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Texas Board of Education Supports Evolution

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the reasons-to-say-the-word-texas-in-a-dubious-voice dept.

Education 344

somanyrobots writes with this excerpt from the Dallas News: "In a major defeat for social conservatives, a sharply divided State Board of Education voted Thursday to abandon a longtime state requirement that high school science teachers cover what some critics consider to be 'weaknesses' in the theory of evolution. Under the science curriculum standards recommended by a panel of science educators and tentatively adopted by the board, biology teachers and biology textbooks would no longer have to cover the 'strengths and weaknesses' of Charles Darwin's theory that man evolved from lower forms of life. Texas is particularly influential to textbook publishers because of the size of its market, so this could have a ripple effect on textbooks used in other states as well."

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first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26586997)

yay texas, its where I got my dodge diesel.

common sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587005)

a victory for common sense.

Fracking Halleluja (4, Insightful)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587015)

Things are turning around for the better :)
Finally Intelligent Design is getting the boot it deserves.

Re:Fracking Halleluja (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587417)

Thank you for that wonderfully thoughtful and well-reasoned response. You're like a cheerleader at a football game: Can't play the game, have no idea what's going on, so you just bounce and giggle and shout hooray for our side!

Re:Fracking Halleluja (-1, Troll)

Hal Turner (1459337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587455)

Turning around for the better, at least until the whole eternity in the fiery lakes of Hell thing happens. I wonder if you'll still favour Evolution over the gospel truth of Intelligent Design when you're in hell? But for the time being, enjoy your shallow victory you sodomites. You'll get yours when God deems it appropriate.

Yours in Christ,
Hal Turner

Re:Fracking Halleluja (1)

Zencyde (850968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587607)

Oh, are the trolls up to ID 1,450,000 now? It seems like only yesterday Slashdot hit the big million mark. I'm looking forward to 1,500,000. I wonder who will get it. :)

Re:Fracking Halleluja (2, Funny)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587737)

But hell has evolved too. It's no longer a fiery lake but instead now just like a cheap motel. I hope by the time of my death it will be a 5 star hotel but you can't have everything.

After all we've seen some people haven't evolved as fast as we hoped they would.

Re:Fracking Halleluja (2, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587595)

You heathens are allll gonna regret this. How little do you realise the gravity of the mistake you're making. *shakes head*

- God

Re:Fracking Halleluja (5, Funny)

tannhaus (152710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587867)

Pshhhh haven't you heard? Gravity is just a theory....

Re:Fracking Halleluja (5, Insightful)

knutkracker (1089397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587977)

Surprised to find you're reduced to using Slashdot to spread your message. What happened to the clearly more efficient (for you) method of direct revelation?

Still wondering about why you don't prevent bad things from happening [wikipedia.org] if you are in fact the loving god you claim to be. - Heathens

Re:Fracking Halleluja (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587625)

Fracking Halleluja

Actually my first thought when reading the summary was "Thank God". Then the irony of that thought hit me :)

Re:Fracking Halleluja (1, Troll)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587863)

Heh I believe that there is something beyond our understanding and that a lot of people name it God or Allah or whatever.
If he/she/it/they/whatever created us, I find it more believable that he/she/it/they/whatever started with the Big Bang.
So ironic your thought may be, it's possible it's not far off ;)

Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

Szentigrade (790685) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587025)

I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses? If science teaches us anything it is that we should always continue to question and refine our studies, not idly stand by and accept them as fact. No one is saying we have to introduce creationism or try to make evolution appear only as a theory (which some might argue it still is), but there is no reason we need to teach our students to blindly accept it as fact, without doubt or admission of weakness. This is not the spirit of science and frankly not in the best interest for those who probably already don't care that much about it. Whats gives?

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587049)

I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses?

I would guess that they singled out evolution for this. They didn't demand that they teach the strengths and weaknesses of Newton's theory of gravity, or Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, or Dalton's atomic theory of matter. Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (0)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587165)

I think that we maybe have a stronger case for gravity than for evolution...

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587237)

...but any alternative theory to gravity doesn't involve a shiny, beardy sadist living on a cloud creating a massive, yet deeply flawed universe in 144 hours.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587579)

Now now, there's no need to bring RMS [wikipedia.org] into this...

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

rundgren (550942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587615)

+1 funny if I'd had mod points!

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Insightful)

soupforare (542403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587771)

He's really more grimy than shiny.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

Jens Egon (947467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587241)

I hope they do teach the strengths and weaknesses of Newton's theory of gravity. It is after all:

  1. wrong
  2. useful

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587587)

I'm surprised that post hasn't been modded insightful. Newton is 'incorrect' in the sense that using general relativity can make more accurate predictions. It's a wonderful example of how an imperfect model can be a useful.

At the end of the day I don't care if high school students graduate without knowing their fermions from their bosons. The most valuable thing kids can take from it is that they develop rationality, critical thinking skills and the ability to understand how to reason objectively.

If someone can do those three things well it won't matter if people try to poison them with religious rhetoric.

Hmm, apologies - this post turned into something of a rant.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587909)

This pinpoints something that has been weird about this debate from the start though.

The creationist made claims involving notions of absolute truths, and the evolution side responded by saying, "No, science is the truth!".

