That’s it. Texas really is doomed.

By Phil Plait | May 24, 2008 6:28 pm

Well, it’s truly official: Texas is doomed.

Why? I’ve talked before about the guy that’s the head of the State Board of Education. His name is Don McLeroy, and he’s perhaps the least qualified guy on the planet to head a BoE. He’s a creationist. He thinks science is evil. The list of his disqualifications to be in charge of a BoE would be so big… well, it would be Texas-sized big.

I predicted nothing but doom and shame for the BoE this year, and it brings me no joy at all to say I was right. McLeroy’s latest antic — though I would call it the first shot fired in a war, a war on reality — was over, of all things, the English standards. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, teachers and experts had worked for two and a half to three years on new standards for English. So what did McLeroy do? He ignored all that work entirely, and let "social conservatives" on the board draft a new set overnight.

Overnight? Think that’s better than Standards teachers and experts spent nearly three years on?

This new version cobbled together in a few hours was delivered to Board members an hour before the meeting in which they were to vote on it. An hour! In the meeting, McLeroy rammed through the discussion, even dismissing people who claimed he was going too quickly:

“Mr. Chair you’re going so fast … you’re moving so fast we can’t find it in the other document,” [board member Mary Helen] Berlanga said, shortly after the page-by-page explanation began.

After more complaints, McLeroy declared that he would continue at the fast pace.

“The ruling is you’re being dilatory in dragging this out,” McLeroy said.

What a guy! And now guess how this ends…

The board voted to approve the hastily cobbled-together standards, 9-6.

And if you’re not tired of guessing, then guess what discipline comes up next for review? Science!

We know where McLeroy stands there. Texas is actually and seriously looking down a cliff of educational repression that will doom the children there for the next decade. I really can’t be more serious about this. If I were a parent of a young child in Texas right now, I’d move out rather than let her be educated there.

FYI, McLeroy was appointed to his position by Texas Governor Perry, who apparently agrees with many if not all of McLeroy’s positions. Mary Helen Berlanga — the board member quoted above — wrote a letter to Perry complaining vociferously and specifically about McLeroy. As described in her letter, incredibly, when McLeroy invited experts to testify before the board on the English standards, he didn’t invite anyone with expertise in teaching Hispanic children, yet they make up a huge 47% portion of the populace of school children.

I remind you, science is next on their chopping block, and McLeroy is a vocal and adamant anti-intellectual. He admits on his own page he is not a professional educator… but he is the head of the State Board of Education.

I have no clue if it’s too late to save Texas or not. I strongly urge anyone reading this who lives in Texas to write to Perry, to McLeroy, and to Berlanga (she could use the support) letting them know what you think. In fact, if I lived in Texas, I would ask for the immediate resignation of McLeroy, or demand Perry to remove him.

And I remind you as well that Texas is a major force in determining curricula and textbook sales for the rest of this country. This can affect all of us. All of us.

I certainly hope it’s not too late to reverse this damage being done to the educational system in Texas. If not, then we may all be doomed.

[Added after the draft of this was written: PZ has written on this as well.]

My thanks to BABloggee John Kingman for bringing this to my attention.

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Comments (199)

  1. Sounds terrible. Maybe education is too important to be submitted to the whims of local government? If ever there was an argument for federal control of education, this is it.

  2. freelunch

    The problem with national control is that we end up with idiots like Bush in the White House who are every bit as anti-intellectual as Perry, but able to do far more damage. If I could be sure that there were a way to keep these enemies of knowledge at bay, I would be fine with national standards, but I don’t want them to dumb us all down to Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama standards.

  3. davidlpf

    You forget that experts in teaching english would be elitists and therefore wrong by any political standards. The scary thing about the states going down the tubes is Canada is so tied to them that they drag us down also.

  4. Colin J

    AHHHHHHHH….. As a high school science teacher, this kind of thing REALLY gets my blood boiling. **expletive**

    A non-educator in charge of an entire state. Yikes. Whatever happened to hiring people who are actually qualified to do a good job? Or has that ever been the case?

  5. J. Stagner

    This is just *one* of the many reasons that I choose to educate my children at home (aside from the very poor quality of public education).

    I know that homeschooling is more popular among fervent Christian fundamentalists, but it seems to me from the groups and events that I’ve attended in my area that theres a lot of momentum building from parents who don’t want their children’s education decided by people like McLeroy, especially those parents in the technology sector.

  6. Michael Lonergan

    Maybe it was written just like the Bible? Under the direct inspiration of God. If that’s the case the document is infallible, without error. Can’t argue with that.

  7. I’m in Texas and my inlaws tell me that I’m wasting my money sending my daughter to a secular private school. Every time the Texas BoE pulls a stunt like this, I know why I’m spending the money on it.

  8. Ragutis

    Great… A whole generation of Texans is going to end up as articulate and erudite as Dubya.

    *sigh*

  9. tamar

    I’m a long time reader first time poster, and I have got to say this has got me out of the lurker mode.

    I teach in Texas and have written many a letter to Rick Perry and my state rep Johnson. Neither care about a dissenting opinion no matter how much sense it makes. Worst–there are many educators willing and able to be just as ignorant.

    I worry about the future of education in this state with such corruption and obvious religious and personal biases making decisions.

    Infuriating.

  10. Nasikabatrachus

    Aw, man.

    Couldn’t somebody just aim a comet at the general Texas area instead?

  11. tacitus

    As an Austinite, I vociferously reject the solution offered in the last comment! (i.e. the comet one).

  12. Yeah, I like Austin. Great town, great food, great music, and one of my best friends lives there.

  13. davidlpf

    If we lost Texas we would have to change all those comparisons in size to some other state.

  14. “As an Austinite, I vociferously reject the solution offered in the last comment! (i.e. the comet one).”

    Oh, come on, I think you know deep down that it’s what we really need to do. ‘Sides, I’m sure the people at UT Austin could come up with some kind of giant dome to protect the city.

    “If we lost Texas we would have to change all those comparisons in size to some other state.”

    Well, since Texas is defined as an area bordered by some imaginary lines, we wouldn’t really have to since comets can’t impact our imaginations (except figuratively).

    Also, we could just use the crater of the comet to compare the sizes of things to, e.g. “Everything’s bigger in the crater that used to be Texas”.

  15. Paul Koenig

    The scarier part here is the effect this will have on textbooks in the rest of the country. Because Texas and California are the largest purchasers of textbooks in the nation, publishers adapt to whatever standards are in those two states. Practically speaking, Texas helps set what’s taught everywhere else because other states don’t have the same influence on textbook content.

    Texas: Dooming the rest of us.

  16. Nemo

    Don’t forget the other eight wack jobs who backed this guy up.

  17. tacitus

    You know, this fuss over the English teaching standards is probably nothing to do with the religion (for once), but rather politics and just sheer unadulterated mendacity. (I was about to type “incompetence”, but that would be giving McLeroy took much credit).

    Really, the cavalier in way McLeroy and his cronies treated everyone who has slaved over the standards for months is unforgivable, especially when he can’t even bring himself to tell the truth about why he did it.

    It’s one thing to do a quick cut and paste job on a press release or even a general policy document, but to do it to a document that sets the teaching standards for probably the most important subject in school is utterly unconscionable.

    I really hope he gets hung out to dry for this one, before he can do any more damage.

  18. Rev. BigDumbChimp

    So much for all that much talked about and rarely seen Christian honesty.

    Tactus, knowing who it is in charge there has to be something motivating him from his little chrtistian “world-view” under that rock he crawls out from occasionally.

    Everything has some tie in to that.

  19. Robbie

    Cyde Weys: “Sounds terrible. Maybe education is too important to be submitted to the whims of local government? If ever there was an argument for federal control of education, this is it.”

    How about the simpler solution of just getting this guy the hell out of office?

  20. dru007

    Why don’t we just give Texas back to Mexico? Then any future
    dubya’s would run for president of Mexico…. and would lose miserably
    as I think no one there falls for creationism….

  21. Robbie

    Dru007: “Why don’t we just give Texas back to Mexico? Then any future
    dubya’s would run for president of Mexico…. and would lose miserably
    as I think no one there falls for creationism….”

    That’s a joke right?

  22. ARP1234

    Why doesn’t Texas just become its own country like it
    already acts and it will no longer be the rest of the USA’s
    problem.

    Or we could give it back to Mexico and really give them
    something to complain about.

    Remember that episode of SpongeBob SquarePants
    where SB and Patrick kept insulting Sandy the Squirrel
    about how dumb Texas is? Guess they were right.

  23. Bonogamy

    The Grand Canyon is millions of years old. It was not created in bible times in the great flood. Dinosaurs never co-existed with humans. Say these things now before you’re thrown in jail and “interrogated” (i.e. electrocuted and waterboarded) for saying them. Democracy had a good run but now we have to preserve the encyclopedia of life for future generations who will be crippled by their insane school boards. We are entering a dark age, but this time we have the heads-up to save all the precious treasures of our brief period of scientific discovery, from around the time of the enlightenment until now, so future generations, hundreds or thousands of years from now, can re-discover them.

    How long before NASA’s funds are pulled entirely because they won’t go along with a presidential edict saying the age of the earth is indeterminate? How long before universities are inundated with students who take advantage of a law (allowed by an amendment to the constitution) saying that they can answer whatever they want on a test because their religious beliefs say so? America is already a paradise for christian fundamentalists, now want to finish the job by re-educating children so they never have to live with anyone who disagrees with them.

    The least Americans can do is fight to preserve the first amendment even if Texas has already sunk into a black hole.

  24. Jeffersonian

    Gov Perry’s no peach, that’s long been clear. This is a guy that returned to office with less than 40% of the vote, promotes the execution of the mentally retarded, is an homophobic, evangelical, drug-war-extremist, and a backwards doofus. I say the latter because of what he did to race-through the building of those dozen coal-fired energy plants with the banning of public input. He has gone on record that those who don’t worship his imaginary being will go to the lesser of his two imaginary afterlife locations; though the latter would be merely humurous if he wasn’t proclaiming this inhumane dogma while speaking from public office. The good side of this is that he has very little approval in Texas; most Texans do NOT like the guy. He’s a good example of what people act like when they get to wield power for 10 years. This McElroy doofus isn’t worth typing about. Of the 15 on the board, nine backed him. That’s where the story is.

    But Phil, are you suggesting someone with expertise should have been invited in order to promote a race-specific curriculum? Are you saying the knowledge needs to be delivered culturally differently somehow? I didn’t get that part.

  25. Andrew

    I’m a 6th Grade Science teacher in Texas, and I guarantee you that no science teacher I’ve met would EVER teach creationism or intelligent design in public school. I’m not an atheist, but it just doesn’t belong in a science classroom.

    In my 4 years teaching it, I have never once mentioned God. We teach that the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is 13.7 billion. There is no non-science being taught in Texas science rooms right now (at least not authorized), and I really can’t picture it happening.

    Believe it or not, Texas is not a ultra-conservative back-woods place. The stereotypes you see in movies and TV aren’t really that accurate. We have plenty of atheists, hippies, democrats, and liberals. We’ve been electing Republicans to office lately, but that’s really a recent trend.

  26. Matt Garrett

    I’m sorry, but you can’t just declare someone “thinks science is EVIL” without backing it up, BA.

    evil (??-v?l, British often & US also ??-(?)vil )
    adjective
    1 a: morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked b: arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct 2 aarchaic : inferior b: causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive c: disagreeable 3 a: causing harm : pernicious b: marked by misfortune : unlucky

    WORDS MEAN THINGS.

  27. Grandeur

    So this is what set in motion the chain of events that lead to the future depicted in the movie Idiocracy – where the stupid outbreed the smart by 25:1, the stupid are proud to be stupid, and water is shunned in favor of Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator (with electrolytes).

    Good ‘ol Christians. Always claiming to be doing ‘good’ things for the world, and yet needing nefarious methods to do so.

  28. John Kingman

    Jeffersonian said “Of the 15 on the board, nine backed him.”

    Actually 8 backed him, he was one of the nine. He is also one of the seven Religious Right reps.

    If you want to see how the Religious Right has been moving in on the Texas State Board of Education, read the Texas Freedom Network’s 2008 report “The State Board of Education: Dragging Texas Schools into the Culture Wars” at
    http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/RRReport2008web.pdf?docID=501

  29. NE1

    The problem here is obviously not McLeroy. It’s the 9 council members that voted to bypass the carefully constructed plan. This is why we have local representation.

  30. jdehnert

    This kind of this is exactly why I’m looking for a job in Europe. $8 per gal is a small price to pay to be free of this madness. In the man time, I can just add 1 more state to the list where a high school diploma doesn’t necessarily equate education.

    Perhaps the USA will fall apart the way the USSR did. One has to give them some credit for actually breaking up and forming new countries.

    I love my country, but if it becomes an intellectual super fund site, I’ll leave t to the people who made the mess in the first place.

    …and yes, I do vote, and am active in my community.

  31. Cynthia

    I can’t say a whole lot; I live in Georgia where “Intelligent Design” was, however briefly, actually put in the science books. Most recently, the CRCT, the standardized test used to determine if elementary and middle school kids can advance to a new grade, was written with one curricula in mind for 6-7 grade social studies, while the state curricula for those grades was COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. 80% of the kids failed it because they weren’t taught what they were tested on.

    Kathy Cox at least has some background in education. I guess it just gives Georgia a state we can look down on.

    Seriously, though; if I lived in Texas, first I would raise hell–letters to the BoE (individually and collectively) the governor, and the local newspapers, and then, when nothing changed, I would move far away.

  32. I’m going to suggest something unpopular (and as a non-Texan something I don’t have to bother with)

    Intelligent, rational people _have_ to start standing for positions on these boards. These anti-everything idiots often get a seat because there is no real opposition. But look what happened in Dover, a packed education board did a really stupid thing and the local people got them kicked off and replaced by a group who actually cared about education. It’s a pity that they waited so long, but better late than never.

    I doesn’t really matter if religious nutters still win the elections, just by taking part, questions will be asked that for which the media will demand answers. Getting daft ideas aired is often a good way to destroy them.

