What Does Terri Leo Really Want to Teach?

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As we get closer to the final vote at the Texas State Board of Education on science standards next week, creationists on the board are showing their real stripes. First it was board chairman Don McLeroy, who endorsed a book equating acceptance of evolution with atheism — making clear that his primary beef with evolution is based on religious beliefs (despite repeated claims to the contrary). And now Terri Leo, R-Spring, gets in on the act.

Ms. Leo recently appeared on a Walbuilders Radio program to discuss the latest on the evolution debate at the state board. For the uninitiated, Wallbuiders is a Christian advocacy organization based in Aledo, Texas, that claims the separation of church and state is a myth. (Read TFN’s extensive profile of Wallbuilders’ founder David Barton.)

The first cat Leo let’s out of the bag is the “end game” for creationists on the board: biology textbooks. What the next generation of textbooks teach about evolution is the subtext for the entire debate on curriculum standards. Leo and her allies lacked the votes in 2003 to force publishers to include phony “weaknesses” of evolution, but now the elusive majority is in sight. Leo is blunt:

The deal is that even though we have had the standards for 20 years, we are close to a majority of board members who support enforcing the standard.

That’s why creationists on the board were apoplectic in January when the teacher writing teams and science experts recommended changing the wording in the standards, removing the words “strengths and weaknesses.” Leo is hell-bent on restoring those buzz words to the curriculum because she knows the board can now bully publishers into dumbing-down instruction on evolution in new textbooks up for adoption in 2011. Leo fires a shot across the publisher’s bow:

It directs the publishers that you will have scientific weaknesses to the theory of evolution in the textbooks.

So what are these “weaknesses” of evolution? In public, board members and creationist pressure groups have been evasive on this question. But when she is preaching to the Wallbuilders choir, we finally get a window into exactly what Leo means by “weaknesses.” She explains:

All eight icons, which they say have been used in the textbooks to “prove evolution” have been disproven scientifically. And every year, it’s like the elephant in the middle of the room. We have more discoveries in the…um…human genome and DNA and microbiology and all these advances that continue to be a huge problem for evolution. And what we want is when each of those icons has scientific weaknesses to it, we want those taught to the students so that they can be, you know. We’re not trying to take the theory of evolution out of the science textbook. It is a major theory. And it has to be taught to our children so that they thoroughly understand it and can debate and articulate it and impact their culture.

Leo is referring here to Jonathan Wells’s book Icons of Evolution, a popular (nonscholarly) treatise that denigrates evolution based on well-worn creationist attacks. The National Center for Science Education and other scientists have thoroughly refuted the flawed arguments in Well’s work. It most certainly does not represent the mainstream scientific consensus about evolution. But it is clear that this is precisely the type of fringe “scholarship” Leo has in mind for the children of Texas should the “weaknesses” of evolution be mandated in the curriculum standards.

Later in the interview, Leo slips and says exactly what she wants students to be taught under the “weaknesses” standard:

They [scientists] don’t want to talk about the science because they lose that argument continually. The science is overwhelmingly against evolution.

Finally, some honesty! Here’s the unvarnished truth about Leo’s agenda: she doesn’t want students to be taught that the theory of evolution has weaknesses. She wants students to be taught that evolution is not valid. That it’s a lie. If the evolution-deniers on the board get their way next week, this is what they will try to force textbook publishers to include in new biology books.

Don’t say you were not warned.

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80 Responses to “What Does Terri Leo Really Want to Teach?”

  1. Charles Says:

    “All eight icons, which they say have been used in the textbooks to “prove evolution” have been disproven scientifically. And every year, it’s like the elephant in the middle of the room. We have more discoveries in the…um…human genome and DNA and microbiology and all these advances that continue to be a huge problem for evolution. And what we want is when each of those icons has scientific weaknesses to it, we want those taught to the students so that they can be, you know. We’re not trying to take the theory of evolution out of the science textbook. It is a major theory. And it has to be taught to our children so that they thoroughly understand it and can debate and articulate it and impact their culture.”

    1) Well, first of all, in my opinion, I think there is a lie at work here. I have never known any creationist who “really wanted” evolution taught in the public schools. If memory serves, going back to the 1980s and certainly back to the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, the push was to prevent evolution from being taught. A creationist wanting evolution taught in the public schools is like the mother of a molested child who “really wants” to see his molester acquitted and released from jail. In other words, it does not really happen in this 3-dimensional plane of existence. So, I take it as a political ruse to look reasonable on evolution before the people of Texas when nothing reasonable is actually in the works. I am so tired of lying politicians—and I am especially tired of lying politicians who claim to be Christians. These people must think the people of Texas are stupid or something.

    2) However, if one were to give the Texas SBOE benefit of the doubt on Item 1 above, it is plain that they really only want evolution to be taught so they can use a public school science class to make fun of it, belittle it in front of the students, and throw rotten tomatoes at it. Worst of all, they want to do the ridiculing using nonscientific clap-trap that hardly any objective and unbiased legitimate scientist in his right mind would call real science. In other words, the Texas SBOE is telling the people of Texas that it wants to turn public school science classrooms into some sort of modern day Salem Witch Trial arena where pseudo-scientific nonsense can be used as evidence to convict a legitimate line of scientific inquiry and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell. Kangaroo court. Mock trial. Railroaded. I was framed.

    3) The textbooks might be the end game, if the Texas SBOE gets that far. However, you have to actually play the game to win it, and there are numerous ways to play this game to win. For example, the major colleges and universities in this country can band together and tell the textbook companies outright, “…if you publish a textbook like this for sale in Texas or any other state, you can forget about any textbooks sales here at our university. You do and our business relationship ends immediately—right here—right now. The position taken by some Califorina colleges on refusing to admit homeschoolers who have been fed creation science crap in their home curriculum is a mere shadow of what could happen and should happen with the textbooks.

    4) Last of all, I would like to warn the people of Texas. If you allow the Texas SBOE to accept this weaknesses language into the science curriculum, this will not be the end of Christian fundamentalist attacks to lure your children from your churches to their churches. The next attack will come in social studies. The Christian fundamentalists have already rewritten American history in their own image—-an image that legitimate historians say is just plain incorrect. The fundies want to teach this revisionist history to your children in our public schools rather than the real American history as it actually happened.

  2. James F Says:

    They [scientists] don’t want to talk about the science because they lose that argument continually. The science is overwhelmingly against evolution.

    Terri Leo is either staggeringly ignorant or deliberately fraudulent. Let’s look at the data.

    Percentage of peer-reviewed scientific research papers refuting evolution: 0

    The defense rests.

  3. jdg Says:

    Any teacher that uses “icons of evolution” as a source in teaching evolution needs to be questioned where they got their science degrees.

  4. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN says,
    –First it was board chairman Don McLeroy, who endorsed a book equating acceptance of evolution with atheism – making clear that his primary beef with evolution is based on religious beliefs (despite repeated claims to the contrary).–

    I never heard Don McLeroy deny that he is a creationist.

    — And now Terri Leo, R-Spring, gets in on the act. —

    What “act”? Don McLeroy’s arguments are at least partially creationist — Terri Leo’s arguments are entirely scientific (or pseudoscientific, if you prefer).

    –The first cat Leo let’s out of the bag is the ”end game” for creationists on the board: biology textbooks. —

    As I have pointed out many times, local school districts in Texas and school systems outside of Texas are not required to use Texas-approved textbooks. Also, a popular biology textbook, “Biology” by Ken Miller and Joseph Levine, already comes in regular, Texas, and California editions. What are the differences between these editions?

    –Leo is hell-bent on restoring those buzz words to the curriculum because she knows the board can now bully publishers into dumbing-down instruction on evolution in new textbooks up for adoption in 2011.–

    The “creationists” on the board still do not have a clear and reliable majority — that’s why they were not able to keep the “weaknesses” language in the science standards in the first place. There are only seven reliable “creationist” votes out of fifteen votes on the board.

    –So what are these “weaknesses” of evolution? In public, board members and creationist pressure groups have been evasive on this question.–

    They have only avoided the term “intelligent design,” because of Kitzmiller v. Dover. They have been forthright about other “weaknesses” of evolution.

    — The National Center for Science Education and other scientists have thoroughly refuted the flawed arguments in Well’s work.–

    As I said, it doesn’t matter whether the criticisms of evolution are valid or not — there are good reasons for teaching invalid criticisms of evolution. One of the reasons why “weaknesses” is a bad term is that invalid criticisms are not real “weaknesses” — I proposed that the term “criticisms” replace “weaknesses” in the standards. A recent national survey of biology teachers shows that about 25% of the respondents spend some time teaching creationism or intelligent design, though not necessarily as good science — see
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2008/08/state-of-evolution-education-in-usa-and.html

    Charles Says (March 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm) —
    –If memory serves, going back to the 1980s and certainly back to the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, the push was to prevent evolution from being taught.–

    That push ended a long time ago. Only four states had laws absolutely prohibiting the teaching of evolution, and the Supreme Court declared such laws to be unconstitutional in Epperson v. Arkansas in 1968. In Edwards v. Aguillard in 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana state law that prohibited the teaching of evolution unless creation science was also taught was unconstitutional.

    Charles says,
    –A creationist wanting evolution taught in the public schools is like the mother of a molested child who “really wants” to see his molester acquitted and released from jail.–

    Well, it’s possible.

    Charles says,
    –the major colleges and universities in this country can band together and tell the textbook companies outright, “…if you publish a textbook like this for sale in Texas or any other state, you can forget about any textbooks sales here at our university.–

    Don’t be ridiculous — it’s not going to happen.

    Charles says,
    –The position taken by some Califorina colleges on refusing to admit homeschoolers who have been fed creation science crap in their home curriculum is a mere shadow of what could happen and should happen with the textbooks. —

    Are you talking about Association of Christian Schools International v. Stearns? That wasn’t about homeschoolers — that was about Christian schools. The University of California denied accreditation to some Christian school courses because of the textbooks that were used. But one of the biology textbooks used was really bad — it said in the introduction, “If the conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.” No public school system would ever adopt a textbook like that. ACSI v. Stearns is discussed in the following post-label group of articles on my blog —
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/search/label/ACSI%20v.%20Stearns

    Charles says,
    –The Christian fundamentalists have already rewritten American history in their own image—-an image that legitimate historians say is just plain incorrect. The fundies want to teach this revisionist history to your children in our public schools rather than the real American history as it actually happened.–

    Do you have any evidence of this?