It is however not the job of science to figure out absolute truth. (Even the philosophers seem to have given up on that.) But to develop and evaluate candidates for truth based on how well it works when tested, and the strongest candidate becomes sort of provisionally true.

But there is always the possibility that better candidates can come along. (Though creationism sure isn't one of them.)

So I wish those who debate on the side of science wouldn't fall into the trap of letting the creationists frame the discussion in terms of truth.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Funny)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587243)

I think that we maybe have a stronger case for gravity than for evolution...

Really?

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," [theonion.com]

Heck, even Isaac Newton knew better:
"To your second query I answer that the motions which the planets now have could not spring from any natural cause alone but were impressed by an intelligent agent." [wikipedia.org]

Clearly, Americans should be taught Intelligent Falling alongside Intelligent Design

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587323)

I think that we maybe have a stronger case for gravity than for evolution...

No, we haven't. Newtons theory is just one of many plausible models to explain the physics of the world. It has it's strengths and weaknesses like all the other models.

The theory of evolution is the only plausible model we have to explain/understand the diversity of life. It's also the most scrutinised scientific theory.

Unlike gravity, we have yet to find cases where the theory of evolution won't hold.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Informative)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587475)

Newton's theory of gravity is known to be wrong.

It incorrectly predicts the orbit of Mercury.
It cannot explain gravitational lensing.
It assumes that gravity is instantaneous, when we know it must be limited by the speed of light.

Newton's theory is a very useful shortcut, as it is right most of the time. But it's been proven to be wrong. It's just good-enough wrong.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587711)

Somehow, I imagine without Newton's Theory of Gravity Space travel would have been far more problematic to ascertain all sorts of fields in physics. But then again, if Newton had the technical advantages that his theories pioneered today, back then, we'd probably been traveling the Universe and arguing about green colored women.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (3, Insightful)

evilbessie (873633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587945)

There exist cases where Newton's model does not return reliable answers, all Einstein et al did was show in which cases Newton's model was flawed and a different model proved more accurate. Neither is correct (they provide reliable predictions under certain circumstances), which is why the scientific community has moved from laws to theories, because they now understand that someone could come up with a better model in the future.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587395)

Actually we don't, biologists understand evolution better than physicists understand gravity...

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587405)

We've observed them both; can one really be more certain than the other?

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (4, Informative)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587479)

Yes. There are well described and observed mechanisms for evolution, more so than gravity believe it or not.

Of course this is probably because evolution occurs at the smallest level on a macro-molecular scale, whereas gravity occurs at the deep sub-atomic level, making it much harder to explore the mechanisms of it.

Nevertheless, we can explain how evolution works. They why is normally more complicated, because you have to work out all the selection pressures.

Evolution vs Creationism (2, Interesting)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587209)

Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

The TFA said the scientific community widely accepts Darwin's theory, while biblical proponents reject the theory. Thus, the state board forced teachers to teach pros and cons in the 1980s.

I guess the debate was so serious that the state board had to compromise to satisfy the creationism parties (who can be rich and powerful).

I guess evolution is a really thorny part of religion (specifically, blind belief). If students understand that humans are developed from fish and apes, then creationists have a harder time pushing their own agenda to these students.

Any idea whether churches in Texas in the 1980s actually had to report their income, pay taxes, and donate the proceedings to poor people and worthy causes?

Re:Evolution vs Creationism (3, Insightful)

evilbessie (873633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587913)

We didn't develop from fish and apes, we developed from something which also developed into fish and apes, who are at the same point in evolution as us. It's this sort of thinking which doesn't help.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1, Insightful)

bigbird (40392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587795)

Yet for some reason Darwin's theory of evolution gets picked out so that teachers must highlight its weaknesses. Why might this be?

Perhaps because the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on Western thought, far more so than any other scientific theory I can think of.

And because although scientists can explain how they think evolution might have occurred, the scientific method can't be used to actually directly test the "origin of the species" - it isn't repeatable.

And perhaps also because the theory of evolution depends on the pre-existence of DNA, and there is currently no satisfactory explanation for how it originated.

And finally, because many proponents of evolution are every bit as religious about their beliefs as the ID'ers.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Funny)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587823)

"Perhaps because the theory of evolution has had a profound impact on Western thought"

Whereas Eastern thought says "yeah, we knew that all along"???

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587067)

I agree fully.

However, note that they still didn't deny teaching about weaknesses.

This war the situation for textbook writers has been "Well, here we have written the concept of evolution and evidence behind it pretty well. Buut... Have we emphasized the weaknesses enough to get this sold in Texas, too?" and that is no longer the case.

USA truly has been raising it's image in the world a lot within the last week. Well done and keep going!

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (3, Informative)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587069)

I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses? If science teaches us anything it is that we should always continue to question and refine our studies, not idly stand by and accept them as fact.

I absolutely agree. The Scientific Method should certainly be taught as part of any High School science curriculum, and perhaps before.

But it shouldn't be focussed on one branch of science and ignored from all others. That the earth orbits the moon is as subject to the Scientific Method as evolution, as Black Holes exist and that a chemical reaction does not happen because the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes it so.

Scientific Method should be taught as it relates to all of science. Not singled out on any single branch by Special Interest Groups, whatever that branch of science, or special interest, that may be.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587319)

Oh sure, I can already see High Schools teaching their kids to challenge and test what is taught to them to see the flaws in the logic and improve the theory. The school should prepare our kids for their life. And if life told me anything, then that the guy that "does what he's told and shuts up" gets promoted...

