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Why teaching evolution is dangerous

It is so nice teaching biology to adults when there are no (obvious) Creationists in the classroom. It does not always happen that way – I have had a couple of cases in the past – but this time it was really nice as I could freely cover all topics deeply within an evolutionary framework (not always seen in my public notes, though, as I try to gauge the class first and then decide how overtly to talk ebout everything in evolutionary terms). It is always a conundrum. If there is a potential resentment of my lectures, I have to thread carefully. I have to remember that I am not trying to turn them into biologists, but that I am trying to make them think for themselves and to understand evolution even if they do not want to ‘believe’ it for religious reasons. Thus, I first teach about cell, heredity and development, which gives them (and me) tools for coverage of evolution. Then I explain evolution using insects as an example before ending with a “humans, of course” as well. Then I cover Origin of Life, evolution of diversity and current diversity. But I do not leave evolution behind when I move on to ecology, behavior and physiology either. More easily this time, but sometimes a little more ‘sneakily’ if I know I have Creationists in class.

So, I know exactly how difficult it is to teach even younger students – they are more likely to act rebelliously (adults will go along in order to get the grade and move on) and they are still more under the influence of parents and do not have enough world experiences. I admire high school teachers who teach Biology in areas of the country in which Creationism is rampant and most of the kids are likely to be a priori biased against it.

A week after the nice column by Olivia Judson about the necessity of teaching evolution in school, NYTimes once again visits this question, with a very nice article about Mr.Campbell, a biology teacher in Florida, one of the people who was involved in the latest science curriculum battles in that state this year.

Like a game of whack-a-mole, Creationist get defeated in court in one state, just to resurface in another state and start the process all over again. As they keep losing in courts, they are forced to dilute their message, and adopt the language that may, on the surface, seem OK, unless you know exactly what THEY mean by that language and how that language is supposed to be a wedge that lets religious instruction into public school science classes.

The NYTimes article was brought to my attention by Jonathan Eisen, Tom Levenson, Kent and Mike Dunford and then I saw that many other bloggers have picked up on it since.

Ed Darrell points out the competitive advantage this gives the rest of the world and how local the problem of Creationism is.

David Rea sees that the NCSE responses to Well’s “Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution” (also accessible at the NYT site next to the article) are far too nuanced and likely to go over the heads of most Americans, and suggests to use them to teach the meaning of words, and the meaning of evolutionary concepts – they cannot stand for themselves but can be useful as a starting point for a classroom discussion.

Peter Dawson Buckland responds to one of the frequent misrepresentations of evolution that shows up in the article (voiced by a Creationist teacher in the same school as Campbell) and gives a vote to pragmatism over philosophical accuracy. PZ Myers disagrees and insists on absolute accuracy. John Hawks points out that the Mickey Mouse is not an example of evolution – with which I agree: like Pokemon (and perhaps Spore), it is an example of gradual metamorphosis, in this case exacerbated by the fact that change is not induced by the natural environment but by human marketers.

As of this writing, the article has 342 comments on the NYTimes site, mainly by people who liked it and who – some clumsily, others with more expertise – try to explain the difference between scientific and colloquial usages of “theory” and other answers to those age-old questions that Creationists have been asking for a century or more already (and bored everyone to death, including myself, as the answers are readily available online, in books, etc.).

One comment that I particularly liked was this one:

I second comment #3. Bless Mr. Campbell. He was my high school biology teacher, and this article only begins to illustrate all the ways in which he is an amazing teacher. He constantly challenges his students to think for themselves, to analyze, and to test hypotheses rather than simply accept things at face value. He was the first teacher who ever taught me how, not what, to think, and Mr. Campbell is the reason I am now a biologist, studying evolutionary biology. Thank you, Mr. Campbell, and all biology teachers like you, who, in teaching evolution well, nurture the natural curiosity in young minds.

