Louisiana. Well, that’s it then.

By Phil Plait | June 27, 2008 11:42 am

Bobby Jindal, creationist/exorcist governor of Louisiana, has signed the academic freedom bill into state law.

So that’s it then. Teachers are now free to teach a false controversy in their classrooms, introducing creationism like it’s an actual science instead of tissue-thin nonsense. It will also allow them to talk about other non-controversial subjects like global warming, as if there were two sides to the debate.

For a detailed history of this incredibly bad law, and why it’s so evil, please read Barbara Forrest’s essay posted on Talk to Action. She has been embroiled in this since day 1, and has fought very hard for reality. She wrote that essay just before Jindal doomed his own state.

Sadly, Louisiana legislators have no time or care for reality, and are determined to drag its children back into the Middle Ages. I am honestly very sorry for everyone in the entire state. I hope that this law gets contested; it’ll take a brave teacher to do it, but I think there are Constitutional grounds against it. Seeing as how the whole legislature voted for it overwhelmingly, and many are scared to speak out against it, it’ll be a very, very tough fight.

Humans have an enormous predilection for nonsense, and those of us in the reality-based community have been fighting it for centuries. But science tends to win out in the long run; ask any smallpox virus about that. And like a disease, antiscience can be fought back. Shining a light on it will help, and I have no doubt the attention – and ridicule — of the world on the Louisiana politicians (and the reluctance of high-tech companies to build there) will go a long way to inoculating other states against this creeping plague.

But many other states are at risk (Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, and on and on). Never flag, never tire, and never assume you’re safe. Keep fighting, people. Because I guarantee this victory for the bad guys in Louisiana will embolden them.

Keep fighting.

Hat tip to Mike Smail for letting me know about the newspaper article.

Comments (89)

  1. Mena

    Louisiana is the new Kansas.

  2. Wes

    In Oklahoma, actually, the governor vetoed the “academic freedom” sham. So the Sooner State is safe (for now).

    I would wager that the ACLU and Americans United will start scouring Louisiana for test cases ASAP. It’s inevitable that some school will use this law to inject pseudoscientific religious nonsense into their science classes, and when they do we’ll get another Dover trial.

    Sigh. It’s really depressing that this keeps happening over and over and over.

  3. Dover 2.0…it’s coming.

  4. Ad Hominid

    Jindal is in a heap of trouble for reasons not directly connected with his various superstitions:
    Angry Louisianans warn Jindal not to approve legislature’s pay raise
    The wonder-boy had promised not to do this and Louisianans apparently don’t like being played for fools or having their pockets picked.
    (There may be an indirect connection though, in that one form of deception and greed-driven cynicism may lead to others.)

  5. Sir Eccles

    There’s always the ballot box.

  6. Tyler Durden

    In protest, I suggest any Louisiana students should demand that their teachers treat both the moon landing and moon faking theories equally in their curriculum. After all, there’s a “controversy” there too.

  7. Kingthorin

    “Teachers are now free to teach a false controversy in their classrooms”

    Controversies can be true and false?

  8. Mark from Canada

    Anyone in the US who thinks their country is still the leader in science and tech is deluded. This is just another example of how bad it has become in America. I feel sorry for Americans in the sense that they had so much going for them, now the US$ is worthless, American homes are worthelss, a recession is starting, American’s are losing their jobs, national debt is through the roof, all while oil is skyrocketting and they are teaching their kids that creationism is science and to ignore global warming.

    So sorry America, you may have #1 Military, but that’s all. Hope you are pround of it and your ability to march around the world invading countries and destroying lives.

    My sentiment is not unique. Get used to it.

  9. We changed our minds, you can secede now.

  10. Just remember, mark, that many americans are torqued off at this too. Maybe direct your remarks to the Repugs or to the religious right instead?

  11. ARP1234

    If it will do any good, I will gladly join a team that finds a
    really big set of saws and start cutting Louisiana loose
    from the rest of the USA, where they can drift off into
    the Atlantic and become their own little nation.

    We may have to do this with the rest of the South and
    possibly parts of the West.

    Mark from Canada, I would love to prove you wrong –
    but I can’t. Bush, Cheney, and their gang of thugs have
    ruined this nation. Whether Obama or anyone else can
    repair it remains to be seen.

  12. Normal Dude

    “Anyone in the US who thinks their country is still the leader in science and tech is deluded. This is just another example of how bad it has become in America. I feel sorry for Americans in the sense that they had so much going for them, now the US$ is worthless, American homes are worthelss, a recession is starting, American’s are losing their jobs, national debt is through the roof, all while oil is skyrocketting and they are teaching their kids that creationism is science and to ignore global warming.

    So sorry America, you may have #1 Military, but that’s all. Hope you are pround of it and your ability to march around the world invading countries and destroying lives.

    My sentiment is not unique. Get used to it.”

    I hope you had a towel handy after that.

  13. Joker

    Well o nthe bright side if itsanyconsolation :

    Really how many kids listen to anything taught to them in school classrooms?

    Not many I’ll bet. ;-)

    Don’t you all recall what it was like … at least if not for the exception~al, geeky (& hey I’m one too!) folks who accumulate here then for the majority of the “really bored by school,can’t wait to go play” average ones? ;-)

    The smart kids will be too bright to fall for the taurus manure. Let’s hope.

