Science Under Siege in Texas

by

OK, we’ve had a little time to digest all that went on today at the Texas State Board of Education. Without going through each of the many amendments that passed, here’s essentially what happened. This morning the board slammed the door on bringing creationism into classrooms through phony “weaknesses” arguments. But then board members turned around and threw open all the windows to pseudoscientific nonsense attacking core concepts like common descent and natural selection.

The amendments approved today are very problematic, regardless of the important victory over “strengths and weaknesses.” We anticipate that all 15 board members will be participating tomorrow, however, including a pro-science member who was absent today. So there is still time to reverse course.

Tomorrow, with the final vote, the board has a serious decision to make: is the science education of the next generation of Texas schoolchildren going to be based on fact-based, 21st-century science or on the personal beliefs of board members promoting phony arguments and pseudoscience?

You can still weigh in by sending e-mails to board members at sboeteks@tea.state.tx.us. Texas Education Agency staff will distribute e-mails to board members.

About these ads

38 Responses to “Science Under Siege in Texas”

  1. James F Says:

    The amendments are plainly unconstitutional in that 1) they have no secular justification and 2) they advance a specific religious dogma. They fail the Lemon test and the endorsement test. Evolution was deliberately singled out for criticism using non-scientific arguments. On top of promoting academic fraud, this is an Establishment Clause violation and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  2. ScienceMinded Says:

    Let the science education of the next generation of Texas school children be based on real science, not the phony garbage advocated by TFN and it’s followers. TFN is so far from mainstream. Their agenda is not good for kids of Texas or any kids for that matter.

    Now ask yourselves, would you want your kids to be taught the recognized strengths and weaknesses of ALL theories presented in public-school classrooms? TFN doesn’t think so. TFN doesn’t even think theories have weaknesses. That’s because they never practice science!!

    Would you want your kids to be allowed to openly question and confront anyone’s theory? That’s the American way. That is exactly what spurred the innovative growth of technology in the United States for over 100 years. Well, TFN doesn’t support that either. TFN doesn’t like the idea of someone challenging a theory, especially if it is about evolution — the only theory they care about at TFN! TFN wants our kids to blindly accept whats forced down their throats in the school room.

    True scientists would never support the TFN agenda. Our State, our Nation needs people that can think outside the box. We need people who understand that weaknesses abound in theories and know what the impacts of those weaknesses are. We need people with innovative, creative scientific thought processes that can develop new and better ideas and theories. Wouldn’t it be nice if Texas could serve as a model to the rest of our great Nation for leading science, leading us, through the next century? Well, that won’t happen if the TFN agenda moves forward. It is time to stand up for our kids, our State, our Nation!!

    It’s time to take a stand Texas citizens. Advocate that both recognized strengths and weaknesses be taught about ALL theories presented in public school rooms! Advocate that students be allowed to openly question and discuss any perceived weakness of any theory! Advocate the development of creativity and innovation in our school children.

  3. Ames Says:

    @ James: yeah, it’s actually closer than that unfortunately. The only ruling that’s ever held that singling out evolution for criticism = religion was Selma v. Cobb County, and that’s no longer authoritative anywhere (it was vacated as moot). And no-one has ever held that the only legitimate criticism of abiogenesis is creationism. That may be scientifically accurate, but it’d be hard to get through court.

  4. Strengths and weaknesses fails « Off the Kuff Says:

    […] The TFN summarizes: OK, we’ve had a little time to digest all that went on today at the Texas State […]

  5. Chris K Says:

    ScienceMinded, please stop being so transparent at pushing trying to push your religious agenda on other people. You’re only embarrassing yourself. I don’t care how much science you actually know… it doesn’t give you the right to force your religion on other people. Everyone is free to choose that for themselves, including you.

  6. Coragyps Says:

    What are yor blathering about, SM? Can you give me even a shadow of a lead to some of those “different estimates of the age of the universe” that Ms Cargill wants taught in science class?

    And what does “recognized strengths and weaknesses” mean? Who’s doing the recognizing? You? Dr McLeroy, Ms Leo, or Ms Cargill? Are we going to tell seventh-graders all about General Relativity, because we know that Newton can’t explain Mercury’s orbit, let alone the orbits of pulsars? Are we going to teach juniors all the exceptions to “expected” chemical reactions that I never learned about until grad school?

    You’re preaching, SM. Not debating.

  7. Lou FCD Says:

    I don’t think anyone here is impressed with the cheap tuxedo, the overcoat, or the disingenuous pseudonym, SM.

  8. jdg Says:

    ScienceIgnoramus thinks he knows more than all the scientists who advocated removing the pseudoscience! Are you Phillip Johnson?? Larry F.? Head back into the sand!!

  9. Ben Says:

    More drivel from ScienceBlinded, who knows he is lying but continues anyway.