  5. ScienceMinded Says:

    Why is everybody so hung up on evolution? I’m sorry, but the theory of evolution is not the “holy grail” of scientific theories. You all seem to think that the “strengths and weaknesses” agenda of the SBOE is all about evolution. It’s not, or at least it shouldn’t be. When I read their position, I take it as applying to all scientific theories, not just evolution. In fact, I believe, at the next board meeting, Don McLeroy should disallow the public, or any SBOE member, from debating issues that are outside the “strengths and weaknesses” agenda. For example, evolution! The debate should be focused on the following question: Should teachers in science classrooms in Texas public schools be required to teach both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of each scientific theory that is covered in the classroom? More good questions, although I’m not sure if these are on the current agenda, would be 1) Which theories should be taught? 2) At which grade level? 3) How long at each grade level? 4) What exactly should be covered in todays science curriculum? And, I believe it would be a big mistake to give students the impression that scientific theories do not have weaknesses. Maybe there is a perfect theory out there somewhere that is free from any weaknesses? However, most do have weaknesses. For example, Newton’s theories of motion has both strengths and weaknesses. Because weaknesses exist, does it mean the theory shouldn’t be taught in a physics classroom? No, because the theory also has it’s strengths. Newton’s equations for motion are simpler than Einstein’s and they accurately describe the behavior of moving objects under the proper conditions (e.g., speed of objects that are way below the speed of light) — which happens to most always exist on our planet, and in Texas too! Another example: Ohm’s Law, V = IR. Ohm’s Law describes a relationship between voltage, V, and current, I, in an electrical circuit with a resistance, R. The “law” is fine at low frequencies, but breaks down at high frequencies. Then, Maxwell’s equations are required to accurately describe the voltage-current relationships. And these are much more difficult to deal with than V = IR!! So, given that Ohm’s Law has weaknesses, should it not be taught? No, because it accurately describes V-I relationships at low frequencies, and this condition is prevalent in a large portion of the problems dealt with in electrical engineering, and the equation, V = IR, is much simpler than solving the system of differential equations presented in Maxwell’s theory.

    So, the real question, and what should be the real agenda of the SBOE, is “Should teachers cover both the strengths and weaknesses of each scientific theory presented in public science classrooms?” I vote yes!!!

  6. Biokid Says:

    As a transplanted Texan (grew up in Dallas, now live in Shreveport, LA), biologist, and university professor for 32 years, all of this is extremely disturbing. The publishers, universities (and Texas has a lot of great ones), and outraged citizens need to stand up and “Just Say NO.” I am so embarrassed that my own State of Louisiana has been the only State to pass the so called “Academic Freedom” bill so teachers can sneak creationist or ID crap into the classroom. Over here the Louisiana Family Forum has the legislature and governor in their hip pocket. All for now from LA LA land. It’s not just Calif. any more.

  7. TFN Says:

    ScienceMinded writes: “You all seem to think that the ‘strengths and weaknesses’ agenda of the SBOE is all about evolution. It’s not, or at least it shouldn’t be. When I read their position, I take it as applying to all scientific theories, not just evolution.”

    That’s a charade. The creationists on the board have criticized only evolution. In fact, their efforts to reject new biology textbooks in 2003 were focused only on what they claimed was a lack of so-called “weaknesses” of evolution in those textbooks. They didn’t have the votes to prevail, but they think they will in 2011 when the board again considers new biology textbooks. And in January of this year, the board’s creationist bloc offered amendments specifically targeting evolution in the science standards. Their words do not match their actions. Anyone who has been watching this process can see that quite clearly. Their protests to the contrary are a deliberate fiction designed to persuade people who aren’t paying attention. Well, we are paying attention.

  8. Ben Says:

    Take heart, TFN. As Charles pointed out, desperate posts by trolls are good evidence that your efforts are paying off. Keep up the good work.

  9. Edd Doerr Says:

    As soneone who has been on the firing line for many years idefending evolution and church-state separation (and who has a grandchild in a Texas public school) I have to say that TFN is the best state organization in the country dealing with these issues, an organization that other states should emulate. Keep up your excellent work.

  10. ScienceMinded Says:

    TFN and followers,

    I said the agenda should not be all about evolution. It should be and is supposed to be about advocating the teaching of recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories in the public science classrooms. I agree that the SBOE should not be trying to eliminate evolution from biology texts. I don’t believe that is what they are trying to do. I think McLeroy is making a critical error by allowing the debates to focus on evolution. I believe it is totally undermining what the agenda is supposed to be focused on. And like I said, the debates should be focused solely on whether teaching recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories should be allowed to take place in the classroom. Every budding scientist should be taught to be a little skeptical about all theories, know that weaknesses are prevalent in practically all theories, understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of competing theories, and that opportunities continually exist to improve upon existing theories — even evolution!!! If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have to devote any funding to scientific research, now would we!?!?! I am quite frankly surprised, especially with the university professor of 32 years, that you all seem to believe that teaching recognized weaknesses of scientific theories should be left out of the classroom. Our Nation’s kids, our Texas kids, deserve much better. I vote YES for teaching both recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories!!!!! You should too!!!!!!

  11. Dick N Says:

    A judge of the caliber of John E. Jones III Would ridicule these insane fundamentalists, just as he did the school board members and their allies in Dover, PA. Come on readers, these people are digging their own graves. And, surely, they must be getting some really bad legal advice.

  12. TFN Says:

    ScienceMinded wrote: “I am quite frankly surprised, especially with the university professor of 32 years, that you all seem to believe that teaching recognized weaknesses of scientific theories should be left out of the classroom.”

    We don’t. TFN supports teaching students about legitimate scientific controversies. Evolution simply isn’t one of them, even though it’s the only scientific theory that the board’s creationists ever really attack. Those attacks are based on ideology and pseudoscience, however, not real research and real science.

  13. Ben Says:

    ScienceMinded, name a legitimate theory that competes with evolution.

  14. Charles Says:

    ScienceMinded says: “I think McLeroy is making a critical error by allowing the debates to focus on evolution. I believe it is totally undermining what the agenda is supposed to be focused on.”

    No. joke. You think? You know ScienceMinded. The key problem the Discovery Institute has with its assorted strategies is not so much one of conception as it is one of excecution. The secret play may look good on paper in the football playbook, but every play still needs 11 guys who know EXACTLY what they are doing and EXACTLY HOW to execute it on the field. The Intelligent Design “Wedge Strategy” might have stood some chance of working in some legal context. I hope not—but maybe. However, if you have a SECRET STRATEGY that needs to look PERFECTLY LIKE ONE THING to the courts, news media, and public, when it is really PERFECTLY SOMETHING ELSE, you have to keep the PERFECTLY SOMETHING ELSE cat in the bag (hopefully with duct tape across its mouth and motionless). You cannot have assorted fools going around editing old creation science books into Intelligent Design books. You cannot have assorted morons running around the nation letting the cat out of the bag in speeches to church groups, e-mail messages, or whatever esle (I am sure Larry can tell us the precise venues in which the ID cat was let out of its bag), and you certainly cannot allow a written version of “THE PERFECTLY SOMETHING ELSE PLAN” to leave the building in the Seattle area and end up in the hands of people like Babs Forrest. Can I say stUPID with a capital UPID???!!!!

    Although I believe it is fundamentally dishonest at its core, I think your individual (ScienceMinded) ability to hold on to the SOMETHING ELSE PLAN party line here on TFN is…well… fairly amazing, especially considering that the Texas locals like McLeroy and Leo have blown the whole cover of your secret operation to smithereens. That must be terribly frustrating. It would be to me if I were in your shoes. However, the problem is that the secret plan really is already blown to smithereens—at least with the people who post here. There is not one iota of a chance of reinvigorating it here—no matter how much you stick to the party line and try to draw people into it. The game is up here.

    I do not know how the Discovery Institute can overcome its execution problems. I think one of the key flaws is getting local people to execute a planned strategy and then failing to understand some of the basics of how the Christian fundamentalist belief system operates. One of the most basic of those fundamentals is social in nature—with regard to expectations within the local Christian fundamentalist flock itself. Christian fundamentalist preachers sermonize themselves blue in the face trying to get individuals in their flocks (nay—whole congregations) to reach for a state of maximum personal effectiveness and involvement in their church and in the evangelization process. It can all be summed up in one trite phrase “Stand up for Jesus!!!” When are you people going to quit being shy and complacent? When are you people going to get really excited about the gospel and STAND UP FOR JESUS!!!! SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!!! CAN I GET AN AMEN ON THAT!!!

    Well, many are able to hear what the preacher says but are not able to execute it for assorted reasons. However, even the flock holds on to the notion that a few people will be moved to act. For those that are, they will have reached the promised land. It is a land (where by their bold public actions for Jesus) they gain the admiration of the whole church membership, make Preacher Jones happy as a lark (finally his preaching got through to someone), and even catches the attentions of the “higher ups” in the wider denominational hierarchy—not to mention making God happy.

    However, to do all of this bold stuff, you have to do a lot of private and very public talking, acting out, and grandstanding—so much so—that any cat you have is inevitably going to get out of its bag. It is a flaw that is inherent to the social system in operation here. It may spill in a moment of personal pride where one feels compelled to let the whole church in on the secret plan while standing in the pulpit—never knowing that a journalist of some sort is visiting the church that Sunday morning. A strategy like the so-called Wedge Strategy can get out of the bag very easily. Joe explains the secret plan to a few very old and trusted friends over fried chicken on a Sunday afternoon. His friend Bill goes home and talks about it to his wife. No one keeps secrets from their wife. Their son Ron, who is going back to college that afternoon, overhears the whole discussion (not recognizing the secrecy aspect) and later relates it in detail to his college roomate, whose father is the night editor for the St Louis Post Dispatch newspaper. This kind of thing happens all of the time. For anyone here who has ever held a Top Secret national security clearance, you know the security training and how various cats can get out of bags. This latter item is just one of them. As they used to say in World War II, “Loose lips sink ships.”

    After observing the shenanigans of the Texas SBOE, it appears to me that politicians like McLeroy and Leo were unable to keep their cats in their bags for the reasons I have stated above. Of course, you were Science-Minded. And I also have to give some credit to Cynthia Dunbar who has pretty much held her cards tight to the vest as any good attorney would. They teach you that in law school. However, as I said, the cat really is out of the bag now, and I think the social dynamics of the Christian fundamentalist belief system pretty much made that inevitable—so much so—that I would be surprised if the Discovery Institute is ever able to overcome it.

  15. Biology Teacher Says:

    ScienceMinded,

    Allow me to attest to the fact that high school biology classrooms have their hands full already with teaching just the basics of biology. Pseudo “strengths and weaknesses?” Let’s make sure we teach the fundamentals suitable for the educational level. Attempting to interject religious-based doubt into basic biological processes does a tremendous disservice to kids — some of whom already have been indoctrinated into thinking man came from monkeys (total red herring; evolution clearly refutes that based on biochemical and DNA evidence) and their dinner steak comes from the back room at the grocery store.

