Monday, June 10, 2013

PRESS RELEASE: Kentucky science standards shouldn't dictate scientific theories, says The Family Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY—Kentucky's science standards do not need to mandate the teaching of specific theories like evolution and global warming, says a group that has monitored education in Kentucky for over twenty years. The comments came as the state's "Next Generation Science Standards" were being presented before a state legislative panel.

"We shouldn't be dictating the teaching of particular scientific theories; we should let the state of the science dictate what theories are taught and focus in the standards and the skills that are necessary to think scientifically," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation.

Cothran noted that the national Common Core Standards that are driving these changes seem to be inconsistent in their emphasis: "Why are we so enthusiastic about mentioning specific theories in the science standards and so unenthusiastic about mentioning specific authors in the literature standards?" he asked. "We are apparently not mandating that students read particular writers, but we want to dictate what scientific theories you have to accept."

Cothran reiterated his group's position that the state's adoption of the Common Core Standards was premature and the adoption process mishandled. "We signed on to national education standards before they were actually formulated," he said. "And there was no process of public input in the decision to sign on to them."

Cothran was one of the chief voices in the debate over the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990.

36 comments:

KyCobb said...

Neil Degrasse Tyson gave an nteresting talk on how civilizations can decline when they reject reason for fundamentalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDAT98eEN5Q

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

So the belief that the government should not dictate the scientific theories we should believe in is a uniquely fundamentalist belief?

Martin Cothran said...

So can we consider all the people who complain about the politicization of science "fundamentalists"?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

You can believe anything you want. But public school science classes ought to teach, you know, science. Having science classes that don't teach well-established scientific theories is kind of like having math classes that don't teach math. And there is nothing political about either evolution or global warming, except that one of the political parties has chosen to pander to religious fundamentalists and Big Energy.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

It just cracks me up that the same people who talk about the politicization of science are championing a government program that mandates certain the teaching of particular scientific theories.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

The problem of politicization of science is when politicians promote pseudoscience in order to pander to special interests. Biology is incoherent without the context of evolution, and global warming is he single largest meteorological phenomenon the Earth has experienced since the end of the last Ice Age. Ignoring them is like studying English literature and ignoring William Shakespeare. Should we ignore Shakespeare because some people claim someone else wrote his plays? Is studying Shakespeare "politicizing" literature?

Martin S. said...

Given we're talking about science, and science is about causes George Ellis will be helpful here. A brilliant talk, which is sad because it is simple common sense and clear thinking. Seems these things are at a premium today.

The Nature of Causality in Complex Systems 42min (Dec 2012 Conference with slides)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEhTkF3eG8Q

Take away line is unavoidability of basic Aristotelian four causes in any realistic natural philosophy.

So if a theory is reductionistic in our text books - why accept this metaphysical filter of phenomena by law?

Art said...

"We shouldn't be dictating the teaching of particular scientific theories; we should let the state of the science dictate what theories are taught and focus in the standards and the skills that are necessary to think scientifically,"

So, "we" (the state and local governments, school boards, and the like) should expect our teachers to teach what "the state of the science dictate ". Sounds good to me. Humans and apes share a common biological ancestry. The earth has grown warmer over the past century, coincident with human activities that generate vast quantities of greenhouse gases. AIDS is caused by a virus. Homosexuality is not a choice, but an inborn quality. Etc., etc., etc.

Quite the surprising stance you take here, Martin.

"We signed on to national education standards before they were actually formulated," he said. "And there was no process of public input in the decision to sign on to them."

Um, this sort of contradicts the first statement, doesn't it?

You really need to make up your mind, Martin. Should "we" be dictating the science or not? I don't suppose you checked to see how congruent the science and the NGSS are, did you?

Art said...

Given we're talking about science, and science is about causes

Um, no.

Martin S. said...

@Art um yes.

For others http://www.charlesdekoninck.com/natural-science-as-philosophy/

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

The earth has grown warmer over the past century, coincident with human activities that generate vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

"Coincident with." That's a nice way to fudge on the exact correlation of "human activities" and global warming.

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

Homosexuality is not a choice, but an inborn quality.

So this is an established fact? Really? And what is the evidence for it? That it is politically convenient to believe it? Tell me, Art, what is the specific biological cause of homosexuality?