  10. Charles Says:

    ScienceMinded forgot to say one other thing, so I will say it for him:

    You parents out there can keep on going to your own church if you like, but from now on, your teenager will be attending her science teacher’s church. And that is right because your church is really bad. God does not like you. In fact, he probably hates you because of your apostasy. But never fear, when we get our information into your child’s head, she will lead you to true salvation and a life based on “right doctrine.”

    But I and TFN say: God loves you and your child. If you are smart, you will save your child from the giant bean pods before it is too late.

  11. Summer Seale Says:

    “ScienceMinded Says:
    March 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    It’s time to take a stand Texas citizens. Advocate that both recognized strengths and weaknesses be taught about ALL theories presented in public school rooms! Advocate that students be allowed to openly question and discuss any perceived weakness of any theory! Advocate the development of creativity and innovation in our school children.”

    I agree! Let’s teach ALL theories! This includes Astrology, which has been MALIGNED by the Scientific establishment! For too long, our children have been staring down cold tubes into the outer heavens and taught gibberish with math and science! And it also includes ALL the weaknesses about medicine! Let’s start teaching about crystal magic! We all know that when people are sick, crystal magic is REALLY the answer! And we also need to teach about the lie that the earth is round! EVERYONE knows they aren’t falling off of the earth, so what gives?? That’s a major flaw in science! And we need to remember to be open minded enough to teach about witchcraft as well! Remember – we need to teach everything! That includes how the earth was created by a Mother Goddess and how SHE will embrace us all with Her love and how magical rituals bring us closer to Her!

    And let us not forget to teach Oracle magic as well! It is time that we recognize that the ancient bronze-age people knew FAR more than our scientists do today! And may I even suggest that we are open minded enough to discuss demon worship in the classroom as well, and exorcism! We all know that REAL medicine involves exorcisms, and how are our children going to protect themselves against demons if they never learn about them in the real world?? And I say, it’s high time we bring back the inquisition! We need to weed out these evil people who are training our children that we are nothing more than a set of genes! These people are HERETICS! And we all know what we do with HERETICS, don’t we?

    And Physics? Well where would we be without teaching our children about the FOUR elements of earth, air, fire, and water? After all, “those Physics people” can’t even tell us everything about the universe yet! And let’s teach everyone about leeching, because humors need it in our bodies! And Alchemy too! Who are these chemists who make plastics and stuff nobody understands??

    Yes, it’s time to stand up for ALL theories and let our children decide instead of the history of progress! People two thousand years ago knew FAR more than we do today! They were GENIUSES compared to some on that school board! I bet they even would have known how to make cars and the internet if SCIENTISTS hadn’t stopped them with their EVIL agenda!

    Idiot.

  12. Geoff Says:

    Re: ScienceMinded

    When you say: “Would you want your kids to be allowed to openly question and confront anyone’s theory? That’s the American way. That is exactly what spurred the innovative growth of technology in the United States for over 100 years.” You are right. But you are missing a key component. When you argue, you must argue using evidence, and then you must be willing to follow where the evidence leads. TFN is trying to protect Texas students from the introduction of ideas that were debunked long, long ago.

    Kids are always free to bring up questions and debate, and they have been (oh how I know that, having been a high school science teacher in Texas!). That is an integral part of a science education. Some of the issues here are:

    1) Telling science teachers to plan time teaching things that have no basis in observation. If a kid asks questions about a topic, the teacher should answer them. That’s good pedagogy. But being told that goddidit must be taught as a valid alternative to evolution is not. “The light turns on because of fairies,” is not as valid an explanation as “Electricity flows through the completed circuit. When the electrons collide with the mercury atoms, the mercury atom’s electrons are excited to higher energy levels. When they drop back down, they release photons – light.” Yes, fairies are simpler. But they’re not correct. (and I know, some people will be upset that I’m implicity comparing religion to fairies. But we’re in a bind here… how do you come up with an example on par with what McLeroy Inc. is trying to do that everyone will recognize as being ridiculous?)

    2) These changes try to raise doubts where there are none, or where the real nuance is well beyond the scope of a high school science class. For example, this “discuss different estimates of the age of the universe” bit that was introduced today… there is no rationale estimate, based on observations of nature, that is less than 10 billion years. None. Sure, there is debate between cosmological models, but those debates are really only comprehensible to advanced undergrads at least (this is NOT an intelligence argument, it’s just a matter of the specialized math and physics training – anyone can get there, if they devote several years to it), and they’re arguing over “is it 13.5 or 14 billion years?”, not the 6000 that these people want taught. Teaching kids that the earth is 6000 years old requires lying about almost everything we know… for example: you have to toss out nuclear physics (we would have to be so incredibly wrong about radioactive decay, that every working nuclear reactor, bomb, and dose of radionuclides produced in a hospital is a miracle. And that makes for very poor theology: you then are either stuck teaching kids that God is incompetent and can’t make things work without constant miracles, or that he’s a liar, and made the universe with the illusion of great age.), you have to toss out really basic biology (like tree ring and coral sequences), most of astronomy goes out the window (for example, we would see no other galaxies, as the light would still be traveling to us), geology (for one tiny example, formation of sedimentary rocks, never mind all that oil we so love. And if you really want to discuss flaws in theories, the energy required to hydrodynamcally carve the Grand Canyon from recently deposited sedimentary rock would have also melted the rock, leading to it being a Grand Canyon of metamorphic rock), etc. etc. etc. I could go on all day with this example if I didn’t have to get back to researching my 5 million year old circumstellar disks.