  33. Dexter

    This has absolutely crushed me. I have two preteen cousins living in Texas right now. The gleam in their eyes when the are playing with insects, plants, and fireworks, makes me wish I was there again to discover these things for the fist time. Now that the opportunity of new discovery has been ripped from them overnight, leaves me with deep hatred for anyone that would take that from a child, (I understand that hate is a strong word, but maybe, a little hate has it’s place.). I am also glad we have a close relationship, so that I can help them in knowing that to think for yourself, and subject those thoughts to the scientific method, is one of the greatest achievements we have ever made. (and one of the most enjoyable)

    Dexter Haupt (let the bots come!!!)

  34. Ragutis

    XXX on 24 May 2008 at 10:55 pm

    You think writing them will do any good? They’re happy with the way things are & won’t stop untill they’ve brought about the end of our rational civilization & created a “Millenial Kingdom” for their shrunken corpse of a Messiah.

    There is only one way to stop filth like them.

    Fortunately Texas has very relaxed gun laws.

    People of Texas, you know what to do. The question is, do any of you have the courage to do it?

    Someone calling themselves Anon said quite a similar thing over at the Pharyngula post about the subject:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/05/fire_don_mcleroy.php#comment-903158

    I’d say that you’re either

    A) deluded and sick, in need of some help to learn that violence is not an answer to this situation (or indeed, most situations)

    or

    B) a troll, trying to get someone to bite so you can then go to all your fundie pals and say “SEE! I told you they’re all immoral savages, ready to kill at the drop of a hat!”

    Perhaps if Phil takes a peek at your IP, it’ll become clearer which you are. I’m leaning towards B.

  35. chris tucker

    Idiocracy began in Texass. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving people. Lived there 18 months and have never been so continuously disgusted by a people enthusiastically willing to shirk their potential for short term gain. Their Chinese overlords will find them easy too fool, poison, and control.

  36. #
    # Rev. BigDumbChimpon 24 May 2008 at 9:37 pm

    So much for all that much talked about and rarely seen Christian honesty.

    -0————————–

    If there were “honest Christians” there would be no Christians. Truth is insoluble when mixed in Christianity.

  37. Philip B.

    I wonder though how much this has to do with religion, and how much is a desire to keep ‘those libruls’ out of the school system? I also wonder how many other states are headed int he same direction.

    Imagine, people fought and died once to keep places like Florida and Texas in the union. Maybe leavign them alone to form their own little third world nation wasn’t such a bad idea. They sure seem hell-bent on headed that way anyhow.

  38. I wrote about this same phenomenon a few years back — about how Texas can determine the curricula of the nation — after seeing a blurb about it in BoingBoing (http://www.boingboing.net/2005/03/26/reactionary-schoolbo.html), and it saddens me to see how little things have changed. I genuinely think this post is relevant to our discussion here, or I wouldn’t include it:

    http://www.circlingthedrain.com/archives/2005/03/26/us-ignorance-only-textbooks-promoted-to-meet-conservative-values/

  39. Chris CII

    Jeffersonian wrote : “But Phil, are you suggesting someone with expertise should have been invited in order to promote a race-specific curriculum? Are you saying the knowledge needs to be delivered culturally differently somehow? I didn’t get that part.”

    Bad astronomer wrote : “he didn’t invite anyone with expertise in teaching Hispanic children, yet they make up a huge 47% portion of the populace of school children.”

    The term ‘hispanic’ children is not well sought out it should rather be ‘hispanophone’, as in ‘speaks spanish at home’. That problem has nothing to do with race, but anything to do with the special requirements of teaching english as what is basically a foreign language rather than teaching to native anglophones.

  40. Cyan Blue

    I would love to join the choruses of wow-this-is-so-horrible-I-can’t-believe-it, but the problem is that you gave not one example of what is actually being done, or what McLeroy or Perry have already done which degrades educational standards. On the face of it, I am opposed to creationists, well…period – on school boards or anywhere, but Mr. Plait, please, I’m looking for exact examples of how the English standards were changed, or what McLeroy actually did to the Science curricula – and there is nothing in your article to this effect. Your Web site is devoted to rational thinking and good science, and yet poster after poster has blindly aped the “what a horrible guy McLeroy is” role without actually reading any evidence in your article whatsoever upon which to make up their minds fairly and rationally. And that is what I find most interesting of all.

  41. SLC

    Re Jeffersonian

    “Gov Perry’s no peach, that’s long been clear. This is a guy that returned to office with less than 40% of the vote, promotes the execution of the mentally retarded, is an homophobic, evangelical, drug-war-extremist, and a backwards doofus.”

    One should get a laugh out of Gov. Perry being homophobic since is is a closeted gay man himself.

  42. Mr. LAME

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upyewL0oaWA&feature=related
    i love this movie

    [Edited to add: NSFW language in this clip. TBA]

  43. This is why I don’t even stop through Texas on a flight layover.

  44. tamar

    “I would love to join the choruses of wow-this-is-so-horrible-I-can’t-believe-it, but the problem is that you gave not one example of what is actually being done, or what McLeroy or Perry have already done which degrades educational standards. On the face of it, I am opposed to creationists, well…period – on school boards or anywhere, but Mr. Plait, please, I’m looking for exact examples of how the English standards were changed, or what McLeroy actually did to the Science curricula – and there is nothing in your article to this effect. Your Web site is devoted to rational thinking and good science, and yet poster after poster has blindly aped the “what a horrible guy McLeroy is” role without actually reading any evidence in your article whatsoever upon which to make up their minds fairly and rationally. And that is what I find most interesting of all.”

    We can’t give one example of what is being done because it has not yet been disclosed, but the circumstances in and of themselves are cause for suspicion. Not only that, but McLeroy has a history of stupid stunts like this…http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/us/03evolution.html. Which are deeply disturbing to those who value integrity in science curriculum. This guy obviously has an agenda.

  45. BaldApe

    As was suggested on another blog, maybe the solution is for decent universities to notify Texas that their high school diploma will no longer be respected in terms of college admission.

    I also really wonder just what creationist English standards would look like. Are all grammar and usage rules divinely inspired or something?

  46. Nighthawk

    Im with “tamar” on this one. Personally, I dont see what all the fuss is about. If you look at all the stuff taught in schools, Intelligent Design fits right in. The age of the earth, the age of the universe, etc etc etc and a lot of the stuff taught in chemistry and physics are all just theories. Sure there are a few laws like Newton’s, but most of the rest? Yea they are all just theories. So if THEORIES can be taught to students, why cant the theory of intelligent design? If anything, by not teaching students intelligent design, you are blocking them from seeing more of the world. No one said the evolutionary teachings would stop, but this is a parallel theory. There are many topics in which parallel theories are taught (lots of phenology topics have parallel theories) and I dont see why this topic cant be one of them.

    People have just been accustomed to the ZOMG CREATIONISMM!! THE COMMIES ARE TAKIN OVER!!! mode of thinking and that is exactly what shows the downfall of this civilization.

    Sure, the McLeroy guy should not be the BoE head and throwing out the English curriculum was uncalled for… but thats politics.

  47. Jared Lorz

    His articulation of his point could use some finess I agree, but Science is responsible for some of the greatest evils in our time. Mustard Gas, ZX gas, the Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, depleted uranium, biological warfare, etc.. etc.. Also science has become a religion unto itself. All science believer needs to say is “Scientists have discovered” and it’s the same as a religious person quoting Jesus. Most people lack the facilities and faculties to prove these things on their own so it’s just a different type of faith.

  48. David

    I agree that someone that doesn’t have educational experience shouldn’t be in charge of education of an entire state.
    However, let me get one thing straight: Creationism isn’t anti-science. In fact, there is a ton of scientific evidence supporting intelligent design. A lot of the “facts” supporting evolution have been proven incorrect and yet they are still taught in the text books. For instance, Lucy and the Neanderthal man are both not evidence; Lucy is a collection of bones that weren’t even close together. And the neanderthal man is just that… a man. He just had back problems so he was bent over. Another (final) thing is carbon dating. There has been a couple of cases where one part of a mammoth was dated to be a couple million years older than other parts… talk about a slow birth.

    Now i’m not going to come back, so I don’t care what you say in response. But do please realize that there’s as much evidence supporting creation as there is supporting evolution. I’m not going for the removal of evolution from schools. What I would like is for both possibilities to be presented without biased opinions, so that students have a fair choice in what they believe (yes, since there is no concrete proof for evolution, you do have to believe in it as much as you would any other religion).

    Anyway, God bless you all!
    -David

  49. Optimus

    Here we go again.

    David, familiarize yourself with evolution. Read about natural selection. Then read some more. Then keep reading. Don’t stop educating yourself, ever.

    Intelligent design HAS ZERO EVIDENCE to support it. ZERO. NONE. ‘God of the gaps’ (“gaps” that continue to get smaller and smaller with each passing year) arguments will NEVER WILL BE evidence of a deity. If you’re going to teach ID, then you may as well teach about unicorns and pixies. There is no difference.

    Evolution is a fact, not a theory. Evolution is a theory in the scientific sense, just as the the circuit theory or the special theory of relativity. Both are packed up by mountains and mountains of direct evidence in and out of the lab. Intelligent design is no different than saying photons are God’s tears. There’s no difference. They’re both made up hypothesis with zero evidence to support them. No evidence, no maths, no experiments to be conducted, nothing.

  50. tamar

    Nighthawk–I was quoting Cyan Blue.

    Sorry for the confusion. My response is the last paragraph.

  51. Optimus

    Sorry for the typos :)

  52. Living in the Past

    good teachers may continue to teach how they know to teach though what this sort of policy from above does is give administrators a blank check to bully their staff

  53. Dave

    I never thought that in the US (of all places), that we would see the rise of people and governments that make even the most backward deranged nations of the 3rd world look educated, cultured, and civilized by comparison.

    The poorest parts of Africa have children walking through arid deserts, jungles and fields strewn with landmines and violent lawless militias to get to underfunded and poorly equipped schools, yet they cherish every educational moment and have a enthusiasm for learning that is utterly alien to America where schools, educational institutions, and teachers seem to be feared and loathed.

    A land of “faith based initiatives”, radical and extreme social policy that holds torture of citizenry, jesus camps, and neverending ‘preemptive’ war to be holy, just and right.

    Every empire has its time in the sun before its pulled down by barbarians, the clock is ticking.

  54. Thomas Siefert

    In ten years we will be handing out the $100 laptops to people in the US.

  55. Michelle

    and you texans wonder why we think of you as massive rednecks… That’s not helping.

    Someone needs to kick that governor out for appointing this lightbulb.

  56. tamar

    There are a few thoughtful people here in Texas. We’re oppressed, but hey–it builds character! :)

  57. Beowulff

    Do trolls get extra points if they get three comments in a row in?

  58. Mr. Random

    What McLeroy is doing is evil. It may be at the lower end of the spectrum of evils but it’s made it into that category.

  59. @Nighthawk
    So if THEORIES can be taught to students, why cant the theory of intelligent design?

    Because a scientific theory is subjected to copious peer review and is based on a preponderance of evidence. A scientific theory makes predictions that are testable and is falsifiable.

    This differs from a “colloquial” theory like intelligent design. In scientific terms, Intelligent Design is an hypothesis – it’s an idea – and it’s not a very good one. It makes no predictions, it is not falsifiable, it is not testable. It is NOT a scientific theory any more than me proposing that the moon is made of blue cheese is a scientific theory. Although I may say “I have a theory that the moon is made of cheese”, and that is correct in common usage, it still doesn’t make Lunar Cheeseology a scientific theory.

    That is why it has no business in the science classroom.

  60. @David
    there is a ton of scientific evidence supporting intelligent design

    You can say it over and over, but it become no more true. There is NO evidence whatsoever that supports the Hypothesis of Intelligent Design.

    There are mountains of evidence that support the Theory of Evolution.

  61. lefty von canuckistan

    Any texans who’d like to live in the 21st century, you’re welcome to come up to Canada.

    We may not let you carry 40 fully-automatic machine guns in your truck or murder, sorry *execute*, retarded people, but we’re pretty big on teaching knowledge, not “building faith”, have trees and clean water, nice lookin folks and are fun to hang out with.

    Anyways, try to at least have fun on the ride down, America was pretty freakin’ sweet for 150 years or so. Enjoy your Brawndo!

  62. Gary Ansorge

    Trolls,,,should be eaten,,,preferably sautéed with onions,,,(hey, it’s not cannibalism if they’re a different species,,,)

    I note, the Ted Kennedy illness is being touted as a chance for a “fighter” to show what a winner he is. I also note, that like all woo-woo isms, there is NO substantiating research to show that keeping a stiff upper lip extends life expectancy at all. The implication is, if you die from such a disease, it’s because you’re weak. Or maybe your immune system just wasn’t reading the right dogma,,,

    GAry 7

  63. James H.

    I know that in my class here in Texas, I will teach SCIENCE, no matter what they adopt. This next fight is going to be lots of fun for sure, with lots of lawsuits almost a guarantee. I foresaw this months ago with this nimrod coming in to head the BoE, and lots of money that should go to educate students will instead go to the lawyers to proved the Dover case all over again. You heard it here first!

    James
    Physics 1/Astronomy/IPC teacher

  64. Michael Lonergan

    @leftvoncanuckistan:
    Don’t forget our awesome Canadian Beer! O wait, that will attract the type of people we don’t want… sorry. Texans, our beer is lousy. Stay away.

  65. Matt Penfold

    “There are mountains of evidence that support the Theory of Evolution.”

    The word is often misused, but here it is true. There literally are mountains that support the theory of evolution.

  66. Matt Penfold

    “Although I may say “I have a theory that the moon is made of cheese”, and that is correct in common usage, it still doesn’t make Lunar Cheeseology a scientific theory.”

    Actually the hypothesis that the moon is made of blue cheese is a BETTER hypothesis than Intelligent Design. It is a testable hypothesis to start with. In fact we have tested it, we have moon rocks and they clearly are not made of cheese of any type.

  67. Jeffersonian, what I meant (and no doubt what Ms. Berlanga meant as well) is that when a large fraction of your students speak a different language at home and come from a different culture, they might have different needs than the students who are English-speakers first. At the very least, talking to experts on the topic is warranted.

    Ragutis I deleted the troll post. I will not have anyone advocating violence here.

    Cyan Blue, did you read what the members of the board were saying in that article? The point is that McLeroy has an agenda, and he will ram it through no matter what. And we do in fact know what his agenda for science is, as he has been very clear about it.