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Insightful)

MooUK (905450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587671)

In my experience, the guy who your manager worked with a few years ago, despite being less qualified for the job and keeps screwing up his current job, gets promoted.

Nevertheless, I prefer my nose to not be brown.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587785)

Well, my argument to avoid sucking up too much is that I will be in the bathroom in the morning, a razor in my hand and I'll put it to my throat. I do not want to hate the person I see enough to do something I could probably regret...

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

kdart (574) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587769)

Yes, and also gets the "A" in school. It doesn't take any creativity to get good grades. If you question the logic and expose the flaws of exams, for example, you lose.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587101)

You're absolutely right in principle, but in practice, the specific "weaknesses" that are used by opponents to evolution have been shown to be absolutely wrong. Usually 150 years ago.

If there are significant weaknesses in Darwin's theory, they should be presented through peer-reviewed mainstream science, not shoved down students' throats by official decree.

(And before one argues that scientists aren't willing to hear objections to their beloved theory, it's worth pointing out that there *are* some well-accepted biological oddities that add wrinkles to Darwin's theory, such as horizontal gene transfer. But nobody outside the sciences talks about them, because they don't require a supreme being.)

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Interesting)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587487)

Evolutionary biology has changed quite a bit since Darwin. Many specific things Darwin said are wrong. But his fundamental idea is still right.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (4, Insightful)

znu (31198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587161)

The subject of certainty in science is best covered by teaching about the scientific method, not by pausing during lectures about one particular bit of science that some people don't like to remind students that science can't say for certain that it's true.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (0, Flamebait)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587229)

TFA writer pats himself on the back too hard -- it's not a major defeat for this social conservative. Even tho I don't believe in evolution, I find what you said to be utterly, perfectly reasonable. Start the course with "BTW, we're going to talk about things this semester in science class as if they're proven fact. But remember, it doesn't work that way. Now, open your books to page 1 and let us begin."

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (4, Insightful)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587481)

That would be fine... if they said that at the beginning of every science related subject. It would be even better if they also explained the scientific method so students would also understand why 'facts' provided by science can change.
But this was no such thing... Evolution was singled out very specificly, and that is just wrong.
This had only one purpose, and that is to sneak in 'god did it' into a science class.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587757)

I think rather than try to just present things as fact to children they should teach them to question everything and how to think and use logic.

Re:Science includes BOTH strengths and weaknesses (1)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587903)

I'm all for teaching evolution but would someone please explain to me what the issue was with teaching the strengths and weaknesses? If science teaches us anything it is that we should always continue to question and refine our studies, not idly stand by and accept them as fact.

Well that's the problem, most of the intelligent design people don't want you to know its strengths and weaknesses beyond what they perceive the Bible to say about it. They couldn't care less about scientific principles when it comes to issues of faith.

If even the slashdot summary shows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587027)

profound misunderstandings of evolution, then how do you expect the broad public to deal with it. (I am of course referring to the "Charles Darwin's theory that man evolved from lower forms of life" bit)

other "theories" (5, Interesting)

david in brasil (1103683) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587043)

Evolution is not the only theory taught in school. Gravity is another theory. I suppose that Texas schools should teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of the Theory of Gravity, too.

Re:other "theories" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587167)

Given that all these theories at least at the level they are taught in school are wrong, certainly the "weaknesses" should be mentioned, namely that they are all just approximations of reality.
There is relativity theory that "breaks" the simple model of gravity usually used in school, there are bacteria "randomly" gathering up and including DNA which while not contradicting evolution often does not fit into how it is explained at school.

Re:other "theories" (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587335)

Here's a hammer, I dangle it above your toe, let's test the theory.

The problem with gravity is that it's easy to test it. Don't believe it, try it. You usually don't have that luxury with Evolution, unless you got access to a time machine. I'd fear that if you teach theories this way and point out that every other theory taught can be proven, while it's kinda hard to "prove" Evolution to a school student, the message could be the wrong one.

Re:other "theories" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587401)

You don't need a time machine to test evolution, just the ability to read a peer-reviewed scientific paper proving that it happened, is happening, and continues to happen. What they see the defeat as here is that if they don't pretend evolution isn't happening that somehow this will turn kids away from christianity which flies in the face of another fact: Darwin was a christian also, but he had a loss of faith. Nothing is scarier to the religious powers of the USA than someone turning to science and seemingly as a result away from religion, so they all run around like chickens with their heads cut off at the idea of making kids into people who will decide to turn away from "god". Darwin is not scary to conservatives because of evolution, it's because of his education in religion and then turning away from that because of science that they perceive as a threat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin%27s_views_on_religion#Darwin.27s_loss_of_faith

Re:other "theories" (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587483)

Yeah, gravity is easy to test.

Theory of evolution is also fairly easy to test, and that was done before. Scientists from around the world used populations of fast-reproduction species (mostly bugs), and placed them in specific conditions. After some time - features useful for living in these new conditions were developed. This looks like definitive proof done in the lab for me.

On the other hand you just can look into fossilized bones of ancient species, or remains of our own predecessors - go, figure out yourself.

