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Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the guns-evolved-from-the-jesus dept.

Education 763

An anonymous reader writes "[Ars Technica] recently reviewed the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the actions of the Texas state school board as it attempted to rewrite the science and history standards that had been prepared by experts in education and the relevant subjects. For biology, the board's revisions meant that textbook publishers were instructed to help teachers and students 'analyze all sides of scientific information' about evolution. Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn't at all clear what 'all sides' would involve."

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FSM (5, Insightful)

HybridST (894157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837875)

May we each be touched by his noodley appendage!

Re:FSM (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838225)

Sounds like the Catholic church!

Re:FSM (5, Funny)

tippe (1136385) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838339)

You got it backwards. With the Catholic church, they touch *your* noodley appendage!

Re:FSM (5, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838489)

On the contrary, compared to the fundamentalist nut-jobs who've infiltrated the TX state school board, the RCC is positively enlightened and evolution-friendly. The RCC's doesn't include the requirement that believers take every word of scripture as "the one true and unerring word of god". Which is good, because that allows them to look like they didn't really mean to burn all those heretics who had the temerity to suggest that the Earth was not the center of the universe and other Satan-spawned deceptions. Aaaaanyway..., it's just as well. We like to keep our kids stoopid here in the grate state of Texas, so all them liberal elitists can go hang out with their Papist buddies and stop filling our kids minds with all that truth nonsense.

hey, anything that makes science 'opinion'... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42837887)

.. will make people think that things such as scientific evidence (as with laws of physics making the 'official explanation' of 9/11 impossible) nothing more than a 'matter of opinion' - which assists in hiding the crimes of government and business.

Re:hey, anything that makes science 'opinion'... (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838093)

The only thing NOT an opinion in science, IF you actually follow the scientific method, is the certainty that all evidence is biased by the ignorance of the individual putting it forth.

NEVER confuse the model with reality.

Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42837893)

Fox News is always claiming people are moving to Texas to avoid taxes, but they don't mention that the majority of people there are idiots who want their children to grow up even dumber than themselves.

Why would anyone live in Texas unless they had to?

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (1, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837937)

Why would anyone live in Texas unless they had to?

One might ask the same question about the USA as a whole.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837997)

Well, the money's pretty good.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838115)

Well, the money's pretty good.

The money is only good if it keeps pace with inflation and the rising cost of staple goods.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (2, Insightful)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838187)

So in light of this, if you think the USA is bad, Texas is all your USA stereotypes times 10. If the US is bad, texas is wholly unbearable.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (2)

jandrese (485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838467)

Austin is a nice town.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily live in Texas? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838207)

Why would anyone live in Texas unless they had to?

Uhm, to get closer to Sarah Jarosz? :)

Theories of "gravity" and electricity under review (5, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837895)

Sigh. There's just no cure for stupid. Full disclosure. I live in Texas and yes, this embarrasses me.

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42837991)

No there is a cure, this measure just actively fights it.

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838019)

When I visited Texas I noticed that half the people were really cool guys and the other half were assholes. Of course most other places were like that but Texas took it to extremes.

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838073)

Now that you mention it, I did too. This was especially so when it came to driving. Apparently, in Texas, turning on your turn signal on the interstate means "you better gun it so you can pass me before its too late."

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838235)

Depressingly true. I had *exactly* this experience driving home on I-10 just outside of Houston during rush hour. Veering out of the moron's way in the rain caused my truck to do a 180 in the middle of the freeway. Luck was with me. I ended up rear ending a retaining wall. My right turn signal was still on.

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838273)

Hey, that's what we do here in Massachusetts. Let me guess, you have people there that think that it's ok to take a left from the right most lane on a 3 lane road. (I swear, people here would rather ram you than drive rationally.)

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838377)

Depressingly true. I had *exactly* this experience driving home on I-10 just outside of Houston during rush hour. Veering out of the moron's way in the rain caused my truck to do a 180 in the middle of the freeway. Luck was with me. I ended up rear ending a retaining wall. My right turn signal was still on.

I have no doubt that you were dealing with a moron who couldn't drive, but the 180 indicates that you also cannot drive. It grinds my gears to hear driving horror stories where one claims that 1) "it wasn't my fault!" and 2) "my car did a 180." If your car did a 180 then that part, at least, was your fault (most likely you overcorrected, if you didn't have anti-lock brakes it could have been from not pumping the brakes). Please never drive in snowy weather.

