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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why should scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution be taught by parents and pastors who have no expertise in biology?

I am surprised that no one (at least not to my knowledge) has asked that question before.

Johnny: Please teach us about Intelligent Design.

Teacher: I can't do that -- Judge Jones said that it is unconstitutional to teach ID in the public schools. Just ask your parents or your pastor about it.

Johnny: But they don't know anything about biology.

Teacher: That's OK -- ID is just pseudoscience anyway.

Labels:

26 Comments:

Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

Same place they'll have to turn for phrenology, phlogiston theory, astrology, geocentric astronomy, etc.

Tsk tsk!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

'Nonymous said...
>>>>> Same place they'll have to turn for phrenology, phlogiston theory, astrology, geocentric astronomy, etc. <<<<<<

IMO alchemy should be taught by someone who knows that the alchemists' hope and belief in the transformability of elements have been fulfilled by atomic fission and atomic fusion. IMO astrology should be taught by someone who knows that astrological observation was the precursor of astronomical observation and that astrology made great contributions to modern astronomy, e.g., the locations of celestial objects today are identified by constellations. IMO irreducible complexity should be taught by someone who knows about bacterial flagella, blood-clotting cascades, etc.. IMO co-evolution should be taught by someone who knows about mutualism (obligate and non-obligate), commensalism, amensalism, parasitism, etc.. IMO the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction should be taught by someone who knows something about genetics. IMO the Cambrian explosion should be taught by someone who knows something about the Cambrian explosion. The question of the application of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics to evolution should be taught by someone who knows something about physics or mechanical engineering. And the flat-earth theory should be taught by someone who knows that the idea that the theory was prevalent in the Middle Ages is a colossal hoax. I was taught that Columbus's crews nearly mutinied because they were afraid that they were going to sail off the edge of the earth and that Columbus just said, "sail on."

Darwinists suddenly become big advocates of homeschooling and Sunday schools when it comes to teaching criticisms of evolution. All of a sudden the Darwinists regard all parents and pastors as great experts on biology.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teaching about astrology as a precursor to astronomy, alchemy as a desire to transmute elements which was later achieved by fusion and fission, flat earth etc., are aspects of the history of science as opposed to science itself. School curricula are already packed and studies such as that are for elective courses in college level education.

What schools badly need is good science education, with the crucial role of evidence in science properly explained.

As far as intelligent design is concerned, parents and pastors are just as capable of teaching intelligent design as teachers are. That is because whatever is taught - by parents, pastors or techers - will not actually be science. And that is because there is not a shred of evidence to support it. Consequently whatever is taught will just be the unsubstantiated opionion of the individual teaching it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 5:21:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Teaching about astrology as a precursor to astronomy, alchemy as a desire to transmute elements which was later achieved by fusion and fission, flat earth etc., are aspects of the history of science as opposed to science itself. <<<<<<

What is wrong with teaching the history of science in science classes? IMO science teachers are better qualified than history teachers to teach the history of science. And why should the history of science be squeezed into, say, an American history course where it would be off-topic, just to satisfy the whims of Darwinists who think that the history of science should not be taught in science classes? In what non-elective courses do you think that the history of science should be taught in order to assure that all students are exposed to the history of science?

>>>>>> School curricula are already packed and studies such as that are for elective courses in college level education. <<<<<<

If the science curriculum is so packed, then why do teachers often waste so much time on teaching evolution? A recent national survey of science teachers showed that large percentages of respondents spent 11-20 hours or more on teaching "general evolutionary processes." That survey also showed that 13% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that an "excellent" biology course that does not mention Darwin or evolution could exist, and even I don't agree with that statement! How many science teachers would say the same thing about, say, Newton's laws of motion in a physics course? And how long would it take to briefly cover the histories of sciences?

>>>>>> As far as intelligent design is concerned, parents and pastors are just as capable of teaching intelligent design as teachers are. <<<<<<

Then why didn't parents and pastors with no expertise in biology testify about the ID-as-science question in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial?

If, as you claim, ID is wrong, wouldn't it be better to have ID taught by qualified science teachers? Is it better to have ID taught by unqualified people who might teach the supposedly false idea that ID is correct?

Thursday, September 11, 2008 6:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

This is the information age, it's quite possible that those parents and pastors who have no expertise in biology could use expert information to teach their kids ID.

Despite the law, currently there is 1 out of 8 public schools teaching creationism/ID in a positive light, about 1-2 hours worth...Then they spend time trying to disprove it.

The only concern I have with a qualified teacher who is teaching ID in the public classroom is fairness. Some teachers believe ID is a threat to their job or their friend's job. More ID means less money for evolution.

