Report on the oral hearings on the Texas science standards
Detailed but biased coverages of the hearing are on the Evo.Sphere blog and the Texas Freedom Network blog. "Stupid Steven" Schafersman's Evo.Sphere article is especially one-sided -- he does not discuss or present any of the comments of the "anti-science" commenters. Nice pictures, though.
Many organizations involved in the controversies were represented by commenters: Texas Freedom Network, Freemarket Foundation, ACLU, etc.. One of the commenters was, of course, "Stupid Steven" Schafersman of Texas Citizens for Science.
By way of review:
The "strengths and weaknesses" phrase has been in the Texas science-education regulations for about 20 years. In the first draft of the proposed new standards, this language was retained only in the chemistry and astronomy sections. In the second draft, the "strengths and weaknesses" phrase was dropped entirely but the phrase "strengths and limitations" was added to the biology (ironically), chemistry, and physics standards. For details, see this post. Darwinist commenters at the hearings spoke out against the word "limitations" as well as the word "weaknesses." Of course, a limitation on a strength is not the same thing as a weakness. I have proposed using the word "criticisms" instead of "weaknesses" or "limitations" -- "criticisms" covers both "weaknesses" and "limitations" and does not imply anything about whether the criticism has any validity. The term "weakness" is inappropriate for pseudoscientific or otherwise invalid criticisms because such criticisms are not real weaknesses.
Spoonfeeding students only the strengths of scientific theories is not a good idea. The analysis of criticisms of scientific theories -- including pseudoscientific criticisms -- actually offers students more opportunity to use critical thinking than the analysis of the strengths does; how can students get practice in finding flaws by only analyzing strengths that have no flaws? For example, my analysis of the problems of co-evolution has taught me a hell of lot about biology -- I learned about the different kinds of co-dependencies between different organisms (obligate mutualism, non-obligate mutualism, parasitism, commensalism, and amensalism), buzz pollination, orchids' mimicry of female wasp sex pheromones, the difference between mutualism and symbiosis (in symbiosis, the two organisms live constantly in physical contact or close proximity), extremely complex parasitisms (including multi-host parasitisms), etc.. I learned that there is a lot more to co-evolution than just "mutual evolutionary pressure." Details are in the "Non-ID criticisms of evolution" post-label group listed in the sidebar of the homepage. And as I said, many of the scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution are so technically sophisticated that they should be taught only by qualified science teachers. Suppressing criticisms of evolution is anti-science and anti-intellectual.
Many of the commenters at the hearing spoke only about religion -- that of course is just a straw-man issue.
Labels: Texas controversy (new #1)