Re:Theories of "gravity" and electricity under rev (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838165)

That's a rather misogynistic statement!

The theory of gravity is under review :) (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838141)

Gravity is a very active area of theoretical study. We don't understand what it is very well, and there are strong indications that General Relativity is not complete, that we need a better theory to fully explain interactions, particularly on the quantum level.

You may be confusing the theory with the fact. The fact of gravity is that objects attract, or on a more human scale, that things fall down. That is something you can just observe, sometimes without meaning to. The theory of gravity is to explain how and why the interaction works. That one we don't have nailed.

Not trying to support Texas here in their unscientific bullshit, but gravity is not an open and shut case. What its method of action is, how it works on very small and large levels, and how it unifies with the other forces are still not well understood.

Re:The theory of gravity is under review :) (3, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838257)

I was treating it as a boolean issue (i.e. gravity exists). Kinda like evolution.

Re:The theory of gravity is under review :) (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838341)

Well most of the god-tards have moved on from disputing that things evolve. Rather their new shit is intelligent design, which says that god works behind the scenes, controlling how things evolve and change. So they aren't disputing the fact that change happens, they are disputing the theory as to why.

However their counter is not a theory, since there is no way to test it, and hence has no place in science class. Even if it is right, it is not science as it is not something one can test. Any time you mention god, by definition outside of the universe and untestable, you aren't talking science.

Re:The theory of gravity is under review :) (4, Funny)

NXIL (860839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838395)

Good sir or madame,

you are operating in an entirely different dimension--string theory?--that the "theory" of evolution doubters in Texas.

Just like gravity, we can see HOW evolution occurs (genes), why (mutations give survival advantage), etc. You can do MATH and run numbers and it works.

We "discoverd" DNA in like the 1950s. So it's relatively new. It's complicated.

But it's real.

Gravity is real too. Yes, it seems that every day we are discoverning some weird new anomaly. But do you "doubt" gravity, and maybe want to propose that the turtle that holds up earth (the TOP turtle only, please) is pushing "up" so we all go "down"?

I see the point you are trying to make. But go to the School Board Luddites who are pushing the bible as a science reference, present it to them, and they might burn you at the stake. They are superstitious, essentially, so why not?

...not the case for EM (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838429)

This is not the case for EM though. Quantum Electrodynamics is the second most stringently tested scientific theory ever (only special relativity has been tested to a higher precision). I also highly doubt that their intended review will involve getting a group of particle physicists, cosmologists and string theorists together to discuss ways that they can make the latest ideas in gravity and the other fundamental forces accessible to school kids (it would be quite inspiring if it was though!).

Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis... (5, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837909)

...or maybe a theorem. Or a rumor.

Maybe a wacky folk story.

"Darwin's Wise Tale of Evolution"

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837981)

Let's just call it Punctuated Equilibrium [wikipedia.org] . They'll never catch on to it - too many fancy words and complex diagrams. Should keep the school board busy for a while.

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838033)

101 Knock-Knock Mutations?

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (-1, Troll)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838111)

I wish more people would accept the moral lessons of evolution! They'd be pro-life and anti-homosexual (because whatever else abortion and gay marriage are, they are most certainly not multi-generational survival traits).

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838163)

Evolution has no moral lessons, you idiot.

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (5, Insightful)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838269)

Lots of homosexuals procreate, lots of people who have abortions have kids. Abortion and infanticide may actually preserve a generational line in times scarcity, in that resources can be concentrated on existing children. Homosexual people procreate in heterosexual relationships all the time, and use IVF or surrogacy to procreate in homosexual relationships. The world is a little more complicated than you think.

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (1)

SirSlud (67381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838311)

Maybe you should understand evolution before you talk about it.

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838323)

i see what you did there...

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (1)

mfnickster (182520) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838143)

You can joke about it, but creationists in all seriousness describe evolution as "fairy tales" and "just-so stories."

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838427)

Which is sad because while evolution has many, many hard facts pointing to it's existence (or at least getting close to proving it as you can prove anything else), creationism has very little of it's own peer-reviewed work. I would love for evolution to not be the answer, because it means that life is more complicated than that - and that's pretty neat.

Unfortunately I don't think there is much evidence on the contrary, or we'd probably have more than just a few religious-based entities producing some level of research on it.