    The dumb kids? Well, sadly, they were probably never good enough to be rocket scientists anyway. They won’t much change or rule the world. Again lets hope! ;-)

    Not that I’m saying this is anything other than a backwards nasty, regrettable step but ..well just trying for a bit of perspective … :-(

    _____________________

    The whole world’s going to hell in a hand-basket except me – I’m going there on a penny farthing instead! ;-)

  14. Joe Meils

    Governors change… this one will have to pay for his idiocy, and so will whatever party he belongs to, come the next election cycle. (Can we all guess which party he belongs to?) The only bright spot about this will be that it’s going to push the “controversy” into the courts once again. I imagine test cases are being formed even as we speak. In the end, more precedants will be set, and once again, the religious nutcases will get a black eye.

    In the meantime, it will tie up a courtroom, there will be millions of dollars wasted, and the media will harp on it until everyone feels numb.

    Been here, done this… bought several t-shirts.

  15. Joker

    Normal Dude :


    “I hope you had a towel handy after that.”

    … Or, better, a spit bucket!

    Still y’know he’s right.

    Well as far as much of the world sees things – incl. me. A bit OTT perhaps .. but again I’m hardly one to talk there! ;-)

    ______________________________________

    The Black Death Re-enactment Historical Society regrets to inform its members that tonight’s session is cancelled due to illness. ;-)

  16. Joker

    Joe Meils on 27 Jun 2008 at 12:18 pm :

    “Governors change… this one will have to pay for his idiocy, and so will whatever party he belongs to, come the next election cycle. (Can we all guess which party he belongs to?) The only bright spot about this will be that it’s going to push the “controversy” into the courts once again. I imagine test cases are being formed even as we speak. In the end, more precedants will be set, and once again, the religious nutcases will get a black eye.

    In the meantime, it will tie up a courtroom, there will be millions of dollars wasted, and the media will harp on it until everyone feels numb.

    Been here, done this… bought several t-shirts.”

    Absolutely.

    Deja Vu … Creationism yet again. So boring. So sad. So stupid.

    It does make you ask : “What the hell are people thinking -still!”

    & groan “Here we go again …” Not my intelligent response (such as it is) just my gut feeling .. sinking. :-(
    __________________________________

    Apollodorus : “O Socrates how it grieves me to see you die so undeservedly!”

    Socrates : “My dear Apollodorus, would you rather see me die deservedly?”

  17. infidel

    Again with the “doomed” verbiage. Didn’t we just see yesterday (or the day before? can’t recall) that a majority of Americans believe that “God” was either directly or indirectly involved in the creation/evolution of humans? What makes you think that anything but a vocal minority is going to stand up to this?

    I think the only real Ace in our hand is that the courts tend to be more intelligent and rational than the elected politicians.

  18. Normal Dude

    “… Or, better, a spit bucket!

    Still y’know he’s right. ”

    I just find ego masturbation to be an amusing spectacle.

  19. Travis M

    Being a resident of PA, i followed Dover very closely and that result was a massive relief.

    Question; one of the things that helped us is that PA has a teachers union and they are allowed to teach what they wish, so if they think something isn’t academic, it doesn’t hit the classroom.

    Does LA have the same thing? That at least could be some bright light

  20. Can we start teaching the phlogiston theory of combustion and the stork theory of reproduction now? Those are controversies too, you know!

  21. David

    @Joe Meils –

    I think that by assuming Jindal will pay for his idiocy, you are making the assumption that Jindal does not have the support of the Louisiana public on this decision. The sad part is he does, as evidenced by the near unanimous support of the state legislature. No, by continuing to give the religious right what they want, his profile will only continue to rise unless he gets caught with a male intern or something like that.

  22. Quiet Desperation

    My sentiment is not unique.

    Translation from ideospeak: “Mob rules”

    Christianity is not a unique sentiment, either. Still wrong, though. :-)

    Get used to it.

    Oh, I got used to the flaming, pig ignorance of others long ago, especially when it come to the ignorance of “them there ferriners” about the US.

    We have mucho problems (just like every other country in the world), but your histrionics are no better than a corner preacher shouting about “Jayzus Saves!” Your problem is you have fallen into the trap of every generation: you think you’re seeing everything for the first time.

    Our per capita GDP is $46,000. I think the only places that beat that are aberrations such as resort islands like Bermuda. Economies wax and wane. Actually, I’m impressed with it so far given all the current stressors. It’s a tough bastard.

    Housing prices are backing off from an irrational bubble. See “tech bubble” for previous example. This has been going on since there have been economies. Look up the tulip mania 1636.

    Unemployment was 5.5% in May. Hardly the end of the world. Here’s a historical graph:

    http://www.miseryindex.us/urbymonth.asp

    Recession? Maybe. A recession is two periods of negative growth. Last report was 1% growth in the last quarter, I think. We’ve had recessions before and we’ll have them again. Everyone has. Things cycle.

    National debt *is* a problem, but a manageable one. For now, anyway.

    Oil prices are a global problem, so not sure what your point was there. Canada has magical elf oil that springs endlessly from daffodils? You don’t like the oil prices? Send someone to kill the speculators.

    Creationism *is* being fought, and we will lose a battle here and there. That’s how wars of ideas go.

    But, you’re right. We should just write it all off and be like you: sitting and taunting like a schoolyard child.

    Oh, and your AremiKKKa-hate[TM] is really amateurish. The following video might help:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqLcTOmde6A

  23. Murff

    “Hope you are pround of it and your ability to march around the world invading countries and destroying lives.”

    Wow, is that all you think we do in the military? Do a google search for Humanitarian mission’s before you stick your foot so far down your throat.