I understand that a "weakness" of theory of evolution would be a claim that changes in species appear randomly vs. deterministic. But knowing how strong anti-evolution-redneck-lobby is in USA, I would expect something like "it's not the way it's described in the Bible".

I live in Europe, in *very* conservative an catholic country (90% of populations are catholics), but anyone who would say evolution is bullshit would looked at like he was crazy.

Re:other "theories" (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587949)

The catholic church embraced evolution AFAIK

Re:other "theories" (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587517)

Bacteria can evolve in the timescales needed for class work.

You could even use an outbreak of the common cold as an experiment; a new strain of the virus which has evolved to dodge the class's immunity.

The other thing is what do you mean by theory of gravity? Do you mean "things fall', Gallilean gravity, Newtonian, Einsteinian? You can't distinguish between those last two in class, but they each make fundamentally different claims about what gravity is.

Testing gravity is hard (2, Informative)

gorgonite (79857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587529)

Testing gravity on small distances is extremely hard because gravity is so weak. See http://www.stanford.edu/group/kgb/Research/gravity2.html [stanford.edu] for example. Cosmology is ongoing research, as you can see from the discussion around dark energy. In particular, measuring cosmological distances is a difficult problem. So one cannot say that gravitation were fully understood on cosmological scales.

Re:other "theories" (2, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587775)

The problem with gravity is that it's easy to test it. Don't believe it, try it. You usually don't have that luxury with Evolution

Actually you do have that luxury with Evolution to an extent. Evolution is always twisted to whoever is talking about it at the moment. I am not accusing you personally of doing that, but you certainly are demonstrating a misconception about evolution. That's the real problem with constructive dialogue regarding this whole stupid issue.

1) The "religious nutballs and born again christian whackjobs" all object to having their kids taught that man originated in any way that deviates from the good ol' bible.

2) The "Intelligent Design Quasi-Scientists" all object to their theories not being included as it works for their more liberal interpretations of a faith based interpretation of their reality and they strongly assert that their explanations and models are just as valid as any other theory.

3) The "Heathen godless scientists that-will-burn-in-hell" all object to any thing being taught in a school that does not directly conform to the "holy" scientific method for measuring, quantifying, and verifying our reality.

The simple truth is that there are TWO SIDES to evolution.

One is that evolution is a FACT. It is an observable property of biological life in this planet that is indisputable. We have more than enough evidence to show that lifeforms have an ever continual process of adaption to their environment. That is called Evolution. DUH. You can feel that, test it, hold it, smoke it, blah blah blah.

Two is, and what everyone involved with also has to admit, is that WE HAVE NO DIRECT EVIDENCE THAT PROVES THAT MAN EVOLVED FROM ANY OTHER LIFE FORM ON THIS PLANET. We just have reasonable guesses. That's it. Therefore, in the context of explaining man's origins on earth, THE PROPERTY THAT IS EVOLUTION IS ONLY PART OF A THEORY THAT EXPLAINS OUR ORIGINS! A THEORY!

I know that is not original and I am certainly not the first person to state that evolution can be both a theory and a fact. It depends on how you are using it to explain our reality. Gravity always means gravity. Evolution however is used so vaguely that is quite frankly frustrating and more than a bit silly.

It really is two different things. The solution is so fucking simple its ridiculous. Just teach about evolution as an observable property and don't start stating it as a fact (or law) that it explains our origins. In fact, you can explicitly not talk about it at all as it clearly has too many religious overtones for EVERYONE. Or you could just simply say that we don't know how man evolved on this planet, or how anything even started the process of evolution in the first place. We could say that there are theories based on science, religion, and a mix of the two that attempt to offer an explanation and leave it at that.

Will people actually do this?

FUCKING OF COURSE NOT. Why?

It serves as a vehicle for religious zealots, the scientists that embrace faith and the unknown and like to conform science around their religious beliefs (faith) to be comfortable, and the hard core scientists that won't believe anything exists until it is peer reviewed and published in journals to continue to argue and advance their own ideologies.

Basically, everyone involved is an asshole of some degree and is bending the truth and mangling the human language to advance their own side.

It's sad and pathetic.

I already has this conversation with my sibling who is in school and I told him the same thing. He relates to me how at his school (private) there are teachers that are pushing intelligent design, bringing bible passages to school to teach history, and how some students are actively arguing with other students about how Jesus teaches that evolution is wrong in science class. He said he would be afraid to mention this to the "Jesus freaks" since he would probably get hit in the face and that the teachers bringing bible passages to class would send him to the principle if he objected to instruction based on religious teaching he does not believe. He also tells me there are kids, whose parents are scientists and engineers, who get into loud arguments with the aformentioned "Jesus freaks" about how we evolved from monkeys.

It's like Greasers and Geeks battling out in the school. It's just so ridiculous on both sides and nobody really wants a resolution since that would mean a sort of peace. Peace is not conducive to us beating the shit out of each other to get a win for our side is it?

Nope. Let the stupidity continue!

Re:other "theories" (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587441)

Indeed
http://www.notjustatheory.com/ [notjustatheory.com]

Emphasis on the word "just"

"Evolution is not just a theory, it's triumphantly a theory!"

