Thursday, March 04, 2010

NY Times features KY "Teach the controversy" bill on human origins, global warming

For Immediate Release
March 4, 2010

LEXINGTON--A Kentucky bill that calls for critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories was featured today in the New York Times. The bill, House Bill 397, was introduced by State Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown).

"The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. Cothran has also written for the Discovery Institute, which has worked for similar legislation in other states.

"Our students need to be learning how to think about all these issues," said Cothran, "they don't need to be indoctrinated with the current fads in science. Global Warming is just one issue in which some in the scientific community have decided which views are acceptable and which are not. We need to make sure our students are taught that there are others sides to some of these controversial issues."

The Bill, called the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," allows a teacher to use materials other than state-approved textbooks, with the approval of the local site-based council, "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

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19 comments:

Art said...

The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools

We've seen examples of TFF's "open-minded approach", that rejects materialistic explanations in favor of the voices that haunt their minds. Teach a YEC curriculum. Don't argue with the claim that water is HO2.

Yeah, that's going to do wonders for Kentucky schools.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Where are these examples of voices "that haunt their minds" and "a YEC curriculum"? They couldn't be fictions haunting your mind, could they?

I love it when people who want to reduce everything to only that that can be measured give other people lectures about open-mindedness.

So tell me how is it possible to hold a position that implies that mind is impossible to also to believe in an open mind?

Art said...

"Voices that haunt their minds" = special revelation.

As far as open-minded approaches to the subjects in Moore's bill, let's discuss the matter of human origins.

Does Moore intend (and would TFF support) that supplemental materials such as this or this be allowed over and above the material presented in the standard textbooks? I think not. Martin, you have already shown us what you consider to be an "open-minded approach" when to comes to biology, and we both know that the intent of Moore's bill, an intention fully supported by TFF, is to allow teachers to bring material such as the A Beka curriculum (an unabashedly YEC curriculum, in spite of your claims to the contrary) into the classroom. And to force teachers to accept as correct an answer of "God created Adam and Eve 6000 years ago" to any question about human origins.

This intent can only hurt the perception of Kentucky's schools in the eyes of employers and colleges. It does absolutely nothing to improve instruction or learning, and it shelters incompetent teachers from criticism and demands that they improve their methods and knowledge.

Andrew said...

Art,

What the KY schools need is to produce kids who can think, not kids who can agree on everything. If your positions are so obvious that only stupid or voice-haunted people will believe them, then teach the kids logic and grammar and math. They'll be able to figure things out for themselves then.

These issues should either not be discussed at all or should be discussed in such a way that all the sides given a seat at the table. No high school student is capable of settling them anyway.

Andrew said...

Sorry Art, I meant only stupid or voice haunted people will disagree with them, not believe them. couldn't find the editing key. Please pardon me.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

I can understand your aversion to special revelation. Only that which can be measured has reality, therefore special revelation has no reality. Unprovable premise, but at least the logic is valid.

Although I put him up to it, I don't know what Moore's intention in introducing the bill is over and above a free and open intellectual discussion about these matters.

And the supplemental materials you cited would be perfectly fine as part of that discussion. I doubt, however, you would allow any of those I would suggest. That's the thing about you dogmatists: you only want your own side taught.

Art said...

I doubt, however, you would allow any of those I would suggest. That's the thing about you dogmatists: you only want your own side taught.

Martin, I would note that the matters of merit, accuracy, honesty, and experimental support never are mentioned by you. That's because the ideas you want in the science class have no scientific support, they are misrepresentations of whole fields of work, and of scientists.

Again, with the matter of human origins, there is no credible scientific evidence that contradicts the fact that humans are primates.

Dogmatic? Yeah, I guess I am pretty unyielding when it comes to this matter. I don't believe it serves the interests of the student to teach lies and errors, and especially to suggest (implicitly or explicitly) that such material is valid (as matters of fact, or as approaches to doing science).

But hey, maybe I should be more "open-minded". Heck, maybe we can convince Moore to amend his bill, to bring open-mindedness to other areas. Such as sports. Since Moore wants to remove merit from the classroom, we should also remove it from the court (or field, or whatever). Think of it- Moore could make it so that, in football, whenever Trinity plays someone, a Trinity touchdown would result in six points being awarded to both Trinity AND opponent. After all, it shouldn't matter that Trinity is more skilled, more powerful, more deserving of a victory. Merit isn't important, it's all about "open mindedness". And the only "open-minded" approach is one that grants that, say, Highlands Latin School is the equal of Trinity on the gridiron.

Heck, if Moore hurries, then maybe we can usher in a bold and exciting new era in the Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena in a few weeks. Just think - the championship will not be determined by ability and effort, but by "open-mindedness".

One more thought - Moore should not go national with this bill until after March Madness is over. I know it's not right to want to deprive other schools of the benefits of this new open-minded attitude, but UK has a decided edge in ability at the moment, and I (selfishly, I'll admit) want to retain this advantage until UK wins out.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Maybe you could tell me more about the materials I want taught in the science class. You seem to know more about them than I do.

And can I put you down as opposed to critical thinking, logical analysis and the other things called for in the bill?

Art said...

Maybe you could tell me more about the materials I want taught in the science class. You seem to know more about them than I do.

Martin, I think we all know what the A Beka view of human origins, a view taught in your school, is. I think it is safe to assume that you would want for public schools that which you teach in your own school.

It's interesting to reflect on the attitude of the creators of the A Beka series towards things like logic and critical thinking (from this review):

A Beka, a curriculum created by Arlin and Beka Horton for their Pensacola Christian Schools, aimed to be more consistently fundamentalist. Influenced by conservative educational theorists like Max Rafferty and Rudolph Flesch, the Hortons emphasized phonics, rote memorization, and authoritarian teachers to help students discipline their sinful natures. Entire lessons were scripted so that no open-ended discussion leading to questions that might challenge the Truth would occur. The Hortons rejected progressive ideals like critical thinking and learning by doing, arguing that such things are actually a by-product of subject matter mastery.

