Pharyngula

Here we go again — Florida’s turn!

How do these yahoos get elected? We’ve got another dumb-ass bill about to emerge from the state of Florida:

State Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville announced through an article in the Florida Times Union that he plans to file a bill this legislative session to require evolution to be balanced with a discussion of intelligent design. Yes, require. Not just allow, but to require.

Are there no senior, wiser heads in these legislatures who are willing to take these clowns by the collar and explain to them that they are an embarrassment to the state and the nation? Or are legislatures all brain-dead from top to bottom?

Comments

  1. #1 efp
    February 8, 2009

    Our legislatures all brain-dead from top to bottom.

  2. #2 Tualha
    February 8, 2009

    Ah, shit. I live here. Gotta do something, and I hate dealing with politicians.

  3. #3 Mystyk
    February 8, 2009

    I’m tempted to say brain-dead from top to bottom. Still, the more important question is why. I figure it’s the combination of charisma and in-group dynamics that propel these idiots to power.

  4. #4 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 8, 2009

    I smell the ACLU warming up already. Hopefully some citizen concerned for their tax dollars will send them the DVD of Nova’s episode Judgement Day, with a note to pay particular attention to the million dollars in legal fees the losers had to pay.

  5. #5 I am so wise
    February 8, 2009

    Perhaps it is time for a politician equivalent for vexatious litigant. I propose that after a certain number of the bills sponsored by or voted for are deemed unconstitutional, the politician in question should be banned from holding political office for a certain number of years. If that person is banned again, they are forbidden holding any office for the rest of their lives.

  6. #6 60613
    February 8, 2009

    Brain dead. No other explanation allows.

  7. #7 Josh
    February 8, 2009

    Everything a legislator does should be viewed through the lens of re-election. All things being equal, an incumbent will always win an election. Therefore, legislators try to act in such a way as to piss off the fewest voters as possible. And in the South, it seems clear that supporting unconstitutional religious nonsense is more popular than evolution. So really, legislators are quite smart. They know who butters their bread, and it ain’t scientists.

  8. #8 TigerHunter
    February 8, 2009

    Hopefully it’ll just end up dead in committee like the other one did.

  9. #9 Richard Harris
    February 8, 2009

    There’s evidence that expressing the same beliefs as the group that you identify with releases dopamine, stimulating the reward region in the brain. In a highly religious country such as the USA, this will promote religious activity, particularly by legislators who think that they are doing a really good job by promoting religion.

    You’ve just got to keep mocking religion as publicly as possible.

  10. #10 James F
    February 8, 2009

    #2

    Tualha,

    Join Florida Citizens for Science (PZ linked to their blog above). They have done outstanding work, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

  11. #11 Ben Stevens
    February 8, 2009

    As soon as I reached; “We want the students to know that the theory of evolution is only a theory, it has never ever been scientifically proven, and it should be accepted as that,” I almost stopped reading. Unfortunately I continued, only to find myself presented with; “How can anyone study the human body and deny that it was created by a higher power?. It is one magnificent collection of genius. It is not an accident that happened to come together.”

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

  12. #12 C Schmidt
    February 8, 2009

    I shudder whenever I pop in to Pharyngula and my current state of Florida has made it to the website. It means something has gone quite wrong when it gets on PZ’s radar.

  13. #13 Doc Bill
    February 8, 2009

    Balanced treatment.

    You don’t need mad Google skillz to find Edwards vs. Aguillard.

  14. #14 Donovan
    February 8, 2009

    Sen. Wise should be evicted from the Florida Senate on the grounds that he is about to cost the state of Florida millions of dollars in legal costs, right in the middle of a crushing recession.

    If this is passed, it will go to court and it will become another Dover, PA and the creationists will.

    Tons of money, time, and attention will be wasted on an issue that cannot legally stand.

  15. #15 'Tis Himself
    February 8, 2009

    Has anyone sent a copy of Kitzmiller v Dover to Senator Wise’s office?

  16. #16 waldteufel
    February 8, 2009

    Nerd, me also smells a lawsuit and another ass-whipping for the Disco Toot.

  17. #17 John
    February 8, 2009

    No, no, no, no.

    Oh no.

  18. #18 Tasida
    February 8, 2009

    Almost the same thing is happening in Iowa: HF 183. It’s one of those damnable academic freedom bills, protecting teachers’ “right” to teach whatever the hell they want, as long as some crack pot scientist somewhere endorses the idea.

    Link to bill:
    http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&hbill=HF183

    Funny. As conservative as this state is, I always thought we were too smart for this. Hopefully it will die in committee.