Re:Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838527)

Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis or maybe a theorem. Or a rumor. Maybe a wacky folk story. "Darwin's Wise Tale of Evolution"

Perhaps we should repay the favour and think of Texas as a work of wacky fiction too (not a very good one though because it the story seems too unbelievable). In this case though I'd suggest "The Land that Time Forgot".

Actually, it's abundantly clear! (3, Insightful)

eagee (1308589) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837935)

Examining all sides of a scientific theory that are contrary to an established scientific theory means examining decidedly unscientific theories as if they were scientific... or, you could just say, "Teaching our students Not-Science"

Re:Actually, it's abundantly clear! (1, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838079)

Examining all sides of a scientific theory that are contrary to an established scientific theory means examining decidedly unscientific theories as if they were scientific... or, you could just say, "Teaching our students Not-Science"

Well, you are probably suspecting that it is codespeak for religion, and I'd tend to agree with you.

But you dismiss the fact that since it is still theory, it is subject to review and modification. For instance, Eldredge and Gould pretty much shook the foundations of evolution when they published their paper on Punctuated equilibrium [wikipedia.org] .

One could also see this as an opportunity to add to the curriculum, a catalog of every objection to evolution, each followed by a resounding trashing of that argument. Nothing is quite as satisfying as burning each thread of a wacko claim as soon as it is spun, before they have an opportunity to weave a tapestry of lies.

Re:Actually, it's abundantly clear! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838227)

But you dismiss the fact that since it is still theory, it is subject to review and modification. For instance, Eldredge and Gould pretty much shook the foundations of evolution when they published their paper on Punctuated equilibrium [wikipedia.org] .

No they didn't. Don't over-dramatize. "Shaking the foundations" would've involved them calling into question the many lines of evidence which form the actual foundations of evolutionary biology. Eldredge and Gould were not even attempting to be that radical. P-E was a modification to theories about the pace at which evolution takes place, proposing variable pace rather than gradualism. In making their case for it, they used the very same foundational evidence which underpins the idea as a whole (fossil records, etc.).

Re:Actually, it's abundantly clear! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838325)

Yes. Gradualism vs. "something else" (which is now Punctuated Equilibrium) has been argued pretty much since Darwin. Even he was kind of lukewarm on the idea - he just didn't have any other explanation at the time. Remember, he worked out evolutionary theory before genetics and before DNA.

P-E fits newer data much better than gradualism but there are still gaps in our understanding. However, they're relatively small gaps - the basic foundation is actually quite solid.

Re:Actually, it's abundantly clear! (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838343)

For instance, Eldredge and Gould pretty much shook the foundations of evolution when they published their paper on Punctuated equilibrium [wikipedia.org] .

Not really. Dawkins describes PE in the link above as a "minor wrinkle" in evolutionary theory.

maybe Allah created life? (3, Insightful)

mozumder (178398) | about a year and a half ago | (#42837963)

If they don't want to teach evolution, and they're looking for another "theory", well... =^D

Meanwhile, I'm always amused that people usually end up choosing the religion that they're born with. Of the thousands or millions of religions available in this world, you think the One-True-Religion is the one you happened to be born under? WHAT A COINCIDENCE!

Never listen to a philosophical arguments from a person that follows the religion they were born under, because you know they came to it not through intellectual analysis, but through pure laziness.

Re:maybe Allah created life? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838067)

Never listen to a philosophical arguments from a person that follows the religion they were born under, because you know they came to it not through intellectual analysis, but through pure laziness.

Intellectual analysis says not to make generalizations, assumptions or ad hominem attacks.

Re:maybe Allah created life? (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838455)

Says the anonymous coward.

Re:maybe Allah created life? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838127)

They keep doing this because they keep hoping that if they throw enough shit at the SCOTUS wall that eventually somehow the justices will fuck up and not appropriately apply the Lemon Test.

But it's just gone stupid now. ID was their best hope, and it was utterly destroyed during the Dover trial.

Re:maybe Allah created life? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838205)

Not always, though I'll admit to being a bit of an exception to the rule, having tried Atheism, Shamanism, Shintoism, Islam, Wicca, and Buddhism before *almost* returning to my Catholic roots (I worship Catholic but still think the Sixth Patriarch had some truths Jesus Christ, despite being God, somehow failed to see, especially the absurdity of human beings thinking they know anything at all).