Re:other "theories" (1)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587473)

One thing with the gravity comparison though, is that gravity *is* tested in school. Frequently and empirically. Things of different masses are dropped, times are measured, and constants are calculated. Critical thinking and scientific approach can (sadly not necessary *are*, but they could) be taught using gravity as a backdrop. This is a somewhat different matter from evolution.

Not saying that I do not support said theory, but let's be up front about the difference here.

Re:other "theories" (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587589)

Well then, I guess we just need to start testing evolution in school too.

Re:other "theories" (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587723)

I suppose that Texas schools should teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of the Theory of Gravity, too.

I guess it could go something like "gravity is stronger for fat computer nerds because they weigh more than fit healthy people"

Re:other "theories" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587761)

I suppose that Texas schools should teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of the Theory of Gravity, too.

Well, yes, gravity does have some serious problems.

For example, scientists claim that less massive bodies are always attracted to more massive bodies, but the Bible says that Jesus (who was the same size and mass as a normal man) ascended into heaven through the clouds. One of these claims must be wrong, guys, because the other one is the immortal and perfect word of God Almighty.

Pity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587047)

Judging from TFA balanced coverage and inculcating the ability to think critically still take a back seat to ideological conviction - it's just that the conviction in question is one secularists are more comfortable with.

While it's right and proper that creationism won't get a hearing in the Texas science curriculum I don't see why weaknesses in evolutionary theory shouldn't be discussed - of course as long as creationism isn't perceived to be the solution to said weaknesses.

An opportunity missed.

Re:Pity. (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587515)

Any theory has its weaknesses.
There is no reason not to teach them, but there certainly is no reason to single out evolution. There are a lot of theories thought which are far more contested, yet nobody thought it necessary to make a fuss about it...

Won't someone please think of the children? (0, Troll)

solder_fox (1453905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587083)

Seriously, think of the children. The teenagers, rather. Whenever I hear this debate roar its head, that seems like the first place to go. It's not like a high school freshman is going to be scarred for life by hearing two sides of an argument. "These people believe this for this reason. These other people believe this for this other reason."

Their heads don't explode. It's okay. It may even *gasp* make them think about opposing ideas. They've done it before, since when they wanted a cookie and their parents didn't want them to have the cookie.

If we spent the time we spend on the evolution debate on education instead, we'd be a lot better off.

Re:Won't someone please think of the children? (4, Insightful)

Raynor (925006) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587239)

Children are impressionable. They are (usually) unable to weigh the pros and cons of arguments and instead defer to authority figures. There are some theories which are not legitimately challenged in today's scientific world.

Should we teach alternative theories to the reason why things fall down? (Intelligent falling perhaps) After all, the Theory of Gravity is only a theory, not a fact.
Or perhaps that "the weight of a body on the surface of a heavenly body is the reaction force caused by the acceleration of the surface of the heavenly body away from its centre."
http://www.copples.clara.net/gravity.htm [clara.net]

This is an alternative theory of Gravity. It may even be true, however, no one seems to be trying to teach kids the controversy... because there isn't one. The science taught in high schools is well supported and, as mentioned above, not challenged by academia in any real way.

We have an obligation to our children to shield them from ideas which masquerade as science because they lack the skills needed for proper scientific inquiry. I can go to an average high school class and, assuming they don't have any smart asses, teach them about the horrible problems associated with dihydrogen monoxide. Chances are I can convince every one of them to firmly assert that they would be willing to ban water.

http://www.snopes.com/science/dhmo.asp [snopes.com]
86% of freshman supported a ban on water,
12% were undecided
2% correctly identified it as water.

It's not that difficult to dupe the public as a whole, let alone children in an authoritative setting. You teach the best science available and continue to teach it until a better theory presents itself. It may take years for this "better theory" to get from not accepted to partially accepted to almost universally accepted, however, IMHO we shouldn't be teaching it until it gains the support of the majority of the scientific community.

Leave the debate on alternative theories of gravity to the Ph.D's who (probably) know what they are talking about. Teach it in the schools when you've convinced a gross majority of them. Convincing a gross majority of the general public does not make it a scientific theory.

Re:Won't someone please think of the children? (2, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587623)

Children are impressionable. They are (usually) unable to weigh the pros and cons of arguments and instead defer to authority figures. There are some theories which are not legitimately challenged in today's scientific world.

Maybe in grade school - but I don't think I've ever met a high schooler (myself included when I was in HS) so impressionable.

The whole DHMO thing is really an unfair example, as it involves misleading scare tactics (100% of people who consume it die, for example). That's not presenting an opposing idea and letting people come to their own conclusion, but rather intentionally presenting well-known facts in extremely misleading and overcomplicated ways in an attempt to trick them - it's more of a trivia test and social experiment than anything else. While I don't support teaching creationism or intelligent design in schools by any means, they're not really leveraging those tactics in order to make people believe in them (aside from the whole "do as I say lest you burn in hell for all eternity" thing, anyways).

Re:Won't someone please think of the children? (4, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587571)

It's not like a high school freshman is going to be scarred for life by hearing two sides of an argument. "These people believe this for this reason. These other people believe this for this other reason."

They might not be scarred for life, but they won't learn much science. Scientific debate isn't about valuing everybody's opinion - its about objectivity, logic and evidence.

