Respectful Insolence

And now for something completely different.

Except that it isn’t really. I say that it isn’t really different because, although this post will seem to be about politics, in reality it will be about a common topic on this blog: Anti-science. And where is this anti-science? Sadly, it’s in the platform of a major party of one of the largest states in the country. It also meshes with the anti-science inherent in a lot of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) and all comes together in one place: The proposed 2012 Platform of the Republican Party of Texas. It’s all there, as you will see.

I learned about this platform on, of all places, Facebook, where it is popping up like so much kudzu. The part of the document that most people seem to be concentrating on involves education, but there’s so much more antiscience in there than just that passage. Still, the section on education is as good a place to start to look at what’s wrong with this document. Three passages pretty much sum up the approach to education espoused by the Texas Republican Party. Here are the first two:

  1. “We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.”
  2. “We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.”

The first denies reality every bit as much as the second in that it denies a basic fact: That the U.S. is multicultural. It always has been. It always will be. Whenever I see someone ranting against “multiculturalism,” what I see is a fear of change and a fear of the other.

The second is ridiculously problematic, in essence recommending policies that would inscribe the “teach the controversy” tactic of denialists like creationists into state law. The first thing that one has to understand is that evolution is not a controversial theory among biologists. No matter how much creationists try to make it seem so, it just isn’t. It’s religious groups that turn the theory of evolution into a pseudocontroversy, or, as we sometimes call it, a “manufactroversy.” The theory of evolution is one of the best-supported theories in science. None of this is to say that there aren’t letgitimate scientific controversies swirling around the theory of evolution, but these controversies are not what the creationists now controlling the Republican Party in Texas want you to think they are. Creationists want you to think that the very theory of evolution is in question, when its essential elements (evolution through natural selection and common descent) are not. True, scientists will argue over how much evolution is due to natural selection versus other forms of selection, but they don’t argue over whether evolution is the mechanism by which the diversity of life has developed.

Yet, that’s exactly what the Texas Republican Party wants to “empower” teacher to do: Question whether evolution is happening or not, mountains of evidence from multiple different disciplines supporting it be damned. In brief, the platform advocates giving teachers the freedom to teach bad science that was repudiated long ago but, like the proverbial undead, keeps rising from the dead to eat the brains of the living. Unlike most political issues, in many scientific issues there really aren’t “two sides” to the story. I’m all for teaching where various scientific theories break down or areas they don’t explain very well and where there is therefore room for improvement or modification. However, “intelligent design” creationism is not one of these “other sides” to a scientific issue.

Similarly, AGW denialism is not, as usually argued by denialists, a valid challenge to AGW science. Like most forms of denialism, pseudoscience, and crankery, it is largely based on misinformation, cherry picked studies, and willful misinterpretations of existing evidence. It’s questions that scientists have asked and answered (with evidence and experimentation!) a long time ago. As much as ideologues try to make it seem as though the occurrence of global climate change characterized by warming is a scientific controversy or that human activity isn’t a major contributor to it. The scientific consensus might not be as strong as the consensus behind evolution, but it is nonetheless a very strong scientific consensus indeed, backed up by data from multiple disciplines that converge to support the hypothesis. As is the case in evolution, what this platform is doing with respect to AGW is to “empower” teachers to indoctrinate children with their own religion-inspired dogma (“intelligent design” creationism) or ideological viewpoint (AGW denialism).

But this platform is even worse than that.

Don’t believe me? Then get a load of this passage, which is a dagger aimed at the heart of critical the thinking skills of future generations of Texans:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Because we obviously can’t have children learning critical thinking skills in school, can we? Yes, I realize that teaching higher order thinking skills and outcome-based education are educational systems that aren’t completely without controversy, but notice the key part of the passage. It’s not the part that attacks a specific educational method. Rather, it’s the part where the Republican Party of Texas declares that it doesn’t want schools to teach anything that challenges the student’s fixed beliefs or undermines parental authority. Of course, it’s painfully obvious that the “fixed beliefs” that the Republican Party doesn’t want to see challenged are conservative Christian religious beliefs. In fact, I highly doubt that the people who drafted this platform can even imagine the potential unintended consequences of demanding that schools never challenged a student’s fixed beliefs or undermine parental authority. What, for instance, if the parents are Communists? What if the parents are jihadists who think America is the root of all evil? Would the Texas Republican Party support not allowing schools to teach anything that might undermine those fixed beliefs the authority of parents who instill those fixed beliefs? One group’s “critical thinking skills” have always been another group’s challenge to accepted dogma. What this platform wants to do is to impose one dogma (a vision of America as white, homogeneous, and based on Christian religion) that can’t be questioned because it might make parents uncomfortable while turning science into postmodernism, where “questioning” is enough to elevate any old crank idea to the level of being a challenge to accepted science that students need to be taught about.

The whole thing is utterly ridiculous and transparent. It’s not possible to teach anything of substance without challenging someone‘s fixed beliefs anywhere. Maybe that’s the idea behind the platform: Reduce education to the lowest common denominator, teaching to national achievement tests and emphasizing rote memorization rather than problem-solving and creative thinking. A better recipe for an uninformed and uncreative populace that’s susceptible to pseudoscience I have a hard time imagining. Again, maybe that’s the whole point. Certainly, a lack of basic critical thinking skills will make a person more susceptible to blandishments based on emotion and logical fallacies than he otherwise might be.

That’s not all, though. Let’s head on over to the section on health care, shall we? What sorts of health policies does the Texas Republican Party advocate? Well, besides the predictable promise to “repeal and replace” the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPCA, otherwise known as “Obamacare”) there’s this rather telling passage:

We deplore any efforts to mandate that vitamins and other natural supplements be on a prescription–only basis, and we oppose any efforts to remove vitamins and other nutritional supplements from public sale. We support the rights of all adults to their choice of nutritional products, and alternative health care choices.

I’ll give the Republican Party some credit here. This is cleverly worded. No one that I’m aware of is trying to outlaw vitamins or make them available on a prescription-only basis. No one. What has been happening in intermittent fits and starts is an attempt to tighten up the regulation of some nutritional supplements, which, thanks to the DSHEA of 1994, are now in essence very close to unregulated. Basically, as long as a supplement manufacturer doesn’t make specific health claims for its products, keeping them on the level of “boosts the immune system” or “supports health,” they can sell pretty much what they want. Even egregious examples of chemicals that are not in any way nutritional supplements being sold as such take the FDA a long time to shut down. What this passage really means is that the Texas Republican Party is supporting the supplement industry and its push to keep nutritional supplements unregulated. In other words, the Texas Republican Party appears to have aligned itself with the “health freedom” movement, which I like to call by its intent: The freedom of quacks from pesky government interference. That is particularly obvious from the last sentence about “all adults” being free to choose whatever nutritional products they want and “alternative health care choices.”

And they say that alternative medicine and supplement woo is primarily a phenomenon of the left! Ditto antivaccinationism. Well, not really:

All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

This is, of course, a very silly plank in the platform. Adults already have the legal right without penalty to choose which vaccines they take and always have. Parents also more or less already have the legal right to refuse vaccinations for their children in 48 states, which allow religious exemptions. In twenty states, philosophical exemptions are allowed, and in the states in which philosophical exemptions are not allowed parents frequently claim religious exemptions, whether valid or not. Moreover, Texas itself already allows both religious and philosophical exemptions to school vaccine mandates; so the issue is a moot point there, unless there is a movement in Texas that I’m not aware of that is trying to make it more difficult to get philosophical exemptions. Also notice how the platform plank conflates vaccine exemptions with a Big Brother-style database containing personal records of citizens. The two don’t go together logically; one can only assume that they were put together to obscure the Texas Republican Party’s obvious alignment with the antivaccine movement in its embrace of opposition to tightening up school vaccine mandate exemption requirements.

Lest you doubt me regarding the increasing seeming alignment between right wing politics and the antivaccine movement, though, I can’t help but point out a post by Kent Heckenlively on that other wretched hive of scum and antivaccine quackery, Age of Autism, trumpeting how the Tea Party has joined the antivaccine crank party the Canary Party in opposing vaccine mandates in California:

In a sign of increasing political strength, the Canary Party has achieved an alliance with the East Bay Tea Party, one of California’s largest tea party groups, on the issue of AB2109, a measure sponsored by California Assembly Member, Dr. Richard Pan. The bill seeks to limit the ability of parents to obtain a philosophical exemption to refuse a vaccine or modify the schedule by requiring them to get a note from a doctor if they wish to vary the schedule or chose to decline vaccinations.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. The bill in question, AB 2109, is all about informed consent, as opposed to misinformed consent, as I’ve written before. Unfortunately, in the case of AB 2109 it was a party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans all opposed. In any case, all AB 2109 requires is that a parent seeking a religious or philosophical exemption to vaccination see a pediatrician for a discussion of the benefits and risks of vaccination; i.e., an informed consent discussion. That’s all. It won’t prevent anyone from getting an exemption. All it will do is make it a little more difficult. Parents won’t be able just to sign a form; they’ll have to have an informed consent-like form signed by a health care provider. Unfortunately, in a late addition to the bill, that now includes naturopaths. Given that naturopaths are notoriously prone to antivaccine views and often advocate not vaccinating, this addition to the bill has greatly weakened it and is not justified on a scientific or medical basis given that naturopathy is a hodgepodge of pseudoscience, quackery, and supplements.