    Nighthawk and David: you are both totally wrong. Creationism (and ID) are beyond a doubt antiscience. There is no science to support them at all, and in fact all the evidence shows they are wrong. Also, the evidence is overwhelmingly in support of evolution, and the things creationists claim are problems in evolution are nothing of the sort. Go to the NCSE site to learn the facts.

    And finally, for now, Matt Garrett: maybe you should read what you cut and pasted. Evil can mean disagreeable, archaic, or causing harm, and all three of those definitions fit what McLeroy said on his site.

    And also, I think it’s clear that he is no fan of godless education, and I can infer clearly that he thinks that keeping God out of the classroom is a sin: he’s clearly very gung ho about putting God in the classroom.

    Words do in fact have meanings. Look up “irony” sometime.

  68. Kimmy

    I wish you would get your facts right before you post.

    What happens is that you post an article from a less-than-qualified journalist that is filled with semi-accuracies, throw in the Trojan horse of Chris Comer and come to some half-baked opinion.

    It’s disheartening. I sent an e-mail to PZ and would make you the same offer: Either I can point you to the actual audio recordings of this month’s SBOE meeting or I can answer questions.

  69. Gary Ansorge

    I love the ideal of a God, as a goal to progress toward but I am totally opposed to the reality of a God, as an extrapolation of human foibles.
    Keeping personal belief (as opposed to evidential based systems) out of the classroom is a absolute requirement for human progress. Which is one of the reasons for the opposition we see in religion based attempts to control what is taught to children. Human progress (ie, teaching people how to think critically) undermines old control systems, forcing non-productive members of society, such as priests, to get real jobs. Expect continuing opposition from the right as power passes from institutions to individuals.

    ,,,and never, ever, give up the fight.

    Gary 7

  70. If you read what this guy has to say it is actually even scarier than a simple rebuttal of science based on biblical text. That in and of itself is merely uninformed and dogmatic. It is the kind of situation at which you shake your head and and say “people believe strange things for even stranger reasons.” I invite you all to read this article by our texas school board president about teaching “knowledge” or “critical thining and problem solving skills.”

    http://dmcleroy.home.att.net/Philosophy/AchievingEquity.htm

    Now I’m but a mere artist with a keen interest in science, I like to think I have actumulated knowledge through curiosity and that knowledge is secured by critical thinking and problem solving skills. Without those skills the world would be a dark and scary place where “knowledge and facts” would have to be taken on faith with people like this at the head of the line “dispensing knowledge.”

    This guy’s agenda is much scarier than just teaching non-science in a science class. His agenda is to teach the things he deems factual without giving students the tools they need to critically assess that information. Sound like a return to the dark ages? In a way it is, since we already know of a time in human history when institution (the church) controlled the knowledge, even biblical knowledge, and the masses had not even the most basic skills to assess the information, i.e. the ability to read and understand the Latin. This idiot goes so far in making his argument as to suggest that anyone would advocate a surgeon “problem solving with a scalpel” before he or she was drilled in anatomy. Pbt ah umm well you see…. How do you argue against such non-sense when the other party in the argument is clearly delusional?

    I feel that one day those of us who have real knowledge will be relinquisted to dank basements struggling to keep the light of knowledge alive while the rest of the culture and society dogmatically follow idiots like this; if we dont’ figure out what to do about people like this now, it will only get worse before it gets better. I suppose I can’t say pray for us all… So umm… THINK THINK THINK THINK THINK.

  71. Matt Penfold

    Kimmy,

    Rather than just say Phil should get his facts right, an assertion you failed to back with the slightest bit of evidence I would add, maybe you could bother to tell us what he got wrong.

    Just coming here and saying Phil is wrong does not cut it. People here not stupid enough to fool for that. Put up or shut up.

  72. Isamu

    There are 12 members, 3 are rational thinkers 9 are Creolons 1 is known as the leader, and they have a plan.

    Fade in

    Fast random scenes of death, destruction and ignorance as the most of the school board ruins the education system of Texas.

    Fade out

  73. Isamu

    ugh thought it was 9-3 should have checked that again first wish I could edit.

  74. bigjohn756

    It is a waste of time to write letters to my governor or local representatives. I have done both and their responses were both insipid pap clearly implying that they intend to make no changes to their present path to the total destruction of the Texas educational system.

    Y’all can keep up with the latest catastrophic Texas education news here:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/texnews/
    and here:
    http://www.texscience.org/

  75. penny

    One, I spent three years teaching at Texas Universities. I liked Rice. Texas
    A and M was repressive.

    But, the answer to all this is simple: Take all the funding from pre-university science classes and don’t teach science at that level at all.

    Instead, teach more MATH. If you like, you can even teach theorems as an example of intelligent design–and proving theorems as emulation of GOD ( theo rem(ark)).

    I don’t care–and I am an atheist, because the effect on Science will be so positive, because the students will be competent at math, and abstract reasoning.

    When England taught very little science at the elementary level at their university prep schools, but taught lots of math, they were preeminent in science–think Rutherford, Lord Kelvin, James Maxwell… When, they–because of industrial pressure–started teaching lots of science in elementary school and less math–they became a scientific backwater.

    One of the points of “Bad Astronomy” and “Bad Science” is the trash
    put into people’s heads in elementary school science—and how hard
    it is to get it out–before the students have them proper background in math to understand physics etc.

    Penny

    Another example from America: Willard Gibbs ( Gibbs free energy, Gibbs
    partition, Gibb ensembles etc.) was taught no science in his elementary
    education–but lots of math. Gibbs was a professor at Yale of classical
    Greek–but, then he went to study modern physics in Europe–and he became WILLARD GIBBS.

  76. penny

    Rutherford was educated —but in the British way–as a child in New Zealand. So he still supports my point.

    The quintessential devil was T.H. Huxley–who pushed hard for England to
    teach science at the elementary school level.

    Penny

    Side comment: If one must teach science at the elementary level–one could follow France and have the federally mandated curriculum written by the members of the National Academy of Sciences.

  77. penny

    It took several generation for Huxley’s “reforms” to take effect, but
    it was slow poison.
    Penny

    Consider Charles Darwin–who was an indifferent student even into his days at university–but, became CHARLES DARWIN.

    For the very brightest–school science is poison. Leave it to university.

  78. Matt Penfold

    Penny,

    That is fine, but what for those people who do not go onto university ? Should they be denied an education in science ? If so, how they can be expected to understand many of the issues that face us today, such a climate change, and bio-medical research ?

  79. penny, the UK is not, and never has been, a scientific backwater. There is plenty wrong with education here (and everywhere else in the west), but shunning science altogether in favour of maths is a silly idea: Most school kids do not continue in any science-related post-highshool education, and as a result of your proposal there would be armies of ignorant people ready to fall for the next quack that comes along. All the maths they had can then only help them work out the amount of money they lost.

  80. Kimmy: OK, I’ll bite. Why not find a place to host that audio, and I’ll listen, provided you show some proof that it’s real and legit.

    And the “Trojan Horse of Chris Comer”? PUUUHHHLEASE. Try searching on her name here to see why creationists in Texas are evil.

  81. Quiet Desperation
  82. turtlerex

    I strongly disagree with creationists and the “facts” that they are fighting to insert into public education. That said, I also feel that there will always be those whose beliefs, ideals, and goals are in sharp contrast to my own. As difficult as this can be to interact with, our differences are here to stay. Saying that creationism is incorrect does little to convince those who believe in it, and I doubt they will back down easily. My hope is that aside from the “facts” taught in schools, kids will be taught critical thinking. Give them facts, but more importantly, give them the ability to analyze the information and decide for themselves.

    Another thought:
    Besides creationism, there are many, many other belief systems who (in all fairness) may want to be included as well. Do we then open the education system to all? As a Taoist, I’d love it if the kids were taught the Way. Kids might be taught that the universe and everything was created in a few days, but they would also learn that “Nature is not human hearted.” (Lao-Tzu ~ 604 BC – 531 BC)

  83. @lefty
    We may not let you carry 40 fully-automatic machine guns in your truck or murder, sorry *execute*, retarded people, but we’re pretty big on teaching knowledge, not “building faith”, have trees and clean water, nice lookin folks and are fun to hang out with.

    Dude… how wrong you are. I’m Canadian too, and here is where we are on the religion front:

    1. The government has a bill before the Commons, RIGHT NOW, to limit or remove funding from film projects that are deemed to be in “bad taste” by a government review committee. “Bad taste” is not defined, nor is the make-up of the committee but it is widely believed to be a thin veil over the government wanting to judge film sponsorship by Christian standards and reject anything that does not measure up in the Bible.

    2. Within the last 10 years, the Ottawa school board moved the start of the school year to accommodate a Jewish holiday, and, of course, accommodates Christian holidays, but refuses similar treatment of other religions.

    3. In Ontario, Catholics are legally entitled to maintain their own, separate, government-funded school system… unlike any other religious group. That school system is legally allowed to discriminate against employees and students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, and political views.

    4. In Canada, people of particular religions are legally allowed to opt out of obligatory membership in a trade union or paying trade union dues – a privilege not afforded to the general populace. (The Rand Decision). If you’re an atheist, you must pay your union dues, whether or not you accept a union card.

    5. I can speak from personal experience to say that if you’re known to be an atheist, you’ll draw an unusual number of work requests for Sundays and statutory holidays. Not to shaft you directly, but rather because many people believe that atheists, having no religious affiliation, have nothing better to do on holidays and weekends. It’s very much a cultural thing. I’ve run into this for as long as I can remember, and as recently as last Christmas.

    6. Our prime minister and many of his party are fundamentalist Christian, although our culture does prevent them from going all Oral Roberts on us.

    Don’t kid yourself. Religion has a lip-lock on Canada too. Canada is probably further along in terms of ridding itself of those shackles, however.

  84. @Matt
    There literally are mountains that support the theory of evolution.

    Indeed. That metaphor is why I usually use the “mountains” phrase when I describe the support for evolution.

  85. I am continually amazed at what is happening to science education in this country. Right after I read this article, I received an email from my sister at LSU discussing the bill cruising through the house and senate there. It’s called something like “Louisiana Science Education Act” and it is apparently backed heavily by the Discovery Institute. Apparently, a lot of people showed up to testify in support of the bill, so it is likely that it will pass and become law. Supposedly, it has been designed by the DI lawyers to be perfectly legal. Now that is a scary thought.

    I believe it is house bill 1168 and senate bill 733.

  86. penny

    Pieter,
    Actually, by US standards the UK is a scientific backwater, and this is also
    so in comparison to its days of scientific greatness. Anyway, Freeman Dyson has an article in the “Centennial of Willard Gibbs”, where he says essentially what I said, and more:

    ” When England didn’t teach science in public school but taught classics,
    the children who rebelled studied science on their own and England had
    first rate scientists, and second rate classicists; now the reverse is true.”
    –Freeman Dyson ( Institute for Advanced Study).

    Second, I don’t think that even with the science taught in school–in the UK and in the US-that it stays in the average person’s mind–if indeed it ever
    really penetrated.

    Ask people–non-scientists, say barristers, what powers the sun, how to
    wire up a battery and light bulb, to define Faraday’s law of Induction, or
    explain what messenger RNA does.
    You will see that their 12 years of elementary school science was completely worthless.

    Penny

    p.s. Of course, if we had the option to do both–if the religous crazies
    would let us–I personally would opt to teach lots more science and lots more math at all levels.
    But, my comments were addressed to a last ditch emergency action
    as the forces of ignorance drive us back into the dark ages.

  87. Matt W

    A good writeup warning of the dangers present in every industry, especially a critical one like education, posed by inept “experts”.

    My only request is to remove the “He’s a creationist.” comment. Being religious or believing in something specific does not inhibit someone from thinking logically or cause them to impose their misguided wills upon others. Creationism or evolution or spaghetti monster-ism is completely irrelevant to the rest of the article.

  88. penny

    Matt,
    Not if they try to push their irrational dogma into the minds of our
    students!
    Penny

    p.s. We are NOT in a historical vacuum–we have seen many times before what Christian theocracy will do to science and education if it gets the chance.

    ” Those ignorant of the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its worst mistakes.”–Lord Acton

  89. Joel

    Mr. Plait,

    Since when is label and slander right or just? Or do you not care for such things?

    “He’s a creationist. He thinks science is evil. The list of his disqualifications to be in charge of a BoE would be so big… well, it would be Texas-sized big.”

    That is label. No honest creationist thinks science itself is evil…now maybe those who conduct this so called “science” that we call neodarwinism are evil but honest and true science is not evil.

    I have some news for you sir:

    America was founded on and was doing MUCH better with Christianity. If you read the original constitution you will see that this is true. And a note for you when they say religion in there…they are speaking of christianity (you see the original word implied such a thing if you look it up in the original webster’s dictionary.

    Speaking of Webster, perhaps you think that he was unqualified to to make a dictionary because he was a creationist. Oh and then there is George Washington. Perhaps he was unfit to be president because he was a creationist. Wait maybe Abraham Lincoln was unfit to be president and he wasn’t right to abolish slavery because he was a creationist.

    Your argument sucks. I find it scary that you work for NASA…is this why so many of NASA’s endeavours “burn up”?

  90. scott anderson

    Sorry, ya’ll, not all of us in Texas are ignorant redneck career politician bootlickers.

    We’ll keep trying – but it’s awfully hard to fight the good old boys.

    Mostly, I think, we have to wait for that generation die off, or be shot to by a drunken Vice President on a hunting junket. It’s such a shame he’s too old, and was too drunk, to effectively rid us of a rather large republican lawyer.

  91. As a Texan, I will be more than happy when Perry hits term limits and is out.

  92. ibmetom

    Where else are religious zealots causing problems?

  93. @Joel-
    That’s Dr. Phil to you.

    So many logical fallacies, so little time.

    Go get him, boys.

  94. lol

    #177909:

    “That is label.” ….lol. Please don’t make accusations involving terms you cannot even properly “label,” let alone understand.

    Joel, you are an imbecile of almost unfathomable proportions. Yeah, they were Christian alright.. which is why they were full on Deists who believed the bible was ficticious.

    By the way, take a peek at article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli that was signed in 1796.

    http://freethought.mbdojo.com/titleXI.jpg

  95. Jayson Vantuyl

    As a recent resident of Missouri, which has it’s share of the same type of people who support and elect this regrettable war on knowledge, I would point out that this is entirely a social phenomena.

    You have a fairly large group of people that don’t really qualify as being particularly intelligent. Add to that the social pressure of expecting honest, if stringent, testing criteria.