The bias of the teacher, might not present ID fairly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should pseudoscience be taught by teachers?

Thursday, September 11, 2008 3:38:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Why should pseudoscience be taught by teachers? <<<<<<

Because it's pseudoscience. If it is taught by an unqualified person, it might be taught as science.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 3:52:00 PM  
Blogger William Wallace said...

Good point.

Also, plenty of non-science is taught in science class. It doesn't kill anybody.

Also, note that, as I discuss here, Johannes Kepler was taught the unscientific (at the time) Copernican theory by a teacher who himself accurately deemed the theory to be incorrect based on the evidence. That is, f Michael Maestlin, did not himself believe Copernicus’s theory to be correct, but still taught it.

Science is not hurt, and is indeed sometimes helped, when ideas considered or deemed unscientific are taught.

P.S. Just added this wonderful blog to my blog roll.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:06:00 PM  
Blogger Nada Platonico said...

I believe it is unconstitutional not only to teach religious ideas but also to discredit them in public schools. If that's the case, it would be unconstitutional to discredit ID and creationism in the classroom -- it might make its adherents feel like political outsiders.

William Wallace wrote, "Also, plenty of non-science is taught in science class. It doesn't kill anybody."

But rights are violated and that's not acceptable in a free and democratic society. How many people actually died from having to go a few blocks to drink from a water fountain? Or having to sit at the back of the bus?

Thursday, September 11, 2008 7:39:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

William Wallace said,
>>>>> P.S. Just added this wonderful blog to my blog roll. <<<<<

Thanks, WW, I am returning the favor.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Also, plenty of non-science is taught in science class. It doesn't kill anybody."

It doesn't educate anybody about science either. Hey how about we start teaching Holocaust denial in history lessons? Doesn't kill anybody. How about teaching 2+2=5? Doesn't kill anybody.

"Science is not hurt, and is indeed sometimes helped, when ideas considered or deemed unscientific are taught."

Oh does it now? How about you give us an example?

Friday, September 12, 2008 2:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I believe it is unconstitutional not only to teach religious ideas but also to discredit them in public schools. If that's the case, it would be unconstitutional to discredit ID and creationism in the classroom -- it might make its adherents feel like political outsiders."

I disagree. If someone raises creationism (ID or otherwise) in my science class, I would point out why they were wrong and add "if your faith says one thing and the facts say another, then your faith is wrong."

Friday, September 12, 2008 2:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(1)
Johnny: Please teach us about Intelligent Design.

Teacher: I can't do that -- we’re already almost one class period late learning the material that’s on the required curriculum AND upcoming on your State standards test.

Johnny: So what? Isn’t truth more important than test scores?

Teacher: Of course it is, Johnny, but ID has not even come close to being considered by scientists and educators as “the truth”. And the reality is, people such as perhaps even your own parents, have supported legislation that ties school funding and even teacher pay - my own salary - onto how you kids perform on a single standardized test (class gasps). Yeah, I think it’s wrong too. So while I would really love to be able to at least take some time to have class discussions on the subject, I can’t, for fear of not only my own personal economic livelihood, but the economic future of this school.

Friday, September 12, 2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Johnny: But what about helping us to develop critical thinking skills? And helping us to learn the material by giving us another opportunity to apply it? How about arousing our interest and curiosity? And shouldn't we know about the weaknesses of evolution? Do you really think that learning about those weaknesses would hurt our performances on standardized tests? Would you rather have us learn about ID from people who don't know anything about biology and/or who think that ID is true? Besides, Judge Jones is just a stupid jackass who copied the Dover opinion's ID-as-science section nearly verbatim from the ACLU's opening post-trial brief and who said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions.

Friday, September 12, 2008 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Hector said...

> Do you really think that learning about those weaknesses would hurt our performances on standardized tests? <

Yes. If weak unsupportable theories like ID are covered instead or reality. Wouldn't the children's math scores go down if they had to spend equal time on the theories that say that 2+2=3?

> Would you rather have us learn about ID from people who don't know anything about biology and/or who think that ID is true? <

How about the option of them not learning drivel at all?

> and who said in a Dickinson College commencement speech that his Dover decision was based on his cockamamie notion that the Founders based the establishment clause upon a belief that organized religions are not "true" religions. <

Repeating this lie will not make it true any more than repeating 2+2=3 will make it true or claiming that ID has some relation to science.

Friday, September 12, 2008 1:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>>Because it's pseudoscience. If it is taught by an unqualified person, it might be taught as science.<<<<

So what you're saying is that things we know not to be true should be taught by teachers in the classroom, so that someone does not teach these kids that it is true. You do realise that applying the same standards universally effectively stretches the list of things that need to be taught by teachers into infinity?

