Evolution in America

A good discussion on evolution/creationism debate. However, just listen to the first 5 mins or so of the presentation and…

NatCen4ScienceEd“Evolution? Creation? Both? Neither?” – Aug 5, 2010

40 percent of Americans accept “young earth creationism” but 78 percent accept “continental drift”. This should be a bright red warning flag on the (lack of) thought processes of the average American.

You don’t get the connection? How can continents drift in 6,000 years? If they drift that fast then why aren’t they moving that fast now? Hello? Is this thing on?

Can people that ignorant be trusted to open cans properly, much more be trusted to point guns (or ballots) in the right direction before using them? I think it’s a valid question.

Stupidity moves South for the Summer.

Stupidity moves South for the Summer.

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/99153999.html


School Board might OK teaching creationism
LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board will begin exploring the possibility of incorporating the teaching of “creationism” in the public school system’s science classes.

During the board’s meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism, an alternative to the study of the theory of evolution, in Livingston Parish public school classrooms.

Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”

“We shouldn’t just jump into this thing, but we do need to look at it,” Martin said. “The American Civil Liberties Union and even some of our principals would not be pleased with us, but we shouldn’t worry about the ACLU. It’s more important that we do the correct thing for the children we educate.”

…The correct thing would be to teach science in science class, and religion in Sunday School.

-RAnthony

Daily Beef: Missing Roll Call

I woke up at 9:00am this morning. Woke up at 9:00am on a morning that I had to get the children to school. On a morning that I had to have them at school by 8:30am. When we finally came rolling into the classroom, I had to apologize at school.

Writing 20 times on the chalkboard I will not oversleep on school mornings. Can you be Bart Simpson and be 40 at the same time?

Facebook status. This post is illustrative of what short status notifications are good for. You can zip them off and then forget about them only to be reminded of that time when eleven years later. No, I didn’t actually have to write on the chalkboard. But the teacher made me apologize to the class.

SBOE Approves Bible Course Guidelines

Gotta love this. The Texas Legislature, not satisfied with simply raping the Texas State pledge and making the students say god during newly mandatory daily pledge recitations (god twice, if you count the mandatory federal pledge recitations. Could be even three times if you choose to pray during your mandatory moment of silence. I don’t like pledging, in case you hadn’t heard) has also decided that Texas students need more indoctrination into the already pervasive christian religion; so they have passed a law that all but mandates bible school classes be offered in Texas public high schools.

…And the SBOE, run by ID supporter Don McLeroy has dutifully passed guidelines, clearing the way for these courses to be taught.

Board members approved the new class, which will be in some high schools this fall, even though officials are awaiting an opinion from the attorney general on whether the state law authorizing the course requires all school districts to offer it.

The board adopted general guidelines for the course on a 10-5 vote, disregarding the advice of several members of the House Public Education Committee who urged approval of more specific requirements to head off the possibility of constitutional violations and lawsuits.

“It’s better for us to go ahead and do something now,” said board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. “We have met the requirements of the legislation. We don’t want to stifle what they [school districts] are doing in classrooms.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott has told the board that although the state standards for the Bible class appear to be in compliance with the First Amendment, his office can’t guarantee that the courses taught in high schools will be constitutional because they haven’t been reviewed.

Critics contend that the standards – based on old guidelines for independent studies in English and social studies – are so vague and general that many schools might unknowingly create unconstitutional Bible classes that either promote the religious views of teachers or disparage the religious beliefs of some students.

Earlier this year, the Ector County school board agreed to quit using a Bible course curriculum at two high schools in Odessa that the American Civil Liberties Union said promoted Protestant religious beliefs not shared by Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and many Protestants.

However, state board members supporting the Bible course rule adopted Friday said such lawsuits are rare and should not be a problem for most school districts.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who voted against the proposal, said teachers of the course would be given far less direction from the state than they receive in most other subjects.

“We need to do more work on this instead of jumping off into the abyss,” she said.

The course is supposed to be geared to academic, nondevotional study of the Bible, and cover such things as the influence of the New Testament on law, literature, history and culture.

Dallas News

So, we in Texas can look forward to turning out students who erroneously think that murder is illegal because the Ten Commandments say you shouldn’t do it. How long before they start teaching a nondevotional course on the Qur’an or the Talmud? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

For me, the solution is simple. Take the Bible Class Challenge.