    Florida, I feel your pain.

  19. #19 Tualha
    February 8, 2009

    #10

    Thanks, James. Am considering it.

  20. #20 Alex
    February 8, 2009

    I hate this state. I got recognized for an award a bit ago at a school board meeting (St. Johns County, so pretty close to this Jacksonville yahoo) and had to suffer through a long ass borderline church service about how God will get us out of this financial crisis if we have faith. Shouldn’t school board meetings be secular?

  21. #21 Zeno
    February 8, 2009

    When I was a legislative aide in Sacramento, my boss was lamenting the limited intellectual capacity of some of his colleagues. I suggested a little test:

    “Why don’t you introduce a bill to lower the freezing point of water to 30 degrees Fahrenheit? Announce it as a measure to reduce crop losses in California. Then see who signs up as a cosponsor.”

    He said it was a great idea but an irresponsible one. (I was his legislative assistant in charge of irresponsible ideas.)

    It’s possible that more intelligent legislators in Florida (I assume at least a few exist) know the sponsor of the ID legislation well enough not to bother to take him aside and tell him to stop wasting his time. Some legislators you want to waste all their time. We’ll know more if the bill actually makes it anywhere in the legislature before being quietly ash-canned.

  22. #22 Chris
    February 8, 2009

    Let me represent Florida here for just a minute (something I don’t do lightly…it is FLa), in my saying we’re not all this stupid!! Jacksonville isn’t even typically this stupid. The thing about our state is that we’ve got several large cities (Orlando especially but also Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, and some others) full of intelligent people who think this kind of thing is silly. But then the rest of the state is awash in confederate flags and jesus fish. Whats the image everyone gets to see though?

  23. #23 BlindRobin
    February 8, 2009

    PZM asks :”…are legislatures all brain-dead from top to bottom?”
    The herring answers: Apparently so. There is so much evidence for this that… Oh I’m so slow this morning. The question WAS rhetorical.


  24. #24 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 8, 2009

    Let me represent Florida here for just a minute (something I don’t do lightly…it is FLa), in my saying we’re not all this stupid!! Jacksonville isn’t even typically this stupid. The thing about our state is that we’ve got several large cities (Orlando especially but also Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, and some others) full of intelligent people who think this kind of thing is silly. But then the rest of the state is awash in confederate flags and jesus fish. Whats the image everyone gets to see though?

    Chris as a South Carolinian I feel your pain. I frequently have to make a similar statement about SC when some moron comes in and makes the “THE SOUTH SHOULD JUST SECEDE!!!!!11111″ blabberings.

    Not that it has happened yet in this post, but typically if any state in the south is mentioned along side something stupid someone will come in and condemn every person who lives south of the 40th parallel.

  25. #25 Pierce R. Butler
    February 8, 2009

    Zeno @ # 21: … more intelligent legislators in Florida (I assume at least a few exist) …

    It would be nice if someone here could name a specific example to support your rash assumption – but don’t bet your beer money on it.

  26. #26 Liberal Atheist
    February 8, 2009

    Let them! But only if they can show that they understand what science is, and if they can explain the ID theory, and if they can demonstrate how ID is science.

    If they object to these conditions, one could be led to suspect that they have no clue what science is, and/or they don’t give a damn about teaching science. Surely that’s not true when it comes to our friends in the ID movement? :)

  27. #27 Meyrick Kirby
    February 8, 2009

    I doubt state senator wise is that stupid at all. Rather this is a nice way to win votes. Any elections coming up soon?

  28. #28 CalGeorge
    February 8, 2009

    “If you’re going to teach evolution, then you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking.”

    Little did I realize that critical thinking is impossible unless someone is trying to shove their religion down your throat.

  29. #29 Hypocee
    February 8, 2009

    He’s a state senator – he represents a portion of the state to the state government. Probably moonlights as a car salesman. At that level of government, everything can and does get “proposed”. Storm in a teapot; I’m surprised whenever Pharyngula stoops this low.

  30. #30 Holbach
    February 8, 2009

    And with that requirement to teach creationism, a requirement to undergo a frontal lobotomy.

  31. #31 James F
    February 8, 2009

    Pierce R. Butler #25,

    Oh, they exist:

    This ["academic freedom"] bill shows conclusively that bad bills can turn legislators into monkeys. This is silly legislation,? said Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota, a college professor.

