Texas school board searching for “another side” to theory of evolution

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We recently reviewed the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the actions of the Texas state school board as it attempted to rewrite the science and history standards that had been prepared by experts in education and the relevant subjects.

For biology, the board’s revisions meant that textbook publishers were instructed to help teachers and students “analyze all sides of scientific information” about evolution. Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn’t at all clear what “all sides” would involve.

The movie ended on a somewhat positive note; although the standards had been modified, Don McLeroy, the most vocal opponent of evolution education, lost his bid for reelection to the board. However, it now looks like his successor intends to carry on his legacy.

This week, the Texas Freedom Network (also featured in the film) posted a video to YouTube, filmed when the current head of the board, Barbara Cargill, was testifying before the state Senate. In the clip, Cargill says she has been examining the biology material that has been set up to help teachers meet the state standards (called CSCOPE) and zoomed straight to the material on evolution. And she did not like what she saw.

Written By: John Timmer
continue to source article at arstechnica.com

35 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Ms. Cargill,

    You are surrounded by reason. Please come out of your religio-cultural stupor with your hands up!!!!!

    Then again, maybe you should continue to hold Texas kids hostage to what you consider to be
    “other Scientific explanations”. Better my grandkids in Illinois should get those acceptance letters
    from real Universities that teach real Science that lead to real careers than your future numbskulls!!!!!

  2. Cargill will be back before the Senate next week, as the body is scheduled to vote on her appointment to lead the board, so we may be seeing more on this topic shortly.

    Is there not a soft-play area somewhere in Texas, where these people can meet and decide which one of them is “king of the castle”!

  3. But all the available evidence does support the theory of evolution! That includes DNA evidence, radioactive decay and carbon dating, geophysical distribution of species, archaeological and fossil evidence, cosmological evidence on the age of the universe. There has never been a stronger scientific theory with so much supporting evidence from other disciplines. There is no actual evidence in opposition to evolution whatsoever and trying to make a debate out of the “and the a miracle happens” is either intellectual high treason or the errand of imbeciles!

  4. An unknown source has disclosed to the NY Times that God has found the Texas school board guilty of treason and has sentenced the current members to an eternity of hell fire and the gnashing of teeth and so on and so forth,for failing to do his will.
    This,apparently,has come as no surprise to the TSB,as they’ve been expecting this for a very long time.
    We’ll keep you updated on this story as the word of god should unfold gradually through selected humans.
    Stay tooned…

  5. How many right wing ultraconservative school board members does it take to screw in a light bulb????

    At least ten. One to hold the bulb and read the manual, and at least nine others to research alternate theories.

  6. In reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:

    Cargill will be back before the Senate next week, as the body is scheduled to vote on her appointment to lead the board, so we may be seeing more on this topic shortly.

    Is there not a soft-play area somewhere in Texas, where these people can meet and decide which one of them is “king of the castle”!

    Isn’t that place the State Legislature?

  7. How about researching “another side” to religion: its illogical, immoral, hypocritical, destructive, and most of all, out-dated.

    Oh wait! All the research has already been done to confirm these conclusions.

    “Research” implies actually gathering evidence, and testing it to see whether it makes sense. Well that’s what science already is.

    Religion on the other hand is about assuming you already have all the answers, and never verifying them at all.

  8. I don’t understand why it’s the stupid people of Texas that always catch the most flack when these articles come up.

    What we need is a way to demonstrate that the SBOE is hurting the football programs at UT, Texas Tech and A&M…

  9. In reply to #9 by Vorlund:

    But all the available evidence does support the theory of evolution! That includes DNA evidence, radioactive decay and carbon dating, geophysical distribution of species, archaeological and fossil evidence, cosmological evidence on the age of the universe. There has never been a stronger scientific theory with so much supporting evidence from other disciplines. There is no actual evidence in opposition to evolution whatsoever and trying to make a debate out of the “and the a miracle happens” is either intellectual high treason or the errand of imbeciles!

    Oh, that’s all very well, but they don’t like any of that sort of ‘scientiffy’ stuff. It makes their brains hurt.

