Liberty Institute: ‘So-Called Scientists’

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The State Board of Education late last week approved science instructional materials that will be in classrooms for the next decade, a decision lauded by TFN because the materials are free of creationist anti-science propaganda. But that’s not what we’re here for in this blog post. We’re here for the sideshow that is the far-right Liberty Institute, the Texas offspring of Focus on the Family.

Prior to Thursday’s SBOE hearing, TFN held a press conference in the lobby of the Texas Education Agency building for which plenty of media showed. Aaaaand Liberty Institute’s lawyer-lobbyist showed up.

We don’t really care that he was there. It was a public building and it was a public event. But it’s what he said after the press conference that caught our attention. Approached by a reporter to get his side’s viewpoint, he referred to our speakers as “so-called scientists.”

We would normally let such a cheap swipe go, but the people we invited to speak for us took time out of their busy lives — and in one case traveled across the country — for the sake of the education of the children of this state. So, yeah, we’re going to stand up for them a little.

Let’s do some comparisons by going over the qualifications of the “so-called scientists.”

At our press conference we had (in alphabetical order) Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education, Southern Methodist University Prof. Ron Wetherington, and Matt Winkler, the CEO of Asuragen and chairman of Mirna Therapeutics.

Here’s a little bit about each of our speakers:

Josh Rosenau is director of programs and policy for the National Center for Science Education. Founded in 1981, NCSE is a not-for-profit, membership organization providing information and resources for schools, parents and concerned citizens working to keep evolution in public school science education. NCSE educates the press and public about the scientific, educational, and legal aspects of the creation and evolution controversy, and supplies needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels. NCSE is based in Oakland, Calif.

Prof. Ron Wetherington is an archaeologist and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Prof. Wetheringon served as an expert adviser to the Texas State Board of Education during the revision of science curriculum standards in 2009. This year he served on a panel reviewing proposed science instructional materials submitted by publishers in the spring.

Matt Winkler is CEO of Asuragen and Chairman of Mirna Therapeutics. He received a B.S. degree in Genetics and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined the Zoology Department of the University of Texas in 1983. In 1988, as an Associate Professor, he started Ambion, Inc. a molecular biology “tool” company. Ambion became the “preeminent molecular biology tools company” focused on RNA with about 400 employees located in Austin, Cambridge, England and Tokyo, Japan. In March of 2006 he sold the research products division of Ambion to Applied Biosystems and with about 100 employees started Asuragen, an oncology centric, molecular diagnostics company with a strong focus around RNA. In December of 2007 Asuragen created Mirna Therapeutics, as a “carve out of Asuragen” to develop cancer therapeutics based on miRNA. He is the author of over 30 scientific publications and has 9 issued patents.

Not speaking at the press conference but with us throughout last week’s SBOE meeting was Steve Schafersman:

Steve Schafersman is a former university science professor who taught at Houston Community College, the University of Houston, Miami University (Ohio), and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He holds a PhD in Geology (evolutionary paleontology, sedimentary petrology) from Rice University. He currently works in the petroleum industry in West Texas and is the president of Texas Citizens for Science.

Now let’s compare the above with the science cred of Liberty Institute’s lawyer-lobbyist:

That’s right. None.

And these are the science credentials of the people Liberty Institute brought to the SBOE meeting:

Yup. None again.

Yet, Liberty Institute sneeringly refers to “so-called scientists” who testified in support of teaching about evolutionary science.

We’d like to take this chance to thank all of the scientists and friends from organizations like the National Center for Science Education and Texas Citizens for Science who were with us prior, during and after last week’s science adoption. We already thanked them last week but, really, they can’t be thanked enough.

14 Responses to “Liberty Institute: ‘So-Called Scientists’”

  1. Quentin Linux Dergane Says:

    Hey, there was a space that was left blank, was that intentional?😛

    There was many good arguments for evolution and against intelligent design that I’d never even thought of before, I applaud everyone’s great efforts and hope that they continue to be successful!

  2. JamesBreck Says:

    The Liberty Institute is to science what David Barton is to American history. Frauds abound in the great state of Texas.

  3. jdg Says:

    Johnathan Saenz is a pupet to Kelly Shackelford. He just pulls his strings.

  4. Joseph Allen Says:

    Darwinian Evolution is NOT yet Science because The HYPOTHESES of Darwinian Evolution have NOT yet been proven/demonstrated by designed experiments. Biology is an EMPIRICAL SCIENCE and Hypotheses must be proven/demonstrated by designed experiments.

  5. Adam R. Says:

    You have been sadly misinformed, Mr. Allen. Evolution has been demonstrated in the laboratory.

  6. Leigh Williams Says:

    Sad that you’re revealing your utter ignorance of the scientific method and of modern evolutionary theory, Joseph. If I were you, I’d think twice before showing the world that I was incapable of doing a google search.

    And I add to the chorus of gratitude for Steve, Josh, Matt, and Ron. All four are heroes.

  7. JamesBreck Says:

    You’re all wet Joseph. Scientists put a theory out there and encourage others to try and disprove their idea. After repeated tests if not disproven that theory becomes accepted as valid. Evolution has been put to the test time and time again for years and years and not disproven.

    At the Dover (PA) trial the parasites pushing the intelligent design idiocy made the argument that some organisms are so complex they cannot possibly be a result of evolution. That pathetic nonsense was the best they could come up with. But several scientists stepped forth and proved that idea to be completely false. I’d encourage you to look at the decision in that trial Joseph. It wasn’t a close call; if it were the Battle of New Orleans then the intelligent design fools were the Brits. They got slaughtered.

    And now the sick, twisted minds of the the religious right have come up with this “personhood” garbage that is being pushed in several states. Since life begins at the moment of conception then all abortion is murder. Life begins at the moment of conception? Why, because that’s when the soul enters the body? Gosh that sounds like it comes directly from the Bible. I think the 1st Amendment may be relevant here.

  8. Ca3799 Says:

    Joseph, you can buy used textbooks at Half Price Books for really cheap- often 5 bucks or less. Get one and check it out. they are really interesting!

  9. Eric Hetvile Says:

    JamesBreck – Some abortion foes have continued to push for the defining of “personhood” at the moment of fertilization. “When the sperm meets the egg.” If this movement is successful, a woman could be charged with murder for using the “morning after” pill, regular birth control pills, and for having “a slippery uterus”.

  10. Charles Says:

    Yep!! The produce of the “fornicatous” womb is the spice that serves the white Christian fundamentalist and far right Evangelical adoption train. Sin or not, the spice must flow. Anything that interrupts the flow of the spice and the health of the spice market is a dire threat that needs to be protected by all means possible.

  11. JamesBreck Says:

    Eric what’s the next phase? Anyone that has thoughts about sex that are non-procreative in nature gets shipped off to the the big house for 20 years? Gosh we better build a whole bunch of prisons then. Talk about kick starting the economy!

  12. jdg Says:

    ***** Joseph Allen ******

    Another clueless individual who doesn’t know what evolution is.

  13. Steven Schafersman Says:

    Thank you very much, TFN. I constantly value your help in our efforts of mutual concern, and your efforts in all the political topics you address that I don’t. In 2011 we did much better than in 2009. Hard work? New political reality? I’m not sure, everybody. You be the judge. And keep supporting TFN.

  14. Ryan Says:

    Thanks, Steve. It was certainly a group effort. Such a positive result would not have been possible without all the good work of TCS this year and in so many years past. Our thanks to you as well. Onward!

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