    Look, being open minded is good. But you must follow the evidence where it leads, and be prepared to discard ideas that are not supported by the evidence. And the evidence emphatically does not lead to a 6000 year old earth where everything was magically created. There is too much evidence that directly conflicts with that idea – religious scientists in the early 1800s saw that. Teachers don’t even have enough time to teach all the observations that support the key theories of science, much less address every alternative and why those alternatives have been discarded. And it’s wrong for teachers to teach religiously driven alternatives, both constitutionally (the implicit endorsement of religion by an employee of the state, who must remain religion neutral) and pedagogically (the kids would get very confused by hearing about the world-origin theories of all ~5000 extant religions. And then add in teaching them the world origin theories of any single faith as it has changed over time! Oi!).

    We must base our views of the world on evidence. You want your doctor to treat your illness based on evidence based medicine. You want your plumber to fix your pipes based on observation. We want other people to base their decisions about how to interact with the world on how the world operates. In order for them to do that, they need to understand how the world operates. That’s why we have schools that teach science. It’s our best understanding of how the world operates, even if we don’t like it. Nature didn’t ask us for our opinions. (Man, how I wish that faster-than-light travel were possible! But, unfortunately, there’s no evidence for it, so I can’t teach it in a science class.)

    OK, back to unraveling the mysteries of the universe. I’m INCREDIBLY glad that my science teachers as I grew up in West Texas knew their science, and were willing and able to teach it. I think I went through a phase when I would have liked the simple answers, and hearing and accepting them (no need to do any radionuclide dating of those meteorite fragments… we already KNOW that the world is 6000 years old…) would have prevented me from wrestling and clawing more knowledge and skills into my head. Now, I have the opportunity to be on the cutting edge. It saddens me to think that some kids will be tricked into willfully avoiding the beauty of the universe.

  13. Horace D. Says:

    The problem with your bs, “ScienceMinded”, is that the children who are being taught evolution, and the other theories that you claim have “weaknesses”, are not at a high enough level where they can seriously debate the merits and issues of evolution, gravity, natural selection, etc. While it is true that open debate about scientific theories is important in science, it is also true that tons of evidence, 150 years of it, in fact, support evolution, and in science evidence always win. You can argue using pseudo-mathematical “logic”, circular reasoning, 2000 year-old books, and claims that have been refuted countless times before, but none of that matters if the evidence disagrees with your statements.

    Expecting someone to honestly criticize and debate something they don’t understand, such as with your insistence with having K-12 students “consider” the “weaknesses” of evolution, is absolutely ridiculous. It would be like absurdly expecting your medical doctor to examine the “weaknesses” of Quantum Mechanics, or having a group of children discuss the limitations of Calculus and Abstract Algebra. What children should be taught is the scientific method and its importance, and of the current body of scientific knowledge that they can understand at their levels. They should also be taught why evolution is so widely accepted. It is time for scientists to stand up and tell America’s ignorant citizens, many of which are also parents, that enough is enough: leave the science to the scientists, and leave the science education standards to the qualified science teachers.

    I admit that I am not qualified enough to truly understand evolution, but I am capable enough to understand the basic premises of evolution, and trusting enough to trust the scientists all over the world to accept the evidence, regardless of where it may lead them, and explain the intricate and complex beauty of the universe. And, just as scientists must take whatever the evidence says, we, the simple, common people, must accept their findings, regardless of how much our “common sense” rebels against them, because, to quote Haldane, “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

    Of course, these are just the biased opinions of an 18-year old atheist who has yet to graduate from high school.

  14. Geoff Says:

    I left out a few words:

    “And if you really want to discuss flaws in theories, the energy required to hydrodynamcally carve the Grand Canyon — in a few days (or months) — from recently deposited sedimentary rock would have also melted the rock, leading to it being a Grand Canyon of metamorphic rock”

    Preview button?

  15. AM Says:

    Canadian here… keep fighting the good fight, Texas. It can’t be pleasant or easy to have these people on your very doorstep… oh look, there’s one now!

    “Now ask yourselves, would you want your kids to be taught the recognized strengths and weaknesses of ALL theories presented in public-school classrooms? TFN doesn’t think so.”

