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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Badly flawed NCSE report on state standards for evolution education


IF HUMANS EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS, THEN WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS?

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The infamous National Center for Science Education has released a badly flawed new report on state standards for evolution education. The report starts out by saying,

When it comes to state science standards and evolution, we at the National Center for Science Education sit up and take notice, for there is perhaps no other arena in which the religious controversy surrounding evolution plays out to such a detrimental degree as in the generation of poor science standards. . . .

In practice . . . the coverage of evolution in science standards can be less than adequate, not because the topic is scientifically controversial but because officials either have a specific religious agenda or don’t want to “ruffle creationist feathers” (Lerner 2000).

There we go again with that propaganda myth that the evolution controversy is entirely religious and not at all based on science. If fundies' scientific views were entirely based on religion, they would all believe in geocentrism because that is what the bible teaches.

The report says,
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Even if a good treatment of evolution in state science standards does not guarantee that evolution will be taught well, it provides a critical resource for teachers who want to teach evolution correctly. The clearest example is that a good treatment of evolution in the standards provides important support for biology teachers facing protests from creationist students, parents, and administrators who want creationism taught, or evolution not taught, in life science courses.

The big issue is not teaching creationism or not teaching evolution -- the big issue is balanced teaching of the scientific evidence for and against evolution. The majority of the public supports such balanced teaching.

A good treatment of evolution in state science standards can help to persuade administrators that the teaching of evolution is not a matter for political negotiations between parents and teachers with different interests but a clear educational necessity.

Students, parents, and citizens in general need to fight back against lousy Darwinist teachers and school administrators who try to use state science standards to beat us over the head. We need to be especially hard on teachers who constantly talk about evolution being the "foundation" of biology.

. . . in general, over the last two decades, creationists have reduced their advocacy of state-level legislation and policy that explicitly endorse creationist claims or attack evolution. Blanket bans on evolution and policies requiring “balanced treatment” of evolution and creationism have given way to more innocuous language, such as “teaching the controversy,” “critical analysis,” “strengths and weaknesses,” “academic freedom,” and “discussing the full range of scientific views” (Branch and Scott 2009).

The NCSE calls the above terms "creationist jargon" (another name for them commonly used by Darwinist propagandists: "creationist code words"). Evolution News & Views has an article about this.

As the foundation to the entire science of biology, evolutionary theory is vast and complex, resting on a variety of evidential bases from a number of scientific fields — all of which students are generally being introduced to for the first time in high school.

There we go again with that nonsense that evolution theory is "the foundation to the entire science of biology." How can that be true if 13% of science teachers in a recent national poll agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that an excellent biology course could exist that does not mention evolution or Darwin at all (even I don't agree with that statement)?

Students will not finish learning about it in detail until, at minimum, their later years of college, and they will not begin seriously analyzing it and synthesizing their knowledge until graduate school.

That's ridiculous -- many people do not go on to college and of those who do, probably most do not study biology there, and certainly most people do not eventually study biology in graduate school, so high school is most people's only opportunity to study evolution in a classroom setting.

Expecting high school biology students to be able to evaluate evolutionary theory is no more reasonable than expecting high school physics students to evaluate quantum field theory.

Not so -- quantum field theory might require a knowledge of mathematics beyond the level of high school students.


If students had the necessary knowledge and skills to make such judgments, there would be little reason for college science courses!

That's ridiculous.

This NCSE report rates the evolution education standards of each state. The rating system is completely arbitrary. There is a maximum possible 110 points -- I am ashamed to say that my home state of California is one of only two states that got perfect scores (the other state is New Jersey). Two states, Alabama and Louisiana, got 25 points knocked off for "disclaimers," though ironically one of the main purposes of disclaimers is to reduce opposition to the teaching of evolution (perversely, Kitzmiller v. Dover and Selman v. Cobb County struck down disclaimer statements that were adopted to reduce opposition to a newly adopted heavily pro-Darwinist textbook). Several states got up to 25 points knocked off for "creationist jargon" (examples of "creationist jargon" are above). The Florida state science standards were praised for misdefining "scientific theory" as being "well-supported and widely accepted" by definition; that's ridiculous -- there are strong scientific theories and weak scientific theories. The Florida standards' ridiculous statement that "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology" is not mentioned.
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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like how you try to defend Creationism as 'scientific' but then fail to understand even the basics of evolution, as evidenced by this line:

"IF HUMANS EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS, THEN WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS?"

We share a common ancestor with APES, not monkeys. Maybe you should take a basic biology class before you start debating this sort of thing.

Monday, August 31, 2009 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> I like how you try to defend Creationism as 'scientific' but then fail to understand even the basics of evolution, as evidenced by this line:

"IF HUMANS EVOLVED FROM MONKEYS, THEN WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS?"

We share a common ancestor with APES, not monkeys<<<<<<

Bozo, that line was intended to go along with the cartoon. Do you see any apes in the cartoon? No, there are just monkeys.

Also, that line about monkeys is standard. In fact, National Center for Science Education director Eugenie Scott says it is the second most frequently asked question she gets in her lectures (she didn't say what was the most frequent question).

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We share a common ancestor with APES, not monkeys."

Now now, let's be fair, we also share a common ancestor with monkeys. Also, we don't just share a common ancestor with apes, we are apes. For any biologically consistent definition of "ape".

"Do you see any apes in the cartoon? No, there are just monkeys."

Really ? Without seeing their tails it's difficult to know for sure, but they look like chimpanzees to me. Chimps are apes.

"Also, that line about monkeys is standard."

Yeah, "standard" is a word for it. That just makes it even more stupid.

As you well know, Larry, for one thing we didn't descend from any modern species of monkey, it's likely that our common ancestor with them is extinct.
But even if it weren't it wouldn't be a problem. All the populations of a given species don't have the same environmental pressures, so they won't all evolve the same way. Some might stay identical to the ancestral species. Others might evolve into a different species.

Sunday, September 06, 2009 2:33:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> "We share a common ancestor with APES, not monkeys."

Now now, let's be fair, we also share a common ancestor with monkeys. <<<<<<<

WHAT? The statement, "We share a common ancestor with APES, not monkeys," was YOUR statement, bozo, not mine.


>>>>>>> "Do you see any apes in the cartoon? No, there are just monkeys."

Really ? Without seeing their tails it's difficult to know for sure, but they look like chimpanzees to me. Chimps are apes. <<<<<<<

The model for the cartoon is called "the three wise monkeys" -- "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" -- not "the three wise apes."

>>>>>>> As you well know, Larry, for one thing we didn't descend from any modern species of monkey, it's likely that our common ancestor with them is extinct. <<<<<<<

It was just a joke, you stupid fathead. Sheeeeesh. What an idiot.

Sunday, September 06, 2009 7:47:00 AM  

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