— Natalie Wright, Gainesville, FL

But some of the best commentary is right there in the article – words of Campbell himself. See this:

“If I do this wrong,” Mr. Campbell remembers thinking on that humid spring morning, “I’ll lose him.”

Mr. Campbell knows how tricky this process is. You cannot bludgeon kids with truth (or insult their religion, i.e., their parents and friends) and hope they will smile and believe you. Yes, NOMA is wrong, but is a good first tool for gaining trust. You have to bring them over to your side, gain their trust, and then hold their hands and help them step by step. And on that slow journey, which will be painful for many of them, it is OK to use some inaccuracies temporarily if they help you reach the students. If a student, like Natalie Wright who I quoted above, goes on to study biology, then he or she will unlearn the inaccuracies in time. If most of the students do not, but those cutesy examples help them accept evolution, then it is OK if they keep some of those little inaccuracies for the rest of their lives. It is perfectly fine if they keep thinking that Mickey Mouse evolved as long as they think evolution is fine and dandy overall. Without Mickey, they may have become Creationist activists instead. Without belief in NOMA they would have never accepted anything, and well, so be it. Better NOMA-believers than Creationists, don’t you think?

But for me, the key quote of the article is this one:

“If you see something you don’t understand, you have to ask ‘why?’ or ‘how?’ ” Mr. Campbell often admonished his students at Ridgeview High School.

Education is a subversive activity that is implicitly in place in order to counter the prevailing culture. And the prevailing culture in the case of Campbell’s school, and many other schools in the country, is a deeply conservative religious culture.

There are many ideals or “values” that conservatives and liberals share. Freedom, strength, honesty, generosity, courage, responsibility, etc. are equally valued by people of all ideologies. The conservatives and liberals may define or understand them a little differently, they may order them differently according to importance, and they may deduce some very different policy proposals out of them, but in general they all agree that these are good human values.

But there is one human trait where the two ideologies differ. That is Obedience. For conservatives, this is a positive human trait. For liberals, it is viewed quite negatively. Why?

Because the two ideologies view time and history differently.

Conservatives see history as a story of decline from some mythical Golden Age which, depends who you ask, may be the Garden of Eden, or middle ages when Church and State were one and the same, or late 19th century USA with robber barons in charge, or 1930s Italy and Germany when Business and State were one and the same (and kept all the “Others” down), or 1950s when women were sent to the kitchen. They feel like the future is bleak and that their duty is to slow down and stop the decline, or reverse it if they can.

Their belief that world is dangerous is a part of this mindset – they always think that the world is more to be feared now than it was in the mystical past. Corporate media help them in this – switch off the TV and tell me: how many violent crimes, tragic accidents, horrific natural disasters, and war terrors, have you personally witnessed today in real life? Yesterday, the day before, throughout your life? How come you are still alive? Oh, but the media wants to deliver you to the advertising so you will buy whatever will alleviate your fears today and make life worth living yet another day.

For us (liberals), the history is seen as an arrow of progress: every generation has a better life than the previous one, every generation puts some work and effort, and if needed fight, to make the world a better place for the next generation. We want to foster and continue this trend. For this to happen, each generation needs to break with the parents’ worldview to some extent. What is considered “normal” part of life for one’s elders, may not be so for the youngsters who take a serious look at it. Most importantly, each generation brings in another level of equality, bringing up a group that was institutionally pushed down during history, be it women, gays, blacks, etc.

Now, the word “equality” is understood differently by the two ideologies. It does not mean handicapping everyone to have the same no matter what their talents and hard work should earn them. It does not mean preventing people from attaining success. It means allowing people to go to the top regardless of who their parents were. If you made it, your kids should not get a leg-up because of that – they need to start from zero and try to make it as well. Or fail. But more importantly, it does not matter if your parents are rich or poor, white or black, US-born or foreign-born, religious or not, if you are male or female, straight or gay – you should have the exact same social and instititutional support in your strivings toward success.

