Pharyngula

Texas Citizens for Science has posted a summary of the political pressures:

TEA has a new policy, one of neutrality between biological evolution and Intelligent Design Creationism. This new policy was put in place when Dr. Don McLeroy–an outspoken Creationist and activist for Intelligent Design Creationism and its marketing campaign–was appointed the new Chair of the State Board of Education (SBOE). By publicizing a lecture by a Louisiana State University professor of the philosophy of science that supported evolution–as required by the state’s science standards–and opposed Intelligent Design Creationism, Chris Comer ran afoul of the new policy and was asked to resign or be fired immediately. The memo to her from the TEA contained several other excuses, all of which were bogus, trumped-up, or common among employees. Amazingly, this memo is now available for the public to read thanks to the American-Statesman (see below), and it reveals the lengths to which the top administrators of our state’s public education agency will go to silence dissent from their new policy of not criticizing Creationism.

The real reason she was forced to resign is because the top TEA administrators and some SBOE members wanted her out of the picture before the state science standards–the science TEKS–were reviewed, revised, and rewritten next year. Plans are underway by some SBOE members and TEA administrators to diminish the requirement to teach about evolutionary biology in the Biology TEKS and to require instead that biology instructors “Teach the Controversy” about the “weaknesses” of evolution, that is, teach the Creationist-inspired and -created bogus controversy about evolution that doesn’t exist within legitimate science. There are no scientific weaknesses with biological evolution as the natural process is understood by scientists. At the level at which it is taught in high school, evolutionary biology has no weaknesses, gaps, or problems. Therefore, it is duplicitous to pretend such “weaknesses” and “controversy” exist.

I knew McLeroy was trouble from the very beginning.

Comments

  1. #1 Brownian, OM
    November 29, 2007

    I knew McLeroy was trouble from the very beginning.

    How? What are the chances that a Christian would be dishonest when it comes to his or her creationism?

  2. #2 raven
    November 29, 2007

    I already figured out that this was just gutter level politics by religious fanatics. Evolution is toast in Texas until the next court case is done. She is lucky, the bible prescribes death for witches. Witches have been scarce lately (in the last 2 centuries) but witches, scientists, really what is the difference?

    repost from earlier thread.
    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.

    “Have you ever been and are you now an acceptor of the fact of evolution.” If so, don’t let the sun set on you in Texas.

    PS What will they do with their old textbooks? Looks like a good old fashioned book burning is in the future. Go Texas. Leading the way back to the Dark Ages.

  3. #3 Christianjb
    November 29, 2007

    That’s appalling. All I can say is that working at the U of Houston I know a lot of good scientists / postdocs/ students who would be as appalled as those in the rest of the country.

  4. #4 SEF
    November 29, 2007

    That still doesn’t really explain why Chris Comer gave in to the evil creationist scum and conveniently resigned like they wanted her to do. Would she not have been in a (marginally) better position if she had forced them to fire her, ie then also not having signed any silencing document?

  5. #5 AlanWCan
    November 29, 2007

    So, it looks like she was Expelled? Wonder if Ben Stein’s going to get involved to point out the silencing of…oh wait…wrong side.

  6. #6 chezjake
    November 29, 2007

    Looks to me like it’s time for the blogosphere to fire up the publicity machine and start giving Texas the same treatment they gave Kansas.

    Among other things, all national science associations should make it well known that they will not hold any conventions in a state that has no respect for scientists and real science. That would have a much bigger effect in Texas than in Kansas.

    Once we get a Democrat in the White House, maybe we can even get some federal legislation that cuts off federal education dollars from any state that does not teach evolution.

  7. #7 Dave Carlson
    November 29, 2007

    So. . .to all Texas scientists and educators reading this blog. . .what are you going to do about this, and what can we do to help you?

  8. #8 BobC
    November 29, 2007

    “She always referred the parents to the science TEKS which requires evolution (although about half of the biology classes in Texas don’t teach it).”

    Half the biology classes in Texas don’t teach it? There was a war against science in this country but it’s over. The flat-earthers won.