  32. #32 somesuchchildishthing
    February 8, 2009

    The fact that such ideas are held at all is bad enough, but that they are by people in positions of power is terribly depressing. Wanting to teach critical thinking? Someone should tell them that the whole purpose of religion is to teach blind acceptance and submission, quite the antitheses of the former. Never mind the constant vindication of Darwin’s work and the plain evidence of it all around. No, the underdog always has the better slogans. “No evidence at all! Suppression! Expelled! Fascist Darwinists! Science=Nazism!” I sincerely despair. (Notice the similarities to global warming deniers too.)

  33. #33 Un-objective
    February 8, 2009

    When a scientist formulates his hypothesis, design his experiments and derive his conclusions he uses what? His brain?

    But birds have brains as do fish and an octopus and ants and flies. Why are these not scientists?

    Perhaps birds and fish and insects and invertibrates lack something in their brains that prevents them from engaging in scientific activity.

    What is this something? What is so special about human brains?

    It is a specific ability that the human brain has to manage sensory data – a special way that it treats such stimuli. this ability consists of organising the information it constructs from sensory data in a particular structure:

    The brain does not ?know? the difference between true and false or right and wrong: it accepts sensory data as obtained from a physical world as self evidentially true and constructs a body of information based on that fact. This body of information is processed as valid and true and the brain proceeds to build a body of knowledge in order to have something with which to ensure the survival of the human organism.

    The learning process proceeds from information produced as the result of sensory data captured by the senses. This process allows for the formation of functional units of information that facilitates learning in humans. Thus the operating system (that a human use to function) is produced from the physical world to form a body of knowledge (a philosophy) that is used by a human to drive his actions and choices.

    Now some people, when they see a stick bend when it is inserted into water, will intuitively think that the water somehow bends the stick. They may insert a hand to feel for the bend and find that it is not in fact bent.

    Depending on their entire body of learnt knowledge they will reach the following of two possible conclusions: The stick is not actually bent and there is some other mechanism/force/principle that explains the apparent bend. Others may conclude that the gods are malicious and makes the stick appear to be bent to confuse humans.

    Now if their conclusions and actions are derived from a pre-existing science module in their brains then science will be a natural and evolved product of the brain and ALL people will automatically start acting like a scientist and investigate the properties of light when it moves through some medium.
    If however the functional system of their brains consists of an unknowing body of knowledge built up via sensory input, that allows not for automatic knowledge of the principles of nature but rather of loose aggregations of existents in nature including some learnt ideas conjured up by the bad thinking of functional humans they will conclude that the gods are malicious.

    I contend that all people including ALL scientists start off in this manner. In order to learn about thinking and science and the principles of science and to act in a manner that will provide specific knowledge of nature one needs some sort of operating system for the brain and that operating system is philosophy.

    Thus a scientist does not have a facuous brain from which he formulates his hypothesis, design his experiments and infer his conclusions: that smacks of divine revelation -
    A scientist rather have an active brain that questions many/all of the assumptions and conclusions derived from common sense. But without a philosophical foundation he cannot do science.
    The scientist is someone who investigates his common sense evaluations (his philosopchy) of the information derived from sensory data. A philosopher is someone who uses his common sense evaluations (his philosophy) to investigate those common sense evaluations.

    Without a mind (the activity of the brain) the brain cannot function. without a body of knowledge the brain cannot have acitivity (A MIND)- you dont have to believe a philosopher: it is common practise to stimulate activity in the brain prior to scanning it because it is commonly recognised that without activity the brain is dead and cannot return anything from a scan.

    Thus you need an operating system (a philosophy ) before you can be a scientist. Science is an activity of the brain that depends on a particular structural organisation of the brain (a philosophy).

    Thus you can use your particulare philosophy to make pronouncements on the philosophies of other people (on PHILOSOPHERS) but you cannot use it to make pronouncements on philosophy without indicting yourself. Philosophy is primary – science as activity and body of knowledge is antecedent/contingent upon/follows from philosophy and not the other way around.

  34. #34 10ch.org
    February 8, 2009

    The only good discussion of intelligent design is to say that it is a pseudo-scientific attempt to bring a disguised creationism into schools, with no scientific backing.

  35. #35 Pierce R. Butler
    February 8, 2009

    I did a little research in my email archive on the misnamed Sen. Wise.

    Wise, a member of the 1st Baptist Church,
    * was a co-sponsor of Sen. Rhonda Storms’s pro-creationism bill last year,
    * promoted the brain-dead side during the Terri Schiavo case,
    * worked to kill a school anti-bullying bill,
    * was endorsed by the so-called Fla Right to Life group,
    * opposes gay marriage, and
    * opposes comprehensive sex education.