  24. StevoR

    # Tyler Durden on 27 Jun 2008 at 11:58 am :

    “In protest, I suggest any Louisiana students should demand that their teachers treat both the moon landing and moon faking theories equally in their curriculum. After all, there’s a “controversy” there too.”

    Or a much better idea if they want to teach religion in a science classroom why not equally insist on giving evolution and astronomy / cosmology lectures in Church sermons?

    Or teach phlogiston theory instead of combustion for fire and flat-earth in geography instead of sphere’s and Holocaust deniers get equal time with Holocaust victims in history class and, what the blazes, why not go the whole hog and just make pi =3?

    Oh by Jove, we’d better not give’em ideas .. :-(

    Kingthorin on 27 Jun 2008 at 12:01 pm :

    “Teachers are now free to teach a false controversy in their classrooms”

    Controversies can be true and false?

    Well more like real and false here in the sense that the controversy is about as genuinely “controversial” among people with even the faintest real understanding of science as the “controversy” of whether pi = 3 is among mathematicans. :-(

    ID/ Kreationist claptrap is just not science. ID~otism has zero -count ‘em ZERO actual tenable arguments in its favour.

    It is politics – religious politics – and taliban-level fundamentalism trying to call itself something it blatantly is NOT; to invade places it has NO business being and infect kids whose impressionable minds they hope will still be weak enough to be crushed into this Christian Taliban’s chosen shape by ID-iotism rather than being allowed to grow and strengtthen enougn to see how pathetic those Kreationist morons really are. :-(

  25. Green Banana

    Could this actually backfire on the ID people? If they want a fair comparison in science class, let’s give it to them. We do have the truth on our side.

    What conclusion will the students come to after seeing the mountain of evidence for evolution compared to the bad excuse for evidence that ID provides.

    If presented correctly in the classrooms, I think science teachers can turn this negative into a positive.

  26. The bill is here – read it before blindly casting judgement (lest ye be judged).

    http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=482728

  27. Rich

    Soooo, how about we all do something about it. How about donating some decent books on evolution to the local Louisiana schools. Any suggestions for titles? Who’s ready to pony up a few bucks for science education?

  28. jrkeller

    Before everyone starts whining about the Republicans (I see it a few posts already), Democrats control both houses in Louisiana and the bill, now law, was drafted by a Democrat. In fact, this bill wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the Democrats.

    Even if Jindal vetoed this bill, it was veto proof. Almost every Legislator voted yes on this bill.

  29. Kingthorin:

    “Teachers are now free to teach a false controversy in their classrooms”

    Controversies can be true and false?

    Well, some people think so, but others don’t.

    I guess that’s yet another topic for “science” class?

  30. Harold McTestes

    Ah, the good ol’ USA…. well on it’s way to becoming the laughing stock of the planet. This jackasseryness is out of control considering that it is 2008!!

  31. BD

    Guess I shouldn’t feel guilty that I couldn’t wait to turn 17 at which point I could leave Louisiana. That was 30 years ago and I left not only Louisiana but the whole of the USA. I’ve never really turned back since. That said, there are Louisianas all over the world. Often third-world/old-world antics are quaint. Read the popularity of Cajun everything, especially to the non-Cajun. Backwaters have their charm, but backwaters produces people like G. W. Bush and his supporters. That doesn’t bold well for a world superpower.

  32. Trying to be a ray of hope in this obsessively negative forum…

    Since they are now allowed to bring it up, can we at least try to encourage the teachers to present all of the logical and moral failings of creationism, in the spirit of equality? It may be the only opportunity for many of the children to be exposed to the idea that what they’re hearing at home is completely bogus.

    The base assumption seems to be that the majority of science teachers are going to start teaching creationism as the creationists expect them to. Some will, but I can hope it is not the majority – they are the science teachers after all.

    The irony of seeing this whole mess backfire on its proponents would be hugely entertaining.

  33. LaCreption

    Looks like it’s about 1984 in the US.

  34. tsg

    Again with the “doomed” verbiage. Didn’t we just see yesterday (or the day before? can’t recall) that a majority of Americans believe that “God” was either directly or indirectly involved in the creation/evolution of humans? What makes you think that anything but a vocal minority is going to stand up to this?

    “Doomed” as in “doomed to descend into the Dark Ages for their failure to take their children’s education seriously.”

  35. Joker

    Mena on 27 Jun 2008 at 11:43 am :

    “Louisiana is the new Kansas.”

    Why – what happened to the old Kansas? ;-)

    Normal Dude on 27 Jun 2008 at 12:26 pm :

    “… I just find ego masturbation to be an amusing spectacle.”

    Do you? Really? ;-)

    Whenever I see any sort of masturbation I tend to look away -well at least if its a bloke! :-)

    (OK I apologise for being male … )

    Murff on 27 Jun 2008 at 12:38 pm :
    “Hope you are pround of it and your ability to march around the world invading countries and destroying lives.”

    Wow, is that all you think we do in the military? Do a google search for Humanitarian mission’s before you stick your foot so far down your throat.

    Now I agree the military does some good humanitarian misisons though I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

    But to think these good sort of misisons nullify or cancel out things like invading Iraq, Veitnam, Bay-of-Pigs and make up for all the hundreds of thousands of mostly innocent civilians who have been killed in such atrocities … ? Sorry but, IMHO, no way. :-(

    My sympathy and support goes out to the troops who are following appalling orders bravelyand doing their utmost and giving their lives and, yes, they are heroes! 8)

    However, the troops bosses have my contempt and fury because the best troops are being led by the most appalling, dishonourable men – the leaders in Washington that is & not on the field of battle.