But back to the Texas Republican Party platform. There’s so much more in the platform that’s wrong, including pseudo history, blatant calls for what would be in effect the mixing of church and state, and claims that the U.S. is a “Judeo-Christian” nation. The platform, including the blatant calls for letting teachers teach religious and ideologically motivated pseudoscience such as creationism and AGW denialism without interference of pesky scientific standards to stop them, has clearly come down on the side of anti-science, much as, sadly, the Republican Party as a whole seems to have done these days. It’s basically crank magnetism put into a political document.

Comments

  1. #1 Driver Robbie
    June 28, 2012

    It’s hard to know whether to laugh of cry reading this. I’d like to be smug and say that nothing so absurd could happen here Down-Under, but I suspect I might end up having to eat my words some day…
    At least they are honest about one thing: their abhorrence for critical thinking. That they cannot stand any kind of thinking is blatantly obvious.

  2. #2 Lawrence
    June 28, 2012

    @Orac – the political landscape is this country has already taken a turn for the crazy & now seems hell-bent on going full-tilt insane…

    Of course, this is the same kind of drivel that comes up at the beginning of each new century (at least for the past few), where segments of society get up after New Years Eve in 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000 & realize that society has changed, technology has changed and it scares them.

    So, they attempt to turn back the clock – back to the “good old days” – we had a couple “Great Awakenings” new mass religious movements to fight against the societal changes and rejection of technology, etc. and whatever you would call it today – where segments of this country are finding that they are no longer the majority & attempting to “turn back the clock.”

    With the amount of readily available information, we don’t have just one movement, but a splintered mess of conspiracy groups, health nuts, religious & political extremists, that have all been given national attention and soap-boxes to make themselves appear more prevalent and powerful than they actually are – but perception is reality as well, so they have a great effect on the body-politic than their numbers would normally allow.

    I am hoping that these movements burn themselves out before causing too much damage – but we’ll see.

    As the Bad Astronomer would say “Texas is Doomed.” The very same people who complain about the US losing its technology lead in the world are the very same people who gut our Science programs that prevent us from regaining the lead we once had.

    They seem to forget that it was NASA that put a man on the moon, not praying to some ethereal spirit.

  3. #3 DurhamDave
    North East Confusion
    June 28, 2012

    Many of us overseas are increasingly looking at the state of US politics and wondering if half the country is starting to go insane. I know over here in the UK we’re not great (see recent curriculum approval for an academy school, I think it was, which was facepalm worthy), but this keeps happening.

    I have been told that attitudes can get smoothed out on a national scale, but as they do this again and again, the trend is worrying.

  4. #4 machintelligence
    June 28, 2012

    Fundamentalists in general seem to love technology (which I think they view as a kind of magic) but hate the science which creates it, because it challenges their assumptions about the world. And God forbid (literally) that children should be taught to think critically!

  5. #5 Darryl Holm
    United Kingdom
    June 28, 2012

    I laughed and said it couldn’t be true when my wife told me this, because I said that I know lots of intelligent, critical thing Texans. To which my wife replied, “Yes, I’m sure you do, but these are Republicans.”

  6. #6 Orac
    June 28, 2012

    Read the whole platform. I’ve only scratched the surface, “cherry picking,” if you will,” the more blatantly anti-science elements.

  7. #7 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 28, 2012

    Hmm…taking a look at the platform document, I noticed this:

    We believe in… 2. The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.

    Does that mean that the Texas Republican Party is against the death penalty?

  8. #8 Michael
    Down Under
    June 28, 2012

    I think we’ll be battling the same fight down under if the next PMis the mad monk.

  9. #9 Artor
    June 28, 2012

    @Orac
    This is OT, but I couldn’t find a direct contact route for you. Here’s a little thing I found on Disinfo.com that I thought would be interesting. Care to disect it? I’m wondering if there’s any kernels of truth to it, or if it’s all bullshit.

    http://birdflu666.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/emergency-update-signs-globalists-plan-new-pandemic-hype-and-vaccination-campaign/

  10. #10 the bug guy
    June 28, 2012

    It is clear that you can no longer claim that such positions are part of the fringe. These are now front and center positions for the party that the remaining moderates are staying silent about.

  11. #11 e
    June 28, 2012

    ToddW: presuming that the document is worded to meet the writers’ intent, they are trying to protect human life from being fertilized. I don’t quite get the intent of the `to natural death’ part… it doesn’t fit. Oh….. Now I see. They mean protected for the entire period from fertilization UNTIL a natural death.

    Sorry for the grammar focus, but when I first saw this elsewhere, the `to natural death’ was not on screen and I thought `Now they’re against reproduction?’

  12. #12 Simon
    UK
    June 28, 2012

    “We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines”

    This is the one that makes me most worried. The whole point of government by the people of the people is that some people break the rules and endanger others.

    Most public schools have the right to exclude children who aren’t suitably vaccinated, with outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in California you’d think they would realise the problem and do something, rather than jump on some trendy bandwagon of hippys and “alternative” lifestyle folk. I thought republicans were suppose to be big on responsibility.

  13. #13 Marry Me, Mindy
    June 28, 2012

    Perhaps the part that fascinates me most is the extent to which the health positions overlap with the cruchiest granola. Shoot, those read more like the positions of the city councils of Boulder or Berkeley.

  14. #14 Calli Arcale
    June 28, 2012

    Todd W: not only should that language make them opposed to the death penalty (in the state with the highest rate of capital punishment in the US) it should also make them opposed to military intervention overseas, given how many people die that way that otherwise would have lived. I so much doubt that’s what they mean.

    the bug guy: this sort of thing is why my husband, a registered Republican, is now so thoroughly disgusted by the party that he hasn’t voted for a Republican in years.

  15. #15 Calli Arcale
    June 28, 2012

    BTW, if *this* is crazy, there’s a public school in Louisiana where the Loch Ness Monster is being used as evidence against evolution and in favor of Creationism. Seriously. Poe was right.

  16. #16 Lawrence
    June 28, 2012

    @TBG – I didn’t leave the Republican Party – the Republican Party left me. You can’t be a moderate in the party & still have any type of voice in the platform. It pains me that what was a fairly moderate party back in the 1980′s & early 90′s has gone so wackaloon.

  17. #17 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Of course, this is the same kind of drivel that comes up at the beginning of each new century (at least for the past few), where segments of society get up after New Years Eve in 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000 & realize that society has changed, technology has changed and it scares them.

    So why is this not happening to the same extent in other countries? I guess it’s like student loans inevitably causing tuition inflation, universal health care inevitably causing people to run to the doctor for no reason, etc – it’s “inevitable” but it doesn’t happen in Canada.

    Shoot, those read more like the positions of the city councils of Boulder or Berkeley.

    This may be true, but I doubt it. Can you provide a link documenting that anti-evolution, anti-vaccine, and anti-FDA platforms are endorsed by the Boulder or Berkeley city councils?

  18. #18 Eric Lund
    June 28, 2012

    Bug Guy @0911: You are correct that we are not discussing the lunatic fringe. We are deep into crazy territory here.

    It gets worse. Texas is one of two large states that adopt school textbooks statewide (the other is California, which is flat broke and therefore unlikely to be buying new textbooks anytime soon), which gives them an outsized influence over school textbooks sold in other states. So even those of us in more sensible areas of the US need to be worried about the theocratic tendencies of Texas Republicans.

  19. #19 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 28, 2012

    We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate…any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.
    Dialogue in the ER:
    “Can’t I just see the doctor now? I told you all this stuff last time I was here. Can’t you just look up the record?”
    “Sorry, sir, you never consented to be in our database.”

  20. #20 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    I thought at first this Texas Republican Platform was a joke…it isn’t. Why bother to have the delegates meet, when they could have adopted most of the platforms from the Canary Party and the Tea Party. (Note that three of the nineteen comments are posted by Jake Crosby).