    The letter following his name is the one you think it is.

    The only thing he seems to have gotten right is speaking out against Florida’s racist law stripping persons with one felony conviction of their right to vote forever.

  36. #36 bigjohn756
    February 8, 2009

    How do these yahoos get elected?

    PZ, you need to remember who’s voting. Yahoos will elect yahoos. It doesn’t matter if it’s Florida or Texas, or Louisiana or wherever.

  37. #37 kathy s
    February 8, 2009

    To Richard Harris:
    I would be very interested in a link to any related study. Thanks so much!
    To Tis Himself:
    We should flood his mailroom with the DVD!!!
    To Tualha:
    As a member of the Board for Florida Citizens for Science – thanks for the plug! Brandon runs the most amazing blog on our website! Well, second only to PZ’s of course!

  38. #38 Richard Harris
    February 8, 2009

    Rep. Alan Hays, a Republican from Umatilla, sponsored the “critical analysis” bill in the House last year and said he would support a similar effort this session. He thinks it’s likely to pass this time in a close vote.
    “The thing we learned last year is that, No. 1, we must keep the discussion scientific. I don’t know of anyone who is in favor of teaching religion in public,” he said. “We want the students to know that the theory of evolution is only a theory, it has never ever been scientifically proven, and it should be accepted as that.”
    Hays said part of his beliefs come from his training as a dentist, which involved an extensive education in anatomy.
    “How can anyone study the human body and deny that it was created by a higher power?” he said. “It is one magnificent collection of genius.
    “It is not an accident that happened to come together.”

    These people are mentally defective. They?d rather believe in an absurd Bronze Age superstition than think rationally. For instance, if there were a loving god, wouldn?t it have arranged human sexuality so as to avoid the trauma of rape or sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, & venereal disease, in a manner such that men could only have sex with women when the women wanted it? And wouldn?t it have fixed a whole load of other design flaws?

    Fools!

  39. #39 somesuchchildishthing
    February 8, 2009

    Un-objective: you posted that why?

  40. #40 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    February 8, 2009

    My guess is that even though the creationists’ strategies have been repeatedly been tossed like so many cookies by the courts, it is all because of liberal activist judges who hate Jesus and America. If they keep on trying this crap then eventually they will turn the tide and a Federal Judiciary appointed largely by President Palin will finally see God’s wisdom in creating America and allow Creationism to be taught as science.

    They know they are going to lose now…but in 2015 things may be different and all of their efforts won’t seem so quixotic.

  41. #41 JaxRes
    February 8, 2009

    I live in Jax. Color me completely unsurprised by this.

  42. #42 Pierce R. Butler
    February 8, 2009

    James F @ # 31 – thanks for that little ray of sunshine.

    Better yet: Keith Fitzgerald was re-elected last November!

  43. #43 Richard Harris
    February 8, 2009

    kathy s, see this week’s New Scientist. Also, there’s a punishment centre in the brain, activated by finding out that one has an opinion that deviates from the group consensus. Try searching Scott Wiltermuth at Stanford.

  44. #44 Embarrassed
    February 8, 2009

    I apologize for Un-objective’s spastic outburst. He hasn’t taken his meds this morning. Please be assured that he is now back in a safe, padded cell. As well, please be advised that not everyone who has studied philosophy is raving nutter.

    And now we return to our regular discussion…

  45. #45 Pierce R. Butler
    February 8, 2009

    Hays said part of his beliefs come from his training as a dentist, which involved an extensive education in anatomy.

    “How can anyone study the human body and deny that it was created by a higher power?” he said. “It is one magnificent collection of genius.

    “It is not an accident that happened to come together.”

    Hays, like Don Leroy in Texas, has obviously had a blessed career, in which he’s never had to deal with misaligned wisdom teeth. Praise the Lord!

  46. #46 The Biologista
    February 8, 2009

    Thank goodness someone is willing to promote this important scientfical debate in the arena that is American high schools. Hopefully this will prevent yet more US children from going down that terrible path from God to evolution to atheism to murder/cannibalism.

  47. #47 waldteufel
    February 8, 2009

    Hey, “Un-objective”@33, did you actually write all of that by yourself, or did you copy and paste it from the bathroom wall at the Home for the Bewildered?

    Like “Embarassed”@44, I fear for your mental health.

  48. #48 blf
    February 8, 2009

    [T]his will prevent yet more US children from going down that terrible path from God to evolution to atheism to murder/cannibalism.