    If there are valid criticisms of ANY scientific postulate or theory, they are scientifically welcomed at the level where there can be actual informed and intelligent discussion. Trust me, that’s not the high school level. Grad school, scientific conferences, journals — have at it! But the SBoE disingenuously claiming there is a need for “strengths and weaknesses” language in biology books is like teaching third graders that 1 + 1 = 10 (which it does, in base 2) before they have their multiplication tables learned.

  16. ScienceMinded Says:

    Well TFN, I think you are now confusing controversy with weaknesses. A weakness doesn’t have to be and is rarely viewed by real scientists as controversial. A weakness is just that. Accept it for what it is. And quite frankly TFN, I am surprised you don’t think there are any weaknesses with the theory of evolution. I’m not claiming to be an expert, by any means, on evolution. But, as a research scientist, I don’t think it would take me too long to discover some weaknesses in the theory. I think you could gain some ground in your evolution campaign if you would first admit that there are weaknesses in the theory and then be the ones who actually point them out, explain what the weaknesses are, explain their impact, and explain what research needs to be done in order to possibly overcome those weaknesses. That is, in fact, how research proposals get funded. It’s funny that you claim that evolution is the only theory the SBOE ever really attacks. From what I can see, it is also the only scientific theory that anyone ever talks about on TFN. Again, I reiterate, the current SBOE agenda is not on whether or not evolution should be taught in the public science classroom. The current SBOE agenda is on whether or not both recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories should be taught in the classroom. And on this subject, based on your most recent remarks, it appears that both TFN and the SBOE are in total agreement! So, thank you TFN for voting YES on teaching both strengths and weaknesses!!! I don’t think we should be ashamed of weaknesses. It’s just an admission we still have more to learn. If you truly support that, you are on the right track! Now stand up and shout it out!!!

  17. Joyce Doyle Says:

    What I want to know is, will the democrats put up someone to run against Terry Leo in 2010?

  18. Ben Says:

    ScienceMinded is a desperate troll. Every post proves how desperate he/she/it is. Why wouldn’t he/she/it name some “weaknesses” in the theory? Because there aren’t any. Gaps, yes. Weaknesses, no.

    Post some more, troll. Show us how desperate you are. Use some more of those old worn-out tactics.

  19. Ben Says:

    “But, as a research scientist, I don’t think it would take me too long to discover some weaknesses in the theory.”

    Then do it. Quit your blathering and do it. You will win a Nobel Prize, just like our old buddy Jeff. Maybe the two of you can work together. Laurel and Hardy.

    On the other hand, maybe you’re really just a creationist trying to stir up trouble. Desperate. Scared. Angry. Wondering why these mean old atheists and blasphemous Christians are teaming up on you. Life’s hard, isn’t it?

  20. Larry Fafarman Says:

    Dick N Says (March 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm) —
    –A judge of the caliber of John E. Jones III Would ridicule these insane fundamentalists,–

    Judge Jones has the caliber of a peashooter — he is a crackpot activist judge. My blog has dozens of articles attacking him and his Dover decision.

  21. ScienceMinded Says:

    Ben and Charles and TFN followers,

    As much as you would like to believe it, there is no conspiracy afoot to bring down TFN or your Holy Theory of Evolution. I’m not hiding anything Charles. And Ben, even if a theory stands on it’s own, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have weaknesses. It is people like you that make my job of bringing in research funding much easier! You are a fool to think that the theory of evolution, in fact any theory for that matter, doesn’t have weaknesses. That’s why it’s called a theory. To make it easy for you to understand, the word means that we’re not sure! You must be one of those individuals who thinks he knows everything when in fact, your breadth of knowledge is a microdot in the universe of all knowledge. You are an arrogant, ignorant soul Ben. And, from what I’ve seen, the entire group of adamant TFN supporters consists of maybe 2 or 3 individuals. Now, that doesn’t sound too mainstream does it? And given the 2 most adamant supporters are Charles and Ben, it’s easy to see why TFN is having trouble promoting their cause. It’s why the SBOE will slam dunk you, TFN, at every turn. I tell you, you would help yourselves significantly if you would get off the evolution rant and focus more on science in general. But, Charles is absolutely right, some students just don’t want to learn anything new. Another thing, FYI, I am not attempting to reach or convince any of the bloggers here at TFN. I would be more interested in reaching people who might happen to just stumble onto the TFN blog. But your extremist left-wing approach probably turns most people away.

    Biology teacher, I respect your comments. I disagree with you, however, on the matter of discussing weaknesses or criticisms of scientific theories at the high school level, or any level for that matter. You and your students should visit the International Intel science fair and see what high-school level students can do in recognizing and improving on recognized weaknesses of scientific theories. In fact, I believe that the most important thing to teach science students at all levels is that theories have weaknesses. Question everything you read in regards to a theory. Learn to look for and recognize weaknesses. They do exist and are abundantly discovered everyday. They are also made stronger everyday by even understanding the weaknesses exist and the limitations they impose. If TFN doesn’t recognize or understand any weaknesses in evolution, then I contend they haven’t really studied or researched the topic too extensively. It makes them look bad. And remember what I said earlier, just because a theory has a weakness doesn’t mean it doesn’t provide us with valuable knowledge and information. You will be stronger advocates of evolution if you, yourselves, are the ones to point out the weaknesses, explain what limitations those weaknesses impart, and what research could be done to possibly overcome those weaknesses. If you do that, you will start to look like real scientists.

  22. Ben Says:

    Ah, yes, the old “that’s why they call it a theory” maneuver, which reveals without a doubt that ScienceMinded is not a research scientist. Just another desperate creationist troll.

    TFN, thanks for continuing to post these amusing comments from the trolls. It’s fun to watch them squirm.

    Anybody else reading this: Take note that ScienceMinded keeps babbling about weaknesses, but he/she can’t actually list any. That’s because there aren’t any.

  23. Coragyps Says:

    ScienceMinded writes: ” It’s funny that you claim that evolution is the only theory the SBOE ever really attacks. ”

    Can you name another they attack, SM? With a quote indicating that they did?

    If you can, does it have to do with the age of the Earth?

    I say you’re bluffing….

  24. James F Says:

    Science minded writes:

    “As much as you would like to believe it, there is no conspiracy afoot to bring down TFN or your Holy Theory of Evolution.”

    TFN is not invoking a conspiracy, they are reporting the actual claims made by the likes of Don McLeroy and Terri Leo. And it’s the creationists who claim that evolution is “holy” or otherwise religious.

    “To make it easy for you to understand, the word means that we’re not sure!”

    Only in the colloquial sense. In the scientific sense a theory is a unifying explanation of a basic natural process, based on vast amounts of empirical observation and analysis.

    And from the earlier thread, ScienceMinded wrote:

    “I would estimate that 90% of the peer-reviewed publications are garbage and terribly written.”

    Yet you provided no examples. If what you claim is true, it should be easy to open Nature, Science, Cell, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biology, The Journal of Immunology, or any of the open-access journals at the Public Library of Science and find 90% garbage.

    “I believe evolutionary theory strongly supports micro evolution. I don’t believe it confirms or supports macro evolution, however.”

    Creationists invoke the false dichotomy between supportable microevolution and unsupportable macroevolution, not scientists doing actual research. Show me a scientist not affiliated with an ID/creationist organization making such a claim.

    In closing, there is plenty of information on the subject at TalkOrigins.org; I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in learning about evolution.

  25. Charles Says:

    Ben, TFN, and Assorted Folks. After reading Science-Minded’s posts above, all I want to know is: “What are you smoking”? Do they grow it in Mexico? Did anyone die trying to get it across the Rio Grand”?

  26. Charles Says:

    ScienceMinded: I have just one other thing.

    You said:

    “It is people like you that make my job of bringing in research funding much easier!” If you are not an employee of the Discovery Institute or some other like-minded organization, would you like to please explain to us exactly what that statement means—and remember—the 10 commandments say that lying is a sin.

  27. ScienceMinded Says:

    You guys are hopeless. I keep telling you, I’m not talking evolution here. Do you get it? Obviously not! I’m talking about advocating that teaching the recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, of all theories, should be taught in the public science classrooms. If you truly don’t believe the theory of evolution has weaknesses, you are truly foolish. You are truly weak in the area of science. You are truly arrogant and ignorant. And James, I read plenty of journal papers and I’m giving the benefit of the doubt when I say that 90% are trash. And from my point of view, it’s mostly Ben and Charles squirming here. And James, a theory is initially a guess. A guess that can sometimes, eventually be supported with empirical evidence. But a theory can simple start with a statement like, “I have a theory!”. Calling it a theory doesn’t, in any way, mean it has credibility. Pseudoscientists, like yourselves, would like to have others believe it so, however. They like to act smarter than they really are. Charles, you pseudoscientists are the ones hiding your hand. I have a hunch that it is most likely you have nothing to show. It appears as if you guys are at the point in your own personal spiritual quests where you still haven’t discovered it’s OK to admit you don’t know everything. Maybe your religion that you spout here on TFN doesn’t allow that. And James, in regards to conspiracy plots, you need to more closely read the blog casts by Ben and Charles. Now, lets see if any of you understand what I am advocating the next time you blurt something out. Do you support teaching recognized strengths and weaknesses or not? That is the CURRENT agenda of the SBOE — not evolution!!!! I vote YES. Real scientists also vote YES. How do you vote TFN??? To Joyce Doyle: if you can find a democrat who advocates teaching both strengths and weaknesses, you might have a chance. However, you might wonder why Terri Leo continues to win election after election with over 80% of the vote? It is pretty obvious who does and does not have “mainstream” figured out!!! From what I see, Terri Leo, a school teacher, is more of a scientist than anyone here at TFN. You ought to take note TFN. You seriously, ought to take note. Otherwise Joyce, count on the republicans holding that position for a long time to come.

  28. ScienceMinded Says:

    Charles, as much as you would like to believe, I am not employed by the Discovery Institute or any other like-minded organization. During competitions for research funding, ones who claim to know everything and have discovered everything are most always perceived by funding organizations as lacking in credibility. Generally, when a call for proposals comes out, the call itself is addressing recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories. They are looking for people who understand that the weaknesses exist, the impacts of those weaknesses, and ideas/theories on how to make up for the weaknesses. If you jump in and scream in their face that no weaknesses exist, you can pretty much kiss the chance of getting research dollars goodbye. So, that is how people like you and Ben make it easier for people like me to get funding for my research. If you are smart, you will take note!

  29. Coragyps Says:

    I repeat:

    ScienceMinded writes: ” It’s funny that you claim that evolution is the only theory the SBOE ever really attacks. ”

    Can you name another they attack, SM? With a quote indicating that they did?

    If you can, does it have to do with the age of the Earth?

    Which other fields does the right wing of the SBOE want “weaknesses” taught in? Physics? Geology? Which?