    I hope you troops all come home safe & sound – & soon! ;-)

    & I really hope we learn from the experience NOT to keep repeating the same mistakes :

    * Gallipoli WWI : Poor leadership, poor startegy, wrong intelligence – mass slaughter of brave and good men. (As an Aussie, I know all about this one!)

    * Bay of Pigs Invasion Cuba 1960’s : Poor leadership, poor startegy, wrong intelligence – military fiasco and humiliation.

    * Vietnam war 1960’s-70s : Poor leadership, driven by stupid ideology & hysteria, poor strategy, wrong intelligence – mass slaughter of brave and good men, destruction and major political, military and cultural disaster.

    * Iraq war 2003-2??? : Poor leadership driven by stupid ideology & hysteria, poor strategy, wrong intelligence – mass slaughter of brave and good men that is still continuing – for 100 plus years if McCain gets his way! (Not that he’ll live through too many of them..) Sigh.

    Do we see a pattern here and have we figured out what NOT to do at least yet? :-(
    _______________________

    Is Armageddon the last word in warfare?

    “Although it is true that not all conservatives are stupid, it is also true that most stupid people are conservative.”
    – John Stuart Mill

    “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the universe.”
    – Albert Einstein

  36. (and the reluctance of high-tech companies to build there)

    How many high tech companies are based on the fact that evolution is right and creationism is wrong? Plate tectonics? Age of the Earth? Heliocentricism? Go check, I’ll wait…

    I know an excellent computer architect (actually a few), that is convinced of creationism and a 6000 year old planet. Somehow, this doesn’t impede him one bit (heh) in his job.

    Likewise, you don’t need to know about the big bang to know what chemical reactions do today.

    About the only place that it comes up is _maybe_ biotech, but how much of that is actually concerned with evolution (as it relates to the “controversy”).

    I don’t argue that LA kids are going to get a subpar education in some of the sciences, but I don’t see this infecting applied science in the same manner. Maybe that’s the engineer in me, but rockets still go up regardless of the age of the Earth.

    And I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight nonsense like this, but doomsaying is sorta the weapon of the other side.

  37. Wes
    I would wager that the ACLU and Americans United will start scouring Louisiana for test cases ASAP.

    The AU (I’ve been a member for years) is already looking:
    http://www.au.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=29321.0&dlv_id=18621&JServSessionIdr009=7yjk1yhef2.app1b

    J/P=?

  38. Joker

    Oh & to save folks the hassle of looking it up onWikipedia or whatever –

    Gallipoli too ended in a massive defeat and the evacuation of the surviving ANZAC (Australian, British & New Zealeand) troops. This is commmorated in Anzac day – a big event here in Oz. I was atdawn service this year -as in most years to honour those who gave their lives fighting for our countries – even though the war was insane.

    I usually like to end on a funny note … but the humour has faded away here. :-(

  39. Mark from Canada

    Quiet Desperation,
    “My sentiment is not unique.”
    Translation = A lot of people outside the US think the US is in big trouble. This means America is ‘perceived’ as losing it’s superpower status, which does have an impact. But what does the US care about PR? But maybe your right, PR doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s why most Fortune 500 companies tossed their PR depts. long ago (not) – what others think about you is irrelevant to your success on a global scale (not).

    US GPD is nothing ‘special':
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita

    Housing price ‘bubble’? Other countries, including Canada, don’t seem to be experiencing this, even though housing prices are also way up.
    “Canada is not going to see the same boom-bust cycle seen in the United States.”:
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080626/housing_boom_080626/20080626

    “Some experts argue that true inflation and unemployment – the components of the economy’s ‘Misery Index’ – are higher than the government’s official figures.”
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/05/13/news/economy/misery/index.htm?postversion=2008051410

    This US recession will be much longer.

    Comment on oil prices was about how Americans can’t even afford the rise in gas in their disposable income. It’s a big problem for the US. Gas stations in Canada aren’t demanding payment before pumping due to widespread gas looting.

    Your video link was funny – thanks for the good laugh. America keeps everyone else laughing, thanks again.

  40. Andy C

    To Quiet Desperation,

    > Our per capita GDP is $46,000. I think the only places that beat that
    > are aberrations…

    Based on the IMF figures of 2007, the US is 11th in the world for GDP, behind Luxembourg, Norway, Qatar, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, and just in front of the UK.

    > you think you’re seeing everything for the first time.

    It’s also worth noting on the history-repeating-itself front that world super powers also fall from that perch to be replaced by a new power (the key question is whether or not that super power has a hard or a soft landing); in this case China and India are the most obvious successors, but your current administration seems to be hard at work trying to push you down the list. Whilst you are quite right that the issues of economic growth and recession, housing booms and busts, etc, are all entirely routine, it does not follow that the US will still emerge from the troubles as the dominant economic power.

  41. Daffy

    It’s very simple: the people in charge of this country don’t want a well educated populace that thinks for themselves. Why would they?

  42. If it will do any good, I will gladly join a team that finds a
    really big set of saws and start cutting Louisiana loose
    from the rest of the USA, where they can drift off into
    the Atlantic and become their own little nation.

    We may have to do this with the rest of the South and
    possibly parts of the West.

    I feel I have to do this all too often but…

    It’s really not beneficial to any argument to make grand sweeping stereotypes of whole geographic areas.