American AtheistsThe Texas Bible Class Challenge

If the schools know that they are going to face hostile students in these classes, very few of them will want to offer them in the first place. If the schools offer the classes, and don’t respect the contrary opinions, they can be shut down through lawsuits. It’s an expense we the taxpayers should not have to face, but then we elected these idiots to do this to us, apparently.

Steroid Testing Boondoggle

David Dewhurst should be run out of town on a rail after this fiasco.

“I pushed this important legislation through the Legislature because I knew it would deter our young people from wrecking their bodies and putting their lives at risk by using illegal steroids,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in Tuesday’s editions of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.

3 million dollars later, and we have nothing to show for it. Two positives out of 10,000 tests administered. That’s a statistical equivalent of ZERO atheletes on steroids in Texas.

[Never mind that if I wanted to do steroids as an athelete, I’d be sure that it was documented that I had sinus allergies; the treatment for which is generally steroids. Whatever]

The OLS host repeats it frequently “The Largest Steriod Testing Program in the Nation”. Drug testing is an invasion of privacy. If you want to test your own children, knock yourselves out. Leave my children alone.

…and fire David Dewhurst. Even if you think testing is OK, how is this program not a complete waste of funds?


On a related note, our children are getting fatter.

“Our children’s health is in jeopardy,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville. “We cannot allow an entire generation of Texans to grow up and live a shorter life than previous generations.”

Maybe we should stop discouraging them from engaging in extra-curricular activities. Discouragement like testing them for drugs if they want to play sports, for example. Or maybe you should just turn off the TV and take the kid for a walk.

When a Representative of the State mentions children and jeopardy, watch your wallets. There’s going to be additional theft-by-taxes proposed shortly following those words.

English Standards Gutted. Will Science and Evolution be Next?

Perry’s appointee to the Texas Board of Education has shown his true colors. As most of us knew he would:

McLeroy’s latest antic — though I would call it the first shot fired in a war, a war on reality — was over, of all things, the English standards. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, teachers and experts had worked for two and a half to three years on new standards for English. So what did McLeroy do? He ignored all that work entirely, and let “social conservatives” on the board draft a new set overnight.

Overnight? Think that’s better than Standards teachers and experts spent nearly three years on?

This new version cobbled together in a few hours was delivered to Board members an hour before the meeting in which they were to vote on it. An hour! In the meeting, McLeroy rammed through the discussion, even dismissing people who claimed he was going too quickly:

“Mr. Chair you’re going so fast … you’re moving so fast we can’t find it in the other document,” [board member Mary Helen] Berlanga said, shortly after the page-by-page explanation began.

After more complaints, McLeroy declared that he would continue at the fast pace.

“The ruling is you’re being dilatory in dragging this out,” McLeroy said.

What a guy! And now guess how this ends…

The board voted to approve the hastily cobbled-together standards, 9-6.

And if you’re not tired of guessing, then guess what discipline comes up next for review? Science!

Bad Astronomy

Every time you pet your dog, you are touching a known product of evolution. Through thousands of years of companionship, we have created the creatures that lovingly chew our sneakers and pee on the rug. God didn’t create dogs, humans evolved them from wolves that were captured and tamed. This is a concept so obvious, most people don’t even notice it.

The current chairman of the Texas Board of Education is one of these people. He is a creationist, bent on introducing Intelligent Design into Texas classrooms. He needs to be ousted, and yesterday wouldn’t be soon enough.

As I said before:

There is no room for creationism at the science table when it comes to teaching children. Leave it at church where it belongs. Send a message to the powers that be this year, tell the TEA hands off our science curriculum, send the fundamentalists packing.

I have, and I will again. Either the state concedes on this issue and removes the sitting board chairman, or Texas spends millions of dollars defending itself against lawsuits as outraged parents take the state to court over curriculum that they refuse to see taught to their children.

Which outcome do you prefer?


Here’s an interesting coincidence. The Governor’s contact page seems to be terminally on the fritz. That’s odd. I know I’ve used that contact system before. I wonder if he’s feeling the heat from his extremely unwise choice of SBOE chairs. One can only hope.

From Crossroads to Expelled: Creation Propaganda

As the release hype for Expelled heats up, a little reminder of the dishonest methods used to get interviews from evolution supporters.

