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← The new anti-science assault on US schools

The new anti-science assault on US schools - Comments

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 1 by rrh1306

"These legislators, and their colleagues in Missouri and Indiana, trot out the hoary line that evolution is "just a theory" and that real science means saying that every point of view is just as good as any other."

It's sort of ironic that the religious, the worshipers of ultimate truth, seem to be using the idea of relativism more and more these days to support the dissemination of their ideas.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:14:48 UTC | #916919

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 2 by drumdaddy

Religion is a wonderful tool for dumbing-down a population. The false association of science and a devil character, as depicted in the ancient fanciful tale of that vile and forbidden Tree of Knowledge, is a fundamental ploy for religions whose extraordinary claims fail every logic test. This serves to benefit not only the lucrative and multi-exempt god business, but other profitable power structures as well; namely, the fossil-fuel industries for which it is profitable to discredit environmental science at every turn. They all share the same sooty bed.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:22:07 UTC | #916923

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 3 by rrh1306

Were caught in a vicious cycle here in the states. Schools won't start teaching evolution more openly until the public at large starts to accept it more thus it will be less controversial. But the people here won't start accepting it more until their taught the facts. So were back to square one. Even as the younger generations here becomes less religious I think their just as likely to think aliens created people (Ancient Aliens) then that people evolved. I say until many prominent scientist start some kind of on going public protest were doomed.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:29:25 UTC | #916925

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 4 by rrh1306

Comment Removed by Author

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:30:04 UTC | #916926

Finch's Avatar Comment 5 by Finch

From the article:

The other significant twist has to do with the fact that the new anti-evolution – make that anti-science – bills are emerging in the context of the most vigorous assault on public education in recent history. In Oklahoma, for example, while Senator Brecheen fights the forces of evolution and materialism, the funding for schools is being cut, educational attainments are falling, and conservative leaders are agitating for school voucher systems, which, in the name of "choice", would divert money from public schools to private schools – many of them religious. The sponsor of Indiana's anti-science bill, Dennis Kruse, who happens to be chairman of the Senate education committee, is also fighting the two battles at once.

I lean Libertarian, on most issues. However, the topic of providing excellent-quality education for all US citizens is far too important simply to cut it loose from federal oversight and control to be butchered and adulterated by these idiotic, anti-science politicians and school board members, at the state and local levels. Even though the Constitution guards against it, the time wasted (and the funds) is shameful.

Rather than making private schools more accessible to underprivileged students who would normally not have those opportunities, the US government must upgrade its educational system to be one of the best on the planet.

In order for this to occur, IMO, Uncle Sam must realize (1) that quality education for all US citizens is a basic human right (under the Preamble's "promote the general welfare" clause)...NOT a privilege...and, (2) that American prosperity, in this global economy, hinges upon the necessity for every US citizen to receive that quality education regardless of where s/he lives or of the individual's socioeconomic status.

Wake up, Sam!

Treat the Dept of Education with the same respect (and proportionate funding) as the Dept of Defense or the Dept of State...and science literacy among American children will mushroom...and this nonsense regarding teaching creationism in the classroom will take its last breaths.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:48:53 UTC | #916934

Quine's Avatar Comment 6 by Quine

It is a fight that we will see continue. There is nothing for it except to get in the trenches and keep fighting.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 17:53:32 UTC | #916935

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 7 by Red Dog

Comment 5 by Finch :

Treat the Dept of Education with the same respect (and proportionate funding) as the Dept of Defense or the Dept of State...and science literacy among American children will mushroom...and this nonsense regarding teaching creationism in the classroom will take its last breaths.

That's a good idea but it won't be the complete solution. One of the main problems in the US is the way education is controlled. The vast amount of control (standards, policies, funding, etc.) resides at the state and local level up through high school.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:01:11 UTC | #916939

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 8 by SomersetJohn

As long as the USA thinks a good education is a human rights issue, or a wealth issue, (as in education for those who can afford it) they are screwed.

I believe that, prior to WWll, US education bore some remarkable similarities to the current system, in terms of failing miserably. Some severe remedial actions were needed to overcome these deficits before they could get the productive workforce which eventually overcame the Axis powers.

Until the USA again realises that a well educated populace is a strategic resource, not a luxury, they are doomed to become just another third world theocracy.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:09:13 UTC | #916942

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 9 by Border Collie

This is nothing new. The anti-evolution wackos and global climate change deniers are the exact same people. Politics and money, the politicians are whoring for votes and financial support from the religious wingnuts, while the wingnuts demand that politicians change and pass laws which benefit the wingnut agenda. The pulpits are full of preachers, all over the US, attacking science every Sunday morning and in every conversation. I know many of these people and it's an obsessive compulsive disorder with them. They never turn it off. No matter what the conversation is, they will turn it around to anti-evolution, anti-global warming, anti-science. Forget the soul saving, the Great Commission has gone down the drain. It's all about politics and money now.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:16:13 UTC | #916944