Assuming, Martin, that you wish for public schools that which you promote in your own school, this is the philosophy you are promoting. I don't think it belongs.

And can I put you down as opposed to critical thinking, logical analysis and the other things called for in the bill?

As opposed to yourself, Martin (see the preceding), I have no problems with critical thinking. Heck, if Moore would replace the phrase "open and objective" with "honest and accurate", then the bill would be entirely innocuous (and rather unnecessary, I suspect).

Of course, your handlers at the Discovery Institute would object loudly to teachers speaking of scientific issues honestly and accurately. The question is, would you?

One Brow said...

Personally, I see the bill as joke on a couple of different levels. I wrote a post on it.

In particular, it is highly disingenuous to claim that there needs to be logical analysis and critical thinking applied to what is already the result of logical analysis and critical thinking: science. This little passage reveals volumes about the anti-science intent of the bill. To claim you don't know what Moore intends is just being disingenuous.

Lee said...

I guess the recent scandals in science have done nothing to quell the ardor of the faithful.

Where do logical analysis and critical thinking come from? What made the universe intelligible? Random bursts of energy and collisions between atoms and molecules?

In what other human endeavors do we count on mindless processes to produce logical and moral order?

"Above us, only sky." If materialism is correct, the sky above us does not care who embraces critical thinking. The molecules in our brains don't care, either -- they're just molecules, after all. Why do we care? After all, we will all be dead in a few years. What difference does it make?

The big bang happened, matter and energy collide and dissipate, and stuff happens. What truth? What justice? What beauty? Organisms with brains made of organic jelly bubble up and make sounds and emit patterns, and other organisms bubble up and make sounds in response. Can't even call it an argument, really. It's just matter, after all. The bubbles over there seem agitated at the bubbles over here, but I'm sure it's just chemicals and electrical impulses. There is certainly no need of this "mind" hypothesis.

And none of it matters, because the brain jelly will be dust in less than a hundred years. And one of these days, the sun will die out, and all the brain jellies will be gone. So who cares?

Some people sure seem to care a lot about stuff that, based on their own premises, doesn't make any difference. But that may not even be true. Any response I get will be patterns on my screen, and for all I know, they can easily be explained by the natural emissions in my computer screen. There is no need for this "debate" hypothesis.

Martin Cothran said...

I think we all know what the A Beka view of human origins, a view taught in your school, is. I think it is safe to assume that you would want for public schools that which you teach in your own school.

I think this comment adequately demonstrates the care and objectivity you bring to these issues. Give me some evidence that this view is taught at Highlands. I have pointed out to you that the A Beka books have been used along with other books which take the completely opposite view of origins. You conclude, I presume because it conforms with your prejudices, that only the A Beka view is taught. You ought to go into the Global Warming business. Your skills would fit right in over at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Martin Cothran said...

Oh, and then there's the added irony that you promote honesty and accuracy.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow:

it is highly disingenuous to claim that there needs to be logical analysis and critical thinking applied to what is already the result of logical analysis and critical thinking: science. This little passage reveals volumes about the anti-science intent of the bill.

Can you give me some documentation on your thesis that once something has been established by logical analysis and critical thinking it is then unscientific to keep applying it?

Given the fact that many scientific theories accepted in the past have given way before more logical analysis and the critical thinking, this doesn't sound to me like it is very conducive to scientific progress.

Art said...

LOL.

I said:

I think we all know what the A Beka view of human origins, a view taught in your school, is.

Martin changes this thought (in a manner of speaking) to:

I think we all know what the A Beka view of human origins, the only view taught in your school, is.

And you wonder why I don't trust the DI and its shills to give an honest and accurate answer to any scientific question.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

You don't have a clue how science is taught at the school. But somehow you can make conclusions about it. I think I am understanding better why it is you are opposed to critical thinking and logical analysis.

I can see how they would cramp your style.

Art said...

Art,

You don't have a clue how science is taught at the school.


Actually, Martin, I do have a clue. It's the clue you have provided:

I have pointed out to you that the A Beka books have been used ...

The only thing that can be said about the A Beka opinion of human origins (to stay with one specific theme) is that it is out-and-out wrong. So wrong that it isn't worth the time to even bring the opinion up in class.

To draw a parallel, it is like discussing Twilight in an AP class of great western authors and novels. Yeah, one can make some very strained and lame argument that this may help the student, but the fact is that such a book doesn't belong. The same holds for the comic book that is the A Beka biology text.

Of course, in the case of the A Beka text, it's worse. Any class that intimates that this opinion has even an iota of scientific validity is a class that is utterly dishonest, one that lies to its students. No matter how one contrasts this lie with other, valid scientific data, the fact is that any class that lends any scientific credence to the A Beka opinion is a class that is misrepresenting the science and scientists. Such teaching does not serve the interest of the students, and it makes a mockery of the notion of "open-mindedness". I've explained this with the sports analogy.

Martin, it's interesting that you haven't actually contradicted my supposition that materials such as A Beka would be among those that Moore's bill would permit in the public school science class, or that you would like to see in these classes.

Lee said...

> Any class that intimates that this opinion has even an iota of scientific validity is a class that is utterly dishonest, one that lies to its students.

Those of us who have never heard of A BEKA textbooks are drawn to feel some sympathy for their publisher, if the best arguments presented against them are mere rants of a question-begging nature.

Anonymous said...

In addition to A-Beka, what texts does your school use in science classes?