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Re: [SACC-L] Fw: McLeroy's Column Mar 25 '09 Touts Flat-Earth

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  • Lloyd Miller
    Wow, does this dude really not understand evolutionary science or is he purposely misinterpreting Gould and others in order to pander to the truly uninformed?
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 25, 2009
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      Wow, does this dude really not understand evolutionary science or is
      he purposely misinterpreting Gould and others in order to pander to
      the truly uninformed? Occasionally I've been in discussions with
      sincere Evangelicals and find that (at least some of them) appear
      inquisitive about science up to the point when it contradicts their
      unshakable beliefs. Then a certain look appears in the eyes and a
      satisfied, beatific smile on the face and the mind comfortably
      closes. If your letter shakes any of them, George, you will deserve
      award-winning praise.
      Lloyd


      On Mar 25, 2009, at 2:16 PM, George Thomas wrote:

      >
      > The creationist at the head of the Texas Board of Ed published a
      > column in today's Austin American-Statesman. I've already fired off
      > a letter to the paper, but here's the column to cheer you up.
      > Shhhhh- Don't question anything. It's not allowed....
      > George Thomas
      >
      >
      > Austin American-Statesman
      > Enlisting in the culture war
      > By Don McLeroy
      >
      > Wednesday, March 25, 2009
      >
      > What is the greatest challenge facing science education in Texas?
      > The answer is simple: to make sure an excellent teacher is in every
      > classroom. What's the greatest challenge in writing the state
      > science standards? It is identifying appropriate content that builds
      > from grade to grade and leaves our high school graduates college and
      > work force ready. However, the greatest difficulty in writing these
      > standards is the culture war over evolution.
      > The controversy exists because evolutionists, led by academia's far-
      > left, along with the secular elite opinion-makers, have decreed that
      > questioning of evolution is not allowed, that it is only an attempt
      > to inject religion or creationism into the classroom. Even Texas' 20-
      > year-old requirement to teach the scientific strengths and
      > weaknesses of hypotheses and theories has come under attack. Words
      > that were uncontroversial and perfectly acceptable for nearly two
      > decades are now considered "code words" for intelligent design and
      > are deemed unscientific. The elite fear that "unscientific"
      > weaknesses of evolution will be inserted into the textbooks, leaving
      > students without a good science education and unprepared for the
      > future, compelling businesses to shun "illiterate" Texas.
      > The editorial writers incessantly argue that evolution skeptics are
      > motivated by religion, that they are anti-science and fundamentally
      > dishonest. In contrast, evolutionists are portrayed as sincere
      > defenders of the truth, completely honest and free of any
      > ideological bias. But who is rejecting the empirical demonstration
      > of science, that is, the directly observable and verifiable, for
      > ideological purposes? Let us find out as we take a close-up look at
      > a two-step solution to the controversy.
      > The first step is to define science in a way that is satisfactory to
      > both sides. Using new wording from the National Academy of Sciences,
      > Texas' standards define science as "the use of evidence to construct
      > testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomenon as well
      > as the knowledge generated through this process."
      > This definition replaces the academy's 1999 language that was very
      > controversial; it stated that science was "to provide plausible
      > natural explanations for natural phenomena." The change from
      > "natural explanations" to "testable explanations" is very
      > significant. The old definition was inferior in that it undermined
      > both the philosophy of the naturalist and the supernaturalist. By
      > circular reasoning, the naturalist was prevented from using science
      > to prove that "nature is all there is," and the supernaturalist was
      > prevented from offering supernatural hypotheses. With the new
      > definition, both the naturalist and the supernaturalist are free to
      > make "testable" explanations. The debate can now shift from "Is it
      > science?" to "Is it testable?"
      > The next step in resolving this controversy is simply to use the
      > scientific method to weigh in on the issue of evolution. Consider
      > the fossil record. What do we actually observe? What are the data?
      > Stephen Jay Gould stated: "The great majority of species do not show
      > any appreciable evolutionary change at all. [This is called
      > 'stasis.'] These species appear ... without obvious ancestors in the
      > underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up
      > without leaving any descendants."
      > "...but stasis is data..."
      > Once we have our observations, we can make a hypothesis. The
      > controversial evolution hypothesis is that all life is descended
      > from a common ancestor by unguided natural processes. How well does
      > this hypothesis explain the data? A new curriculum standard asks
      > Texas students to look into this question. It states: "The student
      > is expected to analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency
      > of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis, and
      > sequential nature of groups in the fossil record." It should not
      > raise any objections from those who say evolution has no weaknesses;
      > they claim it is unquestionably true.
      > And the standard is not religious but does raise a problem for the
      > evolution hypothesis in that stasis is the opposite of evolution,
      > and "stasis is data."
      > If we are to train our students, engage their minds and, frankly, be
      > honest with them, why oppose these standards? If the standards do
      > not promote religion and they are not unscientific and they deal
      > directly with the data, then possibly these standards are being
      > opposed for ideological reasons. This supports the argument that
      > this culture war exists, not because of the religious faith of
      > creationists, but because of the rejection of the empirical
      > demonstration of science by academia's far-left and the secular
      > elite opinionmakers.
      > McLeroy is chairman of the State Board of Education.dmcleroy@...
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • George Thomas
      After the Austin American-Statesman s possible letter-blitz within a few days, featuring all 85 responses to McLeroy (I m guessing, and this is my strangest
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 26, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        After the Austin American-Statesman's possible letter-blitz within a few days, featuring all 85 responses to McLeroy (I'm guessing, and this is my strangest guess), I'll know whether my response is included.  Whether it is or not, I'll look it over once the dust settles and send it to you for "vetting."  If they do run a mass letter response I'll try to forward a copy of the whole circus to you. 
        I was particularly struck by McLeroy's protestations that it's not about imposing religious views on science teaching; only the inclusion of supernatural hypothesis testing.
        SJGould should be alive to respond!
        G
         