Also, the measure of success in dollars is a pretty conservative notion – you can be dirt-poor yet be successful, consider yourself successful and be regarded by others as successful along other criteria, e.g., generosity, skill, talent. And the accidents of your birth should not be a factor.

In a worldview which sees everything as a zero-sum game, equality is anathema. If one goes up, this means someone else is going down. If women are gaining, this means men are losing. If Blacks are gaining equality, this means Whites are losing. If you see the world as hierarchical this is the inevitable outcome of your worldview.

Thus, the most essential thing that conservatives want to conserve is the social organization, including all of its power relationships, with the white, American, Christian, (officially) straight, rich, adult, male humans on top of everyone else. If that is your worldview, of course what normal people consider progress will look like doom to you. After all, we measure progress by how big strides we have made in eliminating the old power structures that used to subdue groups of people under others.

Another way to call this is authoritarianism, in which one group asserts authority over others and does whatever it takes to keep it that way.

An important aspect of the conservative hierarchy is the authority of old over the young. The stereotype of an Old Wise Man Who Remembers The Golden Age of Yore. He who can bring that Golden Age back. The top of the hierarchy. Thus, obedience to His authority is essential for preservation of the hierarchical power structure. Thus, conservatives do not like education, they prefer “training”. They start early by training little kids, by methods bordering on abuse, to unquestioningly obey their elders.

The school should be a place to instill obedience (measure of success in rolling back progress) as well as to train for jobs that bring in the money (monetary measure of success). Thus, conservatives tend to fight against the liberal academia and hate to be told that Reality has a Liberal Bias. And most importantly, they fight against science education as it directly undermines the obedience.

See what Mr.Campbell is doing? Kids who were taught obedience know they are supposed to unquestioningly obey their elders, which includes their parents, priests and teachers. But Campbell puts them in a mental bind – they want to obey him but he is telling them things opposite from what their parents and priests are saying. Who to listen to? As a result of this exercise, they unlearn obedience. A red-flag danger for the conservatives. Their kids have been corrupted – they were, gasp, taught to think for themselves. And we all know what independent thinking brings about – progress! We can’t have that, can we?!

This is why Creationism is such an important plank in the conservative political strategy – it undermines the teaching of independent thinking. The asking of How and Why questions. All the stuff that each generation needs in order to analyze and reject their parent’s generation’s regressive worldview. Doom!

Comments

  1. #1 Jonathan Eisen
    August 25, 2008

    As I said in my blog, I think the Mickey Mouse example, which comes from a Stephen Jay Gould article, is an example of natural selection. Disney tried LOTS of different forms of Mickey. Many were kept private. Some tested briefly in public. What the public saw is like what paleontologists see for old fossils — a sample of a few different points in space and time. But there is a population there behind the scenes

  2. #2 Pierce R. Butler
    August 25, 2008

    Ah, if only I had enough time to follow all those links…

    A quibble – after the various mishaps of the 20th century (and a couple of zingers in the 21st), it would seem the “liberal” faith in progress has been bent, if not broken. The goal may remain the same, but the expectation of historical trends is hardly so confident any more.

    And the conservatives, bless their pointy little heads: to what degree do most of them see their paradigm as you outline it, and to what degree do they choose their priorities as does Dubious, judging by their “gut” feelings and rationalizing it by what we (sissy eggheads) would consider a string of non sequiturs?

  3. #3 RNB
    August 25, 2008

    Excellent, excellent stuff.

    “There are many ideals or “values” that conservatives and liberals share. Freedom, strength, honesty, generosity, courage, responsibility, etc. are equally valued by people of all ideologies.”

    That’s a great point. And as you imply, it is education is really the key difference.

  4. #4 Larry Ayers
    August 25, 2008

    A very cogent and well-written essay!

  5. #5 David Wiener
    August 26, 2008

    That was a great summation – I heartily agree!

