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New Mexico Bill To Protect Anti-Science Education

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the dare-to-be-stupid dept.

Education 726

An anonymous reader writes "From the Wired article: 'If educators in New Mexico want to teach evolution or climate change as a "controversial scientific topic," a new bill seeks to protect them from punishment. House Bill 302, as it's called, states that public school teachers who want to teach "scientific weaknesses" about "controversial scientific topics" including evolution, climate change, human cloning and — ambiguously — "other scientific topics" may do so without fear of reprimand. The legislation was introduced to the New Mexico House of Representatives on Feb. 1 by Republican Rep. Thomas A. Anderson. Supporters of science education say this and other bills are designed to spook teachers who want to teach legitimate science and protect other teachers who may already be customizing their curricula with anti-science lesson plans.'"

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726 comments

What scientists... (4, Interesting)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120346)

...don't believe in the theory of evolution at least in principle? I know there are actual scientists who are skeptical of climate change but evolution?

Re:What scientists... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120378)

educators aren't "scientists"

Re:What scientists... (3, Interesting)

Morty (32057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120574)

+1. Many public-school science teachers are not even educated as scientists. Actual scientists can command salaries higher than what teachers are paid, so very few people who graduate with a science degree are willing to work in a public high school. This means many teachers are liberal arts folks who got a certificate in education. Many, perhaps even most of these folks still try to do a good job. But some fraction of them bring the same ignorance to bear as in the general population.

Re:What scientists... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120722)

>>Actual scientists can command salaries higher than what teachers are paid

I don't think you understand quite how much teachers are paid.

Assuming you can even get a meaningful job with a bachelor's in biology, you'll be making less than if you did working as a biology teacher.

Re:What scientists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120872)

Since when does a bachelor's degree make someone a scientist?

Re:What scientists... (1, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120414)

...don't believe in the theory of evolution at least in principle?

Pretty much everyone believes in evolution in general, but plenty of people believe the view of evolution taught in public schools tends to be oversimplistic. One one hand, you do have theists who believe that "irreducible complexity" necessitates a helping hand at stages instead of the blind process typically presented as Darwin's breakthrough discovery. Behe's Darwin's Black Box [amazon.com] . Now, one can fairly view that as dressed-up Creationism, but it is written by an actual biochemist. Then there's the completely non-theistic views that oppose the simplistic account, such as Gould's punctuated equilibria.

The challenge in discussing evolution in public schools is presenting evolution as an uncertain field in a way that drives inquiry, contributing to a healthy development of scientific thinking among the populace, as opposed to closing minds which ID and Creationism advocates usually seek. It's a hard balance to get right.

Re:What scientists... (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120478)

Behe's claims were utterly demolished during the Dover Trial. He seemed tragically unaware that IC was in fact predicted decades ago, and does in fact have a perfectly naturalistic explanation. Behe may be a biochemist, but the only reason he even has a job is in large part due to tenure, and in no small part because you won't find a single actual publication in a journal by him expounding on his ID theories.

Re:What scientists... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120724)

I think there's a good chance that he's completely aware of that, but his target audience doesn't. There is plenty of money to be made by playing to specific sets of beliefs.

Re:What scientists... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120594)

While it is true that evolution at the k-12 level(and often at a decent slice of undergrad) is overly simplistic, I'm not sure that avoiding over-simplification in lower level science classes is even possible. The hairy details of the field are such that even PhD'ed full-time researchers in biology related fields tend to have specializations in subsets of the field. A full knowledge of the field, and its controversies, would require nearly superhuman effort, full time. Not Happening in 9th grade Bio.

This isn't evolution specific, of course. K-12 physics is usually Newtonian, which isn't just overly simplistic; but known to be false. However, when it comes down to teaching kids how to apply mathematical models to physical situations, albeit with imperfect accuracy, or wait until they finish tensor calculus to even broach the subject, Newtonian physics usually wins. Somehow, we don't have godbots battering down the doors and demanding that "Newtonism" be presented as a controversial theory... K-12 chemistry, while less overtly false than k-12 physics, is usually heavily simplified and pretty much applies (approximately) to idealized ionic compounds, some of the better behaved transition metals, and ideal gasses. Again, as bad or worse than k-12 bio; but uncontroversial.

Math, while more likely to be correct within its limited scope, also tends to be essentially dogmatic in its approach. You might get a few axioms and proofs in geometry; but you pretty much get to take all the properties of numbers on faith until you make it to number theory sometime in college.

It is definitely true that low-level science education is, from a factual/current state of the discipline perspective, reductive, false, or both(and this is why they should really spend more time instilling inquiry, experimentation, hypothesis, testing, conclusions, etc. rather than rote "facts" that are mostly known to be wrong); but that isn't why K-12 evolutionary biology is controversial. Virtually no part of a K-12 curriculum is immune to the charges of excessive simplicity; but only in the cases where the curriculum is also ideologically inconvenient does that become a major issue(mostly evolution, occasionally American history or the English class reading list)...

Re:What scientists... (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120694)

Clap. Clap. This all is just a smokescreen for religious indoctrination, nothing more.