    Yeaaaaaah. Another devious liar who KNOWS a “theory” isn’t just some idea that scientists came up with one night at the pub, but will happily bear false witness in an attempt to feel pious. If there’s a God, he SEES you lying. Creationism is a faulty *hypothesis*, which consistently fails to correspond to the visible facts… not a “theory”.

  16. Charles Says:

    I grew up in North America, but I have always wondered something. If I were to go to visit in Antarctica, wouldn’t the blood all flow to my head because I would be upside down? And…and…wouldn’t they like have to nail my feet into the ice so I don’t fall off?

  17. ScienceMinded Says:

    To Chris K.: Note Chris, I’m not the one talking religion on TFN. The TFNers, like you, seem to cover that topic just fine.

    To CoraGyps: I believe standards are already in place but that possibly new standards should be developed for categorizing both strengths and weaknesses, along with their impacts. I believe we should be honest with our kids about weaknesses that exist in theories. The level of explanation provided, on both the theory and the weaknesses of the theory, should be age and education-level appropriate. But, you don’t need to have a whole lot of education to know that weaknesses exist. Did you ever see those Pokemon cards that kids loved to play with and trade several years ago now. Well each card had a brief summary of the character, along with summaries of both their individual strengths and weaknesses. I believe there were even scores for strengths and scores for weaknesses. Maybe we could have a card like that for each theory presented in the classroom.

    To Jdg: It’s pretty obvious TFN and TFNers don’t support mainstream science or scientific processes or appropriate science education. And, I’m not any of those people you have referred to.

    To Ben: There are lots of people here that are both paranoid about the religious right and have trouble recognizing the truth. I’m just not one of them. Show me one lie you claim I have been pushing. Yours TRULY, SM

    To Charles: Give up the false prophecy you so eagerly push.

    To Summer Seale: I don’t agree that ALL theories should be taught/presented in the classroom. I believe that both the recognized strengths and weaknesses should be taught about ALL theories that are presented in the classroom. Idiot.

    To Geoff: I agree and believe you must support your theories with evidence. I also prefer a nice mathematical framework — like Probability Theory. I know that is more difficult to accomplish in the soft sciences. I think TFN is more paranoid than anything else. If you, or TFN, were confident in your theory and your evidence, you would be a staunch advocate of teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of ALL theories presented in the public school rooms. You would be a staunch advocate of encouraging students to openly question all theories and all evidence. And no one is telling you to teach religion in the science class. Theories on religion can be discussed, analyzed, and evaluated in a religion class. Only TFN is trying to make you believe that. I don’t advocate teaching beyond a students education level either. You would be doing your students and this country a great service if you encourage open questioning of all theories and all evidence and foster creative, innovative scientific-thought processes in our kids. I agree with your points on evidence. Especially to be prepared to discard ideas that are not supported by the evidence. I don’t advocate simple answers Geoff. As an engineer, I like to believe in a technique called “the right way.” I know that’s not always easy and not always possible and that sometimes we have to compromise. I want kids to understand both the beauty and complexity of the Universe and that we really know very little about it — we still have a lot to learn. To think otherwise is foolish and arrogant.

    To Horace D: I believe we need to keep things education-level appropriate. I also believe you should not put all your trust in scientists — especially many here at TFN who claim to be scientists. I believe standards need to be adopted to help guide our science curriculum at each age level.

    To AM: Talk science. Give up on trying to use religion to bolster your beliefs. Point out one lie if you can!

    Yours TRULY, Science Minded

  18. Sally Says:

    To any first-time visitors who have come here in a sincere effort to gather information:

    Before you go much further, you should know something about the commenter going by “ScienceMinded.” He uses nothing but dishonesty to further his creationist agenda. Rather than engage in a legitimate discussion, he simply repeats lies over and over.

    He professes to be interested in science, but if you’ll read his comments, you’ll find that the integrity of science is dead last on his list of priorities. It’s easy to recognize his ulterior motives. He refuses to answer questions, or he answers them using talking points straight from the creationist toolbox.

    He repeatedly claims that there are weaknesses in the theory of evolution, but he can’t name any. He’ll say that gaps in the theory are weaknesses. Well, sorry, but gaps aren’t weaknesses, nor do they cast any doubt on the theory itself. When you think logically, would you expect no gaps in the theory? For one thing, to eliminate every last gap, we would have to find fossils of every animal that ever lived. That simply isn’t feasible. Of course, even if we could, that still wouldn’t be enough for ScienceMinded, because if the evidence doesn’t agree with Genesis, he thinks it simply can’t be true.

    The theory of evolution is supported by a veritable mountain of evidence. But even if ScienceMinded sat down for several days with the leading evolutionary biologists in the world and listened to what they had to say, he still wouldn’t buy it. Does that sound like someone who truly cares about science?

