Pharyngula

Fear of Barbara Forrest

In the Dover trial, you got the palpable sense that the creationists were terrified of Barbara Forrest’s testimony. I did not know quite how deeply the dread was until today, though: the Texas director os science curriculum, Chris Comer, was pressured into resigning because she forwarded an e-mail announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest. One Lizzette Reynolds, Republican hack and senior advisor to the Texas Education Agency, was freaking horrified.

This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities.

Barbara Forrest is a philosopher of science with special expertise in creationism. Inappropriate? She’s exactly the kind of person boards of education ought to consult before going down the road of attempting to legislate religion into the public schools.

This is something that the State Board, the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports.

Well, that’s honest, at least. I did assume that the Texas Education Agency would support science education. I guess I was wrong. The situation is really bad, though, if learning about science is a subject that gets the Texas Legislature upset.

This is the word from Chris Comer’s boss:

the forwarding of this event announcement by Ms. Comer, as the Director of Science, from her TEA email account constitutes much more than just sharing information. Ms. Comer’s email implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral. Thus, sending this email compromises the agency’s role in the TEKS revision process by creating the perception that TEA has a biased position on a subject directly related to the science education TEKS.

Whoa. The Texas Education Agency is neutral on the subject of teaching good science? It’s bad if the TEA takes a position on the subject of science education?

Apparently, TEA members are supposed to close their eyes and maximize ignorance before making decisions. I really feel sorry for Texas.

Otherwise, though, someone unleash Barbara Forrest and set her to smiting the creationists. It’s impressive the way they have this knee-jerk terror of her soft-spoken words.

(You can get more commentary on this issue from
TfK
and the
Austringer.)

Comments

  1. #1 Clarissa
    November 29, 2007

    Brbr Frrst s nt scntst.

    Sh s phlsphr.

  2. #2 MartinM
    November 29, 2007

    Barbara Forrest is a philosopher of science with special expertise in creationism.

    Barbara Forrest is not a scientist.

    She is a philospher.

    It’s generally held that comments to a blog post ought to contain some novel thought, rather than simply parroting information present in the original post.

  3. #3 Ryan F Stello
    November 29, 2007

    Hey Clarissa,

    You must have missed it when PZ said,

    Barbara Forrest is a philosopher of science with special expertise in creationism.

    and two other things:
    1) I feel the philosophy of science is also important to properly teach science to high-schoolers. It gives them an understanding of the purpose and goals of scientific research. TEA seems to want to be ‘neutral’ on this.

    2) It was still an off-hand ‘FYI’ e-mail. There would be no reason to believe TEA was endorsing Forrest, even if they should have.

    Given both of those facts, what was your point, exactly?

  4. #4 spencer
    November 29, 2007

    I really feel sorry for Texas.

    Not me. They make my state (Florida) look sane. So please, keep it up, Lone Star State!

  5. #5 PZ Myers
    November 29, 2007

    “Clarissa” is one of the Kansas trolls: the extreme vapidity of her comment is the tip-off. Ignore anything that stupid coming from a “new” commenter — it’s usually that one clan of gomers.

  6. #6 Wicked Lad
    November 29, 2007

    The Statesman article seems unbiased, and it lays out more reasons for recommending Comer’s firing than just her forwarding of the e-mail in question. But it appears even Comer understood forwarding the announcement with the message “FYI” was potentially a serious offense:

    …Comer said she did pause for a “half second” before sending it, but said she thought that because Forrest was a highly credentialed speaker, it would be OK.

    Her hesitation seems odd. If I fired everyone who forwarded such innocuous messages, putting “FYI” at the top, I’d have no staff.

  7. #7 Hank Fox
    November 29, 2007

    Dang it, I grew up in Texas. And I still love the place.

    Sad to see how far the brainworms have taken over.

    That’s still a mystery to me, by the way. When I was a kid, it was a GOOD thing to be smart, and it was a GOOD thing to study science. Christ, we had frickin’ MISSION CONTROL for the moon shots. All of Texas was PROUD of that.

  8. #8 Joolya
    November 29, 2007

    WHAT the F***??? This is truly, truly appalling.

  9. #9 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Perhaps Texas is a lost cause, Hank. Remember the Alamo?

  10. #10 Tom
    November 29, 2007

    How about a recap of the question-of-the-date last night, “Do you believe every word of The Holy Bible?” Sure, I could watch it on YouTube, but I’m at work and have to muffle how loudly I’m going to laugh at the answers.

    Give us an overview and your thoughts, PZ!

  11. #11 Reynold
    November 29, 2007

    This is insane. If I had read it anywhere else, I’d have thought it’d be a parody. Which is actually what I thought until I read the link he gave.

    Craaaaaaap. Oh well, something else to post about, I guess.

  12. #12 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Gah… flawed metaphor… ignore me. :-p

  13. #13 Mike P
    November 29, 2007

    Neutral. Neutral. That bugs the crap out of me. Since when is any education neutral?? Let alone science!

    This is too much for me today. And my throat feels scratchy so I’m drinking tea instead of coffee, and the lack of coffee is making this worse.

    Help us Barbara Forrest Kenobi. You’re our only hope!

  14. #14 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    “Do you believe every word of The Holy Bible?”

    That this question came up in a political debate – and indeed seems almost required – emblemizes so much of what’s gone wrong with the good old USA. Whatever became of the foundational notion that religion is a personal matter than that faith is a private affair?

  15. #15 The Other Jim Hargrove
    November 29, 2007

    This is really embarrassing for those of us who live in Texas. However, it is not unexpected. We are gearing up for a knockdown, drag out fight over science curriculum standards later this year, with the TEA in the center ring.

  16. #16 Tom
    November 29, 2007

    Kseniya, as much as I’d like to agree, would you vote for a candidate that answers “Yes” to that question? It’s important to me, as an atheist, that I choose a candidate that largely says “No.” Preferable, at least.

  17. #17 Schmeer
    November 29, 2007

    Speaking of crazy and Texas:
    Did anyone catch what Ron “bat-shit-crazy” Paul said in reference to the Department of Education? It’s on his list of top 3 government programs he’d eliminate to save money. That just maybe might have a negative influence on the quality of American education.

  18. #18 Aris
    November 29, 2007

    I’d like to see this ironic headline somewhere: “Chris Comer, EXPELLED!”

    I do wonder what would have happened if Comer had forwarded an e-mail informing her staff of an appearance by, let’s say, Behe or Demsky. I suspect nothing at all. Hell, she could have invited them to give speeches to her staff and nothing would have happened. Not in Texas.