From PZ Myers’ blog Pharyngula:

Why were they so dishonest about it? If Mathis had said outright that he wants to interview an atheist and outspoken critic of Intelligent Design for a film he was making about how ID is unfairly excluded from academe, I would have said, “bring it on!” We would have had a good, pugnacious argument on tape that directly addresses the claims of his movie, and it would have been a better (at least, more honest and more relevant) sequence. He would have also been more likely to get that good ol’ wild-haired, bulgy-eyed furious John Brown of the Godless vision than the usual mild-mannered professor that he did tape. And I probably would have been more aggressive with a plainly stated disagreement between us.

I mean, seriously, not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest.

Pharyngula

The article goes to the detail necessary to prove that he (and others) were tricked into participating in a film different from the one they had agreed to be interviewed for.

Having now been accosted on several occasions by the obnoxious mug of Ben Stein on Science Channel programming that I just happened to be watching, I decided to track down more on the subject of this pro-ID propaganda piece. I’m not quite as militant about the subject as the Bad Astronomer is, I do agree with his sentiment. I’m not surprised though. Watching The History Channel for any length of time removes any illusions about what kind of history is important there.

Suffice it to say, I won’t be paying to see this film. If I do see it, I’ll be watching it in much the same way I saw Sicko, another propaganda piece not worthy of a monetary investment.

I don’t think it’s possible to make too much fun of those who take ID seriously:

Sexpelled: No Intercourse Allowed read more | digg story

It just about equates on the reality meter. Ben Stein is an ignorant fool.

Editor’s note

Featuring the only Digg link that I’ve found was captured by the Internet Wayback machine.

Common Sense 119 – A Delegate Conspiracy and the Establishment Clause

Podcast link. [Broken]

Excellent first half of the show, Exposing the Super Delegates. How many Democrat voters realize how their party is structured?

I’ve talked to dozens of people over the years who have whined (yes, I mean you, whiner) about the theft of the 2000 elections by George W. Bush, because the popular vote wasn’t for Bush, it went to Gore.


Never mind that the election was a statistical tie (as was the 2004 election) in most locations around the country. Never mind that the legislatures of most states (including Florida) are empowered to choose who their electors should vote for in the event of no clear victor in a national election. Never mind that the method of selection for national representatives (other than the Senate) is left up to the states to determine, and that includes the President. I’m no friend of election in the first place, so maybe I’m biased. Still, one has to wonder what limitations on majority rule can be maintained when everything becomes a popularity contest, a beauty pageant, first and foremost.


Several people have made a point to tell me that the thing that most needs fixing in our government is the electoral college, because of this outrage. How outraged will they be when their own party takes the popular vote and renders it meaningless by using the super delegates to select Hillary Clinton to compete against John McCain instead of Barack Obama?

Think it can’t happen? Then you don’t understand your own party. From the Wikipedia:

Superdelegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention include all Democratic members of the United States Congress, Democratic governors, various additional elected officials, members of the Democratic National Committee, as well as “all former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.”

The 2008 Democratic National Convention will have approximately 796 superdelegates. Delegates from state caucuses and primaries will number 3,253, resulting in a total number of delegate votes of 4,049. A candidate needs a majority of that total, or 2,025, to win the nomination. Superdelegates account for approximately one fifth (19.6%) of all votes at the convention.

This has been done before, as Dan pointed out. The truly pointless candidacy of Walter Mondale can be wholly laid at the feet of the super delegates.

What I want to know is how will Bill spin it afterwards? After he uses party muscle (and bribery; er, contributions to super delegates) to get what he wants?

I don’t think it will happen, though (sorry Dan) The representative for the district I reside in, Lloyd Doggett, is a long time leader of the Texas Democrat party, and he announced Texas’ intention to throw the Clintons under the bus by publicly declaring his support for Barack Obama before the recent debates here in Austin.

So I guess I’ll have to revise my prediction of a Clinton victory.


The second half of the show dealt with smaller government. Smaller government as in most government power being in the hands of local and state governments (as the founders intended) rather than in the hands of large federal bureaucracies (as the US government is currently structured) This is a trend that is occurring now, with California and several other states being willing to go head to head with the feds over things like pollution controls and the drug war.

What we are seeing is not new, this is the way that an out of control Washington D.C. is reigned in. The states simply ignore what the federal government tells them to do, or actively thwarts it (as in the case of Medical Marijuana) It was known as the Principles of ’98 (1798, to be exact) the first time it was tried, and Jefferson was it’s architect. My only question is, why this has taken so long to take root?