    Creationists commonly say that evolution is “just a theory.” ScienceMinded uses this little ploy himself. He repeatedly says that all theories should be presented, but he doesn’t understand how the word “theory” is used in a scientific context, which is quite different than the way non-scientists use it. ScienceMinded claims that creationism is a theory, but it simply isn’t. It’s a hypothesis with no evidence to support it. More information on the word “theory” can be found here:

    http://teachthemscience.org/scientifictheory

    Creationists uses all sorts of dishonest tactics in an attempt to further their cause, and ScienceMinded appears to be on a mission to use every last one of those tactics. Virtually every other commenter on this blog is prepared to engage in honest, sincere, open-minded discussion—except for ScienceMinded.

    Of course, he will stamp his feet and deny all of this. He’ll use a bunch of exclamation points and capital letters and whine that we’re all a bunch of narrow-minded censors. You’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s true. Most of the people here—including many Christians—simply want to keep supernaturalism out of the science classroom. They only want real science taught in the classroom. They also believe that the science curriculum should be formulated by actual scientists, not by creationist members of the school board.

    ScienceMinded, on the other hand, is willing to toss real science aside in order to introduce supernaturalism. He’ll lie to do it, and he’ll attempt to cast doubt on the theory of evolution in any way he can. That’s his only goal. That’s why he’s here, plaguing this board, taunting people. He wants you to read his comments and think, “Hmm, that sounds reasonable.” Don’t fall for it.

  19. Larry Fafarman Says:

    On the one hand, the Darwinists say that students are too dumb to understand discussions of weaknesses (or “criticisms,” my preferred term) of evolution. On the other hand, the Darwinists say that students are smart enough to have the sole responsibility of bringing up weaknesses of evolution and that textbooks and teachers should not bring up weaknesses of evolution. Please. Give me a break.

    Also, my own experience in studying coevolution shows that it often takes time to develop ideas about weaknesses of evolution, and an immediate response to a student’s out-of-the-blue question about a weakness of evolution may be inadequate. My initial description of the problem of coevolution was very simple — I asked myself, “what if a bee and a flower both suddenly appeared at different times and/or places, with the result that they would never meet?” Over a long period of time, my ideas about coevolution developed as I did more thinking and learned about buzz pollination, orchids’ mimicry of female wasps’ sex pheromones, extremely complex parasitic relationships, etc.. For example, Carl Zimmer used the term “reverse engineering” to describe the adaptation of some parasites to their hosts:

    http://scienceblogs.com/loom/2006/02/02/the_wisdom_of_parasites.php

    My ideas about coevolution are summarized at —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2009/01/summary-of-thoughts-about-co-evolution.html

    As I have said many times, teaching criticisms of evolution — even pseudoscientific criticisms — serves the following purposes: broadening students’ education, encouraging critical thinking, helping students learn the material, preventing and correcting misconceptions, and helping to assure that technically sophisticated criticisms of evolution are taught only by qualified science teachers and not by unqualified parents or unqualified Sunday School or social studies teachers.

  20. Ben Says:

    What ScienceMinded says, versus what he means…….

    Says: “I believe we should be honest with our kids about weaknesses that exist in theories.”
    Means: “I want to make stuff up to further my creationist agenda.”

    Says: “True scientists would never support the TFN agenda.”
    Means: “Almost all scientists support the TFN agenda, and it scares me.”

    Says: “Our State, our Nation needs people that can think outside the box.”
    Means: “I wish there were more nutjobs like me.”

    Says: “Advocate the development of creativity and innovation in our school children.”
    Means: “Teach them the King James bible.”

    Says: “But, you don’t need to have a whole lot of education to know that weaknesses exist.”
    Means: “I will remain willfully ignorant until the day I die.”

    Says: “Show me one lie you claim I have been pushing.”
    Means: “I will counter by creating my own alternate reality full of lies.”

    Says: “I think TFN is more paranoid than anything else.”
    Means: “I am really get desperate so I project my feeling onto others.”

    Says: “I also believe you should not put all your trust in scientists”
    Means: “I don’t trust any of them, unless they are fellow wingnuts.”

    Says: “I’m not the one talking religion on TFN.”
    Means: “Because to talk religion would reveal my true motives.”

    Says: “Yours TRULY, Science Minded”
    Means: “@!$%#!$ all of you for not buying into creationism. I would feel much better if everyone in the world was as delusional as I am.”