    The effect is that education, when it accurately evaluates most people, has the effect of being statistically biased against a majority. Science and mathematics, given that they have virtually boolean grading requirements, are even worse in this regard. You’re generally either right, or tragically wrong, with respect to whatever subject matter (at least in elementary Science, but generally across all of Mathematics).

    It is no surprise that a social group forms with the express purpose of opposing their common detractor. It’s not to say that they’re all stupid or particularly ignorant. It’s just that there’s a social phenomenon whereby the form a group with these sorts of goals. The fact that the intellectual form a community of their own, particularly with respect to peer-review, give another social dimension, and an appearance of moral equivalence, to the whole process.

    This is not particularly easy to defeat without quality education. As you might imagine, it’s a run-away process when left unchecked.

    Social opposition to knowledge is nothing new. The history of Western Civilization gives a veritable plethora of examples. However, it’s important to understand the difference in values that you have with these people. It’s critical in understanding, and ultimately defeating, their misguided efforts.

    We read McLeroy’s statement “I’m not a professional educator” and read that he’s unqualified. It’s really a code, like when someone speaks of being Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice (and why no one is Pro-Death or Pro-No-Choice-For-You). What it says is “I’m not part of the problem created by these ‘career’ educators.” It plays on a sentiment that they are pushing “their” social agenda and plays on feelings of abuse of authority (i.e. they’re unelected).

    This group is also currently feeling social pressure from rising numbers of Hispanics. Is it any surprise that English was first? It’s obvious that this is part of the selfsame social movement.

    There are a lot of layers here, but suffice it to say that you have a lot of people who are under-educated, of only average intelligence, are socially cohesive, and (due to all of the above) are ill equipped to deal with social change–let alone the same subjects that vexed them in school.

  96. Qev

    I like how Joel uses the term “honest Creationist” then promptly trots out several untrue items about the founding of the US. It’s really cute.

  97. Are You Guys Serious?

    Guys (and gals), you can’t be serious. Creation is just as much science as, well, anything you’re (yes “you’re”, not “your”) putting forth.

    When you walk into the middle of a rainforest and see canopy huts and bamboo bridges, you don’t waste your time trying to find how those things evolved in the jungle do you? So why is everyone so bent on discounting the fact that something as unlikely and statistically impossible as our planet and the existing conditions could have been. . .*gasp*. . .created?

    You people need to quit bundling all the rest of us in with these religious nuts and accept the fact that if something organized and complex exists, the chances of it being “put there” is as likely (if not more so) than having “randomly occurred”

    Whether you believe it to be God, aliens, the boogie man, whatever, the plausibility of creation is real. It’s fine if that thought scares you, but don’t pretend it’s not science because you’re angry with some backward religions (or religionists), or BoE directors.

  98. David Ratnasabapathy

    Are You Guys Serious: no, no. Scientists already have an explanation for how complex organisms arise. It’s called Variation, Natural Selection, Inheritance and Time. It’s testable. It’s been observed. It’s been seen to create complex structures; and no-one can see any fundamental reason why it shouldn’t work.

    You have to show that your “explanation” is *better*.

  99. David G

    One question… what were the competing standards being proposed by the “experts” and the “evil creationist” McLeroy?

    Tell me where I can find details of what was in the proposals and I will decide for myself if I like them or not.

    I will decide if I am going to send Perry an “atta boy” or a “you screwed up” letter.

    All the “hand wringing” and “Texas is doomed” whining in the article is of no use to me. It does not help me make an INFORMED decision.

    I have the strange feeling if McLeroy had pulled the same political shenanigans and forced through something you liked, he would be a “hero” to you.

    I need details on what was actually rammed through.

  100. Either have both evilution and creation taught side by side or don’t have both them at all.
    It’s only fair to present both sides.
    Thanks,
    TT

  101. English standard have everything to do with religion. It is, after all, the language Jesus spoke…

  102. ch33t0

    I live in Texas and have been in many instances where I used my own thoughts to decide my beliefs. If you are weak enough to be manipulated by such actions then you are easily manipulated in any wrong situation. Most I know here agree with this state of mind.

  103. FreeThinker

    Joel:

    Please give us examples of these references to Christianity in the Constitution that you mention.

    Hint: I know of only one. It’s a very weak reference, but a reference nonetheless. But then again, maybe I’m not the scholar that you are, or maybe I’ve been studying a different Constitution than you.

    -Jeremy

  104. MikeW

    Though I hate the overly letigious nature of the US civil courts system, is this not a prime candidate for a class action lawsuit against the governor and the BoE?
    Lives hang in the balance here, and that’s not even a slight overstatement.

  105. SteveC

    While I think the procedure used was deplorable, I will withhold judgment on the merits of the substituted standards

    My mom is a teacher in Texas, and majored in English in college. When I asked her about this, she wasn’t sure about the details, but her impression was that the new standards were making the teachers teach grammar, which. according to her, most teachers were opposed to because they didn’t t really know grammar. (This is from a woman who corrected my grammar _all the time_ when I was growing up. If she says the teachers don’t know grammar, which she often does, giving specific examples of their wredtched English, I believe her.)

    Here’s another piece of info for you. My mom is an atheist. So this isn’t coming from the angle of a creationist. If McLeroy bungles the science standards, shoot him down. It’s not clear yet that the English standards have been bungled, or unbungled, or something in between.

  106. SteveC

    “wretched”, even.

  107. Krishna T.

    I live in Austin. I work at the University of Texas, Austin. I graduated from UT Austin. I went to school in Dallas. I was born, however, in India.

    For all intents and purposes, I’m one of those ‘Wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could!’ kind of people. I came to the US (Dallas) when I was 3.

    I can say with a good sense that Texas is a fantastic place. Yes, there are anti-intellectuals, religious zealots, criminals, neo-phytes, and even the occasional George W. Bush amongst us.

    But then you have the universities. You have the companies that specialize in technology and science. You have NASA. You have an incredible infrastructure.

    As much as I’m dismayed by the idiocy of those that hope to control the education of Texas children, I believe this state can weather this impending storm.

    This is why I spend my evenings and Saturdays tutoring as many high-school students as I can in Physics and Math.

    I’m proud to be a Texan. And I’m the first one to defend the intellectual prowess of Texas’ citizens. Where’s my gun?

  108. Tim Goldenburg

    I’d really like to see what these new English standards are. While I admit that the process is very suspect, what actually was approved? Where’s that information?

    I live in Texas and this is a sad state of affairs I’ve been following for the last several months. If the science standards end up compromised for creationist ideas, then I guess I’ll have to send my son to a secular private school to obtain a proper education.

  109. Are You Guys Serious?

    @ David Ratnasabapathy

    It seems that “science” by its very definition exhibits the potential to confound the very issues it’s trying to uncover. . .

    The thing is, the universe is only slightly over 14,000,000,000 years old. The statistical probability of even *one* successful single-celled organism “randomly” coming into existence from the “big bang” as it expanded is greater than all the molecules currently estimated to be in existence at this point in time. (While the number of molecules and this event aren’t directly related, that number gives you something to sort of wrap your head around.)

    Let alone the chances of a “successful” single-celled organism appearing under the absolute perfect conditions (i.e. on earth) then successfully *deciding* that splitting is better than remaining single with absolutely no evolutionary history to go on other than “well, I guess that would be a good idea”.

    That said, the “observations” you posit, were no doubt under controlled conditions. Are we to assume that these controlled conditions existed when the “successful single cell” came to life?

    NOTE: I use the “big bang” as the starting point as that is the commonly accepted start of the universe. Also the 14,000,000,000 year mark is significant because that amount of time is statistically insufficient for what is accepted as scientific fact to have even occurred.

  110. Andrew

    I think it is really funny when non creationists assume that those who do believe in a Creator arrive at that conclusion without using intellect or reason. I used to believe that there was no Creator, but used my intellect and reason via studying the available intellectual, scientific and existential evidence to arrive at the conclusion that there is a Creator.

    So, I see nothing wrong with textbooks including a creationist explanation of the origin of the universe – makes more sense to me than a physical universe appearing from absolutely nothing, without a cause.

    Besides, there are ample intellectual giants out there that are believers in a creator, leaders in their respective fields, including scientists and cosmologists.

    I’m sure you used your intellect to arrive at your sceptic conclusions, and I respect your opinion. There is good evidence for sceptics and non sceptics alike. But when you sling mud at others, all you do is lose ground and get your hands dirty.

    Besides, a rigid atheist stance is a self defeating argument. To claim there is no God in the absolute sense would require knowledge of the entire universe and beyond to be able to make such a claim, or basically, you would have to be God to make such a claim. It makes more meaningful sense to simply state that based on the evidence that I have encountered, I do not believe one can know for certain if there is a Creator or not – but that is an entirely different statement than saying “I know there is no Creator”.

    And really, what’s the big deal? Darwinism is in textbooks already, but remember, that is only a theory. Darwinism also it’s own issues, but those seem to be conveniently ignored when it comes to teaching our youth (Darwin’s Black Box among other publications). Providing someone with an alternative viewpoint that has merits of its own is only giving someone information to consider. What is the big fear by including a competing and alternate viewpoint in textbooks? If one argument is truly “better” than another, it will rise to the top anyway, so big deal. What’s the fear? That someone will actually see the strength in the Creationist argument? Give people information, and let them use their brains to come to their own conclusion. Don’t try to censor and hide information, or fail to consider other alternatives – that goes against the scientific method anyway.

  111. Way to go Phil for not even responding to that jackass “Joel.” Again I wonder, how do you argue against people who can’t spell, formulate a cogent argument, or pay attention to little things like FACTS? Oy vey…

  112. Codie

    Now is the time more than ever that parents need to be actively involved with their childrens education. They are the most important teachers in their childrens lives. Texas or no Texas.
    All of you need to calm down.

  113. ”Texas Public School”, another group of University applicants that can be discarded without too much review, saving the University time and money trying to undo the damage done by mythologists.

    Since Texas children wont be going to any good schools any more,
    those Texas resumes can get tossed in the same trash bin as other
    anti-science magic thinkers.

    When it comes to science, engineering, product safety and public safety,
    don’t ”hope it works” – engineer it correctly, and that takes real science.

  114. Enlightenment
  115. Enlightenment

    Faith means not wanting to know what is true.

  116. Are You Guys Serious?

    @Enlightenment

    Don’t get “religionists” and “creationists” confused. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    As for the Bible. I’ve studied it, fairly thoroughly. In various schools, and outside. While some of the references you make are true, they are taken completely out of context.

    I mean, if you see a parent spank a kid in the middle of the dessert aisle at a grocery store and never see them again, do you forever assume that person is an evil abusive person? You should check the facts — in context.

    Also, you shouldn’t confuse what the Bible really says with money grubbing religious propagandists.

    Just my 2¢

  117. Joel said:

    No honest creationist thinks science itself is evil…now maybe those who conduct this so called “science” that we call neodarwinism are evil but honest and true science is not evil.

    Alas, there are no honest creationists. Have you heard of Ben Stein? He’s got a movie out that claims science is, indeed, evil. You’re right, no honest creationist would believe such a thing. You are wise to the lying ways of creationists.

    I have some news for you sir:

    America was founded on and was doing MUCH better with Christianity. If you read the original constitution you will see that this is true.

    Are you a creationist? Or have you just been misled by those lies? I would invite you to read the Constitution yourself, Joel. It says absolutely nothing about Christianity. Perhaps more to the point, in the original form it says that our government shall play no favorites with religion, that there shall be no religious tests. Moreover, Christianity is given no role in government, nor government a role in any religion. We have done very well by that sacred and holy document — but because it ignores Christianity completely, not because it establishes any official faith.

    I mean, seriously: Read the document. It says nothing, nothing, nothing about Christianity.

    And a note for you when they say religion in there…they are speaking of christianity (you see the original word implied such a thing if you look it up in the original webster’s dictionary.

    No, that’s not accurate, and not true. Webster was a rather devout Christian, but he was not so dishonest as to define religion as “Christianity.” Webster was no creationist.

    Speaking of Webster, perhaps you think that he was unqualified to to make a dictionary because he was a creationist.

    Joel, you need to read a biography of Webster. And you need to consider history. There was no such thing as creationism in his day. Even so, Webster did not disavow the science available to him that disproves creationism. You’re working awful hard to paint yourself as a paragon of the dishonest creationist.

    Oh and then there is George Washington. Perhaps he was unfit to be president because he was a creationist.

    Joel, you slander our first president. Not only was he a great man, he was not one who believed the Bible to be literal. It is questionable that he was even Christian — among other things, he refused communion for his entire adult life, and he deleted all references to “Jesus” in official documents, jealously guarding the separation of church and state — consistent with his orders to the Continental Army that soldiers must respect the faiths of others, and not ridicule nor try to convert anyone, and consistent with his endorsement of the work of Jefferson and Madison on the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

    Perhaps you think that, like creationists, you can just pull history out of your anal orifice? Is this what you want to deliver to innocent children in schools? Creationism is more evil than we had imagined, if so.

    Wait maybe Abraham Lincoln was unfit to be president and he wasn’t right to abolish slavery because he was a creationist.

    Good grief, man! Lincoln was no creationist by any means. Check under your seat, Joel. You seem to have some creationist stuck between your cheeks and blowing hard trying to get you inflated. Worse, he’s succeeding.

  118. PLLGGGHHH

    All the future factory workers won’t need that much knowledge anyway. There are plenty of intelligent well educated children coming from private schools. Future factory workers of texas just need to be complacent, obedient, non aggressive, with good dexterity. Upping the fluoride in the water supply might help, injections for the those on the fringe, and of course detainment torture and reeducation at one of the state run facilities for those not willing to comply. Kiss that xbox nintendo and sports goodbye, texas is the new china. segregation will of course keep those who haven’t lost everything yet happy and secure in the thought that they are better than those other poor bastards. Now Lets Bankrupt americka.

  119. Dan

    What needs to happen is the scientific community needs to speak up. If Texas gets midevil in it’s educational standards, companies that depend on science should leave. If Dell, TI, NASA and EDS (to name a few) should speak up. Maybe they should move their business to New Hampshire – It also has no state income tax, It’s essentialy a red state, but it understands what SCIENCE is.