Saturday, September 13, 2008 1:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(2)Johnny: Please teach us about Intelligent Design.

Teacher: I can't do that -- ID theory states that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

Johnny: So? What’s wrong with that?

Teacher: Nothing, in and of itself. But that’s as far as I can go. Any of you with working brain cells - and there might be two or three of you (class chuckles) - will see that if ID theory has any credibility at all, then the only two choices for the nature of a designer are some sort of deity - a god - or outer space aliens, as the designer of life on earth.
So you see, if I even allow discussion of ID to start in this classroom, almost all of you will steer it towards religious arguments, which are not scientific and therefore not appropriate for science class.

So, if ID theory is true, my only other option is to claim that outer space aliens designed us humans.

And that means I’m left with two choices - I get fired because I violate US constitutional law, or I get fired because one or more of you go home and tell mommy and daddy that I’m teaching you that outer space aliens designed life on earth and they demand I be fired for teaching you lies and unscientific nonsense. Sorry Johnny, I think you’re a terrific kid, but ID is not worth losing my job over.

Saturday, September 13, 2008 6:31:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Sorry Johnny, I think you’re a terrific kid, but ID is not worth losing my job over. <<<<<<

A recent national survey of science teachers showed the following percentages of respondents spending the following amounts of time on creationism or intelligent design --

Not covered -- 75%
1-2 hours -- 18%
3-5 hours -- 5%
6-10 hours -- 1%
11-15 hours - 1%
16-20 hours -- 1%
20 hours or more -- 0%

Saturday, September 13, 2008 8:03:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> So what you're saying is that things we know not to be true should be taught by teachers in the classroom, so that someone does not teach these kids that it is true. You do realise that applying the same standards universally effectively stretches the list of things that need to be taught by teachers into infinity? <<<<<<

What you Darwinists fail to understand is that the evolution controversy is different because it is so controversial. There is little or no controversy over alchemy, astrology, the flat-earth theory, etc.. Have you ever heard the expression, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"?

Sunday, September 14, 2008 4:10:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"the squeaky wheel gets the grease"

OK, which wheel hurts? Where do you want to be lubed? And do you require lithium grease, K-Y, or ... ?

Sunday, September 14, 2008 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>What you Darwinists fail to understand is that the evolution controversy is different because it is so controversial. There is little or no controversy over alchemy, astrology, the flat-earth theory, etc.. Have you ever heard the expression, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"?<<<

Ah, right, so we should spend time teaching kids all about utter nonsense and then say 'by the way, this is utter nonsense', if someone shouts loudly enough about it. As for your list of things there is 'little or no controversy over', quite frankly, that only serves to underline my point - there are people who claim, just as adamantly as IDist/creationists, that all of those things are, in fact, true and some of those people, again, like many IDists/creationists, claim that there is a conspiracy in mainstream science to discredit these things. That being the case, to follow your standards for ID/creationism, each of the things you listed would have to be covered in the classroom.

Incidentally, I find it heavily ironic that one of the things you list as being so different from ID is astrology, given that one of the bits of evidence presented at the Dover trial, which seems to be another obsession of yours, is the testimony of Michael Behe, where he was forced to admit that the way he wanted to redefine 'theory', in the scientific sense, so that included ID, would also seem to indicate that astrology was a scientific theory.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Nonymous:
>>>>>> Ah, right, so we should spend time teaching kids all about utter nonsense and then say 'by the way, this is utter nonsense', if someone shouts loudly enough about it. <<<<<<

Ah, right, so we should spend time teaching kids that Darwinism is utter nonsense, and say, "by the way, this is utter nonsense," if the Darwinists shout loudly enough that Darwinism should be taught. BTW, you folks who think that Darwinism should be taught dogmatically are in a small minority, so you are the ones who are arrogantly demanding special treatment.

>>>>>> As for your list of things there is 'little or no controversy over', quite frankly, that only serves to underline my point - there are people who claim, just as adamantly as IDist/creationists, that all of those things are, in fact, true and some of those people, again, like many IDists/creationists, claim that there is a conspiracy in mainstream science to discredit these things. <<<<<<

That is just a straw man argument. What in the hell does the adamancy of belief have to do with this? And show me where on the Internet there are big debates over the validity of flat earth theory, geocentrism, alchemy, astrology, etc.. When and if the flat earthers, geocentrists, etc. get enough political clout to have their ideas seriously considered as subjects to be taught as science in the public schools, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, I recommend that you attend a meeting of your local school board and tell them that if they try to teach flat earth theory, geocentrism, etc. as science, you are going to sue the living crap out of them.