  30. Ben Says:

    The Index to Creationist Claims was written with this ignorant babbler in mind:

    The word theory, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty. It means “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena” (Barnhart 1948). In the case of the theory of evolution, the following are some of the phenomena involved. All are facts:
    Life appeared on earth more than two billion years ago;
    Life forms have changed and diversified over life’s history;
    Species are related via common descent from one or a few common ancestors;
    Natural selection is a significant factor affecting how species change.
    Many other facts are explained by the theory of evolution as well.

    The theory of evolution has proved itself in practice. It has useful applications in epidemiology, pest control, drug discovery, and other areas (Bull and Wichman 2001; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).

    Besides the theory, there is the fact of evolution, the observation that life has changed greatly over time. The fact of evolution was recognized even before Darwin’s theory. The theory of evolution explains the fact.

    If “only a theory” were a real objection, creationists would also be issuing disclaimers complaining about the theory of gravity, atomic theory, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of limits (on which calculus is based). The theory of evolution is no less valid than any of these. Even the theory of gravity still receives serious challenges (Milgrom 2002). Yet the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is still a fact.

    Creationism is neither theory nor fact; it is, at best, only an opinion. Since it explains nothing, it is scientifically useless.

  31. Ben Says:

    The ignorant babbler being, of course, ScienceMinded.

    Name a weakness, ScienceMinded. Just one. Come on, it’s easy, right? Just one weakness. You keep babbling about them, so there must be plenty.

    What a desperate troll.

  32. Ben Says:

    More from the index, if TFN will indulge me:

    Evolutionary theory is the framework tying together all of biology. It explains similarities and differences between organisms, fossils, biogeography, drug resistance, extreme features such as the peacock’s tail, relative virulence of parasites, and much more besides. Without the theory of evolution, it would still be possible to know much about biology, but not to understand it.

    This explanatory framework is useful in a practical sense. First, a unified theory is easier to learn, because the facts connect together rather than being so many isolated bits of trivia. Second, having a theory makes it possible to see gaps in the theory, suggesting productive areas for new research.

    Evolutionary theory has been put to practical use in several areas (Futuyma 1995; Bull and Wichman 2001). For example:
    Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions.
    Diseases and pests evolve resistance to the drugs and pesticides we use against them. Evolutionary theory is used in the field of resistance management in both medicine and agriculture (Bull and Wichman 2001).
    Evolutionary theory is used to manage fisheries for greater yields (Conover and Munch 2002).
    Artificial selection has been used since prehistory, but it has become much more efficient with the addition of quantitative trait locus mapping.
    Knowledge of the evolution of parasite virulence in human populations can help guide public health policy (Galvani 2003).
    Sex allocation theory, based on evolution theory, was used to predict conditions under which the highly endangered kakapo bird would produce more female offspring, which retrieved it from the brink of extinction (Sutherland 2002).

    Evolutionary theory is being applied to and has potential applications in may other areas, from evaluating the threats of genetically modified crops to human psychology. Additional applications are sure to come.

    Phylogenetic analysis, which uses the evolutionary principle of common descent, has proven its usefulness:
    Tracing genes of known function and comparing how they are related to unknown genes helps one to predict unknown gene function, which is foundational for drug discovery (Branca 2002; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).
    Phylogenetic analysis is a standard part of epidemiology, since it allows the identification of disease reservoirs and sometimes the tracking of step-by-step transmission of disease. For example, phylogenetic analysis confirmed that a Florida dentist was infecting his patients with HIV, that HIV-1 and HIV-2 were transmitted to humans from chimpanzees and mangabey monkeys in the twentieth century, and, when polio was being eradicated from the Americas, that new cases were not coming from hidden reservoirs (Bull and Wichman 2001). It was used in 2002 to help convict a man of intentionally infecting someone with HIV (Vogel 1998). The same principle can be used to trace the source of bioweapons (Cummings and Relman 2002).
    Phylogenetic analysis to track the diversity of a pathogen can be used to select an appropriate vaccine for a particular region (Gaschen et al. 2002).
    Ribotyping is a technique for identifying an organism or at least finding its closest known relative by mapping its ribosomal RNA onto the tree of life. It can be used even when the organisms cannot be cultured or recognized by other methods. Ribotyping and other genotyping methods have been used to find previously unknown infectious agents of human disease (Bull and Wichman 2001; Relman 1999).
    Phylogenetic analysis helps in determining protein folds, since proteins diverging from a common ancestor tend to conserve their folds (Benner 2001).

    Directed evolution allows the “breeding” of molecules or molecular pathways to create or enhance products, including:
    enzymes (Arnold 2001)
    pigments (Arnold 2001)
    antibiotics
    flavors
    biopolymers
    bacterial strains to decompose hazardous materials.
    Directed evolution can also be used to study the folding and function of natural enzymes (Taylor et al. 2001).

    The evolutionary principles of natural selection, variation, and recombination are the basis for genetic algorithms, an engineering technique that has many practical applications, including aerospace engineering, architecture, astrophysics, data mining, drug discovery and design, electrical engineering, finance, geophysics, materials engineering, military strategy, pattern recognition, robotics, scheduling, and systems engineering (Marczyk 2004).

    Tools developed for evolutionary science have been put to other uses. For example:
    Many statistical techniques, including analysis of variance and linear regression, were developed by evolutionary biologists, especially Ronald Fisher and Karl Pearson. These statistical techniques have much wider application today.
    The same techniques of phylogenetic analysis developed for biology can also trace the history of multiple copies of a manuscript (Barbrook et al. 1998; Howe et al. 2001) and the history of languages (Dunn et al. 2005).

    Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity. Much of astronomy, geology, paleontology, natural history, and other sciences have no practical application. For many people, knowledge is a worthy end in itself.

    Science with little or no application now may find application in the future, especially as the field matures and our knowledge of it becomes more complete. Practical applications are often built upon ideas that did not look applicable originally. Furthermore, advances in one area of science can help illuminate other areas. Evolution provides a framework for biology, a framework which can support other useful biological advances.

    Anti-evolutionary ideas have been around for millennia and have not yet contributed anything with any practical application.

  33. Ben Says:

    ScienceMinded says:

    “I keep telling you, I’m not talking evolution here.”

    Then, two lines later:

    “If you truly don’t believe the theory of evolution has weaknesses, you are truly foolish.”

    How transparent can you get? Do you think there is even one person falling for your creationist babble?

  34. ScienceMinded Says:

    Hey Coragyps, I don’t think they (SBOE) should be attacking evolution. I think some members of the SBOE (e.g., McLeroy) have a tendency to drift away from the set agenda (i.e., strengths and weaknesses). When they do, and they shift the focus to evolution, they are weakening their position and losing credibility. Just like TFN does when all they can talk about is evolution and that the theory is totally free of weaknesses. Even many high school kids know better! I think it would be wise for the SBOE to present examples of a wide range of theories and both the associated strengths and weaknesses of each of the theories. They should emphasize that understanding the weaknesses and the impacts of those weaknesses has actually helped to improve the theory. In my experience, theories rarely advance if the weaknesses are not recognized and well understood. My whole position is, it is the right thing to do in teaching our kids the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories presented in the public science classrooms!!!! The SBOE, actually the right-wing faction that TFN supporters disdain, most truly supports that position. They, and I, believe that strengths and weaknesses should be a part of the curriculum for all theories presented in public science classrooms including physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, geology, engineering, medicine, social studies, psychology, …, every theory!!!! The majority of the SBOE advocates this position. Scientists should too!!! All TFN supporters, you really need to quit worrying so much about being taken over by the religious right and start focusing more on the advancement of science. If you can do that, I believe it will really help your cause and you will begin to gain some respect.

  35. ScienceMinded Says:

    Ben, I do believe the theory of evolution has it’s strengths. Many of which you so adeptly pointed out. I differ from your position in that I also believe there are also weaknesses to the theory. For example, I don’t believe the theory accurately or fully explains the origin of man. I think there are major weaknesses in not being able to verify macro evolution. You said the theory has gaps, not weaknesses. From my viewpoint, and many other scientists’ viewpoints, gaps do present themselves as weaknesses!! If there weren’t any gaps, don’t you think the theory would be stronger and more accepted? I think it would. And if that’s true, then gaps present weaknesses!

  36. ScienceMinded Says:

    Oh, and Ben, I really am not focusing on evolution. I am really focusing on advocating teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all theories taught in our public schools. I believe that most all theories have weaknesses. I personally haven’t seen one that doesn’t that I am intimately familiar with. I think people who don’t believe weaknesses exist in theories are a bit naive, inexperienced, and foolish. See Ben, I am focusing on strengths and weaknesses. In fact, in the sentence you quoted, did you notice the word “weaknesses”. That was the emphasis of that sentence Ben, not evolution. And even though you so adamantly think so, my babble is not motivated by creationism, it is actually motivated by the advancement of good science and advocating that we teach it in our public schools. Come on you guys, it’s time to give in, and vote YES to this. Not about evolution — that teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories to our kids is the right thing to do. In this case, I believe the right-wing SBOE has it right.

  37. ScienceMinded Says:

    Ben, Here is one of your statements:

    “The theory of evolution has proved itself in practice. It has useful applications in epidemiology, pest control, drug discovery, and other areas (Bull and Wichman 2001; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).”

    I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word “proof”. Don’t feel bad, that is also true of most life scientists, chemists, and physicists I have known. A better statement would have been, “The theory of evolution has accurately predicted outcomes of experiments in several areas including epidemiology, pest control, and drug discovery.”

    Just because a theory accurately predicts an experimental outcome, it doesn’t and shouldn’t, in any way, imply the theory is proven!!

  38. Ben Says:

    ScamMinded has a goal—-say “strengths and weaknesses” as many times as possible, without actually naming any weaknesses.

    What a desperate creationist troll. How transparent. Is lying in the name of Jesus okay?

  39. ScienceMinded Says:

    OK Ben, Lets look at just one of your statements/claimed facts more closely. You will like this one! Here it is:

    “Life appeared on earth more than two billion years ago.”

    Suppose we believe that God exists. Suppose God created the entire universe, all the elements in the universe, and life as we know it. I am an engineer, so it’s easy for me to think of the universe and everything in it as a system. As an engineer, I know the output of a system depends on 3 factors: The system itself (i.e., the entire universe), the inputs to the system (i.e., the elements, life, light, energy, …), and the initial state of the system (i.e., the state of the system at a particular point in time, like at it’s creation). Now ask yourself, how can we know that life appeared on earth more than 2-billion years ago? If a God could create the universe, life, light, energy, and all the elements of the universe, don’t you suppose he could also establish the initial state of the universe? If this is true, then life could have appeared on earth like 100,000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago. That is, God could make the initial state of the system appear any way he pleased. We will just never know, unless someday we develop the ability to travel back through time. So, saying that it is a fact that life appeared on earth more than 2-billion years ago is in no way true. A better statement would be that “Current techniques available in carbon dating indicate that life appeared on earth more than 2-billion years ago.” Does that mean it is a fact/proof that life did appear on earth more than 2-billion years ago. I don’t think so! Even though the carbon-dating evidence suggests that life began on earth more than 2-billion years ago, it is a big mistake to accept that as fact/proof. And this Ben, is just one example where evolution extremists, like you, are making unproven claims. The thing is Ben, you can gather all the evidence you want in support of the hypothesis, but you still can’t prove it as fact. You might be right but, you might also be wrong. And that is why people develop different beliefs and religions. Some people, including me, just happen to believe differently than you. Hey Ben, I don’t hold your beliefs against you, I just don’t accept your beliefs. And here enters the concept of faith. Since you, nor I, currently do not have any way to provide absolute proof about our own personal beliefs in regards to when life appeared on earth, we must rely on faith. And for you, evidence, such as carbon dating, gives you faith that your belief is true. My faith suggests otherwise!