    Mr. Butler (#2) however is implying (it seems) that due to the world wars, and our recent adventures, that the future is in doubt. I think that most students of history would have to disagree with this; while there is still much war, and our societies really are quite primitive, we have made great progress.

    A great example of that is blogs such as these. Expressing these thoughts at most other times in the history of our civilization would have resulted in death or banishment.

    Further, I believe that things may seem a little rocky right now because we are in the midst of such a huge societal transformation. Like most of these transformations, it is not always that obvious to those who are in the eye of storm. Personally, assuming as always that we don’t just blow our selfs up, the future looks to be very much better than the past.

  6. #6 Logicel
    August 26, 2008

    Superb essay.

    Makes me wonder if conservatives are closet depressives? Clinging to solutions to non-existent problems must not be fun. Maintaining the status-quo of course is viewed as progress by conservatives–the status-quo will be maintained and protected so such privileges will progress onto their kids and grandkids. Any approach interfering with such progression is viewed as social, political, and moral backwardness.

    However, there are many poor conservatives also. Do they think that their obedience to the big dogs in their party will result in enough crumbs to keep themselves alive? Or it is more like dog eat dog, and when the big dog shows some weakness, the smaller dog whips his arse?

    Anyway, these people are scary.

  7. #7 Valhar2000
    August 26, 2008

    Personally, assuming as always that we don’t just blow our selfs up, the future looks to be very much better than the past.

    I agree. Do you know how I got that impression clearly for the first time? By reading a book about torture that was (inexplicably) on display in my school’s library.

    After hearing all my life from many sources that “the old days” were much better, I saw what the even older days were like, and how much better things are now for so many people. There are still many in the world who suffer the same agonies that I read about in that book, but the book offered mostly examples of tortures that were applied in what are now civilized countries, which really brought the point home to me.

  8. #8 Anna K.
    August 26, 2008

    Re your remarks on obedience, research psychologist Jonathan Haidt at the University of Virginia published some papers about differing moral intuitions. He identifies five foundations which people use to make moral judgment: harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. Haidt argues that political liberals use the first two foundations and conservatives use all five.

    Haidt’s paper with Jesse Graham, “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions That Liberals May Not Recognize” is fascinating, and is available online.

  9. #9 J. J. Ramsey
    August 26, 2008

    A minor quibble. I’d rewrite this a bit:

    For us (liberals), the history is seen as an arrow of progress: every generation has a better life than the previous one, every generation puts some work and effort, and if needed fight, to make the world a better place for the next generation.

    It should be more like this:

    For us (liberals), the history is seen as an arrow of potential progress: every generation should have the opportunity for a better life than the previous one; every generation puts some work and effort, and if needed fight, to make the world a better place for the next generation.

    I think that fits the thrust of your main point better.

  10. #10 Adam Luce
    August 26, 2008

    I beleive in my narrow uneducated view, that there is much evidence of a species adapting to its changing surroundings, but no evidence of species, “evolving”, into other species.

    Modern Science has become a religion, based on a system of belief, not fact.

  11. #11 Coturnix
    August 26, 2008

    Which is exactly why you need to broaden and educate yourself – then you would know that there is plenty of evidence for speciation, you can search Google for it. That easy.

    Or you can start here.

    If I have a narrow uneducated view on something, I stay silent and try to learn before I spurt out something that makes it obvious that I have no idea what I am talking about.

  12. #12 EricJuve
    August 26, 2008

    I wish I could tell you how much I enjoyed that. I really did.

  13. #13 Paholaisen Asianajaja
    August 27, 2008

    Oh noes! Discovery Institute is reading you blog:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/08/lying_in_the_name_of_indoctrin.html

  14. #14 Coturnix
    August 27, 2008

    Hahahaha! They are so predictable – one can build a LOLCreationist automated generator and make blog posts that will fit right in there.

  15. #15 t
    August 27, 2008

    this is the most laughable drivel I think I’ve ever read. if you darwiniacs could only see yourselves….and you wonder why you have to go to court to silence the opposition….its obvious you’ve lost the intellectual argument long ago.