  21. ScienceMinded Says:

    To Sally: I invite all the first-time TFNers to look closely at who has trouble recognizing the truth. For one, I’ve made no claims about my religion. I’ve not in any way used my religious beliefs to promote that teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of ALL theories presented in public classrooms is the right thing to do! The tactics of the TFNers are to try to divert the topic of discussion from science to religion — because they know they can’t win the science argument. It also demonstrates a real lack of confidence in their entire belief/theory!!! Please Sally, point out even one lie that you so vehemently claim I have pushed on you TFNers. The only people tossing science aside are you TFN advocates. You should all be ashamed. You should be the ones advocating for critical thought, questioning of all theories and all evidence, thinking outside the box, creativity, and innovation. It’s what our country desperately needs right now.

    To Larry: I agree with your last points. I admire your courage and passion to push new theories.

    Yours TRULY, ScienceMinded

  22. Ben Says:

    Ah, rats. Did somebody go and wake Larry up?

  23. Steven Schafersman Says:

    SimpleMinded said: “True scientists would never support the TFN agenda.” Then I guess there are no true scientists at UT Austin, since everyone in the Biology Departments support the TFN (and TCS and NCSE and AAAS and NAS) agenda. You should see the over 60 state and national science associations that support our agenda. I have posted five of the statements on the TCS website at texscience.org. NCSE will eventually post all of them, and they may be up now.

    SimpleMinded is a Creationist and evolution blog troll who is doing an excellent job of being an agent provocateur. He is getting some of the excellent members on this blog all tied up in a frenzy. SimpleMinded is what Larry Fafarman dreams of being: a goading sophist with smart, witty, and elegant ripostes, not the dull, predictable, and unintentionally hilarious rhetoric of Larry Farma (who I was told by Chris Comer tonight is now referring to himself as El Farfa!). I had a problem with El Barfa that was mutually resolved when, for some reason, he began leaving my blog and me alone. Oh, that’s right, he was banned. That seems to be his universal fate.

    I have enjoyed the continuing dialogue between SimpleMinded and the other denizens of this blog, some of whom, like Charles, Geoff, and Ben, are really good guys who know stuff and whom I would hope would visit my blog someday. SimpleMinded really knows how to get someone’s goat, though. I acknowledge he has that one real skill. He writes back and answers everyone, making sure he will get the last word. He can outlast anyone. Imagine him saying he will get more research money because other scientists won’t address weaknesses! That’s really a good line that works well with granting agencies, SM. Just keep using it and soon you will be rich at taxpayers’ expense.

    Oh, BTW, SM, scientific theories have no weaknesses. They are composed only of reliable knowledge (tested and corroborated hypotheses), so how can theories contain weaknesses? Scientific theories are incomplete, of course, but I don’t consider incompleteness or gaps in knowledge to be weaknesses. Rather, they are strengths because they give scientists a reason to keep doing what they do–working to discover more knowledge. Hypotheses have weaknesses, of course, so maybe SimpleMinded is confusing scientific theories with scientific hypotheses. Since he often appears confused in these pages, I’m sure that’s what happened.

  24. Biokid Says:

    You go Texas. Don’t let Louisiana be the dumbest state in the union for passing our creationist academic freedom law. We’re tired of being at the bottom of every list. Lets all join the march backwards to the 12th century. Well, back to LA LA land. It’s not just Calif. anymore.

  25. Ben Says:

    Says: “I admire your courage and passion to push new theories.”
    Means: “Once again, I’ve shown that I have no clue about the definition of ‘theory’ in a scientific context.”

  26. cocomunchkin Says:

    ScienceMinded is onto something here… we should examine strengths and weaknesses rigourously… do they teach religion in schools there? A bit of comparative religion would be good for the students, including teaching the controversies and weaknesses associated with the peculiarly US flavours of Christianity. In senior years some consideration of various ethical frameworks, relativism and how how religion, ethics and psychology serve various individual and social functions. Now there is something that ScienceMinded would support: Independent minded, questioning students being taught about religion…

  27. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN — the rules are that I am not supposed to comment about Steven Schafersman on this blog, but he has attacked me here and I have a right to respond.

    “Stupid Steven” Schafersman driveled —
    –SimpleMinded is what Larry Fafarman dreams of being: a goading sophist with smart, witty, and elegant ripostes, not the dull, predictable, and unintentionally hilarious rhetoric of Larry Farma (who I was told by Chris Comer tonight is now referring to himself as El Farfa!). I had a problem with El Barfa that was mutually resolved when, for some reason, he began leaving my blog and me alone. Oh, that’s right, he was banned. That seems to be his universal fate.–

    Stupid Steven, Evo.Sphere is not your blog — it is a Houston Chronicle blog. It has the Houston Chronicle’s name on it and Chronicle staffer Eric Berger set up the blog, advertised it, invited you to blog on it, and made the decision to moderate comments.

    –“I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”–
    — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  28. ScienceMinded Says:

    To Ben: I really am starting to appreciate your humor! How about this for a weakness of evolution. Evolution, outside of mutation, involves adapting the fitness of species to levels that are more fit — better able to survive. Well, I have a contradiction to that. If evolution were true, then all you TFNers (NoBrainers, NB) would have at least half a brain instead of no brain at all!