Re:What scientists... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120876)

I agree the simplification is necessary for education. While Newtonian physics doesn't tell the whole story of physics, it's still useful for most human endeavors. In the grander scheme of the universe, it's wrong, but I've always understood it to be a useful simplification that the error is insignificant for most human needs on earth. For example, when doing mechanical engineering, I've never needed to perform relativistic portion of the calculations because the relativistic factor is far too small to be worth doing that math. In the other direction, for electrical engineering, I really don't need to keep quantum physics in mind all the time, I just needed the approximate equation that described the part's behavior.

Re:What scientists... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120630)

"Then there's the completely non-theistic views that oppose the simplistic account, such as Gould's punctuated equilibria."

Stop quote-mining - SJG supported evolution fully - Punctuated equilibrium was a hypothesis about the rate of change in species, but it did not challenge that change did occur, and by natural means.

And the list from the bill is odd - human cloning is not scientifically controversial - we know that it can be done. The controversy is over should it be done, which is not science, but ethics

Re:What scientists... (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120430)

As with climate change, the few real scientists who are skeptical seem to be from fields which have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand.

Even so, I would like to point out Project Steve [ncse.com] to anyone who wants to claim there's a scientific controversy surrounding evolution.

Re:What scientists... (-1, Troll)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120830)

As with climate change, the few real scientists who are skeptical seem to be from fields which have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand.

Indeed. Most of the scientists working in 'climate science' seem to deny that the climate changes naturally and blame any change on humans.

But I've never met anyone who's skeptical about climate change; only people who deny that the climate changes naturally (e.g. the infamous 'hockey stick' where the temperature was supposedly flat for centuries until the industrial revolution) and people who believe it does... given that we have records of climate change going back millions of years I can't see how anyone could possibly be skeptical about it.

Luckily for them... (5, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120366)

Luckily for them The Bible isn't scientific so they won't have to teach the weaknesses in that.

Re:Luckily for them... (5, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120602)

Quite the contrary! Creation and Intelligent Design would, in New Mexico, arguably fall under the umbrella of "other scientific topics," which means no teacher could be reprimanded for teaching the serious scientific weaknesses in those "theories." Sounds like they'll open the door for the real teachers to talk freely about how absurd arguments against evolution are.

Re:Luckily for them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120712)

Luckily for them The Bible isn't scientific so they won't have to teach the weaknesses in that.

If only it was that simple. Fact is, SADLY for the students, those who promote these nonsensical laws do so because they believe the Bible is incontrovertable fact, and thus supersedes science, and thus should be taught. "If it's greater than fact and science, we should permit it to be treated as science or better-than-science and teach these myths instead"

This has always been the gist of these proposed laws, regardless of how they are worded. Each new attempt though, seems to try even harder to hide the religious biases and religion-as-science aspects of the proposed laws so they do not get shot down on the basis of those exact same reasons (promoting/teaching religion or religion-as-science).

Re:Luckily for them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120716)

Kind of a broad statement wouldnt you say? Have you ever actually read the bible?

It's always intriguing that the harshest, most sarcastic and caustic critics have never actually read it... What does that say about your willingness to say non-factually based things?

Re:Luckily for them... (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120790)

Kind of a broad statement wouldnt you say? Have you ever actually read scientific journals?

It's always intriguing that the harshest, most sarcastic and caustic critics have never actually read them... What does that say about your willingness to say non-factually based things?

FTFY
Cuts both ways there

How is it anti-science to teach... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120370)

How is it anti-science to teach the weaknesses of a theory? Shouldn't we already be doing that? Seems to me that is exactly what we should do. Put all the facts on the table , describe the theories and teach the children to think through the problems that exist with all of theories instead of being mindless robots that simply regurgitate the flavor of the month.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120424)

First of all, no one is saying that a theory's weaknesses can't be discussed, but these kinds of laws are not designed to do that, they are designed to give weight to Creationism and ID. It has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with giving a false sense of weakness in scientific theories. Evolutionary theory has issues, but then again so does gravity, or any other theory.

A second point is that there are not enough hours in the day to give kids more than a brief survey of, say, evolution. You're notion that teachers are equipped to take children through a theory like evolution in that detail, or that children who are even less well equipped can hope to comprehend. What you want is absurd, but seems fairly standard for Creationists who try to make the unreasonable sound reasonable.

Beyond all of that, of course, is that this law is on the face of it unconstitutional. This was all dealt with a few decades ago, and much of it was reiterated and expanded on by the Dover Trial.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120800)

`"A second point is that there are not enough hours in the day to give kids more than a brief survey of, say, evolution. "

I'd be content if they know enough to take _all_ the antibiotics the doctor prescribed, since that could actually hurt me, they being morons, not.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120434)

Exactly, while I believe that evolution will likely be proved to be true, it's still a theory, and there are likely many scientific gains of doubting and searching for rebuttals. Perhaps in searching for ways to disprove evolution we might find more solid proof of it.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120518)

Okay, first of all. Things in science are not "proven" in the sense that there is some point when you say "Well, that's 100% positive". As much as any theory can be proven evolution has been proven.

