Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From Hogwarts to the Texas Board of Education: NCSE's Josh Rosenau peddles atheism

There's a cluelessness to atheists that's often downright funny. Josh Rosenau, the National Center for Selling Evolution's Science Education's Policy and Program Director, inadverently makes that point nicely.

On his blog Thoughts from Kansas, Rosenau recounts his attendance at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. It sounds like a Harry Potter convention. The Amazing Meeting is an annual get-together of atheists, organized by Dumbledore The Amazing Randi, a stage magician revered in atheist circles.

From last Thursday through Sunday, I was in Las Vegas at The Amazing Meeting!, a gathering of skeptics hosted by James "The Amazing" Randi.... It was great to meet Randi, who urged us to give him copious hugs, and whose beard threatened to overwhelm the entire crowd of 1600 TAMmers. It was great, too, to watch magician Penn (of Penn and Teller, the long-time twosome of Vegas magicians who were introduced by Randi) and his band perform at a bacon, doughnuts, and rock-n-roll party. It was awesome meeting Bill Nye (the Science Guy!) in the lobby after attending Penn and Teller's show at the Rio. It was fascinating riding to the show with Genie Scott, Carol Tavris, Elizabeth Loftus, and Barbara Anne, a former Vegas singer who worked the casinos in the era portrayed in Casino, and could vouch for the authenticity of De Niro's character.... It was fun watching everyone walking past nervously beg NCSE's Genie Scott for an autograph, or a photo, or just a handshake, and to see her graciously acquiesce again and again.
Sounds like quite a fest:

It was fascinating to see the same old fights come up, and to see them mashed up in odd ways... I also saw Dawkins coming into our session on Defending Evolution in the Classroom. We chatted about it a bit in the hallway later, and he seemed to have liked it. And I got to talk activism with Desiree Schell (@teh_skeptic on twitter), whose workshop on grassroots activism was excellent, and whose talk on the last day worked as hard as any I've seen to describe genuine middle ground in the confrontationalist/accommodationist conflict – to account for the time and place for confrontation, a formal account of how something like Overton's window could be helpful (and therefore which attempts to invoke it are fallacious), and to inculcate a spirit of thoughtful and informed activism.

There was other stuff, dark, odd, and unfortunate stuff, but that's for another day.
Harry Josh Rosenau and Hermione Eugenie Scott (the Director of the NCSE) presented sessions promoting censorship in science classrooms to a meeting of atheists organized by a magician.

A cynic might ask just what about TAM wasn't "dark, odd, and unfortunate stuff..."

If I did this as a parody, people would complain that it was too outlandish.

But wait, there's more.

Rosenau had to skedaddle from TAM in Las Vegas to testify as an impartial advocate of science at ... a meeting of the Texas Board of Education.


This Thursday, the Texas Board of Education will vote to adopt science textbook supplements.

You'll recall that the board approved new science standards a couple years ago... [b]ut they stuck in a line about "all sides of the evidence," whatever that means, and inserted language requiring greater scrutiny for evolutionary concepts than for all others, and inserting creationist ideas about cellular complexity and "sudden appearance" of fossil species....It's rare that I'm relieved to see a statewide school system underfunded, but in this case I'll make an exception...So off I go, having barely unpacked my bags from TAM!, I'm repacking to testify before the board this Thursday. I fly out tomorrow, and will spend Wednesday with friends and colleagues in Austin, testify and livetweet at @JoshRosenau and @NCSE (using hashtag #txtxt, if you care) on Thursday, then watch the board vote on Friday, and come home. It should be a blast, but also fairly whirlwind. All told, I'll have been traveling three of July's 5 weeks, for a total of 14 days. That's eight flight segments, for a carbon footprint I don't even want to think about.
Rosenau, fresh from an atheist Qabalah at which he and the executive director of the NCSE presented talks to fellow atheists on how to best censor science in public schools, presents himself to testify as an ideologically neutral defender of science at a Texas Board of Education meeting.


Here's a suggestion for the first question asked of Rosenau during his testimony:

"Mr. Rosenau, you present yourself and your organization (the NCSE) as non-ideological defenders of science. So I ask you this: where were you yesterday, why were you there, and did you give any presentations relevant to your testimony today? Given the ideological bias of the audience at the meeting you just attended, how are you able to assert credibly that you are an ideologically neutral defender of science?"

The NCSE is an atheist organization devoted to insulating Darwin's theory from scrutiny. Several of its top officials are atheists active in national atheist organizations. Atheism is a religion, and Darwin's theory is its creation myth.

And its apostles aren't even smart enough to cover their ideological tracks.


  1. Here is a joke that fits Rosenau quite nicely.

    Josh wishes to have a hardwood floor installed in his dining room. He ask a carpenter to provide an estimate. The carpenter ask:

    -Would you like me to do this under the table?

    No no, said Josh, I want it across the entire dining room floor!

  2. Atheists are so wispy, our only solution is to illustrate them in jokes!

  3. He mentions James Randi. While I applaud Randi for exposing frauds like Peter Popoff (= Joseph Smith + 150 years), he is a rube and a crank when it comes to Jesus Mythicism.