Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Text of the Wisconsin Bill

Here is the actual text of the Wisconsin bill, which has not yet been assigned a bill number so is not available on the Assembly’s website:

SECTION 1. 118.018 of the statutes is created to read:

118.018 Science instruction. The school board shall ensure that any material presented as science within the school curriculum complies with all of the following:

(1) The material is testable as a scientific hypothesis and describes only natural processes.

(2) The material is consistent with any description or definition of science adopted by the National Academy of Sciences.

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark Nutter
    February 8, 2006

    I wonder–could it be abused as written? What if creationists use it to exploit legislators’/judges’/school boards’ ignorance of “scientifically testable” and start banning curriculum materials based on canards like what’s in Icons of Evolution? Granted it would never stand up in court, can you imagine a Dover-ish school board using this law to justify trimming the science content out of “fears” that certain parts of evolutionary theory weren’t “provable”?

    Just playing devil’s advocate…

  2. #2 Corkscrew
    February 8, 2006

    OK, I take back my comment on the other thread. That looks fairly good.

    I’m not sure about the “natural processes” bit though – I think that should be worded to specifically indicate methodological naturalism.

  3. #3 Jeff Hebert
    February 8, 2006

    The other worry (as long as we’re being paranoid) would be that a political crony gets appointed head of the NAS and changes the definition of science they put out.

    While somewhat risky, I like this legislation because for the first time people will have to come out in the open and have the real fight — what is science? There’s risk that the general public will decide that they no longer want science to be just what can be tested and what is physical, but would rather include astrology, ID, and other pseudo-sciences. But at leat the debate will be an honest one and the DI can’t hide behind the Wedge Document any more.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    February 8, 2006

    Corkscrew wrote:

    I’m not sure about the “natural processes” bit though – I think that should be worded to specifically indicate methodological naturalism.

    I think it does indicate that already. Science requires that explanations be limited to natural processes as it is; that doesn’t mean that it rules out all supernatural processes.

  5. #5 Viking
    February 8, 2006

    From Wisconsin Public Radio: After six, Joy Cardin?s guest lawmaker says pseudosciences (SOO-doh-SCI-en-sez) like intelligent design are threatening science education in public schools. She?ll explain why she’s drafting a law she says will protect the integrity of science education. Guest: Terese Berceau, democratic state representative from Madison.
    Listen via RealPlayer:
    http://www.wpr.org/cardin/index.cfm?strDirection=Prev&dteShowDate=2006%2D02%2D08%2007%3A00%3A00

  6. #6 Corkscrew
    February 8, 2006

    True, but I do think a clearer definition of “natural” would be good. The way people tend to think of it is approximately equivalent to “amenable to the scientific method”, which, in context, wouldn’t be terribly helpful.

  7. #7 steve s
    February 8, 2006

    William Dembski on the Wisconsin bill:

    “I take this as a clear sign that we are winning.”

    LOL.

  8. #8 RonZ
    February 8, 2006

    What I like most about the proposed bill is the potential political ramifications of anyone that stands against it: a vote against the bill is admission that you have very strong biases against education and science. The intelligent design creations slogan “teach the controversy” is now opposed by “teach science”. I hope that politicians in other states take a good look at how this type of legislation can be used to embarrass and undermine the campaigns of those who pander to religious extremists.

  9. #9 Leni
    February 8, 2006

    I heard Joy Cardin’s show this morning (being a Wiscnsin resident).

    I have mixed feelings on the bill, however.

    On the one hand, I like that it qualifies “things that are not science shall not be taught as science”. I’m certainly not opposed to that.

    On the other hand, this will be used in the same way that the pro-science side has used attempts to legislate ID: when one has no science they must instead legislate. The IDiots would of course wrong to do so, but that hasn’t prevented them so far. And it hasn’t prevented them from swaying public opinion either.

    Then again- imagine if there was an awesome showing of support for this in the scientific community… I think the message could be very powerful.

  10. #10 bourgeois_rage
    February 8, 2006

    Dembski is offering $1000 to the first teacher to defy the law. Click.

    I�m offering $1000 to the first teacher in Wisconsin who (1) challenges this policy (should it be enacted) by teaching ID as science within a Wisconsin public school science curriculum (social science does not count), (2) gets him/herself fired, reprimanded, or otherwise punished in some actionable way, (3) obtains legal representation from a public interest law firm (e.g., Alliance Defense Fund), and (4) takes this to trial. I encourage others to contribute in the same way. Thank you Wisconsin.

    I think we can expect more “good science” from him in the near future.

  11. #11 bourgeois_rage
    February 8, 2006

    Whoops, I didn’t see you link to that article…

  12. #12 spyder
    February 8, 2006

    Wow you can win $1000 while losing your ability to teach in the state of Wisconsin ever again. That seems so reasonable. Survey says: WI statewide teacher salary average is just over $46K per year (total compensation w/ benefits & retirement around $52K) ranked 22nd in the country. So Dembski’s deal will cost the teacher all of that plus legal expenses, trial expenses, costs of state certification hearings (and will lose there for insubordination), and all other personal expenses. In return the teacher will be rewarded with $1000, mention in his blog, praise from DaveScot, and a handshake (maybe). Got to love that offer.

  13. #13 CanuckRob
    February 8, 2006

    We north of the border watch the whole IDiotic thing with bemusement and trepidation. Could not agree more that legislation is not the way to protect science, it does not need that kind of protection.

    Is Dembski insane? He is enticing people to break the law (and not through passive resistance), is that not against the law in itself? It does say a lot for the morality of IDiots however. I am so glad that my morality is not based on some ridiculous story book.

  14. #14 Ed Darrell
    February 8, 2006

    One of the things we need to consider is whether the Wisconsin bill offers any improvement over the common law definitions of science we have now, or advantages in writing science texts.

    I think the current common law definitions of science are superior to the Wisconsin bill. I also foresee fights over silly things like imaginary numbers, quantum theory, gravity (“no one’s ever seen it”) and geology and archeology, in textbook approval processes.

  15. #15 Ed Darrell
    February 8, 2006

    I burn gasoline in my automobile. Is that a “natural process,” or will we have to strike the explanation of this artificial process from the books?

    Heck, Alex Oblad invented the catalytic cracker — is anything in petroleum chemistry “natural?”

  16. #16 bourgeois_rage
    February 8, 2006

    spyder said:

    In return the teacher will be rewarded with $1000, mention in his blog, praise from DaveScot, and a handshake (maybe).

    You forgot to mention DaveScot will probably also delete the posts of praise that you receive within 24 hours.

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