In a general sense I have no problem with this. I fly the Gadsden flag for a reason. It hearkens back to the times before the Constitution, when individual land owners within the several states decided to act to secure their rights as free men. Individual freedom first and foremost. State power should be subservient to this. Which is where I draw the line.

The bill of rights for the US Constitution should continue to (and currently do) apply to all governments constituted within the federal boundaries of the United States. Which means there will be no establishment of religion (as Dan calls it, a “god-abama”) or various other governmental permutations that would violate the basic rights of the individuals who reside in those areas. If different states really want to secede (like Vermont for example) more power to them. If they want to stay members of the United States, they need to conform to the requirements of the constitution.

I’ve often wondered why we don’t invite other countries into the US as states, rather than drafting these ridiculously convoluted trade treaties. I can understand why other countries might decline, considering the vampiric nature of our current government; but if we could get back to the kind of government we started with, before the cause of individual rights was lost in the political subterfuge of states rights and slavery, what population wouldn’t want to join?


March 2nd addition – I completely missed the solution to Dan’s God-abama conundrum. The solution goes like this:

If you’re homeschooling, teach whatever you like. I’m betting parents that homeschool aren’t going to teach ID [intelligent design] Even if they do, the percentage will be so low as to be insignificant.

Private schools will not teach ID, because they survive on the prestige of their alumni. If the alumni are flipping burgers because they can’t fathom critical thinking (all that is required to understand the evolution vs. ID argument) chances are the school won’t be in business too long.

Government schools are the only chance for ID to take hold, and that is why it must be resisted without compromise in that arena. If there were no government schools, there would be no widespread issue concerning what science is or isn’t, because the blindly religious would maintain their own failing schools or home school, and the rest of the population would rally around verifiable results.

I’ve often thought that the way to get what we want out of the schools, if we have to pay for them with taxes, is to issue vouchers to the parents directly and let them hire the teachers and maintain the schools. We hand the job of crafting tests and developing standards that verify real educational results to the businesses that demand an educated workforce. And then let the market determine the outcome.

But that wasn’t the question asked at the beginning of this thread. The question was about ID in relation to Dan’s assertion that we could let the religious have segments of the US as their own playgrounds so that they would leave the rest of us alone.

And in that framework the answer is NO to ID.

A market solution is the only counter to Dan’s original conundrum. And it only occurred to me today, even though I’ve frequented http://www.schoolandstate.org for a few years now.

Separating school and state is the only workable solution short of standing on the establishment clause and allowing the states to secede, because schooling is the major point of contention between the religious and the secular.


March 4, 2019. So much crazy here. I wish I had access to the original audio for the Common Sense episode this was about. Sortition was a thing I was into. I remember that. Sortition is itself not a problem so long as the incapable are barred from serving. This measure should also be taken on the subject of election. President Trump proves this. Election itself is not a problem so long as everyone within the country is mobilized to vote and required to vote. This removes the popularity contest that is the problem with the current system. Everyone voting means that popularity of the candidates is irrelevant. Issues will rule the day again. But sortition works in a pinch, too.

Evolution vs. Creationism

When I posted the rant on Evolution, I never expected this guy would have an objection to the content,

See my article Evolutionism vs. Creationism

So I read it. Like so many things friends tell me I should read because I’ll agree with it, I didn’t get past the opening without finding something to quibble with. Here’s the quote:

…whether a “creation” model deserves at least equal billing as an alternative theory to evolution. It does, but not in a way that would please the religious advocates of a biblical form of such a model.

I could not disagree with that opening statement more.

Occam’s razor (as he rightly point out later in the article) rules out external actors (like gods or George) because of the impact that such a thing would have on other theories or models.

People can believe pretty much anything they like, but the physical universe behaves in scientifically predictable ways. Creationism is a belief system, not to be mistaken for science; and therefore has no place in a science class at all.

Contamination and alien invasion, or even God did it can have a place at the science table when they can come up with testable theories. Until then, I’m siding with the Pastafarians and insisting that it is the blessings of his noodly appendages that should be taught alongside other forms of creationism, if we are going to be teaching creationism.

…which doesn’t even come close to real science.