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/06/tea-party-joins-canary-party-in-opposing-vaccine-mandates-in-california.html#comments

    See how the 15 member Texas School Board Association votes to set the curriculum of Texas schools through control of what can and cannot be contained in school textbooks. See how they, in turn, by the purchase of huge numbers of school textbooks, influence the content of those textbooks that are purchased for school children in the other States.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/education/13texas.html

  21. #21 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 28, 2012

    “We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories.”
    Welcome back, Flat Earthers, Hollow Earthers. Hello, Bigfoot and little gray aliens. A big Texas howdy to making perpetual motion machines in shop class!
    They really have no idea what they want to let loose, namely every crank theory that ever was.
    Lovely.

  22. #22 John Small Berries
    June 28, 2012

    There are quite a number of inherent contradictions in that platform. For example, under “Principles”, they state that they believe in:

    Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.

    This means, of course, that the government cannot enforce any federal or state statutes or regulations which are not simply repetitions of constitutional items; however, throughout the remainder of the document they make reference to enforcing laws not enumerated in either the United States or Texas Constitutions, and demand that either federal or state governments take actions which likewise are not addressed by either Constitution.

  23. #23 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    The Texas Republican Party platform: Creationism, denialism, “health freedom,” and “vaccine choice” all rolled up into one big antiscience ball

    My first response on seeing the title of this post was: “Great!”
    Then I literally starting singing..
    Down down deeper and down
    Get down deeper and down

    Maybe it’s just my positive mood at present.

    What, for instance, if the parents are Communists? What if the parents are jihadists who think America is the root of all evil?

    What if they’re Scientologists?
    What if they’re Pastafarians?
    What if they…gasp…”believe” in eeeevilution!

  24. #24 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    I imagine that they discourage focus on critical thinking skills because they may believe that this would jeopardise conservative religious participation which I suppose is ‘big’ in that region.

    Interestingly enough, several woo-mongers we are familiar with reside in or have an office in Austin: AJW, Arthur Krigsman ( quite a commute, since his other office is due east a bit) and Mike Adams. Gary Null believes that Texas is a great place to do business- less laws, less governmental restrictions and ( probably) less taxes. Then there’s Dr B.

  25. #25 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ Eric Lund:

    About that lunatic fringe-
    And well beyond the fringe-
    both figuratively and literally.

    I read Thinking Moms’ Revolution regularly and can report that at least two of the diarists resident there attribute their autistic children’s ‘meltdowns’ ( increased aggression etc) to *phases of the moon* .Yes, you read that correctly. On the 21st** Prima wrote about the full moon’s effect and today***, Poppy waxes poetically in the same mode. They also speculate about ‘bugs’- intestinal ones I assume.

    Because I am a regular reader of TMR, I hypothesise that phases of the moon have no relation to the degree of lunacy in the TMs’ writing: it is all crazy , all the time. You’ll notice that this is a testable hypothesis.

    ** new moon
    *** first quarter

  26. #26 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    @ Denice Walter…more about Austin Texas movers and shakers later, after I come back online. (It’s a goodie)

    This just in…decision of the USSC re: “Obamacare”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/supreme-court-upholds-obamacare-individual-mandate-tax/story?id=16669186#.T-xnOMUneTY

  27. #27 Uberjam
    Sad in Texas
    June 28, 2012

    This is outrageous. They are attacking critical thinking skills???

  28. #28 Beamup
    June 28, 2012

    I didn’t leave the Republican Party – the Republican Party left me. You can’t be a moderate in the party & still have any type of voice in the platform. It pains me that what was a fairly moderate party back in the 1980′s & early 90′s has gone so wackaloon.

    My thoughts exactly. I don’t really care for the Democrats either – in particular, the way none of them seem to have ever taken Econ 101. But when the choice is between completely batshit insane vs. overly idealistic and impractical, I have to go with the latter.

    I actually liked Governor Romney pretty well, and voted for Scott Brown because I didn’t want the Democrats to have the presidency, a House majority, and a filibuster-proof Senate majority. But now I’m coming to the conclusion that such a configuration is the only way anything not utterly insane will get done.

    It’s a sad commentary when mere foolishness is the best available option.

  29. #29 Lawrence
    June 28, 2012

    I can’t believe Justice Roberts was the swing vote – that’s going to piss a ton of people off. He was supposed to be the “Conservative Ringer” on the Court…..LOL.

  30. #30 Politicalguineapig
    June 28, 2012

    Daryl Holm: I laughed and said it couldn’t be true when my wife told me this, because I said that I know lots of intelligent, critical thing Texans.

    I assume you are talking about expat Texans. All the intelligent, thinking Texans have long since left the state. The whole place has gone downhill ever since Molly Ivins died. Frankly, I wish they’d just secede.

  31. #31 harold
    June 28, 2012

    can’t believe Justice Roberts was the swing vote – that’s going to piss a ton of people off. He was supposed to be the “Conservative Ringer” on the Court…..LOL.

    Off topic, but as a progressive who doesn’t like the mandates, I was not at all surprised.

    The mandates are rather silly; most people want health insurance but many can’t afford adequate insurance, so telling them that they have to buys something they can’t afford or you’ll hit them with a fine they also can’t afford is not a great solution.

    The other parts of the health care bill do make private health insurance mildly less abusive, but it’s still very administration-heavy and inefficient compared to systems in other countries, including, by the way, universal coverage systems that include non-US private insurers.

    Roberts labelled the fine associated with the mandate a “tax”.

    Romney practically invented mandates, but people aren’t smart enough to remember that.

    Now Obama gets to defend the least popular part of an otherwise good bill for the rest of the campaign.

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ DurhamDave:

    I think that it’s human nature: some people will always long for the ( mostly imagined) simpler life that their ancestors enjoyed in the days of yore- alt med is rife with complaints about how poisoned we are all by the fruits of modernisation whereas our ancestors lived in purity and bliss – in the industrial revolution…?

    There is a bizarre, rose-tinted glass view of western ( for lack of a better term) culture circa 1900: before the advent of Big Pharma, Big Food and Corruption- which might be the result of disasterously awful education about how people really lived. A certain segment of the population wil cling to this unrealistic notion about the good old days: which weren’t.
    I imagine this type of nostalgia is associated with particular political and philosophical perspectives.

    Alt med advocates make use of this romantic view of the past to oppose advances in SBM ( ANH, NSF and all the usual suspects)

  33. #33 Beamup
    June 28, 2012

    The real need for the mandate comes when you combine it with the requirement to provide insurance (and not charge extra) for pre-existing conditions. If you’ve got the latter without the former, then it becomes the obvious right choice to not bother buying insurance until you actually get sick. And then the entire system collapses because insurers are paying out just as much in claims, but are receiving a small fraction of the premiums.

  34. #34 harold
    June 28, 2012

    I spent a lot of time in the Houston area in 2010 and found people to be pleasant and perfectly intelligent.

    Texas is a symptom, the evolution of the Republican party into an authoritarian, reality-denying extremist party is the problem.

    Beamup said –

    My thoughts exactly. I don’t really care for the Democrats either – in particular, the way none of them seem to have ever taken Econ 101. But when the choice is between completely batshit insane vs. overly idealistic and impractical, I have to go with the latter.

    Well, I agree with you on a number of important levels. I don’t like the Democrats, but for now, it’s them versus a party that has been taken over by nutjobs.

    As for economics, Republican policies have been more insane for some time now. “Lower taxes” is like “eat more vegetables” – it can be a good idea or a fatal idea, depending on the circumstances.

    Basic social programs stabilize the economy. While food stamps aren’t perfect, it is insane to campaign to cut programs that provide basic needs, and spending that goes right back into major sectors like agriculture, during a recession. (Don’t believe me that they are doing that? Google it.)

    Republican economics superficially deny basic accounting reality. Cut taxes on the wealthy, whose money has the lowest marginal utility, while indulging in the highest rate of military spending, absolute or per capita, in history. The fact that the hidden agenda is to cut children and the frail elderly off from social program support without excess public outcry doesn’t make it any better, either.

    This comment is on topic, the topic here is Republican reality denial.

  35. #35 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Beamup –

    The real need for the mandate comes when you combine it with the requirement to provide insurance (and not charge extra) for pre-existing conditions. If you’ve got the latter without the former, then it becomes the obvious right choice to not bother buying insurance until you actually get sick. And then the entire system collapses because insurers are paying out just as much in claims, but are receiving a small fraction of the premiums.

    Total agreement, that is why I favor a true universal system without inefficient US-style private insurers.