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

The problem of politicization of science is when politicians promote pseudoscience in order to pander to special interests.

Please see Art's comment on homosexuality.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

"Coincident with." That's a nice way to fudge on the exact correlation of "human activities" and global warming.

Do you still believe smoking is only "conincident with" lung cancer? Give it up. The only scientists who deny that greenhouse gases cause global warming draw their paychecks from the Kochs. Even an exaustive Koch funded study concluded global warming is real and human activity is causing it. Just because there are a few deniers with an agenda regarding evolution and global warming is no reason to conclude there is a real controversy when the overwhelming weight of the evidence concludes otherwise.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

I don't care if homosexuality is a choice or innate, a dichotomy which is almost certainly false. It is probably a mix of nature and nurture like most things. What matters is that its none of my business who someone else loves, because we all have a constitutional right to private consensual intimate adult relationships. About marriage equality again, there is an interesting article on Slate speculating based on his questions that Kennedy may strike ssm bans on the basis of gender discrimination. If Kennedy finds a constitutional right to marriage equality, I'm pretty sure it will be on that basis, since gender discrimination is subject to heightened scrutiny, whereas no cases have established that level for sexual orientation.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

Do you still believe smoking is only "coincident with" lung cancer? Give it up.

You mean there is no demonstrable direct correlation between smoking and lung cancer? Gee, I thought there was.

Are you saying that there is a statistical correlation between, say human produced CO2 and global warming as strong as that between smoking and lung cancer?

Please tell me the exact statistical correlation between human-induced carbon emissions and global warming over time.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

If Kennedy finds a constitutional right to marriage equality, ...

"Finds" a constitutional right? You mean a right that was just sitting there that no one happened to notice for over 200 years?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

The right to Equal Protection of the law has been in the Constitution for nearly 150 years. If you want to know the correlation between human carbon emissions and global warming, I suggest you read the peer reviewed research on the subject.

Art said...

So this is an established fact? Really? And what is the evidence for it?

Well, there's the fact that there is a decided heritable component for homosexuality in humans. As well as that pre-natal exposure to hormonal imbalances contribute to sexual orientation.

Then there is the fact that same- sex attraction in Drosophila can be caused by mutations in a particular dopamine receptor.

That it is politically convenient to believe it?

No politics. Just scientific evidence. The sort that conservatives want to have banned from schools.

Tell me, Art, what is the specific biological cause of homosexuality?

Obviously, there is no singular cause. More importantly, people don't deliberately decide on their sexual orientation. And their parents really have no say in the matter, beyond the pre-natal environment.

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Singring said...

I see I'm late to the party, but I just wanted to say a quick but profound thank you to Martin and the Family Foundation for so valiantly fighting to make sure that American High School graduates are less educated than their European counterparts. As long as Kentucky stays in the scientific boondocks, our European graduates will face less competition from that part of the world at least.

It's great news for our students and in the current economic climate, I'm glad that Americans are working so hard to help them with their careers.

Anonymous said...

What local scientists advise Kentucky's Family Foundation?

Martin Cothran said...

Singring! I was wondering where you were. Good to have you back.

So I can count you in for government mandating specific scientific theories?

Martin Cothran said...

Anonymous,

The Family Foundation does not address scientific questions so it does not need to have scientific consultants.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

"The Family Foundation does not address scientific questions so it does not need to have scientific consultants."

In that case, why is the Family Foundation commenting on science standards? Perhaps you should keep your ignorance of science to yourself.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

So you are not aware of the difference between a question of science and a question of public policy concerning science education?

Singring said...

'So I can count you in for government mandating specific scientific theories?'

Very, very poorly worded, Martin.

I am of course completely and utterly opposed to the government 'mandating' scientific theories if you mean this in the sense of mandating what people should/must believe.

I am, however, completely and utterly in favour of the government 'mandating' what scientific theories get taught in science class, based on the recommendations of scientists. Students are free to believe what they want, but secular schools need to teach the science.

But as I said, from my perspective as a European, there is nothing more musical to my ears than hearing of religious dogmatists in Kentucky who want to keep modern science out of the classroom because that is the only possible way they can keep it from eroding their religious foothold amid young people.