  9. #9 Marcus Ranum
    November 29, 2007

    She gets to join the honored ranks of the EXPELLED along with Bertrand Russell and whatsisface the creationist hack.

  10. #10 Rjaye
    November 29, 2007

    And people wonder why our kids lag behind in science education in the world.

  11. #11 FishyFred
    November 29, 2007

    an outspoken Creationist and activist for Intelligent Design Creationism and its marketing campaign

    Well hello there.

  12. #12 pkiwi
    November 29, 2007

    it just seems so…mediaeval

  13. #13 dkew
    November 29, 2007

    I’ll repeat my call to give Texas back to Mexico, and pay Mexico a huge indemnity if it will take all Texans, too. There’s the obvious benefit that the worst Texan will become an illegal alien. (Yes I know he was spawned in Connecticut, but only Texas claims him.)

  14. #14 Gene Goldring
    November 29, 2007

    Here is a transcript of McLeroy giving a talk on evolution and design in 2005. A little primor first:

    Second thing I would like to clarify for a talk is, now we are going to be using the word “evolution,” and that brings up all sorts of definitions. We will give you a handout but not today, but let me explain some of the use of the words that I will be using today. Intelligent design I will define in the talk, but evolution itself people will say Darwinism or evolution. A lot of the quotes I will be using are going to be from Phillip Johnson, who, Phillip Johnson is one of the leaders in the intelligent design movement. He uses the word Darwinism and I will be giving quotes from him, so when you hear the word Darwinism or if I accidentally refer to the word Darwinism, it means the theory of common descent. That we share common ancestor with that tree out there. I mean that is basically what we have in our high school textbooks. If you open a high school textbook, they basically state as a fact that we share common ancestry with life that first got started and some went to be plants and eventually trees and some became us. And that is what I mean by Darwinism. Yes, there is macro-evolution and micro-evolution, we’d prefer the term adaptive variation for micro-evolution. We know that no one argues against what is considered micro-evolution, but if you hear the term evolution in this talk, today, you’ll also realize that it’s mainly referring to the common descent. That the theory that all life has descended from a common ancestor.

    I see neutrality wasn’t a concern back then.

    Read the rest. It gets worse.
    http://www.tfn.org/publiceducation/textbooks/mcleroy/index.php

  15. #15 Gene Goldring
    November 29, 2007

    Are their any companies in Texas that may have a concern in this? Maybe they should be given a nudge.

    What does Texas higher Ed have to say?

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    November 29, 2007

    It gets worse.

    =O

    actually, it really doesn’t surprise me a bit.

    Instead, in the end it makes me angry that the people of Texas voted for such a throwback to the dark ages for Governor.

    they deserve what they get, truth be told.

    and for voting for a governor that would appoint McKnucklehead to an educational board post, they got exactly what they deserved.

    too bad the kids don’t really deserve it, but they can at least blame their parents.

    so, children of Texas, give your folks a kick in the shins for me, would ya?

  17. #17 Ex-drone
    November 29, 2007

    McLeroy = Bill Buckingham, Texas-sized

  18. #18 nancy
    November 29, 2007

    I live in mexico… education’s a bit more centralized here, so if you agev us texas, they’d HAVE to teach evolution. Plus it wouldn’t be such a bad deal for us either… we’d get a six flags, bunch of universities… yeah, not too shabby.
    as long as you get to keep dubya.

  19. #19 Ex-drone
    November 29, 2007

    So they want to “teach the controversy,” but they can’t tolerate controversy?

  20. #20 Bubba Sixpack
    November 29, 2007

    Brilliant strategy on the Creationist’s behalf – to demonstrate to medical research companies that they are anti-science.

    Oh well. It’s just backwater Texas that has shot themselves in the foot. Not some place more important like just about every other state in the union.

  21. #21 Shawn Wilkinson
    November 29, 2007

    Forrest is a professor of philosophy at Southern Louisiana University, not Louisiana State University. Your link has the corrected passage, it seems, but just letting everyone else know.

    (If she did teach at LSU, my school, then I would’ve definitely been a philosophy minor)

  22. #22 Stogoe
    November 29, 2007

    Half the biology classes in Texas don’t teach it? There was a war against science in this country but it’s over. The flat-earthers won.