    My personal preference would be, assuming no sabotage of Medicare reimbursement rates, to make Medicare available regardless of age. It already pays about a third of health care bills in the US, and probably a majority for most non-pediatric institutions and practices, excluding sports medicine and the like.

    The good argument against my proposal is that this would essentially create the Canadian system in the US, and the Canadian system is the second least efficient in the world, precisely because it is so similar to the US system.

    My argument is that we just aren’t going to be able to get a Dutch or Japanese style system flying here, but making an already popular program universal might work.

  36. #36 FacelessMan
    June 28, 2012

    Who votes for these people? How can they say out loud, that they are against teaching critical thinking in schools and have any reasonable hope of being elected?!

  37. #37 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 28, 2012

    @e and Calli Arcale

    That “natural death” statement pretty clearly means against any and all abortion, especially once you get down into the meat of the document, where they define life as starting at conception. But the way it’s stated, they should, indeed, be against the death penalty, against wars, against the use (but not necessarily ownership) of firearms. The whole document is full of silly ideas and contradictions.

    (Sorry for not responding sooner; was paying attention to the announcements of the ACA.)

  38. #38 Daniel J. Andrews
    June 28, 2012

    We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.

    That’s what science does anyway–changes to match the new data and evidence.

    As for equal treatment of all sides, I think the comic Non-sequitur is pointing the way forward.
    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/non+sequitur

  39. #39 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    More on the Supreme Court decision- apparently un-restricted by higher mental processes:

    Mikey has his say ( @ Natural News; also @ Progressive Radio Network)

  40. #40 Mu
    June 28, 2012

    The ACA decision is a big mess. It’s not 5-4, it’s 1-4-4, with 4 saying commerce clause applies, 4 saying commerce clause doesn’t apply, and Roberts saying commerce clause doesn’t apply but tax authority does. Ditto on medicare, 4 say congress can, 4 say congress can’t, and Roberts says congress can as long as they don’t take away existing funds. So we have one opinion with 8 dissenting on the legal position but 4 joining, in judgement only.

  41. #41 JGC
    June 28, 2012

    We support the rights of all adults to their choice of nutritional products, and alternative health care choices.

    So the Texas Republican Party is now totally down with supplementing our diets with pot brownies?

  42. #42 Mu
    June 28, 2012

    What makes me wonder if the Texas republicans aren’t right after all, critical thinking just gives you a headache.

  43. #43 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ JGC:
    Now if only alt med can develop a plant with a high vitamin D contnt they’d be cooking with gas.

    @ Mu:
    Critical thinking may give you a headache but it will also enable you to find out realistic ways to get rid of the headache.

    Although I am needed elswhere, I do espy a Thinking Mom presentting over at the California law thread.

  44. #44 puppygod
    June 28, 2012

    @Todd W.

    “We believe in… 2. The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.”

    Does that mean that the Texas Republican Party is against the death penalty?

    Sigh. If only! See, the death by lethal injection is – in their eyes – totes natural, exactly the way the God intended.

    Now, switching off the life support of a brain-dead person – that is encroaching the Gods’ domain. Unnatural blasphemy, that should be punished by natural injection.

  45. #45 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    How can they say out loud, that they are against teaching critical thinking in schools and have any reasonable hope of being elected?!

    This is a broader complaint about OBE versus traditional pedagogy. It’s also weirdly constructed as though everybody is going to know what they’re talking about. The question is whether teaching such skills is more important than “content.” If you’ve ever known a parent whose kids are getting the UCSMP “Everyday Mathematics” curriculum, you’re likely to have heard complaints. (A friend’s son who is entering college can’t perform long division.)

  46. #46 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    (Put another way, try reading that “critical” as not the intuitive sense, but as in the title of Critical Inquiry.)

  47. #47 Eric Lund
    June 28, 2012

    How can they say out loud, that they are against teaching critical thinking in schools and have any reasonable hope of being elected?!

    Because a kid who learns critical thinking might conclude that the well-dressed man on the TV is spouting stuff (be it alt-med, revisionist history, Chicago school economics, or whatever) which is best used as fertilizer for the vegetable garden. That would be bad for the people in charge.

  48. #48 Nashira
    June 28, 2012

    @Denise: They could make a nice MMS sauce with some orange juice, and be cooking with chlorine gas…

    @main post: Um, I will not lie, this terrifies me as a nice little part-Cree atheist girl who likes her some critical thinking. I can only imagine that the Republicans are afraid that if one encourages people to think for themselves, instead of playing baby bird and eating the drivel they’re fed, that there won’t be that many more Republicans in the future.

    Which, given where the party has gone, does not strike me as such a bad thing. I don’t think the GOP is saveable from the crazy. They have, as the joke goes, go so far right that they’re coming left again! But not even the good parts of the left – no, they’ve picked out the parts most likely to turn the US into a has-been. Ugh.

    And here’s a tiny cheer that the healthcare law wasn’t struck down. It’s crappy, but it’s a start – and now I don’t have to be so terrified about being screwed over by my pre-existing conditions.

  49. #49 jrkrideau
    June 28, 2012

    I had a look at the Texas Republican 2012 STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM and wondered if it was not a spoof but it is not April 1 so maybe it is for real.

    These guys are wackos!

    Where did this come from?
    [blockquote] “Foreign Taxation – We strongly oppose the United Nations or any international group levying taxes on US citizens or governments.”[/blockquote]
    or
    [blockquote] Sound Money – Our founding fathers warned us of the dangers of allowing central bankers to control our currency because inflation equals taxation without representation. We support the return to the time tested precious metal standard for the U.S. dollar. [/blockquote]

    They want to go back to the gold standard or perhaps try silver?

    or [blockquote] Felon Voting – We affirm the Constitutional authority of state legislatures to regulate voting, including
    disenfranchisement of convicted felons. [/blockquote]

    Certainly no change of systemic racism here, is there?

  50. #50 Roadstergal
    June 28, 2012

    “We believe in… 2. The sanctity of human life, created in the image of God, which should be protected from fertilization to natural death.”

    Does that mean that the Texas Republican Party is against the death penalty?

    Not only that, but I look forward to the deluge of funds into women’s reproductive health – to research causes of miscarriage of wanted pregnancies, to provide prenatal care and nutrition to low-income women, and to fund reality-based sex education to help prevent pregnancies that aren’t planned and wanted, so that that babies are born to parents who will give them the best shot at a healthy life..

    What, that’s not what they meant? Oh.

  51. #51 Roadstergal
    June 28, 2012

    See, the death by lethal injection is – in their eyes – totes natural, exactly the way the God intended.

    “We fed an IV line into the prisoner with potassium chloride. Naturally, she died.”

  52. #52 Calli Arcale
    June 28, 2012

    Nashira and others, I don’ t think the opposition to critical thinking is because they are afraid people will realize what hogwash they’re being fed. I think they oppose critical thinking because they themselves have no idea what it is. They think they do; they think its either a euphemism for atheist/socialist/inset-boogyman-here brainwashing, or a sort of nihilism in which everything is rejected and which they feel would lead to anarchy because everyone would be out for numero uno.

    And I’m not just guessing here. It’s obvious they don’t understand what critical thinking is, since they are oblivious to the many logical errors in pieces such as this one. They say things that are contradictory and are unaware of it. They think they are right about everything, and they don’t use critical thinking — therefore, they certainly would conclude that critical thinking must be wrong, and therefore is useless or worse.

  53. #53 Interrobang
    June 28, 2012

    I hear a bunch of wingnuts are threatening to move to Canada after the SCOTUS ruling this morning. I haven’t a clue what they’re thinking, inasmuch as if they think Obamacare is “socialism,” they’d hate the Canadian system (if they knew what it was, which they don’t since I gather it’s a categorical imperative for all US media outlets to lie about it incessantly), and they’d be totally horrified that not only do we not disenfranchise convicted felons (or anybody else, for that matter), we actually let people vote while they’re in prison. (Somehow, kicking people out of your social contract isn’t a good way of maintaining it.)

    Fortunately (in this case), our immigration laws are tight enough that the average wingnut wouldn’t qualify on points. Boy, way to make a leftist feel conflicted. Oh, my aching integrity!

  54. #54 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    Fortunately (in this case), our immigration laws are tight enough that the average wingnut wouldn’t qualify on points.

    Back when I followed it, MDC was full of putative émigrés. Apparently, the possibility of not really being wanted fails to occur to a certain section of the populace.

  55. #55 podunkmo
    Dallas
    June 28, 2012

    I’m SHOCKED, SHOCKED, to find statements such as this from the party of Rick Perry!

    /sarcasm

  56. #56 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    I think they oppose critical thinking because they themselves have no idea what it is.

    No, I think they very well might. In educational parlance, it treads a fine line with respect to postmodernism.