    Yet another reason to oppose this lunacy. We need more cannibals! The ecological impact of the existing ‘merkins must be reduced; eating ‘em could help. However, there’s far too much fat in the average ‘merkin, and I’m concerned you could catch stoopidity ? which is one reason I stick mostly to babies, much less fat and stupid, besides being tender and juicy.

  49. #49 raven
    February 8, 2009

    Hopefully this will prevent yet more US children from going down that terrible path from God to evolution to atheism to murder/cannibalism.

    Yes. It is too bad that the xian cults’ expert on morality and science, Jeffry Dahmer, isn’t around. He was silenced by the state of Wisconsin executing him.

  50. #50 Dutchdoc
    February 8, 2009

    He was silenced by the state of Wisconsin executing him
    Let’s try to keep the facts straight, even if they’re not relevant to the discussion.
    Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered by inmates, not executed by the state.

  51. #51 Miko
    February 8, 2009

    In what sense is merely “allowing” it really worse than requiring it? Scale, perhaps. But you still give the same legitimacy to nonsense, and what’s worse create a precedent for government to claim the power to legislate scientific truth.

  52. #52 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 8, 2009

    Let’s try to keep the facts straight, even if they’re not relevant to the discussion.
    Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered by inmates, not executed by the state.

    In all truthfulness, he was murdered by goons hired by the Evo-Mafia to silence him from telling our true purpose.

  53. #53 Holbach
    February 8, 2009

    Un-objectrive @ 33

    Wow, that is so deep that I won’t even bother to comment, but just step away from it so that I don’t step in it.

  54. #54 Grapefruit League
    February 8, 2009

    Well, my high school students will be thrilled. Some of them recently told me that their pastors had forbid them to learn about evolution! It’s a culture war, and the other side is armed with misinformation. Maybe we need to counter with creative misinformation of our own.

  55. #55 Grapefruit League
    February 8, 2009

    Oops, change that to “forbidden them.”

  56. #56 S.Scott
    February 8, 2009

    Alex #20 – Hey!! We’re neighbors!! Bev Slough is my school board rep… aauurrgghh!
    For anyone that is interested – Florida Citizens for Science (PZ linked to it) is a great place to keep up to date and involved. The Sensuous Curmudgeon also keeps a VERY close eye on this crap. http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/
    We need more northerners in Florida please??!! We seem to be on a constant teeter totter. We need some more forces to keep the “dark side” down – for good!!

    (C’mon – I know you’re all like REALLY COLD!! You WANT to — riiiight??) :-)

  57. #57 Brownian
    February 8, 2009

    Maybe we need to counter with creative misinformation of our own.

    To fundies (and many-to-most conservatives) evidence is misinformation.

  58. #58 Anne
    February 8, 2009

    To be sure, religion belongs in the religion classroom, not in the science lab. But I also think it’s time to quit the bickering. I’ve posted about this today on my own fledgling blog, at anneminard.com. My site doesn’t see much discussion yet, so I’d be delighted if you and/or your readers check it out.

  59. #59 SOCR-4735
    February 8, 2009

    @Anne, #58:

    You’re right. It’s time to “stop bickering”, as you put it. But the creationists just won’t shut up.

  60. #60 Christie
    February 8, 2009

    Wow. They really need to stop this one. I don’t care how messed up FL is – let’s not make it worse!

  61. #61 talking snake
    February 8, 2009

    See, the biology in FL is way too strong. Sen. Wise (weird name for a dumb guy) wants to dilute it with ID to protect the children.

  62. #62 AndrewC
    February 8, 2009

    Yeah, living here is poo.

  63. #63 Secular Planet
    February 8, 2009

    As a constituent of Mr. Wise (but someone who didn’t vote for him), I sincerely apologize to the rest of humanity. To answer the opening question, he got elected by distributing Wise potato chips to houses. It’s a local brand or something.

  64. #64 cactusren
    February 8, 2009

    Anne @58: I agree–I hate all this bickering. But what exactly are we supposed to do when a bill is introduced that not only promotes, but requires, the teaching of anti-scientific religious dogma? Until legislators stop trying to force their religious views into schools, we have to keep fighting.

  65. #65 raven
    February 8, 2009

    Well, my high school students will be thrilled. Some of them recently told me that their pastors had forbid them to learn about evolution!

    Oh gee! Sounds like those wingnut pastors are afraid of the truth. Stupid move. The brighter kids will figure out that the pastors are both afraid and lying and they won’t be impressed.

    So how are they going to forbid them from “learning about evolution.” The good shepards of the death cults would have to pull their internet connections, library cards, and yank them out of school.