Secondly, "it's still a theory" indicates a woeful ignorance of what a scientific theory is. Theory, in science, isn't some wild-assed guess. It is well supported by multiple streams of evidence. What you're committing is the etymological fallacy, conflating two different definitions of a word.

As to the evidence for evolution, it is rather vast. If you have any doubts on that point, visit http://talkorigins.org/ [talkorigins.org] .

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (1, Insightful)

Plombo (1914028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120780)

Okay, first of all. Things in science are not "proven" in the sense that there is some point when you say "Well, that's 100% positive". As much as any theory can be proven evolution has been proven.

Secondly, "it's still a theory" indicates a woeful ignorance of what a scientific theory is. Theory, in science, isn't some wild-assed guess. It is well supported by multiple streams of evidence. What you're committing is the etymological fallacy, conflating two different definitions of a word.

Defining science as its common usage, "branches of study that relate to phenomena of the material universe and their laws" [Wikipedia] [wikimedia.org] , evolution is not a scientific theory.

It is intended to answer the question of how life came to exist, which is a historical question (how did this come about) rather than a scientific one (how does the universe work). The fact that some science is used in explaining the theory of evolution does not make it a scientific theory.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120542)

Maybe you should learn what theory means in a scientific context.

Gravitation is "just a theory". Should we be teaching the alternate hypothesis that the only reason we don't float off the face of the Earth is God's will is holding us down?

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (4, Insightful)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120460)

It isn't anti-science to expose limitations of a theory. In fact, theories are bolstered only due to their ability to rule out alternative hypotheses (rejecting the null hypothesis).

However, it is anti-science to introduce an idea that is unfalsifiable and call it science. Unfalsifiability is one of the major tenants of science, the scientific process, and theory creation and development. In order for a proposition to become a theory it needs to be testable. Creationism is founded upon belief. I cannot tell a student to go find evidence for creationism. I can, however, tell someone to go find evidence either FOR or AGAINST evolution. However, evolution has so much evidence in favor of it, it is a generally accepted framework for the origin of species. It doesn't claim perfection, no scientific process does. Indeed, the rise of post-positivism as a major philosophical and scientific building block is a testament to this. Post-positivism claims that since humans are imperfect it is impossible to measure any phenomenon perfectly (measurement is asymptotic with Truth). Ultimately, the Bible provides merely circular reasoning for Creationism as a possible scientific explanation. There is no way to prove or disprove the existence of God or any mechanisms that he might provide (creationism). Therefore, it is unfalsifiable and cannot be taught as an alternative explanation to any scientific principle, theory, or proposition since creationism ultimately reduces to faith.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (2)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120514)

I believe you mean "falsifiability" instead of unfalsifiability when you say it is one of the major tenants. Apart from that (which i think is an honest mistake) I agree with you 100%

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120688)

You should have replied "Back off man, I'm a scientist".

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120488)

I think the problem is that this is more likely to bring up fictitious weaknesses that true ones. Haven't listened to many anti-evolution or anti-climate change arguments, most are full of serious flaws in facts or knowledge of other scientific principles they appeal to (ie 'evolution is untrue because it violates the laws of thermodynamics'). Others have this bad habit of bring up the irrelevant as if it is relevant (ie 'evolution can't explain where the moon came from').

Religion vs Science (0)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120650)

> How is it anti-science to teach the weaknesses of a theory?

It isn't. But schools are now about pushing religion. And like all religions they are convinced they have the Truth and have little tolerance for other faiths. So they hijacked the word "Science" and made sure all 'Religion' was driven out of the schools leaving their faith unopposed.

Pretty bold statement, but it is true. Take AGW for example, it is taught as 'settled science, the Truth which must not be questioned.' But if it is science it should be falsifiable and it isn't. Weather gets warm, AGW, colder, Global Climate Change which is just AGW rebranded. More snow, Climate Change, less Climate Change. More hurricanes? Less? Either way it is AGW. The sceptics find flaws and outright fraud in the models and datasets and they are attacked and suppressed. So since /. is full of AGW believers, prove me wrong. Tell me of a test that would falsify AGW theory? Better, tell me of one that was proposed a decade ago that was run and the results are in on because I don't think anyone has even proposed submitting AGW to such rigor. Of course a hundred such tests don't prove AGW is true, it just adds evidence in it's favor, while ONE test that turns up FALSIFIED is usually fatal to a theory. (If it won't kill a theory it isn't a proper test.)

And while AGW is the most obvious example it isn't the only example of new age progressive religion pretending to be Science. After all, what most people think of as Science[1] meets every test of the definition of 'Religion.' A 'religion' doesn't need a bearded white guy in the sky, it just needs to be a belief system that claims to have the answer to "Life, the Universe and Everything" and mainstream Science makes that claim. It shouldn't.

So if we are resigned to religion in the schools we probably should make an effort to ensure kids are familiar with the arguments of most of the major religious/philosophical systems. At least Secular Humanism, Christianity (Catholic and Protestant), Islam and Judaism and probably one of the Eastern religions outside the monothism threesome. Then we could drive ALL of them out of Science and leave Science classes to Science.