    Don’t give in to despair; if we stop trying to make things better they really have won.

  23. #23 Dan
    November 29, 2007

    So, I guess this means we can expect a horde of under-educated “science” students to come crawling out of Texas who, once again, won’t be able to measure up to even the most base standards of education. I’m certain this will end well for everybody nobody.

    I just wish these creationists could keep their paranormal gibberish in the church where the bloody nonsense truly belongs rather than run around the nation trying to manufacture controversy.

  24. #24 Shawn Smith
    November 30, 2007

    nancy,

    Sorry, it’s a package deal–you have to take Texas AND G. W. Bush. All sales are final.

  25. #25 Ryan
    November 30, 2007

    I don’t understand. Isn’t this illegal? Wasn’t the Dover trial and all that preceded it confirmation of the illegality of teaching this dreck?

    Your country is a seriously fucked up place. I hope you can fix it.

  26. #26 Steve
    November 30, 2007

    I can’t remember where I first heard it, but I recall someone saying (badly paraphrased, I’m sure) that:

    The most subtle and insidious way to lie is to tell the truth in an unconvincing way.

    That’s basically what the whole “teach the controversy” tactic is – forcing science teachers to lie to students.

  27. #27 thwaite
    November 30, 2007

    Ryan @ 25: The US is big. Judge Jones’ ruling in Dover established a Federal ruling for his District, which includes Pennsylvania. Other Districts may not yet have ruled (I don’t know precedents in Texas), or rule differently in which case the discrepancy is up the the Supreme Court to resolve, if they care to.

    (I am not a lawyer. But I did hear Jones discuss this specific point in his PBS Newshour interview the day that PBS aired their Dover show.)

  28. #28 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    All I can say is that working at the U of Houston…

    Ahh, my alma mater. Say hello to Sandy for me, won’t you? In my day (I graduated in December ’81), she was a hole on the campus Frisbee golf course!

    Go, Coogs!!

  29. #29 Christianjb
    November 30, 2007

    Bill: I didn’t realize she was called ‘Sandy’. She’s hot!

    Were you in physics at UH?

  30. #30 Christianjb
    November 30, 2007

    Dave wrote:

    So. . .to all Texas scientists and educators reading this blog. . .what are you going to do about this, and what can we do to help you?

    I don’t know! Give money to the ACLU.

  31. #31 autumn
    November 30, 2007

    I hate to sound alarmist, but at what point in America do the leftists finally realize that gun ownership should be protected so that the left can actually fight back when this becomes a shooting war?
    Who was it that decided that left ment anti-gun?
    Without rifles, Russia would still be an absoloute monarchy (arguably preferable to the horrors of communism, but without the feel-good glasnost and current freedoms, however much Putin night hate them).

  32. #32 Christianjb
    November 30, 2007

    Autumn: Yes- why try and win the debate (any debate) when we can settle it with firearms.

    Americans are such a lovable people.

  33. #33 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    I hate to sound alarmist, but at what point in America do the leftists finally realize that gun ownership should be protected so that the left can actually fight back when this becomes a shooting war?

    ROFLMAO

    not only don’t you NOT hate to sound alarmist, but that is such a stretch of logic to work your point into this thread, that even silly putty wouldn’t work to bridge the gap.

    nice try, but if somebody bites on that bait, they must be blind.

  34. #34 Ichthyic
    November 30, 2007

    er, wait…

    scratch the “nice try” part. it wasn’t even that.

  35. #35 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    She’s hot!

    ‘specially in August! ;^)

    Were you in physics at UH?

    It is to laugh! No, my UH degree is a BA in English. I actually started there as a scholarship student in the Engineering college, and physics was my downfall: I failed 2nd-semester physics (E&M), and then only managed a mercy D when I retook it. In the same timeframe, I was getting a (curved) A in my highly esoteric Honors Diff Eq class while failing Circuits I because I couldn’t actually get numerical solutions to simple first-order differential equations.

    I had hit a math wall: When I hit vector calculus, diff eq, etc., it was like a ball rolling off the edge of a table: Before that point, math had seemed perfectly lucid to me; after that point, it all seemed like black magic.

