Critical Analysis of Evolution in High School Science Classes
The headline is in itself very telling. The resolution doesn't actually explicitly mention evolution, yet the DI (correctly) leaps to the conclusion that this is about evolution. Also, notice "critical analysis" - high school students don't have the proper tools for critical analysis of any scientific theory. Instead it will be used as a tool by neo-Creationists and Creationists for making claims about non-existing problems with evolution.
-In a huge victory for those who favor teaching the scientific evidence for and against evolution, Texas today moved to the head of the class by requiring students to "critique" and examine "all sides of scientific evidence" and specifically requiring students to "analyze and evaluate" the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.
Every time the Discovery Institute says something, it's one long string of lies, distortions and half-truths, and this time is no exception. Before this new requirement there was no issue in teaching the scientific evidence for and against any given scientific idea in science class, so it doesn't do anything to help those who wants that to happen.
And then there is the small fact that there isn't
scientific evidence against the Theory of Evolution. The very fact that it's a scientific theory, shows this. Had there been compelling scientific evidence against evolution, it would not be considered a scientific theory - it would be considered a working hypothesis which would be modified over time.
As it stands now, the Theory of Evolution is the most tested, and probably the best supported scientific theory there is.
"Texas has sent a clear message that evolution should be taught as a scientific theory open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned," said Dr. John West, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute. "Contrary to the claims of the evolution lobby, absolutely nothing the Board did promotes 'creationism' or religion in the classroom. Groups that assert otherwise are lying, plain and simple. Under the new standards, students will be expected to analyze and evaluate the scientific evidence for evolution, not religion. Period."
No scientist would have a problem with others analyzing and evaluating the scientific evidence for anything, but the simple fact is that high school students are not able to do that. For people to be able to do that, requires a vast body of knowledge about not only biology, but also of related fields like biochemistry.
What will happen instead, is that the high school students will be presented by the lies of people like the John West, as if they were real problems with the science behind evolution. Incidentally, the DI press release refers to John West as "Dr.", perhaps in an attempt to confer some kind of authority to him. His Ph.d. is in political science, and of not relevance to this discussion.
The rest of the press release are just lies in the same vein, so I won't continue fisking it, but I can't let this claim go by
Discovery Institute has long endorsed the idea that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, including its unresolved issues.
This is probably the most blatant lie I've seen since George W. Bush's claims about WMD in Iraq. The DI was founded with the explicit purpose of getting intelligent design taught instead of evolution, and only after the Dover trial where Judge Jones rightfully found that intelligent design is Creationism wrapped in different languages, has the DI tried the new track of teaching the "holes" in evolution. The DI is an enemy of science, and trying to claim that they are for evolution being taught is such pure bullshit that it threatens to flood the world market for bullshit.
Labels: bad science, Discover Institute, education, neo-creationism/intelligent design, Texas