Pharyngula

Teach weakly…errrm, weaknesses

Texans for Better Science Education is one of those strident creationist fronts that tries to undermine science teaching in favor of religious nonsense while pretending to be promoting rational thinking—they might as well have called it Sound Science, that sneaky and misleading label conservatives like to toss around. Their site is a collection of half-truths and quote-mining, one of those places you have to visit just to gawp at the awe-inspiring ignorance and dishonesty on display.

However, as a reader pointed out to me, there is one shining ray of truth in the whole site. They have a new project that they proudly announce in several places: Operation Teach Weaknesses! You got it, their goal is to teach more weak science in Texas classrooms.

I’m so sorry your state is infested with these clowns, Texans. I hope you can throw a few of them out in the next round of elections.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    February 25, 2006

    At least “Teach Weaknesses” has a bit of truth in its labeling. Soon one of the geniuses in the sponsoring group will notice and they’ll stop writing that motto unless “evolution” is inserted in the middle. But it’s fun that they thoughtlessly tipped their hand by their carelessness. And I’m sure “thoughtlessly” is right.

  2. #2 melior in France
    February 25, 2006

    I’m sure they’d be just fine with a ‘Sound Religion’ group composed entirely of atheists, who can give them instructions on how to do this ‘religion’ thing correctly.

  3. #3 djlactin
    February 25, 2006

    hey! you can enter anything you want in the boxes! send a message. i did.

  4. #4 caerbannog
    February 25, 2006

    Slightly (but *just* slightly) off-topic here, but the Orange County weekly just ran an article about a really whacked-out fundy get-together that was hosted by a megachurch about an hour up the road from my place. Kent Hovind was there along with representatives of AIG and the ICR. What’s really disturbing is that the conference took place not in some backwoods holler in Kentucky, but in San Juan Capistrano, a very wealthy coastal Southern California suburb.

    And let me not forget — here’s a convenient tinyurl link to the article: http://tinyurl.com/noj4q .

    WARNING: This is some seriously spooky s**t — there is enough over-the-top bats**t craziness in that article to make you want to wash your eyes out with Drano after you read it.

    Here is a short excerpt:

    The UFO conspiracy, Riddle argues in a stern, drill-sergeant delivery, is meant to scare society. “But the scariest [thing] of all—banned by courts, schools and politicians—is the Bible . . . Evolution is the foundation for this whole train of thinking.

    ………..

    UFOs don’t exist, Riddle concludes. Besides, “Why do they always have a New Age message, much like evolution?” And even if aliens did exist, “they’re under the Curse.”

    So what causes the popularity of UFO sightings? Evolution.

    “That is a fact,” he spits out. “That is an absolute truth. For we have a great Deceiver amongst us,” so deceitful that 10,000 pastors recently lent their name to a letter saying evolution and faith can co-exist.

    Riddle finishes with a book plug.

    That’s right, folks. Evolution is not only responsible for teenage pregnancies, gay marriage, slavery, Naziism and Communism, it’s also responsible for *UFO sightings*!.

    But go read the article (and don’t say that I didn’t warn you)!

  5. #5 Captain Sunshine
    February 25, 2006

    There was a Texas Citizens for Science group down here (pro-science), but their webpage went offline a while ago. I didn’t know about this group. Something else to keep an eye on.

    CS

  6. #6 Coragyps
    February 25, 2006

    Hmmm. I’m a Texas resident. I’m a scientist. Perhaps I should sign up on their list so I could “help out.” Bwahahaha!

  7. #7 procyon
    February 25, 2006

    The so-called “weaknesses” read to me like a list of exciting areas for research. These creationists will continue to shoot themselves in the foot as more and more of their so-called “gaps” and “weaknesses” fall to the explanatory power of science. This doesn’t make their dishonest, slippery tactics any less dangerous.

  8. #8 Hank Fox
    February 25, 2006

    I skimmed over their page of Evolution Quotes, and it was surprising how often the iconoclastic astronomer Fred Hoyle showed up. I guess once they defeat evolution, they can use him to go after astronomy and physics.

    Interesting that nothing was said of Hoyle’s REAL postulate on the origin of life, which had nothing at all to do with intelligent design, or creationism.

    From Wickipedia: “Hoyle promoted the theory that life evolved in space, spreading through the universe via panspermia, and that evolution on earth is driven by a steady influx of viruses arriving via comets.”

  9. #9 bmurray
    February 25, 2006

    “Strident” is a swell word, isn’t it? I think you’ve talked about its use before.

  10. #10 Bruce Thompson
    February 25, 2006

    If they want to teach the controversy then let them mull over a series of papers concerning some aspect of evolutionary theory that biologists actually discuss. Let them explore aspects of the controversy in excruciating detail. E-mail them papers (lots of papers) about the actual controversial issues to assist them in creating lesson plans based on these controversies. Don?t forget, they need papers coving both sides of the issue. I think that curriculum committees will abandon this “teach the controversy” approach if school board members were required to become familiar with the actual controversial issues in evolutionary theory.

  11. #11 arch_fiend
    February 25, 2006

    You supposedly educated people kill me . . . Here you are perpetuating stereotypes (backwoods holler in Kentucky) while trying convince people that science and education is not beyond the capabilities of the average American. Believe it or not there are a few of us in Kentucky that believe adamantly in evolution. I dont really see much difference between the post of caerbannog and the closed minded rants of most creationist.

  12. #12 coturnix
    February 25, 2006

    Kenneth Chang answers questions about his latest article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/22askscience.html?_r=1&oref=login

  13. #13 Bruce Thompson
    February 25, 2006

    “Controversies” espoused by school boards and the DI are not controversial. Areas of controversy tend to be over details and the arguments can get quite complex. If school boards really want to introduce high school students to real controversies in evolutionary theory then they should be conversant with those arguments themselves, not relying on others to spoon feed them half truths and fabrications.