    I’d like the idiot Ben Stein and the producers of “Expelled” to explain why someone can get canned for merely forwarding an e-mail about someone else who’s against creationism. Isn’t their point that “Darwinists” are never expelled?
    ___________________________

  19. #19 Uber
    November 29, 2007

    Do you believe every word of The Holy Bible

    Seriously they asked that question?

    This is a problem that is about to swing back the other way with a vengence I think. Either that or theocracy is a step away.

  20. #20 Mike P
    November 29, 2007

    Tom,

    I understand the sentiment and I agree that god-belief can sometimes be a litmus test for intelligence, but I think there are a few points to consider here. The first is that not all people arrive at atheism through rational thinking, so atheism could be a red herring. The second is that, while I agree that atheism is certainly preferable in a candidate, it’s not a defining personality or leadership trait in most people. All we really know for sure about an atheist is that he or she has not deluded him or herself about the existence of god.

    That’s why I think I agree with Kseniya. I’d rather have it be an absolute non-issue and instead only have to worry about the traits that directly affect managing the affairs of the country.

  21. #21 j king
    November 29, 2007

    What’s not to understand about this considering: On July 17, 2007, Don McLeroy was appointed by Texas governor Rick Perry (R) to chair the state board of education, succeeding Geraldine Miller. A member of the board for the last eight years, McLeroy was described by the Dallas Morning News (July 18, 2007) as “aligned with social conservative groups known for their strong stands on evolution, sexual abstinence and other heated topics covered in textbooks” and as “[o]ne of four board members who voted against current high school biology books because of their failure to list weaknesses in the theory of evolution.”

  22. #22 Reynold
    November 29, 2007

    Just what I was thinking, Aris! Wonder if the UD people who made such a fuss over the supposed persecution of people like Guillermo Gonzales will have anything to say about this?

  23. #23 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Well, Tom (#16) – that’s a good point. I’d counter by saying that the candidates have plenty of opportunity to express their opinions and beliefs outside of the context of the debate. Including such a question in the debate legitimizes the question as a politically relevant and appropriate question.

    I am not so naive as to believe the “debates” are any more (or less) than whistle-stops on the campaign tour for these candidates, but IMO the organizers should have the sense to…

    Oops, I now recall that the question about the Bible came from the floor. I guess the organizers are off the hook. Never mind! :-p

    I have to agree that in the current climate it’s of interest to have some idea of just how dogmatically religious a candidate is inclined to be. So why does it feel like a lose-lose situation? Gah.

  24. #24 T
    November 29, 2007

    Not me. They make my state (Florida) look sane. So please, keep it up, Lone Star State!

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Fark has an entire category devoted to “Texas.”

  25. #25 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    Tom@16:

    Not meaning to speak for Kseniya, here, but what I got out of her post was that you, as an atheist, wouldn’t need to hear the answer to that question if we lived in a society where separation of church and state was a given, broadly shared, value, and everyone understood that religious belief (or lack thereof) was a private matter and not a basis for governing.

  26. #26 Glen Davidson
    November 29, 2007

    So, uh, people on our side really do lose their positions, while Sternberg doesn’t?

    I’m sure Stein will be denouncing this promptly.

    Of course it is more complicated than it appears at first blush (for one thing, it’s true that Forrest’s comments are measured and intelligent–but she is an unabashed advocate for our side), yet it’s difficult to see why Comer should lose her job over any of the matters listed in the article. Certainly nothing comes close to the machinations of which Sternberg is almost certainly guilty.

    It’s junk and nonsense, the only sort of thing that the IDists and their ilk can produce.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  27. #27 Stephen
    November 29, 2007

    I guess you could call it xenodendrophobia.

  28. #28 raven
    November 29, 2007

    Chris Comer ought to sue the Texas Death Cultists who pressured her into resigning. This is religious discrimination pure and simple.

    In general, I’m not a fan of grabbing the lawyers and suing everytime McDonalds gets your order wrong. But this is a matter of principle. Freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech. When accepting the fact of evolution is a crime in the 21st century, something is wrong. At least she hasn’t been burnt at the stake. Yet.

    She would probably win. Even if she didn’t, Texas would have to admit it is a theocracy run by religious extremists who would just love to bring back the Dark Ages. These people are cockroaches who fear the light of day or the truth. They would probably pay her off just so they can hide under their rocks.

    The toll this year for Death cultist persecution of normal people. One professor at Olivet harrassed unmercifully for teaching evolution, one fired in Iowa, and now Texas claims a scalp. While we call this medieval nonsense, I’m sure the creos call it a good start.

  29. #29 Stevie_C
    November 29, 2007

    Texas. The fattest state in the union.

  30. #30 Bureaucratus Minimus
    November 29, 2007

    Ms. Comer’s email implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral.

    OK, quick lesson in political reality for all you academics:

    Career bureaucrats are expected to keep their mouths shut about politically controversial topics; those statements are the purview of elected officials and the upper echelons of the bureaucracy (who are political appointees, not careerists). Yes, the topic of ID vs evolution is still politically controversial, even if mainstream scientific thought thinks the issue as dead as the dodo. Particularly in places like Texas.

    I agree that it’s pretty much of a stretch to label her FYI email as an official TEA endorsement of Forrest, but I’m sure that Pharyngula readers will recognize that this is the sort of thing that ID proponents would focus on to create a huge political liability for the politicians.

    Had Comer sent this out from her personal email account (vs her TEA account), she might have dodged the bullet.

  31. #31 raven
    November 29, 2007

    I saw a case similar to this years ago. A group of religious extremists gained control of the county government. They then started persecuting a middle aged female librarian for carrying books they didn’t approve of and not carrying books they demanded. None of the books BTW, were particularly controversial. They fired her.

    She sued. I contributed a small amount to her defense fund, among many others. The ACLU stood up.

    Short trial with a conservative, religious judge. She got her job back, county was assessed for her legal fees. Next election the fascists got tossed by the voters.

    I’m afraid these days it might well be different. Probably her house would be firebombed by Xian terrorists who would also assassinate her cat. It is a Death Cult Xian thing, you wouldn’t understand.

  32. #32 Matt the heathen
    November 29, 2007

    @Stevie_C:

    Texas isn’t a country.

    It’s a state.

  33. #33 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Interesting points there, too, Mike (#20). I believe, FWIW, that Madison and Jefferson would concur.