You have lost the argument, the science is clear, and the only way you can think of salvaging your hold the minds of the young is to prevent them from being exposed to other ideas in schools.

That is as cowardly as it is intellectually bankrupt.

But it is great news for science students from Europe. They will have the scientific knowledge to get jobs and start careers in science that American students won't be able to (at least not if they're from Kentucky, by the looks of it).

Martin Cothran said...

Singring,

So if this were the 1970s, you would be in favor of the government mandating the teaching of global cooling?

KyCobb said...

Martin,

If the Family Foundation isn't competant to address science questions, how could it possibly provide informed commentary about science education?

"So if this were the 1970s, you would be in favor of the government mandating the teaching of global cooling?"

This is one of the myths the Right likes to use to confuse the public about the global warming debate. There never existed in the 70's or at any other time, a nearly unanimous consensus among climatologists that there was an imminent threat of global cooling, as exists concerning global warming, so there is no reason to believe that science educators, would have recommended that global cooling be taught, except in the context of Ice Ages. The fact is that science educators, who design the science standards Kentucky adopted, are far more capable of making informed decisions about science education than an ideologically motivated political organization like the Family Foundation.

Martin Cothran said...

KyCobb,

There never existed in the 70's or at any other time, a nearly unanimous consensus among climatologists that there was an imminent threat of global cooling, as exists concerning global warming ...

Unanimous? There is not a single climatalogist in the world who questions whether the globe is warming, whether the warming is truly global, or whether it is caused exclusively or even primarily by human beings?

Really?

Singring said...

'So if this were the 1970s, you would be in favor of the government mandating the teaching of global cooling?'

If that had been the scientific consensus at the time, sure. But it wasn't.

Of course, you'd need to be familiar with the science to know that. Alas, the Family Foundation doesn't have a scientific consultant, because it isn't commenting on science.

Wait...nevermind.

KyCobb said...

Martin,

Do you perhaps have difficulty understanding the word "nearly"? About 97% of peer-reviewed articles on the subject recognize the reality of human caused global warming. Most denial articles are published in the popular press, avoiding peer-review, by people who aren't climatologists.

KY Teacher said...

"Kentucky's science standards do not need to mandate the teaching of specific theories"

The quote above, taken from the first sentence of this post, invalidates every word that follows. What do you think science standards are? They are a list of the scientific theories students are supposed to learn. Theories like the atomic molecular theory, the germ theory of disease, the theory of gravity, the theory of electric current...

Do you get the point? You label evolution as a theory because you think theory is a derogatory term, as if it were merely a guess or wild speculation. The reality is that theories are the backbone of science and ANY set of science standards makes decisions about which ones to include.

I think the reason these new standards have upset some people is that they aren't the one getting to decide which ones to omit. Instead, the decisions about science were made by scientists. Imagine that: science standards chosen by people who actually understand science. What a refreshing idea!

Martin Cothran said...

KY Teacher,

I agree that these other theories are very important. Can you tell me where the whole sections devoted to them are like the section on Evolution in Kentucky's standards?

KY Teacher said...

Are you referring to the current standards or the new ones? The new ones don't have an entire section devoted to evolution, but the current ones do. It's called Biological Changes and it's one of the seven big ideas of the current science standards. NGSS actually has quite a bit less evolution than the standards we're teaching now.

Don't you like the idea of a new set of standards with LESS evolution?

Anyway, if you tell me which set of standards you are referring to with your question then I'll get back with some examples.

Martin S. said...

We have Neo-Darwinism evolving into disrepute - Denis Nobel (President, Union International Physiological Sciences), Conference China Nov 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJhotrNeYGE ][Modern Synthesis now comprehensively shown to be wrong].

"..the key to life's origin lies instead with a transformation in the organisation of information flow." Paul Davies http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/13/secret-life-unveiled-chemistry-lab

. . and yet hidebound conservatives of the neo-Darwinist settlement (found in all biology texts!) continue to carry on ultra capitalistic survival of the fittest competition against genuine deliverances of science.

As for global warming, we know the finance capitalists couldn't wait to get their hands on 'carbon markets'. [see Enron as parent/mover of CAGW mania.]

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