  16. #16 Coturnix
    August 27, 2008

    Ah, all losers get angry, I see ;-) Especially when told the truth about their losing in their faces.

    What is a ‘darwiniac’ by the way? A strong tea?

  17. #17 Interrobang
    August 27, 2008

    Coturnix, that was really wonderful. :)

  18. #18 IronHorse
    August 27, 2008

    Thanks Coturnix, that was an enlightening essa.

    One definition of enlightenment is to acknowledge not knowing all the answers. But, strive to understand the questions, and not speculate on the imperceptible and the indiscernible in nature an the heavens.

  19. #19 Nobody important
    August 28, 2008

    Ah yes, it’s all conservatives v liberals. And naturally, liberals are right. About everything.

    You’re a fool, sir. I have no problem with evolution whatsoever, and still I believe in God. Even *gasp* conservative causes and viewpoints, especially *double gasp* when it comes to morality, sexual and otherwise. And this group continues to grow at quite a pace.

    We’re taking evolution away from you as a means by which to divide us. Thanks for all your scientific efforts, though – we refer to them constantly to bolster our belief in design. ;)

  20. #20 Irradiatus
    August 28, 2008

    Added to the new blog carnival Carnival of Evolution #1

  21. #21 Zachriel
    August 30, 2008

    You also attracted the attention of Telic Thoughts.

    Lying to Advance a Cause
    http://telicthoughts.com/lying-to-advance-a-cause/

  22. #22 DavidW
    August 30, 2008

    I’m a home-schooling, white, male adult. Christian, and conservative.

    My kids win science fairs, score in the top 1% in standardized test. They have a deep understanding of rhetoric and logic to combat people like you who promote censorship, totalitarianism and discrimination against those who hold different views.

    Your arrow of progress is best symbolized by the atheist totalitarianistic regimes of the 20th century who collectively used it to kill over 100 million ideological opponents.

  23. #23 chunkdz
    August 30, 2008

    You describe the liberal mindset well with comments like this:

    [quote] “Education is a subversive activity”[/quote]

    and the fact that you see conservatism as yearning for the “Golden Era” of Nazi fascism.

    I suppose we all see the world through our own filters of perception. But it’s one thing to have a colored perception, and it’s another thing to engage in this kind of smear and fear campaign. Labels and stereotypes are not arguments. They are the embodiment of prejudice and bigotry.

    The fact that even a hardcore militant like P.Z. Myers thinks you have crossed the line with your education policies should tell you something….

  24. #24 Thought Provoker
    August 30, 2008

    For your information the folks at Telic Thoughts are discussing this thread.

    If you are interested in joining the discussion, please consider this an invitation to do so.

    (be warned that quite a few people at TT disagree with your opinion).

  25. #25 Coturnix
    August 30, 2008

    It is interesting how small a trickle of traffic there is from all these Creationist sites put together. It is heartening to see that the presence of them in the public discourse is more due to their noise than to their numbers.

    I have no intention to waste my time “debating” Creationists over on Telic Thoughts – it is a useless activity because they do not debate honestly. There is really no debate to be had – they are plainly wrong on every point, but will NEVER acknowledge it (too weak egos for that).

    If I want to say something, I will say it here, as I did in this post, aimed at different audience, but if Creationists read it I don’t mind. It’s kinda funny how hard they try to twist my words to fit into their 18th century mindsets.

  26. #26 Thought Provoker
    August 30, 2008

    Hi Coturnix,

    I am disappointed by not overly surprised you chose not to participate in an earnest discussion of your ideas. I notice Zachriel also told you about it. I suggest you would count him among the good guys. Your sweeping dismissal of debate tactics and what “they” will or won’t do is inaccurate. While Telic Thoughts would generally be considered pro-ID, it isn’t a safe haven for either side.