Quine's Avatar Comment 10 by Quine

Re Comment 8 by SomersetJohn, yes, the system was pretty much crap until the USSR launched Sputnik. That was the day it all changed. Somehow, we need to get a publicity effort going that convinces people that there is no way to compete for the future without real biological and other science education.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 18:20:52 UTC | #916947

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 11 by Cook@Tahiti

Maybe if China landed on Mars or developed some fantastic new technology (cured cancer, supersonic passenger transport, robotic domestic servant, fusion power plant, etc), that would cause the USA to realise it's falling behind.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 19:05:34 UTC | #916954

pipsy's Avatar Comment 12 by pipsy

China is already ahead.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 19:59:34 UTC | #916963

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 13 by Mrkimbo

I have abandoned the local chapter of the Australian 'Skeptics', as to my disappointment they turned out to be little more than a monthly gathering of elderly right-wingers getting together to snarl about 'greeny socialists'. On one of these occasions they invited a climate change denier to speak, and I was strongly stuck by the parallels between denialism and creationism - in both cases you have a complex, sometimes counter-intuitive scientific theory relatively difficult for specialists to explain to the general public and thus open to attack by special-interest groups, who pretend to be 'real scientists' but in fact are motivated by a pre-existing ideology.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 20:57:09 UTC | #916977

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 14 by TIKI AL

"He blames the teaching of evolution for Nazism " .....didn't the Nazis evolve from Brown Shirts?

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 22:43:05 UTC | #917009

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 15 by Neodarwinian

Wackaloonishness make for awfully strange bedfellows. Or does It? I would not be surprised to see these nut bags bring 9/11 truthers,moon landing deniers, and even flat earthers under their big tent of delusion.

Sun, 12 Feb 2012 22:43:49 UTC | #917010

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 16 by Red Dog

Comment 13 by Mrkimbo :

I have abandoned the local chapter of the Australian 'Skeptics', as to my disappointment they turned out to be little more than a monthly gathering of elderly right-wingers getting together to snarl about 'greeny socialists'. On one of these occasions they invited a climate change denier to speak, and I was strongly stuck by the parallels between denialism and creationism - in both cases you have a complex, sometimes counter-intuitive scientific theory relatively difficult for specialists to explain to the general public and thus open to attack by special-interest groups, who pretend to be 'real scientists' but in fact are motivated by a pre-existing ideology.

Michael Schermer wrote a great book called Why People Believe Weird Things. He documented various examples of pseudo-science such as holocaust deniers, Ayn Rand followers, Creationism, Alien Abduction,... and demonstrated that they all shared some common traits and patterns.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 00:15:03 UTC | #917027

Finch's Avatar Comment 17 by Finch

Comment 7 by Red Dog :

Comment 5 by Finch :

Treat the Dept of Education with the same respect (and proportionate funding) as the Dept of Defense or the Dept of State...and science literacy among American children will mushroom...and this nonsense regarding teaching creationism in the classroom will take its last breaths.

That's a good idea but it won't be the complete solution. One of the main problems in the US is the way education is controlled. The vast amount of control (standards, policies, funding, etc.) resides at the state and local level up through high school.

You're right. Yet, federal funding plays a huge role: No dollars mean cuts and nearly all the school districts in our area have experienced them for the past three or four years. I find it absolutely appalling that any US public school should have to conduct fundraisers like bake sales or raffle ticket drawings to fund field trips that promote science like traveling to a historical location (we have Valley Forge and Gettysburg), a wind turbine factory, a nuclear power plant, or a significant geological landmark.

Also, we have some local urban schools that had to eliminate very successful vocational-tech classes like criminology, cosmetology, and auto mechanics because they weren't considered academically necessary and wouldn't receive funding.

It's a disgrace.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 00:47:43 UTC | #917037

Obstdet's Avatar Comment 18 by Obstdet

As an educator of Zoology (among other subjects) I always put evolution at the core of biology as is its rightful place. My first lessons always deal with the controversy and misconceptions concerning evolution. It's somewhat shocking how many science and biology majors ALSO tout the claim that evolution is "just a theory." It seems many science educators themselves do not fully understand what exactly IS the difference between a theory (in terms of science) and a "theory" (in "colloquial" terms).

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:11:46 UTC | #917041

njwong's Avatar Comment 19 by njwong

More should be done to ridicule these politicians for their superstitious beliefs. Their credibility can only be destroyed by being mocked at. Secularists are not doing enough in this respect.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 01:20:17 UTC | #917043

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 20 by Sean_W

I'm guessing it's a safe bet that you don't know squat about science if you differentiate between what is and what is not science according to your politics, rather than the solutions provided by the philosophy of science. That must cut both ways too, and with matters like this it is probably important for a significant number of folks counted on to fight for evolution to be right on purpose and not just right on account of being with the good guys.

p.s. Science are people!

