Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Science police get a set-back in Tennessee

From Nature News:

Tennessee ‘monkey bill’ becomes law

A second US state lets schools ‘teach the controversy’ surrounding politically charged topics in science. 
Helen Thompson 
11 April 2012

The governor of Tennessee has allowed the passage of the 'monkey bill', giving public-school teachers licence to teach alternatives to those mainstream scientific theories often attacked by religious and political conservatives. 
Nicknamed after the ‘monkey trial’ of 1925, in which Tennessee prosecuted high-school science teacher John Scopes for violating a state law against teaching evolution, the new measure allows public-school teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories”. Biological evolution, global warming, the chemical origins of life and human cloning are listed as examples of such theories...
It's a sign of the times that we have to pass bills protecting public school teachers from retribution for teaching students that scientific theories need to be objectively analyzed and critiqued.

The science police have been dealt a set-back in Tennessee, and now teachers who teach their students that Darwinism, global warming and conjectures about life arising from inanimate matter are theories, not facts will be more protected from the vicious litigation and administrative retribution they risk when they teach their students that science is about examining the evidence with an open mind.

Nature interviews Josh Rosenau, propagandist director of programmes and policy at the National Center for Science Education (i.e. science police):
 “my guess is that the greatest practical effect will actually be on the climate-change and human-cloning fronts rather than evolution, because there’s no constitutional issue on those subjects”.
The censors are facing a real problem. To silence criticism of Darwinism in schools, they have used bizarre (but often effective) distortions of the Constitution to punish skeptics (exactly how asking a question about Darwin's theory in a public school is an Establishment of Religion remains unclear). But asking questions about global warming and the origin of life and human cloning can't be labeled an Establishment of Religion even in the fevered boardrooms of the ACLU.

NCSE's director Eugenie Scott comments:

“the Tennessee bill would surely inspire other states to go down this same dangerous path.”

Scott doesn't explain how asking questions about her favorite theories is "dangerous".

So there is much work to be done at the NCSE and the ACLU. The science police are working on other tactics to shut you up. This may take a while, so be patient.

7 comments:

  1. I see, yes, very "dangerous" indeed.

    THIS is why we call their belief system a religion. It's not science. Skepticism and questioning are just fine in the realm of science. It's the motor that propels science forward. Unquestionable dogma is what they offer. It's the most unscientific thing I can think of.

    Hey liberals--why do you hate science so much?

    TRISH

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  2. "Hey liberals--why do you hate science so much?"

    Good question, Trish.

    Liberals like science when it tells them what they want to hear. If it doesn't, they're against it.

    All studies into IQ and race have found that not all races are created equal. That should come as no surprise. Not all races are equally tall, why would they be equally smart?

    Still, it upsets liberals to no end. "IQ tests are racist!" they shout. "IQ tests are culturally biased!"

    Then along comes a study that says that people of lower IQ are more likely to be conservative and hold prejudicial views. And all of a sudden, IQ has meaning again. It isn't racist and it isn't culturally biased. Funny how that works.

    The conclusion that a reasonable person might come to is that blacks, who have lower IQs, tend to be conservative and hold prejudicial views.

    The Torch

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  3. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

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    1. Brandt:

      Thanks for your comment.

      The law doesn't "turn back the clock". It actually guarantees freedom of inquiry for students and teachers. Thus, it is the antithesis of the Butler Act (at issue in Scopes), which prevented teachers from questioning (Christian) dogma in science classes.

      This law would have protected Scopes and would have allowed him to teach freely. Why would you oppose a law that guaranteed freedom of inquiry?

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    2. Brandt:

      "There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine."

      There's your problem. You've either never heard any such arguments, in which case you've lived a very sheltered life, or you don't buy them, which is fine; it means that you've taken a certain side of the debate. What's not fine is your decision that only your side gets heard, and that it's...wait for it...SCIENCE!

      Look, there are number of issues that trouble our time of which I have taken one side and you may take another. That means that there is debate. I may find your arguments unconvincing, and you may find my arguments unconvincing. But just because I find your arguments unconvincing doesn't mean that there's no legitimate debate. That's simply your hubris speaking.

      Debates exist when (at least) two sides don't agree. Just because you think the debate is stupid doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

      "The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms."

      I knew I knew that you were motivated by hatred for religion. That's what your theory is about. The situation we have now is fanatic atheists in the classrooms, and they want to be the only ones there.

      Actually the law does "turn back the clock." Not to the time of the Scopes Trial, because that was also a time when only one side was allowed, kind of like now. It turns back the clock to time when free inquiry was encouraged and science meant science.

      Remember this: First they want acceptance, then they want dominance. When evolution first appeared in the schools, they wanted only the freedom to teach it. Now they demand that they be the only idea allowed.

      @ Egnor: "This law would have protected Scopes and would have allowed him to teach freely. Why would you oppose a law that guaranteed freedom of inquiry?"

      Because he hates free inquiry. Even the ACLU in Scopes didn't want the freedom to question the Christian explanation. They simply pretended they wanted that freedom as a first step to getting their theory, and ONLY their theory taught in schools. For one brief moment they pretended they were being open-minded people.

      TRISH

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  4. Science used to be a method of inquiry that required results be repeatable and demonstrable, that called upon others to try to poke holes in the theory to make it stronger, that valued doubt and questioning. It was the skeptic's best friend.

    Today, science is used as battering ram to bash people who disagree.

    "You shut hell the up. This is SCIENCE! Expel that man who dares to question SCIENCE."

    Remember, when German meteorologist Alred Wegener proposed the theory of plate tectonics, he was laughed at. There's no way continents can move. (Well, they don't technically, plates do.) But there was a consensus--an incorrect one--that the continents were static features. He was a minority of one and he was right. He was also told to shut up because his expertise was in meteorology. Sound familiar?

    When your scientific argument amounts to "shut up", it's not scientific.

    Joey

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    1. "When your scientific argument amounts to "shut up", it's not scientific."

      ha! You nailed it, Joey.

      When liberals talk, that's basically always their argument.

      TRISH

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