    OTOH, I’m right at home with words (as y’all may have noticed).

  36. #36 brian
    November 30, 2007

    I’m sorry, Autumn, but do you really think that the czarists would have withstood the last 90 years of history, rifles or no rifles? The fact is, with the state of military technology at present, no armed citizenry stands a chance against a first-world military. The only countering force for that would be what I think was intended by the 2nd amendment – a free militia. Meaning the National Guard, or something similar, but one that is not an adjunct of the centralized military.

    And this is something that I can’t believe both the right and the left aren’t behind – that is, a National Guard that is completely separate from the federal government. The right, with their love of the 2nd amendment and federalism, and the left with their understanding of how toxic military bureaucracy is to any kind of rationality or freedom.

  37. #37 autumn
    November 30, 2007

    brian,
    I was perhaps a bit too ironic, but I stand behind the statement that the only good royal is a dead royal (or am I being ironic again? No, fuck royalty and the steeds they crush the workers with).
    Yes, I believe that the csarists would have survived, although it would have probably been through treaties between them and the axis powers. Would that have changed the outcome of WWII? Who knows.
    But your statement about a militia not regulated by the federal government, as I recall the eightteen-sixties pretty much sucked for everybody involved.

    My point? Only this…the vast majority of people are too stupid to be trusted with their own futures, but the future in which we deny the idiots the right to be stupid is even worse.

  38. #38 Christianjb
    November 30, 2007

    Take heart Bill- there are really only two things you need to know to have a career in mathematical physics: 1) How to complete the square, 2) Complete facility with the integral, differential and matrix forms of Schroedinger’s and Maxwell’s equations and their relation to statistical mechanics.

    I got number 1 down pat. Number 2, not so much.

  39. #39 Brian
    November 30, 2007

    Autumn –

    Well, I’m not entirely clear on what you do mean here. Apparently, arming every (potentially schizoid) Tom, Dick, and Harry with a rifle is going to safeguard freedom against people with tanks and bombers. However, the balancing force of a free militia will inevitably lead to situations like the Civil War. There is some disconnect in logic here.

    And color me as one who does not think that the outcome of the Civil War was necessarily worth the price paid. The last Western country to outlaw slavery was Brazil in 1888. I don’t think there’s anything especially different about the American South from any other similar group in the West to expect that slavery would have lasted much past the 1890s. Was 30 extra years of slavery worth 620000 dead? I think that’s debatable, and that’s where I come to the crux of the argument. The only other real issue in this war was whether the South had the ability to decide that it no longer wanted to belong to our club. Given that the name of this country is not the “Forcibly United States of America,” I would say that they should have the ability to leave.

    In terms of the civil war, the non-federal militia was protecting an evil event. However, if the Union/Confederate balance of power were shifted, I doubt that you could argue that a free militia would not have been potentially important in vouchsafing human freedom.

  40. #40 Leigh Williams
    November 30, 2007

    Hey, Bill . . . I am a UH English grad too! And like you, I started out in the hard sciences (chemistry) and bombed out at differential equations. Thought for a while I’d be a lawyer, but ended up falling in love with computing.

    I remember my days at Cougar High fondly, though. I was the T.A. in the Honors Program back in the day. I’ve always thought that school was underrated, kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of universities.

    As to what we’re going to do in Texas about this asshat McLeroy, I expect one of the advocacy groups I belong to will gear up a letter-writing campaign and encourage some editorials. The SBOA actually doesn’t have much power; the legislature wisely trimmed their wings down to the nubbin a while back. And the TEA is not well regarded here. We’re going to have to mobilize some of the folks at our major universities (Texas, A&M, Tech) to come on strong for real science standards — and publicize, publicize, publicize our opposition. There are many people here, I assure you, who would prefer not to be the laughing stock of the developed world (at least, not any more than we already are due to our unfortunate association with that damn carpetbagger Shrub). I wept salty tears the night that bastard beat our wonderful Ann Richards. I knew NO GOOD would come of such a catastrophic blunder. And then we in effect wished the Shrub on the rest of you. Mea culpa; mea maxima culpa. (I mean that generally, but not as my own personal mea, actually; I never voted for him ever!)