    Where are you from? I guarantee there are morons there too. Yes we have our fair share in the south but the stereotype does not play across the board. Stereotypes of large groups of people because of their geographic location are the lazy way of making an argument or a joke. Being critical or joking about a belief is different. If a person hold that belief, they hold it. Just because my neighbor is a mouth breathing creationist who denies all of the advances of science does not mean that I am.

  43. RL

    Mark from Canada,

    One thing Americans have always had going for them (and still do) is the ability to take on their problems and fix them. This is true for all aspects of American life. And that will continue.

    People who forget that often live (or die but live just long enough) to regret that.

    And despite this decision or the current weakness of the dollar or whatever, I’m not yet inclined to hand over leadership to anyone else.

    And so I’ll end it here and take the high road instead of tearing into Canada. No sense insulting a whole country because of one person.

    To everyone else,

    Life is a struggle. That’s just how it is. This is just one more thing to overcome. Enough with the doomed stuff. Thats a load of bull. Get over the shock and get to work. Who is really surprised anyway.

  44. infidel

    Thanks Jason0x21 for making my point. Saying LA’s children are doomed to live in the dark ages because of this is ridiculous and is almost certainly counterproductive.

    The ID side has, rather successfully, painted their position as one of “fairness” or “equality” against an intolerable dogma. I don’t know if this plays more to the general sense of the American dream, or to our colonial or protestant heritages, but it’s a very effective political argument. To run around like chicken little shouting that we’re all doomed doomed DOOMED makes our side look childish if not downright stupid.

    And if you weigh this against the priorities of average parents I think you’ll find most people are more concerned about whether the school is crumbling around their children, or if their kids can even read when they finish school, nevermind if they understand the basics of evolution.

  45. infidel

    I meant “intolerant dogma”

  46. Peter

    As an employer, things like this definitely impact how much consideration one would provide candidates coming from this state.

  47. Chris B.

    That’s okay, Mark from Canada. If I had to live in a frozen, second-rate strip of land along the U.S. border, I’d be cranky, too.

    Canada was amusing once. But it’s turning into the insecure “good” sibling, the one that tries so hard to be perfect that no one likes it, sticking its tongue out behind your mom’s back after you’ve tattled on someone. Trouble is, (snicker) Canada, you’re just as human as we are. Canadian soldiers shot unarmed prisoners in WWII, and burned houses in Germany for sport toward the end of the war. When you went into Somalia with us in 1993, the highest profile human rights abuses were committed by… that’s right, Canadian soldiers. And since I don’t remember Indians giving up the provinces with a “Welcome to Canada” party, it’s safe to say you stole their land just as we did.

    Congratulations, Canada: You’re the new Eddie Haskel.

    And to my American brothers and sisters: On the topic of creationism run rampant, we’re stuck with these people. (I’ll go into why we’re stuck with them, mainly because Europe kicked them out and stuck us with the problem, but that’s a topic for another day.) Anyway, I’m personally calling out Phil P. and everyone else–stop poking fun/whining about the problem and *engage* these people. They’re Americans, too, which means they’re reasonable and given to compromise if they feel like they and their beliefs are being respected. As Mark from Canada has so ably demonstrated, the rest of the world hates us (and did long, long, LONG before Iraq, just because they can). Time for us to stick together and make this thing work again.

    Sheesh.

  48. Sir Eccles

    Thanks for the link # Dick Dawkinson 27 Jun 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Ok, so I quickly glanced at the bill. It does stress that it relates to “Scientific theories”. As ID and creationism are not scientific theories, we’re ok!

    The problem comes with the next line which stresses that the teacher will teach from the standard textbook. There could be all sorts of rubbish in there.

  49. @kingthorin
    Controversies can be true and false?

    yes.

    There are some true controversies, for example:

    1. Did life originate through some process here on earth, or was it seeded from space?

    2. Euthanasia – a good thing or a bad thing?

    3. Was it fair that Sanjaya progressed that far on Idol?

    True controversies have reasonable arguments on both sides and the balance of reason and evidence doesn’t lead to a solid conclusion.

    There are, however, false controversies. False controversies are lopsided – one side claims controversy, but cannot provide any substantial evidence that their counter-claim is even accurate, let alone superior to whatever they’re claiming is controvertible:

    1. Did man land on the moon? Yes, there is lots of evidence that we did, and no credible evidence that it has been a half-century long cover-up. Despite this, many people still believe the latter.

    2. Does evolution occur, or does God bleem things into existence the way they are? Again, there is no evidence of the latter, and literal mountains of evidence for the former. Supporters of the God hypothesis claim there is controversy, but that controversy exists only in their minds. In fact, except for their own bleating, they’ve never even produced evidence of a CONTROVERSY, let alone evidence that their view is even slightly accurate. So this one gets a meta-fail.

    3. Anything involving Nbiru, or planet X.

  50. Ad Hominid

    “Saying LA’s children are doomed to live in the dark ages because of this is ridiculous and is almost certainly counterproductive.”

    If all opponents of ID took the same tone, you would be right.

    As a practical matter, though, I think there is room (and need) for a variety of styles in how this is addressed.

    I can’t speak for the BA obviously but I suspect that he takes the tone he does because of his professional status and his position as a high-profile advocate. There must be no misunderstanding among the audience of just what the professional scientific community’s position is on this. He is also typically addressing an audience to whom geek jokes and South Park references are second nature. They get what he is doing with these seemingly harsh expressions.