    Incidentally, I wrote a litte bit about ID on /. I think you’ll like it:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=528880&cid=23142790

  120. @are
    The statistical probability of even *one* successful single-celled organism “randomly” coming into existence from the “big bang” as it expanded is greater than all the molecules currently estimated to be in existence at this point in time.

    Nobody has ever put forward an hypothesis that says a successful single-celled anything randomly came into existence. If my understanding is correct, the current abiogenesis theory suggest that proteins formed and over time mixed the right way, bec0ming a cell – not random at all, and not without a lot of intermediary steps.

    As far as I know, the ONLY people who think any cells sprang into existence are creationists. And since, as you say, the probability of such an event is vanishingly small, it’s fair to say it didn’t happen like that.

    under the absolute perfect conditions (i.e. on earth)

    What perfect conditions would those be? We’re in the middle of a mass extinction. There have been mass extinctions before. The earth’s climate has varied widely over the last billion years. Conditions here are hardly perfect by any measure. Conditions are so perfect that life keeps getting nearly wiped out every few hundred million years.

    However, if you mean “appropriate”, then the odds are actually pretty good. It would be extremely improbable, for example, for oxygen-breathing critters to spontaneously arise on, say, Titan because there is no oxygen there and they would instantly die.

    However, if critters were spontaneously created by some magical sky fairy, there’s no reason he couldn’t put oxygen-breathers in a methane atmosphere and use his magical uberness to sustain them without the oxygen. Strangely, there’s no evidence that such an event has ever occurred.

    then successfully *deciding* that splitting is better than remaining single with absolutely no evolutionary history to go on other than “well, I guess that would be a good idea”.

    You’re anthropomorphising. The first cell no more decided to split than you decided you had whatever eye colour you have.

    On the other hand, why would a creator have it split? He could just put down as many as he thought were appropriate. No need for this nasty splitting business and the evolution that leads to sex, naughtiness, and a clergy with a fondness for young boys.

  121. carolteacake

    As a Texan involved in the process with the English language arts curriculum that was defeated despite hours of testimony and overwhelming feedback from teachers across the state preferring the teacher document, I want to tell everyone that there is still more work to do. We can all sit here and say “oh, how sad,” but we need to act. The textbooks have not been adopted yet, and science isn’t coming up until fall.

    In November, two of these board members will face opponents. However, the Republican machine in this state is very well funded. Please offer support to their oppentents, Laura Ewing http://www.ewing4sboe7.com/ and Edra Bogle http://bogleforquality.com/?p=10. Both of these candidates have strong education backgrounds from the classroom, and would be a significant improvement over the current members.

    Our democracy provides us an opportunity to correct these wrongs, but we, the people, must make a stand. This board doesn’t listen to logic or reason. This board doesn’t put the children of this state, or indeed this country ahead of their own warped ideologies. If we can remove these two from office, the balance will shift, and the remaining board members will get a clear message. They may not hear our testimonies, but we still have a voice when we vote and when we open our purses to support their opponents.

    Don’t write off Texas. Help us change.

  122. Thomas Eastham

    I’ll be honest. I’m a Christian, but I’m not a young earth creationist. I believe that the universe was “created” but not in the six literal days that the absurdly ignorant believe. If that’s what they intend to teach, well, then maybe Texas will suck for a while. But we have to keep in mind that something like evolution (and I believe in micro evolution, just not macro) has never been proven. Darwin himself never wrote about the evolution of primordial slime into man. That was added later. I just can’t help but feel everybody who freaks out about this, Mr. Plait included, are being paranoid. If reptiles evolved into birds, why are there still reptiles? If monkeys evolved into apes, why are there still monkeys? And why are there still apes if they evolved into humans? All the “missing links” in the fossil record are also missing. Evolution also fails to explain the sudden appearing on the scene of mammals at the very end of the Cretaceous period. Though paleontologists will go out of their way about what involved into dinosaurs, what evolved into later reptiles, then to the birds they seem to forget the mammals which just came out of nowhere. Or the fact that fish seem to be, I don’t know, just perfectly adapted to their environments for 350 million years. I guess they’ve just always been excellent survivors of everything. The rediscovery of the coelocanth sort of puts a lot of truth to this, since the assumption would have been that it evolved out of existence. Also that sharks have been stated to have gone practically unevolved since their “sudden appearance in the fossil record.”

  123. Are You Guys Serious?

    @Evolving Squid

    As far as I know, the ONLY people who think any cells sprang into existence are creationists. And since, as you say, the probability of such an event is vanishingly small, it’s fair to say it didn’t happen like that.

    Well, you’re twisting what I’m saying there. The point, as I clearly stated, was that the chances of any organisms coming into existence under the currently scientifically accepted conditions of that time are infinitesimal. And the only abiogenesis that has been “observed” today would have been under controlled conditions.

    If something “intelligent” created it, then it no longer becomes random.

    Besides that, had a single-celled organism by some chance actually *randomly* come about, then for it to actually survive scientifically accepted harsh conditions would have further been infinitesimal. Assuming that magically (and randomly) that even a few million of these critters came into existence at the same time, the earth itself is only 5,000,000,000 years old (give or take) which leaves little to no time for error of any sort.

    …then we skip a bit, somehow skipping 5-headed bunny rabbits and the like…and end up with intelligent life.

    The current rules of “science” being posited here in this discussion seem to work against themselves. It’s like forcing someone to learn as much as they can about infrared (and other) spectrums, by only allowing for rules of “visible” light.

    Perhaps “science” as we know it isn’t sufficient for explaining or discovering certain things. I’m ok with that, but that’s no reason for simply discounting other “solutions” to the problem.

    I’ll present you one last analogy then it’s off to bed. Suppose you take a laptop to a Mesopotamian group of, say, 10,000 years ago. Now, by their level of “science” they would be lost. Some would attribute it to a god, some would attribute it to ‘magic’, others would be bound and determined to figure out it’s properties by the day’s given “scientific standard”. And, while there is absolutely a scientific explanation for the laptop, it still turns out that it was created.

    I suppose my point is that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  124. Ah Texas, the Ostrich state!

  125. Just Al

    Joel said, Since when is label and slander right or just?

    I think the word you want is “libel.”

    And continues, That is label. No honest creationist thinks science itself is evil

    Go back and read the couple of sentences you quoted. Nowhere is it said that all creationists think science is evil. He merely made two separate statements, both of which seem pretty firmly supported by facts.

    Not to mention the “no honest creationist” bit, which is the same as the No True Scotsman fallacy. Seriously, define for me what an honest creationist is. And while you’re at it, find me any three people that call themselves creationists and agree with your definition. I’ll wait.

    It is abundantly clear (and even demonstrated in this very comments section) that to a noticeable percentage of creationists, any science that disagrees with the buybull must be wrong and needs to be stricken from the curriculum. But I’ll actually agree with you on one point: any science that helps the religious bozos scam money and support out of the weak-minded seems to be just fine with them.

    Not over yet: America was founded on and was doing MUCH better with Christianity. If you read the original constitution you will see that this is true.

    Which part, that it was founded on or that it was doing much better? Let’s see, the Constitution is pretty specific about about religion having no place whatsoever in government, and makes this point several times. The writers had all seen firsthand what happens when you run countries and empires with the concept of “ultimate authority” (which you’d probably have been familiar with had you been paying attention in history class).

    You probably also won’t like how much influence Thomas Paine had on the American Revolution and the founding fathers, particularly Jefferson, and what his religious views were.

    Are you familiar with the idea of, “divine right?” How about, “manifest destiny?” Or perhaps, that the slave trade did not end with the Constitution, much less with the introduction of European religion into the new world centuries earlier. Actually, history makes a pretty clear point that religious differences led to not just oppression, but eradication of native cultures.

    So tell me which part is considered, “doing much better?”

    And finally, Your argument sucks. I find it scary that you work for NASAâ?¦is this why so many of NASAâ??s endeavours â??burn upâ???

    I could simply let this go by easy and ask you exactly what you mean by “so many,” but that would miss the wonderful opportunity to point out that maybe, just maybe, reading something and trying to comprehend it at the same time (tall order, I know) would make you look less of a dingleberry. Phil doesn’t work for NASA. Never has. It’s only linked on every page of the site.

  126. ApeMan

    Your and idiot DOT COM

    Evolution must be right. There are not any “missing links” in the solid theory.

    I only wonder what will my grandkids be able to do. I thinking I will start swimming ALOT, live next an ocean, and maybe gills could be in my family’s future.

    Creationism may not be the answer. But it might be worth a look. Who knows? I would ask you but you have already made your deep knowledge of the situation known.

    Yay slurpees

  127. Jeff

    They don’t teach creationism in the Texas school District where I work.
    Just another alarmist BS article.

  128. Just Al

    Are You Guys Serious? said, Well, youâ??re twisting what Iâ??m saying there. The point, as I clearly stated, was that the chances of any organisms coming into existence under the currently scientifically accepted conditions of that time are infinitesimal. And the only abiogenesis that has been â??observedâ?? today would have been under controlled conditions.

    Well, let’s start with the “controlled conditions” bit. Since the conditions of the early planet are long gone and unlikely to return for us to see anytime soon (especially since they’d be toxic as hell to us), then yes, the conditions would indeed have been, “controlled.” However, this little bit of rhetoric gives the false impression that someone put together a system that would spontaneously generate proteins and then said, “Look! Proteins!” Such an experiment would never have made it into any journals whatsoever – believe it or not, the scientific community expects useful results, not parlor tricks.

    Had you bothered to read up on the Miller-Urey experiments, you would have found that they did their best to replicate the “currently scientifically accepted conditions of that time” (to use your own words) and produced a startling high number of amino acids from it. Or to put it simply, they mixed the chemicals according to best extrapolations, set the temperature according to best extrapolations, gave it a shot of lightning (electricity) and produced 16 of the 21 chemicals that form the building blocks of replicable “life.” To call this “infinitesimal” shows ignorance of the fact that it has already been done, and without a huge amount of effort either.

    Do we have life? No. Would we, if we could scale up the entire system and maintain it for an adequate amount of time? That, for the time being, has to remain in the realm of theoretical science, since maintaining such “controlled conditions” would be a vast undertaking. But theoretical science says it’s distinctly possible. And frankly, that’s where it stands, regardless of what pamphlets and tracts might tell you.

    You can rest happy in the fact that we will never know for sure, since what happened billions of years ago won’t ever be proven. But to try and maintain that what we’ve observed isn’t good science or never happened or was (as you alluded above) attempts to fudge the results – ah, well, sorry, but you’re quite wrong there.

    Besides that, had a single-celled organism by some chance actually *randomly* come about, then for it to actually survive scientifically accepted harsh conditions would have further been infinitesimal.

    You completely missed what was said above, in pursuit of your own point. And the key word is, “harsh.” Conditions would have only been harsh for life as we now know it. For the life that we posit to have been the start, the conditions would have been ideal (and that life eventually started the whole oxygen thing going, by the way). As was said before, no one is stupid enough to suppose that life started in a realm hostile to it.

    You’re also attempting to play the numbers thing, which seems to be a favorite argument. What is the basis of your probability numbers that lead you to “infinitesimal?” Show me how you came by them, and what facts led you there. Because until you can establish what the exact conditions were at that time, there’s no mathematical probabilities to derive from them. The best you can do is extrapolate backwards and see what occurs. Which, by the way, is what Miller and Urey did 😉

    Assuming that magically (and randomly) that even a few million of these critters came into existence at the same time, the earth itself is only 5,000,000,000 years old (give or take) which leaves little to no time for error of any sort.

    Well, is it magical, or random? You seem to keep forgetting – you’re the one that’s talking magic. We’re only talking known electro-chemical interplay and laws of physics.

    So, let’s see – a “few million” at the same time, times 5 billion years (actually closer to 3.85 billion by current guesstimates), times, let’s see, complicated bacteria can divide every couple of minutes, so simpler organisms would probably take less, figure .005% random beneficial mutations, carry the seven… I’m not having a problem with this leading to complicated life, and a whole boatload of it. Would you like to borrow my calculator?

    Just for some perspective, you have roughly 10^12 bacteria on your skin right now. That’s not a “few million,” that’s a bare minimum of 100,000 times more. I don’t want to misdirect things, though, so let’s stay on topic.

    Right now, in our conditions, we see roughly 16 million lightning storms a year. How many times does lightning strike the ground per storm? Let’s be really weak and say 10 (it’s way more than that, but there’s no need to argue about exaggeration). Let’s say each strike produces only 10 organisms. So that’s 1.6 billion in the first year. And that’s without any process at all to multiply them. Once that starts, your numbers really jump, don’t they? Where, exactly, do you get “infinitesimal” from this? And bear in mind, the numbers I just used are probably anywhere from hundreds to billions of times less than conditions were likely to have produced.

    â?¦then we skip a bit, somehow skipping 5-headed bunny rabbits and the likeâ?¦and end up with intelligent life.

    I’m not exactly sure what this is supposed to mean, other than weakening your case by making you sound goofy. Be careful about defeating your own argument.

    And in all seriousness, be careful about harping on intelligence as some sort of accomplishment. We primates have only been around a fraction of the time of the sauropods, and unless we get the whole “limited resource” thing under control, won’t beat their record. Don’t forget – intelligence is self-defined.

    The current rules of â??scienceâ?? being posited here in this discussion seem to work against themselves.

    That’s because you’re the only one talking about “science” – the rest of us use the unquoted version. Try the real version to see where it leads, because your arguments to this point have shown a lack of understanding about the real science involved.

    Perhaps â??scienceâ?? as we know it isnâ??t sufficient for explaining or discovering certain things. Iâ??m ok with that, but thatâ??s no reason for simply discounting other â??solutionsâ?? to the problem.

    And here is where many of the problems lie. What exactly do you think science is?

    Let me make it simple. Science is simply the practice of discovering how things work. It’s done with experiments (and oh yes, controlled conditions, because without them, you can’t establish whether or not what you thought was the cause, really was), and with a concept called “falsifiability” – so if this really WAS the cause, removing this bit would cause a failure. You do science when you turn your head in response to a sound, and when you open and close the door after oiling the hinges to see if the squeak stopped.

    There’s nothing more to it than that. Scientific training isn’t some kind of arcane witchcraft, it’s simply providing the tools (like physics knowledge) and the practice (like not fooling yourself and checking your results) to produce useful information.

    Let me be blunt and nasty: There are no other ways of knowing. You cannot know anything without facts. You can make guesses, you can practice philosophy, you can theorize other worlds – but without something physical to show, you cannot distinguish these from imagination.