But as a generalization, for the majority I'd have to say you are correct. I've been called a heretic to suggest that the parables of Christ make more sense as Zen Koans.

Re:maybe Allah created life? (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838501)

[...] Jesus Christ, despite being God, somehow failed to see [...]

You realize how crazy this sounds right? Anthropomorphizing an all-powerful being?

I mean he was LITERALLY GOD, but we all make mistakes eh? ;D *nudge*

Many-Worlds Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42837999)

According to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory, there exist a bunch of universes where something close to creationism is true. Clearly we shouldn't be so closed-minded as to only teach our children how things work in this universe.

Re:Many-Worlds Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838237)

Nope that's the "bad writer" interpretation of quantum theory. "Manny-worlds" interpretation only includes variations that are possible.

Alert the Nobel committee (2)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838015)

The Texas School Board will be happy to accept their prize for turning biology on its head.

In Texas... (0)

stox (131684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838021)

they practice de-evolution.

Re:In Texas... (2)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838053)

they practice de-evolution.

UnIntelligent Design?

Gravity is a theory too (2)

perles (1855088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838037)

Gravity is a theory too, maybe they find that it doesn't exist and they all fly away from earth

Re:Gravity is a theory too (1)

Teresita (982888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838077)

'analyze all sides of scientific information' \

What does that even mean? Left side? Right side? I have scientific information that the moon is 384,400 km from the center of the Earth. Does that mean we need to examine the far side?

What about God? (3, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838039)

OK, as long as history and science classes have to give arguments on both sides about the existence of God.

Re:What about God? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838419)

Are you claiming that God is a theory?

Re:What about God? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838443)

They're still not prepared to give both sides of the American Civil...War of Northern Yankee Democrat Imperial Atheist Aggression.

It's very clear... (4, Insightful)

doug141 (863552) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838047)

Textbook publishers take note, you'll sell Texas a ton of books if you pander to our religious beliefs in your science books.

Re:It's very clear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838145)

... and lose credibility everywhere else. Good luck with that.

Re:It's very clear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838479)

There are redneck school boards outside Texas.

That's the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838535)

Textbook publishers have taken note and have pandered (AFAIK). This has been going on as long as I can remember:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/culture/texas-school-board-approves-controversial-textbook-changes/954/ [pbs.org]

However, I think publishers have more ability to cater different print runs nowadays, but it's still a huge problem for millions of Texas school children and possibly more.

explore paganism, eastern philosphy, etc. (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838057)

Some of these ideas are as seductive as rationalism in the short term. That could backfire even more against fundamentalism, which essentially only supports one view of the world.

While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838063)

It is incorrect that ideas only reach the status of "theory" when there's overwhelming evidence. A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis. We have theories that aren't well tested. We don't go teaching them in science class, but that doesn't mean they aren't theories. This idea that "theory" means "proven beyond any reasonable doubt" is silly. It doesn't.

For that matter, some things get called theories that aren't. Like String Theory. Not only is there no proof, there's no testable predictions. As such right now it is a hypothesis. It is a neat bit of math, internally consistent, but so far there are no testable predictions, no way to falsify, so it isn't really a theory. We don't want to go teaching it in high school science class yet, but we do want to keep looking at it.

The reason why all the god backed proposals aren't theories is they aren't testable, aren't falsifiable. They rely on an entity that by definition is outside of the observable universe. As such they can't be tested and thus are not scientific theories. They could be right, but they still aren't science. Science is concerned with the testable. A testable, falsifiable, hypothesis is a theory. Heck even after it is falsified it is still a theory, it is just wrong :).

Re:While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838149)

Mod parent way up. A very good description of why you shouldn't confuse the model with reality.

Re:While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (5, Informative)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838401)

Bullshit. You're equivocating for the same nonsense of the creationists.

A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis.

This isn't true at all. You're redefining theory as the sole progenitor of hypothesis. You've got it backwards, there, chief.

The National Academy of Sciences lays it out for you:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6024&page=2 [nap.edu]

Re:While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (5, Informative)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838507)

It is incorrect that ideas only reach the status of "theory" when there's overwhelming evidence. A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis. We have theories that aren't well tested. We don't go teaching them in science class, but that doesn't mean they aren't theories. This idea that "theory" means "proven beyond any reasonable doubt" is silly. It doesn't.

