[link may be line-wrapped]
Here's a well done and amusing piece of satire on the creationist
obstructionists against science and having biological evolution
specifically articulated in Florida public school science standards.
- Todd Greene
"Our reputation for flakiness is at stake"
by Carl Hiaasen
(Miami Herald, 2/17/2008)
In a move that could endanger Florida's flaky backwater reputation,
the state Board of Education is poised to endorse the teaching of
evolution as a science.
This is a dangerous idea -- not the presentation of Darwinism in
schools, but the presentation of Florida as a place of progressive
Over the years the Legislature has worked tirelessly to keep our kids
academically stuck in the mid-1950s. This has been achieved by
overcrowding their classrooms, underpaying their teachers and letting
their school buildings fall apart.
Florida's plucky refusal to embrace 21st century education is one
reason that prestigious tech industries have avoided the state,
allowing so many of our high-school graduates (and those who come
close) to launch prosperous careers in the fast-food, bartending and
service sectors of the economy.
By accepting evolution as a proven science, our top educators would be
sending a loud message to the rest of the nation: Stop making fun of us.
Is that what we really want?
On Tuesday, the Board of Education is scheduled to vote on a proposed
set of new standards that describe evolution as the "fundamental
concept underlying all of biology" and "supported by multiple forms of
Certainly that's the position of every reputable academic group on the
planet, including the National Academy of Sciences, the American
Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science
But forget the fossil record, OK? Forget DNA tracing. Forget the
exhaustively documented diversification of species.
This battle is about pride and independence; about boldly going
against the flow, in defiance of reason and all known facts.
In recent weeks, the Board of Education has been swamped by e-mails
and letters from religious conservatives who advocate teaching
creationism or intelligent design, and who believe evolution should be
discussed strictly as a "theory."
For those who wish to see Florida standing still, if not sinking, this
is a fantastic strategy. In fact, it could be expanded to revise other
Let's start teaching gravity as a "theory," too. And don't forget the
solar system -- what proof do we really have, besides a bunch of
fuzzy, fake-looking photos, that Mars really exists?
At a recent public hearing in Orlando, opponents of evolutionary
teaching rose one by one to assail the proposed curriculum standards.
Some had traveled all the way from the Panhandle, and were, like
presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, exclusive believers in the
Bible's version of creation.
According to The St. Petersburg Times, one speaker compared Charles
Darwin, the father of evolutionary science, to Adolf Hitler and Josef
Stalin, well-known tyrants and mass murderers. Such loony gibberish is
actually good for the anti-evolution crusade, providing the best
evidence that the human species has not advanced one iota in the last
With this in mind, several school boards in North Florida have passed
resolutions opposing the teaching of evolution as fact. True, students
in those same districts have produced some of the worst science scores
on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but who needs Newton or
Copernicus when you've got the Corinthians?
The notion that humans descended from apes has never been popular
among fundamentalists, but what of the apes themselves? Given the gory
history of Homo sapiens on Earth, no self-respecting chimp or gorilla
would claim a genetic connection to us.
The outcry against evolutionary instruction has been so heated that 40
members of the committee responsible for the new science standards
felt compelled to sign a letter stating, "There is no longer any valid
scientific criticism of the theory of evolution."
Caving in to groups that question the soundness of science, the letter
warned, "would not only seriously impede the education of our children
but also create the image of a backward state, raising the risk of
Florida's being snubbed by biotechnology companies and other
Nice try, pinheads, but there's no sin in being a slightly backward
state with extremely modest expectations for its young people. That's
been the guiding philosophy of our tightwad lawmakers for years, and
the degree to which they've succeeded is illuminated annually in the
If snubbing is to be done, Florida should be the snubber, not the
snubee. Keep your elite biotech payrolls up North and out West --
we've got hundreds of thousands of low-paying, go-nowhere jobs that
require little training and minimal education.
Should state officials vote this week to put evolution on the teaching
agenda, it will be a small yet radical step out of Florida's
Resistance is not futile. We've worked hard to keep ourselves so far
behind in education, and we must stay the course.