  40. Biology Teacher Says:

    The Texas SBoE will begin to gain some respect when it acknowledges the weaknesses of its radical right-wing christian handicaps of the intellect.

  41. ScienceMinded Says:

    Biology Teacher: Given that Terri Leo continually wins SBOE elections in her district, which is a huge district, with over 80% of the vote, I would wager she has earned far more respect there than TFN has!

  42. Leigh Williams Says:

    Science-minded said: “Some people, including me, just happen to believe differently than you. Hey Ben, I don’t hold your beliefs against you, I just don’t accept your beliefs. And here enters the concept of faith. Since you, nor I, currently do not have any way to provide absolute proof about our own personal beliefs in regards to when life appeared on earth, we must rely on faith. ”

    Pure nonsense. Ben doesn’t have “beliefs”. He has the scientific method. Science is not about faith. Science is about what can be demonstrated empirically, which we call facts or evidence. It’s about testing hypotheses against facts that come from experiments and observations from paleontology, geology, genetics, microbiology, and astronomy (just to name a few of the disciplines involved). It’s about evaluating evidence and duplicating results so that we’re sure about our facts. It’s about constructing theories that can be tested, and about looking at new evidence that comes to light through research and ensuring that these new facts don’t invalidate our theories. And it’s also about correcting things we get wrong along the way when the new evidence is better than we had before.

    All of this evidence from all of these disciplines hangs together, and all of it demonstrates the truth of the theory of evolution, including the length of time life has been on our planet. Does that mean we know everything about how evolution works? Heck, no. But it does mean we’re on the right track. In fact, the ToE is probably the best-supported scientific theory we have, and new discoveries are being made literally every day that reinforce its value.

    So it’s not “faith” that supports Ben’s assertions about the earth and life on it. It’s a huge framework of observed evidence across almost every scientific discipline. THERE IS NO CONTROVERSY ABOUT THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION — other than that created out of whole cloth by poorly-educated religious fanatics. Nobody’s looking for “absolute truth” in science, you fool. That’s not how science works, and no scientist would ever claim she’d found it.

    And thus you demonstrate that you know NOTHING about science, “Science-minded”. Tell the truth from now on and call yourself “Creationist-minded”. Lying in public forums disgraces the name of Christ.

  43. Aquaria Says:

    Scam-Minded,

    You are no scientist, unless you’re one of those poor fools to get a degree from Liberty University, or Bob Jones, or some other worthless diploma mill bible college. You are spewing creationist blather, thinking that no one here has see any of your ludicrous points before.

    We’ve seen it.

    And seen it.

    And seen it.

    Go to Talk Origins, and learn something, such as…

    There is no difference between macro-and micro-evolution. None. Zero. It’s like saying you can walk across the room, but not across the state of Texas. That’s how puny your mind is. You can’t grasp the amount of time life has been evolving on earth being as big as Texas, to use the colloquial.

    You’re also laughably ignorant about how to argue rationally.

    Did you actually say that winning 80% of the vote means that someone is doing something right? Logic fail. Appeal to popularity. A billion people could believe that asteroids form from the crystallization of ignorance that comes from your mouth, but that does not mean it’s true.

    You’re a creationist. Quit lying about it. There’s a commandment about that.

  44. Ben Says:

    More ignorance from PseudoScienceMinded. The theory of evolution doesn’t address the origin of life.

    Go take a bath. You reek of panic.

  45. Ben Says:

    “Suppose we believe that God exists. Suppose God created the entire universe, etc, etc. blah, blah, blah…”

    Well, if we’re going to make assumptions about supernatural beings, that gives all of us free rein to make all sort of assumptions and devise all sorts of theories.

    Of course, I have one of my own. In case you missed it on other threads, I’ll share it here. I call it the Satan-wrote-the-Bible theory. Why? Because Satan wrote the bible, that’s why. Here are the main tenets of my theory:

    1. There is no god or gods; the theory of evolution is accurate.

    2. The earth (and everything else) was formed as a result of the Big Bang, billions of years ago.

    3. We don’t know how life originated, and we may never know.

    4. The only supernatural entity in existence is Satan. He didn’t create humankind, but he does have some limited powers than can be quite annoying. For instance, he has affected our thinking to make humans believe in thousands of different “gods” throughout history. He gives them funny names like Mordak, Zeus, and Yahweh, just because he thinks it’s humorous.

    5. Satan wrote the Bible as a means to torment mankind. He wants us to think there is a wonderful afterlife, but there isn’t. He got a real kick out of filling the Bible with stonings, genocide, slavery, incest, etc. He also wrote the Koran and some other religious texts just to stir up trouble.

    6. Satan planted the idea of intelligent design into some humans’ brains as a means to create havoc on earth. It appears to be working. Just look at the Discovery Institute. They are in the grip of Satan and don’t even realize it.

    7. Satan occasionally uses his limited powers to create “evidence” of intelligent design. For instance, he might make some organisms appear irreducibly complex. He also makes some people think the planet is much younger than it really is.

    8. There were a lot more fossils around that would have satisfied everybody, including creationists, as far as transitions, but Satan destroyed them.

    The funny thing, I have as much evidence for my theory as creationists have for their theory. And not a single creationist has been able to prove my theory wrong. You’re welcome to give it a shot.

  46. Coragyps Says:

    “They, and I, believe that strengths and weaknesses should be a part of the curriculum for all theories presented in public science classrooms including physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, geology, engineering, medicine, social studies, psychology, …, every theory!!!! ”

    Good luck with finding “intelligent design theory” itself, or finding any strengths it might have after you find it. All they have is armchair speculation – not even a hypothesis.

  47. ScienceMinded Says:

    So scientists don’t ever look for proof? You are obviously in a soft-science field if you are in a science field at all. Never forget, proof is extremely powerful. And if you have it, it is inarguable. Obviously, you pro-evolutionists don’t have it, and you never will for that matter. I see this as the root of all your frustration. And you all think I’m not telling the truth. That is simply not true. You are all paranoid. And Coragyps, if ID was ever taught in a public school classroom, I think the recognized strengths (if any) and weaknesses of ID should all be taught. And Leigh Williams, I appreciate your perspective on testing hypotheses and building evidence. My point is just that evidence can sometimes fool you. For example, If God made the universe appear just as it is, then all your evidence gathering might rightfully confirm that it does indeed appear that way, but in reality, it isn’t that way. It still doesn’t prove anything. So Leigh, you do need to rely on faith in terms of your belief. If it’s not provable, and neither evolution or my belief in God is, then you need to have faith. I think you guys do have lots of faith in the theory of evolution. I think you are confident that it is correct. Still it is unprovable, and I don’t accept all points of the theory. And, You are also wrong when you said there is no controversy about the theory of evolution. I think that is why we are having this discussion. That is why TFN is working so hard on their battle with the SBOE. And, for whoever said it, I believe there is a difference between micro and macro evolution. FYI, microevolution is evolution that takes place within a species. Macro evolution involves transitions from one species to another, for example, from ape to man. I do believe in micro evolution and I don’t believe in macro evolution. And FYI, I’m not lying! But it appears you are having trouble distinguishing between the truth and a lie. I invite you to closely reread everything I have posted here at TFN. Point out even one lie.

  48. TFN Says:

    ScienceMinded writes: “Never forget, proof is extremely powerful. And if you have it, it is inarguable.”
    Then: “My point is just that evidence can sometimes fool you. For example, If God made the universe appear just as it is, then all your evidence gathering might rightfully confirm that it does indeed appear that way, but in reality, it isn’t that way. It still doesn’t prove anything. ”

    What you’re saying is, “Show me the proof, but I will dismiss it in any case.” In other words, scientists should just give up on any research into the world around us because they can never be sure whether God planted misleading evidence to fool us or not. Well, some of us who are believers see the ability to reason as one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. You seem to see it as some kind of Divine practical joke. The real choice before the State Board of Education this week couldn’t be clearer. Will Texas schools teach our children sound, research-based science that prepares them to succeed and help our society progress in the 21st century and leave matters of faith to families and congregations? Or will our schools instead teach students that science is a meaningless game that can be replaced by personal beliefs imposed on them by politicians who get elected to public office? We believe that the desire for progress and the principle of religious freedom require that the state board take the former approach, not the latter.

  49. AnthonyK Says:

    Hey, science “minded” – would it be all right if we come along to your church and provide regular speakers to challenge the “strengths and weaknesses” of Religion to counter the sermon? Too broad perhaps – all right then, just the “strengths and weaknesses” of Christianity? Even more specifically the “strengths and weaknesses” of your particular brand of Christianity – wouldn’t that be reasonable?
    No, I guess it wouldn’t.
    What you have to bear in mind in this particular “debate” is that evolution-deniers such as SM are a)religiously motivated and b) lying about their motives. SM and his kin object to evolution – and only evolution – because it conflicts with the way they think God (and their God specifically) did the man from mud thing. And, of course they don’t “want” to be “mere animals”, and they think that their needs, and their fear of hell, and all that mumbo-jumbo, somehow provide a criticism of the discovered fact of evolution. Which, of course, they don’t.
    Once again, we know that evolution has happened, we know that all life on this planet is inter-related currently and historically, and that every single discovery we made since Darwin, plus of course everything we had known before him, is explained by the evolutionary model. It is only the details that scientists argue over. For example, here’s an example of a current “controversy” in evolutionary biology, and one hotly debated by biologists, just one simple question:
    “To what extent is lateral gene-transfer amongst the procaryotes a significant evolutionary factor, and what are the possible effect of this within the higher orders of life”
    Now, go into the science classrooms and teach that – which, by the way, not in conflict with any currently held position that evolution happened, since we know it did.
    Science minded is a liar and a troll.
    but as a research scientist
    Really? In what field?