>>>>>>Michael Behe, where he was forced to admit that the way he wanted to redefine 'theory', in the scientific sense, so that included ID, would also seem to indicate that astrology was a scientific theory. <<<<<<

Michael Behe was just speaking for Michael Behe.

Some parts of evolution theory are no better supported than astrology. IMO the courts should declare the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable. It is like the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 6:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>Ah, right, so we should spend time teaching kids that Darwinism is utter nonsense, and say, "by the way, this is utter nonsense," if the Darwinists shout loudly enough that Darwinism should be taught.<<<

No, we should study the evidence and apply the scientific method - which results in what you call 'Darwinism' being taught.

>>>BTW, you folks who think that Darwinism should be taught dogmatically are in a small minority, so you are the ones who are arrogantly demanding special treatment.<<<

See above.

>>>That is just a straw man argument. What in the hell does the adamancy of belief have to do with this?<<<

Well, sorry, but you're the one who seems to think it does, so you tell me.

>>>And show me where on the Internet there are big debates over the validity of flat earth theory, geocentrism, alchemy, astrology, etc..<<<

Flat earth - http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

Geocentrism - http://www.fixedearth.com/

Alchemy (in it's modern form) - http://www.crystalinks.com/alchemye.html

Astrology - consult any astrologist. They'll claim it's true.

>>>When and if the flat earthers, geocentrists, etc. get enough political clout to have their ideas seriously considered as subjects to be taught as science in the public schools, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile, I recommend that you attend a meeting of your local school board and tell them that if they try to teach flat earth theory, geocentrism, etc. as science, you are going to sue the living crap out of them.<<<

So what's so different about ID/creationism that I SHOULDN'T 'sue the living crap' out of the school board if they consider teaching that?

>>>Michael Behe was just speaking for Michael Behe.

Some parts of evolution theory are no better supported than astrology.<<<

Well, even if that were true, the 'weak' parts of evolution theory would be backed up by being completely consistent with the 'strong' parts, as well as being entirely consistent with what evidence there actually is. In addition, if you're referring to what I think you're referring to (the gaps in the fossil record), all the scientists are doing is going 'we have strong evidence that this happened in this evolutionary line, so a similar thing probably happened over in this one, and we have absolutely no evidence it did not'. Indeed, so successful have scientists been at doing this, on more than one occasion, they have predicted fossil evidence for certain organisms being found before it actually was.

>>>IMO the courts should declare the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable. It is like the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.<<<

No, because we have scientific evidence of evolution. We do NOT have clear evidence that angels even exist, far less what size, shape, and dancing ability they have. Moreover, certain details need clarified on the question, such as what size of pin, as they actually come in different sizes. Similarly, we do NOT have any clear evidence of ID/creationism.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 9:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

<< And show me where on the Internet there are big debates over the validity of flat earth theory, geocentrism, alchemy, astrology, etc.. >>

What an opportunity for you!

Monday, September 15, 2008 2:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(3) Johnny: Please teach us about Intelligent Design.

Teacher: I can't do that --

Johnny: My daddy say you can. He says the state just passed an Academic Freedom bill that says you are free to teach anything you want in class.

Teacher: Well, Johnny, your dad is correct that the state did indeed pass what was called an “Academic Freedom” bill, but that hardly allows me to teach anything I want, although that would be a whole lot of fun! (class giggles).

Seriously, Academic Freedom sounds great, doesn’t it kids! (class cheers). But sadly, no, in fact, the so-called “Academic Freedom” bill was only designed to protect a very small minority of teachers, and it only protected them when they were teaching “chemical or biological evolution”. So, for example, a biology teacher teaching Intelligent Design is protected under this law but only when they are teaching the unit on evolution, not when they are teaching Earth Science. A health teacher under an “Abstinence Only” program is not protected when she lets her students know the facts of, say, contraceptives and condoms, which have been scientifically proved to reduce unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It does not protect the history teacher who wants to bring in evidence that suggests the history written in the textbook is wrong.

I campaigned against it because of its title, “Academic Freedom”. It did not accurately reflect the content of the actual bill for the reasons I have just stated. Why should I as a teacher have a freedom that my other fellow teachers do not? (class responds “Yeah!”, “That’s bogus!”, “Is this going to be on the test?”).

So Johnny, because I’m teaching what would be called Earth Science unit right now, not evolution, I really can’t teach ID, no matter what your dad or an “Academic Freedom” amendment says.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 3:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnny:Please teach us about Intelligent Design

Teacher:I'm afraid I can't do that.

Johnny:Why not.

Teacher:Well, you see, Intelligent Design has been shown to be creationism by another name. Creationism is a religious belief, so a science class isn't the best place to discuss religion. Speak to your parents or your pastor about it.



...and that's the answer to your question, Larry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 12:10:00 PM  

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