  57. #57 Chris
    It is like watching a train wreck...
    June 28, 2012

    Some choice bits:

    “The laws of nature and nature’s God” as our Founding Fathers believed”.

    “Preservation of Republican Form of Government – We support our republican form of government in Texas as set forth in the Texas Bill of Rights and oppose Initiative and Referendum. We also urge the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress to enact legislation prohibiting any judicial jurisdiction from allowing any substitute or parallel system of Law, specifically foreign Law (including Sharia Law), which is not in accordance with the U.S. or Texas Constitutions.”

    “Banning the Use of Red Light Cameras – We oppose the manner in which alleged vehicle violations are documented and fines levied against individuals without proof of their having been the driver of the offending vehicle and we call for the ban on Red Light Cameras in the State of Texas”

    “Voter Rights Act – We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.”

    “Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.”

    “Federal Reserve System – We believe Congress should repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. In the interim, we call for a complete audit of the Federal Reserve System and an immediate report to the American people.”

    … and there is lots more!

  58. #58 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    This platform seeks to declare *Obamacare* unconstitutional…ain’t gonna happen.

    They also don’t want any more Constitutional Amendments. I thought there was a *movement* for an Amendment about *Family Values* (anti-gay buzzword), to declare marriage was only between and a man and a woman.

    The Platform Position Paper wants to eliminate the 16th Amendment (it’s *unconstitutional), for the Federal government to collect Income Taxes.

    The Social Security Act should be appealed…in favor of *private pension plans*. Smells like Bush’s plan to *privatize Social Security* (as outlined in his 2005 State of the Union Speech) to let the yahoos play the markets with a sizable portion of their Social Security taxes paid into the System. We all know how that turned out, as we plunged into deep recession in 2008, when the stock market indices each
    dropped 40 %.

    The Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished and the Party Platforms states:

    “We support the freedom to continue to use and manufacture incandescent light bulbs”.

    Meanwhile a Texas law was enacted to and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry to *save* the incandescent light bulb:

    http://www.politifact.com/texas/article/2011/jun/21/lawmakers-perry-stand-incandescents/

  59. #59 Calli Arcale
    June 28, 2012

    Narad, if they knew what critical thinking was, they would likely actually use it, is my point, or at least tailor their arguments to work in the face of it. Their own arguments are deeply flawed. They probably *think* they know what critical thinking is (as you imply, they may think it’s postmodernism). They have their opinions and their set of facts and they are happy with them; they do not see any reason to change that status quo, and consequently do not see the use for critical thinking. They may feel critical thinking would lead people astray, by causing them to question things which (in their opinion) mortal man is not equipped to question, which should not be questioned, and which is fact.

    Or, to put it another way, “these facts were good enough when I was a kid, they’re good enough for you!”

    Case in point: many of them object to science on the grounds that it changes its mind. They see this as evidence of science’s deep wrongness, and assume that if facts change, that means science went about claiming things as if they were fact which actually aren’t which means it is basically lying and cannot be trusted. Whereas *their* set of facts are right, and you can tell because they’ve always been true. (There is a major error in that line of reasoning of course. If they understood critical thinking, they’d see that error, but since they don’t understand it, they don’t see the error.)

  60. #60 Bronze Dog
    Sadly, in Texas
    June 28, 2012

    All the intelligent, thinking Texans have long since left the state. The whole place has gone downhill ever since Molly Ivins died. Frankly, I wish they’d just secede.

    Unfortunately not. I’m stuck until I finish my Master’s. I used to be nervous about the prospect of moving to another state, but not so much these days.

  61. #61 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    @ Denice Walter:

    “Interestingly enough, several woo-mongers we are familiar with reside in or have an office in Austin: AJW, Arthur Krigsman ( quite a commute, since his other office is due east a bit) and Mike Adams. Gary Null believes that Texas is a great place to do business- less laws, less governmental restrictions and ( probably) less taxes. Then there’s Dr B.”

    How about the connection between Jake Crosby and parents Nicole (nee Cranberg) Crosby and Giff Crosby with Austin-based The Autism Trust USA…affiliated with Polly Tommey’s Autism Trust UK?. Orac covered all these “coincidences” in a “Six Degrees of Separation” blog, here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/01/05/legal-thuggery-antivaccine-edition-part-2/

    I often *wondered* why Carmel, Andy and their family *settled* in Austin, Texas…of all places. It turns out that Jake’s family have big time ties, big time assets and hugely profitable business interests in Austin.

    Jake’s mother…

    http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=1563751166&targetid=profile

    Jake’s uncle…

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-education/higher-education/controversial-ut-regent-hopes-to-push-reset-button/

  62. #62 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Narad –

    I think they oppose critical thinking because they themselves have no idea what it is.

    No, I think they very well might. In educational parlance, it treads a fine line with respect to postmodernism.

    This is your brain on tribalist propaganda. Congratulations, you, individually are a little bit responsible for that entire platform.

    As it happens, not only do I, as a progressive, obviously oppose mislabeling of denial as “critical thinking”, guess who is the main culprit? That’s right, right wing creationists, right wing climate change denialists, right wing HIV denialists, right wing cigarette/health denialists, and the recently emerging right wing vaccine denialists.

    And guess what else? Today they’ll say they oppose critical thinking, meaning that they really do oppose true critical thinking, and tomorrow they’ll call an evolution denial convention “Thinking Critically About Evolution”.

    And at some level, you know it.

    I’m glad people can see the storm now that lightening is striking their asses, but some of us saw the clouds a long time ago. James Watt, Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, Willie Horton, Newt Gingrich, WMD, Swift Boats, etc. The clouds have been there for a long time.

  63. #63 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ Nashira:

    No no no! I was referring to the irresponsible, hippyish *stoner* aspect of woo-meistery not the irresponsible, *libertarian*, reckless endangerment part. Funny how woo has something to please people on all points on the political spectrum.

    If the leftie alties could breed a type of c@nnbis sat!va that was high in vitamin D they could simultaneously naturally understand the arcane interstices of the time space continuum AND live forever – because in their world, vitamin D prevents/ cures all ills.
    Or so they tell me.

  64. #64 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    This is your brain on tribalist propaganda. Congratulations, you, individually are a little bit responsible for that entire platform.

    Um, no, it’s my being aware of the controversies surrounding constructivist curricula. Did you read the Dirks? I’ll readily admit that my main knowledge of the subject is in fact Everyday Mathematics, but the rest of your comment seems to be a combination of overreaction and missing the point.

  65. #65 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    @ lilady:

    I knew about the big money: it should come in very handy when those legal bills start rolling in.

    Sometimes when there is a symbiotic relationship going on, it’s difficult to tell exactly who is pulling the strings because you see, it’s a case of purse strings vs heart strings. She has the lucre but he has her heart. Oh, it almost sounds romantic!

    Obviously Jake is embroiled within this and perhaps regards it as his ticket to fame and– well, he’ll already have the fortune someday.

  66. #66 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Narad –

    but the rest of your comment seems to be a combination of overreaction and missing the point.

    I didn’t miss the point; I’m perfectly familiar with misuse of the term “critical thinking” and oppose it as much as anyone.

    Over-reaction? I’m not sure. You’re going out of your way to ignore context and project something reasonable onto this platform; something that just isn’t there.

    They oppose evolutionary biology, climatology, vaccines, controls on the overt medical claims that OTC “supplement” manufacturers can make, tolerance of ethnic diversity, and even basic constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

    In that context, it’s entirely clear what type of critical thinking they oppose – REAL critical thinking, which they manifestly avoid.

    As for post-modernism, they exhibit it as strongly as possible.

  67. #67 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    @ Denice Walter: ~ six months ago, Jake posted on AoA that he planned to be in Austin, in the courtroom when AJW’s lawsuit comes to trial…”I have family in Austin”.

    Today, boy wonder/ace reporter posted several rants against President Obama (“If he gets elected, we’re all screwed”). Unbelievably, a few of his sycophants posted back, in support of Obama.

    “Poor Jake, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth”.

    (Spoof on Ann Richards, Texas Governor’s speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention, referring to then Vice President George H.W. Bush)

  68. #68 Denice Walter
    June 28, 2012

    lilady:

    Unfortunately for him, I venture that that is the only way he’ll EVER get screwed.

  69. #69 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Today, boy wonder/ace reporter posted several rants against President Obama (“If he gets elected, we’re all screwed”). Unbelievably, a few of his sycophants posted back, in support of Obama.

    Vaccine denialism isn’t at 100% associated with the right wing (yet) as evolution denial, climate change denial, tobacco/health denial, or HIV denial. And HIV denial attracts a few non-Republicans, although it’s main base of support is the religious right.