    I don’t think it would take me too long to discover some weaknesses in the theory

    Remarkable. Being a “scientist” in another field, you would have no difficulty picking holes in an established scientific worldview? Hahahhahahahahahahahahah! You’re wasting your time here – go out and get that Nobel prize!
    I mean, evolutions has only survived all the challenges thrown it at over the last 150 years, and incorporated all the major scientific discoveries since then (including heredity, DNA, molecular biology…etc etc), to make it only stronger and more certain.

    Even though the carbon-dating evidence suggests that life began on earth more than 2-billion years ago

    Oh, I see. You really aren’t a scientist in any way shape or form are you? In fact you know nothing about it at all – and your posts are full of scientific howlers like this.
    You know, sometimes, I wish that one of the ten commandments had something to say about lying…
    Oh, really? Well in that case, SM will apologise for spouting his ignorance here and never post again, right?

  50. Ben Says:

    As Charles pointed out a few weeks ago with Jeff, it’s like talking to a tree. If it doesn’t support Genesis, these clowns will attack it.

  51. AnthonyK Says:

    evolution…from ape to man

    Of course, no such evolution has taken place. Homo Sapiens is an ape. And a mammal. And a tetrapod. And….
    You are not a scientist, SM. Your posts are so full of sciencey babble, you could not be. To take only one thing:
    <blockquote<Generally, when a call for proposals comes out, the call itself is addressing recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories.
    is religious, ignorant, BS. Scientists don’t bother much with attacking or maintaining the guiding-principles of their disciplines (with which “belief” has nothing to do) they do experiments designed to provide useful insights into some tiny little corner of science, any more than philosophers begin each day’s work work by convincingly arguing that they exist. (Compare religious belief here – isn’t every religious ceremony designed to assert, primarily that their version of God is real?)
    On the occasions that scientist do carry out research into the fundamental tenets of the ideas in their own particular branch of science, they must show that this new idea is not wrong, by providing a falsifiable prediction and trying to knock it down. I mean, no scientist wants to waste their time studying something which isn’t true, do they.
    But you understand nothing about science. Hey. thank goodness s we don’t have to depend on people like you to power technology – or my computer just wouldn’t work! And 5 or so million years of human beings didn’t provide the insight that enabled us eradicate (almost!) smallpox – no, it was scientists studying the way the world really works.
    You’re yet another liar for Christ, engaging in some clandestine (you think!) apologetics work. Go back to your prayers – at least then they only one you are embarrassing yourself in front of is God. And he doesn’t mind, After all, he made you that way, right?

  52. cyan Says:

    child indoctrinated with fundamentalist christian ideas, who then became an engineer: a technologist who applies knowledge gained by scientific thinking without doing that scientific thinking him/herself

    that’s all that is needed to explain the postings of “science minded”

    moniker shortened from “science minded, unless scientific inferences are not those “truths” taught to me from people I trust from birth on”

    progress a bit, “science minded”, to realizing that those early authorities were earnest, but not infallible

  53. Biology Teacher Says:

    ScienceMinded: “And you all think I’m not telling the truth. That is simply not true. You are all paranoid.”

    Reminds me of the old story about the private who is sarcastically told by his sergeant, “Everyone in the whole platoon is out of step — except you!” The private obliviously replies, “Well, you tell ’em, Sarge. You’re the one in charge.”

    It’s not paranoia if the fundamentalists really ARE out to harm science.

  54. Rocket Mike Says:

    ScienceMinded said, “Even though the carbon-dating evidence suggests that life began on earth more than 2-billion years ago, it is a big mistake to accept that as fact/proof.” at 10:11 pm, March 21, 2009.

    It is obvious that SM does not realize how ignorant he/she is about science. Any fool with a passing grade in high school biology has to know that carbon-dating only used to date things to a little over 50,000 years, and then it is only used on life forms. Dates for the earliest detectable life were determined by dating the rocks where the fossil evidence was found using several independant methods appropriate for the age of the rocks.

    SM you too can learn about science, if you care to study it. Remember though, ignorance is curable – stupidity and most cases of willful ignorance are not. Come back and talk to us when you have the equivalent of a high school education in science.

  55. Charles Says:

    Thank you Rocket Mike. You are absolutely correct about C-14 dating—something that I have occasion to use from time to time in my own research. It can also be used to date iron artifacts that contain carbon used in the smelting process. I am very surprised that ScienceMinded was not aware of this.

  56. Pi Guy Says:

    @ ScienceMinded:

    While you might be ScienceMinded you are clearly not ScienceEducated. Let me help you out with your false analogies of the limits of Newton’s and Ohm’s Laws and comparing them to “teaching both theories”.

    You are absolutely correct that when mass or velocity reach extremes that Newton’s Laws give way to Special Relativity. However, below those limits, Newton’s Laws still predict (that is, they tell us what to expect in a situation when the salient variable values, mass and velocity, are known) the behavior of baseballs, cars, rockets, and even electrons moving at, say, 1/5 the speed of light quite sufficiently. Likewise, Ohm’s Law is more than sufficient to predict (there’s that word again…) the voltage-current relationship in electric circuits from flashlights to the entire wire harness system in a car’s engine. And, again, you’re correct that when the frequencies reach some high-end limit, Ohm gives way to Maxwell. But still, Ohm and Newton are very good models when applied in the appropriate circumstances.

    Maxwell and Einstein give us what we need to make more accurate predictions (uh, oh – I detect a pattern) than Ohm and Newton even in the macroscopic world but it comes at a cost that you also correctly note: more complicated mathematics. But applying Special Relativity to the problem of figuring out how far a car will skid on a wet road is like killing a fly with a baseball bat. It still works. Typically, though, it’s not worth the effort just to make a prediction that eliminates a few additional thousandths of a per cent error. So, in most cases, it’s worthwhile to sacrifice the accuracy and use the “weaker” theories of Newton and Ohm. And, since you’re really no scientist, I put the word in quotes to indicate that there’s nothing weak about them at all (I just wanted to explain that because I was afraid that you wouldn’t be able to detect the irony that I intended).

    Now, back to analogies. What you don’t know (oh, yes – I’m confident that you are completely unaware of how science works) is that Newton’s Laws can be derived from the equations governing Special Relativity. In other words, Newton’s Laws are a subset of laws of Special Relativity. They’re not independent of each other in any way. The same goes for Ohm’s Law and Maxwell’s Eqs. That’s why when they’re applied, within their limiting assumptions, to real-world (you’ve been to the real-world – haven’t you?) problems they yield similar – but not identical – results. But the same cannot be said for any non-scientific (that is, make believe) alternative to the theory of evolution.

    In no way is any form of creationism a subset of evolution. It predicts NOTHING, not at any scale. It explains NOTHING. It predicts NOTHING. It has no limiting assumptions other than that some omnipotent agent be present to start it all off. Evolution, OTOH, has made validated predictions about living things that are too numerous to cite here (yes – even the fossils of transitional form!). And while the theory of evolution, even as it stands currently, has its own set of limiting assumptions, it turns out that those assumptions are statements about things which are evident in nature. Translation: the assumptions are fact gleaned from the real-world. The Theory of Evolution does not predict every phenomena that we observe in nature but that doesn’t make it weak anymore than the discovery of sub-atomic particles make Newton’s Laws of Motion weak. They’re just incomplete.

    “I don’t think it would take me too long to discover some weaknesses in the theory.”

    You’ve failed to notice the weakness in your own argument and you think that you can identify weaknesses in a theory of which you’re so clearly not knowledgeable? Puh-lease! Take a freaking biology class and, if you’ve already done so, pay attention this time! To paraphrase Wittgenstein, “Whereof you know nothing, shut up!” I suggest that that’d be good advise for Mr. McLean and Ms. Leo as well.

    Now, if I was a regular here I might call “Troll” and say that your sciency-sounding name is an attempt to make you think that you’re smart or educated. But there’s no need. It’s clear that no one who’s commented before me fell for your charade either. You know why? Because people who appreciate the methods and value of science can smell someone like you even through the ether. It would be much the same as if I went to AnswersInGenisis.org and used the name ReligionMinded while trying to stir the pot. They’d call me out and, as is routinely the policy on so many of your favorite pro-religion sites, my comments would be stricken and, if I persisted in asserting true thing, I’d be banned.

    You’re apparently free to share your thoughts and feelings. The down-side – well, for you, at least – is that you will be forced to confront evidence and arguments for which you are completely at a loss to counter. I’ll give you some credit, though. In a battle of wits, it is awfully brave of you to enter unarmed.

  57. Pi Guy Says:

    March 21, 2009 at 9:33 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    “Just because a theory accurately predicts an experimental outcome, it doesn’t and shouldn’t, in any way, imply the theory is proven!!”

    March 22, 2009 at 10:25 am, ScienceMinded says,

    “So scientists don’t ever look for proof? You are obviously in a soft-science field if you are in a science field at all. Never forget, proof is extremely powerful. [emphases mine]

    March 21, 2009 at 9:05 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    “From my viewpoint, and many other scientists’ viewpoints, gaps do present themselves as weaknesses!!” [emphasis mine]

    March 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm, ScienceMinded says,

    Suppose we believe that God exists. Suppose God created the entire universe, all the elements in the universe, and life as we know it.” [emphasis mine]

    And later that same entry, ScienceMinded says,

    “I am an engineer, so it’s easy for me to think of the universe and everything in it as a system.” [emphasis mine]

    Goodness, where to start…

    How about proof. As an engineer, as you claim to be, you no doubt took some heavy duty math and science classes. In all that time, it is surprising that you’ve never heard the silly quote that “many other scientists” use whenever someone attempts to introduce the word proof into a scientific discussion: “Proof is for math and alcohol.” It has no bearing on the validity of a theory. In fact, you come close to getting it in the first statement that I’ve quoted above but just missed it. You are correct a theory correctly predicts the experimental outcome proves nothing. It does, however, support the posed hypothesis. And, unless or until experimental evidence turns up that does not support the hypothesis, it’s deemed valid and often useful. Otherwise, it’s in conforming to experimental findings that transitions a hypothesis to a theory. No proof needed. So, to answer your question, NO, scientists do not look for proof. They seek evidence that supports – or refutes – their hypothesis.

    Bad Logic. In an argument attempting to be valid, if just one single premise is not true, the argument falls apart and the conclusion is false. In my previous comment, I mentioned how all theories have limiting assumptions. Unfortunately, I overlooked your “Suppose we believe that God exists.” Wow. Just wow. You present an argument in which the first three premises are not true. Now, I’m not absolutely certain that any of them are conclusively false but they are all unfalsifiable and, therefore, they are not true. A dead end. If you’re interested, some guy named Aristotle wrote a whole bunch on this subject. You might want to read what he has to say.

