The press release says:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today sent a letter to the Toledo Public Schools demanding that they cease allowing staff to teach intelligent design in science classrooms throughout the district.
“Intelligent design has been proven to be nothing more than a thin cover for those who wish to teach creationism, a faith-based idea of human origins endorsed by certain Christian denominations, in science classes,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso. “While people have a right to teach their religious beliefs to others in churches, mosques, synagogues and private schools, public schools should not be used by people to teach their personal religious beliefs to other people’s children.”…
Recently, a news article in the Toledo Blade featured teachers in the Toledo Public School system who admitted teaching intelligent design in science classrooms. In the article, teachers acknowledged they taught lessons on various pieces of evidence that seemed to refute evolutionary theory, despite the fact that all were proven to be hoaxes by the scientific community.
The Toledo Blade article referred to can be found here. Some of what the teachers in that article admitted teaching is quite absurd:
Michael Maveal wants his eighth-grade students at Jones Junior High to know the truth – as he sees it.
So, the Toledo Public Schools science teacher tells them that evolution is an unproven theory, as is creation.
He teaches them about Nebraska man, a creature rejected by science long ago, to demonstrate the fallibility of evolution. He teaches them that Pluto has never been seen. [It has.] He teaches them that humans are not animals. [We are.] He teaches them about the famous scientific hoax, Piltdown man, once purported to be an early human ancestor.
“I’m not afraid of dealing with all the fakery that’s going on in all the science community,”‘ Mr. Maveal said. “We have to present information to the kids so they can make an intelligent decision for themselves.
“I tell them what the scientists won’t admit.”
No, Mr. Maveal, you peddle red herrings to unsuspecting teenagers. I love how he speaks of this “fakery” in the present tense, yet the one example of fakery he can come up with was first found in 1912, viewed as a bizarre anamoly for decades and finally proven to be a hoax when the technology allowed such a test – over 50 years ago. This is presenting information so kids can make an intelligent decision? I don’t think so.
Anyone who pretends that Nebraska Man is an argument against evolution simply has no business teaching science to anyone. The logic is staggeringly absurd. For those who don’t know, Nebraska Man was a popular name given to a discovery in 1922. It was a tooth found on a farm in Nebraska and given to HF Osborn of the American Museum of Natural History. The tooth was weathered and resembled a primate tooth. Osborn suggested that this might belong to a species of anthropoid ape, which he named Hersperopithecus haroldcookii, and published a very tentative article on the subject, while also noting, “Until we secure more of the dentition, or parts of the skull or of the skeleton, we cannot be certain whether Hesperopithecus is a member of the Simiidae or of the Hominidae.”
Other scientists were reluctant to accept this identification of a new species on such scant evidence, even if tentatively offered, and work began to try and confirm or disconfirm this identification. William King Gregory, a colleague of Osborn’s, was given the task of continuing the work on this identification and in 1925, field work began at the same site where the tooth was found. More complete specimens at the site showed that the tooth was not from a primate but from an extinct mammal called a peccary. In 1927, Gregory published a retraction of Osborn’s earlier speculation and that was the end of it.
The end of it, that is, until creationists resurrected it as an utterly illogical argument against evolution. There is not the slightest reason why Nebraska Man should be viewed as even a mild embarrassment to science. In fact, the situation demonstrates perfectly how science is intended to work – you discover something (data collection), you speculate on how it might fit with other evidence (hypothesis), you publish your speculations for your fellow scientists (peer review), make the evidence available to them to examine (sharing data), devise a way to confirm or disconfirm that speculation (hypothesis testing), and if the results don’t go the way you like, you publish the results anyway and move on to the next find.
Scientist do make mistakes, of course, as they are human beings. But this process of testing hypotheses and sharing the results with colleagues in a position to second guess your work is how science manages to keep such mistakes to a minimum. The fact that this teacher, and creationists in general, have to go all the way back to the 1920s to find such an example speaks volumes about how successful that process is in weeding out mistakes. Any teacher who teaches this as anything but an example of how science operates is a fool or a fraud and has no business teaching science in our schools.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of teachers out there like this guy, which is exactly why legislation like Ohio’s “critical analysis” lesson plan will be viewed by them as an invitation to put such terrible arguments into science classes as a way of undermining the validity of a theory they reject on religious grounds. That’s why we are trying to stop the bill in Michigan as well.