    For example, my moniker is an announcement my agenda is to provoke independent thinking on both sides. I am a very vocal critic of the ID MOVEMENT yet I have a positive ID hypothesis fashioned after the Orch OR model of consciousness offered by Sir Roger Penrose and Dr. Hameroff.

    I am a frequent Telic Thoughts’ contributer.

    Since you won’t come to Telic Thoughts, I’m compelled to come here (my compliments to you for having an open commenter policy).

    While you stated some things I agree with, there are a few points of contention starting with your view that NOMA is wrong.

    Western philosophy 101, is that the wise man knows he doesn’t know (see Socrates 400BC). NOMA is about recognizing this. Those that embrace NOMA recognize and accept the existence of multiple Truths. I explain my version of NOMA as �Philosophy is about the search for Truth, science is about the search for usable knowledge.�

    Embracing NOMA is a person choice. Most Young Earth Creationists and Dr. Myers choose to reject NOMA. Theistic evolutionist and earnest proponents of ID SCIENCE (e.g. myself) choose to embrace NOMA. I view it to be a hypocritical position to embrace NOMA only when it is convenient to do so. I disapprove when this is done be senior fellows of a certain �brain trust� based in Seattle. I also disapprove of it when a blogger promote others to do it too.

    History is full of �mind tyrants� (a term TT�s Joy uses) who think they know the one and only Truth for all. Students deserve to be respected. Lying to them (even for their own good) isn�t showing respect. The truth isn�t hard because the truth is that no one knows the truth. Meanwhile, they can be given useful knowledge even if its use is limited to passing the next test.

  27. #27 Coturnix
    August 30, 2008

    Creationism as an idea has been dead for 150 years. What else is there to discuss?

    NOMA is a tactic to sing Kumbaya and ignore that religion is still trying to assert itself as a source of knowledge, understanding, ethics, etc. despite its every tenet being long ago disproved. It is not a personal choice – NOMA states that reality and anti-reality can coexist! WTF? It cannot. There are no multiple truths – that is the silliest of Postmodernist ideas. There is one reality which smart people accept and others – well, that is THEIR problem, as long as they don’t teach the kids about it. And reality wins. Head-in-the-sand? FAIL.

    Nobody is lying to students. For example: multiplication is NOT a series of additions. Yet, it is taught that way because it is the pedagogically best way to introduce multiplcation to kids of that age who do not possess sufficient unerstanding of higher math to be explained what multiplication really is.

    Another example: Newtons’ Laws are wrong but are taught as correct (and even used in practice at an appropriate scale) because it is pedagogically sound to teach them first – it is a basis for teaching relativity and other stuff later, when they are old enough to comprehend.

    In the same vein, teaching the Mickey Mouse example, although it is inaccurate, is a good pedagogical approach to teaching evolution at the beginner’s stage – it can be used later, once the students are actually biology majors, as a teaching tool: explaining exactly why Mickey Mouse example is not accurate will highlight what evolution really is.

    Whatever we teach in any class has to be age-appropriate and dependent on the kids’ background at the time. We have to start with simple, commonsensical and attractive examples even if they are not 100% accurate in order to draw them in, get them excited, and build upon it later. There is nothing dishonest about it – it is a pedagogical strategy used because it works.

    You do not start teaching evolution to beginners by using heavy-duty mathematics of population and quantitative genetics – they are not ready for it. They are ready for Mickey Mouse. And if Mickey Mouse gets them to accept evolution, they will study it more and some of them will go into biology and actually learn the details of pop-quant genetics and all of its difficult math.

    If evolution was taught in a pedagogically smart way, we would not have a problem of having Creationists in the USA.

    NOMA is another pedagogical strategy – kids come to the classroom prepared by their religious parents and preachers to reject evolution as atheistic. Before they will even listen to you, they need a reassurance that their religion will not be threatened in that class. You use NOMA to reassure them. If they are smart, and think about it, and study, they will realize on their own that NOMA is bogus and they will be fine with it. If not, but they accept evolution because of it, fine with me – better more NOMA-believers who understand evolution, than Creationists.