  66. #66 MS
    February 8, 2009

    Re #45: You called it. I’ve never understood how anyone involved in medicine in any way, however tangential, could possibly be a creationist. I mean, their whole job is fixing up the blunders in the crown of creation, made by the perfect creator.

    I occasionally have bad dreams about that awful headpiece I had to wear to correct my overbite (thank goodness I only had to wear it at home, not in public), not to mention my impacted wisdom teeth (does ANYONE have those come in without difficulty and actually fit in their mouth?). I mean, I had my braces off over thirty years ago and I’m still dreaming about them.

    And don’t get me started on my grandfather’s diabetes, my other grandfather’s alcoholism, my mom’s rheumatic heart disease…

  67. #67 raven
    February 8, 2009

    Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered by inmates, not executed by the state.

    That is what They want you to think. The cannibalistic evolutionists were afraid their secret would get out. Can’t have the food supply stampeding or something.

  68. #68 eigenvector
    February 8, 2009

    I live in California and I would venture to say every politician here is “brain-dead…top to bottom.” Send money!

  69. #69 talking snake
    February 8, 2009

    #21
    Well said. A bill to lower the freezing point of water so crops won’t freeze doesn’t seem “irresponsible” at all along side “academic freedom” legislation.

  70. #70 cactusren
    February 8, 2009

    MS @66: Oh, but you see, all those bad things occur because Eve ate the wrong kind of fruit. This made God so angry that he had to go back and put imperfections into his once perfect creation. And since it’s all Eve’s fault, then all women must be evil. [/creationist babble]

    Seriously, though–I agree. Any serious study of anatomy (especially comparative anatomy, which I guess medical doctors and dentists don’t tend to care about) can only show you the ad hoc way in which our bodies have developed.

  71. #71 Glen Davidson
    February 8, 2009

    If only we could be sure that all judges were sound, I’d almost be glad to see it pass. Another official judgment against ID would be welcome.

    It would come eventually, as I think the Supreme Court of the US would still rule against. But any judgments in favor would hearten the IDiots–and are not impossible–regardless of how it ended.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  72. #72 KristinMH
    February 8, 2009

    Oh, Anne, still pimping that blog.

    I don’t think this is a situation that calls for more understanding or bridging of gaps. Defending science education != bickering.

    If you care about your fellow human being, you don’t stand back and nod condescendingly as they make fools of themselves. This dude is seriously and dangerously wrong, and the only kind thing to do is stand up and tell him and the entire world why.

  73. #73 AnthonyK
    February 8, 2009

    A teeny weeny little question. Is it possible that Mr Wise is only putting forward this bill just to show his homies that he, at least, is fighting the culture wars? That he doesn’t expect it to succeed but can at least say he tried?

    It may be that he can just get an “off the peg” errr…freedom…bill and sponsor it, without having to do much work.

    I mean, surely, there is zero chance that it will pass. Meanwhile, it gets us all excited and will tie up the admirable Florida Citizens for Science for months to come.

    Maybe, just maybe, he’s not as stupid as I think, or you think, or all the available evidence suggests.

  74. #74 Priya Lynn
    February 8, 2009

    Now we need Heddle to show up and tell us how there’s no comflict between science and religion.

  75. #75 Scott Hatfield, OM
    February 8, 2009

    Are there no senior, wiser heads in these legislatures who are willing to take these clowns by the collar and explain to them that they are an embarrassment to the state and the nation? Or are legislatures all brain-dead from top to bottom?

    I’d like to point out that the people who put these things out there in the public square often just do so in order to placate a certain constituency. Many of them could care less whether or not such things come law: the important thing to the politician is that they can go back to the churches and say, “See? I’m fighting for YOU! You need to support me, and the rest of agenda X, in order to keep me in office, fighting for YOU!”

    In other words, the rightness or wrongness of such moves as par as the curriculum is a secondary consideration. Many of these politicians are probably hoping that the evolution types (especially the godless ones) will beat their breasts in public about these proposals, so that they can then further ingratiate themselves with the faithful: “Look, I’m one of you, and everything you need to know about my proposal can be seen by who’s against us….those dern atheists! So, please, friend, please support ME as I work to protect all of US from the heathen.”

    The best strategy is probably to get other elected officials to point out that regardless of what we privately believe, the courts have struck these things down repeatedly, at great cost to the losing side, and conclude: “In this economy, it doesn’t make good sense to underwrite a fishing expedition in the judicial system, one that will almost certainly fail and leave the taxpayers holding the bag.”