    Here in the People’s Republic of Austin, we have some good life sciences programs, all of which teach real biology and thus evolution. Out in the sticks, not so much. So the state science standards are of critical importance. We will fight, I promise you. I have two still left in the public schools.

    We’re not actually STRIVING to be the ass end of the universe down here, you know . . . but I can pardon you for assuming that when you see foolishness of this level.

  41. #41 craig
    November 30, 2007

    Fuck Texas.

    Sorry if that’s not very eloquent. I’m just sick of the fucking south. That’s why I’m moving back north.

  42. #42 Anon Y. Mouse
    November 30, 2007

    #7: As a TEA employee, I want to speak out against this insanity, but I’m scared shitless that I would lose my job too. I don’t have near the power and visibility that Comer had.

    Please keep publicizing this issue everywhere! Keep filing Public Information Act requests to expose this travesty.

  43. #43 raven
    November 30, 2007

    As a TEA employee, I want to speak out against this insanity, but I’m scared shitless that I would lose my job too.

    Don’t blame you. This is just a witch hunt. As a known or suspected realityist, you will lose your job. And be replaced by a creationist.

    If they can’t find a pretext, they will just lie, make one up. This is pure religious discrimination by religious fanatics who have no morals, ethics, or reservations about anything. All very illegal but they don’t care. They really want to violate the US constitution, the bureaucrats are just cannon fodder.

    As to what outsiders can do. They will do what they can but that may not be much. I’ve been to Texas on biz a few times here and there and never thought about it much one way or the other. Nowadays, I have no desire to set foot in it ever again.

    Take care and you know the drill. Bible screensaver on the computer, Jesus fish on the cars, as many as you can.

  44. #44 katie
    November 30, 2007

    Is it just me, or is this coming at a very bad time for Ben Stein’s whole “creationists are persecuted” thesis?

  45. #45 Ian H Spedding FCD
    November 30, 2007

    Apparently, arming every (potentially schizoid) Tom, Dick, and Harry with a rifle is going to safeguard freedom against people with tanks and bombers.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, in Iraq and Afghanistan a few thousand determined men armed with little more than assault rifles, heavy machine-guns and RPGs are causing all sorts of problems for far larger numbers of the most advanced, hi-tech armed forces in the world.

  46. #46 Taz
    November 30, 2007

    The “opposition” in Texas has one advantage: a specific target. Everyone interested in decent science education should rally behind the cause of getting McLeroy fired.

  47. #47 Kseniya
    November 30, 2007

    I had hit a math wall:

    Wow, Bill, I had exactly the same experience. What had been so very easy suddenly became surprisingly difficult. The learning-curve turned out to be a square wave.

    Hey, are we related? Are you a closeted Ukrainian, monsieur? Is your real last name Dovinenko? 😉

  48. #48 someone
    November 30, 2007

    I’ll join the paranoia club for a moment here. Do any of you suppose that the NSA’s web-scraping AI programs have already flagged autumn as a possible insurgent, and traced his IP address to identify him? Or am I just adding to his woes by even mentioning this?

  49. #49 David Utidjian
    November 30, 2007

    #45 Ian,

    In case you hadn’t noticed, in Iraq and Afghanistan a few thousand determined men armed with little more than assault rifles, heavy machine-guns and RPGs are causing all sorts of problems for far larger numbers of the most advanced, hi-tech armed forces in the world.

    True, but who wants to live like that? Why even let it get to that point?

    -DU-

  50. #50 Mike from Ottawa
    November 30, 2007

    “And color me as one who does not think that the outcome of the Civil War was necessarily worth the price paid.”

    The price paid on the Union side was paid for American union. The end of slavery was both a means to that end and a means to prevent it happening again. The price paid on the side of secession was paid for the preservation and expansion of slavery. Whether the first of those was worth it might be debated, but at this point it should be beyond debate that any deaths in the service of slavery is too many.