    Pretending to be a scientist. You claim to be an engineer. I sincerely doubt it and, in support (note: not proof) of that assertion, I’ve noted that, not only do you not even understand some basic tenets of science, you seem to have missed out on some of the geeky humor so common amongst my science-educated friends. I was a physics major in college, have worked in the defense industry, and actually really truly know many people who studied science, math, and engineering in school and practice it in the workplace. And, invariably, whenever I’ve tried the “Proof is for math…” schtick on them, more of them then not smile and say, “Heard that already.” It’s common knowledge in science circles. Somehow you missed that. Again, that proves nothing but the evidence sure is strong that you’ve not really rubbed shoulders with many real scientists. And, in that same vein, it sounds pretty silly when you say “…and many other scientists…”, as if you’re actually one of them. But you say that you’re an engineer. Wouldn’t that make you EngineeringMinded? (Psssst… go read an article on evolutionary algorithms. They use them in all kinds of engineering fields. You’ve probably seen them in your wor… oh, wait. Never mind.)

    Gaps = Weaknesses? I think I’d pretty well dashed that to pieces already in my previous comment but, once again, that you must switch models (laws, theories) to account for impedance rather than resistance for circuits oscillating at sufficiently high frequencies is not an indication of any inherent weakness of Ohm’s Law’s. Ohm only claims to address problems of a limited scope. Likewise for evolution. Extrapolating the model back past the available data, as you know from being an engineer (?), one should indeed be cautious and scientists tend to avoid that pitfall. Predictions made outside the data envelope are not often reliable. Evolution is not a creation story it’ but, rather, a story about what happens to already-living things’ve changed over time. You’re not even fighting the right fight. But, since you seem to think that evolution is in conflict with less-than-scientific creation stories, that alone indicates that you’ve little idea of what the theory actually suggests. Evolution does not tell us how life began. That subject is known as abiogenesis. Perhaps you should find a site hosted by cosmic abiogenesis or Stanley Miller enthusiasts and troll there.

    Soft-sciences? Look, I’m not a shill for social science but let me try to explain how models work. In engineering, as you know (cough… BS…cough), the models – engineers tend to refer to them as formulas; I don’t know what you call them – that are used to solve problems are always being applied within their presumptive limits and, as a result, they tend to yield results which match very neatly with what we see when the design comes to fruition. It’s a very, very strong correlation. This is called determinism. However, when a sociologist says that there is a correlation between a child’s socio-economic status and the likelihood that they’ll complete a college degree, it doesn’t mean that 100% of the children below the poverty line should just give up hope of a white collar career. (It’s a good thing that cardiologist Ben Carson didn’t.) At any rate, “soft”-sciences might not be strongly deterministic but they do work – ie: they give us some tools for making predictions and choosing appropriate interventions – because they take advantage of the scientific method: observe, sense a pattern, design an experiment or study to see if the pattern holds, observe lots more, draw a conclusion. In science, that conclusion is called a theory. You’re familiar with the scientific method, aren’t you? Oh, that’s right – you’re an engineer. Of course you are. Perhaps you’ve just chosen to ignore it when it doesn’t produce the results to wish you’d prefer to cling.

    I’ll give you some credit, at least. You’ve thus far managed to avoid the standard creationist canard about evolution violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. If you are thinking of going there, I’ll give you a hint: closed system. And, as an engineer, you know all about systems – right?

  58. Ben Says:

    It’s Pi Guy for the win!

  59. ScienceMinded Says:

    Hey PI guy and TFNer’s,

    If you actually read what I wrote more closely, you will see that we are nearly in 100% agreement on the limitations of Newton’s “laws” and Ohm’s “law”. Your absolutely wrong, however, when you say that Newton’s laws are a subset of the Theory of Relativity or that Ohm’s law is a subset of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetics. The correct statement is that Ohm’s law is a limiting case, not a subset, of Maxwell’s theory. Newton’s laws are limiting cases, not subsets, of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Obviously, you haven’t taken much math. I quoted the word law in reference to both Newton and Ohm because most soft scientists, such as yourselves, believe a law is even more powerful than a theory. The reality is, and always will be, that even Newton’s laws and Ohm’s law have recognized weaknesses. But, all you soft-science advocates don’t seem to have a clue as to what it means to be weak and are also clueless when you think that weaknesses do not have impacts. Newton’s laws do not accurately predict the motion of objects with speeds approaching the speed of light. For one, mass is a function of speed at those rates. That is indeed a weakness of Newton’s laws, which assumes the mass of an object remains constant at all speeds. You would be foolish to apply Newton’s laws under that condition, now wouldn’t you. The same for Ohm’s law at high frequencies. And, by the way PI guy, Ohm’s law still accurately describes the V-I relationships in AC circuits that are purely resistive. So yes, under the proper conditions, Ohm’s law and Newton’s laws are good approximations. Under improper conditions, the laws are weak!!! It’s OK, go ahead and admit it, the “laws” are weak under some conditions — even if those conditions don’t occur very often — they are still weak when the conditions don’t support their use. Just give it up you guys, even “Laws” have weaknesses. Just admit it. I won’t tease you too bad. Who will be the first brave soul to admit that theories have weaknesses and that even previously accepted scientific laws have weaknesses? That is the whole point I am trying to make here, that you are all working so hard at discrediting. It really does make you look arrogant and ignorant. ANd even though you would all like to think so, creationism really has nothing to do with advocating that both recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories should be taught in our public schools. Science does!!!!!!! Come on now, I know really believe it, just admit it, don’t be ashamed!!!!!!!

    By the way, Not a single one of you has pointed out a single lie that you all so adamantly claim I’ve stated. I wonder why that is? I’ll give you a clue, it has something to do with your inability to distinguish the truth from a lie. That happens when you lie to yourself so often, that after awhile, they become exceedingly difficult to distinguish.

    And, I’ll pray for our Texas kids that the SBOE prevails in their current agenda — that both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all theories taught in our public schools should be presented. You really should too!!!!!!!!

  60. Ben Says:

    AP Newswire——According to reports, it appears that Satan’s grip on the group of religious zealots known as creationists is growing stronger each day.

    Many Christians hold the belief that Satan can control an individual’s thoughts and actions, a theory made popular in the movie The Exorcist.

    “Could Satan manipulate the thoughts of a creationist?” asked Father Guido Sarducci. “Absolutely. Ol’ Mephisto is pretty crafty. If he wanted to make a person deny evolution, it wouldn’t be a problem.”

    As evidence, Sarducci points to the Texas Freedom Network blog, where rabid creationists are spewing their venom on a regular basis——and the problem seems to be growing.

    Sarducci says, “First there was only one regular creationist, a man named Fafarman. But lately a seriously misguided zealot known as ScienceMinded has been babbling all sorts of misinformation. It’s quite obvious that he is lying to promote an agenda. I hope he repents; otherwise, he will burn eternally in the fire of a thousand suns.”

    PZ Myers, a well-know evolutionary biologist, said, “Eternally is an awful long time.”

  61. Charles Says:

    Science-Minded:

    As has been said here on TFN in various times and in many ways, “weaknesses” are not the issue here. The ROOT issue is that religiously motivated members of the SBOE want to turn Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school adminstrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. That is the fundamental fact at issue here, and you know it. This is deceit on your part plain and simple. In my opinion, this kind of deceit is a form of lying. With these other guys, you may be able to raise a camouflaging cloud of dust with assorted arguments about physics and various other aspects of science, but it does not fool me. My gift of the Holy Spirit is spiritual discernment. Things that are shaded and opaque to most people are transparent and crystal clear to me.

    Ben and Pi-Guy. Those were noble attempts no doubt. However, as you have noticed, whatever you say does not matter. All he has to do is stick to his position no matter what ideas or evidences are presented to him. The ensuing argument kicks up a mighty lot of verbal dust and fallout that camouflages the root issue. His ruse here is to get you to focus so hard on the trees and tiny plant sprigs on the ground beneath the trees that you forget that the big issue is the forest as a whole. He wants to suck you and the TFN readers into this black hole so the larger issue or root cause is lost in the swirl. To reiterate:

    “The ROOT issue is that religiously motivated members of the SBOE want to turn Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school adminstrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. That is the fundamental fact at issue here.”

  62. Rocket Mike Says:

    ScienceMinded is obviously using a definition of weakness that no one else in the discussion is using, especially the one that the biblical literalist zealots on the SBOE have been known to use. The definition abused by the BLZ’s is the only one that counts in the current situation. They think that the same old debunked claptrap the Creationists, et al. have tried to use for years is real sciencey stuff that they can use to fool the general public. The scientific community is rightly opposing that usage of “weaknesses” because the BLZ bubbas tried use it to put 10 out of 12 biology texts up for adoption in 2003 on the disapproved list on the excuse that the books did not have those “weaknesses”.

    SM, start using the same definition as everyone else involved, go work on your GED, and don’t come back until you have your list of “weaknesses” and your GED.

  63. ScienceMinded Says:

    Dear Charles,

    Your gift is deceiving you!! What your “gift” is telling you is really not my intent!! You know, I just recently stumbled on to TFN and I saw the posts about “strengths and weaknesses”. I just don’t see what is so bad about teaching both recognized strengths and weaknesses? I’m not trying to promote another agenda, really. I just truly believe that it would be best to teach kids (have you not heard it enough from me yet?) both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of theories presented in the classroom!!! AND, your root issue, which I believe is really based on your paranoia, is not my issue at all. Now don’t you guys think you are just really being stubborn? I’ll tell you, it certainly appears that way! And FYI, I don’t believe or support turning Texas science classrooms into kangaroo courts where religiously-motivated local school administrators and science teachers (egged on by local Christian fundamentalist parents) can stage a premeditated sham trial of evolution and have it burned at the stake before the 5th period bell rings. I believe that theories should stand, NOT fall, with both their recognized strengths and weaknesses. And like I pointed out before, and as PI Guy also pointed out, weaknesses don’t necessarily mean a theory is not useful. I do believe that extending theories to overcome weaknesses, just as Einstein and Maxwell did, can improve our overall understanding of natural and physical processes. Now is that so bad??

    To Rocket Mike: Come on Mike, I’m not using a play on words here. However, I agree with you, like I suggested in my last post, I don’t think the majority of the TFN bloggers really understand what a weakness is! How about we use this definition: A weakness is a deficiency. IN terms of a theory, a deficiency inadequately, or inaccurately, predicts the outcome of a process. Weaknesses can also be thought of as being insufficient or having limitations. Let’s not make it complicated. Overall, I think the concept of a weakness is pretty simple and straight forward to comprehend. Especially for anyone who claims to be anything beyond a pseudo-scientist. And don’t forget, not all limitations are that serious, but some are. I just truly think that our kids will be better off if they are presented with both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of all theories presented in the classroom.

    Frankly, I am surprised TFN supporters, who say they want to promote science, have such a difficult time in accepting and promoting both strengths and weaknesses. IN addition, I think it should also be taught, that just because a theory has a weakness, or limitation, or is inadequate, inaccurate, deficient, or insufficient in some way, doesn’t, in any way, mean the theory doesn’t convey valuable information!!!