    A politician or religious leader who opposed ID would probably want to take a different tone. Someone who addresses a more conservative and older audience, as I do, might want to be equally harsh but would probably use a different set of specific stylistic elements.

    Finally, I want to emphasize that I am addressing matters of style here rather than of substance.

  51. Oil prices are a global problem, so not sure what your point was there. Canada has magical elf oil that springs endlessly from daffodils? You don’t like the oil prices? Send someone to kill the speculators.

    Yes, and they’re from Alberta. Q_D, I love you and want to bear your children, but unfortunately cannot because I am the wrong gender.

    So… yes, Louisiana Democrats (yes, that’s the sound of me sniggering at ideologues) have passed an unConstitutional law.

    You people do realize that this just sets things up for a SuperDover 2.0 where Creationism gets smacked down even harder, no? Temporary setback that actually sets us up for another Big Win. Keep your heads in the game for that Big Win, stay on target, and we will prevail.

  52. Hank

    Beautifully written, thank you.

  53. Ingres

    I hate the idea of creationism being taught in schools. I’m Christian; I do believe in a divine creator, but my opinions on the subject come from scripture, not scientific observation. My opinions are based on faith not reason. Teaching creationism as if it is science is dumb. It lowers the idea of God to a theory, a stupid theory at that. It implies that the idea of a divine creation is testable, and perhaps falsifiable. At one time the idea that the Earth rotated around the Sun was thought to be inconsistent with Christianity. The Christian world was eventually able to get over it. Hopefully the same thing will happen today.

  54. Felix

    Sadly, it’ll again be the students who will suffer most, even if the implementation of the bill will be challenged where a teacher tries to teach religion instead of science. As previous cases have shown, secular-minded parents will have the choice of either placing their kids under immense constant peer pressure from creobots, or changing the school (often by moving the whole family and getting a new job if no adequate school can be found locally), or going for homeschooling if they can manage. In some schools, even rational and informed science teachers already avoid the topic of evolution as far as possible, because of creationist pressure from parents and even colleagues. They just can’t afford risking to lose their jobs on some flimsy pretense.
    I fear that as soon biology classes are under fundy control, they’ll push further to challenge geology, physics, astronomy, chemistry and history. For their ideology and mindset, it is sufficient to omit as many facts challenging their worldview as possible, simply by using their ‘supplemental materials’ to distort objectivity and deplete the time for proper education. Sunday schools and summer camps can then easily complete the indoctrination process without having religion being taught outright in schools. Sure, the bill states they’re supposed to still teach proper science, but who’s going to check on that where the creos already have effective dominance?
    Is it possible to organize a school examination program in the US where students submit the materials they receive to a scientifically informed commitee, or are they at the mercy of faculties and school boards?

  55. Ad Hominid,

    I suspose you found the “Go God Go” South Park episode funny?

  56. Ad Hominid

    Dick Dawkins

    “I suspose you found the “Go God Go” South Park episode funny?”

    Not especially, but I know people who did.

  57. At one time the idea that the Earth rotated around the Sun was thought to be inconsistent with Christianity. The Christian world was eventually able to get over it. Hopefully the same thing will happen today.

    Yes, it did, by being smart and getting out of the way. “Okay, so science is explaining how God’s universe works. Isn’t God’s universe so fascinating and intricate?” Ah, the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were so grand. Then the Fundamentalists had to show up and ruin it for everybody. :(

  58. Meeee

    Supposing that this bill does end up with creationism being taught in some schools (the wording of the bill implies that only ‘scientific theories’ can be taught, but followers of the whole evolution/creationism and science/fundie debates will note that fundies try to frame their arguments as scientific, i.e. Intelligent Design, and they’ll also note that most politicians don’t seem to know what “science” is…), how is it taught?

    I’ve always wondered this, and I’ve never actually found out (granted I didn’t look that hard). Considering that these bills often push for “equal treatment” of ID / Creationism alongside evolution, how can they be equally taught? Evolution has mounds of evidence, ID / Creationism comes down to “God did it”.

    I guess what I’m asking is how can you stretch out a lesson on creationism to fill an entire lesson period?

  59. HidariMak

    This might be a stupid question, but is it possible that the eventual demise of this bill won’t come from the grandness of science, but from the inconsistent absurdity of religion itself? Isn’t it possible for a highly religious, non-Christian teacher to start promoting their own belief as fact?

    Imagine if a few bible thumping parents see their childrens’ science texts including phrases like “as you all know, Allah created everything” or “life exists through the will of Jehovah”. Wouldn’t this bill make it harder for those parents to get such “ridiculous, intolerable” ideas out of the classrooms? Since I’m from outside of the US, I haven’t been following the details of this bill closely enough to know.

  60. Marc Blasi

    How / why do we allow this religious stupidity to continue?!?

  61. tamar

    If/when (sadly) this type of legislation comes to Texas, I can’t wait to teach Flying Spaghetti Monster theories of creationism.

    It’s only fair. :)

  62. Never Hunger
    Never Prosper
    I Have Fallen Prey to Failure
    Struggle Within
    Triggered Again
    Now the Candle Burns at Both Ends

    Yes, Louisiana has fallen prey to failure, but the candle is burning at both ends now. Both sides are going to feel it, the atheistic teachers on their anti-religion tirades will spark a lawsuit or the creationist teachers against evolution and for ID will spark a lawsuit.

    Let’s just hope the judge is as level-headed as judge Jones from the Dover case.