    “I don’t think there’s anything especially different about the American South from any other similar group in the West to expect that slavery would have lasted much past the 1890s”

    The shift in the South from viewing slavery as a necessary evil (itself wrong) to being a positive good makes a difference, as does the fact the South tried to secede and started a war for the express purpose of not only preserving slavery but expanding it. Powerful slavery interests wanted to see its ‘benefits’ extended across the American west, into Mexico (remember those brave Texans at the Alamo were fighting, in part, for their right to keep slavery which Mexico had outlawed), the Caribbean and Central America. Having successfully divided a great country (and if it came to war, successfully fought a war) for the sake of slavery, it passes all understanding to suggest the folk whose wealth and/or social standing would just say, a generation later, ‘Oh, never mind.’ The rise and lifespan of Jim Crow shows that a benign view on race wouldn’t be among the reasons why the South might abandon slavery.

  51. #51 Carolus Hereticus
    November 30, 2007

    Oh man. And here I am moving back to Texas next year.

  52. #52 windy
    November 30, 2007

    I was perhaps a bit too ironic, but I stand behind the statement that the only good royal is a dead royal (or am I being ironic again? No, fuck royalty and the steeds they crush the workers with).

    Like, when the king of Sweden rear-ends someone with his BMW?

  53. #53 CortxVortx
    November 30, 2007

    Re: #50

    Powerful slavery interests…

    This is what I point to whenever I want to emphasize the stupidity of the average Southerner: That they wasted their lives to protect an institution in which very few of them could afford to participate. The Confederate leaders couched their secession language in “state’s rights” terms; many Southerners apparently felt that they were Georgians or Louisianans or Carolinians rather than Americans. The dirt farmer lost what little he had — sometimes even his life.

    My father-in-law keeps telling me of great job opportunities back home. Nuh-uh: I ain’t moving back to Louisiana. 33 years was way too long.

    — CV

  54. #54 Scott Hatfield, OM
    November 30, 2007

    Looks to me like it’s time for the blogosphere to fire up the publicity machine and start giving Texas the same treatment they gave Kansas.

    Can I get an amen? This is, in fact, arguably more troublesome than Kansas given the influence that Texas state policy has had upon publishers over the years. We should be aggressive, and look for opportunities to draw attention to their mendacity now.

  55. #55 Toby
    November 30, 2007

    I am an Irishman, living in Ireland, where we do not have separation between church and state. Catholicism permeates our educational system, a legacy of the days when virtually all the schools were run by religious orders or priests.

    That has led to a serious imbalance in public education and it is only in the last ten years or so, since the atrocious paedophile scandals, that the atmosphere has become much more secular. Contraception has been freely available for a quarter of a century, divorce for about fifteen years or so. Momentum is gathering for a legalization of abortion, though it will be slow.

    But even in the church’s heyday, there is absolutely no way that an Irish church or Department of Education could get away with what has happened in Texas. Bad and all as it is, the Catholic Church has had a much more reasonable relationship with science, possibly because of it’s respect for learning (though on its own terms). Fundamentalist Protestantism could never produce a Gregor Mendel, for instance.

    The dismissal of an official for upholding science against obscrantism – its unconscionable!!. Can this be challenged in the courts?

  56. #56 Skeptic8
    November 30, 2007

    Several years ago the elected SBOE was effectively neutered. It is a clique striving to regain the real power over textbook selection that it once had. It was neutered because it threatened to replace science with dogma. Even the crooks in the legislature recognised futility and isolated the creo-cancer spawned in the rural districts. This therapeutic isolation allowed righteous “victories” to be savored by rural theocrats that are effectively hollow. Despite Tom DeLay’s condemnation UT, Texas A&M, Baylor, and the public schools still teach science.
    Watch the drama at http://www.tfn.org

  57. #57 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Looks to me like it’s time for the blogosphere to fire up the publicity machine and start giving Texas the same treatment they gave Kansas.

    Speaking of which, how does the Texas curriculum address FSMism? Perhaps it’s time for Him to smack some legislators upside the head with His Noodly Appendage?

  58. #58 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Kseniya:

    The learning-curve turned out to be a square wave.

    Now it’s my turn to congratulate you on putting what I was trying to say far better than I ever could have! “Square wave…” I’ll have to remember that one!