A hypothesis is a testable, falsifiable conjecture. A theory is arrived at by testing one or more hypotheses in a model and finding them not to be untrue. You are correct that there are theories which have not been exhaustively tested. The TOE is not one of those. A shitload of observations in many fields support it - or rather, do not support an alternative to it.

Re:While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838511)

" Science is concerned with the testable."

Correction: Natural Science is concerned with the testable. Natural Science is a belief system.

Re:While I'm not supporting Texas -at all- (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838525)

A theory is more than that, though: it must explain completely, or to a very large extent some phenomenon. Evolution explains the diversity of shapes obeserved in animals, the tree-like hierarchy of similarity between species, dead and alive, clarifies the notion of species (offtopic, if some expert can tell me what a species if when talking about prokariotes, I'd be fascinated to hear them).

String "Theory" purports to do the same thing, though I am thinking it may not qualify as science at all...

But the point is that yes, a theory may not have overwhelming evidence in its favour, though well established ones do. But the important thing, and that which I suspect is so grating to the fundamentalists out there, is that as a theory, evolution explains pretty much all about life, which does away with the notion of some creator god. Yes, yes, it is not abiogenesis, but it lays a path from some really simple proto-life to, say, elephants, and soon enough, this proto-life will be recreated in the lab.

all sides (0)

Spazmania (174582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838099)

Perhaps "all sides" means diligently pointing out flaws in the theory where behavior is observed but not adequately understood. Punctuated equilibrium, missing link, I'm looking at the two of you in particular.

Evolution is the only theory for how species came to be as they are which is both credible *and* scientific. But it isn't a very good theory. If it was a good theory then it would be *testable*. One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

Re:all sides (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838147)

P.E. is now largely seen as a solution without a problem. And missing link? Come on, what is this, 1940?

As to your claims about testability. Where the fuck did you learn about science? Prediction and test doesn't just mean "grow lots of generations and see what happens."

You're a good example of how fucked up American education is.

Re:all sides (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838389)

P.E. is now largely seen as a solution without a problem.

What? You mean Punctuated Equilibrium, not Physical Education, right? P-E vs gradualism is the biggest mechanistic argument in evolutionary biology. It limits the genetic / molecular mechanisms to certain behaviors which has been pretty much born out over the last two decades.

It certainly attempts to answer the problem of 'how you get here from there'.

Re:all sides (-1, Flamebait)

Spazmania (174582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838503)

Relativity is a testable theory. It tells me that light will usually go in a straight line. It also tells me that if light travels near a very large mass, it will curve. I can then go out and observe light curving around a large mass. And the curve I measure will match the curve relativity predicted.

Evolution can't tell me what conditions to subject rats to so that I end up with something that isn't a rat. And it can't tell me how many generations it'll take. Evolution can't tell me where to dig to find a creature whose bones are part way between a form believed to be a descendent of another. And it can't reliably tell me what those bones will look like when I do find them.

So, what exactly does it predict?

Re:all sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838151)

If it was a good theory then it would be *testable*.

It is. And it has been.

One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

Thank you for proving that you do not understand the subject at hand.

Re:all sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838233)

I'd say that there are studies done with bacteria and fruit flies where the results of selection pressure are pretty damn clear.

Some results are unexpected. We don't always see the adaptions we expect because we don't fully understand the organism, and that's not evolution's fault. It's ours.

Re:all sides (1)

Epeeist (2682) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838309)

Perhaps "all sides" means diligently pointing out flaws in the theory where behavior is observed but not adequately understood. Punctuated equilibrium, missing link, I'm looking at the two of you in particular.

Evolution is the only theory for how species came to be as they are which is both credible *and* scientific. But it isn't a very good theory. If it was a good theory then it would be *testable*. One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

Certainly Karl Popper didn't initially think that the theory of evolution was testable, but he later changed his mind:

I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation...

The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true. There seem to be exceptions, as with so many biological theories; and considering the random character of the variations on which natural selection operates, the occurrence of exceptions is not surprising...

1976. Unended Quest. An Intellectual Autobiography.

If you want more concrete examples of how the theory is both testable and falsifiable you could try these pages [talkorigins.org] .

Re:all sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838321)

evolution ha been tested and proven in laboratory conditions. It's also been used by humans as a tool for longer than there have been dogs.

Where exactly did you think labradoodles come from?

