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.

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.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Revised "strengths and weaknesses" language for Texas biology standards

As regular readers of this blog know, there is now a big controversy over whether or not to retain the "strengths and weaknesses" language in the new Texas biology standards. This language -- which has been in the Texas science standards for 20 years or more -- is,

The student is expected to analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information.

Teaching scientific and pseudoscientific weaknesses (or criticisms) of evolution theory serves the bona fide secular purposes of broadening students' education, encouraging critical thinking, helping students learn the material, and increasing student interest. For example, IMO the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a valid criticism of evolution but analysis of the SLoT as a criticism of evolution would be a valuable learning experience for students. Also, some scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution are so technically sophisticated that they can be properly taught only by qualified science teachers -- this stuff is not just "poof"-type creationism. However, Darwinists advocate a scorched-earth policy of eliminating the "strengths and weaknesses" language just to prevent the fundies from using it as a loophole for introducing creationism or supernaturalism into science courses. Darwinists are trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater -- or burn down the house to roast the pig.
I propose the following rewording of the "strengths and weaknesses" language: "scientific and pseudoscientific strengths and weaknesses." An alternative wording would be "scientific strengths and scientific and pseudoscientific weaknesses," for those who object to the idea of calling strengths "pseudoscientific." Those wordings leave open the possibility that some of the weaknesses -- and even some of the "strengths" -- may be pseudoscientific, but allow alleged weaknesses to be taught anyway for the reasons I stated above. However, creationism and supernaturalism could not satisfy the terms "scientific" or "pseudoscientific" because these things do not pretend to be scientific.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

'However, creationism and supernaturalism could not satisfy the terms "scientific" or "pseudoscientific" because these things do not pretend to be scientific'

You know, if that were actually true, there would be no issue. However, it simply isn't.

As for the whole 'teaching pseudoscience to promote critical thinking' malarky, you don't teach maths by going out of your way to introduce the idea that 2+2=5, then say it's wrong, so why should you teach science that way? It should be addressed if it's raised in class by a student, for example, but otherwise the time is better spent actually teaching science in a science class.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 8:48:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

As the saying goes, don't feed the trolls.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 9:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you are a 'troll' if you point out problems with the way you're advocating teaching science. Interesting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:42:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

No -- you are a troll if you make straw-man arguments about teaching that 2 + 2 = 5.

Thursday, October 23, 2008 1:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't see what is different from deliberately tecahing things known to be wrong in a maths class and deliberately teaching things known to be wrong in a science class. Perhaps you're unfamiliar with what is meant by 'straw man argument'?

Friday, October 24, 2008 11:13:00 AM  

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