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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

First revision of proposed Texas science standards finally posted

The first revision is here -- the standards of most interest are the high school standards. Insertions in the revision of the proposed high-school standards are noted by underlined text and deletions are noted by "balloons" in the right margin. The committee for the Integrated Physics and Chemistry standards did not participate in the revision, and hence the second draft of the IPC standards is the same as the first draft. Oral hearings for the proposed science standards are scheduled for tomorrow, Nov. 19.

I am now against having any state science standards at all, though 49 of the 50 states have them (Iowa does not have its own science standards, and I don't know what science standards Iowa uses, if any). IMO authors of textbooks do not need to be told how to write them. IMO if a textbook author wants to include discussions of holocaust revisionism or criticisms of evolution theory, that's fine. I am against all government standards for public education -- these standards just give high-pressure special-interest groups extra opportunities to try to dogmatize public education.

The revised standards follow some of my recommendations (I don't know if other commenters also made the same recommendations):
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(1) There now appears to be uniformity of the core principles in the introductory sections of the standards for the different branches of science (except for the Integrated Physics and Chemistry standards -- as noted above the committee for those standards did not participate in the revision). These core principles in the introductory sections are under the following headings: nature of science, scientific systems, scientific investigations, and science and social ethics. However, having the same introduction for the different branches is redundant -- there should be one introduction for the entire group of science standards. Some of the "knowledge and skills" standards should also be in a single introduction for the entire group.

(2) An inappropriate use of the word "evolution" was eliminated -- "evolution of the atmosphere" was changed to "changes of the atmosphere." It is inappropriate to use the word "evolution" for directionless changes that are not a development or a pattern of progression. However, "evolution of the universe" and "geological evolution" were wrongly retained.

The "strengths and weaknesses" language of section 3(A) of "student expectations" was removed from the only branches that had this language in the first draft, the chemistry and astronomy branches. The "strengths and weaknesses" language has been in the Texas science education regulations for about 20 years. I think it is doubtful that this language will be retained unless the state board of education overrules all of the standards-drafting committees, which I think is unlikely. I decided that I didn't like the term "weaknesses" myself -- for various reasons, I think it is appropriate to teach pseudoscientific criticisms of scientific theories, and a pseudoscientific criticism is not a real weakness. I proposed that the term "weaknesses" be replaced with "criticisms" (I suggested the phrase, "scientific strengths and scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms"). The Biology, Chemistry, and Physics standards have the following new language that was not in section 3(A) of the first draft:

-- analyze and evaluate strengths and limitations of scientific explanations including those based on accepted scientific data, and evidence from students' observations, experiments, models, and logical statements.

IMO that language is no good because a "limitation" of a scientific explanation is not necessarily the same thing as a criticism that directly attacks a scientific explanation or theory.

Standards for the other branches of science -- Integrated Physics and Chemistry (no second draft, as noted above), Environmental Systems, Aquatic Systems, Astronomy, and Earth and Space Science -- have the new language that was in most of the standards (except Chemistry and Astronomy) in the first draft of the proposed standards:

-- analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.

Anyway, neither of these two new versions of Sec. 3(A) would prevent the adoption of biology textbooks containing criticisms of evolution theory.

The introductions in the second drafts, as in the first drafts, have too much philosophizing about science. Also, the introductions in the second drafts give non-standard definitions or descriptions of "scientific theories," and as I noted before, I think that is a very bad idea:

NATURE OF SCIENCE: Science is a way of describing and making testable predictions about the natural world. Scientific hypotheses are tentative and testable statements that must be capable of being supported or not supported by observational evidence. Hypotheses of durable explanatory power that have been tested over a wide variety of conditions become theories. Scientific theories are based on natural and physical phenomena and are capable of being tested by multiple, independent researchers. Students should know that scientific theories, unlike hypotheses, are well-established and highly reliable, but that they may still be subject to change as new information and new technologies are developed . . . . .

For example, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary's definition of the scientific meaning of the word "theory" is: "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena." My printed dictionary, "Webster's New World Dictionary: Third College Edition," gives the following definition of the scientific meaning of "theory": "a formulation of apparent relationships or underlying principles of certain observed phenomena which has been verified to some degree." There is no talk about scientific theories being "well-established and highly reliable," being "capable of being tested by multiple, independent researchers," etc..
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6 Comments:

Anonymous Michael said...

I am now against having any state science standards at all...I am against all government standards for public education -- these standards just give high-pressure special-interest groups extra opportunities to try to dogmatize public education.

Larry,

Welcome to the club of "Special Interest Groups Are Harmful For Public Education."

Science is a way of describing and making testable predictions about the natural world.

When Darwinists make a prediction in which observational data doesn't match with that prediction. The theory is then considered, "incomplete" but not falsified...In becomes a gap for other explanations to explain why the data didn't match what they predicted but still fits in the theory.

Normally the most common excuse, "well we don't know as much as we thought in such in such." You know how that goes...

Glad you now see how special interests can mess up education! Most likely some parents will encourage their kids to approach evolution critically at evolution. This will in turn annoy some public school teachers.

They will in turn, have more conferences in which they can attend, that shows how to deal with such conflict about evolution.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Welcome to the club of "Special Interest Groups Are Harmful For Public Education." <<<<<<<

When I talk about special-interest groups, I am talking about the Darwinists as well as the fundies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

When I talk about special-interest groups, I am talking about the Darwinists as well as the fundies.

Your intentional derogatory statement is uncalled for! You mean only a special interest group who are co-evolutionists would be alright then?

Larry do you have kids? I know you take a keen interest in science standards, but I was wondering if you had any kids in school...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>When I talk about special-interest groups, I am talking about the Darwinists as well as the fundies.

Your intentional derogatory statement is uncalled for! <<<<<<<

Which derogatory statement?

>>>>>> Larry do you have kids? I know you take a keen interest in science standards, but I was wondering if you had any kids in school... <<<<<<

That's a gossip-type question.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

No Larry, it's not a gossip type question. It's a possible "motive" question for your actions concerning school science standards. That is not asking for your life's history!

I believe you view people on here as impersonal objects, which explains in a way, your labeling of those who you disagree with. That is not to say, you would agree with them in person. But I believe you would treat them differently.

You didn't answer the question, are co-evolutionists the only special interest group, that you would endorse influencing the science standards of public schools?

Which derogatory statement?

You know what I meant.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> No Larry, it's not a gossip type question. It's a possible "motive" question for your actions concerning school science standards. <<<<<<

If you must know, the answer is no, but I don't consider it to be a "motive" question.

>>>>>> You didn't answer the question, are co-evolutionists the only special interest group, that you would endorse influencing the science standards of public schools? <<<<<<

Of course not -- that's a stupid question. And there are very few co-evolutionists in the world.

>>>>>>Which derogatory statement?

You know what I meant. <<<<<<

No, I don't know. Which do you consider to be derogatory: "Darwinist," "fundy," or both?

Thursday, November 20, 2008 12:43:00 PM  

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