    S G

  10. Creationists have demonstrated that they cannot produce the science to back up their claims. What keeps them going isn’t that they actually believe that there is any science to what they say, but that there is a population of scientifically illitertate people whose minds are not being reached with good science. This leaves a vacuum that creationists are only too glad to fill because, by their own admission in The Wedge Document, they are interested more in spreading their religious beliefs than with science, reason, or genuine inquiry. Creationists have also demonstrated that they don’t care about pesky little details like the law, which is why they continuously try to work around court decisions and legislation. As long as the public thinks that creationists are only seeking a fair hearing, the creationists will continue to push. Science has to win the PR campaign that it really isn’t seriously engaging in, in order to break Creationism as a publicly influential movement.

  11. In reply to #15 by Mr DArcy:

    Kid Chicago:

    How many right wing ultraconservative school board members does it take to screw in a light bulb???

    About 50. One to hold the light bulb the other 49 to turn the room around.

    M.D.—–Yours is definitely the ultra-winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Kid.

  12. Sensible Texas biology teachers should interpret the “all sides” to mean, look at some of the actual current issues in evolution (such as individual v. gene v. group selection, genetic drift, etc.) instead of doubts about evolution overall – of which there aren’t any serious ones. Or they could deal with popular misunderstandings, eg: “If we descended from primates, why are there still monkeys?”

  13. Like ‘wack a mole’….
    But they are losing the battle so far, what in the last decade have they really achieved except for a great deal of noise and whining, not a lot to show apart from the absolute derision of the rest of the world., well done that school board!

  14. In reply to #21 by phiwilli01:

    Or they could deal with popular misunderstandings, eg: “If we descended from primates, why are there still monkeys?”

    OR :- “If we descended from primitive primates, why are there still Texas legislators?”

  15. Darwin’s idea of natural selection (as the mechanism of evolution) fell out of scientific fashion in the late 19 th century. the fact of evolution itself has been indisputable from the 1860s onwards.
    It was only the vast amount of supporting evidence that accumulated from various branches of biology (biochemistry, genetics, cell biology etc etc) put it back as the prime explanation of all living things.

  16. The more they argue the more people can see how ridiculous are their arguments. We may be frustrated by the apparent local power these nincompoops have; but in the long term, publishing their views will undermine their position. Ask yourselves is there any aspect of science more debated than evolution? Then ask, who generates the discussion? This is truly a case of the ignorant unintentionally educating the uninformed and quite possibly themselves. Now they are getting flustered about cosmology – whoopee! So another branch of science will become more public.

  17. What I cannot understand about these Flintstoneian crappolagists is that they would benefit hugely by just leaving the bible at home and stop calling evolution a ‘ theory’. Evolution is a fact we’ve found evidence all over the world for it. Fossils,DNA, they ignore all the evidence and try ram 2000 year old scrapbook down our children throats.

  18. I think the solution is quite easy. For each of the scientific disciplines, they begin the beginning of each chapter with a history of older “theories” that were proven wrong, explaining why/how they were proven wrong, and then on to the current theories.

    So chemistry will start with a brief excerpt on alchemy, astronomy with astrology, big bang with several other creation myths, and evolution with Noah and several other creation myths.

    The other side doesn’t have to be very long or detailed, just a brief description akin to ‘Magic of Reality’, reasons why that “theory” was wrong, and then on to the real science. It would match the curriculum standards, and I think it would quickly annoy the creationists because it would show how silly their beliefs are.

  19. In reply to #16 by Sean_W:

    I don’t understand why it’s the stupid people of Texas that always catch the most flack when these articles come up.

    What we need is a way to demonstrate that the SBOE is hurting the football programs at UT, Texas Tech and A&M…

    Texas always catches it because their central textbook purchasing forces the publishers to conform their texts to Texas standards, which are thus imposed on the rest of the country.

    Really, though, I don’t see anything wrong with presenting both sides. I personally think Gradualism is most likely, but there are quite a few people who think Gould presented a persuasive argument, so Punctuated Equilibrium might also be presented as a possible alternative.

    Or we could ask Alley Oop to hop in his time machine and try to explain why my cousin was right about people and dinosaurs.

  20. it’s important to look at all sides to evolution.

    fossil records, genetic data, embryology, population data, geology….

    also the arguments agasint natural selection of course, just as a historical reference to show how long ago they were all knocked down

  21. In reply to #30 by JTMcDaniel:

    Really, though, I don’t see anything wrong with presenting both sides. I personally think Gradualism is most likely, but there are quite a few people who think Gould presented a persuasive argument, so Punctuated Equilibrium might also be presented as a possible alternative.