  63. CLM

    Here’s what I’m wondering. I know Louisiana isn’t exactly the most progressive of states, but how much did Bush’s inaction before, during and after Hurricane Katrina shook up the political make up of the state? Would Jindal have been elected if the New Orleans diaspora didn’t happen? Has it become that much easier for the religious fanatics to take over Louisiana state government?

  64. Mark from Canada

    RL – do you always think everyone hates you? Because I didn’t say people hate America. I said that a lot of people outside the US think the US is in big trouble. And in the one main area of possibility for America to keep it’s dominance, namely science and technology, America is now becoming second rate as well. As I believe jibjab once said, it seems you’ll all be sweeping aisle number 9 in Walmart soon. Even your auto industry, once touting global dominance, has fallen apart to international competition:
    GM shares end at 33-year low
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/26/news/companies/GM_stock/index.htm?postversion=2008062617

  65. Whats going on…. Its the new morality from Ben Bova’s books coming to like…. And get this, it looks like creationists in New Zealand are trying to get a bit of the action aswell. It has only just hit the news, coincidentaly at the same time as the bill is passed in Louisiana, that a group are sending ID material to schools saying that ity should be taught as an alternative to Evolution… There is no alternative. Damn them all.

  66. Mark from Canada

    Chris B. – my last post was actually for you.
    RL – sorry, my last post was actually for Chris B.

  67. Mark From Canada: Chill out a bit. No need to get so hostile. I understand that Canada Day is coming up, and alot of people up here like to wave Canadian flags and pat each ourselves on the back with how progressive we like to think we are, but sheesh.

    Your posts are one step away from those mindless facebook groups titled “USA SUCKS! CANADA ROX!”

    You’re embarassing us.

  68. And Chris B, no need to bad mouth Canada….just badmouth ‘Mark From Canada’ for taking cheap pot-shots in the first place.

    I take gross exception to the Eddie Haskel comment.

    If anything, Eddie Haskel was the new Canada. HE takes after US.

    We’re more like Scrappy-doo these days. Or Daniel Baldwin.

  69. Nice one Phil – keep up the good work.

    Check here for us Kiwi’s having to contend with creationist whackjobs trying the same crap here too.

    http://realitydysfunction.blogspot.com/2008/06/new-zealand-not-epically-doomed-unlike.html

    And the original article on Stuff

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4599856a7694.html

  70. t-1000

    QUICK, CALL THE RICHARD DAWKINS EMERGENCY HOTLINE!

  71. TSFrost

    Oddly enough, there’s currently a growing movement here in LA. for a recall election for Jindal. Sadly, the outrage is only because he will not veto a bill to fully double the salaries of our legislature. This creation in the classroom thing has gone by unnoticed by the general public. Still, there is the slim chance Jindal will be recalled.

  72. Quiet Desperation

    Mark From Canada: But maybe your right, PR doesn’t matter.

    Not what I said.

    Mark From Canada: Other countries, including Canada, don’t seem to be experiencing this

    OK. So? Real estate cycles are generally localized phenomena.

    Mark From Canada: …are higher than the government’s official figures.

    I guess the government keeps the *REAL* figures at Area 51 with the UFOs. Seriously, you can find an expert to say anything. I’ve served on juries before.

    Mark From Canada:This US recession will be much longer.

    If you say so. What are your macroeconomics credentials, exactly?

    Mark From Canada: Comment on oil prices was about how Americans can’t even afford the rise in gas in their disposable income.It’s a big problem for the US.

    It’s really not that bad. My work day commutes have been much better. People are discovering public transportation, biking and walking again. You need to look for the silver lining sometimes and not just spew hate and gloom.

    Mark From Canada: Gas stations in Canada aren’t demanding payment before pumping due to widespread gas looting.

    Well, nice to see you superior Canadians are handling it so much better. (eye roll)

    Andy C: Based on the IMF figures of 2007, the US is 11th in the world for GDP, behind Luxembourg, Norway, Qatar, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, and just in front of the UK.

    OK. Still seems fine to me.

    The Centipede: Yes, and they’re from Alberta. Q_D, I love you and want to bear your children, but unfortunately cannot because I am the wrong gender.

    Forget me. I’m a lone wolf- a rebel even amongst atheistic skeptics. You are an insect with dozens of creepy little legs. It would never work.

  73. Quiet Desperation, et. al.: please don’t let ‘Mark from Canada’ get to you. Just ignore him….we don’t all talk as aggresively as he does….except to each other. He just took a cheap shot and tried to act like Rick Mercer (sort of the Canadian Jon Stewart, but more of a sell-out to the political powers-that-be).

    There are lots of us up here that still realize there are issues that threaten us both, and both our governments are failing to fight.

    Anyway, its a-storming out here, and the power is about to go off.

    SHAZAM!

  74. quasidog

    @Ingres. I think many people share a similar view.

  75. sci_tchr

    On another news site they actually called this the “Science Education Act”! Unbelievable!

  76. Joker

    sci_tchr on 28 Jun 2008 at 6:40 am :

    “On another news site they actually called this the “Science Education Act”! Unbelievable!”

    Not really .. its actually quite appropriate :

    You see the Creationists & their pandering pollys are

    * Acting* like they understand something about Science & Education – when, of course, they really haven’t a clue! ;-)

  77. @CLM–

    Jindal’s religious fanatcism isn’t what got him elected (in fact, it was not well publicized); his election had more to do with 1. his promises with regards to reform a state known for its pernicious corruption, 2. disgust and dismay with the previous administration of BLanco, and 3. no real viable opponents.