The cover article in the Dec. 2007 issue of Scientific American, Are Aliens among Us?, [abstracted here] discusses some of the alternatives to a single descent tree, including one I discussed in my article, “mirror” organisms. Any neutral scientific approach must always consider the possibility of contamination. All we need is evidence of organisms that can’t be placed in a single descent tree. So far no one has found any, but the subject will become more important as as explore space and begin to inadvertently cause biological contamination incidents.

…And without evidence, that pretty much covers classroom discussion. I’m not arguing against teaching critical thought, I’m arguing against teaching mythology as science.

Whether the molecules are right or left handed, natural selection will still occur, if more complex organisms occur.

Such questions also arise in the examination of paleoarchaeological evidence from the last one or two million years when variants of homo began to modify other species in their environment. If one finds some wheat or corn seeds, are they naturally evolved or human bred? Is that stone with a sharpened edge an early tool of hominids, or just an accident? Is that invasive species just something brought in from another place, or something manmade? E.g. Caulerpa taxifolia. For that matter, are those hominid specimens naturally evolved or the result of social selection within the hominids?

All of which speaks more to the fallacy of excluding the actions of the human population at large from the group of events deemed natural, than it does to errors in evolutionary theory. We aren’t the only species on the planet to use tools and we aren’t the only species on the planet to modify other species to suit our needs.

As a species we are as natural a phenomenon on this planet as any of the others who came before us. It shows our own inflated sense of self to think otherwise. It’s an important datum to note where the influence comes from; but it doesn’t make the effect any less natural, or any less evolutionary.

I will never understand the problem with Americans and evolution. How so many people can doubt a science that is so easily demonstrable is beyond me. How do you explain dogs? Other domesticated species who have evolved a dependence on humans? Is the human species a stand in for god? Then how are we able to manipulate other species?

I don’t know that the friend I quoted above has a problem with evolution so much that he doesn’t want to exclude other theories, but I have yet to see any other theory produce a single shred of evidence, whereas the evidence for evolution can be stumbled over as easily as the dog that lays down behind your feet.


Editor’s note. I am in debt to Jon Roland for challenging me to think more critically over the years as well as for his legal opinions that have helped keep me from being abused by lenders who use the law to steal from people who have nothing left to steal except their continued existence. But the Dunning-Kruger effect is on display in many of his articles on subjects that he really doesn’t know enough about to speak knowledgeably. He has wisely pulled his article on evolution down off his website, but there is still a copy available on archive.org if you want to go read it. I changed the link to point to it, and cleaned up some of my horrendous wordsmithing in this early article.

Intelligent Design is Bad News for Texas

This should be a wake up call for any Texan with children in the school system:

[T]he Texas Education Agency’s Director of Science has been forced out of her job for allegedly not “remaining neutral” over the teaching of evolution in schools. Christine Comer, a former science teacher, had her nine-year stint as Director of Science ended as a result of an e-mail she sent to colleagues, notifying them of an upcoming talk being given by Barbara Forrest. Forrest is the author of Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse, a book that details the movement to have ID taught as science in America’s Schools.

…creationists are readying themselves for another confrontation in the coming year, when Texas reviews its scientific curriculum. Although the state has taught evolution as fact for the past decade, the new chair of the State Board of Education is a self-proclaimed proponent of ID and it is widely believed that this will be reflected in the upcoming curriculum.

Arstechnica

This is what comes of blindly supporting Republicans for the last who knows how many years. Eventually you get government officials whose goals aren’t even recognizable from the perspective of the general population.

Intelligent Design is no more and no less than the latest attempt to re-introduce god into school curriculum, and it must not be allowed to gain a foothold.

Whether or not you subscribe to all things Darwin, evolution or natural selection does explain how the living organisms we see today came to be. Intelligent Design does not.

Intelligent Design proposes a god of the gaps, inserting a creator being where there is no clear evolutionary path from one organism to the next. However, reliance on a creator, a designer, to produce the life we see today, automatically begs the question who created the creator?

If complex life requires a more complex organism to create it, then the creator must have his own creator; etc, etc, ad infinitum.

The only other viable solution to this conundrum is natural selection, evolution. Something that the average biology student can replicate on a test basis using fruit flies. That is science.

God did it is not.

There is no room for creationism at the science table when it comes to teaching children. Leave it at church where it belongs. Send a message to the powers that be this year, tell the TEA hands off our science curriculum, send the fundamentalists packing.