-worth a shot anyway

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 03:24:59 UTC | #917069

AULhall's Avatar Comment 21 by AULhall

Comment 3 by rrh1306 :

Were caught in a vicious cycle here in the states. Schools won't start teaching evolution more openly until the public at large starts to accept it more thus it will be less controversial. But the people here won't start accepting it more until their taught the facts. So were back to square one. Even as the younger generations here becomes less religious I think their just as likely to think aliens created people (Ancient Aliens) then that people evolved. I say until many prominent scientist start some kind of on going public protest were doomed.

Well put, and your last sentence was something Richard alluded to in his recent discussion with Lawrence Krauss (a link to which has just been posted on this site). More scientists need to join Dawkins, Krauss, and others in publicly disseminating their knowledge, or else constantly risk allowing themselves to be written off as part of the fringe by those who would, purposefully or not, misinform the otherwise ignorant masses.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 04:07:07 UTC | #917081

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 22 by Mrkimbo

You're right, Red Dog, it's a great book - must get hold of a copy as a permanent reference - I really enjoyed it when I borrowed it from the library. It was the 'skeptics' complete lack of self awareness, the way they duplicated all the mistakes of their supposed opponents, (sellers of woo and New Age healing etc, etc.) that really shocked me - talk about quis custodiet ipsos custodes.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 08:10:47 UTC | #917111

Finch's Avatar Comment 23 by Finch

Comment 19 by njwong :

More should be done to ridicule these politicians for their superstitious beliefs. Their credibility can only be destroyed by being mocked at. Secularists are not doing enough in this respect.

You're right. More should be done but I don't think it should involve ridicule and mocking, at least, here in the States for two reasons: Americans value free speech and they also value religious expression. A primary goal is for the overwhelming majority of Americans to value science with as much fervor. Secularists and atheists already have a bad rap in many parts of the States because of negativity that has come out of the atheist camp (militant atheism, currently).

In the states, IMO, public education (elevating public support of science, in general) and media exposure (increasing the public's awareness of anti-science, anti-constitutional political agendas that waste time and funding via Internet and print) produces better results.

As we've seen, most of these criticisms from the anti-science camp are simply baseless nitpicking and distractions that feed the frothing faithful. However, it makes no sense to give them more material.

We can strike a balance.

For example, it would be interesting to identify just how much of this kind of drivel originates within rural locations like Dover, PA, for instance (Population 2,007)...and, then, to see how local newspapers and media outlets, in those areas, regularly treat the subject of science. If they don't regularly provide a segment or educational piece that highlights past and present scientific achievements, contact them to question as to why they don't. Provide suggestions like doing a phone survey to get a feel for public interest in the subject: Would subscribers like a Science section added to their newspaper, for example?

Even population doesn't seem to matter: The closest city to where we live (PA, USA) has a population of over 60,000 residents and it leans strongly Democratic. However, the primary newspaper in town has no Science section ("Technology," yes, but only one article in today's section actually addresses science: Key Events in the History of Eastman Kodak, Co)...but, conversely, it has two Religion sections.

Hmmm. What's wrong with this picture?

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:17:39 UTC | #917197

ANTIcarrot's Avatar Comment 24 by ANTIcarrot

If any of these cases make it to law, and then to trial, isn't it about time to raise the prospect of Contempt of Court charges?

Judge: You know this law is unconstitutional according to current legal rulings. You knew that when you drafted it, and that it would be challenged in court. Do you have any evidence or arguement that wasn't present at the Dover Trial? If not then you know this trial has a foregone conclusion and you are simply wasting my time, and showing contempt for the proper proceedings of this court. So what is your answer Senator?

Nice to dream. Pity about the whole summary dismisal thing, which will almost certainly come up first.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:26:10 UTC | #917202

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 25 by Stafford Gordon

"Ignorance is bliss", but the ignoramuses shouldn't be permitted to teach children.

Mon, 13 Feb 2012 16:05:43 UTC | #917219

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 26 by aroundtown

Comment 7 by Red Dog - That's a good idea but it won't be the complete solution. One of the main problems in the US is the way education is controlled. The vast amount of control (standards, policies, funding, etc.) resides at the state and local level up through high school.

I couldn't agree more on your point. It wasn't until I attended college that I realized I had been the victim of a propaganda campaign in school and the slanted propositions, especially in the history lessons, were simply outrageous. They wonder why kids are having a tough time getting up to speed in their freshman year and seem to be oblivious to the causes. The good ole PTA and the religious community would love to hide in the shadows and pretend they have nothing to do with this affliction in early education.

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 17:51:30 UTC | #917778

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 27 by drumdaddy

Just another rearguard day in the USA: Jerry Bergevin, more Jerry

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 11:44:24 UTC | #917990

johnhoman's Avatar Comment 28 by johnhoman

-Why on earth is U S A anti science,science made America, to explain how would take along time.

             Just a few points.

                      Science gave us the expertize to get  there,

                      Science helped  it to win two world wars

                      Science allowed them to explore space.{moon landing}

                       America is at the forefront in computers.aviation, medicine e.t.c

            America is not anti science it just suffers from a virus {I,ll leave you guess what it is} 

Wed, 30 May 2012 19:29:53 UTC | #944588