Pharyngula

Textbook selection by the South Carolina State Board of Education has been held up because of baseless objections by creationist reviewers. Does this sound familiar? It’s what triggered the Dover trial — clueless school board members rejecting standard biology textbooks because they wanted something more…biblical.

During October and November, the texts approved by the state Evaluation Committee were sent out for public review to 28 sites – mostly colleges and universities with teacher education programs. It was during this period of time, that Ms. Kristin Maguire (or one of her colleagues) apparently contacted two outside referees to review the texts, a Dr. Joseph Henson and a Dr. Horace D. Skipper.

Skipper and Henson are young-earth creationists. Dr. Skipper is listed on the Institute for Creation Research website among the colleagues of Carl Fliermans, an ICR “Associated Scientist.” Henson is on the faculty at Bob Jones University. According to his testimony on the BJU website, “Through his high school years, [Henson] did not believe evolution because of his religious upbringing, his familiarity with the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood, and because he did not take biology in high school. However, during his college years he entertained ideas about theistic evolution and other compromising positions in an effort to reconcile the Bible with what was considered science… These questions, along with the commandment in 1 Peter 3:15, prompted him to study, think, and pray on his own, as well as consult believers knowledgeable in science and philosophy who upheld the absolute authority of the Bible. These years of struggle resulted in a firm belief in the biblical account of Creation.”

Real winners there; there objections at that link are funny. Ken Miller’s response to the creationist criticism of his textbook is an entertainng read, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Davidson
    December 19, 2007

    as well as consult believers knowledgeable in science and philosophy who upheld the absolute authority of the Bible. These years of struggle resulted in a firm belief in the biblical account of Creation.”

    So, the clueless man went to similarly clueless dolts, and was affirmed in his clueless adherence to ancient lies. this heart-warming story inspires me to try to break the cycle of ignorance and stupidity.

    It’s reassuring to see him so concerned that something more intelligent than blind belief actually be heard by schoolchildren, especially not without Biblical threats hanging over actually learning empirical methods.

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

  2. #2 firemancarl
    December 19, 2007

    Interesting. I like they way he ended it by saying “.. without scientific merit.” I am sure the fundies will go nutz over it. It seems their objections get crazier by the day. Next thing you know, they’ll object becuase the book wasn’t printed by an ordained priest.

  3. #3 ConcernedJoe
    December 19, 2007

    “But why are there still monkeys? Answer me that!”

    Eeeerrrr their stupidity in the face of their intelligence makes my hair hurt.

    My thanks to Ken for going over and over and over this stuff for the benefit of us all

  4. #4 danley
    December 19, 2007

    How these people received PhDs is beyond the realm of science.

  5. #5 firemancarl
    December 19, 2007

    One more thing. I am astonded by the amount of religious people who are pro science and anti Y.E.C.

    Perhaps these folks are just one step away from becomming godless heathens????

  6. #6 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 19, 2007

    The reviewers were most likely suggested by our newly appointed Homeschooling mother Chair of the State Board of Edumaction.

    The reviews are some of of the worst shit I’ve read, but on par with what you’d expect from the most raid creationist types. I’m still dumbfounded that the state I live in, while backward in a lot of respects but still has plenty of educated and intelligent people, has these types of decisions being made up top.

    Shameful.

  7. #7 Fnord Prefect
    December 19, 2007

    “The reviewer asks that we cite the work of M Peterson, et al. In reality no such paper exists. He is likely thinking of the the work of Michael Richardson.”

    Peter, Richard, oh well it’s all a euphemism for the amount of evidence for creationism.

  8. #8 Rey Fox
    December 19, 2007

    “These years of struggle resulted in a firm belief in the biblical account of Creation.”

    Yea, valiantly did he struggle to reach his predetermined conclusion!

  9. #9 Ryan F Stello
    December 19, 2007

    I love Miller’s references when the suggestions violate existing geological time-scale standards.

    ‘Tis a slippery slope when creationists make demands that don’t conform to any known aspect of reality…

  10. #10 G
    December 19, 2007

    I loved Miller’s comment asking if these YEC morons had discovered completely new fields of physics to support their beliefs.