        Re: Fw: McLeroy's Column Mar 25 '09 Touts Flat-Earth
            Posted by: "Lloyd Miller" lloyd.miller@...
            Date: Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:51 pm ((PDT))

        Wow, does this dude really not understand evolutionary science or is 
        he purposely misinterpreting Gould and others in order to pander to 
        the truly uninformed?  Occasionally I've been in discussions with 
        sincere Evangelicals and find that (at least some of them) appear 
        inquisitive about science up to the point when it contradicts their 
        unshakable beliefs.  Then a certain look appears in the eyes and a 
        satisfied, beatific smile on the face and the mind comfortably 
        closes.  If your letter shakes any of them, George, you will deserve 
        award-winning praise.
        Lloyd


        On Mar 25, 2009, at 2:16 PM, George Thomas wrote:

        >
        > The creationist at the head of the Texas Board of Ed published a 
        > column in today's Austin American-Statesman.  I've already fired off 
        > a letter to the paper, but here's the column to cheer you up.
        > Shhhhh-   Don't question anything.  It's not allowed....
        > George Thomas
        >
        >
        > Austin American-Statesman
        > Enlisting in the culture war
        > By Don McLeroy
        >
        > Wednesday, March 25, 2009
        >
        > What is the greatest challenge facing science education in Texas? 
        > The answer is simple: to make sure an excellent teacher is in every 
        > classroom. What's the greatest challenge in writing the state 
        > science standards? It is identifying appropriate content that builds 
        > from grade to grade and leaves our high school graduates college and 
        > work force ready. However, the greatest difficulty in writing these 
        > standards is the culture war over evolution.
        > The controversy exists because evolutionists, led by academia's far-
        > left, along with the secular elite opinion-makers, have decreed that 
        > questioning of evolution is not allowed, that it is only an attempt 
        > to inject religion or creationism into the classroom.
         
        Etc. etc. ad nauseam....




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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