    BTW I was raised in Georgia. If Ky. and Tenn. are the buckle Ga. must be the crotch.

  14. #14 Robin
    February 25, 2006

    This Texan is sorry too. I try to get the clowns thrown out, but I am outnumbered.

  15. #15 wamba
    February 25, 2006

    Here you are perpetuating stereotypes (�backwoods holler in Kentucky�) while trying convince people that science and education is not beyond the capabilities of the average American. Believe it or not there are a few of us in Kentucky that believe adamantly in evolution.

    Good for you! Does your sister/bride also believe in evolution?

    Apologies in advance.

  16. #16 ekzept
    February 25, 2006

    okay, there’s something really suspicious about this site.

    on the link which is presented as a list of “Hundreds of Doctoral Scientists” questioning evolution, they’ve attached a PDF file. note they say the list is updated periodically and the last update was February 2006.

    well, i took a look at a couple of the names in detail.

    one, a David Chapman, is listed as a Senior Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. a little research shows the late David Chapman died 20th July 2004 at the age of 51. he is not marked as “deceased since signing statement”. they have a code for that.

    another, a Joseph Atkinson is listed as a doctoral PhD in organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. he’s not there now, and the MIT directory service for its Chemistry Department does not show him as a staff member after 2003. the Texas Better Science folks also have a code saying “positions listed are those held by signers when they signed the statement”. Atkinson shows up all over the Web via Google as a signer of such a statement, and a “real scientist” opposing evolution. but was he an MIT professor? an MIT graduate? did he really exist?

    or has Texas Science been duped by the Discovery Institute to reprint a list of scientists they claim signed some statement skeptical of natural origins for life, a statement there is no documentation for and cannot be examined?

  17. #17 ekzept
    February 25, 2006

    man, doctoral PhD: that must be some credential!

  18. #18 Bruce Thompson
    February 25, 2006

    Obviously, the late Dr, Chapman forgot to notify the DI when he died so they could update their list. The post office doesn?t have a little “change of address” kit for the deceased.

  19. #19 Kagehi
    February 25, 2006

    Nah, they probably have John Edward talking to him for them, that is why it doesn’t “matter” if he is dead. 😉 lol

  20. #20 wamba
    February 25, 2006

    another, a Joseph Atkinson is listed as a doctoral PhD in organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. he’s not there now, and the MIT directory service for its Chemistry Department does not show him as a staff member after 2003.

    Please note: That is where he got his Ph.D., not where he works. Many of the DI list signers do this. I don’t know Atkinson so I odn’t know if he’s teaching at a small Bible college now or if he is working at Burger King.

    I also note that the list, in PDF format, doesn’t seem to be searchable. That makes it harder to research the signers.

  21. #21 wamba
    February 25, 2006

    Dembski, for example, is still listed as University of Chicago, even though he spent several years at Baylor in a position which was not renewed, and now works at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  22. #22 guthrie
    February 25, 2006

    Wow. I am truly sorry that you have such a massive amount of sheer stupidity to deal with.

    I see that their idea of peer reviewed journal includes “Scientific American”, and non-reviewed books. Also, the crow over the miller-urey experiment not accurately representing the ancient atmosphere, but miss the point that things have moved on. Its all one huge god of the gaps argument that htey make.
    They seem keen on Fred Hoyles arguments about the likelihood of life and amino acids forming. Has anyone written a proper take down of Hoyles work, or has it merely been rendered obsolete by modern research?

    San juan Capitstrano? I was there last year as a tourist- saw the yearly parade of the return of the swallows. I recall noting that the horses in it were smaller necked and had bodies that were much more barrel like than horses here in the UK. But of course that was selective breeding…

  23. #23 Bruce Thompson
    February 25, 2006

    Nancy Bryson is listed as Associate Professor of Chemistry at Mississippi University for Women. Yet she has been at Kennesaw State University since 2004. Her PhD is from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  24. #24 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    February 25, 2006

    Boy, those Texans sure do love their Fred Hoyle!

    Anyway, on the subject of “weaknesses” – isn’t that what normal good science teaching does already?

    In my lowest-level chemistry class, I try to bring in historical information from my collection of moldy old science books, trying to give them an appreciation for the advancement of science – pointing out some of the older science that didn’t work well enough, and what knowledge we eventually gained that allowed us to correct it. I’d think that a good intro biology course might do something similar – show how the theory of evolution has been revised and strengthened since the time of Darwin and his contemporaries. It also helps to point out things that there are still scientific debates about – to give students ideas about what really *is* out there on the fringes.

    Of course, that’s not what these poor Texans really want, since all they seem to want taught is some astronomer’s potshots at chemistry and biology. Or, more likely, they don’t want biology taught at all.

  25. #25 ekzept
    February 25, 2006

    Obviously, the late Dr, Chapman forgot to notify the DI when he died so they could update their list. The post office doesn’t have a little “change of address” kit for the deceased.

    my point is, How Do We Know He Ever Signed It? DI could be doing the politicians’ old trick and padding the voting roles with deceased citizens. they aren’t around to complain any longer.

  26. #26 Jayme Lynn Blaschke
    February 25, 2006

    Texas Citizens for Science is still active, and still fighting nincompoops such as these. Their website can be found at http://www.texscience.org/.

  27. #27 Bruce Thompson
    February 25, 2006

    my point is, How Do We Know He Ever Signed It?

    Any list that requires the dead to participate (zombie dissenters) really can?t be taken seriously.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.