    Your talk about other “solutions” (your quotes, but I’m happy to use them) to the problems has two major flaws. The first is that, most of the things you considered problems, weren’t at all, and were based on exceptionally poor information. Whether this stemmed from bad sources or your unwillingness to recognize the facts, I can’t say – but I’ve seen both, in spades, from most people that consider themselves religious.

    The second is that, you can never know if your solution is correct unless you can establish something verifiable, and that takes science. Talking of an intelligent designer that exists outside of the realm of our perceptions is no more meaningful than saying that we’re in the womb of an invisible cosmic sturgeon. Both of them lead to the very pertinent question of, “What makes you say that?”

    Iâ??ll present you one last analogy then itâ??s off to bed. Suppose you take a laptop to a Mesopotamian group of, say, 10,000 years ago. Now, by their level of â??scienceâ?? they would be lost. Some would attribute it to a god, some would attribute it to â??magicâ??, others would be bound and determined to figure out itâ??s properties by the dayâ??s given â??scientific standardâ??. And, while there is absolutely a scientific explanation for the laptop, it still turns out that it was created.

    Fair enough, and while this might surprise you, I’ll agree that you actually have a valid point.

    But (and you knew there would be a “but”), what if you showed it to an elephant? A shark? Would you expect some other species to consider it evidence of supernatural origins? Why not?

    Like the point about intelligence, above, only one species seems the least inclined to worry about something supernatural. Shouldn’t this seem odd to us? To some of us, it does, and tends to fit in with the idea that, while much of humankind seeks some form of supernaturalism, no two cultures agree on what it is. That’s not exactly good evidence.

    I have, as yet, heard no one offer any good argument in favor of supernatural origins. Only a handful who know anything about science try to offer a scientific rationale, and all of those have been flawed, untestable, and provide no actual solutions or answers. Others, Like Francis Collins, attribute it simply to “faith,” which is another way of saying, “because I want it to be so.” To me, that smacks of delusion.

    Science doesn’t have all the answers (and has never claimed to), but it offers the best method of producing them. Let’s take your Mesopotamians and the laptop. Of the three potential reactions to it, which group do you think stands the greatest chance of determining, at least in part, what it actually is? The ones who think it’s magic, the ones who think it’s (evidence of) god, or the ones who actually start pushing buttons and paying attention to what’s happening?

    At that point, it doesn’t matter if it’s designed or not. The only ones that are going to find out are the ones who look for evidence. To say that we haven’t seen the evidence because there are “other ways of knowing” only begs the question, “Why do you say it then?”

    And if your response is, “Because I don’t understand the scientific explanation, therefore science is wrong,” well, you’d better expect people not to be convinced. And that’s if you’re lucky 😉

  129. Just Al

    Wow, WordPress is having some kind of difficulty with punctuation within italics.

  130. Not Sure

    The good news: LOLcats captions will now come more easily to Texas school children.

    I can has cheezburger!

  131. Radwaste

    If you’re going to take jabs at Evolution – which tactic, of course, does not support any point you need to make about Creationism in any way – you should know something about it first.

    You wouldn’t want to be seen with your mouth going for no reason, now, would you?

  132. John

    Didn’t Texas, at some point want to be a separate country?

    Perhaps it’s not too late to grant them their wish.

    Then they can go on turning themselves into a third world country and not bother the rest of us.

  133. Thomas Siefert

    To: Thomas Eastham,

    These are not unanswered questions, I recommend reading science books about evolution they should give you most, if not all the answers.
    I recommend anything by Richard Dawkins, no details are missed in his books. Don’t worry his books wont turn you into an atheist, just like a technical manual on a VW Beetle wont turn you into a mechanic.

    A few quick answers that might give you a hint of the fallacies in some of those questions.

    Darwin is not responsible for all knowledge about evolution, considerable research have been done by thousands of researchers since then to confirm and expand the knowledge.

    Humans, monkeys and apes comes from a common ancestor and are not following each other on the evolutinary line.

  134. Having been a resident of both Texas and Oklahoma for over 2 decades and having been a ‘by-product’ of their educational system, I can assure you that exceptions do exist. Just look for the ones that stick out like sore thumbs and gee.. I don’t know.. think for themselves! LOL
    Yes, a lot of dumbasses will be produced, but some will work their souls to pieces (perhaps sanity too) to graduate and become something actually worthwhile. The bad news is that the individual must know that the system is already against them to start with, must be motivated enough to seek education on their own outside of the material scarcely presented and yet simultaniously play the game. it sucks in an seemingly infinite number of ways. Now tack that challenge with the notion that some of these individuals are different than most of the mundanes. In my case, being of Wiccan, Bi, Liberal, and an eccentric freethinker, the pain my peers and the system gave me was worth a thousand hells. There were days that would go by and I would honestly hope a nuclear bomb would just take out the morons who surrounded me the entire time. They still piss me off to this day. Some bonehead *recommended* that I should move. yeah, just as soon as the standard of living wages goes up, I’ll bolt, until then I have no choice by to break even, which I am thankful of that luck, rather than being impoverished like many others here. In case ya didn’t know, Texas and especially Oklahoma are among the worst median incomes in the U.S. in addition to per capita. In spite of it all I am proud to be an outcast and will continue to remain an anomoly to the other boneheads here. Food for thought for those who want to defend the poor quality we get here and act like an apologist, just stop for 5 seconds. Think. Why are you defensive? Is it because you want to say that you have been successful. Then the bonehead comment does not apply to you. You know who they are. Thank you for thinking, than’s why you made it. ^_^
    My Brother is also a ‘product’ of this same system. The website above contains software we have developed. Case in point! We didn’t learn this stuff from high school.. we learned it on our own, outside of school, outside of work, on our own time instead of ‘being a kid’. We have no remorse as for us, we were being a kid still. :)
    Example: My Junior year in H.S. I took computer programming, I knew I would fly through it as it was already my specialty I had learned since a kid (started on a Trs-80 CC2 BASIC at age 6, independently). It’s ironic that I was teaching myself modular code design and creating overlay based libraries for dos 16-bit executables in quickbasic 4.5, and yet.. here I was being told that ‘GW-Basic’ was the ‘state-of-the-art’ and that it is the quintessential stepping stone to VisualBASIC on win3.1.. wtf??? QB 4.5 didn’t have freaking line numbers like gw.. anyways I degress, I am sure that there are other intelligent people from these two states who are self-taught experts in other science and engineering tasks that would agree with me.
    Finally to finish clinching the point of the topic, that was over fifteen years ago, I simply cannot imagine how much worse things have gotten, but I certainly cannot deny it either!(yes, I know double negative, oh well..) While I cannot afford homeschooling for my kids, I will at least do them the service of enriching their education outside of the system and show them things the schools won’t teach. (such as proper safe sex information for gay/bisexual men, let alone self-defense if they are; as the world is quite cruel to us…, when and if that time happens to my boys…,I will be introducing them to religions and philosophies such as shinto, buddism, native american lore (which is part of their heritage btw..), norse, celtic, and modern pagan thinking. I will of course also explain to them the difference between atheism and agnosticism, but ultimately let them make up their own mind in the end. There is hope, but it is up to the boomers and genXer’s to properly take steps in their child’s/grandchild’s education, even if it means cover things the system won’t for ignorant or asinine reasons such as unqualified boneheads getting elected to the board. thank you for hearing me out. l8trz

  135. @are
    I’ll present you one last analogy then it’s off to bed.

    I’m not interested in analogy… but I’m very interested in evidence. Scientists are quite easy to convince of anything, you know. Just trot out your evidence.

    No analogies. No parables. No stories.

  136. Lawrence

    The biggest problem with promoting “ID” is that the proponents can never seem to remove “religion/Christianity” from the equation. The Constitution & precendence has made it abundantly clear that there is to be a very distinct separation between Church & State – hence, ID has no standing to be taught it schools, any more than you could teach Bible classes in public schools today.

    And for those people who seem to think that Science is this stiffling – theories do change all the time. The more that we discover about the Universe, life, and the way things are (or seem to be) the theories change to try to explain the new evidence.

    ID enthusiasts have one theory & one theory alone – with no actual evidence to support it. They can only point to a lack of evidence, which is like trying to prove a negative – can’t be done. Science is in a constant state of flux – theories from 200 years ago are no longer valid because new tools have allowed us to see and investigate things that we never were able to see before.

    But, this current rise in religiocity is not new. If you look at the beginnings of previous centuries, people tend to reject scientific advances (happened in the early 1700’s, 1800’s & the 1900’s) because they don’t necessarily understand how the world is changing around them & fall back to religion (unchanging) as a means of coping with the socieatel changes going on around them.

    And I also don’t understand why these groups hate Science? I mean, if their beliefs are so threatened by the advancement of understanding, then they should be looking at themselves & not trying to attack others instead.

  137. Are You Guys Serious?

    [Begin Quote: Laurence]

    The biggest problem with promoting “ID” is that the proponents can never seem to remove “religion/Christianity” from the equation. The Constitution & precendence has made it abundantly clear that there is to be a very distinct separation between Church & State – hence, ID has no standing to be taught it schools, any more than you could teach Bible classes in public schools today.

    [End Quote]

    That is a very fair statement. In many of the cases presented in the media, that is absolutely the case. However, keep in mind that for the rest of us, that isn’t always the case.

    As a quick sidenote, in all fairness, when the Bible does touch on Scientific items, it (to my knowledge) has yet to be proven false. For instance, both Job and David spoke of the world as being “round” or a “sphere hanging on nothing”. Now, granted, many religious nuts (and some scientists) over the years killed others for contradicting the idea that the earth was flat, but if they’d simply looked into the scriptures they would have seen the correct answer. This applies in several other areas to, but I won’t digress further.

    [Begin Quote: Laurence]

    Science is in a constant state of flux – theories from 200 years ago are no longer valid because new tools have allowed us to see and investigate things that we never were able to see before.

    [End Quote]

    Thank you for stating such. That was part of my point earlier; that perhaps even science as we know it today isn’t capable of answering certain questions that we have.

    IMO, however, the “evidence” for ID is in the “D”. Why, the whole field of forensic science is based around things of this nature. Years ago, when a crime was committed, scientists didn’t waste time trying to figure out how the crime “evolved”. You wouldn’t see a scientist beating his head against a wall trying to figure out now the victim developed a case of murder. They knew the murder was committed by someone. And why is this? Because of a bit of evidence, and a lot of deduction. Granted in this day and age DNA can pretty much put you anywhere, but not until recently has that been the case.

    So, for someone to get frustrated with a proponent of “ID” because they, based on the organization, level of complexity, and perhaps even seeming intent of an system believe it to be created, is, per history, rather contradictory.

  138. MartinM

    Why, the whole field of forensic science is based around things of this nature.

    No, it is not. Forensic science is based upon a thorough understanding of humans, their capabilities, and their possible motivations. ID proponents have made it clear that the capabilities and motivations of their proposed designer are off-limits. This is precisely why forensics is a scienctific discipline, and ID is not.

  139. Are You Guys Serious?


    No, it is not. Forensic science is based upon a thorough understanding of humans, their capabilities, and their possible motivations. ID proponents have made it clear that the capabilities and motivations of their proposed designer are off-limits. This is precisely why forensics is a scienctific discipline, and ID is not.

    More accurately I might have said “the history of forensic science is steeped in this.” Which is absolutely true.

    That said, it is still a science of “intelligent causality”, and to eliminate that aspect would negate the science itself.

  140. It’s quite possible that there will be a “bottom” for the BoE. They’ll find it with this hunting dog, that’s for damned sure.

  141. Mark

    A few responses to Ed Darrell:

    Ed said:

    “Alas, there are no honest creationists.”

    Ed, is this an honest statement?

    “I would invite you to read the Constitution yourself, Joel. It says absolutely nothing about Christianity.”

    Agreed, Ed. But you’re using that to state that there was no Christian influence involved in the founding of the United States. You cleverly bring up the Constitution, but leave out the Declaration of Independence. I’m not one who claims that the U.S. is a “Christian nation,” but you are the one selectively choosing facts.

    “There was no such thing as creationism in his (Daniel Webster’s) day”

    Ed, I’m not saying that Daniel Webster was a creationist (I have no idea), but are you seriously saying that there were no creationists at this time?

    “Joel, you slander our first president. Not only was he a great man, he was not one who believed the Bible to be literal. It is questionable that he was even Christian — among other things, he refused communion for his entire adult life, and he deleted all references to “Jesus” in official documents, jealously guarding the separation of church and state…”

    Ed, I don’t disagree with your view on Washington’s beliefs. However, I’m not sure your examples support it at all. Do you really believe Communion = Christianity? I’d suggest you research that one a little more. And I would think that removing “Jesus” from official government documents would simply be an appropriate action, be one a Christian or otherwise.

    I guess my point is, if you’re trying to really convince folks to take your position, you need to be as intellectually honest as you expect them to be.

  142. Steve F

    As a product of Texas public education all of the way from 1st grade through my early post-doctorate training, it saddens but does not supprise me to see what is happening here. Texas of my childhood was a schizophrenic place with NASA and the moon race dominating the local news, contrasted by a culture of idiotic “Blue Laws” and the equivalent fundamentalist nonsense of the “Bible Belt”. There is a lesson to be learned here for those of us steeped in science and drawn like moths to the candle of learning. Politics trumps everything, even truth and knowledge. On the other hand, hypocrisy reigns supreme within these fundamentalist types and one can be reassured that they will write the story of their own demise. The arrogance and flagrant abuse of power displalyed by McLeroy and the current BoE will be their downfall. The tragedy of course is how many young minds will be “damaged” in the process.

  143. this is stupid, its already happening in many other places, why is texas the only one that has been found. i lived in texas and i had a great education in one of the big “bad” schools.

  144. David Ratnasabapathy

    @Are You Guys Serious?:
    Er, why are you explaining that it’s vastly improbable that a single-celled organism would arise by chance? Scientists completely agree with you! You go on to write that a living organism can’t possibly arise through random chance. Of course. No-one thinks living organisms arose through random unguided chance. Natural selection isn’t blind chance, it’s the exact opposite!

    The universe contains atoms of various types. This is observed fact. These atoms combine to form molecules. This too is observed. Some of these molecules are quite complex; and there seems to be no obvious limit as to how complex these molecules can get. This is commonplace chemistry.