  76. #76 bobxxxx
    February 8, 2009

    Grapefruit League @54:

    Well, my high school students will be thrilled. Some of them recently told me that their pastors had forbid them to learn about evolution!

    My contempt for Christians grows every day. Those pastors are no better than the Taliban in Afghanistan who attack young girls who go to school to learn how to read.

  77. #77 Benjamin Geiger
    February 8, 2009

    I’m not surprised at all by this.

    I live in Polk County, right between Orlando and Tampa, and our school board was the first to mention opposing the new science standards [1]. Only two of the seven stood up for evolution (though they both admitted they were themselves IDiots). One of those two, the one in my district, ended up getting defeated. I haven’t looked into the policies of the new guy, but I don’t doubt he’s an IDiot too.

    [1] “Enter the Pastafarians. And Wired Magazine. And national science blog Pharyngula. And local bloggers.”

  78. #78 waldteufel
    February 8, 2009

    One encouraging thing is that even the evil Ken Ham has expressed concern about young people going off to college and leaving their churches.

    Education is anathema to godbotters. Some, perhaps not enough yet, but some do leave home, get a decent education in college, and learn that their pastors were ape-shit crazy fraudsters and their parents were drooling ignoramuses.

    I’m with bobxxxx on this. Those pastors are a slimy, unctuous, and fraudulent lot to be sure.

  79. #79 AnthonyK
    February 8, 2009

    There should be a politlical defence against all such bills – the “You’re shitting me, right?” Ammendment.
    Equally, there should be a legal statute to apply in all negligence cases – the “It serves you right, you moron” defence.
    Where’s an alternative universe when you need one?

  80. #80 Trumpeter
    February 8, 2009

    As an outsider (Canadian), I’ve watched these seemingly unending back and forth moves with interest. Please correct me if I’m wrong but there appear to be two issues at stake. Due to the inviolable and supreme court tested separation of church and state it is not allowed to insert religious doctrine in state run educational institutions. This is a given and seldom is it seriously challenged. However, forms of creationism, intelligent design and possible future incarnations of God related design/creation are occasionally added to the curricula of various local and state boards of education and then defeated in state superior courts.
    My understanding is, these lower court decisions have been hailed as ultimate victories by the secular portions of society and the boards of education involved fold not wishing to appeal these decisions to the ultimate arbiter the Supreme Court.
    To me this seems more than a constant annoyance but a truly noble cause that deserves more proactive response from the scientific, educational and secular segments of U.S. society.
    My question is simply why has no-one on the secular side launched a Supreme Court suit to stop this nonsense once and for all?

  81. #81 AnthonyK
    February 8, 2009

    I suggested just this in the post above! But then I guess Canada is in an alternative universe.

  82. #82 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    Re: various replies to un-objective @33;

    I’ve seen on a number of blogs recently an invasion of the armchair quarterbacks of philosophy. They don’t tend to be just cut-n-paste merchants; or their spelling and grammar would be better. When criticised, they tend to get stroppy; witness one NeilB recently.

    They seem to be pushing some variant of ‘introspection leads to truth better than extrospection’. I think they imagine that if we accept their first gambit that philosophy trumps science, then they can claim the mind side of the mind-brain partnership for jeezus. They are rightly critiqued on their wishful thinking fallacy.

    Think of it as taking the overtly religious bit out of answers in genesis.

    Also, good Poa @46.

  83. #83 mothra
    February 8, 2009

    @80. The secular community does not launch court cases as there is too much to loose. Just ONE district/ supreme court loss would change the educational landscape of the U.S. for a generation (or more) and not for the better. Contrawise, the creationists (or IDiots) have nothing to loose but other people’s money so they keep trying.

  84. #84 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    Re Trumpeter;

    I think it’s to do with the Doctrine of Standing. Only those directly affected; parents of kids whose schools go batshit insane, are permitted to sue. These tend not to be the most well-off in terms of affording legal battles.

    There is advocacy for bodies like ACLU and NCSE to help those with Standing to move the process forward.

    The DoS is not legally sound according to many. See the Dispatches blog for discussion of this.

  85. #85 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    On a more direct form of challenge to this:

    Isn’t there some way of impeaching the representative for misappropriating(sp?) public funds?

  86. #86 MadScientist
    February 8, 2009

    Fortunately Florida still has ‘gators. Someone take the senator on a trip through the bayou, preferably with Dick Cheney, some beer, and some shotguns, and let Nature take its course.

    All those in favor of renaming the senator Stephen Stupid (also Dumb Steve) say ‘aye!’