    New Orleans diaspora had nothing to do with it.
    Fanaticism had nothing to do with it.
    Bush had nothing to do with it. (You seem unaware just how inept the local and state response was–it wasn’t just Bush).

    Our state is a lot more complex than everyone realizes. Get a clue.

  78. BMcP

    Laying it all on Bobby Jindahl just excuses the Democratic controlled legislature who created and passed this bill in the first place, don’t forget them, Jindahl is just the executive, he doesn’t create the laws.

  79. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, gasp, Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… etc

    Louisiana = Laughing Stock

    On behaf of the rest of the world, I’d just like to say…

    We’re laughing AT you, not WITH you.

  80. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Controversies can be true and false?

    Yes. A true controversy would be if string theory is correct (because it isn’t validated), a false controversy would be if evolution theory is correct (because it is plenty validated).

    Evolution has been an observational fact for over 200 years, and we have a validated theory since over 150 years. So there isn’t any scientific controversy over neither the existence of the fact nor the working of the theory.

    Oh, and don’t let the fact that it was ~ 50 years between the discovery of the fact and the invention of the first theory predicting it confuse you. There wasn’t much of biological theoretical science before evolution, and it took 30 years for QM between being a mere fact and becoming a solid theory, string theory is about that old, et cetera.

    How many high tech companies are based on the fact that evolution is right and creationism is wrong?

    That would be high tech medicine companies, antibiotic companies, cancer diagnosis and treatment companies, and those companies that makes specialized biological equipment such as gene sequencing.

    More to the point, the indirect problems of rejecting science and best education is the direct deciding factor here.

    Likewise, you don’t need to know about the big bang to know what chemical reactions do today.

    Correct. Neither do you need to know biology or astronomy to know chemistry. What is your point? That evolution isn’t just chemistry? Any biologist can tell you that; that is the whole point of biology.

    Or that a scientific theory isn’t important for the rest of science? Sorry, science is an interconnected phenomena. The existence of a theory (or, unluckily, the existence of anti-scientific movements) supports (or detracts) from the phenomena that is science.

  81. Quiet Desperation

    Quiet Desperation, et. al.: please don’t let ‘Mark from Canada’ get to you.

    Good Lord, I’m far too apathetic at this point in my life for anyone to actually get to me. :-) I just enjoy delivering the occasional smackdown to break up the boredom that is Western, upper-middle class life.

  82. Quiet Desperation

    How many high tech companies are based on the fact that evolution is right

    In addition to what Larsson said, genetic algorithms are being used more and more. I think they are starting to be used a bit in compilers for FPGA and ASIC code. I’ve tried applying them to satcom error correction coding, albeit not with much success yet.

    Plate tectonics?

    Sellers of Earthquake insurance? ;-) Civiil engineering outfits that specialize in seismic building and retrofitting. Sorry. I’m a Southern Californian.

    How about really, really ,really long term civic planners?

    Age of the Earth?

    Oil companies. Mining companies.

    Heliocentricism?

    Satellite communications. That’s *my* industry, baby! :-) One of the coolest in the world.

  83. Digg this: Stephanie Grace of the TimesPic calls out Gov Bobby Jindal on his obfuscation:

    My submission on Digg.com

  84. Grump

    Remember, the question is not whether or not Creationism makes a difference in everyday life.

    It goes wayyyy beyond that. The Wedge Document clearly states that the goal of the fundies is to use ID/Cretinism as a “wedge” to “restore” God’s control of the country, and “free” the country from the evil grip of Science!

    (Did I just mis-spell “Creationism”? My bad. I don’t have a backspace key, so it will have to stay.)

    And to any lurkers who actually think that having God rule your country is a good thing: Remember that God isn’t too talkative these days. Seems you have to rely on some elevated Humans to bring his commands to you. Of course, there’s no way that any of these humans would be as fallible as, well, humans.

    For example, none of them would ever use Church money to fund an extravagant personal lifestyle. Or preach damnation to gays on Sunday, and then spend Monday to Saturday admiring a male hooker’s butt while being stratospherically high on crystal meth.

    No, never. You can always rely on their interpretation of the Bible to be true to God and free of bias or self-interest.

  85. Forget me. I’m a lone wolf- a rebel even amongst atheistic skeptics. You are an insect with dozens of creepy little legs. It would never work.

    :(

    No matter how true… the only response that’s true to my heart is ” :( .”

    Nevertheless, my creepy myriapodal love will never die!

  86. I, for one, welcome our new ignorant uneducated Louisianan overlords.

  87. Ex-Louisiana science teacher

    I am one of the many who have fled Louisiana in the past 25 years (I’ve been gone for about 10 now) and every chance I get I encourage my family members who are still there to do the same. It has become worse than ridiculous there. It has always been a bass-ackward state and sadly it seems as if it always will be. I left because of crooked politicians pushing their own agendas and a stagnant economy there. There was simply no room to grow.

    Another interesting fact about LA schools: all the teachers have to teach the same thing. So if you walk into a classroom in New Orleans the Science teacher must be teaching the same thing as teachers in Lafayette. They stupidly believe that this will raise their plummeting test scores. That type of teaching NEVER WORKS.

    When my sister [who is earning a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from a university in Louisiana…no kidding – they actually DO teach evolution there:)] first told me about this new law, I thought she was joking. Feel sorry for the people of that poor state. I do. And I am just as glad I got out when I did.

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