    Some complex molecules can make copies of themselves. This is observed fact. Given the rich diversity of organic molecules, it’s completely reasonable to assume that there exist simple replicating molecules that can copy themselves under the conditions prevalent in the early Earth.

    Just Al pointed this out above.

    — Are you claiming that it’s impossible for simple replicators to exist under the conditions of the early Earth? If so, how do you know this?

    Replicating molecules sometimes make mistakes when replicating themselves: this is observed fact. Populations of imperfectly replicating molecules are subject to selection: this too is observed fact. So populations of replicating molecules evolve. Now there is no necessity for evolution to produce more complex organisms; but it’s perfectly possible for natural selection to do so.

    — Do you deny that natural selection can produce complex structures in replicating organisms?

    The scientific explanation for the origin of life is that replicating molecules arose through the normal operation of the laws of chemistry; and that these replicators then evolved into more complex forms under the action of natural selection.

    If you can demonstrate that simple replicators cannot arise through normal chemical processes, then the current scientific explanation for life’s origin will be rejected.

    If you can demonstrate that natural selection can’t possibly drive replicating molecules into more complex forms, then the current scientific explanations will fail.

    If you can’t do either of these… then, in order to deny the current scientific explanation, you need a better explanation. One which uses processes (like the laws of chemistry) which are observed and tested on a daily basis. One which (like natural selection) is in principle capable of building complex structures. And one which (like natural selection) leaves its signature in the structures it builds.

  145. Bill

    Well, if you’re dumb enough to live in Texas, I guess you get what you deserve.

  146. That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve heard someone say, Bill. Well done.

  147. Michael

    “teachers and experts had worked for two and a half to three years on new standards for English. So what did McLeroy do? He ignored all that work entirely, and let “social conservatives” on the board draft a new set overnight.”

    I think you misread the article. No where does it say he ignored all that work entirely. He says it is a compromise between the teacher designed draft and the one drafted by the consultant group. The article did not say what exactly it was as it had not been thoroughly read. Still idiotic and bull headed and boarding on dictatorial, but let’s not exaggerate.

  148. Are You Guys Serious?

    No-one thinks living organisms arose through random unguided chance. Natural selection isn’t blind chance, it’s the exact opposite!

    Are you positing that “Natural Selection” existed at a molecular level? If so, perhaps you should do some research into just what “Natural Selection” is.

    Either way, your even assuming that a system to generate life would be randomly “in place” at a molecular level is faulty. You might want to do a little research into the laws of thermodynamics for that — most notably, the second law.

  149. Cathy

    Haven’t waded through all the postings, so this may have been mentioned by others, but in case any Texans are actually thinking their only two choices are moving or submitting to pseudoscientific/theocratic teaching “standards,” there is also the option of homeschooling. Even where I live in So. Calif., I think the science taught to kids is less wonderful than it ought to be, especially in many elementary classrooms. Homeschooling is a great way to live and explore the world.

  150. Talk about a compelling argument for government to not be at all involved in education. With private education you get to choose what your kids learn. Sounds like a better alternative than relying on government, at any level.

  151. John Smith

    Even how american we try to be here in East-Europe, we just don’t have this kind of problems.

  152. hexhunter

    “If reptiles evolved into birds, why are there still reptiles? If monkeys evolved into apes, why are there still monkeys? And why are there still apes if they evolved into humans?”

    WTFOMGBBQ!1!!

    Quick reply, read Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”, you simply don’t have to be ignorant anymore…

    Long reply, you, Thomas Eastham, have failed as an intelligent Human, that is the first time I’ve heard such fallacies in the last 5 years. If you really need me too explain, Evolution happens between generations, a single Organism cannot evolve by itself, evolution is mostly the result of Sex. The closest thing to Evolution without Sex is radiation caused Cancer and Mutations in Clones.
    So that means that 1 species can further Evolve into another, or even several more species, so from lizards you get snakes, dinosaurs, rodents, teradactyls, etc. You then go on to get primates, whales, dolphins, birds, rats, dogs, cats, horses, etc… The only way that a species dies off is by it’s failure to adapt fast enough, which can be caused by other species filling their environmental “Niche”, so for example, I’ve heard that Homo Sapiens sapiens (us) killed off Homo Erectus, I don’t know how, though I’d suspet it’s because we both harvested and hunted on the plains, and as we were better at it than them, they eventually didn’t have enough food to bring up their children and they all died off…

    Now you’ve finished reading, well done, and I’m sorry for potentially offending you…

    – Deus X Machina

  153. David Ratnasabapathy

    Are You Guys Serious?:

    Are you positing that “Natural Selection” existed at a molecular level?

    I’m not positing anything. We can observe it taking place Natural selection exists anywhere we have variation, selection and inheritance. It most certainly exists at a molecular level.

    Check out the pages here and here.

    Heck, if you read Richard Dawkins’ most excellent book, The Selfish Gene, you’d know that even examples of natural selection acting on large-scale organisms are really examples of natural selection operating at the molecular level: on the DNA molecules which specify that large organism.

    Either way, your even assuming that a system to generate life would be randomly “in place” at a molecular level is faulty.

    Are you seriously claiming that it’s impossible for simple replicating molecules to exist? What is your justification? Remember, we already know of fairly simple natural molecules which can reproduce themselves. The only assumption is that there exist even simpler versions of what we already can see.

  154. Are You Guys Serious?

    Are you seriously claiming that it’s impossible for simple replicating molecules to exist? What is your justification? Remember, we already know of fairly simple natural molecules which can reproduce themselves. The only assumption is that there exist even simpler versions of what we already can see.

    No, what I’m saying is that it is “impossible” (meaning less than probable) that self-replicating, life-giving DNA sprang randomly from non-lifegiving molecules. As a side note, the term “molecule” is used differently, and much more loosely in biochemistry than in other sciences (not directly relevant, but interesting nonetheless).

    The jump from oxygen, nitrogen, etc. to DNA is *not* a small one. *That* is a major part of my justification. And to my knowledge no observable system outside of a controlled laboratory has produced such.

    So, although a reasonable place to start, to simply go from a magically “in place” system forward would seem inadmissible by science’s own standards — something the scientific community has been on the ID community about for years. Rather, one must go from the system backward. How did the system get there? How, *exactly*, do oxygen, nitrogen, etc. become the DNA? What was the “spark” by which it came about? Were conditions truly present to have produced such? Why have there been no “second occurrences” of the system?

    …and, of course, I must go back to the fact that the earth according to our current knowledge is only 5,000,000,000 years old, and life as we know it is around 4,000,000,000 years old. So, how, given such a short period of time, has the entire course of life moved so well, with very few “bad mutations” to the point of the “intelligent” life we have now? What “force” is in place to have caused such?

    If you posit that “natural selection” occurs at a true molecular level (not simply biochemically) then what is the motivating factor for that system and why does it not occur en masse now given the current “stability” of life (and perhaps evolution) as we know it?

  155. whb03_debunk

    @Are You Guys Serious:

    “The jump from oxygen, nitrogen, etc. to DNA is *not* a small one. *That* is a major part of my justification.”

    DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO READ?! There have been at least 3 posts which have explained that it is NOT a “jump from O2 to DNA”. But you have no intention of understanding a d–n thing anyone on this site says, you’ll just argue what you want to believe while disregarding the wasted-well-thought-out responses. Simply replicating molecules are NOT leaps from O2 to DNA (do you even know what O2 means?).

    Quit arguing with this idiot, folks. He will never “get it” no matter how many times you tell him. It might make him question his pre-ordained beliefs. Why let the FACTS ruin a perfectly good dogma? I guarantee you this idiot would do no such thing.

    Meanwhile – let’s hear it

  156. whb03_debunk

    Sorry – was going to say, let’s hear it for Phoenix! Something which would not have happened with ID.

  157. Are You Guys Serious?

    DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO READ?! There have been at least 3 posts which have explained that it is NOT a “jump from O2 to DNA”. But you have no intention of understanding a d–n thing anyone on this site says, you’ll just argue what you want to believe while disregarding the wasted-well-thought-out responses. Simply replicating molecules are NOT leaps from O2 to DNA (do you even know what O2 means?).

    Sorry, would you mind presenting facts instead of making untrue claims out of what appears to be frustration/anger? To my knowledge I’ve read every post here. I see nothing in the side articles about making a jump from O2 to DNA. What did I miss?

    That said, are you sure *you* know what O2 means? Are you speaking of super oxide, or in terms of the Haplogroups? If it’s the former, I’d definitely like to see that, if it’s the later, you’re getting ahead of yourself again. We’re talking of going from pre-organic molecules to organic molecules to life (and the driving force behind them) — all in a relatively short period of time, all with very few “mistakes”, all with a seemingly “predestined” direction. We’re talking statistics as much as anything. Not even whether or not it’s possible, but whether, in fact, it actually occurred.

    Meanwhile — I’m quite certain of the fact that there *is* a leap. I can’t speak to your credentials as I don’t know you, but I’d recommend doing your own research. Folks on both sides of the argument are bound to spew propaganda. You have my sympathies if you were perhaps burned by dogma of sorts as a youngster, but I don’t believe I’ve presented anything unscientific in my posts.

    Do feel free to correct me where I stand, however.

  158. Just Al

    @whb03_debunk:

    “Quit arguing with this idiot, folks. He will never â??get itâ?? no matter how many times you tell him.”

    That much is obvious, especially from the number of times he (or she, as the case may be) repeats arguments that have already been shown to be wrong. But he’s a great study in all the bad debating tactics: projection, straw men, hyperbole, misdirection, misuse of “probabilities”… you name it.

    However, there is a good reason to argue: He’s not the only one reading this thread. Moreover, he’s using all of the tired old creationist arguments. There are enough people on this blog that have heard the same stuff from multiple sources and have never seen it debunked. They can see how the sides shape up and decide for themselves. Letting some mindless assertion go unanswered only lends it weight. Slapping it down with simple logic or science shows it for what it is.

    Even better, dodging issues and refusing to recognize mistakes is a great way to demonstrate that your conviction does not come from logic or evidence. Most of the die-hards never realize how much damage they do to their own cause by repeating their mantras in the face of all reasoning.

    Plus, it’s fun. So, have at it!

  159. northy

    We don’t need to “mess with Tex” they’ve messed up themselves enough.

  160. Are You Guys Serious?

    @JustAl

    Ok, that was a huge post, so I’ll touch on a few parts now and a few later, as time allows.

    So, let’s see – a “few million” at the same time, times 5 billion years (actually closer to 3.85 billion by current guesstimates), times, let’s see, complicated bacteria can divide every couple of minutes, so simpler organisms would probably take less, figure .005% random beneficial mutations, carry the seven… I’m not having a problem with this leading to complicated life, and a whole boatload of it. Would you like to borrow my calculator?

    Your assumptions:

    1) The first generation(s) of simple organisms even had the ability to “divide” and that if they did, it occurred in less time and successfully. Perhaps today’s complex bacteria have it down to a better science than those original ones. . .? Perhaps?

    2) Most any number you give, yes even .005% for random beneficial mutations is conjecture at best. Mark Ridley, a student of the great Richard Dawkins himself puts the *average* at around 0.0001%.

    An interesting point that many (but certainly not all) seem to ignore is that one of the many functions of DNA itself is to maintain its “integrity” and *prevent* or suppress major mutations of any sort. Granted, radiation, heat, and various other environmental factors could “force” these changes. But do you honestly believe that there are/were a sufficient number of these (let alone beneficial ones) to have gotten to where we are in such a short period of time with such a “stable” diversity as we have currently? All this without any mini-ELEs of any sort for such an “unstable” landscape?

    Well, is it magical, or random? You seem to keep forgetting – you’re the one that’s talking magic. We’re only talking known electro-chemical interplay and laws of physics.

    Well, again, talking physics, the second law of thermodynamics is working against you there. I’m sure you’re familiar, but just in case, it states basically that left unto itself, a system’s entropy increases and tends toward chaos. So, despite even my “numbers thing” you’ve got another *real* force working against an organic system coming from inorganic and coming to “order”.

    And if your response is, “Because I don’t understand the scientific explanation, therefore science is wrong,” well, you’d better expect people not to be convinced. And that’s if you’re lucky

    The same could be said of how many approach “magic”. Playing Devil’s Advocate: the fact that you don’t understand it doesn’t make it wrong. Despite semi-defending at least the consideration of ID, I have intentionally refrained from even hinting at a belief in “magic”. Too many assume that if someone contradicts “good science” they’re immediately insane, unreasonable, unintelligent, or at the very least, not worth hearing out.

    Science doesn’t have all the answers (and has never claimed to), but it offers the best method of producing them. Let’s take your Mesopotamians and the laptop. Of the three potential reactions to it, which group do you think stands the greatest chance of determining, at least in part, what it actually is? The ones who think it’s magic, the ones who think it’s (evidence of) god, or the ones who actually start pushing buttons and paying attention to what’s happening?

    I’ve heard it said that “all science is magic, until discovery.” I would absolutely subscribe to such a statement. In this particular case, the various groups are getting to the answer in sometimes wildly different manners.

    At that point, it doesn’t matter if it’s designed or not. The only ones that are going to find out are the ones who look for evidence. To say that we haven’t seen the evidence because there are “other ways of knowing” only begs the question, “Why do you say it then?”

    True enough, however, *if* you’re saying that the existing evidence is discernible strictly by methods as defined by science, you’re heading into faulty premise territory.

    . . .Gotta get some work done now, so I’ll leave that last part for a future post. Hopefully at least the top *this* post has enough “facts” to get you to stop using those tired clichés.

  161. fernando

    so, what were the changes made? i understand some of the uproar, i don’t believe one single person with no particular background in the field should be allowed to do what this guy did, but i can’t say texas is “doomed” without looking at what the curriculum is. most school curriculums are total crap, even the private schools i’ve attended felt like a waste of time, but most of the failure came from the students not caring in the first place.