    However, this does very clearly and strongly refute any false equivalence attempts that attempt to claim that medical “woo” (a name I think too mild for the really abusive stuff, as it conjures up images of useless but sincere harmless types saying chants for someone in surgery or some such thing) is somehow associated with the “left”. I perceive a strong association of the most venal stuff, trying to drive patients away from treatment, with the political right, but I can’t support that with a statistical study, so it’s just an impression for now.

  70. #70 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    Over-reaction? I’m not sure. You’re going out of your way to ignore context and project something reasonable onto this platform; something that just isn’t there.

    I think the ones ignoring context are those who are grabbing “critical thinking” and running with it as though the words aren’t jargon in the often sorry trade of educational reformers. The reasonable observation would be that they want the teaching of “facts” but also the ability to dictate what those are.

  71. #71 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    ^ With “they” in the last sentence being a contingent from the Texas SBOE, who I can only assume injected the language.

  72. #72 harold
    June 28, 2012

    Narad –

    Okay, enough arguing.

    There are probably other contexts in which the term “critical thinking” is used poorly.

    Now what I would have done, if I were writing a platform, would have been, since a generalized statement against “critical thinking” is odd and ambiguous, is, I would have explained exactly what I meant by the term of “critical thinking”

    They didn’t, so we have to guess, I won’t deny that I still think that my guess – that they mean criticizing their preferred right wing dogma in any way – is better than your guess – that in an otherwise execrable document, they appropriately but ambiguously critiqued misuse of the term “critical thinking” by others.

    But they were ambivalent, so we’re really both just guessing.

    And I did not think that the use of “critical thinking” as a terminology was anywhere near the worst thing in that platform.

  73. #73 MI Dawn
    June 28, 2012

    Hooray for the SC. And I read about the Texas Repub platform and thought it was a joke at first…then I was horrified that they actually put that out in the open. Now I really wander what voting patterns will look like in November.

    OT: I really, really, really hate the wordpress loss of comment history. Had to clear my cookies for a problem and now I’m back to June 11th as most recent comment. Can’t this be fixed?

  74. #74 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    But they were ambivalent, so we’re really both just guessing.

    They weren’t ambivalent.

  75. #75 mary
    http://cmaime.com
    June 28, 2012

    I think the schools should teach all types of science, religion,government, culture, etc while the home should be responsible to teach it’s own culture, religion, politics etc.

  76. #76 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    June 28, 2012

    Texas going batshit conservitard religious will have ugly ramifications for the rest of the country, education wise.

    Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks; and if they start insisting on intelligent design, no evolution, texts, then you could see those same texts being used elsewhere in the country, since they won’t just make a ‘special ed’ version to suit TX.

  77. #77 Politicalguineapig
    June 28, 2012

    Bronzedog: My condolences. I hope you find a better state.

    Darwy: Texas going batshit conservitard religious will have ugly ramifications for the rest of the country, education wise.

    Tense is wrong. Texas went batshit insane about the time I was born, and it’s only gotten worse.

  78. #78 Peter
    June 28, 2012

    Creationism makes people stupid and incompetent.

    Critical thinking isn’t necessary because the Biblical basis of Creationism can’t be challenged. Creative thinking isn’t necessary because the Bible answers everything.

    People who don’t think lose the ability. Creationists are discouraged from thinking, so they don’t think. Instead they become stupid.

    Richard Feynman wrote “Nature cannot be fooled.” But Biblical foolery is the crux of Creationism. When faced with a question, Creationists take the Bible, pull out some quotations, throw them at whatever question they face, and take the result on faith. Overall, Creationism is to evolution as drool is to the Grand Canyon.

    When issues in biology, geology, and astronomy arise, Creationists will invoke the magic of Biblical analysis, just like pagans invoke the magic a secret talisman, and toss the Biblical joss-sticks to arrive at an answer completely divorced from reality. Whether or not it makes any sense is entirely up to chance. That’s incompetence.

    “Nature cannot be fooled,” not even by the Bible.

  79. #79 Narad
    June 28, 2012

    Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks; and if they start insisting on intelligent design, no evolution, texts, then you could see those same texts being used elsewhere in the country, since they won’t just make a ‘special ed’ version to suit TX.

    Actually, their effect on the textbook market is likely to wane. Only Minnesota, Alaska, Virgina, Nebraska, and Texas have failed to adopt what exists so far of the Common Core Standards (don’t take that as an endorsement). And, really, it’s just not that hard to do a print run to order nowadays. K-12 textbooks aren’t fiendishly difficult exercises in typesetting. Throw in electronic texts, and the days of disproportionate influence are numbered.

  80. #80 makeinu
    June 28, 2012

    @Durham Dave,

    Starting to go insane? You don’t even know the half of it. The rest of the world should be scared of what America stands to become if these bozos get complete reign on the country.

    A better recipe for an uninformed and uncreative populace that’s susceptible to pseudoscience I have a hard time imagining.

    Orac, it’s actually far worse than that, because that’s actually the best recipe for a population that’s easily turned to a fascist state.

    One with the largest, most powerful military and the most nuclear weapons capabiility on the planet.

    Think a nuclear armed Iran would be scary?

    Ain’t no time to wonder why
    Whoopee, we’re all gonna die!

  81. #81 lilady
    June 28, 2012

    Jake Crosby is upset that the USSC has ruled that the provisions of the health care laws are constitutional. He is also fighting back at the comments directed at him for his rants against the President. How dare anyone question his ultraconservative political rants:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/06/tea-party-joins-canary-party-in-opposing-vaccine-mandates-in-california.html#comments

    Dan Olmsted has stepped in…

    From the Editor: A-political

    “Just to restate as the political season heats up: Those who write and comment here will have different political views, but AOA does not. We’re A-political: We focus on Autism, not parties or people. All are welcome here.”

  82. #82 Sauceress
    June 28, 2012

    Unrepresented: “Educating them otherwise is not an easy undertaking when the media keeps quoting “experts” who chant the science is in, the science is in.”

    Jake Cosby: We have the Obama Administration to thank for that.

    And the in rest of the world?
    “Here be Dragons”?
    Jake Cosby is hilarious.

  83. #83 Sauceress
    June 29, 2012

    Bah..grammar demons again! Preview my precious..I miss you.

  84. #84 Chris
    About to call it a night...
    June 29, 2012

    Unless Young Master Crosby has a job with benefits, he is benefiting from “ObamaCare.” One of the provisions is that insurance companies allow parents to keep their children on their plans until their 26th birthday.

    Our older son being on hubby’s insurance for another couple of years is why we opted for the heart surgery. Our younger twenty-one year old son has insurance through his part-time job with the city (lifeguard/swim teacher at city parks indoor pool).

    Does Young Master Crosby get health insurance asf Age of Autism’s ace boy reporter, or does he earn enough to buy his own? Or does he think he is invincible or very lucky, and he will not ever injure himself?

  85. #85 Composer99
    http://composer99.blogspot.com
    June 29, 2012

    From the OP:

    Question whether evolution is happening or not, mountains of evidence from multiple different disciplines supporting it be damned.

    I’d say the second clause in that sentence pretty much sums up what the Texas Republicans think about the science.

    —–
    From the platform cite by the OP:

    We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

    This strikes me as trying to create an environment in which authoritarianism of the sort described by Robert Altemeyer (do a search for his book, I won’t link because I want to avoid moderation) flourishes, in this case forms of authoritarianism which conveniently happen to favour Texas Republican elites.

  86. #86 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 29, 2012

    Steve Dutch is another Minnesota professor who calls it like he sees it. Sometimes I disagree with him, but at least he’s always interesting and can make an intelligent defense of his ideas. Anyway, he has the best take on libertarianism that I have found:
    http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/PSEUDOSC/NoLibert.HTM

  87. #87 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 29, 2012

    My apologies to Professor Dutch: he’s a Wisconsinite (Wisconsonian?).

  88. #88 lilady
    June 29, 2012

    @ Chris:

    I doubt that Jake is employed and he probably has coverage provided by his parents.

    He’s just a self-centered spoiled a$$ kid, clueless about people with pre-existing medical conditions being denied coverage. In his *world* people with complicated, expensive medical treatment requirements *don’t face lifetime caps*. He is also clueless about children who are medically fragile, whose parents found they were uninsurable:

    http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/06/24/505179/10-things-you-would-miss-about-obamacare/

    Wait until the groupies at AoA find out that under the Affordable Care Act, all health care plans MUST cover all childhood vaccines, at no cost to the parents.