    To Steven Schafersman: So Steve, maybe you and all the liberal UT biologists up in Austin are NB too. If you would like, I’ll visit your blog and provide comment for a while. Maybe that would motivate all the NB you admire here so much to finally come over and read your blog! I think you are foolish, however, to believe theories can’t have weaknesses. NB, a hypothesis is just a guess at an experimental outcome. Well, I believe some guesses can be better/stronger than others. I also believe some theories can be more substantiated, more complete, and therefore stronger than others. Like Einstein’s theory is stronger than Newton’s laws. And sorry, I simply disagree on the gaps issue. Lets say a theory has no supporting evidence whatsoever. Now that is one huge gap, wouldn’t you agree? And, you’ve got it, the theory would be pretty darn weak!!! In fact, if it’s a theory in the life-science arena, it could flat out be wrong! And you are also a full-fledged member of the NB faction if you truly believe all theories are composed only of reliable knowledge that are supported by tested and corroborated hypotheses. I guess that’s where our beliefs differ. So I guess if the evidence eventually demonstrates a theory is invalid, all that knowledge there in the first place wasn’t really all that reliable!! I don’t think I’m the one who is confused here NB. I would also wager, in regards to my greater understanding over NB that funding agencies are most always addressing weaknesses, limitations, and/or deficiencies in their calls for proposals, that I bring in a lot more research dollars than you ever have or ever will! Not too many agencies like to fund people to play around in their own sandbox anymore!! I agree with you on one point though, Steve, that weaknesses in theories provide motivation to scientists to try to improve upon the theory — maybe to fill in some of those gaping gaps!! But remember, I also believe it is OK if a theory has weaknesses/limitations/deficiencies/… . The theory can still convey valuable knowledge and information that deepens our understanding of complex natural/physical processes. Think of it like this, if a theory is only partially correct in regards to explaining or providing an understanding of a physical process, wouldn’t it be weaker than one that is totally correct at explaining or providing understanding of the same process? I think so. But then, I’m not a member of the NB faction that is so prevalent here.

  29. Ed Darrell Says:

    The tactics of the TFNers are to try to divert the topic of discussion from science to religion — because they know they can’t win the science argument.

    When we stop for one moment to consider that this comment comes from the side that has abjectly, totally and completely failed to even make a science argument against evolution, we begin to see the issue in a more clear light.

    Evolution wins the science argument every time. Were you truly science minded, you’d hit the labs and see for yourself.

  30. Ed Darrell Says:

    You need a counting of falsehoods? You mean, you don’t know?

    1. TFN is so far from mainstream.

    TFN’s position is supported by 99.99% of all biologists who have ever studied or worked in evolution. All of Texas’s Nobel Prize winners in biological science support TFN’s views. TFN’s views are supported by every major Christian sect in America, except for the congregationally-managed Baptists in the Southern Baptist Convention. But all major Christian universities teach biology the way TFN urges, even the Baptist ones. That’s as mainstream as is possible to get, in science.

    2. Would you want your kids to be allowed to openly question and confront anyone’s theory? That’s the American way.

    Generally, we don’t allow school children to make foolish claims about issues they have not studied. In America, anyone with the facts can challenge any claim. Creationism has no facts to challenge evolution theory. Challenges without facts verge on Lysenkoism — which is exactly contrary to the American way.

    3. That is exactly what spurred the innovative growth of technology in the United States for over 100 years.

    Allowing pulpits to dictate science has never promoted technology in the U.S. The first public applications of solid-state technology, the transistor radio, was opposed by most of the pulpits who now oppose evolution. Support of racist claims of science continued from pulpits years after scientists dismissed the claims as completely in error. I cannot think of any area of technology where any church led the way — can you name one?

    4. True scientists would never support the TFN agenda. Our State, our Nation needs people that can think outside the box. We need people who understand that weaknesses abound in theories and know what the impacts of those weaknesses are. We need people with innovative, creative scientific thought processes that can develop new and better ideas and theories.

    Jeremy Bernstein, the noted physicist, dealt with this claim brilliantly in his New Yorker columns. True innovation in science — like Einstein’s series of papers in 1905 — come from people who know the strengths of the theories, and who understand the theories forward and backward, not from the cranks who claim that conspiracies prevent others from accepting their ideas. In science, truly innovative thinking must be proven on the lab bench. That’s not “thinking outside the box” in the wacky way that business gurus mean it. It’s sticking to the tried and true methods of science, testing hypothesis on the lab bench or by observing in nature. The ONLY way we know to get people with innovative, creative scientific thought processes is to teach them the best science we know, not falsehoods, not religion, not crank science.

    Four falsehoods in the first post. Can we stop counting now?