    I wouldn’t vote for a candidate solely because he or she was an atheist. However, I might vote against a candidate solely because he or she was a religious fundamentalist. I’d love for the whole thing to be “an absolute non-issue” as you say, but there’s no question that in today’s America, too many political decisions are driven by the requirements of fundamentalist doctrines.

    Still, questions such as those preempt more important and relevant questions that may be impacted by religious leanings, issues questions regarding things like science education, marriage equality, ESC research funding, public school sex education, separation of church and state and the secular nature and duty of the government, and so forth.

    I dunno. I guess knowledge is good, and in that sense, all questions are useful. However, the problem is bigger than the asking (or not-asking) such a question can affect; the question itself is a symptom, and it bugs me.

  34. #34 badger
    November 29, 2007

    The person who forwarded Comer’s email should have his computer seized immediately as evidence for Comer, if she chooses to pursue this in court. There is an extremely high probability that the person will be revealed in his own emails as someone who has an agenda to promote ID in Texas’ classrooms, and violated the policy by the same rigid interpretation.

    The same goes for Lizzette Reynolds. She was in the Bush Department of Education. It might even reveal a connection between the promotion of ID between the feds and Bush loyalists in the field in the states.

  35. #35 buffalodavid
    November 29, 2007

    What happens when a student graduates from High School in Texas and tries to get into a College or University outside the lone Star State, say MIT, Caltech or say just for the sake of argument, Brown. Aren’t the people who look at entrance applications required to take into account the “quality” of the previous education?

  36. #36 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    I once tried to read a biography of Giordano Bruno that seemed to take the tack that it was his fault that he was tortured and executed by the church.

    I think that the jackass who bashed his/her empty head randomly against his keyboard to produce that erudite piece of scholarship that is post #30 is the kind of near-person who would agree with that assessment.

    Victim blame is like denim.

  37. #37 Derek James
    November 29, 2007

    I think Comer would have a better case if she were actually terminated, rather than resigning. If they were making her life a living hell at work, then hopefully she has some evidence of that, in the form of emails or other documentation. If they simply offered her a sweet severance package, I’m not so sure I’d have as much sympathy for her. I guess I’m wondering what form “pressed to resign” took.

  38. #38 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Bill (#25) – Yes, yes. Bingo, and well said. Thank you for elucidating my own position so clearly. πŸ˜€

    I still must give a nod to Tom for addressing current realities rather than only the ideals which we – Tom included – apparently share.

    It’s useful to know where the candidates stand, and it matters because politics makes it matter. Sigh. I wish it weren’t so, but if wishes were horses… there’d be one a hell of a mess out there on the roads!

    My primary complaint was voiced because I’d mistakenly thought that the Bible question had been asked during the formal part of the debate, but because it was not, I must withdraw the complaint. My position on the larger issue, which you grasped so easily, still stands.

  39. #39 Wesley R. Elsberry
    November 29, 2007

    Re: #36. I don’t know about that; I also noted in my post that, pragmatically, those who work for the government ought to get and use personal email accounts for anything that might be upsetting to their bosses. They shouldn’t have to do so, but it is prudent to reduce the pretexts upon which antievolutionist administrators can take action.

  40. #40 Mike P
    November 29, 2007

    Kseniya,

    I agree. It can definitely be a gateway question that is useful for getting at other more important topics. I think that’s what bothered me about the YouTube question. Simple belief or non-belief in the bible isn’t in itself terribly revealing (except, as you suggested, in the negative direction if they answer in the affirmative).

  41. #41 Bureaucratus Minimus
    November 29, 2007

    Dustin #36:

    Thanks for the mature, debate-moving-forward post. Interesting that you think that anyone who you think disagrees with you, or who you simply fail to understand, is less than fully human, or am I misinterpreting “near-person.”

    There was no “scholarship” in my post, which was based on my twenty years experience as a career bureaucrat. Interested to hear what political, bureaucratic, governmental or public-policy experience you have which qualifies you to comment on this.

    Blaming the victim? Oh, puh-lease.

  42. #42 Jud
    November 29, 2007

    #30 (Bureaucratus Minimus): Yes, we know. How naive do you think PZ and all the commenters are? What we’re saying is, it completely and utterly sucks that what’s been settled science for over a century is so politicized in Texas that it loses a 9-year employee her job.

    And yeah, I’m thoroughly familiar with the politics of the region. In Oklahoma, where I used to live, Texas was thought of as somewhat of a liberal bastion.

  43. #43 raven
    November 29, 2007

    Re: #36. I don’t know about that; I also noted in my post that, pragmatically, those who work for the government ought to get and use personal email accounts for anything that might be upsetting to their bosses. They shouldn’t have to do so, but it is prudent to reduce the pretexts upon which antievolutionist administrators can take action.

    You should also know that most businesses monitor email traffic and internet usage through legal spyware programs. It is legal for the workplace to do this. Even your personal email traffic can and will be intercepted at work.

    The numbers run about 90%. If you don’t want your employer to read your mail, use your home computer.

  44. #44 Caveat
    November 29, 2007

    What the hell happened to ‘teaching the controversy?’ or is that not working for the coneheads anymore?

    This story is so bizarre, I’d expect to find it at the Onion.

  45. #45 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    Interesting that you think that anyone who you think disagrees with you, or who you simply fail to understand, is less than fully human, or am I misinterpreting “near-person.”

    That’s a hasty generalization, but perhaps I was too vague. To help clear things up, I’ll make it more explicit — I don’t think just anyone who disagrees with me is less than fully human. I think that anonymous, victim blaming, sanctimonious trolls are less than fully human. Specifically, I think you’re a trivial shithead.

    As for the political side of things? I lived through December 19, 1998. That qualifies me to talk about railroading. You can’t avoid it, you can’t prevent it, and if you had bothered to stop congratulating yourself for a career of pencil pushing long enough to read the story, you’d see that they were already digging up other trivial transgressions. She upset them, and they were out to find anything that they could make stick. And they would have, even without the completely asinine obsession over which e-mail address it happened to come from.

    I can’t believe we have adults who are acting like it’s somehow appropriate to walk on eggshells to avoid flippant and frivolous accusations whenever they’ve upset someone. Crawl back to your cube or grow up.

  46. #46 Wesley R. Elsberry
    November 29, 2007

    Re: Terminated v. resigning. Getting fired from a job still carries a stigma. Employers, particularly in the case where they are doing something dodgy, will often “offer” the employee the alternative of “resigning”. While from a legal standpoint, yes, insisting on being fired does help with taking legal action, I certainly don’t blame employees for choosing to avoid that stigma in looking for a new job.