This isn't even about a debate between science and faith: its a debate between science and bogus pseudo-scientific FUD which attempts to dress religious fundamentalism up as science. Even mainstream religion [catholicnewsagency.com] thinks the debate is absurd.

There are almost certainly gaps and weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution. However, it still explains more than any other theory on offer, and you don't throw it out because it fails to dot a few "i"s - at least not until you have a new, better theory.

When Newton's theory of gravitation failed to accurately predict the orbit of Mercury, the scientific community didn't throw Principia on the fire and go back to crystal spheres and epicycles - it went on to make good use of the understanding given by what Newton's theories did predict, until that smart guy with the bad hair came up with a better theory which someone then went out and proved. That's how science is supposed to work.

PS: I'm all for books on evolution having a label in them which points out that its a theory with which some people disagree provided that, in return, every copy of the Bible is required to have a preface by Richard Dawkins. Fair's fair, eh? :-)

School = Child Assembly Line (2, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587115)

I entirely appreciate that this is a debate about I.D. and about religion in the classroom.

But that aside it is a great shame that we teach all science as hard "fact" with little experimentation or room for asking "Why?"

If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

God forbid we'd ever want kids actually thinking for themselves or questioning anything, if that happened they might, you know... Push the field forward...

But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

I hope we like the world we made for ourselves...

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587283)

If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

I see you have never had a science lab class. It's a pity, you don't know what you've missed.

I remember even the meanest bullies in the class loved the part where we measured the speed of a BB, or the frog dissection.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (1)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587509)

You should probably read Gatto's work, it's a good starting point on what is horribly wrong with our schools in this regard.

That said: I remember science labs quite vividly. They rarely asked you to question anything, and mostly involved following a set of instructions with little room for variation or asking "what if." So today we measure the speed of a bb, rather than asking "how might we do that?" and then investigating, most HS labs I've seen say "we do that by..." with a checklist.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (1)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587331)

I'm afraid that's not how it works. The truly intelligent have no trouble going through school, especially one as undemanding as the American K-12 is. Moreover, to "push the field forward" you have to know where to start from.

As for lateral thinking, you can have a natural leaning towards a certain kind of mental activity because you're better than usual at it, or because you're worse than usual at everything else. In the latter case, it's perfectly possible to be a dumb lateral thinker.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587365)

Asking why could expose the teacher's stupidity. Do you want the last glimpses of order to break down at schools?

Honestly, I had great teachers, and I had poor teachers. And usually I noticed their greatness when I asked questions. How did they answer? The really crappy ones started to make things up to shut me up. The better ones admitted they don't know, but they'll look it up. If they were outright good, they actually did look it up and answered me later. The great ones answered and opened up another question to make you think.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (2, Insightful)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587415)

I don't know about the United States (Stupidity?) of America, but here in Europe we actually get to think during our studies... I mean come on, "academic world" in tv shows??? Jezus, the guys you see on US television are not really looked upon as "geniuses" here... What you call "academic world" isn't even the real thinkers of your universities, for whom i have a great many respect.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587655)

Everything requires a basis, and assumptions.
In Science textbooks, all the stuff presented there is either "wrong, but to all intents and purposes for the level that people studying it at the time are concerned, observably correct", or actually correct to the best understanding at the time of writing (though unless you're studying at the highest level, it may omit large parts of the story that you just don't need to know).
Each of these books is available to scrutiny, and if they get it wrong, I can pretty much guarantee that they'll be forced to pull the texts.

So, the science textbooks are 'assumptions that can be made' in the quest to learn more about how things really work. And that was something that my science teachers used to comment on now and then when teaching something.. "This explanation is actually wrong, but it explains things at the level you deal with.. If you take your studies further, it'll all be explained.. If you don't, you don't need to know as observably, it'll make no difference".
As a carrot, it worked rather well (a good many of us studied that field for ourselves in spare time, just to get the picture of what it was we were missing, even if our math wasn't good enough at the time to really grok it).

You must have had a bad school if the lateral thinkers were at the bottom of the pile.. My memory has always been atrocious, but I've always been a good reasoner/lateral thinker.. And I've largely been towards the high end of the classes (a little bit of memory, plus the ability to reason around the edges, and match up with other bits of theory that manage to stick). Most of the science (math not included, but hey, its dubious if that's a science or an art.. Or both..) included practicals. And in there, the lateral thinking came to the fore in observations, theorising etc.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587675)

While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

I'm not retard, I just think laterally!

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587755)

But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

This isn't quite the case. In a lot of cases the "truly intelligent" ask questions that even the teacher hasn't thought about or really can't answer properly. Instead of the teacher admitting defeat they get defensive. I saw it a few times even at post-graduate level. Humans are fallable but they don't want to be seen to be in front of their peers.

I have noticed a trend in society that seems to be getting worse, and that is rewarding rampant stupidity. Some of the most highly paid people are some of the dumbest - sports players (particularly AFL). There's massive amounts of money thrown at sports, but to get anything for scientific research (unless it's in sports-somethingorother, or is the current hot topic) you have to go begging.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587797)

But that aside it is a great shame that we teach all science as hard "fact" with little experimentation or room for asking "Why?"

If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

God forbid we'd ever want kids actually thinking for themselves or questioning anything, if that happened they might, you know... Push the field forward...