[1] Science is just the application of the Scientific Method to attempt to discover the laws of the universe. Experiments that are repeatable, that sort of thing. Very useful for determining What the universe is and How it works but useless for attempting to answer Why.

Re:How is it anti-science to teach... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120654)

What is antiscience is to use a McGuffin to explain everything that you can't. Those guys deserve to be stabbed with the Occam's razor (or, maybe, Hanlon's one).

Why not? (3, Insightful)

Pteraspidomorphi (1651293) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120372)

I'm going to be downmodded to death, but isn't science about keeping an open mind? Here in my country school curricula are rigid, limited and biased government mandated crap. As long as the teacher doesn't lie/make things up, teaching the kids to question everything and see both sides of an issue will only do them good. The intelligent ones will eventually make their own decision about who's right or wrong, and the stupid ones will believe what they'll believe anyway...

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120416)

"It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out."
— Carl Sagan

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120440)

No, science is not about being open minded. It is about following the evidence, creating explanations that are verifiable, testable and make predictions. You should be downmodded for showing a contemptible lack of knowledge of what science is.

Re:Why not? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120492)

Yes, but being unthinkingly critical of any view that contradicts some particular dogma, whatever it is, is anathema to real science. Science may not be about being openminded, but being openminded is certainly a prerequisite.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120552)

That rather depends on what you mean by open minded. Being prepared to have your explanations demonstrated to be wrong is certainly a prerequesite. Wasting mental power on long debunked claims constantly being dressed up in new clothes is not open mindedness, it's just stupidity.

Creationism is garbage, ID is Creationism in pseudo-scientific clothes, but in fact even more vapid and meaningless than Creationism. I would not count a young biologist as being closed minded for ignoring the mutterings of the likes of Behe and Dembske.

Re:Why not? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120726)

I would not count a young biologist as being closed minded for ignoring the mutterings of the likes of Behe and Dembske.

Behe raised some good criticisms about gaps in our knowledge about biochemical evolution. I see no reason to ignore such criticism. However, he erred by prematurely filling in the gaps with a big Magic Man. An unknown is an unknown.

Re:Why not? (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120644)

You're not describing science, you're describing religion. By definition, if you're doing science, you're seeking to disprove wrong ideas. Being nasty and critical and vicious is often good for science. Scientists fight. The truth comes out of it. Closed-minded bastards who look to shoot down things they don't like are good for science.

They need only be open-minded enough to see that they themselves are wrong. That said, they should accept proof that their hypothesizes are wrong only after arguing about methodology. Other than that, they can be as closed-minded as they like.

We like open-minded people. We like open-mindedness in society. Let's not assume things are necessary just because we like them.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120642)

Some science does not fall into the category you describe there Martian. That is to say, the theory of catastrophic man-made climate change is unambiguously unscientific in the context within which you express it. It cannot be falsified, or if it can I have yet to find anyone who is willing to state how.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120768)

verifiable, testable, and makes predictions ... hmmm .... I'll have to reread my evolution texts with those three in mind. ;)

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120450)

I'm going to be downmodded to death, but isn't science about keeping an open mind?

Well there's "open mind" and then there's "absurd". You wouldn't sanction another instructor walking into the room and trying to offer the students "alternate options" like a flat earth or the moon made of cheese.

"Open Mind" is for topics that have not been thoroughly figured out. It's good for things that we don't fully understand yet, to encourage different opinions and explore ways to get closer to the truth.

Once all reasonable doubt has been settled, it's time to accept reality and stop placing any credibility in what's written in some 2000 yr old book.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120452)

Things like Creationism aren't science, and therefore do not belong in a science class. They should, however, be discussed in Philosophy class. Oh, wait, that's right. Most US schools do not teach Philosophy anymore.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120456)

Science is about integrating empirical evidence with an open mind. That is, allowing observed facts from the world around us to inform our understand of the world. There's no secular evidence for intelligent design/creationism. Pteraspidomorphi -- this bill would potentially allow teaching the stork theory of reproduction.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Kronotross (1671418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120470)

Seeing both sides of an issue is a easier to do when there are two sides to an issue. We are as confident in the presence of evolution as we are in the presence of gravity, but we don't have our science teachers expressing weaknesses with that particular phenomenon despite the fact that birds are regularly seen flying. I'm confident that one could come up with any number of theories as to why we are pulled towards the ground (the Earth sucks, Jesus has his hand on all of our shoulders, et cetera) but there is one scientifically valid explanation for gravity, and that is the explanation we give in science class. Likewise, I'm sure there are other explanations for the variety of life on the planet other than evolution: scientifically invalid ones. By all means, teach them that Christianity disagrees with scientific thought... in a social studies or religion class, where it's appropriate.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

binarstu (720435) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120480)

I agree with you that skepticism is important in science (and critical thinking in general). However, I think the big problem with this bill is that it explicitly calls evolution a "controversial scientific topic". Evolution is not controversial. Biologists may argue about the details of how evolution happens, but they don't dispute that evolution does happen. Just as bad, this bill lists "human cloning" along with evolution and climate change, which is very misleading. Human cloning is a technology, not a line of scientific inquiry like evolution and climate change are. And it is controversial for ethical and moral reasons, entirely unlike evolution and climate change. So yes, skepticism is good, but the language and assumptions used in this bill seem to me to be rather bad.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120484)

Because teaching that evolution is wrong is lying and "making things up", no matter how much you want to believe otherwise. Teaching kids to see both sides of an issue is all fine and good, but teaching them that anti-intellectual dogma deserves to be placed on the same plane as established scientific fact is not, and the reason this is so important is because children don't have the innate ability to tell the difference- that's why we have education in the first place.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120512)

As long as the teacher doesn't lie/make things up, teaching the kids to question everything and see both sides of an issue will only do them good.