Re:all sides (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838399)

... One could use it to make reliable predictions about generational change in short lived animals based on whatever the factors are that induce change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppered_moth_evolution

Re:all sides (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838493)

What are you talking about?? Isn't a very good theory in who's opinion, yours? Or the Texas School Board? Because pretty much the entire field of biology disagrees with your statement.

It has been observed and/or tested with predictable results in the wild [wikipedia.org] and in the lab [wikipedia.org] . Not to mention the fact that almost every food you eat is the result of evolutionary processes as a result of both accidental and intentional human intervention.

What the school board doesn't understand is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838109)

The Theory of Evolution is not so simple in practice, as we can see the world is a complex system. The school board itself actually needs far more education on the matter, followed by performance testing and screening, before their opinion can be considered authoritative and relevant.

Flat Earth (0)

nikros (1037028) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838125)

Next they will say the earth is flat and the sun revolves around us

Re:Flat Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838285)

No,no,no. The earth is NOT flat!
It round, just like a pancake....

Very clear! (1)

snemiro (1775092) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838213)

It's very clear to me ...these people left the train sometime ago in the evolution....what else could we expect from them?

The "two sides" (2, Insightful)

Empiric (675968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838231)

As I see it, the "two sides" are this:

1. The assertion "evolution occurs", which is testable and extensively tested, which science overwhelmingly supports and very few theists have any issue with. It allows inclusion of all of the specifics of evolutionary theory regarding plausible mechanisms for biological change, specifically and appropriately to the degree valid science calls for.

2. The assertion "only evolution occurs", which is untestable and unscientific, and seems to have as its only apparent benefit that it's seen as a necessary premise for atheism. Need causal exclusivity to be true, therefore it is, need it to be scientific, therefore it is, though it factually fails on both counts.

The only real questions are what one specifically means by "evolution" in a given presentation, and whether that usage bears scientific scrutiny--and managing to stick with that usage in the face of an opportunity to make a non-sequitur argument for atheism.

HYBRID all ready! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838261)

You cant have the universe without G-d
You cant have G-d without people
You cant have people without the universe....
simple enough, no?

Hybrids exist for many things, why not this?
Teach kids that both are necessary for a balanced life,
evolution cant give you that hope you need to make it through each day....
and we cant live in ignorance thinking we are alone in the universe and god only visited earth....
so why not have both, cant we all just get along?

Re:HYBRID all ready! (1)

krovisser (1056294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838357)

I'm doing just fine without any religion, thanks. Unless, of course, you have proof that everybody needs to "balance" out their knowledge with some superstition.

Re:HYBRID all ready! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838515)

Why the hyphens in god's name? That only applies in Hebrew.

Theory of Texas English (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838265)

Seems like they need to start with the Theory of Texas English, wherein they can analyze all sides of the english language and learn the difference between the words "hypothesis" and "theory."

As a Texan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838267)

It saddens me that such religious fanaticism is allowed to even be in a position to integrate their beliefs into the public education system.

Doesn't help when your Governor is part of the same fanaticism. Keep praying for rain Perry. It's doing wonders!

Well ... (1, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838277)

analyze all sides of scientific information

There's really only one side in this case -- there is no scientifically credible evidence to the contrary of evolution.

Everything else is wishful thinking.

Scholars have pretty much determined as fact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838281)

that we're all here because there were plenty of guns aboard Noah's Ark.

If Scientology is a Religion, than HGTG mentioned (1)

Wingfat (911988) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838293)

Might as well have in the books about how the earth was created as a super computer for an advance race of rats trying to figure out the Question to the answer of 42. (which is as we all know. what do you get when you multiply 6 x 9)

That science stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838297)

...that's from Jesus

Theories? (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838303)

I'll start off by saying that I am 100% pro science, and that I don't think intelligent design has any place in the biology classroom.

Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn't at all clear what "all sides" would involve.

I don't think this is strictly true, even though I believe it should be. We have ideas like string-theory and m-theory which, while promising ideas in the field of science, currently clearly fall under the category of a scientific hypothesis or conjecture. There is not overwhelming evidence supporting them, there s some evidence supporting them.

If we are going to criticize creationists for calling things like evolution "just a theory" we should do our best to uphold our own standard of calling only scientific theories "theories". It might be hard to get everyone to start calling it "string hypotheses" until further notice, but if we want to be consistent, I feel this is necessary.