    This is, I’m sure, exactly why people do get offered an alternative of resignation. It saves the employer money and makes it harder for someone to later take effective legal recourse.

  47. #47 Kseniya's ideal candidate
    November 29, 2007

    “Do you believe every word of this book? And I mean specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand.”

    I support your right to ask me that question, but I must insist that it is an inappropriate question to ask during a political debate.

    I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America, and if elected I will swear by oath and affirmtion to uphold that Constitution, including Article 6, which states that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust.”

    I believe in the Separation of Church and State – not the one-way separation imagined by those with a predeliction for poor scholarship and wishful thinking, but the two-way Wall about which Jefferson wrote in 1802. I believe in the Constitutional right to freedom of and freedom from religion, and whether or not I believe every word of The Bible or any other religious text is nobody’s business but my own. Thank you.

  48. #48 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    Re the advisability of a “career bureaucrat” forwarding a “politically controversial” e-mail, two points spring to mind:

    1. While I understand it’s the technically correct term, “bureaucrat” suggests to many people some mid-level drone pushing paper. Comer, OTOH, was the Director of Science Curriculum for TEA, and as such, it’s presumably her job to have an interest in, and even an opinion about, issues relating to the content of the science curriculum… even when they’re controversial. The suggestion that the state’s Director of Science Curriculum should maintain the perception of neutrality on the question of the content of the state’s science curriculum is too absurd to merit further comment.

    2. Notwithstanding the sad fact that the teaching (or rejection) of ID is in fact politically controversial, Comer apparently made no comment about the announcement she forwarded beyond “FYI.” Given Forrest’s role in the Dover case, it would seem that her presentation would be of interest to any state curriculum official, whether pro, anti, or neutral on the subject of ID. If I’d Comer, I’d have made attending the presentation mandatory for my whole staff, just for information’s sake.

    What does it say about the pro-ID forces that they don’t even want to know what their “enemies” are saying?

    ********

    PS to Kseniya: It’s easy to write cogently in response to such cogent comments! It’s no accident that I’m far more likely to comment on threads you’re participating in.

  49. #49 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    Texas isn’t a country. It’s a state.

    “New Shimmer is a dessert topping AND a floor wax!”

    When I attended public school in Texas in the 70s, Texas History was a mandatory subject in the middle school curriculum (I imagine it still is), and we were taught to be extremely proud of the fact that Texas was, in fact, an independent nation. We were taught it was the only U.S. state of which that was true. (I can’t recall how they finessed that claim WRT to Hawaii… likely they just ignored that inconvenient complication!)

  50. #50 raven
    November 29, 2007

    Probably more to this story than we know. Chris Comer was the state Director of Science Curriculum. This is not, as pointed out, a midlevel paper pushing drone.

    She was probably a known reality supporter. An Evolutionist. A round earther. A heliocentrist. Why, she probably believes the earth is more than 6,000 years old.

    My guess. She was on a hit list by True Believers in the flat, geocentric, young earth creation who are just doing god’s work. The email seems more like a pretext than anything.

    What is the chance that the next Texas Director of Science Curriculum is a bible carrying, hell fire and damnation YEC? About 99.99%. “Have you ever been and are you now an acceptor of evolution?” If so, don’t let the sun set on you in the Texas state government.

    For the creos this is just one down, a few million to go. Glad I don’t live in Theoexas.

  51. #51 scienceteacherinexile
    November 29, 2007

    I am also from Texas (don’t live there now), and now have children. If they were coming through the public school system there, my blood would be constantly boiling these days.
    But, most people I know back home, including family, think that I am going to burn in hell because I send around email begging them to be sane and hire teachers to teach science, vote for rational reps, etc..
    I get back from them emails about the atheist professor getting shown up by a chrisian undergrad student (you’ve seen that one right), and I vomit on my keyboard.
    It was my childhood home, and it saddens me that I could probably not even live there today with the state of the state.

  52. #52 Mytho
    November 29, 2007

    This whole thing is really worrisome, and annoying. As a kid I always thought about the USA not as the land of the free, but as the land of the science. Given the actual trend on this sort of affairs, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in the very near future that the USA transforms itself into a western version of Al-Qaeda, and by doing that, just kiss kiss good bye all that good science, victim of a political leverage in favor of medieval “thinkers”, subjects of a theocratic nonsense.

  53. #53 Jedidiah Palosaari
    November 29, 2007

    You forget. This is the state that gave us our current Pres. Nuff said.

  54. #54 shiftlessbum
    November 29, 2007

    Bill Dauphin wrote; “We were taught it was the only U.S. state of which that was true. (I can’t recall how they finessed that claim WRT to Hawaii… likely they just ignored that inconvenient complication!)”

    Well then if you don’t recall how they finessed Hawaii, do you recall how did they finessed Vermont which was a republic from 1777 until 1791 when it became the 14th state?

  55. #55 raven
    November 29, 2007

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in the very near future that the USA transforms itself into a western version of Al-Qaeda,

    You might be right. Toynbee pointed out that 18 of 22 previous civilizations fell from within. The American empire will fall someday too like all the rest.

    OTOH, at least on the WC in the circles I run in, the general opinion is that Texas is run by a bunch of monkeys.

  56. #56 Jsn
    November 29, 2007

    /What happens when a student graduates from High School in Texas and tries to get into a College or University outside the lone Star State, say MIT, Caltech or say just for the sake of argument, Brown. Aren’t the people who look at entrance applications required to take into account the “quality” of the previous education?/

    Actually, Texas does have a huge number of top ranked scholars. We tend to have a huge number of kids who score very highly on the SATs as well as a lot of people with the personal wealth to get their kids into top Universities, of which Texas has a few (Rice, UT, A&M, SMU). I personally know several native Texans with degrees from Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cambridge, yadda, yadda, yadda; however, just because you have a degree from a prestigious school doesn’t mean that you aren’t an idiot or a zealot (see: Bush, George W).

    There are many poor excuses for schools here as well as some that are highly ranked in the nation, academically. There are many intelligent, well-read people here yet they seem to be outnumbered by demogogues or culturally moronic mouthbreathers who spew bible verses as if they were magic spells. We’re culturally, as well as intellectually, diverse.

    The firing of Comer is symptomatic of a larger problem (perhaps conspiracy): the insideousness of the Perry (Bush) regime to push the conservative agenda for debunking evolution and restoring the fear of Gawd in all Texans. Science is good as long as it doesn’t contradict the Bible…

    A large proportion of the Legislators (Reps and even a few Dems) here are IDists who want Texas to be a theocratic State (See the new Texas Pledge of Allegiance). These people are sure that mankind is in its final days and that the rapture is going to come any minute and they just want to convert us to save us all from ourselves and eternal damnation. There are still a few voices of reason but they all seem to be moderate to liberal which are considered as perjoratives here in the Lone Star State.

