Anti-Evolution Texas BOE May Get Neutered

21 05 2009

In a remarkable triumph for actual thinking Texans the embarrassing circus that is the Texas Board of Education may get many of their powers revoked.  After a long history of inept decisions and the recent “science standards” debacle the Texas legislature has introduced no fewer than six bills that would reduce the state board of education’s power.

Provisions being debated right now include stripping the Texas board of its authority to set curricula and approve textbooks, instead transferring those powers either to the Texas Commissioner of Education, the state education agency, or a legislative board.

Other provisions would transform the entire board to an appointed rather than elected body, require Webcasting of meetings, and take away the board’s control of school funding.

Good luck with that.  Seriously.

Currently Proposed Texas Science Textbooks

Currently Proposed Texas Science Textbooks

Evolution And The Swine Flu

3 05 2009

Line up bitches.  Over here we have flu shots for the heathens who trust science…and over here prayers and tea bags for you faith based conservatives.  Good luck with that.

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?

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!


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.

Texas Fights To Retain Title “Most Ignorant State In America”

22 01 2009

One day after President Bush left office, Texas realized that its claim on being the preeminent source of “teh stupid” for America was in jeopardy. Luckily they had a plan to make sure that anytime people the world over thought of Texas they would naturally think of inbred religious dullards like their favorite native son* George Bush.

Today it was reported in the NY Times that the Texas State Board of Education, with the strong support of Republican Governor Rick Perry, is once again debating the relative merits of evolution versus the Biblical version of creation. Textbook publishers are being forced by the board to include phrases that sow artificial doubt about the scientific validity of evolution and implicitly lend support for the Biblical version of creation.

You just know that when the Texas chairman of the board of education is a dentist who thinks that the Earth is only a few thousand years old that Texas has a pretty strong chance of retaining the title.

Scientific obfuscation and Biblical nonsense expert Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute disingenuously ignores the 150 years worth of accumulative corroborating evidence that has confirmed Evolution and insists that he’s only advocating the promotion of “dissenting opinions”. This blatant lie of course caused God to clap thunder outside as soon as the words were uttered, but Mr. Meyer was too impressed with the scent of his own bullshit to notice.

With perfect timing a mechanical engineer from Houston then stepped up, with his teenage son drooling by his side, and said (and I’m not making this up) “Textbooks today treat [Evolution] as more than a theory, even though its evidence has been found to be stained with half-truths, deception and hoaxes. Darwinian evolution is not a proven fact.”

And with that Texas noticeably relaxed knowing that their reputation was secure and that regardless how the textbook challenge was resolved the world would always view them as the most ignorant fucksticks in America.

* Of course Bush isn’t really from Texas but they’re not letting that inconvenient fact get in the way of a good yarn. If you choose to mention this fact to a Texan please be sure that he is already wearing his helmet.

Let Me Tell You Something About God: Typography

24 03 2008

Oh c’mon, that’s some great stuff there. Pacino? No? Fine…Well here’s a little palate cleanser for you. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

George Bush Not Embarassing Enough For Texas: Sanctions Creationist “Degree”

18 03 2008

I wouldn’t really have thought you could blame the state of Texas for the intellectual shortcomings of President George W Bush, but they seem to be trying to make that case.

Buried in the middle of a story about attendances at Kentucky’s Creation Museum is something even more shocking – the state of Texas may be about to approve an online master’s degree in science education provided by the Texas-based Institute for Creation Research. The “degree”, which has already been given preliminary approval by a Texas state advisory group, is now awaiting the final go-ahead from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Needless to say, bona fide scientists are unimpressed with this development. Alfred Gilman, dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center told the Dallas Morning News: “The latest round of so-called creation science truly scares me and all of my colleagues here at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Approval of this sort of nonsense as science in Texas will have a significant negative impact on our ability to attract the best minds to the state. How can Texas simultaneously launch a war on cancer and approve educational platforms that submit that the universe is 10,000 years old?”

Indeed, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to be taken seriously as a scientist if you have Texas on your educational resume.

The Texas Education Board is expected to make a decision in late April, 2008.