I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Recommended changes for Florida evolution education standards

The Florida Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision on the proposed state science standards on Feb. 19. Here are my minimal recommendations for changes to the evolution education standards:

(1) Insert the word "theory."

(2) Delete or modify the following introduction:

Evolution and Diversity: A. Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence. B. Organisms are classified based on their evolutionary history. C. Natural selection is the primary mechanism leading to evolutionary change.

Statement "A" is a matter of opinion and arguably a worldview and students should not be tested on this statement. Statement "B" applies only to cladistic taxonomy -- the statement is not true about Linnaean taxonomy, which is still in widespread use. Statement "C" is wrong -- it is like saying that hydrogen is the "primary" element in water molecules. Natural selection is not enough -- genetic change is also needed for natural selection to act upon.

IMO it would also be nice to add a statement about teaching both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution theory.

The legislature also might make changes in the standards -- legislators have already threatened to add the word "theory."

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You keep using this word "theory"- I don't think it means what you think it means...

Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> I don't think it means what you think it means... <

Larry often redefines words which somewhat explains the nonsensical nature of many of his posts.

As Larry would say a word says what he means it to say, no more no less. You can therefore expect nothing but gibberish.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 6:50:00 AM

Saturday, February 16, 2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said...

>>>>> You keep using this word "theory"- I don't think it means what you think it means... <<<<<

"Theory" has become a hot-button word in the controversy over the proposed Florida evolution education standards, so what the term means is going to be the subject of a lot of debate. The meaning of the term has already been the subject of a lot of debate in the evolution controversy. So how could I, one who has spent a lot of time studying the evolution controversy, not be aware of the debate over the meaning of the term "theory"?

Even in science, there are different kinds of theories: strong and weak theories, theories that become facts, and theories that are disproven.

As usual, ViU throws in his insults before I answer.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 1:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> one who has spent a lot of time studying the evolution controversy <

And has understood nothing.

> not be aware of the debate over the meaning of the term "theory"? <

Being aware of the debate has nothing to do with knowing the common definition.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 3:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a taxonomist, I can tell you that even the Linnaean taxonomy is based on evolutionary relationships. Many taxon have been sunk, because they were found to be paraphyletic, or polyphyletic. Other names have been kept but the taxa within the name have been changed to keep it monophyletic. Monophyly is the name of the game.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 9:08:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous said,
>>>>As a taxonomist, I can tell you that even the Linnaean taxonomy is based on evolutionary relationships. <<<<<<

I stand corrected -- apparently it is still called Linnaean taxonomy even though it has adopted evolutionary relationships. My previous statements were based on the following sources, which distinguished between Linnaean taxonomy and cladistic taxonomy:

One reference says,

The Linnaean system is still used in some branches of biology. But in other branches, and particularly in vertebrate paleontology, it is rapidly being replaced by a system referred to as cladistics or phylogenetic systematics. Cladistics was invented by the German entomologist Hennig in the 1950s, but the basic methods of cladistics were devised in the 19th century by philologists attempting to reconstruct the histories and interrelationships of European languages.

Another reference says,

The basic idea behind cladistics is that members of a group share a common evolutionary history, and are "closely related," more so to members of the same group than to other organisms. These groups are recognized by sharing unique features which were not present in distant ancestors. These shared derived characteristics are called synapomorphies.


When I studied biology in high school in the early 1960's, there were basically just five classes in the vertebrates -- fish, amphbians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Classifications have gotten a lot more complicated since then.

I have noticed the same kinds of changes in programming languages, having used FORTRAN in the 1960's and 1970's and more modern languages, C and C++, in the 1990's. The 1977 and 1990 versions of FORTRAN adopted some of the features of newer languages. And I found that some of the features of C and C++ were just old FORTRAN features with new names -- e.g., "data hiding" and "modular programming."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:51:00 AM  

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