    (And no, no Ukrainan heritage that I know of. My father’s people have been in the U.S. for as long as we can trace it — at least 8 generations — and my mother is from German stock.)

    ****

    Leigh:

    I bet you can’t still sing the alma mater and the fight song! (To be fair, I had to learn them, because I was in the marching band.)

    When were you TAing for the Honors Program (now the Honors College, thank you very much)? Did you work with Ted Estess, Stephen Langfur, et al.? I still get mail from the HC, but I never can seem to come up with an excuse to go back for a visit.

    (Sorry about old home week, folks… but we Cougar High grads don’t run into each other as often as, say, UMM grads do!) 8^)

  59. #59 misterpost
    November 30, 2007

    So when do we start pressuring a policy of Neutrality when it comes to the teaching of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism in Texas?

    We’ve been through this, people!

  60. #60 Dark Matter
    November 30, 2007

    Plans are underway by some SBOE members and TEA administrators to diminish the requirement to teach about evolutionary biology in the Biology TEKS and to require instead that biology instructors “Teach the Controversy” about the “weaknesses” of evolution, that is, teach the Creationist-inspired and -created bogus controversy about evolution that doesn’t exist within legitimate science.

    So what’s next for Texas….a “teach the controversy” section for physics instructors because of the problems meshing general relativity and quantum mechanics?

  61. #61 Shawn Wilkinson
    November 30, 2007

    Does Texas have a governor that believes ID is on equal footing with evolution?

    Though I do pain for Texas, my state has our own problems, too.

  62. #62 Doug Rozell
    November 30, 2007

    Starting from PZ’s comment at the end “… McElroy was trouble …” I traced back to last May, and a most intelligent thread following

    “The rebranding of Intelligent Design”
    Category: Creationism
    Posted on: May 5, 2007 1:00 PM, by PZ Myers

    Thread makes excellent reading for the current post, esp. comment #53, copied here:

    “If the conservatives start trying to say their crackpot design theory is evolution, then they’re really walking into a trap. …

    “If they concede they’re accepting “evolution” and saying that their woo-woo silliness about a Universal Designer is compatible with it, then we remind them what we’ve always said: evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population from generation to generation caused by natural selection and genetic drift. Where is the input from the designer in that process? Is it the natural selection? Or is it the genetic drift? Both? Some other mechanism that evolutionary biologists have yet to discover?

    “At this point, there really isn’t anything they can say that won’t make them look like the total idiots they are. What, genetic drift really isn’t random? That’ll be a pretty amusing argument to see them put forward. Oh, wait– natural selection needs help from a designer to work? Pay no attention to these simulations… Some other mechanism? Really. I can’t wait to see your papers on that. …

    “It’s a trap. I almost feel sorry for them, but we should be looking for ways to lure them into it, not warning them away.”

    “Posted by: s9 | May 6, 2007 12:10 AM”

    Basically, respect for the principle of parsimony in explanation. PZ (comment #47) took another tack — evidence!:

    “Consistency is not enough. We have to demand some evidence — they have to show some independent argument for their supernatural being … And I argue that the proper scientific position is to flatly reject tenuous bafflegab; we do not sit around and pretend every random guess is tenable, that we must suspend skepticism for all ideas. … Call it nonsense and be done with it.”

    DR

  63. #63 Leigh Williams
    November 30, 2007

    Bill: “When were you TAing for the Honors Program (now the Honors College, thank you very much)? Did you work with Ted Estess, Stephen Langfur, et al.? I still get mail from the HC, but I never can seem to come up with an excuse to go back for a visit.”

    Yes, indeed. One of my favorite Houston memories is a Thanksgiving with Ted and his wife, Stephen and his wife Noga, and other members of the Honors Program faculty and staff. Nor have I been back for visit, though I would love to; I just seldom get over that way. I did hear news two years ago; a friend’s son was graduating from the Honors College, and she told me Ted was doing well and remembered me fondly. I held all those folks in very high regard, especially Mel Buxbaum.

    And no, I can’t sing the alma mater or fight song! I don’t think I ever went to a football game. But I was a never-miss for the wine and cheese receptions . . . and also spent a good bit of time in the bar that was in the basement of the student center.