    And that is why education is and HAS to be subversive. Without it there would be no progress as kids would just replicate the outdated beliefs of their parents generation after generation.

  28. #28 Thought Provoker
    August 31, 2008

    Hi Coturnix,

    You asked…

    Creationism as an idea has been dead for 150 years. What else is there to discuss?

    The hypothesis that there is no such thing as true randomness because the universe, and the life in it, is the result of orchestrated quantum effects interconnected via four-dimensional space-time.

    I would be disappointed if you used the “Creationist” label to describe me. I prefer “Quantum Quack”. Feel free to use it if it strokes your ego to do so.

    For your information I am copying and pasting my comments from here to Telic Thoughts. You might notice a slight increase in hits as people read your responses.

    NOMA is a tactic to sing Kumbaya and ignore that religion is still trying to assert itself as a source of knowledge, understanding, ethics, etc. despite its every tenet being long ago disproved…

    Yet you promote the “sneaky” and dishonest tactic of embracing it for your political agenda. If my previous comment was too subtle, this is no better than what the Discovery Institute is doing. Only pretending to embrace NOMA to achieve a desired end.

    Dr. Myers’ stand is the more ethical one. But what is a little lapse in ethics in the face of a moral imperative, right?

    I disagree religion is about ethics, it is about morals. Ethics is something that can be scientifically studied and weighed (and has been). Morals, on the other hand, is a philosophical issue requiring a special and distinct toolset. Sound familiar? It would if you had read Gould’s argument for NOMA.

    Do you claim there is a single, absolute moral code for us all? Or, better yet, that no such moral code exists and Right and Wrong have no basis in reality?

    My moral code is that encouraging ethical behavior is the Right thing to do. However, I do have some flexibility in that and recognize that others have more and/or less flexibility based on their moral codes.

    Dr. Myers’ moral code is apparently less flexible than yours. Does that make him “Right” and you “Wrong”? Or is it just possible that more than one code of “Right and Wrong” can exist allowing for multiple Truths?

    By my standards, your position is hypocritical. I tend to put hypocritical actions in the “Wrong” category.

    But I don’t know the Truth, do you?

    It is not a personal choice – NOMA states that reality and anti-reality can coexist! WTF? It cannot.

    Apparently your version of “reality” is what can be scientifically determined. What if it can be mathematically and scientifically shown reality can’t be known? What if there is a detectable NOMA wall separating science from Truth? Of course it can only be indirectly detected and only from the science side.

    I hypothesize that in Quantum Mechanics (QM) there is just such a detectable wall. The quantum ERP paradox isn’t a paradox, it is reality. Heisenberg observed a reality that can never be resolved completely. The quantum observation problem shows that consciousness DOES have a role in quantum outcomes.

    This isn’t a God-in-the-Gaps argument taking advantage of temporary ignorance. The ignorance is permanent. Sir Roger Penrose has used the same mathematical prowess he employed to model Black Holes to show Godel’s incompleteness theorems applies to QM and consciousness.

    But before I go too much deeper into the details of my “Truth” I hope I have provoked some independent thinking. At least in others if not you.

    Finally, you state…

    …that is why education is and HAS to be subversive.

    It HAS to be subversive because your version of Truth allows a moral imperative to override ethical concerns.

    Funny, that is what the Dover school board defendents thought too.

  29. #29 Articulett
    August 31, 2008

    I’m a biology teacher, and I support the notion that Mickey Mouse is a good analogy for evolution by natural selection. The replicators are the various Mickey designs– and the meme (unit of replication) are the various designs that instruct the drawing of Mickey. Some designs were selected and preferentially copied in the environment (of commercial interestes) and Mickey’s look “evolved”. Other designs died out.