  89. #89 LC.
    June 29, 2012

    How much of this ‘platform’ would they be likely to implement if they got power, as opposed to it being cynical vote grabbing? Some of the statements are insane (even by lunatic standards), and trying to implement them as stated would be impossible.

    Your average politician would promise you the moon, the stars and a free unicorn if you just vote for them, and given (as I understand) the US doesn’t have compulsory voter attendance throwing a grab bag of ‘hot topics’ together catering to every nutters pet project would be a good way to dredge up votes.

    Of course, when you fail to deliver you just blame someone else for ‘obstructing it’ (Big Pharma, Democrats, commies whatever).

  90. #90 lilady
    June 29, 2012

    @ LC: See my first comment on this thread. I couldn’t believe that the Texas GOP Platform Committee had produced such a document.

    Here’s an open letter to the Platform Committee from a Texas Republican, cautioning them not to put special interest *planks* in their platform, to not indulge in social issues and to stress less government interference and Republican values: Note the letter writer’s remarks about the ridiculous 2010 Texas Republican Platform report:

    http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/a-letter-to-the-republican-party/

  91. #91 elburto
    June 29, 2012

    Narad – you were joking about the long division thing, weren’t you? That’s something the average 7 year old can accomplish.

    Durham Dave – hello there bonny lad! I think we should build a bunker under the cathedral. That way, when America goes t*ts up and starts aiming missiles everywhere, we’ll be safe. They’d surely never bomb that.

    Where in Sunny Durham are you? We’re near Trimdon.

  92. #92 LC.
    June 29, 2012

    @lilady
    Ta for the link – interesting read, and it lured me to read the original 2010 platform…hooo boy.

    Anyway, given the apparent discontent with the current Texas Republican Party by some, are there other parties which they could jump ship to in order to voice discontent? Or are the options limited to Democrat, Republican, or one of the Sideshow parties?

  93. #93 lilady
    June 29, 2012

    LC…Probably in Texas, there are no other options for voters.

    There is a self-labeled “Social Democrat” Senator in Vermont, who is considered an “Independent”, who caucuses with the Democrats…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders

    Then there’s the *odd* case of Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, who ran on the Democratic ticket for Vice President with Al Gore. He later, supported Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and Veep candidate Sarah Palin…against the Obama-Biden Democratic nominees. He left the Democratic Party to run as an “Independent” and successfully held on to his Senate seat:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Lieberman

    BTW, Senators Sanders and Schumer (D-NY) both graduated from James Madison High School, Brooklyn NY…as did Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Gingsburg (one of the 5 votes in favor of “Obamacare”); my “alma mater”, as well.

  94. #94 DurhamDave
    North East Soggy Confusion
    June 29, 2012

    @elburto
    Well, they’ll never hit it intentionally.
    Durham City, been a lurker here for quite a while, just got the courage to start commenting more. Came for info on health problems, stayed for the Insolence.

  95. #95 Lawrence
    June 29, 2012

    I do find it hilarious that AoA would find common cause with the “Tea Party.” Doesn’t AoA realize that given Tea Party & ultra-conservatives philosophy on small government, pharmaceutical companies would receive less oversight and less regulation?

    It is part of their core values to promote big business & remove any regulations they feel would impede the creation of jobs or company profits – how exactly is that helpful to AoA’s anti-Pharma rants?

    The cognitive-dissonance is practically mind-blowing. Yet another example of their desperate attempt to glam on to any group or movement that sounds even vaguely anti-something…..

  96. #96 MikeMa
    June 29, 2012

    I’m only a little surprised that this thread saw no Texas GOP supporters defending this travesty. Orac attracts some loons among the intelligent commenters but even they have not bothered to speak up (or the spam trap got them).
    More amusing is I have seen MANY laughing, disgusted or outraged posts and articles about this and not one cogent defense anywhere. Got to check back on PZ’s thread. Got to be some fools there.

  97. #97 harold
    June 29, 2012

    Narad –

    Yes they were ambivalent.

    If they weren’t you would link to parts of the platform that are very specific.

    You keep linking to a document associated Phyllis Schafly, dated from 1993, which, in addition to being out of date and from a very questionable source, is itself quite ambivalent..

    You keep defending that fact that the platform rants against some ambivalent buzzwords like “OBE” and “critical thinking”.

    Show me the part of the current Texas Republican Platform that carefully defines terms like OBE and “critical thinking”, and refers to peer-reviewed studies, or at least expert (not Phyllis Schafly) opinions of those carefully defined entities.

    Okay

  98. #99 Politicalguineapig
    June 29, 2012

    LC: How much of this ‘platform’ would they be likely to implement if they got power, as opposed to it being cynical vote grabbing? Some of the statements are insane (even by lunatic standards), and trying to implement them as stated would be impossible.

    LC, you are operating under the pernicious delusion that Texas is a functioning state. Trust me, they intend to implement all of it.

  99. #100 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 30, 2012

    lilady, my mom went to Madison, and I wound up living two blocks away for 15 years. Almost neighbors, sort of, a little.

  100. #101 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    You keep linking to a document associated Phyllis Schafly, dated from 1993, which, in addition to being out of date and from a very questionable source, is itself quite ambivalent..

    “Keep” linking? No, I did once, and that was before I noticed that Steve Novella had done the same thing. May I also ask what you mean by “ambivalent”?

    Anyway, you seem to think it’s some sort of crapshoot whether this jargon was somehow used accidentally. It wasn’t, sorry. They don’t need to define them in some sort of anticipation that you personally wouldn’t know what was being referred to and attempt to float some other interpretation.

  101. #102 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Narad – you were joking about the long division thing, weren’t you? That’s something the average 7 year old can accomplish.

    Not in the least. As I recall, the conventional method still is excluded from the EM curriculum on general principles. They’re all about baroque “algorithms.” Because it’s all about algorithms, because we don’t want you to think in terms of algorithms, so we make them so odd that you’ll forget the whole thing and leap immediately to group theory or something. (In fairness, I do know one parent who was able to say something positive about the “partial sums addition” method, in terms of clarifying carries, but that’s it from those I’ve asked.)

  102. #103 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    I just remembered, upon turning in, that I had previously intended to relate this one on the constructivist mathematics front. A couple of months ago, I ran across this article. Yah, it’s a noble cause or something, because we can’t have K-6 thinking that the equals sign is an operator or something. While teaching them to use calculators.

    Anyway, at the time the author MS. wasn’t in PMC (nor have I read it yet), so I went poking around as to Sarah Powell’s other work and came up with this. Go from the first paragraph to the penultimate one. I would contend that the proposed pedagogical solution is a wee bit more complicated than the pedagogical problem actually calls for (viz., “no, Melanie, how much more?).

  103. #104 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 30, 2012

    I just remembered, upon turning in, that I had previously intended to relate this one on the constructivist mathematics front. A couple of months ago, I ran across this article. Yah, it’s a noble cause or something, because we can’t have K-6 thinking that the equals sign is an operator or something. While teaching them to use calculators.

    Sorry, but after reading the article, I agree with its authors. Some students have the mental flexibility that if they develop an incorrect limited notion early on, they have no real problem transcending that incorrect notion. Others do. The goal of mathematics education is to understand mathematics, not learning how to operate a calculator. If a child knows how to use the equals sign on a calculator to get the result of “4 + 6″ but doesn’t understand that that result is not what goes in the blank in “4 + 6 = __ + 2″ the kids are not alright.

  104. #105 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    Old Rockin’ Dave: I graduated from Madison after Bader-Ginsburg and Sanders but before Chuck Schumer, left Brooklyn in 1972, returned to the school for my 25th reunion…which was a lot of fun.

    I met one of my best buddies, a graduate of Madison, years later. In fact his son was my son’s “roomie”. I visit him every week in his group home and I am his substitute legal guardian.

  105. #106 harold
    June 30, 2012

    Narad –

    In my mind, you are a perfect example of exactly what you claim to be complaining about.

    You don’t think clearly. You don’t express yourself clearly. You don’t understand the difference between a specific, supported claim and vague use of ambivalent terminology

    Harold: “Show me the part of the current Texas Republican Platform that carefully defines terms like OBE and “critical thinking”, and refers to peer-reviewed studies, or at least expert (not Phyllis Schafly) opinions of those carefully” defined entities.

    Narad:”Anyway, you seem to think it’s some sort of crapshoot whether this jargon was somehow used accidentally. It wasn’t, sorry. They don’t need to define them in some sort of anticipation that you personally wouldn’t know what was being referred to and attempt to float some other interpretation”

    Actually, yes, they do. Simply attacking vague terminology like “critical thinking” isn’t honest.

    Incidentally, I’ve formed the conclusion that you, personally, don’t know very much about education.