  162. whb03_debunk

    Thanks Just Al:

    Good points. I guess I just get frustrated hearing the same rhetoric from people who intend to understand none of the actual science, especially the ones who claim science is a bunch of “tired cliches” (like the latest post above from someone who thinks scientists can’t be serious, perhaps?)… I have certainly had my fair share of arguments with fundies, especially the ones who claim that they have a God-given right (literally) to ram their version of their religion down everyone else’s throat and nobody has the right to question it, much less subscribe to a different system of beliefs (NOT that science is a system of beliefs – it is, as you all note over and over again, a system of FACTS and reproducable results). Science is simply out of the question to such people, it is quite simply a sin to consider science anything but materialistic hedonism. God gave you a brain – don’t you dare use it! I get tired of seeing these IDiots show up here to heckle the professionals while claiming that “Creation is just as much science as, well, anything [the scientists on this site are] putting forth” (although granted, this particular topic does somewhat beg for them to make noise here)… [Though to be fair to AYGS, he does not at least seem to be attempting to attack those who think scientifically with too much rhetoric, perhaps I was being unduely harsh on him when it should have been one of the other hecklers – still, he claims that science isn’t really as scientific as science…?]

    But as you say, that is all the more reason to argue, if nothing else for the other readers. I’ll quit complaining about arguing with the fundies – and yes, do have fun!

  163. David Ratnasabapathy

    Are You Guys Serious?:

    …it is “impossible” (meaning less than probable) that self-replicating, life-giving DNA sprang randomly from non-lifegiving molecules.

    But we can see it taking place. It is an observed fact. Non-living chemicals, mixed in a test tube, will spontaneously self-assemble into replicating molecules. Scientists have been creating viruses this way since 2002. Check out this article here. Now, this doesn’t demonstrate the origin of life because the current scientific theory requires simple replicators to emerge under more complicated conditions. What these experiments demonstrate is that your “impossible” is not really so. We can see non-living chemicals come alive: so how can you claim such a thing must necessarily be highly improbable?

    The jump from oxygen, nitrogen, etc. to DNA is *not* a small one.

    Er, yes. I don’t know why you mention this because, again, scientists agree with you! Oxygen and Nitrogen don’t turn into DNA. What they turn into is Methane and Ammonia (i.e. slightly more complex molecules) and these are what turn into amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and purines (the building blocks of DNA). As Just Al suggested, you really should read about the Miller-Urey experiments. It is an observed fact that atoms will combine into simple molecules, which combine into more complex molecules, which combine into the precursors of life. None of this happens at random. All of it is dictated by the laws of chemistry.

    We know replicating molecules can exist because they are an observed fact. So the only assumption being made is that the already complex molecules that we observe emerging, can combine further into a molecule that is capable of replicating itself. This is a reasonable assumption because the variety of organic molecules is so staggeringly vast that it’s ridiculous to claim, without justification, that none of them could be a replicator.

    Can you propose a better theory? Remember:
    1. Your proposal has to be at least as solidly based on observed facts as the current explanation.
    2. Your proposal must be capable of generating complex structures at least as well as natural selection can
    3. Your proposed explanation must leave its signature in the organisms it creates, just as natural selection does.

  164. Wm

    ‘If I were a parent of a young child in Texas right now, I’d move out rather than let her be educated there.’

    The article might have been excellent if the author had not insisted upon referring to ‘child’ as ‘her’. This makes me suspicious as to the author’s background, possibly a feminist lover or otherwise radical.

  165. Wm

    Comment by: ‘Billon 26 May 2008 at 3:17 pm
    Well, if you’re dumb enough to live in Texas, I guess you get what you deserve.’

    We Texans are a very hardy, mature group of people and actually like to see people ridicule us as Billon has. Thereby , such slanderous human bilge never comes to our great state. The last thing any great state wants is the likes of Billon to enter its borders.

  166. Darth Robo

    “the second law of thermodynamics is working against you there”

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

    Sorry, what came over me?

    Any testable mechanism of ID been presented yet? No?

    Shocked. Shocked, I say.

  167. Are You Guys Serious?

    But we can see it taking place. It is an observed fact. Non-living chemicals, mixed in a test tube, will spontaneously self-assemble into replicating molecules.

    Ok, I read those articles. I’m not sure what I’m not conveying properly in my posts.

    My main concern is that, on a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being absolutely no extraordinary assistance, and 10 being everything is “magically” in place for you — these scientists are still starting at about a 4 or 5; controlled environment, experimental “shorthand”, and accelerated starts. Is that not a valid concern? Are we to assume that those conditions were absolutely present?

    Don’t really have time right now to go in depth, but that’s the gist. Let me know your thoughts.

  168. Stefanie

    A question to all you ID proponents out there: If the world is so complex, and that proves there is a creator, wouldn’t that mean that the creator would have to be complex? And if the creator is complex wouldn’t that mean something had to create the creator? ID is a circular argument with no real answers.

  169. Are You Guys Serious?

    And if the creator is complex wouldn’t that mean something had to create the creator? ID is a circular argument with no real answers.

    Whoa there. Don’t fall into that trap. By that logic, even science would have to be circular. Though, to my knowledge, according to ID, nothing created the “D”. As I said earlier, I believe the issue isn’t even what is *possible*, but rather what is statistically likely and hopefully what *actually* occurred. The methods and results are what are in dispute, I believe.

    There is little doubt that there is a scientific answer to most everything, whether it is currently understood or not. As in the laptop analogy, the ones that attributed it to a creator would not have been wrong, they simply would have lacked the “why”, and that’s where the science would excel.

    Starting a few steps ahead, however, or basing “results” on large assumptions — e.g. manufacturing 16 of 21 chemicals/proteins and calling it a day — is scientifically unacceptable. The lack of even a single chemical/molecule/protein can literally make all the difference in the world. WARNING: cliché to follow As my grandfather says, “‘almost’ only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”

    This absolutely does not devalue science (as it’s relevant and necessary in about 99.99999999999999999999% of life), but hopefully such consideration will keep it “honest”.

  170. Darth Robo

    AYGS

    >>>”My main concern is that, on a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being absolutely no extraordinary assistance, and 10 being everything is “magically” in place for you — these scientists are still starting at about a 4 or 5; controlled environment, experimental “shorthand”, and accelerated starts. Is that not a valid concern? Are we to assume that those conditions were absolutely present?”

    No-one can ever be ABSOLUTELY certain what conditions were present, but they can take an educated guess. But in order to satisfy your criteria, it would seem that scientists would have to go out into the field and actually observe an instance of abiogenesis occurring. The point of testing abiogenesis under controlled conditions is not to “prove” that this was how it happened, but to show that it is possible. At which point, we can pretty much toss any concern of “probability” out the window (though all the creo-talk about “probabilities” seemed pretty daft to me anyhow).

    >>>”Whoa there. Don’t fall into that trap. By that logic, even science would have to be circular. Though, to my knowledge, according to ID, nothing created the “D”. As I said earlier, I believe the issue isn’t even what is *possible*, but rather what is statistically likely and hopefully what *actually* occurred. The methods and results are what are in dispute, I believe.”

    Sorry, Steph’s right on the mark. The methods and results are not actually in dispute until ID actually um, COMES UP with some. They have none. They have no testable hypothesis. They have an assumption. ID has nothing to do with science, as it was never intended to be science. It was just meant to sound “sciencey” to persuade the gullible and the average joe who doesn’t know any better so fundamentalist Christians could use it as a political wedge to get their religion taught in public schools under the guise of “fair and balanced”. ID has nothing to offer except religious apologetics.

  171. Tubateater

    I will try to try to correct any of the problems with the above article the best I can and in the quickest way possible.

    -Much of the “new English standards” that teachers have been FORCED to incorporate in the last three years are ones that lower the expectations of the students, in order to help Mexican children receive passing grades.

    -The Texas Education System is not perfect, but it is one of the best in the nation. Texas also has one of the largest collections of colleges, not because of the population, instead because of the number of qualified high school graduates that come from the state.

    -Finally to the comments about Texas just becoming an independent nation. Been there, done that, and kick ass at it.

  172. God Made Him This Way

    This is a wake up call to all people concerned in the educational system in every state . Unfortunately Texas is at a disadvantage and I just had to write and article on this subject.
    Thanks.
    Bunny

  173. Stefanie

    Tubaeater,

    Where do you get that “The Texas Education System is not perfect, but it is one of the best in the nation.”? I know this is from 2005, but last I checked this hasn’t changed much, “Texas jumped two spots – improving from 41st in 2004 to 39th in 2005 – in a ranking of state public education, but it still lags behind much of the country, according to a report released last week by a group of lawmakers” The Daily Texan. Both my parents are educators in Texas and they’ve always said that Texas comes in as one of the worst states for education.

  174. Fundit

    Yes, believing is god is dumb.

  175. OpenThinker

    You are all wrong. you are trying to define God by human standards.
    God… is God.

    God does whatever the heck he wants by definition God is… God.

    You think you can reason and logic the concept of God but… it’s God. If he is out there then he created concept, logic, and reason, he could twist and bend it anyway he wants… cause he’s God. Once again men who think they are smart think they know what God is so that can dismiss the possibility. That seems fairly closed minded… for ‘scientist’.

    You can’t define it, you can explain it. Humanity is in a catch 22, you can’t debate God cause… its God.

    “But God doesn’t exist… look at evolution….” BARF.

    Once again, you smarty pants must be smarter than God huh, whos to say God didn’t create evolution.

    What it appears to me is that basically the world wide concept of God is focused on the Westernized Bible. Thats what scientist really try to debate, not the actual concept of God. It doesn’t sound so impressive to debate God not some book.

    ***
    Ok, that was fun.
    ***

  176. Sporbie

    Phew, I’m SO glad I don’t live in the USA, I really feel sorry for you guys with all the retarded fundamentalists running around destroying your country.

  177. I am so tired of dumb ass’s giving us a bad name. If its not Bush, its Don McLeroy. If its not Don McLeroy it’s Bubba from East Texas on the news talking about aliens stealing his cousins trailer house. I Live in Bryan, Texas and i would like to personally apologize for the Idiots you hear about from the great state of Texas.

    Most of us are not like that at all. The stupid ones are just really good at getting famous i guess.

  178. With all the scientific types posting comments, it seems odd that the consensus is that a comet hit would somehow reduce Texas’ land area. Nothing doing … in fact, it would grow somewhat. The only real difference is that much of the added area would be underwater in the Gulf of Texas. Moreover, Texas would have about as many talented and wonderful people as before … perhaps not the -same- people, but nice nonetheless.

    😉

    And, as a Christian fundamentalist, I’d like to put as much distance as I can between me and the ‘literal 168 hr.’ nut cases. They get the media coverage, but they don’t get the Bible.

  179. Sav

    As badly as this guy sucks, I graduated from the Texas schooling system with no damage from the severely backwards ways of these redneck hicks.

    Thankfully, those of us who are lucky enough to attend schools with AP (or IB) programs are spared the whole ID vs Evolution debates…it’s never even brought up. My Bio II teacher was very blunt and said from the first day of class “ID is not science. Evolution is science. We will learn about Evolution in this class, not ID.” There are a number of teachers like that, no matter where you go, but I fear with guys like the head of our BoE on the rise, intelligent staff are on the decline.

    And unfortunately for students who aren’t lucky enough to take AP (or IB) courses, the subpar standards being set in the Texas legislature are going to set them back for their entire lives, and that is a frightening thing to think about.

    Oh…and don’t take all Texans for what we are portrayed as in the news. There are a few of us who are normal, somewhat intelligent, and even Atheist. You’ll find us in Austin. 😉

  180. Hahaha! Sucks for you Texas kids! good luck on college admissions. Thanks you texas for taking a huge chunk of intellectual competition out of the market.

    Tongue in cheek, but if i was a resident of Texas, I would take my kids and my family and “git outa thar,” maybe to somewhere with more interest in the future of America then how many people believe in their own specific deity.

  181. Marine2171

    “I would invite you to read the Constitution yourself, Joel. It says absolutely nothing about Christianity.”

    Right, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, to include NOTHING about the separation of church and state. There are NO laws concerning the separation of church and state. Put into context the reason why the Declaration of Independence was written.

    “Hahaha! Sucks for you Texas kids! good luck on college admissions. Thanks you texas for taking a huge chunk of intellectual competition out of the market.”

    I had no problem with college admissions.

    “Tongue in cheek, but if i was a resident of Texas, I would take my kids and my family and “git outa thar,” maybe to somewhere with more interest in the future of America then how many people believe in their own specific deity.”

    Please do and please take the liberal morons with their nasty attitudes with you.

    If you have a problem with education, teach it. Better yet get rid of the “no child left behind” law.

    “You’ll find us in Austin.” I wouldn’t admit to that, its a direct reflection of the idiocy of this government.

    If you don’t like what we do, leave. I will be more than happy to wave good bye as you move to another state or country. Go live with the Canadians.

    The original concept for this country was for the states to govern themselves. Our government continues to take that away.

    Defaming a president is 1) pointless and 2) usually unfounded. I am tired of reading how Bush did this or that. The president doesn’t just come up with some idea and make it a law. It has to pass through congress. You don’t like the war, fine. Blame congress for funding it. Congress controls this country, not the president, and certainly not you or I.

    I disagree with the way evolution is presented. Natural selection perhaps, but the idea that we started from single celled organisms… I really don’t care what you believe, why bash someone else’s belief? Why try and force your belief on other that aren’t receptive. Can you disprove the existence of God?

    Finally, if you don’t live in Texas, thank you. If we wanted your opinion we would have asked. Now leave us alone.

  182. StevoR

    Nasikabatrachus on 24 May 2008 at 8:34 pm


    “Well, since Texas is defined as an area bordered by some imaginary lines, we wouldn’t really have to since comets can’t impact our imaginations (except figuratively).”

    Well comets certainly impact in & on my imagination considerably! 😉
    I think they’re awesome .. ! 8)

    But as for the Texass … Didn’t the rest of you, there in what we in Oz call Yankland, elect him President? 😉

    Don’t know whether to laugh, cry or both .. A sad story to blog on here – just hope things have goty better or more hopefully inthe very, very long time since this was posted.

    (This has been lost somewhere de-eep in my email swamp … literally for months!)

  183. I am wondering if any of you have ever bought a replica rolex and do you find the quality is decent like a real rolex or not, I was considering to buy from this site [url=http://www.swissprecise.com]Rolex Replica[/url] but need some help…

  184. There appears to be an attempt by some at this blog to equate the evolutionary position with science. When you look at the statements and actions of Karl Popper who was a very astute and distinquished philosopher of science, you will see that he did not believe that the evolutionary position could be classified as scientific theory. Popper’s position was quite reasonable consider the fact that the
    evolutionary position is not sound science.

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