And that's the crux of it. If you're not taking a scientific approach and are pushing your own unsubstantiated beliefs, you are not being true to your role of science educator. You ARE making things up and lying, which is a fast way to discredit any positive work you've done as an educator.

Also, "both sides" implies there are only two views, but fails to recognize that there are so many possibilities once you abandon logic and scientific evidence. Sure, life could have arisen from evolution, as current model suggests. Or Intelligent Design. Or we're all just dreaming. Or, like, the whole universe is alive, maaan... Good luck getting anything to stick if that's how you 'teach' kids.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120526)

Because this has nothing to do with keeping an open mind, and is in fact intended to do the exact opposite - to keep minds closed. Now, the chances of this bill becoming law are pretty small, but it is pernicious and will have a chilling effect. Representative Anderson should be ashamed of himself, but I suspect that he is nothing more than a conman without that ability.

Re:Why not? (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120530)

Unfortunately, there is no science done in public education k-12. It's all rote and basics combined with a babysitting service.

And anyways, It's the Theory of Evolution. It is not a fact, but prior evidence shows highly that is probably true. Or other theories for that matter, should either be discussed minimally or not at all. Duking out theories should be for the higher educations where that comes into play. Else we, get the usual argumentative speech in HS speech class of "Why abortions teh Evul" or other flamebait topics that have no real evidence to support or refute claims made.

Instead, classes on teaching of business matters would be so much more effective. Most HS graduates dont even know how to handle finances or balancing books, or taxes. Teach useful things that can save and restore financial security.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120540)

Both sides of the issue? What issue? There are no issues to teach! The only possible "controversy" comes from people who are not scientists and have something to lose by believing the prevailing theory. Nobody wants to teach the "controversy" that surrounds gravity; it's only when you contradict what people already believe that you end up with this kind of irrational resistance. What are these "open-minded" teachers supposed to do? Read from a Bible, so that kids are exposed to the fundamentalist Christian doctrine of creationism? That's for religion or philosophy class, not science class. Have the CEO of a multinational corporation come in and deny man-made climate change? That's for a politics class, not a science class. Have some crank who doesn't believe in the moon landings preach his conspiracy theory, as an equal opportunity to teaching physics?

This is bullshit, and the supporters know it. They just want to indoctrinate the kids with their message, rather than allowing only what they see as their opponents being able to indoctrinate the kids. If this were politics, philosophy, or religion class, I'd say, "Yes, that's a very good idea. All viewpoints should be heard." But it's not. It's science class, and science class doesn't lend itself to this kind of "all viewpoints are equally valid" philosophy. Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean that you should be able to teach it along side an actual theory.

Re:Why not? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120576)

What is your conclusion? That science and rationality is the same as belief but there is an important difference. What should be taught perhaps is that science, rationality, and the scientific method are not the same and science requires empirical proof and belief does not. The requirement of proof is what makes them different. Science neither affirms or denies faith or any form of deities (s) simply because it is not belief, it requires concrete verifiable evidence. Science is all about questioning and belief is about acceptance without proof. Science has been verified time and time again: every time you turn on a light switch, drive a car, take an antibiotic, every time a pest develops resistance to pesticides, and every time a disease develops resistance to treatment e.g. antibiotic resistance. Creationism should not be taught as a science since it is faith based. There is no way to verify creationism simply because it is faith based.

Where creationism and creation stories *should* be taught is in a class on comparative religions. That is where the questions should be. Students should be introduced to other religions as well as atheism and agnosticism. You should question your faith. Faith that has never been tested is, IMO, not true faith. But the extremists do not want faith, and the submission of the faithful to their ultimate authority, questioned. They have too much to lose.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120604)

This is similar to other issues in education, in that the policy is a surface designed to cover up the deeper issues. Here, it isn't about pointing out areas where research is still ongoing and evolution doesn't provide any simple answers, it is about teachers who want to pull a Glenn Beck "I'm just asking questions" and teach that evolution is wrong by following every single thing with "evolution is just a theory" lie. It is about teachers who want the lesson to BE the questions, and not the actual principles.

The policy is a cover for installing creationist teachers into biology posts and protecting them. It also gives a basis to contest hiring issues on the basis of scientific stances. In short, it is round about way of teaching religion in schools.

The intelligent student might eventually figure things out, on their own (doubtfully), or under the influence of a parent or better teacher (probably) since exploration of the sciences is a guided teaching. The majority end up with the equivalent of a third world education.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120612)

Teaching kids the Earth it six thousand years old isn't science and should not be taught as such.