    Damn, now I’m depressed.

  57. #57 Kristine
    November 29, 2007

    So where’s Ben Stein? I thought he opposed oppression such as this. Does anyone have the guts to stand up to the forces of “free inquiry”? Anyone? Anyone?

  58. #58 BillG
    November 29, 2007

    “If the liberties of the American people are every destroyed, they will fall by the hands of the Clergy.”
    General Marquis de Lafayette, 1789

  59. #59 Warren
    November 29, 2007

    “Do you believe every word of The Holy Bible”

    Seriously they asked that question?

    Posted by: Uber

    It’s a great litmus test. I’m rock-solid assured of every the, a, and wherefore in the text myself; it’s the crap surrounding those words that I take issue with.

  60. #60 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    It’s a great litmus test. I’m rock-solid assured of every the, a, and wherefore in the text myself; it’s the crap surrounding those words that I take issue with.

    The only way I’ve ever been able to make anything in the Bible mean anything at all is to take it completely out of context (and I have this creeping suspicion that this fact makes me an Anglican Bishop or a Republican candidate). Genesis 3:19 is great if you take it as a reflection rather than an affliction, and 1 Corinthians 13:12 is such great fun if it isn’t taken as a promise of the revelation of God’s Mysterious Plan (TM) that it’s become a staple phrase of fiction (not to mention that it was co-opted as a title for works by notable atheists such as Bergman and Asimov).

  61. #61 KeithB
    November 29, 2007

    Re #49 at least part of California was an independent nation, too:

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

  62. #62 Paul Burnett
    November 29, 2007

    JSN commented: “(See the new Texas Pledge of Allegiance)”

    The pledge of allegiance to the Texas state flag is

    “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”

    The pledge was…amended by House Bill 1034 during the 80th Legislature with the addition of “one state under God.” The revised wording became effective on June 15, 2007. – http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ref/abouttx/flagpledge.html

  63. #63 tomh
    November 29, 2007

    Kseniya’s ideal candidate #47 wrote:
    … but I must insist that it is an inappropriate question to ask during a political debate.

    In America the Bible has been politicized to a fare-thee-well. It’s a litmus test for about half the country and if you want to hold office in many places you better endorse every word of it. It’s a perfectly legitimate political question given the reality of today’s politics.

  64. #64 CrypticLife
    November 29, 2007

    I want to cry now for all the children of Texas.

  65. #65 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    In America the Bible has been politicized to a fare-thee-well. It’s a litmus test for about half the country and if you want to hold office in many places you better endorse every word of it. It’s a perfectly legitimate political question given the reality of today’s politics.

    It’s good to see that Karl Rove is now posting here. Well, the important thing is that he’s keeping himself busy these days.

  66. #66 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    Well then if you don’t recall how [teachers of Texas History] finessed Hawaii, do you recall how did they finessed Vermont which was a republic from 1777 until 1791 when it became the 14th state?

    Well, since I’d never heard that ’til today, obviously they finessed it by not telling us. You didn’t think they’d let facts interfere with perfectly good regional self-congratulation, did you?

    Actually, having briefly looked up the Vermont republic story, and also refreshed my memory WRT the Republic of Texas, I can now puff myself up with Texian pride and claim my teachers were right all along! The RoT (unfortunate acronym, that!) was created by treaty w/Mexican president Santa Anna at the end of Texas’ war of independence, and the Republic received formal diplomatic recognition from the U.S., France, the UK, and the Netherlands (not to mention the Republic of Yucatan, another breakaway Mexican province).

    Vermont, OTOH, declared itself independent and sent ambassadors to a tiny handful of countries, but its wiki doesn’t report its having been recognized by anyone!

    Of course, that could simply mean that Vermonters have better things to do than writing self-important wiki entries. Your guess is as good as mine….

  67. #67 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    It’s a perfectly legitimate political question given the reality of today’s politics.

    LOL@Dustin… But the point is not without merit. I’d say it’s a regretably prevalent question. I still consider it Constitionally illegitimate. Yup, I realize that makes me an idealist, or a purist, or a somethingist. Well. We all have our flaws. πŸ˜‰

  68. #68 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Oh, and Bill D. – you flatter me, but… thanks. :o)

  69. #69 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    KeithB:

    The wiki your link points to begins, “The California Republic, also called the Bear Flag Republic, was the result of a revolt by Californios on June 14, 1846, in the town of Sonoma against the authorities of the Mexican province of California; the Republic lasted less than a month.” [Emphasis added]

    It’s not enough to have a revolt; you have to have a successful revolt, with epic battles, massacres, etc. Just ask John Wayne. ;^)

  70. #70 truth machine
    November 29, 2007

    Blaming the victim? Oh, puh-lease.

    It’s a wrongful termination, dipshit.

  71. #71 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    I don’t mind treating it with a little pragmatism, but elevating it to a status of legitimacy simply because it lets a demagogue win stinks of realpolitik. And, in this case, it doesn’t sit too well with the establishment clause, either.

    The best way to treat it in a pragmatic fashion is for the candidate to put forward an image of being sympathetic with their sensibilities, but to also find a way to reject his or her personal beliefs as being relevant to election by appealing to the electorate’s intellectual vanity. I think with some good advertising brains, your ideal candidate could do very well. Obviously that won’t work in the completely red districts, but even DINOs don’t have a chance there. It could be a good tactic for places with an even split. For example, Salazar (don’t confuse this as an endorsement of the spineless worm), beat the Bible-beating Coors to become Colorado’s senator by playing the populist card at every opportunity (I’d just like him to live up to it).

  72. #72 J Daley
    November 29, 2007

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/

    I’m not even joking. As soon as I finish grad school, my wife and I are seriously outta here.

  73. #73 Marcus Ranum
    November 29, 2007

    I think it’d be great to ask about bible literalism during a debate. Not because I want to see if a candidate is atheist, or not (basically, I believe that all those sh*theads worship nothing but power and privilege) – I’d like to see whether they lie outrageously, waffle, or dodge the question. You know:

    A: Do you believe the bible is literal truth?
    Romney: “No! I believe in the stuff that Smith made up and said came from 2 gold tablets that subsequently evaporated!
    Guliani: “I believe anything that’ll get me elected!
    Clinton: “What is ‘believe’?
    etc.