    Most Truly, ScienceMinded

  64. Rocket Mike Says:

    SM,
    This fight over the use of the term “weaknesses” stems from the 2003 Texas textbook adoption sequence. Ken Miller was quoted as saying that all the textbooks under consideration at the time already covered the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory in the sense that you seem to be trying to convey (or in the sense most ordinary citizens would use). However, the BLZ’s on the board then tried to use the “weakness” word as an excuse to try to reject textbooks that did not have their pet phony Creationist objections. They just didn’t have the votes. That is why the science community is adament about excluding that phraseology. Fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice – not a chance!

  65. Ben Says:

    CREATIONIST TACTICS REMAIN UNCHANGED FOR MANY DECADES

    AP Newswire—In an appalling display of faulty logic and transparent motivations, a creationist known only as “ScienceMinded” continues to plague a popular Texas blog.

    “He’s using all the old tricks,” said a former creationist named Moe Fine. “For instance, he pretends to care about science, when in fact he only wants to further his religious agenda. He thinks nobody will notice that he’s totally ignorant about the workings of science, but he fails miserably, just like I used to in my own creationist days. Boy, was I a dolt back then.”

    Fine says that creationists such as ScienceMinded can be quite repetitive. “This particular guy is like a broken record. Strengths and weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses. Of course, if you ask him to name a legitimate weakness, he can hardly form a coherent sentence. My brothers Larry and Shemp are more logical and rational, and they sometimes eat paste.”

    Moe Fine also warns of a practice known as morphing. “A fairly unintelligent creationist named Jeff was hanging around a few weeks back. He babbled and prattled and accomplished nothing, so it appears he decided to reinvent himself and take another shot at it. If anything, he’s even less intelligent this time around.”

  66. ScienceMinded Says:

    Rocket Mike, I still think it would be better for the science community to embrace the teaching of both strengths and weaknesses. If a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum. Likewise for strengths. I also believe a theory should be allowed to evolve. That would include the correction of misrepresentations, errors, as well as new evidence, whether supporting or nonsupporting.

  67. Charles Says:

    ScienceMinded:

    Ben and I have some questions for you. What denomination is your church? Are you a Biblical inerrantist who believes that the Bible contains perfectly accurate science and history? Do you believe that the many mainline Christian denominations such as the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, and Catholic Church are apostate? Is the authorized King James Version of the Bible the only true and really acceptable Bible?

    So far, you have refused to answer such questions. Personally, I think you have refused to answer them because the truth will totally undermine your storyline about being fairminded on the evolution “weaknesses” issue. And remember, Jesus does not want you to lie about it. To the best of my memory, there is no Biblical verse saying that lying is okay as long as it is for a “righteous” cause.

    Show some guts son or move on to another website.

  68. ScienceMinded Says:

    Charles and Ben,

    This is nothing about religious beliefs. You might focus on staying on subject!! Your desire to attack religious beliefs is a lame attempt to divert the discussion away from the issue I am advocating — strengths and weaknesses. And Rocket Mike, thanks for being honest about why TFN and supporters won’t buy in to advocating both strengths and weaknesses. I still think it is best to embrace the teaching of both strengths and weaknesses. And like I said before, if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum. Likewise for strengths.

  69. TFN Says:

    ScienceMinded writes: “if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum.”

    Regarding evolution, none has been recognized or validated by science. But that hasn’t stopped evolution opponents from trying to reject textbooks that don’t include their phony “weaknesses” anyway. So it’s time to end this “strengths and weaknesses” charade.

  70. ScienceMinded Says:

    No TFN, it’s not. IT’s time for you to end your charade of saying you support science and religious freedom and civil rights. Support strengths and weaknesses!! And, like I previously pointed out, you are foolish to think that even one theory, especially a theory in the life-science arena, does not possess a single weakness. Shame on you!!

  71. Ben Says:

    At this point, I’m starting to wonder if PseudoScienceMinded is the greatest Poe ever.

    (For anyone unfamiliar with Poe’s Law: “Poe’s Law relates to fundamentalism, and the difficulty of identifying actual parodies thereof. It suggests that, in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they may both espouse equally extreme beliefs. Poe’s law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they think he’s a “deep cover liberal” trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes.)

    Think about it: Could anyone really be as dishonest, deceptive, narrow-minded, and slimy as SM? And what’s with the abundance of exclamation points? That shouts Poe.

    If you are really a Poe, excellent job. You’re making the creationists look like utter idiots—even more so than usual.

  72. Ben Says:

    Now that I think about it, SM isn’t quite a Poe, but not exactly a concern troll either. Just a liar, I guess.

  73. ScienceMinded Says:

    Well Ben. Quite the contrary. You and TFN make creationists, and everyone else, look like utter geniuses!!!! I know you didn’t intend it this way, but thanks for your support anyway!

  74. Ben Says:

    Come on, Terri. Stop posting here. You look foolish.

  75. Pi Guy Says:

    Am I the only one with an image of Science/Engineering/ReligionMinded running around with his fingers in his ears saying, “LA LA LA – I can’t heeeear you!”?

    Charles is right. SM (I almost wrote S&M; glad I resisted that urge…) is merely trying draw the discussion away from the issue. The Board should do their jobs – and no, editing the wording in the science standards is not their job – and let the scientists (no, SM – real scientists) and science educators come up with the curricula.

  76. ndt Says:

    ScienceMinded Says:

    March 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm
    TFN and followers,

    I said the agenda should not be all about evolution. It should be and is supposed to be about advocating the teaching of recognized strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories in the public science classrooms. I agree that the SBOE should not be trying to eliminate evolution from biology texts. I don’t believe that is what they are trying to do.

    Then you’re not paying attention. Look at Terri Leo and Don McLeroy’s own words.

  77. Larry Fafarman Says:

    TFN Says (March 24, 2009 at 9:49 am) —
    –ScienceMinded writes: “if a weakness has not been recognized and validated, then it shouldn’t be presented as part of the curriculum.” —

    Sometimes it is appropriate to teach about invalid criticisms of evolution.

    — Regarding evolution, none has been recognized or validated by science. —

    There is often no consensus — even among scientists — as to whether a criticism of evolution is a real weakness. And we should leave open the possibility that real weaknesses of evolution might be discovered in the future.

    Anyway, “weaknesses” is not a good word here, because invalid criticisms of a theory are not real weaknesses. I have proposed that the term “strengths and weaknesses” be replaced by “strengths and criticisms.” “Criticisms” is a comprehensive, somewhat neutral term that covers real weaknesses, invalid criticisms, criticisms of whole theories, and criticisms of imperfections in theories.

    Pi Guy Says (March 24, 2009 at 12:51 pm) —
    –The Board should do their jobs — and no, editing the wording in the science standards is not their job — and let the scientists (no, SM – real scientists) and science educators come up with the curricula.–

    Wrong. There is no reason to defer to experts’ opinions on questions that do not require any expertise to answer. And BTW, four of the seven board members who voted against dropping the “weaknesses” language have backgrounds in science (five if you count McLeroy, who must have studied a lot of physical science in college as an electrical engineering student), at least three of them in biology.

    BTW, some branches of science in the earlier drafts of the new science standards had the “strengths and weaknesses” language, so if the board had just stood back and let the standards-drafting committees do their jobs, that language would still be there.

  78. Ben Says:

    When I read Larry’s babblings (by way of Satan, of course), I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

  79. ScienceMinded Says:

    Hey PI Guy, I think the wording is still there. I think its been there for nearly 20 years. And now, “real” scientists like all you and all the other TFN supporters think it needs to be changed! You guys are so fearful and paranoid of anything to do with God and religion!!

  80. Pi Guy Says:

    @ SM:

    Yes, that text exists in the 1998 TEKS. That it’s been worded so poorly for so long is precisely why it needs to be changed. It’s just plain wrong.

    The changes recommended by the 2009 Standards Committee indicate that they wish to replace “strengths and weaknesses” with more scientific language. That’s because it’s been long-known that the only reason that that older phrasing was inserted in the first place was to give science teachers who hold beliefs not based on “empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing” a loophole for not having to teach students how science really works and suspending natural law for the supernatural – an area that lies completely outside of science. Period. No “real” scientist would use language like that. (BTW: Why is it that you keep referring to “real” and “soft” scientists so disparagingly? It’s almost as if you’re trying to convince us that you’re a scientist or something…)

    No one is paranoid of your God and your religion – when they’re discussed in the appropriate forum. The science classroom is not that forum. Your notion of how science works appears to have been warped by a childhood of brainwashing that apparently has caused you to willfully ignore what is true and demonstrable, to suspend reason, in favor of something completely unsupportable. There is a great deal of empirical evidence in support of evolution – arkloads – and that, therefore, is why it’s presented in science classes. Chemists haven’t solved every problem in their field applying the known laws of chemistry (I guess you’d say it’s “weak” despite uncountable successes at modeling the world…) but I don’t see anyone stamping their feet and filling school boards with people pushing for the inclusion of alchemy in their standards. Know why? Because alchemy has no evidentiary support and nothing in chemistry is conflicts with any commonly held mythologies, as far as I know. But if there was any conflict, it’s clear that the lack of supporting evidence wouldn’t prevent its adherents from pushing alchemy in order to suppress thinking that runs counter to their ideology.

    The refutation of any theory needs to be accompanied by an alternative that is likewise empirically-based. Citing supposed and unsupported weaknesses (see McLeroy’s list of three absolutely incorrect and most unscientifically arrived-at “weaknesses” here) isn’t science. The doubt that people like you and the Board wish to cast on evolution must come result from another logically reasonable hypothesis. At this time, you and those who hope and wish that evolution was not already a well-validated model of nature have nothing to offer that is either empirical or reasonable. If such a theory existed, we wouldn’t even need to have this debate. Put up or shut up.

    I suggest that we teach sound science practices in the science classroom and leave the discussions of faith – and weaknesses – to social studies and philosophy classes and at home and church. Science is a methodology, a framework, by which new knowledge is discovered and old knowledge is tested repeatedly. It’s not a trivia contest where facts are memorized and regurgitated at test time. I mean, if the students actually apply the methodology, who knows – they might actually start to think for themselves. And, of course, we all know that that’s what you really fear: the kids might actually come to conclusions different than those that they’ve been force-fed their whole young lives and wonder why all the grown-up have been misleading them for so long. As Lenin said, “Give me a child for the first five years of his life and he will be mine forever.” Now, you and yours want to take away their entire childhood in order to coerce them to cling to belief in a fairy tale whose influence is rapidly fading, both as an explanation of how the world came to be the way it is and as a standard for moral guidance.

    The paranoia, I assert, is far more evident on your side of the fence. To quote Thomas Jefferson,

    “Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”

    Nowthat is science-minded. Which begs the question: of what mind are you really?

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