  31. Wolfhound Says:

    Creationism/ID Strengths: “It makes us feel teh speshul!”
    Creationism/ID Weaknesses: It ain’t science!

  32. Ben Says:

    Steven, good comments. I like the new nickname for our troll. The only problem with him is, he can’t come up with anything original. Just the same old creationist babble and Lying For Jesus™.

    I think it serves a purpose to keep him busy here—like entertaining a small child with a shiny object—so he will spend less time in public, attempting to indoctrinate others into his mindless fantasy world.

  33. Coragyps Says:

    Have you answered my question yet, ScienceMinded? Have you got references for some of those other possible ages of the universe that Ms Cargill seems to know about? If you don’t, do you think she’ll share her notes with us? That sounds like a real weakness in cosmological theories to me. Heck with the schoolkids – I want to see where these other ages have been published!
    For that matter, I’d like to see some of the “weaknesses” you seem to know about in evolution! What are they? “Laws of probability” is a little too slim of an answer, won’t you agree?

  34. m arie Says:

    Well I see potty mouth LeisureSuit Larry is here. They kicked him off the aol message boards YEARS ago.

  35. Eric Says:

    What frightens me about the TX case is how narrowly it passed. It scares me that in 2009, we still have a large group of people who live and die by the Bible’s every word. Their faith is so strong that the most-logical of reasoning, mountains of evidence, and near unanimous agreements among scientists do not dissuade them. It becomes completely pointless to debate them, since the more-devout are programmed to “spread the word” to all around them and never give up. They are taught that failure is normal when preaching God’s word, but that failure is only temporary. This is why they go on crazy trips to Florida during spring break to try and convert kids, with results you can probably guess.

    They have learned the legal ropes as well, continually refining their arguments to skirt law, and also to continue to give them second/third/fourth chances at the courts when their previous attempts have failed. Nobody disagrees that their point is in getting the Bible/Christianity into school. Their main hope is that with the Bible in school, all sorts of good things will happen:
    1. Kids will be converted
    2. America will return to the God-fearing country it was in the early 1950s
    3. America will be a “Christian nation” again
    4. Families will stay together

    The problem is, this will never happen. The idea that kids will become more-religious is preposterous, given that the fastest growing religion in America is agnosticism. The fact is, those who are devout are afraid that their religions are dying out, and they are afraid that our country will die with them. Some even believe that “the rapture” or “end times” will happen. It frightens me to think that people would still worry about this stuff created in the 1st century. We certainly know the sorts of crazy things people believed in back then. We also have had 2,000 years of knowledge gathering since then, and a lot of discoveries have given rational and provable explanations that no-longer required a deity to initiate.

    I only hope that this pseudoscientific legal stunt is finally getting stamped out once and for all. We know that the Discovery Institute will continue to pump out more talking points and strategies to circumvent the current rulings though. They will never give up, although I hope that at some point, their arguments will just become moot.

  36. IST Says:

    Eric> well put… only issue: agnosticism isn’t a religion (it lacks a system of belief), and the poll I believe you’re referencing states that “none” was the fastest growing “faith”.

    Science Minded> Nowhere in the heaping pile of bovine feces you’ve spewed do I see any actual weaknesses in Ev. Theory listed… Care to enlighten us? Preferably citing peer-reviewed literature, show the holes in ET. (Modern ET, I’m not basing it all on Darwin, no should you.) When you decide to dredge up 50 year old nonsense about transitional fossils, please define what a transitional fossil is in your view.. while you’re at it why don’t you give us your working definition of theory, because I strongly suspect it isn’t anywhere near the scientific definition.
    Or you could google “evidence for natural selection”, read talk origins, wikipedia, and the rest for days at a time, and actually learn something… Your ignorance, willful or not, does not constitute a lack of evidence.

  37. Austin Says:

    Poor maladjusted Larry, still flailing away, still bearing false witness, not unlike SimpleMinded. Too willfully ignorant to face the fact that the onus is on ID/creationists to prove that evolutionary theory is not an accurate description of how the diversities of life formed, and that the onus is on ID/Creationists to provide a superior description of how these diversities formed. The problem is that ID/Creationists have failed in every single attempt they have made to scientifically discredit evolutionary theory. That they have no desire to replace evolutionary theory with a superior theory compounds their problem.

  38. summerseale Says:

    ScienceMinded:

    “I don’t agree that ALL theories should be taught/presented in the classroom. I believe that both the recognized strengths and weaknesses should be taught about ALL theories that are presented in the classroom. Idiot.”

    Yes, I know. You only believe in teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of a theory which can advance *your* personal brand of religion.

    In other words, you’re a hypocrite as well.

    It’s painfully obvious to everyone, and I’m glad your side lost. I relished in their loss. The Discovery Institute tried to spin it as some sort of victory, but they’re well known liars too. So this isn’t a surprise on any level.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: