The Discovery Institute is spreading misinformation again. They have a document that implies that it would be OK for schools in at least some states to “teach the controversy”, by which they mean that it is alright for teachers to promote Intelligent Design creationism in their classes. I wonder if the DI would also consider themselves liable if any teacher followed their advice, and discovered that they were costing their district an awful lot of money, as in Dover? Somehow, I doubt it.
On the front page of their screed, they quote Charles Darwin: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” What they neglect to mention is the importance of that word “balancing”: we have been balancing the arguments, and the scientific side weighs tons while the creationist side is a puff of air. They also omit any mention of facts on their side, because they have none. Darwin’s quote is not advocacy for equal time for nonsense.
What they claim is that because a report on the NCLB claimed that students should be able to “understand the full range of scientific views that exist,” ID is fair game for the curriculum. This ignores the fact that ID is not a scientific view and therefore has no place at the table. They also rely on a selective reading of state science standards. They claim that some indeterminate number of states allow the ID “controversy” to be taught.
Five states (Kansas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
and Minnesota) have already adopted science standards that
require learning about some of the scientific controversies relating
Four states (Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and South
Carolina) have science standards that require learning about
some of the scientific controversies relating to evolution.
Yes, both quotes are directly from the same Discovery Institute document. Would you trust an organization that can’t count and gets confused by numbers greater than three?
My state is in there. I know the Minnesota State Science Standards, and pulled out the relevant one. In their document, the DI quotes one small part of this standard, and I’ve put that part in bold.
The student will understand the nature of scientific ways of thinking and that scientific knowledge changes and accumulates over time.
This does not support the teaching of Intelligent Design creationism in the classroom. It is a general statement about the provisional nature of science and the requirement for solid scientific evidence to support our ideas. We no more expect our high schools to refute evolution than that they will deny cells, atoms, germs, plate tectonics, or the big bang.
In particular, note items 3 and 4, which the DI conveniently leaves out of their literature. There are criteria for recognizing scientific knowledge that include consistency, an empirical basis, logic, reporting, and falsifiability, and that there are methods in place to manage the process. The Discovery Institute’s propaganda violates all of these and does not belong in our schools.
If a misinformed teacher tried to pull a Buckingham and insert creationism into Minnesota schools, at the urgings of the Discovery Institute, they’d be inviting a lawsuit that I’m confident would be slapped down hard. We’ve been through this before, with the Rodney LeVake case, and here’s some surprising news for the DI: the creationists lost.
There’s a more relevant standard in the Minnesota requirements that the Discovery Institute glossed over.
|The student will understand how biological evolution provides a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms.||
If something is to be taught in our schools, that’s the degree of specification we expect. The DI seems to think that the fact that we encourage critical thinking means they’ve got carte blanche to insert any old bogus bit of pseudoscience into the curriculum, and are urging teachers to do an injustice to the standards of their profession.
I read that as incitement to commit a crime.