Everyone tests science every day. If our theories of basic mechanics, electricity, and chemistry were shaky, planes would be crashing out of the sky and crushing children on their way to their "science fact" classes. Hrmm, possibly not the best example to use.

Re:School = Child Assembly Line (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587935)

If you've gone though a Science education you know that you learn from the textbook and everything you read is gospel.

God forbid we'd ever want kids actually thinking for themselves or questioning anything, if that happened they might, you know... Push the field forward...

But in the academic world the "geniuses" are those students that can memorise the most trivia (see TV game shows for example). While truly intelligent lateral thinkers get put in the bottom classes and made to feel dumb.

Gospel. Yeah, pretty much. I once had an argument in which I debated that the exponential rate of nuclear decay was fundamentally flawed. Right after the teacher introduced it the first time. Like 3 seconds after he stopped speaking. While breathing in after his sentence a little "snot nosed teenager" piped up, "No. That's wrong". With all the arrogant confidence you would find in a teenager too :)

He said I was wrong and put the graph on the black board with the math. I although I agreed that mathematically it was clear from the equation that X could never equal zero, I stated that did not represent or correctly model our reality.

From my understanding at the time, and I have largely forgotten this as Chemistry is not used in my field (computers - using them - not producing them), 100% of radioactive particles eventually decay. I asked him to explain again how a radioactive particle decays and whether or not a particle could never decay.

I proved in front of the entire class how he was wrong as I stated that eventually every single radioactive particle would decay and change into something else. He could not dispute that as it was accepted "gospel" from the "bible". Therefore, when counting the number of those radioactive particles in the container, you would eventually come up with a number of ZERO. Therefore again, the exponential rate of nuclear decay did not 100% explain our reality.

I got sent to the Principals office and was told to "stop bothering the teacher and just shut the fuck up or else".

Of course today I know that you cannot just skip Chem 101 and move to advanced Chem classes in college. Sometimes it is not wise to skip ahead and just work with what you got. It's like trying to work with hooks in the windows messaging system five days after you first started playing with an object oriented development platform.

However, he could of have just said yeah that is true, but is nonetheless useful in determining how long something will be dangerous enough to melt your dick off. He wanted to argue it could never reach zero and the book was right at all costs :)

God Damn Atheist Sex Fiends (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587153)

Shit, now our children will grow up to be fucking atheist immoral asswipes. Fucking bring back God to school, or goddammit I will see to it that the wrath of our Lord and Saviour is carried out. Today, Texas, tomorrow, Arkansas. It will not happen on my watch, goddammit!

Well as a science teacher in Texas... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587187)

Official policy really has very little to do with what gets taught in the classroom. Even in Biology, which is the only place that evolution gets mentioned, the textbooks have been very evolution-friendly for years. Of course in that, they have been focused on lots of aspects of evolution that have been disproven, like human fetuses having gills and other similar things. And of course, the real control over this content lies with the teachers, who for the most part teach science and the scientific method, which really doesn't support most of the conclusions that evolution-science come to since they aren't based on observation. Whether or not intelligent design is discussed officially in the textbooks makes no difference in the end, but science does get taught properly in most classrooms.

Hi Texas (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587199)

Welcome to the civilized world.

I know why they did this... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587227)

.... Since a monkey can hack a Diebold voting machine.... And Bush has been determined to be the worst US president... There has to be a connection.

Re:I know why they did this... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587427)

So logic tells me that someone who can hack a Diebold machine becomes president...

Re:I know why they did this... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587691)

I know a lot of monkeys that would be tremendously insulted by that statement, if only they knew how to read.

Teach Methods and Logic (3, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587269)

I think it would be valuable if schools taught methods and logic. Not just knowledge, but also the way of how knowledge can be arrived at. Teach people what is and what isn't a conclusive argument, point out the factors that complicate deriving valid conclusions from one's observations, and show that how experiments can be set up to minimize those factors. Preferably also teach statistics, so that people can calculate the probability of two things being corerlated vs. the probability that an observation is due to other factors.

All these are valuable skills, not specifically in the evolution debate, but in every aspect of life.

As for my stance on religious issues...I am convinced that we have no conclusive evidence one way or the other on most of them, and I would say that, until we do (which I think will never happen) everyone should be free to believe as they do. Nothing gives me the right to force my beliefs on you, and the same applies in the other direction.

Re:Teach Methods and Logic (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587431)

Nice idea, but if people at large were taught how to think, then the government as it exists today would not last long. You will find that in almost every aspect, government players depend heavily on people who think that thinking somehow hurts their brains.

I find it interesting to see patterns that even I fall into myself. When someone thinks differently, we want to stamp it out. It is just the aspects and details by which we determine differences that change. I want people to think critically of EVERYTHING including their gods. I want people to assume everything they are told is wrong and seek evidence to the contrary or at the very least seek answers to the question, "why shouldn't I?"

Other people see "lacking of faith" and want to stamp it out. It makes people uncomfortable to see these differences. They challenge our very identities and who we think we are.

There is only one way to prove "God." And that would be for God to show himself. All other evidence is tainted as it is created by people. Feelings are not proof of anything other than a human weakness of the heart over the brain.

Re:Teach Methods and Logic (1)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587463)

Completely agreeing with you there erroneus. It intrigues me to watch how the empiric way of thinking has somehow never catched on in the US...

Re:Teach Methods and Logic (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587673)

Is there a joke or reference I am missing in your use of catched for caught?

Re:Teach Methods and Logic (1)

Xifeng (1425793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587619)

I think it would be valuable if schools taught methods and logic.

You didn't learn this in Maths?

Re:Teach Methods and Logic (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26588007)

Those skills should very definitely be taught. What should also be taught - and almost never is - is how to use those skills to understand what question one is trying to answer. This is one of the biggest failures I see in students coming from high school into university - you ask them a question, or set them a problem, and they do not stop and think and analyze to determine what it is they are really being asked. Instead they make a guess or an assumption and end up either answering the wrong question, a different question or take ten times as long as should be necessary to find an answer to the question being asked.

Progress, but they still miss the mark... (1)

flajann (658201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587369)

Texas Board of Ed should be simply supporting the unadulterated teaching of actual science, period. You simply don't get to pick and choose what you like and don't like about science. That's what the Scientific Method is for, and if they were teaching that, there would be no place whatsover for Creation "Science" or "Intelligent" Design. They would simply be scientific hypotheses which are either true or false. Then you have to discuss the falseability of those hypotheses, and if they are not falsefiable, they are not Science, period.

If proponents of the many Superstring theories have to face this notion, surely religious nutcakes must also fall under the same strictures of Science. And if that was taught in the classrooms, the students would learn far more about Science than what the normal litany of crap usually rammed down their throats from K onwards confers.

But, gasp -- that would be teaching our little young ones how to THINK, and the government could not possibly want a nation of young, inquisitive, aspiring CRITICAL THINKERS on their hands!!! Tough to pull the wool over the eyes of those who actually ASK QUESTIONS and will simply refuse to "just believe". Which would require far more out of our politicans and bureaucrats. Nope, can't have that...

It's one of the signs! (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587383)

Of the impending apocalypse!

Everybody hide!

Lower forms of life? (1)

kyriosdelis (1100427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587543)

What exactly makes an organism a higher form of life than another? We had this discussion just yesterday at the university...
There is no such thing as a "higher" or a "lower" organism. It all depends on the context of the discussion:
Humans for example, have the most complex nervous system than all other organism. This makes them the "highest" life form when discussing nervous systems. On the contrary, a species of archaea can for example live in underwater volcanic environments. This makes it a "higher" organism when discussing extreme environments.
And no, the size of the genome or the number of genes, are not a criterion for this either. The human genome has 3 billion base pairs, and there's a species of amoeba that has a genome of 100 billion bp.
And I don't want to hear any jokes about amoebas and overlords :p

Christians (1)

anonymShit (1415181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587549)

Has anybody thought about the fact that this is an intrinsically (north)american problem? I mean, the rest of civilized world seems not to have the same density of fanatic christians among the population so as to need changing official science at school. This, I think, is something to ponder upon (specially when your country thinks that it is the culmination of human civilization).

Re:Christians (2, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587627)

Has anybody thought about the fact that this is an intrinsically (north)american problem?

The evolution versus superstition issue is only one symptom of a much bigger problem in our schools, which is that they are rewarded for failure. Unlike the European system, where schools have to compete for students, in the USA children are simply assigned to schools geographically or politically. This has been going on long enough, that far too few Americans are capable of critical thinking. This is good for politicians who want docile followers, but very bad for the people.

-jcr

Re:Christians (3, Insightful)

HadouKen24 (989446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587659)

If by "The rest of the civilized world," you mean to exclude predominantly Muslim countries such as Turkey, then yes, it's just an American problem. (I wouldn't say "North American" problem; evolution isn't much of a problem in Mexico or Canada.) Muslim versions of Creationism are gaining ground.

This may become a problem in the UK and other parts of Europe, as Muslims will probably react to secularism much in the same way American Evangelicals have. We're starting to see it happen.

wrong direction (2, Interesting)

Donovon (1245428) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587667)

I think they are headed the wrong direction with this.

Evolutionary theory is vastly unimportant compared to a lack of Scientific Method. I see the requirement of showing weaknesses in Darwinian Evolution as forcing the employment of Scientific Method on difficult, emotion laden, and controversial issues. Beating the method into young impressionable skulls is far more important than whether they believe in creation by amoeba or creation by God. Teach them to think, don't tell them what to believe.

Just IMO.

-D

weaknesses are important to science too (2, Insightful)

drfireman (101623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26587843)

In the context of this hot-button topic, this is an important and necessary decision, but it's probably in general a good idea to impress upon students that scientific theories are never perfect, they all have strengths and weaknesses and even the most successful (e.g., evolution, Newtonian mechanics) leave plenty of room for refinement. Scientific theories have their own kind of Darwinian evolution, and while I don't necessarily want introductory classes to undermine everything they're teaching, it might be helpful if a part of science education were to provide better insight into the nature of the scientific enterprise than they do currently.

Dumbing down of America proof 1,000,000 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26587951)

This is so sad, all ID says is we don't know how the universe was created, but it didn't evolve on it's on on this planet. While the theory of evolution is a fantasy just like Santa Claus and takes a ton of child like faith, a billion impossible things just happened to happen in just the right order. Everyone should watch Expelled. It's sad how uneducated most of the people that read are, they just take what the media says and believe it.

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