Re:Why not? (2)

mellon (7048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120618)

In order to advance the progress of science, it is useful to have an open mind. However, science isn't *about* keeping an open mind. Science is about taking the current theories of how things work and testing them to see if they are correct. We abandon them (or really, in most cases, incrementally adjust them) when the tests demonstrate that they are incorrect. You could describe this as "keeping an open mind," but it's a very specific *kind* of open mind: a mind that is open to giving up an idea when the evidence shows that the idea is wrong.

Creationism and intelligent design are specifically about keeping a closed mind. Regardless of what evidence contradicts these theories, we are asked to accept them anyway. The proponents of these worldviews want them to be generally accepted *because* they discourage people from questioning received wisdom. In an environment where people are trained not to question received wisdom, it is much easier to trick people, so as to take what is theirs and put it in your own pocket.

It's not the case that relatively intelligent people tend to reject bad theories, and relatively less intelligent people tend to accept them. When you frame it that way, you are doing the process of inquiry a terrible disservice. More intelligent people may be better *able* to come up with theories, but they are just as easily fooled as less intelligent people. What matters is whether they want to be fooled, not how intelligent they are.

In an environment where skepticism is encouraged and honored, bad theories get rejected more readily, and good theories tend to survive better. In an environment where skepticism is discouraged, it's much easier to promote bad theories and get people to accept them. We seem to be in the latter situation, not the former. We would do well to try to change that.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120672)

Well written.

Re:Why not? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120700)

I think that the basic problem(encountered at the introductory end of most subjects) is that you need some grounding in a subject before you can actually "question" in a useful way, which usually entails some amount of "because that's how it is" based acquisition of groundwork before meaningful inquiry can begin.

Teachers don't generally encourage questions during the introduction of the multiplication tables; because teaching axiomatic number theory to 3rd graders might be a bit tricky. Teachers hand you a list of salient books to be read in English because the list of potential books is a lifetime long, and you need something to hone your critical skills on before you are able to usefully judge salience. Biology suffers from the same chicken-and-egg issue: Science, as a disciple and method of inquiry into the world, is not dogmatic; but unless you want a classroom full of kids who don't even have a conceptual vocabulary asking "why?" "why?" "why?" every thirty seconds, you pretty much have to do a bit of introductory dogmatism to get them up to speed.

In the hands of standardized-test mania, this introductory dogmatism can turn into "Hey kids, we are going to spend the entire year memorizing simplistic and often wrong caricatures of actual science so that our test scores are good!"; but there is some advantage to trying to hurry through some of the ~4000 years of work that got us to where we are today in order to get to the good bits...

Re:Why not? (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120734)

As long as the teacher doesn't lie/make things up, teaching the kids to question everything and see both sides of an issue will only do them good.

Yes, let's teach them "both sides" of the gravity issue. While conventional "scientists" may have ideas about gravity, Intelligent Flotation teaches that it doesn't always work, especially for believers. As a demonstration, we should have students leap from third-floor windows to see both sides of the gravity issue.

There are not "two sides" to evolution. The theory of evolution is a scientific theory with ample evidence, testable predictions and a great track-record. Intelligent design is a religious fantasy that maybe could be taught in a course on myths and legends, but certainly not in science class.

Why stop there? (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120806)

That makes about as much sense as hiring history teachers and tolerating them spending half the course on finger painting.

Re:Why not? (1)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120840)

>> isn't science about keeping an open mind?

No. Science is about keeping an open mind _when presented with new evidence contradicting existing theory_. If, for example, creationists presented evidence that this planet was created by a deity out of nothing (and no, a fairy tale written by unwashed savages two thousand years ago does not qualify as "evidence"), then taking that point of view would be _keeping an open mind_.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120844)

As long as the teacher doesn't lie/make things up, teaching the kids to question everything and see both sides of an issue will only do them good.

But that's not what is happening here.

These "cdesign proponentsists" are looking to teach creationism, not the debate of creationism vs evolution.
As soon as they're allowed to teach ANY creationism as science, they'll quickly drop the "debate" and teach creationism alone.

In short:
evolution = science
the other stuff, not so much - and as such does not belong in a science classroom.

Good. (1, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120396)

They can teach about scientific weakness, right? How about teaching about scientific weakness of intelligent design? Now they can do it without reprimand. As for which theory is better: if you need to say evolution is right because it's right and not because it predicts things better, isn't it just a dogma?

Mr Anderson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120408)

Mr. Anderson... you disappoint me.

It's not anti-science to question science (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120410)

Of course a bill like this might be used to shelter some anti-evolutionist thinking.

So what? Science itself is not science if we are not allowed to question it. Even if someone is questioning evolution in class, there are enough other viewpoints in the outside world that the truth will come through. And doesn't it make a stronger case for evolution when you have considered and dismissed the counter-arguments? Wouldn't that make for a better student to not just be told how something is, but to learn how to debate the way things are to consider future issues too?

In the meantime it's good to truly protect freedom of speech, even if you disagree with that speech. If you disagree strongly enough as a parent with what is being taught, then seek to remove that teacher rather than force all teachers to toe a politically correct line for whatever current group-think is fashionable. But let the determination of how appropriate a teachers words are come from parents, not from a bureaucracy above.

Re:It's not anti-science to question science (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120690)

"And doesn't it make a stronger case for evolution when you have considered and dismissed the counter-arguments? Wouldn't that make for a better student to not just be told how something is, but to learn how to debate the way things are to consider future issues too?"

Repeating arguments long since shot down is not valuable questioning in class.

This bill is not about protecting science and systematic thought. It's about protecting incompetence.

Freedom of speech is fine. Yea! So an engineer who says a bridge need only support its own weight plus the weight of a duck shouldn't be fired. Doctors who say the best treatment for cancer is to place cabbages on your head shouldn't be dismissed. Let's make a bill to protect them. This is not a freedom of speech issue.

Re:It's not anti-science to question science (1)

space fountain (1897346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120718)

Of course a bill like this might be used to shelter some anti-evolutionist thinking.

That's the goal, not a side effect

Even if someone is questioning evolution in class, there are enough other viewpoints in the outside world that the truth will come through. And doesn't it make a stronger case for evolution when you have considered and dismissed the counter-arguments? Wouldn't that make for a better student to not just be told how something is, but to learn how to debate the way things are to consider future issues too?

No one is suggesting banning research that is against evolution. But if it's flawed (which has been the case for all creationist/ID "research" so far) than it doesn't belong in science class. As it currently stands, if any credible research contradicted evolution, science teachers could present legally, making this bill unnecessary.

If you disagree strongly enough as a parent with what is being taught, then seek to remove that teacher

How? The district can't fire them for what they teach. There would be no legal way to fire them unless the committed some other offence.

rather than force all teachers to toe a politically correct line for whatever current group-think is fashionable. But let the determination of how appropriate a teachers words are come from parents, not from a bureaucracy above.

But if school districts aren't allowed to consider what a science teacher actually teaches, then they'll have to make hiring designs based on other qualifications and what the candidates are willing to work for. What if a creationist offers to teach science significantly less than the other candidates. If his church or another creationist organization was willing to help support him and he was decently qualified, he'd be the only candidate the school board could legally hire

In the meantime it's good to truly protect freedom of speech

Would you support a barring school districts from firing a math teacher who told students 2+2=5? How about a geography teacher you claimed the earth was flat. Teachers are allowed to say what ever they want when they aren't at work, but they should still be expected the teach the curriculum.

State(Republic) of Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120412)

So can we just move all of these people to Texas and let them make a country, so we can then proceed to out compete the crap out of them in every concievable way due to our massive REAL scientific advantages?

 

"slashdot" tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120472)

Why the hell is the first tag for EVERY story on Slashdot "slashdot?" It's a completely redundant waste of space. I don't understand it.

Re:"slashdot" tag (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120746)

Why the hell is the first tag for EVERY story on Slashdot "slashdot?" It's a completely redundant waste of space. I don't understand it.

It's to balance the "story" tag at the other end.

Sounds like tenure (0)

Xayma (892821) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120502)

Ability to teach controversial topics without reprimand within their classroom, beginning to sound like arguments for teacher tenure. On the other hand, if you encourage teachers to 'teach to the test' they won't have any time for the 'controversial' subjects.

Probably won't pass (5, Insightful)

mdphdscddlitt (1990796) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120510)

From TFA:
Rosenau said House Bill 302 will probably never see the light of day...

However, the fact that it's even being considered is worrying. It's another signpost on a road that seems to be heading for a generation of credulous morons. I don't see any significant barricades.

Just a labor issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120528)

This is the government helping corporations. After all, what better excuse for corporations to outsource jobs than *really, really* not having the local talent to fill their ranks?

Let the H-1Bs be filled!

This is the world of greater democracy. (5, Insightful)

steve buttgereit (644315) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120538)

This is just the outcome of public provided services and a government increasingly directed by the whims of the majority. I thought that was what everybody here was clamoring for? Freeing the people... ...if the people just happen to be dumb-shits or irrational? Well that's the bed you've made for yourself, why are you disappointed or put out?

Re:This is the world of greater democracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120804)

This is why a properly functioning public school system is essential for a healthy democracy. Uninformed people will make uninformed choices, and in that case democracy degenerates to government by dice-roll or propaganda.

Re:This is the world of greater democracy. (1)

cdp0 (1979036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120856)

This is just the outcome of public provided services [...]

I can't see any link between public provided services and the rest of your argument. There are other countries which offer public services (schools, hospitals etc) and people are just fine.

Freeing the people... ...if the people just happen to be dumb-shits or irrational? Well that's the bed you've made for yourself, why are you disappointed or put out?

Yes, history shown that totalitarian regimes are much better for keeping people "straight", isn't it ? Slaves (the opposite of free people) were much better people, much easier to manage, isn't it ?