  74. #74 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Dustin: Sounds good. I’m with you all the way.

  75. #75 firemancarl
    November 29, 2007

    Pardon my asking, but what is it iwht these reationist kooks leaving out the vowels in their posts? Am I missing something or are they just being annoying creationists??

  76. #76 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    Carl, they’ve been judged to be cranks or trolls, and consequently “disemvoweled” by PZ.

    The tragic irony is that disemvoweled posts are like catnip to some of us. 😐

  77. #77 Stevie_C
    November 29, 2007

    hehe.

    I’ll humor him.

    She was disemvowled by PZ.

    It’s a funny way of leaving a troll’s post up and it makes it easier to ignore.

  78. #78 Glen Davidson
    November 29, 2007

    They’re being “disemvowelled,” firemancarl, a tactic between banning and full acceptance. One can read them if one really wishes to, but their trollish behavior is being punished by PZ.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  79. #79 Steven Carr
    November 29, 2007

    I hear Ben Stein is flying as we speak to Texas for some dramatic footage about how somebody was EXPELLED

    This is going to be a long film….

  80. #80 Steverino
    November 29, 2007

    “@Stevie_C:

    Texas isn’t a country.

    It’s a state.

    Posted by: Matt the heathen | November 29, 2007 10:58 AM

    That’s too bad. If it were a country, we could attack it!!!….they qualify…they have religious extremists and oil!

  81. #81 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    If we spread democracy in Texas, I’m not going without a dildo launcher, cock ring cluster bombs, and Gatling guns that shoot butt plugs.

    Instead of hiring Blackwater, we’ll hire adult bookstore employees as our mercenaries.

  82. #82 Bureaucratus Minimus
    November 29, 2007

    Jud (#42) wrote: “How naive do you think PZ and all the commenters are?”

    I wouldn’t use the term “naive,” since it has huge negative baggage. I’ve been reading Pharyngula regularly for at least six months, and the posts and comments about law, politics and government display the level of knowledge that one would expect of non-specialists operating outside their area of expertise.

    I’m here because I agree with you guys about some of the big issues, and am trying to be part of the dialogue. I offer my expertise when it seems called for, and don’t comment when I’m out of my depth.

    “What we’re saying is, it completely and utterly sucks that what’s been settled science for over a century is so politicized in Texas that it loses a 9-year employee her job.”

    And I agree that it sucks. Totally. But it’s not surprising to me given the reality in which we live. I’m frequently amazed at the level of surprise here at events like the Comer incident.

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jud. Wish that everyone here were as decent as you.

  83. #83 tomh
    November 29, 2007

    Dustin wrote:
    It’s good to see that Karl Rove is now posting here. Well, the important thing is that he’s keeping himself busy these days.

    What are you talking about? Karl Rove? I’m talking about political reality in America, you’re talking about some wishful thinking dreamland where the Constitution rules supreme. It would be nice but that’s not where I live.

  84. #84 raven
    November 29, 2007

    If you read the email she forwarded, it is obvious that Chris Comer was fired for being a known evolutionist. The email was innocuous and just a pretext.

    Having an evolutionist in charge of State science curriculum is almost as bad as having an astronomer in charge of a large telescope.

    The next bureaucrat in charge of Texas science curriculum is almost certainly going to be a creationist. This isn’t politics by other means, just politics the Xian fundie way.

  85. #85 Will Von Wizzlepig
    November 29, 2007

    wow. that post confused me. I get it now. maybe the xmas beer festival was not the wise choice for lunch today.

    So: Chris Comer was asked to resign from a science-related position at a college in Texas because she forwarded science-friendly, anti-creationism related information through her work e-mail?

    Well, being that Texas is the test-ground for all k-12 textbooks, it seems fitting that nothing but lies and half-truths ought to continue to emanate from Texas.

    A fine tradition of bullshit: Texas and education.

    I wonder if wikipedia has a list of great minds and inventors who are from texas? Hmm. there appears to be a website: famous texans dot com. Therein, on the main page, I see quite a list, but nobody notable aside from Gene Roddenberry and ZZ Top. Yay for Texas!

  86. #86 Yossarian
    November 29, 2007

    My late grandfather was convinced that the greatest tragedy in American history was the Mexican defeat at San Jacinto, which resulted, over time, in Texas becoming a state, and a drag on the rest of the nation.

    I’m finally compelled to agree with him.

  87. #87 Kevin
    November 29, 2007

    “Did anyone catch what Ron “bat-shit-crazy” Paul said in reference to the Department of Education? It’s on his list of top 3 government programs he’d eliminate to save money.”

    Schmeer

    Ron Paul’s argument would be that a centralized education department becomes a tool for politicians more than a tool for educators. This would seem to support that position.

    It is naive to think you can build a giant education bureaucracy and not have its personnel and agenda co-opted by political considerations

  88. #88 Pablo
    November 29, 2007

    Isn’t Barb Forrest the one who “uncovered” the DI’s Wedge Document for the Kitzmiller trial?

  89. #89 Glen Davidson
    November 29, 2007

    Isn’t Barb Forrest the one who “uncovered” the DI’s Wedge Document for the Kitzmiller trial?

    Nah, a couple guys in the mailroom/copy center where the thing was being reproduced gave the Wedge Document to the world.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  90. #90 Glen Davidson
    November 29, 2007

    Here’s the story of the Wedge getting out:

    http://www.seattleweekly.com/2006-02-01/news/discovery-s-creation.php

    Glen D

  91. #91 bybelknap, FCD
    November 29, 2007

    Dr Forrest is my hero. One of the first things I read in my new enlightenment was “Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” She’s one smart person, and tough too. Can you imaging reading Pandas? Not just once, but to the point where you find in an earlier adaptation the transitional form of intelligent design? The cdesgin proponentists. That takes perseverance, guts, and a strong stomach. I can’t imaging wading through so much garbage.

    Yeah, that Dr Forrest ROCKS, man. She makes my heart go all pitter pat and my knees get all wobbly.

  92. #92 Glen Davidson
    November 29, 2007

    Forrest is the one who found “cdesignproponentsists,” and the rest of the evidence that, following McLean v. Arkansas, Panda’s merely switched out “creationists” for “ID proponents,” and similar little “tricks.”

    Of course that whole discovery involved various people, including Nick Matzke, a subpoena to obtain the manuscripts, and Barbara Forrest to duly study them.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  93. #93 Ktesibios
    November 29, 2007

    Dear Mexico:

    We’ve been thinking about it a lot, and we’re really really terribly sorry about all that unpleasantness back in 1845.

