The Loom

A statement from the National Science Teachers’ Association on Bush’s remarks about Intelligent Design:

NSTA Disappointed About Intelligent Design Comments Made by President Bush
2005-08-03 – NSTA

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the world’s largest organization of science educators, is stunned and disappointed that President Bush is endorsing the teaching of intelligent design – effectively opening the door for nonscientific ideas to be taught in the nation’s K-12 science classrooms.

“We stand with the nation’s leading scientific organizations and scientists, including Dr. John Marburger, the president’s top science advisor, in stating that intelligent design is not science. Intelligent design has no place in the science classroom,” said Gerry Wheeler, NSTA Executive Director.

Monday, Knight Ridder news service reported that the President favors the teaching of intelligent design so “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

“It is simply not fair to present pseudoscience to students in the science classroom,” said NSTA President Mike Padilla. “Nonscientific viewpoints have little value in increasing students’ knowledge of the natural world.”

NSTA strongly supports the premise that evolution is a major unifying concept in science and should be included in the K-12 education frameworks and curricula. This position is consistent with that of the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and many other scientific and educational organizations.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Chamberlain
    August 3, 2005

    “Disappointed,” maybe. But “stunned?” The NSTA is saying that this caught them so by surprise that they were “stunned?” 56,000 science teachers really had no idea that GWB was a creationist (excuse me, ID supporter)? C’mon.

  2. #2 Buck Turgidson
    August 3, 2005

    I agree with Jeff Chamberlain. Is there ANYONE left who could be “stunned” by what GWB says or does? Not to mention what his administration says and does. Those days of being stunned are l-o-n-g over folks.

  3. #3 Doug
    August 3, 2005

    I agree. If they’re really stunned, it makes me wonder if teachers that clueless should be in such an influential position with the nation’s future.

    Maybe our schools will benefit from some fresh new ID’ers. :)

    Of course we all know that nobody was surprised by this. I’m sure Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, and the National Association for Women were just as stunned that Bush would nominate a conservative pro-life candidate for the Supreme Court. Its all obvious rhetoric that sits on the shelf waiting for an appropriate opportunity for release.

  4. #4 Andrew Brown
    August 3, 2005

    A thing like this is aimed at parents who don’t know better. They need to be told, in huge capital letters, that their child’s teacher — someone they know — is really shocked by this. And “stunned” is the new word for “shocked”. I know it connotes surprise rather than moral outrage, but I’m afraid that moral outrage has been so devalued in thelast fifty years that we have to use surprise as a substitute.

  5. #5 Joseph Poliakon
    August 4, 2005

    Intelligent Design may be pseudoscience, but NSTA Executive Director, Gerry Wheeler, is wrong to say it “has no place in the science classroom.”

    The education professionals in NSTA have fallen into the all too fatal trap that is an occupational hazard of teachers. Because teachers teach material to and evaluate and grade students whose ages and experience are one quarter-to-one half that of theirs, they start believing, acting-reacting as though they are the reference source of all knowledge and understanding. If they don’t know it, it ain’t knowledge…if they don’t understand it, it ain’t understandable.

    I learned Darwin’s Theory of Evolution along side the Intelligent Design laid out in Genesis 1-31. Some how my pPod absorbed both without any synaptic damage (some may dispute this last statement). I say, “Bring ‘em both on!”

    As any scientist or student of science knows, bad lab data will fall of its own weight. Teach the theories of evolution and intelligent design side-by-side, and let the “lab data” determine the winner.

    I agree with President Bush on this one. Teach intelligent design so “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

  6. #6 kim
    August 4, 2005

    People should indeed know what the debate is about. However, that does not mean ID should be taught in science classes as a scientific alternative to evolutionary theory. There is a debate going on, but anyone who takes this as a scientific debate is flatout wrong, allthough ID proponents love to present their objections to evolution (and materialistic science as a whole) as science. The debate is religious and political, and should be handled as that: a debate about the power of religion and belief to act upon the education of children, which the ID-proponents disguise as a scientific discours. If ID is to be handled in classrooms, then it should be as a moral and religious viewpoint, in an anthropological or sociological way. It has no place whatsoever in biology or science as a whole.

  7. #7 Cameron Peters
    August 4, 2005

    It is worth pointing out that 55,000 teachers weren’t stunned, the PR person and admin staff for NSTA was. As a member of the NSTA I wasn’t at all surprised by Bush’s announcement. I also have no intention of ever including ID in my curriculum as it meets absolutely none of the criteria constituting science. I barely have enough time to cover evolution the way I want to; I’m not going to waste valuable class time on a vapid subject like ID.

  8. #8 Eugene
    August 4, 2005

    Exactly so. I am getting tired of Mr. Bush and friends trying to cram his know-nothing views into all aspects of our life. We made a big mistake electing him. Although, come to think of it, we actually elected Mr. Gore.