I also want to make it clear that I don't think string-hypothesis (I have already started) is on the same level as intelligent design. While maybe not a theory, it is still a scientific claim in that it is falsifiable. Depending on the specifics, in the best case, if intelligent design cam be considered falsifiable, I believe it has already been falsified, and in the worst case, I think it's unfalsifiable religion masquerading as falsifiable science.

Also I would like to point out that just because and idea has attained the status of a theory, does not mean that we shouldn't teach competing scientifically falsifiable hypotheses. This seems to be a good way to show science in action. For example, the theory of gravity has overwhelming evidence. There is some evidence that seems not to be consistent with the Newtonian theory of gravity. This has lead to some new hypothesis as explanations, the most widely accepted of which is the existence of Dark matter. Another is MOND (modified Newtonian Dynamics) which suggests that the equation described in the Newtonian theory of gravity is wrong and needs to be modified.

I don't have a problem with competing ideas being taught. This is a vital part of science, and a true example a good way to teach the controversy. The difference between MOND and intelligent design is either a unfalsifiable claim, or one that has already been trivially falsified.

One key component of intelligent design is the idea of irreducible complexity. A common example of an irreducibly complex item is the human eye. This is my opinion has already been shown to be false. There are numerous of examples of different photoreceptors at all stages of development in many different organisms clearly showing that even the simplest eyes are useful with incremental improvements all along the way adding utility, no single step of which seems "unsteppable" by evolution.

The idea that intelligent design must be correct if science can't prove how every single biological mechanism evolved is unfalsifiable.

I am open to competition to the Darwinian Theories of evolution by natural selection, but intelligent design just isn't good enough to warrant mention in a biology classroom.

Texans prove (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838351)

The theory of Devolution!

The only reason we care... (2)

SigmaTao (629358) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838387)

As I understand it, the only reason the body of america cares that the Texas school board makes wacky decisions (apart from their concern for Texan children) is that it affects the books that are available for schools across the country, due to the quantities of books involved.
This basically means it boils down to money. Good accurate books will be more expensive. In an age of digital media, surely the cost of having accurate science texts can be accepted by those schools who actually want to teach children rather than brain-wash them?
I think a sticker saying "This text has been rejected by the Texas school board" should be a mark excellence that is worth paying extra for.
The grander problem is, and has always been of more concern, that the school board is only really reflecting the views of the wider Texan community. If Americans really want to change the facts to fit their own world view how do you get around that?

Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838409)

Does anyone out there know what the word "theory" means? Apparently not.

uhh what? (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838423)

Texas has a very large influence because we are the most populated state in the region and therefore order the most schoolbooks. However, last i read, more recently the school board decided to not only reject creationism but to affirm there are no viable alternatives to evolution right there in the biology books. In ninth grade biology in early 2000s I was taught evolution by means of natural selection with not one objection by any students and no mention of anything else by my superb biology teacher. Of course I live in a city with a 120k+ population. The bible thumpers generally are concentrated in the boonies. Generalizing Texas by the few whackos who fight for a voice only to advance their hysterical views is unfair. My college biology professor had one of those Jesus fish with little feet with Darwin written in it on his car. =-)

I Have To Agree With The Texas School Board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42838481)

At least with their effort to seek out and explore for alternatives to current-accepted-wisdom. If their efforts bring teaching students to recognize and think positively about alternatives [as in, "Assuming the proposed Is possible andhas merit, how and why does it, and in service to what end?"], instead of negatively [as in, "All other that is different from what I have learnt through adopting the catechism of its syllogism is false, fatuous and bullshit."], they will do science, history, the humanities and all education a service that they all badly need, not only in Texas. Especially my fellow scientists who are caught up in crusading for Evolution and don't know the difference between crusading and reasoning, exploring a theory and asserting a conviction they hold as if it was God's Word.

Who has done better work for science than Isaac Newton [without whose previous work Einstein would not have had a platform to jump to Relativity from], who was a theologian and was working to mathematically proof intelligent design? In real science theories are always theories, and always tentative possibilities, and always subject to be knocked down by some today unknown tommorrow's proofs. That's what differentiates it from religion [except in the minds of the religiously scientific].

I agree with Barbara Cargill (2, Insightful)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about a year and a half ago | (#42838521)

There is a scientific alternative to Darwinism. It's called Lamarckism. And it's something that *should* be taught alongside Darwinism in biology classrooms.

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