    In fact, we’ve decided, as a token of our sincerity, to make restitution by giving back your stolen real estate.

    Here ya go. Enjoy!

    Love,

    The USA

  94. #94 Science Goddess
    November 29, 2007

    “The bureaucratic mind is the only constant in the universe.” …Leonard McCoy, Star Trek IV, 1986

    SG

  95. #95 Ichthyic
    November 29, 2007

    If we spread democracy in Texas, I’m not going without a dildo launcher, cock ring cluster bombs, and Gatling guns that shoot butt plugs.

    ok, now that was funny.

  96. #96 Ichthyic
    November 29, 2007

    So where’s Ben Stein? I thought he opposed oppression such as this. Does anyone have the guts to stand up to the forces of “free inquiry”? Anyone? Anyone?

    Yes, this and the other recent firings related to teaching/espousing good science I would like to see printed out, shredded, stuffed into a hollow baseball bat, and used to beat Ben Stein while he screams: “Thankyou sir, may i have another!”

  97. #97 woozy
    November 29, 2007

    #5

    “Clarissa” is one of the Kansas trolls: the extreme vapidity of her comment is the tip-off. Ignore anything that stupid coming from a “new” commenter — it’s usually that one clan of gomers.

    Whoa! Do you mean to say, she actually posted and you later dis-envowelled her? I was assuming all these postings without vowels were joke posting of “regulars” imitating the trolls but leaving the vowels out to imply that they had been disembowelled (and deservedly so).

    Are you actually dis-envowelling trolls?

    Cool.

  98. #98 Dustin
    November 29, 2007

    I’m talking about political reality in America, you’re talking about some wishful thinking dreamland where the Constitution rules supreme.

    Yeah, that totally undermines my comparison of you to Karl Rove. Holy shit.

  99. #99 Ichthyic
    November 29, 2007

    Yeah, that totally undermines my comparison of you to Karl Rove. Holy shit.

    LOL

    too subtle.

    πŸ˜‰

  100. #100 Barn Owl
    November 29, 2007

    Jsn @ #56-

    Actually, Texas does have a huge number of top ranked scholars. We tend to have a huge number of kids who score very highly on the SATs as well as a lot of people with the personal wealth to get their kids into top Universities, of which Texas has a few (Rice, UT, A&M, SMU). I personally know several native Texans with degrees from Harvard, Yale, MIT, Cambridge, yadda, yadda, yadda; however, just because you have a degree from a prestigious school doesn’t mean that you aren’t an idiot or a zealot (see: Bush, George W).

    Agree with this, and the rest of your post; reasonable, educated people are overwhelmed by the moronic theocrats in Texas, and I think the situation worsens every year. Not surprising, considering the chip off the ol’ blockhead who currently sits in the Governor’s mansion. πŸ˜› Don’t blame me, I voted for Kinky. Why the hell not?

    There are bright spots in a few areas of the Texas public school systems, particularly in upper middle class neighborhoods of Houston, Dallas, and Austin, where many parents work in academia, healthcare, or the high-tech sector. Kids who are fortunate enough to attend such schools have a decent chance of admission at a top university, inside the state or out. I’m the product of the public school system in a large Texas city, and a graduate of the first of the four Texas universities in your list, and heck, I managed to get a doctoral degree from the very same graduate program as did PZ. I’m not famous, though, and I’m a pretty ordinary science campesina, toiling at teaching and cancer research in the fields of academia. Which in my case, smell of formalin, autoclaved mouse cage shavings, and cell culture media, rather than of citrus fruit and pesticides.

  101. #101 Keely
    November 29, 2007

    “Indeed, we must inquire what the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is supposed to do if not endorse particular positions with respect to science education, especially those related to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS, statewide science education standards).

    Given that the state is gearing up to revise those standards, it is hard not to see this as a shot across the bow of the Texas education community, and an attempt to prevent scientifically knowledgeable folks from participating in discussion of what topics are scientific, and what scientific topics should be presented when in the educational process. I certainly hope this strategy backfires.” From Josh Rosenau – Traveling From Kansas.

    The bold area is so greatly reminiscent of Bush-ian tactics…another Dover anyone?

    Thank God I’m a Canadian…

  102. #102 ken melvin
    November 29, 2007

    Texas math:

    Neutrality = ignorance

  103. #103 Kseniya
    November 29, 2007

    I guess our President isn’t the only Texan who thinks the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper.”

  104. #104 Venger
    November 29, 2007

    “Do you believe every word of The Holy Bible?”

    Yes, yes I do. I believe every word in the bible… individually. But when you collect them all together they become some crazy moronic shit that I think is best explained by the existence of psilocybin and temporal lobe epilepsy. Like all other ancient religions.

    Now that would be a debate answer I could respect.

  105. #105 Ed Darrell
    November 29, 2007

    Texas just passed a referendum to sell bonds to fund important cancer research.

    Don McLeroy just declared war against the war on cancer. A state that won’t back basic biology behind the basic research to fight cancer cannot expect to attract top-notch researchers who will wonder whether they have to look over their shoulder at every turn to see whether Don McLeroy will try to fire his or her best researchers.

    I wonder if there is an Article VI violation here?

  106. #106 Ed Darrell
    November 29, 2007

    Of course, McLeroy has set an interesting standard here, one that he may wish he hadn’t set. He’s criticized an employee for forwarding information pertaining to the science standards that mentioned a partisan for science.

    Anybody care to guess about how many other e-mails there might be from McLeroy or staffers going the other way?

    For example, no TEA staffer should ever forward a note from the Discovery Institute, from Bill Dembski, or from Ray Bohlin, under the McLeroy rule.

    Right?

  107. #107 Josh
    November 30, 2007

    buffalo david @#35 makes a good point.

    a senior graduating from a texas high school will have more hurdles to attending a non-texas college. So would Kansas I would guess. Why do you think it’s easier for a kid from andover to get into harvard than it is for a kid from the detroit public school system. admissions most definitely looks at the quality (or at least perceived quality depending on your views) of one’s high school. It’s too bad that’s not made more of an issue with this creationism nonsense.

    It’s too bad. Many years ago when my mom was young texas was known for it’s high standards for its teachers.

  108. #108 Barn Owl
    November 30, 2007

    #107-

    Why do you think it’s easier for a kid from andover to get into harvard than it is for a kid from the detroit public school system. admissions most definitely looks at the quality (or at least perceived quality depending on your views) of one’s high school.