  11. #11 BMatthews
    December 19, 2007

    “Through his high school years, [Henson] did not believe evolution because of his religious upbringing, his familiarity with the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood, and because he did not take biology in high school.”

    Theres your problem right there! He was taught poorly…now he seeks to teach others poorly as well.

  12. #12 Epistaxis
    December 19, 2007

    Heh. I read Miller’s firm but relatively polite and formal response first, then the original objections. What a riot. Kudos to Miller for refusing to stoop to that level.

  13. #13 Joe
    December 19, 2007

    Ouch. pnwage.

    I suppose you could call it ‘Miller Time’ if you wanted to be crass. ;)

  14. #14 Kcanadensis
    December 19, 2007

    I’m laughing.
    I have the exact edition of the RAVEN Biology book which is critiqued… so I’ve had it next to me as I read this bullshit.
    Hilarious.

  15. #15 James Taylor
    December 19, 2007

    How do you critique a curriculum composed of information that you have never studied? The arrogance is astounding.

  16. #16 me
    December 19, 2007

    I’ve had a few reviews of my grant applications that didn’t look too much different in terms of level of understanding.

    …but I will thank these morons for one helpful tidbit: When I’m low on creative juices, I’ll just trigger a little malarial fever and before long, the Nobel Prize will be mine for the taking.

  17. #17 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 19, 2007

    How do you critique a curriculum composed of information that you have never studied? The arrogance is astounding.

    As Spirula commented at my place

    Didn’t take biology in high school. Shocker there. In fundy world, the less one is educated on any given subject, the more qualified they feel they are to critique it.

  18. #18 Hank
    December 19, 2007

    How do you critique a curriculum composed of information that you have never studied? The arrogance is astounding.

    The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. If you know nothing, you think you know everything.

  19. #19 Tlazolteotl
    December 19, 2007

    No really – what kind of doctors are these two? Are they Ph.D.s, M.D.s, or something else?

  20. #20 MikeM
    December 19, 2007

    I am still deeply angered by the assertion that Darwin somehow inspired Planned Parenthood, Stalin and Hitler to slaughter 300 million people. It is such hogwash.

    How about Mao? Did Darwin inspire Mao, too?

    Did supertitious beliefs inspire Bush to justify an invasion of Iraq? Just asking. I don’t know.

    And, yeah, I noticed that these critics struggled for years to reach their preconceived notions. That shows real growth on their part.

  21. #21 Jason Failes
    December 19, 2007

    Someone should tell them that they’re working for the state Evaluation Committee, not the state Evangelization Committee.

  22. #22 Ryan F Stello
    December 19, 2007

    Hank said,

    If you know nothing, you think you know everything.

    It’s even worse than that.
    These rubes have been raised to consider intuition a valid means to gain ‘knowledge’.

  23. #23 True Bob
    December 19, 2007
  24. #24 McLir
    December 19, 2007

    Miller’s response is pitch-perfect.
    I’m glad he didn’t get baited by the reviewer. I’m also glad this is being made public. The cranky and whack review does hit some talking points I’ve not heard before. This is good for the immune system.
    Thanks for the post.

  25. #25 zer0
    December 19, 2007

    Wow, Ken Miller’s responses are golden. I would’ve just written “sit down, shut up” in like 72 point font. He actually took the time to pretty much own those guys on everyone one of their complaints.

  26. #26 AlanWCan
    December 19, 2007

    Man, Kenneth Miller has the patience of a … well… a guy who has to put up with way more of this crap than I think I would be able to stand. Good on him. I especially liked his tie-clip mentioned in the NOVA Dover trial documentary. Nice. Patience and a sense of humour.

  27. #27 Doug
    December 19, 2007

    I like how the creationists cherry picks the evidence. They point to the 25 million year old Scorpion in amber and say “nothings changed”, all the while ignoring all of those other transitional forms. There just ‘kinds’ anyway.

  28. #28 Joe
    December 19, 2007

    Equating planned parenthood to Hitler or Stalin is a bit much, and further shows their egenda.

  29. #29 McLir
    December 19, 2007

    I was impressed with this bone-jarring criticism of the Raven, Johnson, Losos & Singer text:

    “Page 486: ‘Evolution can be slow and gradual or rapid and discontinuous’ demonstrates the inconsistencies and wide disagreement amongst supporters of Darwin as a super icon.”