  9. #9 Stefan
    August 4, 2005

    What’s most insidious is the attempt to frame this as a “debate”. A small cult of religious whack-jobs are attempting to undermine the well-understood and non-theistic explanations for certain fundamental processes. Calling this attempt a “debate” gives it credibility it simply can’t get on its own merits.

    Actually this “debate” SHOULD be taught in schools – but NOT as science. Rather, it should be taught in a Politics class, or in Rhetoric, as an example of how special interest groups make gains using slippery arguments and misdirection.

  10. #10 Ken Severson
    August 5, 2005

    It basically comes down to this. ID is religion. Religion should be taught in the home and the church. Evolution is a scientific theory and should be taught in the schools. If you think ID is a scientific theory then you need to go back to school and learn what the word really means. Our President is lacking any real intelligence and showed that with his comments on ID.

  11. #11 cats
    August 5, 2005

    Washington, DC. The American Astronomical Society is releasing the
    text of a letter concerning “intelligent design” and education that
    was sent earlier today to President George W. Bush by the President
    of the Society, Dr. Robert P. Kirshner.

    August 5, 2005

    The President
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President,

    As President of the American Astronomical Society, I was very disappointed
    by the comments attributed to you in an article in the August 2nd, 2005
    Washington Post regarding intelligent design. While we agree that part
    of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,
    intelligent design has neither scientific evidence to support it nor an
    educational basis for teaching it as science. Your science adviser, John
    H Marburger III correctly commented that intelligent design is not a
    scientific concept.

    Scientific theories are coherent, are based on careful experiments and
    observations of nature that are repeatedly tested and verified. They
    arent just opinions or guesses. Gravity, relativity, plate tectonics and
    evolution are all theories that explain the physical universe in which we
    live. What makes scientific theories so powerful is that they account for
    the facts we know and make new predictions that we can test. The most
    exciting thing for a scientist is to find new evidence that shows old
    ideas are wrong. Thats how science progresses. It is the opposite of a
    dogma that cant be shown wrong. Intelligent design is not so bold as to
    make predictions or subject itself to a test. Theres no way to find out
    if it is right or wrong. It isnt part of science.

    We agree with you that scientific critiques of any theory should be a
    normal part of the science curriculum, but intelligent design has no
    place in science classes because it is not a scientific critique.
    It is a philosophical statement that some things about the physical world
    are beyond scientific understanding. Most scientists are quite optimistic
    that our understanding will grow, and things that seem mysterious today
    will still be wonderful when they are within our understanding tomorrow.
    Scientists see gaps in our present knowledge as opportunities for
    research, not as a cause to give up searching for an answer by invoking
    the intervention of a God-like intelligent designer.

    The schools of our nation have a tough joband there is no part of their
    task that is more important than science education. It doesnt help to mix
    in religious ideas like intelligent design with the job of understanding
    what the world is and how it works. Its hard enough to keep straight how
    Newtons Laws work in the Solar System or to understand the mechanisms of
    human heredity without adding in this confusing and non-scientific agenda.
    It would be a lot more helpful if you would advocate good science teaching
    and the importance of scientific understanding for a strong and thriving
    America. Intelligent design isnt even part of science it is a
    religious idea that doesnt have a place in the science curriculum.

    Sincerely,

    Robert P. Kirshner
    President, American Astronomical Society
    Harvard College Professor and Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard
    University

  12. #12 mike ferrell
    August 9, 2005

    OK, let us teach the controversy. Let’s all go out to our various university libraries and dig up all the empirical evidence published for ID theory and dig up all the empirical evidence we can find for evolution. Then we can compare the evidence and see for which the preponderance lies. WHAT? THERE IS NO PUBLISHED EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FOR ID? Guess that answers that one.

  13. #13 Toasty Moe
    August 15, 2005

    Why is creationism not science? Are all of their critiques of evolution based purely on religion? If I point to radio halos in granite as evidence of a young Earth, why shouldn’t that be discussed in a science class? If we discover that all levels of the Earths strata contain the same amount of C-14 why shouldn’t we learn about that in a science class? Would only a small cult of religious whack-jobs ask such questions? Are these types of discussions off limits to a president?

  14. #14 a little night musing
    November 28, 2006

    Your commentary has appeared in the aggregated discussion of the NSTA’s turning down the offer of a donation of copies of An Inconvenient Truth.

    This bends my mind to thinking that the NSTA is not so cool, after all. And that scares me.

    Despite the appearance that those closely involved in the culture wars over ID might think, on the coasts this issue is decided. So maybe I’m biased by being NYC based.

    Nevertheless… in NYC our major fight is NOT over ID being introduced in the classroom. In NYC no one could make a credible case for this, and I give mad props to the citizens for making it so. Yet, in NYC, our major fight day-to-day is over the idea of expecting something of our students.

    When I have students who went through their pre-college education in, for example, Somalia, (yes, it happens!)

    . . . and they do better than students who went through the American system. . .

    well, I start to wonder.

  15. #15 Steven
    November 28, 2006

    President Bush is an idiot but he is a pupet. Getting mad at him at kermit the frog and not the guy with his hand up kermits ass.

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