    No denying that quality of high school matters in the university admissions decision, just as quality of undergraduate university matters in the admissions decision for any professional school. It would be an oversimplification to pretend that quality of previous school is the *only* factor in such decisions, though, just as it’s an oversimplification to pretend that “as high school education in evolutionary biology goes (down the sewer, of course), so goes all of science and math education in Texas”.

    It is undeniably frustrating and (frequently) depressing to live, research, and teach here in Texas, with all the creationist nonsense, theocrats, greedheads, gun enthusiasts, and Jesus fish-bearing SUVs. To attempt to cope with this in a balanced manner, I guess my strategy has been to consider where my priorities lie, what I care about, and what I realistically think I can contribute. I’ve also had to learn to pick my battles, and incorporating evolutionary and comparative biology into medical and dental school curricula is definitely not one of them. There isn’t time, and it isn’t relevant or necessary in the context of healthcare professional education; graduate students are a completely different story, but for medical and dental students it just does not matter. There are a few students with good undergrad backgrounds in biology, and I have a great time discussing evolutionary and comparative development and neurobiology with them informally, but it’s not the majority situation, nor should it be. I’m sure it’s great to discuss interesting science books with rich privileged white kids over coffee, but it’s also rewarding to help medical students, from socioeconomically disadvantaged environments in the Valley or inner city Texas for example, find strategies to cope with and understand a challenging volume of basic science information (which they have to master to pass national licensing exams). The first is undeniably more esoteric and intellectual, and the second more practical and real world applicable.

  109. #109 McE
    November 30, 2007

    Feel free to contact the TEA (please be polite), especially if you’re a resident of Texas (and you have my condolences if you are).

    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/tea/contact.html

    The Texas Education Agency is located in the William Travis Building
    1701 N. Congress Avenue
    Austin, Texas, 78701
    (512) 463-9734

  110. #110 scienceteacherinexile
    November 30, 2007

    Barn Owl:
    Would you be willing to let us know where you teach?
    Just curious.

  111. #111 SEF
    November 30, 2007

    I think the Barbara Forrest theme song might be REO Speedwagon’s “Tough Guys”. πŸ˜€

  112. #112 Barn Owl
    November 30, 2007

    #110-

    E-mail me at pezDOTlunaATyahooDOTcom, and I will tell all.

    Ooops, that sounded really secretive and paranoid…. πŸ˜‰

  113. #113 MememicBottleneck
    November 30, 2007

    I guess you could say that Chris Comer got TEA bagged.

  114. #114 scienceteacherinexile
    November 30, 2007

    MememicBottleneck: good one;)

  115. #115 Robert Thille
    November 30, 2007

    Speaking of American education:

    http://www.slide.com/r/-HUsmfiz4j9wlwz0gmw8ZYvwGg7PVyLL

    Ah, to laugh or to cry…that is the question…

  116. #116 Mytho
    November 30, 2007

    Dear Mexico:

    We’ve been thinking about it a lot, and we’re really really terribly sorry about all that unpleasantness back in 1845.

    Dear USA

    We are sorry to inform you that we tried in the past to do something about this, we saw it comming for a long time ago, needless to say that San Jacinto was the first step, but eventually we failed. For that we are deeply sorry

    Good luck, you still have hope, you still have great people living in Texas and given time, and if reason prevails, everything will be just fine. Just don’t let your guard down! We are counting on you.

    We wish you the best

    Mexico

  117. #117 cliff
    December 1, 2007

    re: #24:
    Not me. They make my state (Florida) look sane. So please, keep it up, Lone Star State!

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Fark has an entire category devoted to “Texas.”

    ——————————————

    This is incorrect, there is no Texas category, Florida is the only state on Fark with its own category.

  118. #118 cliff
    December 1, 2007

    woops, I misread that .. twice! =P

  119. #119 Keith Douglas
    December 1, 2007

    Dustin: Same thing with Galileo – a lot of people say: “oh, he was a jerk, so …” I respond: “You mean threatening someone with torture and putting them under arrest for life is a suitable punishment for being a jerk??” Funny how that gets little answers.

  120. #120 Marko
    December 2, 2007

    Neutrality ? objectivity.

  121. #121 jeff webber
    December 2, 2007

    re #109. Thanks for the link. I sent them a brief msg asking for further details as “…I know there must be A LOT more to this as her action was well within the scope of her duties.” I wonder if they will respond. I also have an email in to the Discovery Institute asking a couple of questions about their “..Briefing Packet for Educators…”, I’m curious about what they might say (I’m not holding my breath though)

  122. #122 Pope Ratzo
    December 3, 2007

    Let’s not get too crazy here. This IS Texas after all, and by now we should have learned to expect their idiocy.

    I’m all for Texas seceding from the Union. They are bringing down the average for the rest of us. Even the brightest Texans, like some in Austin, are still only about 70% of the national average for intellect. In fact, you can find places like Euless or Midland, where if a child is tested as having an IQ of 85 they are placed in “gifted” classes. I’m tired of having to be embarrassed by Texas and Texans.

  123. #123 Colin
    December 4, 2007

    This article is inane. It is not a question of “teaching good science” on which TEA has decided (rightly) to remain neutral. The neutrality is with respect to WHAT CONSTITUTES science, prior to any normative question of quality! That you find the neutrality of the TEA to be offensive is an indicator that you have already (in your mind) addressed precisely the question to be addressed. That you construe this as “terror” of Forrest is simply a reflection of your inability to see the issue presented.

    Personally, I think that evolution is completely correct science. However, I cannot in good conscience even begin to compare evolution with creationism (and move on to subsequent questions of excluding creationism from the classroom or not) in this context without knowing what constitutes “science” for the purposes of Texas curricula and law. To jump the gun, as you suggest the TEA ought to have done, would be to overstep the bounds of their responsibilities.

  124. #124 B DeBruler
    July 3, 2008

    I love the “Mr. Gumby” backdrop in the quoted sections. It fits well with the intellectual level of the comments in those sections.

    Funny how Monty Python stays so relevant over time.

  125. #125 Steven Dunlap
    July 3, 2008

    How does one maintain neutrality when facts and evidence are biased?

  126. #126 Arnosium Upinarum
    July 4, 2008

    B DeBruler, #124: “Funny how Monty Python stays so relevant over time.”

    And why not? All great art and literature is timeless and eternally relevant. Memes of relevance persist. The rest is schlock.

  127. #127 J-F Letourneau
    March 15, 2009

    O tempus, o mores texaniorum! Vae sapientibus!

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