    The volume of misconceptions about evolutionary science compressed into this one sentence, plus it’s charming through-line, make it accidentally brilliant.
    Super icon? I must have missed that issue of Tiger Beat.

  30. #30 BlueIndependent
    December 19, 2007

    Miller’s rebuttal could be a great stand-up routine for a comedic scientist. It’s almost like sitting there watching Commander Data pick everything apart with inquisitive looks and matter-of-fact statements to the contrary, and the offending “researchers” boiling over in rage.

    Ah how the even-handed tone of science’s pen annihilates the tin-like sword of dumb.

  31. #31 John Pieret
    December 19, 2007

    To add insult to injury, Maguire, who will become head of the Board next year, home schools her 4 kids.

    As the South Carolina Democratic Party chair Carol Fowler said:

    Having Kristen Maguire chair the state Board of Education is akin to Dick Cheney teaching a gun safety course …

  32. #32 David vun Kannon
    December 19, 2007

    I’m happy to see all the positive comments about Miller’s measured response. Perhaps we can take them to heart the next time we respond to trolls and the ignorant on our favorite blogs.

  33. #33 AJ
    December 19, 2007

    “since scorpions are still scorpions after 2 million years..what does this prove?” Hmmm…where have we heard this one before?

  34. #34 Rjaye
    December 19, 2007

    Miller’s letter is a thing of beauty. It is reasoned and to the point, expresses without apology, is assertive without crudeness.

    I’m going to hang it on my wall. I seriously am. Anything that irks me, or astounds me by stupidness–I am going to read this, and let it’s simple, honest reason calm me down, to reming me that there is no good reason to let the idiots get me down.

    This letter might inspire me to use proper grammar.

    Nah…but it’s going on the wall.

  35. #35 marc
    December 19, 2007

    I never gave Bob Jones University much thought before, but I just realized something interesting. An unintended consequence of “abstinence only” education seems to have been that students so educated were more likely to engage in non-procreative sexual activities than their properly educated counterparts. I wonder if the abbreviation “BJU” is an inside joke around that campus…

  36. #36 MAJeff
    December 19, 2007

    I never gave Bob Jones University much thought before, but I just realized something interesting. An unintended consequence of “abstinence only” education seems to have been that students so educated were more likely to engage in non-procreative sexual activities than their properly educated counterparts. I wonder if the abbreviation “BJU” is an inside joke around that campus…

    Met a gay boy who went to school there. Worshiped Reagan. Talk about self-hating.

  37. #37 natural cynic
    December 19, 2007

    Miller should have dited the writings of Christian apologists John Chrysostom and Martin Luther [and others] as being far more important than Darwin in the Holocaust.

  38. #38 dwarf zebu
    December 19, 2007

    I swear I’m going to read Miller’s letter just as soon as I stop giggling…

    Seriously, how can you even TYPE “BJU” with a straight face??

  39. #39 James Taylor
    December 19, 2007

    Just a note to the reviewers, significant digits count and rounding can leads to erroneous conclusions. They would have, of course, learned that in any high school science class had they attended high school. The probability they cite as an absolute value of zero is definitively not zero. The probability may be small, but there is a gigantic difference between small and non-existent with regard to probabilities.

  40. #40 Gerry L
    December 19, 2007

    Just a thought: Were Henson and Skipper paid for their review? SC taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being wasted.

  41. #41 Andrew
    December 20, 2007

    “#4 How these people received PhDs is beyond the realm of science. ”

    I know my email spambox gets filled regularly with offers for all sorts of qualifications – diplomas, masters, phds, ordination as a minister of a religion of my choice etc. They usually arrive as part of a tide of rubbish, including assorted drugs and penis and breast enhancement offers. (Together, which worries me!)

    All that is ever asked for these wonderful things is a nominal fee and bank details.

    So how do these people get qualifications? I think I know how… :)

  42. #42 Dick Nuzum
    December 20, 2007

    Their degrees are probably in theology, which is the study of confirming something which you already believe, which in turn is based on nothing whatsoever.

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