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, March 28, 2009

Victory in Texas!

In an article in Evolution News & Views, Robert Crowther declared victory in Texas:

In a huge victory for those who favor teaching the scientific evidence for and against evolution, Texas today moved to the head of the class by requiring students to “critique” and examine “all sides of scientific evidence” and specifically requiring students to “analyze and evaluate” the evidence for major evolutionary concepts such as common ancestry, natural selection, and mutations.

"Texas has sent a clear message that evolution should be taught as a scientific theory open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned," said Dr. John West, Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute.

And Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, issued the following press release conceding defeat --
The Texas Freedom Network has released the following statement on the final adoption of science curriculum standards by the State Board of Education today:


March 27, 2009

TFN President Kathy Miller: Texas State Board of Education Adopts Flawed Science Standards

The word “weaknesses” no longer appears in the science standards. But the document still has plenty of potential footholds for creationist attacks on evolution to make their way into Texas classrooms.

Through a series of contradictory and convoluted amendments, the board crafted a road map that creationists will use to pressure publishers into putting phony arguments attacking established science into textbooks.

"Stupid Steven" Schafersman tried to downplay the damage:

What is the bottom line? Did we win or lose? Neither. We got rid of the worst language, but a great deal of qualifying language remains. I am not going to claim either victory or defeat. I realize that Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute will declare complete, unqualified victory, but it is not that for them. Neither is it for us. The standards adopted were generally good, but there are several that are flawed, fortunately most in minor ways that textbook authors and publishers can deal with. . . . .

This will become apparent in 2011 when the Biology textbooks come up for adoption. Rule 3A and several other poor amendments in Biology--all the contribution of SBOE members who know nothing about science but a lot about pseudoscience--will be used to attack Biology textbooks . . .

The policy (science standards) that resulted are not the best they could be. They are acceptable but could have been pseudoscience- and Creationism influence-free. However, I can also say the standards could be much worse. The votes were so close, and several members switched their votes back and forth several times, sometimes voting with the antiscience radical right wing members and sometimes with the pro-science members, that anything could have happened. I suppose I should be grateful the results are not worse.

Evolution News & Views and the Texas Freedom Network blog both have several articles about the newly-adopted Texas science standards.

This is considered to be national news -- even USA Today has an article about it. The USA Today article has some links to articles in local newspapers.

Also, as I have pointed out many times, It is a myth that the Texas board of education controls textbook content! [1]. No school system in the world -- including Texas -- is required to use Texas-approved textbooks! Local school districts in Texas can use state-unapproved textbooks if the districts pay the full cost, which isn't much. If a biology textbook costs, say, $100 and is used for five years, that comes to a cost of only about $20 per student per year. A popular biology textbook, "Biology" by Ken Miller and Joe Levine, already comes in regular, California, and Texas editions. So in a sense, the fight over the new Texas science standards was a tempest in a teapot.



Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

The New York Times, in an article headline, allowed that there was "some success for foes of evolution" in Texas.

And I wonder what sort of "freedom" the Texas Freedom Network purports to advocate, since TFN seems to oppose academic freedom, free discussion of ideas in schools, the freedom of scientists to engage in any research that they wish without reprisals, etc.?

Thes guys would have probably been happier in the old Soviet Union, which was an oppressive totalitarian dictatorship: for students there were all indoctrinated in conventional evolutionary dogma, and in materialist philosophy.

And that's what TFN evidently would love to see in the USA.

Saturday, March 28, 2009 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

TFN claims to be fighting "the religious right." I suppose that posture is the source of TFN's bizarre claim to be in favor of "freedom."

What? Is the "religious right" threatening to take the country over and impose some sort of un-democratic system?

I don't think so, TFN crazies of the land. Only about a quarter of our population are fundamentalist Christians; many of those don't belong to the "right;" and I daresay that few even of those who are on the far right have any yen to establish any sort of autocratic system.

So stop worrying, Darwinist paranoids.

Saturday, March 28, 2009 1:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

So much focus on removing the word "weaknesses" by special interests, and yes they got their way in removing a particular word, but in the end, the replacement wording kept the practice well in tact (critical thinking of all scientific theories including evolution) in the Texas science standards which is far better than the previous language!

Saturday, March 28, 2009 3:49:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Michael said...
>>>>>> So much focus on removing the word "weaknesses" by special interests, and yes they got their way in removing a particular word, but in the end, the replacement wording kept the practice well in tact <<<<<<

Yes, I didn't like the word "weaknesses" myself, because an invalid criticism is not a real weakness. I preferred "strengths and criticisms" to "strengths and weaknesses" because "criticisms" is a general, somewhat neutral term covering real weaknesses, invalid criticisms, criticisms of whole theories, and criticisms of imperfections in theories. I supported the "strengths and weaknesses" language only because I felt it was better than nothing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009 4:24:00 PM  

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