    Are you criticizing the University of Chicago and the article by S.R. Powell of the University of Virginia, or are you linking them as citations that support whatever the hell your assertion is? I can’t tell.

    Anyway, enough is enough.

  106. #107 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    The goal of mathematics education is to understand mathematics, not learning how to operate a calculator.

    My contention is that, at this level of mathematics education, the issue being pointed at in both examples is one of language, not a failure to pile on adequate abstractions.

  107. #108 Denice Walter
    posh hotel on my way out the door to more excess spending
    June 30, 2012

    @ Narad:

    Agreed. When you try to instruct children (or anyone) at a level at which they are not already *nearly* able to function, you don’t get much returns on your investment. Children develop most abstract skills around adolescence** – altho’ some never progress much beyond- as we have learned time and time again from the usual suspects. Notice that algebra and calculus are not required for 8 year olds . Neither are experimental design, linguistics and technical analysis

    ** I wonder what the evolutionary significance of that is? – I ask innocently.

  108. #109 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    In my mind, you are a perfect example of exactly what you claim to be complaining about.

    It’s not clear to me that you’ve yet discerned what I was complaining about in the first place.

    You don’t think clearly. You don’t express yourself clearly. You don’t understand the difference between a specific, supported claim and vague use of ambivalent terminology.

    Ambivalent. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Simply attacking vague terminology like “critical thinking” isn’t honest.

    Let’s look at the original passage again: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

    This is more than adequately contextualized for anyone who has followed the travails of education reformers.

    Incidentally, I’ve formed the conclusion that you, personally, don’t know very much about education.

    That’s nice. I came to the same conclusion about Paul Sally some time ago as far as K-6 education is concerned. As I’ve stated, my main knowledge revolves around the EM curriculum, which I’ve been aware of since back when it was but a little seed focused on educational computer games and not a great spiral (their terminology) mass that went through an unseemly phase of blaming parents when it failed to work.

    Are you criticizing the University of Chicago and the article by S.R. Powell of the University of Virginia,

    In passing, yes. You may note that elburto asked whether I was joking about a college-bound kid not knowing how to perform long division. I was not, and I indulged a digression.

    or are you linking them as citations that support whatever the hell your assertion is?

    See “perfect example” above.

  109. #110 Old Rockin' Dave
    June 30, 2012

    Lilady, Mom was class of ’45, so she was before all of you. I grew up on Long Island (wait a sec, are you actually LI lady?), and moved to Bedford Avenue between O and the Highway in ’76 (the old Bedford Arms building when it still had some class) with my first wife, moved to Long Island with my second wife and first child in ’91. I had known the neighborhood from visiting my grandparents, and the changes between the ’60s and the ’90s were large and sometimes dismaying, to the point where I don’t want to go back just because of what will no longer be there.

  110. #111 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    @ Old Rockin’ Dave: A lot of people think my ‘nym is a contraction of Little Lady; Kelly M. Bray refers to me as Lil and one poster *imagined* that I was posting from Texas. I grew up just off the Highway (New York Avenue between Avenues L and M).

    Oh Look…four Nobel Prize winners…as well

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Madison_High_School_%28New_York%29

    Sid Offal also went through the NYC school system as well…too bad he wasted his education.

  111. #112 Chris
    Waiting for the annual migration of the college student..
    June 30, 2012

    lilady:

    ~ six months ago, Jake posted on AoA that he planned to be in Austin, in the courtroom when AJW’s lawsuit comes to trial…”I have family in Austin”.

    Does anyone know what is happening or when the AJW lawsuit will be heard?

  112. #113 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Does anyone know what is happening or when the AJW lawsuit will be heard?

    They’re docketed for a one-day appearance on July 30 (PDF).

  113. #114 Chris
    June 30, 2012

    Thanks.

  114. #115 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    (I only wish I was posting from Texas, with a husband who practices law in that state)

    I’m willing to venture an *educated guess*, Chris, that Jake *knows* the status of the lawsuit.

    Odd…isn’t it…that Jake and the other *journalists* at AoA have not blogged about the case…since Deer, Godlee and the BMJ instituted suit against Andy under the Texas anti-SLAPP law?

  115. #116 herr doktor bimler
    June 30, 2012

    We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive. We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups. Students should pledge allegiance to the American and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism.

    “Ein Volk, ein Reich” sounds better in German.

  116. #117 Shay
    June 30, 2012

    Herr Doktor: It kind of leaves two of the conservative universe’s two current darlings, Rubio and Jindahl, out in the cold, too, dunnit?

  117. #118 Shay
    June 30, 2012

    Oh, cr*p. Where is a preview function now that we need one?

  118. #119 Politicalguineapig
    June 30, 2012

    Shay: Yep. I think Jindal and Rubio look in the mirror and see a white guy staring at them every day. A lot of current Republicans have refined self-hatred into an art form- especially the women and the Log Cabin contigent.I think Jindal’s one of the self-haters. Rubio’s Cuban; it takes a few generations for racism to work it’s way out of the family.

  119. #120 harold
    June 30, 2012

    Denice Walter –

    I wasn’t able to get a satisfactory answer from Narad, but you’re usually a source of reason, so I’ll try here.

    Agreed. When you try to instruct children (or anyone) at a level at which they are not already *nearly* able to function, you don’t get much returns on your investment. Children develop most abstract skills around adolescence** – altho’ some never progress much beyond- as we have learned time and time again from the usual suspects. Notice that algebra and calculus are not required for 8 year olds . Neither are experimental design, linguistics and technical analysis

    Well, I don’t disagree with any of that.

    Perhaps Narad is also correct that, despite its flaws, the Texas Republican Party Platform criticizes such things in honest, specific language that a reasonably informed person would correctly interpret, and does, as others have most understandably thought, attack “critical thinking” in a general sense.

    My dispute with Narad has nothing to do with any support for ill-founded post-modern educational strategies on my part, not even if they emanate from University of Chicago or University of Virginia.

    Rather, my question is, where in the Texas Republican Party Platform, an otherwise unimpressive document, is this admirable support for better educational practices.

    If it’s there and I missed it, I’ll be delighted to say so, but I haven’t found it yet.

  120. #121 harold
    June 30, 2012

    That should be “does not attack ‘critical thinking’ in a general sense” of course; I love ‘preview comment’ buttons.

  121. #122 lilady
    June 30, 2012

    “Ein Volk, ein Reich” sounds better in German.”

    http://www.therupturedduck.com/WebPages/Documents/d306.htm

    To which, I say….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LYD0Fzf1LU

  122. #123 Narad
    June 30, 2012

    Rather, my question is, where in the Texas Republican Party Platform, an otherwise unimpressive document, is this admirable support for better educational practices.

    If you think I’m asserting anything of the sort, you are badly mistaken.

  123. #124 ebohlman
    http://turnipsandpotatoes.wordpress.com
    June 30, 2012

    I’d be wary about reading too much into state-party platforms, however amusing an exercise it might be. At the state-party level, assignment to the platform committee is usually a way to reward someone who’s raised enough money for the party to require recognition, but lacks the mental stability, reality orientation and social skills to be put into a position with real responsibility or authority. Consequently state platforms tend to become collections of perseverations.

    I’ve actually seen worse ones. Believe it or not, this particular one is actually quite a bit less homophobic than any previous Texas GOP platform I can remember (OK, OK, it’s mostly a matter of having turned the homophobia down from 11 to 10). The stuff about the gold standard and the UN is staple fodder for state party platforms.

  124. #125 harold
    July 1, 2012
    Rather, my question is, where in the Texas Republican Party Platform, an otherwise unimpressive document, is this admirable support for better educational practices.

    If you think I’m asserting anything of the sort, you are badly mistaken.

    Then it would seem our dispute is resolved.

  125. [...] The Texas Republican Party platform: Creationism, denialism, “health freedom,” and &ldqu… – from » Medicine http://cf-global-posts.example.com [...]

  126. [...] as if any educated person actually took this nonsense seriously makes us look like the Texan Republican Party claiming that the Loch Ness Monster might really exist. What’s next, climate change [...]

  127. [...] zu diesem offiziellen Positionspapier der Republikanischen Partei sagen. Es ist fremdenfeindlich, für Quacksalber und gegen Impfungen, bekämpft die Frauenrechte und Homosexuelle, möchte die Umweltschutzbehörde (“We believe [...]

  128. #129 Narad
    August 2, 2012
    Does anyone know what is happening or when the AJW lawsuit will be heard?

    They’re docketed for a one-day appearance on July 30 (PDF).

    I’ll go ahead and infer that nothing earth-shattering happened.