    It’s “information” that is copied (in this case “How-to-draw-Mickey”– in the case of biological evolution it’s DNA which codes for genes that code for how to build an organism). The information is the direction for building “things” which compete in the environment to see which information is passed on to future “things” (organisms, products, designs, recipes, technology, language, etc.– all things that are emergent properties.)

    An organism dies the same species it was born as. If it is successful in getting some or all the information that “built it” copied into future vectors, then the species can evolve. Information evolves– whether it’s the information coded in DNA for building organisms, or the information telling us how to build computers or draw Mickey Mouse.

    Humans are the primary processors, replicators, and selectors of human “memes” e.g.(Mickey Designs)– though we are also play a major role in the selection of many genes in the world around us. We preferentially selected some canines over others allowing for the variety of dogs we see today, for example.

  30. #30 Karl
    August 31, 2008

    Evolutionists are bluffing when they say their beliefs are scientific. Be sure to look at the list of evolutionists who refuse the debate challenge from Dr. Joseph Mastropaolo. See the list at http://www.lifescienceprize.org/.

  31. #31 Coturnix
    August 31, 2008

    Why the heck would serious people stoop down to debate that quack?

  32. #32 Thought Provoker
    August 31, 2008

    Hi Karl,

    I have looked at the details of the challenge. It is very much rigged. Now, if you would like to offer a positive ID hypothesis and would gladly compare/constast it to my quantum-based ID hypothesis point by point.

    Let me know. I’m sure we could agree on terms and possible make arrangements on Telic Thoughts in a week or two.

    You see, this is about independent thinking. If you can’t defend you position you don’t understand it.

    I can make a pretty good presention defending mine. Complete with experimental data and peer reviewed papers.

    Can you?

  33. #33 Mike
    January 6, 2009

    Why is it you say that it is alright for students to learn inaccuracies in order to gain trust? Isn’t it paradoxical to lie to students in order to gain their trust on the issue you’re lying to them about? Shouldn’t students be taught all the facts, no matter where they lead?

    Furthermore, why do you say “Better NOMA-believers than Creationists”? Shouldn’t people be led by actual, valid evidence to real conclusions instead of being led by false evidence to believe in evolution?

  34. #34 Ailsa
    December 23, 2009

    Oh dear, the cat is out of the bag…

    1) Don’t teach children how to genuinely think for themselves, weigh up evidence or evaluate ideas. Instead, teach them ideas you don’t really believe are true (like NOMA), but which hopefully will fool them into watering down their critical faculties long enough to get them to believe what you want them to believe. The end justifies the means…

    2) Feed them with inaccurate analogies like the development of Mickey Mouse as a picture of natural selection (actually a demonstration of “intelligent selection” working upon “intelligent design”).

    3) Don’t confuse kids with facts. Instead, confuse them with lies and half truths cunningly disguised as facts. Just get them to believe in evolution any which way you can. Don’t worry whether it stands up logically, or morally.

    In the words of Mr Campbell, “If I do this wrong, I’ll lose him.” That sounds more like the kind of speech one would expect from a cult member trying to indoctrinate a potential convert. This is scary stuff.

    As Eugenie Scott once said: ‘In my opinion, using creation and evolution as topics for critical-thinking exercises in primary and secondary schools is virtually guaranteed to confuse students about evolution and may lead them to reject one of the major themes in science.’

    That just about says it all… Yet we still try to portray science as being built on the scientific method and logical weighing up of the evidence. When scientists start spouting pseudo-evangelistic mumbo-jumbo like this, I start to feel ashamed to be a scientist and science educator.

    Let’s be honest, this isn’t about science, it’s about ideology.

  35. #35 Charles
    February 3, 2010

    Apart from the obvious and deep problems with the sweeping social, political and worldview generalisations about liberals and conservatives, Coturnix himself seems to undermine his own flimsy argument about obedience by asserting he prefers teaching Evolutionists (who he equates with liberals) because they don’t ask so many questions.

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