Texas BOE Introduces Punctuated De-Evolution

31 03 2009

On Friday the (don’t mess with) Texas Board of Edukashen…made a mess of Texas.  Board chair and dentist Don McLeroy and his six fundamentalist toadies managed to put another log on the fire they hope to someday burn the witch of evolution on.

In what must be a complete embarrassment to those Texans with even a passing understanding of science, the board managed to add loopholes to the Science and Biology standards to make it easy for creationist hacks to fill science textbooks with half truths and unmerited doubt.  This, despite a petition from 54 scientific and educational societies urging against any language that would misrepresent or undermine the accurate teaching of evolution.

While the creationist preferred attack phrase “strengths and weaknesses” was rejected, other artificial doubt inspiring language was introduced where no legitimate doubt currently exists.  Language such as “is thought to” or “proposed transitional fossils” has been added to intentionally misrepresent established evolutionary concepts to make them seem uncertain.

The new biology standard now includes the debunked creationist ideas that “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the fossil record somehow disprove evolution.  The new standard also overtly implies doubt by directing students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of groups in the fossil records.”

As dentist Don exclaimed “Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!”

Yeah, because we wouldn’t want people who actually know what they’re talking about teaching our kids would we now?

I guess there's a reason for this

I guess there's a good reason for this, huh?

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Texas BOE Narrowly Votes To Continue Evolving

26 03 2009

For those of you keeping score, according to the Texas BOE 70% of all Republicans are religious fundamentalists incapable of understanding basic evolutionary biology while 100% of Democrats (and thankfully 30% of Republicans) are scientifically enlightened enough to keep religious back wash out of Texas public schools.

According to the Dallas News Texas BOE board members deadlocked 7-7 on a motion to restore a long-time curriculum rule that “strengths and weaknesses” of all scientific theories – notably Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – be taught in science classes and covered in textbooks for those subjects.

That’s not to suggest that Dentist Don McLeroy will be giving up his crusade to bring ignorance to the students of Texas. This was just a skirmish and I’m sure we have not heard the last of him and his gaggle of goose steppers for Jesus.

That said, a double extra bonus kick-ass kudos shout out goes to BOE member Mavis Knight of Dallas who, despite undergoing heart surgery in February, cast her vote by video conference from the state education service center in Richardson. We in the reality based community all owe you one for going the extra mile to keep reason and science undiluted in public schools. Very well done Madame!

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This Is Your Brain On Religion

16 03 2009

If you ever wanted an example of how religion can completely skew rational thought I offer you this video.  Watch as Michael Shermer interviews true believer Georgia Purdom PhD (research scientist in molecular genetics) from the Creation Museum in Kentucky.  Absolutely no amount of data or evidence can dislodge the brain washing she’s been subjected to.  Ohio State must be very proud to have her as an alum.

I have no idea how Mr. Shermer keeps talking with this woman without pulling out what little hair he has left.  Amazing.  I know I’m recycling this cartoon, but man oh man does it fit here.

science-v-religion





Texas BOE: Dogma Over Science

15 03 2009

The Texas Board of Educashun (their spelling, not mine) is always innovating, always adapting, always looking for new ways to misinform its students about the process of science and instead prop up religious dogma as “gooder learnin”. If viewed in an evolutionary context, the Texas BOE is the educational outlier that thinks it won the genetic lottery because it got an extra chromosome. Um…yeah.

This “special” organization, led by dentist and avowed creationist Don McLeroy, had a busy March indeed. On March 9th they introduced House Bill 2800 which, if enacted, would effectively exempt institutions such as the Institute for Creation Research’s graduate school from Texas’s regulations governing degree-granting institutions and make every degree from Texas just that little bit less respected.

But wait, dinosaur Don and his minority of faithful on the board weren’t done yet. Always looking for innovative ways to cast unfounded doubt on well proven science, on March 13th he introduced House Bill 4224 which once again moves to force the creationist “strengths and weaknesses” language to their 6-12th grade science classes. There have been other recent attempts to pin the “strengths and weaknesses” phrase specifically to the theory of evolution so that other “theories” like creationism could be taught. Those attempts failed so they’re now trying to reintroduce the same language, just more generically this time. I personlly don’t disagree with the sentiment being introduced as applied to all of science, but as it is yet another reincarnation of a ploy used by creationists to attempt to weasel in their dogma leaves me very suspicious indeed.

I feel bad for all the genuinely intelligent people who know this is more of the same bullshit, and who have or are in the process of getting a degree of any kind from Texas. The educational bonafides of everyone with a Texas degree are tainted by these asshats, and it’s just a shame. Why everyone doing serious educational work in Texas isn’t up in arms and protesting the intellectual insult and genuine damage these fools are inflicting on their reputation and education will remain a mystery to me. Perhaps the educated people of Texas who are willing to just let this crap float by somehow deserve the diminished reputation these policies suggest.
science-v-religion