    Evolution has progressed through billions of years and millions of species, so there is no “One-size-fits-all”, answer as to how it works. The rate of change has certainly varied with the stability or otherwise of the planet’s climate, or particular habitats.

    Students, however need to learn the basic processes, before they can learn the multiple variations of these in different circumstances.

    That is not what the creationist ignoramuses are talking about.

    THEY have NOTHING to contribute to the scientific debates, and NOTHING useful to say on teaching techniques.

    glenister_m
    28

    I think the solution is quite easy. For each of the scientific disciplines, they begin the beginning of each chapter with a history of older “theories” that were proven wrong, explaining why/how they were proven wrong, and then on to the current theories.

    Ah! . . . .. . . So you are suggesting classes use sets of copies of the hard-back version of “The Magic of Reality”!

  22. Teaching both sides is fine as long as we dedicate percentage of class time given to each subject commiserate with likelihood that the side is correct. So, we dedicate 99.9999999999999999999% of class time to evolution and the rest to the bullshit side.

    I bought a lottery ticket this morning. I can either win or lose. So it’s 50/50 that I’ll hit the lottery!!! All I have to do is play the game twice and I GUARANTEE that I win!!!! I am already planning on how I will spend the money!!!

    WHAT??? That isn’t how it works? Who says so??

    I bet it’s the so called “experts” who can calculate odds and who understand math? I’ll show them who the expert is!!! I choose not to believe them. So, easy street for me….. just gotta keep buying lottery tickets until the odds are in my favor…..

    Maybe Texas’ board of education members would like to get in on the lottery too? 50/50 chance….

    In reply to #30 by JTMcDaniel:

    In reply to #16 by Sean_W:

    I don’t understand why it’s the stupid people of Texas that always catch the most flack when these articles come up.

    What we need is a way to demonstrate that the SBOE is hurting the football programs at UT, Texas Tech and A&M…

    Texas always catches it because their central textbook purchasing forces the publishers to conform their texts to Texas standards, which are thus imposed on the rest of the country.

    Really, though, I don’t see anything wrong with presenting both sides. I personally think Gradualism is most likely, but there are quite a few people who think Gould presented a persuasive argument, so Punctuated Equilibrium might also be presented as a possible alternative.

    Or we could ask Alley Oop to hop in his time machine and try to explain why my cousin was right about people and dinosaurs.

  23. Just what Americans need – school boards wasting time and taxpayer money in a depressed economy on fruitless “searches” for alternatives to reality so our children can become intellectually-handicapped non-productive members of a third-world idiocracy. Way to go, Texas!

    Please, please, please just fucking secede already.

  24. In reply to #30 by JTMcDaniel:

    Really, though, I don’t see anything wrong with presenting both sides. I personally think Gradualism is most likely, but there are quite a few people who think Gould presented a persuasive argument, so Punctuated Equilibrium might also be presented as a possible alternative.

    Prof Dawkins has clearly explained in his books that Punctuated Equilibrium does not change Evolution by Natural Selection, it just posits variable speedism versus constant speedism along the way. Gould himself said the same thing, but some folk think that his interpretation of the fine steps somehow undermines Darwinian Evolution. Mac.

  25. In reply to #35 by CdnMacAtheist:

    Prof Dawkins has clearly explained in his books that Punctuated Equilibrium does not change Evolution by Natural Selection, it just posits variable speedism versus constant speedism along the way. Gould himself said the same thing,

    Just to add: – When scientists explain the various forms of evolution in a multitude of species and circumstances, the scientifically illiterate will, with the aid of their fundamentalist filter spectacles, read and “interpret”, whatever they want to see – just as they do with bibles, history etc.

    As you have explained, it is therefore important, that when considering science, we don’t let the pseudo-drivel slide in to mix with the real studies, via journalist misinterpretations or apologist disinformation.

    but some folk think that his interpretation of the fine steps somehow undermines Darwinian Evolution.

    Yep! Creationists/IDiots, will latch onto anything they can’t understand and “interpret” it, as undermining Darwinian evolution.

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