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.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Committees to decide final proposals for Texas science standards on Dec. 4-6

According to Steven Schafersman of the Houston Chronicle's Evo.Sphere blog, the standards-drafting committees will have one more opportunity to revise the proposed Texas science standards on Dec. 4-6 and after that the standards can be changed only by the state board of education by majority vote at a Jan. 21 meeting.

The state board of education held a long hearing on the proposed science standards on Nov. 19, with many public commenters (about 90 signed up, though not all spoke). The main issues were the "strengths and weaknesses" language of the first drafts of the chemistry and astronomy high-school standards and the "strengths and limitations" language of the second drafts of the biology, chemistry, and physics high-school standards. The Integrated Physics and Chemistry committee did not participate in the revision of the first draft, hence there is no second draft of the IPC standards. Four of the science committees -- IPC, environmental systems, aquatic science, and Earth and Space Science -- never added the "weaknesses" or "limitations" language. The "strengths and weaknesses" language has been in the state science-education regulations for about 20 years (the language was in the textbook proclamations for about the first 10 years). In comments I submitted, I proposed using the word "criticisms" instead of "weaknesses" or "limitations."

For more background info, see the two "Texas controversy" post-label groups in the sidebar of the home page. The second drafts and the instructions for submitting comments are here.

I will next send in a comment recommending that the committees ignore a survey report of Texas college biologists. I will make the following points:
(1) The timing of the release of the full survey report and the press releases and news reports was very unfair, only 1-2 days before the Nov. 19 hearing and just a few days before the final revisions of the proposed standards on Dec. 4-6, not leaving enough time to challenge the results of the survey.

(2) Only about 45% of the survey's addressees responded, and there are a lot of reasons to believe that the respondents were not a representative group.

(3) The reported questions were loaded, ambiguous, and/or unnecessarily restrictive.

(4) The survey results are not consistent with the "strengths and weaknesses" language and the "strengths and limitations" language in some of the proposed standards.

(5) The full report of the survey reported the results for only a small fraction of the 59 questions in the survey. Furthermore, survey results reported in the full report were cherry-picked by press releases and news reports to give the false impression that the respondents almost universally oppose the "weaknesses" language.

(6) The names of some scientists who did not respond were revealed by the full report's identification of the one institution that sent in no responses. In today's climate of political correctness, merely being known to have not responded to the survey could damage one's career.

(7) The responses to the question about the compatibility of religion and evolution should have no influence on the state science standards -- people should not be told what their religious beliefs are supposed to be.

(8) The survey's sponsor, the Texas Freedom Network, is a Darwinist outfit that strongly opposes the "weaknesses" and "limitations" language. Though this fact alone is not sufficient to disqualify the survey, it is a negative factor when viewed in combination with other factors.

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