  64. #64 dogmeatib
    December 1, 2007

    Ummm you guys are missing a serious problem here. Texas, along with California, basically determine high school level textbook content. If publishers get the idea that Texas wont accept their book as “appropriate” for their “standards,” they will change the book to make it “appropriate.” That means if these loonies adopt ID, “teach the controversy,” or anti-evolutionary standards, that means that within a few years the publishers will dumb down just about all of the science textbooks to make certain that they can sell them in Texas. This is more than the people of Texas getting stooopider.

  65. #65 Ichthyic
    December 1, 2007

    Texas, along with California, basically determine high school level textbook content.

    yeah, good point.

  66. #66 Bill Dauphin
    December 1, 2007

    Leigh:

    … also spent a good bit of time in the bar that was in the basement of the [UH] student center.

    One of my favorite infamous undergraduate memories is the day during my freshman year when I went there to hear the Shake Russell Band play. I went several hours early to make sure I got a good table, and settled in with my physics homework (this was before I fell off the sled) and a carafe of red wine (in those dear departed days, 18 year olds could drink). As it turned out, I’d snagged such a good table that I ended up sitting with Shake’s wife and several band members’ significant others. It was a great show and we had a grand old time… but the way I felt the next day made me swear off red wine for several years.

    I also heard Kinky Friedman perform live in the park next to the hotel management school. Y’all do remember he was a musician before he became a novelist… which he was before he became a political gadfly?

    [/wayback_machine]

  67. #67 Corey
    December 1, 2007

    Well, at least I get to take biology this year so I don’t have to deal with idiotic standards….

  68. #68 Leigh
    December 1, 2007

    Ah, yes, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Great band. Unfortunately, I never did anything as cool as attending a Shake Russell gig at the Underground. God, I was poor . . . good times, though. As a city, Houston pretty much sucks, but I did enjoy Cougar High.

  69. #69 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 2, 2007

    My father’s people have been in the U.S. for as long as we can trace it — at least 8 generations —

    Your surname is the French word for “dolphin” (including “crown prince”, for, presumably, some reason).

  70. #70 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 2, 2007

    My father’s people have been in the U.S. for as long as we can trace it — at least 8 generations —

    Your surname is the French word for “dolphin” (including “crown prince”, for, presumably, some reason).

  71. #71 Bill Dauphin
    December 3, 2007

    Your surname is the French word for “dolphin” (including “crown prince”, for, presumably, some reason).

    Oh, I’m aware. It’s owing to an old family legend that we were descended from the “lost” Dauphin of the French Revolution that I know the family has been in the U.S. for at least 8 generations: My mother never quite believed the story (which has subsequently been debunked, I gather, by conclusive evidence that le Dauphin died during the Reign of Terror), but it piqued her curiosity sufficiently to get her interested in tracing our genealogy. No doubt we’re descended from French nobility (Mom found, IIRC, no fewer than 7 separate family crests for the name Dauphin), but the connection is apparently lost in the mists of history.

  72. #72 HGray
    December 18, 2007

    ID only makes sense for the moment of creation when all physical laws were established. Six fundamental constants govern our observable universe. Evolution, both macro and micro run on the underlying framework of creation. When the creationist realize this and can present an argument based on observable data that can be scientifically tested, thats when I might start listing to their arguments.

    A Christian who believes that part about the way, the TRUTH, and the light.

    If God is truth, then the scientific process, which is our best guide to truth, will eventually lead to God.

    God did not make the world according to the desires of man, but man sure is busy saying that the truth can’t be what it is, because it goes against what we think God says ?!?!??

    Enough of my prattle for now. Keep up the good fight, the truth will set you free, just ask the woman that inspired this thread

  73. #73 Tony Whitson
    November 29, 2008

    For the November 19 SBOE meeting, there are audio files of the whole thing (in seven parts, coordinated with the TFN blog pages) posted at

    http://curricublog.org/2008/11/26/texas-sboe-evolution-2008nov19/

    with linked wiki pages for building up an annotated review of the proceedings, indexed by speaker.

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