Excuse my sarcasm, but I can hardly listen to such arguments. I propose that instead of throwing the blame on freedom and people's stupidity, we should think about how those people got to be so stupid in the first place. I would argue that poor education has a major role in this. By education I mean both the schools of all levels and the information people receive through media of all kinds. If you want to change something, you need to look there. The current generations are probably too far gone anyway, so the best thing you can do is to focus on the generations that will come.

What does cloning have to do with anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120546)

What scientific weakness about cloning? We can clone a human, the tech exists and the procedures work. Whether it's right or wrong to do so is completely different as to whether or not evolution exists, we have verifiable proof tha. There's no comparison between those two topics.

Laughable and scary (1)

billgates (75865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120554)

It's crap like this that will eventually make the USA a fundamentalist religious backwater to be scared of and laughed at at the same time.

Re:Laughable and scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120588)

eventually? As far as I can tell, that's what most people outside of the USA already think.

recognizing it is the first step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120684)

I'm from argentina, and the other day i met this guy from texas. Really cool, knowledgeable guy. I asked him about westboro baptist church, thinking he'd have lots of crazy stories about megachurches and other crazy shit.

The poor guy turned red with shame, and made me feel quite bad. Like i had made a racist joke to Nelson Mandela or something. He really was ashamed of the bible belt.

Don't they have any real problems to deal with? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120590)

In scenic New Mexico? Where I went to High School, in less scenic New Jersey in the late 70's, my class was the first one to have formal sex education. Before that we had a "health education" course, with first aid. No education about contraceptives. The result? Teenage pregnancies. Our gym teacher taught that, and told us that he could tell us about contraceptives, but was not allowed to. When the rule changed, and we had formal sex ed, I had never seen a better behaved group of pupils. Everyone stayed quiet in the class and listened inventively. I know folks who have horror stories about gym teachers, but this guy was great. And it was a sensitive subject, and a lot of parents objected to the course. Physically, you could knock me out with a fly swatter, but the gym teacher gave me A's. He told me that I was hopeless as an athlete, but admired my courage at trying.

At any rate, back in biology class, when the teacher taught us evolution, some pupils said that their parents had objections, for religious reason. But once the teacher started talking, most found it very interesting.

You might disagree with what a teacher is trying to teach, but give them a right to do so.

strange brew that's also good for you (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120592)

That would be home made kombucha(org). it's (still) alive.

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120668)

I can finally teach my Intelligent Falling theory as an alternative to the gravity nonsense!

I see no problem... (1)

Daphron (1787322) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120674)

Presenting both sides and letting the students decide what they believe is exactly what should be done on any controversial topic.

Re:I see no problem... (1)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120732)

You are certainly correct. However, citing "the bible" as scientific evidence against a theory (say, evolution) is not science and should not be taught in a science class. There are legitimate objections to certain theories and by all means, those should be discusses openly in a science class, just don't get superstitions into the discussion or everything stops making sense.

Re:I see no problem... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120740)

The science behind evolution and anthropogenic climate change are not controversial. I think it makes perfect sense to present "both sides" on a debate team, or to discuss them in a philosophy or history class, but not in a science class. There is no "other side" of evolution and AGW, in terms of the science. It's just lots of people saying "Nuh-uh, I just don't believe it!" without providing any scientific evidence. It's the same with people who believe in astrology, alien abductions, ghosts, psychic abilities, and the like. There is not compelling scientific evidence for those ideas, and therefore they should not be covered in a science class either.

Re:I see no problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120802)

The problem is that kids cannot yet decide that. It all comes down to who and how you present matters. Basically religious zealots want their wild fantasies to be taught as "real" to children who don't know enough about all sides to develop critical thinking to see through the bullshit that is creationism.

Oh well, at least it's fun to watch the US drift into generations of make-belief and anti-education people :D

Nothing to be afraid of on either side (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120682)

Neither side should be afraid of revealing weakness in their position. That's what science is about: a search for the truth.

Re:Nothing to be afraid of on either side (2)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120760)

The people who try to promote intelligent design do not point out any weaknesses in the theory of evolution. They present a series of rhetorical, non-scientific arguments (some would say lame excuses) not to believe in evolution because some people find it uncomfortable to believe. ID is junk science and has no place in a science classroom.

Re:Nothing to be afraid of on either side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120766)

Yes, because telling kids that the Bible is true because evolution is a pack of lies by atheist scientists is part and parcel with the "search for truth."

Dunce.

Who put the moon there? (4, Funny)

creativeHavoc (1052138) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120696)

The Moon: A Ridiculous Liberal Myth (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120858)

It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

Competitive advantage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35120748)

I'm from another developed first world country, and I consider this sort of thing part of our competitive advantage against the USA.

Wow. climate change is as controversial (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35120788)

as evolution then ? a debate that didnt exist just 20 years ago, is now as controversial as religion/evolution ?

the segments of the society which were totally unaware of the concept of climate or its change, are now sensitive to it.

now, if i say at this point that, this can only point to the conclusion that says the segments which are sensitive about both topics, are those who are in alignment with a particular political group that is backed by political interests, some of you are going to go berserk.

so then, explain me why the segments that have not been aware of climate or its change 20 years ago, are now sensitive and opposing to both climate change, and evolution, if they are not being herded by a particular political view ....
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