  87. #87 SAMIZDAT
    February 8, 2009

    PZ!! You need to do something about this dude! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/4550448/Charles-Darwin-zealots-have-made-science-a-substitute-religion.html

    You can rip the S**t out of US creationists all you like–but they’re a rarity over here in the UK. My level headed parents actually read the bit about bats and NODDED THOUGHTFULLY AT ONE ANOTHER. Even AFTER I pointed out about the quote-mine, irreducable complexity thing, and the Cambrian explosion…This is a nightmare!!

  88. #88 Bad Albert
    February 8, 2009

    Why is it these idiots always go after the high schools and elementry schools? They never seem to propose any bills that require ID to be taught in colleges and universities. If they feel so strongly that it’s good enough for grade schools then it must be good enough for higher levels of education, right?

  89. #89 LiquidThinker
    February 8, 2009

    Oh $DEITY. Will this madness ever end? State Sen. Stephen Wise of Jacksonville seems utterly determined to kill science and education. I’m originally from Florida, but, man, it just seems my beloved home state just keeps getting wackier.

  90. #90 Doubting Foo
    February 8, 2009

    Great…my city and state in the news for being morons.

  91. #91 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    Re SAMIZDAT;

    Ooh, I love your “Save the Planet” logo!

  92. #92 Janine, Ignorant Slut
    February 8, 2009

    SAMIZDAT, I screamed in frustration and gave up as soon as I read the bit about the limbs being useless in the transition from mouse to bat. Because leaping and gliding from tree to tree would be so useless.

  93. #93 Mr Twiddle
    February 8, 2009

    Teach the controversy? Evolution versus Creationism is not a scientific dispute, it’s a cultural debate taking place in the public arena. Science education is not a demoractic process nor is it dictated by the majority. It’s about teaching the best of what we currently know about how the universe works.

  94. #94 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    Re SAMIZDAT;

    I like your blog but you do seem to have the occasional blindspot. I think you will find this link, and links therein can answer many of your questions.

    Also, some basic physics will come in handy.

  95. #95 Coyote
    February 8, 2009

    Annndddd this is why I moved away. Florida: Love the weather, love the beaches, dear god I hated the people.

  96. #96 Mr Twiddle
    February 8, 2009

    Meanwhile Jesus and Darwin are fighting again….
    Drawing by Derek Chatwood:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bar-art/546252526

    Jesus Christ
    Positives: Impressive stamina.
    Historically known for taking a beating,
    staying on his feet.
    Has history of miraculous resurrection.
    Negatives: Invented Pacifism.
    Dangerous habit of turning the other cheek.

    Charles Darwin
    Positives: Invented Natural Selection.
    Understands what’s at stake with “Survival of the Fittest”.
    Negatives: Theology student,
    nearly became an Anglican parson.
    Mixed feelings punching his Lord’s Only Son and Savior in the face.

  97. #97 Dark Matter
    February 8, 2009

    Slightly o/t, but it does relate to the evolution – my local university nontheists group is hosting a discussion on Darwin Day of evolution myths and misinformation. They’re having a couple of bio professors and a bio anthro professor speak and I’m pretty excited. It’s partly a Q/A session, though, and although I’m extremely interested in the topic, I don’t really know where to start. Can anyone suggest some cool, informative topics to start these science-y types on? What are some good questions to ask a bio professor about evolution?

  98. #98 AnthonyK
    February 8, 2009

    A few suggestions:
    What’s the evidence for evolution – how do we know it happened?
    If evolution is “only a theory” why do nearly all scientists accept it?
    Could you give some examples where you can show evolution in action?
    What does the fossil record show?
    Where does DNA fit in with all of this?

    Similar to creationist “objections” but not hostile. I mean, I would enjoy answering those questions, and I’m not a biologist (but I am a biological entity!)

  99. #99 Libbie
    February 8, 2009

    Hopefully wise teachers in Florida will “discuss” ID in the proper context. Proper context begins at 5:54

    Wait, strike that. Hopefully THIS STUPID SHIT BILL WON’T PASS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

  100. #100 Pierce R. Butler
    February 8, 2009

    Dark Matter @ # 97 – Ask ‘em to list a few examples of dubious functionality in the human body/genome which no “intelligent designer” would have included.

  101. #101 Ted Powell
    February 8, 2009

    Anne @58: My site doesn’t see much discussion yet, so I’d be delighted if you and/or your readers check it out.

    I did, but the fact that the links are rendered as dark blue on a dark brown background made it pretty much unreadable.

  102. #102 Die Anyway
    February 8, 2009

    Damn. As a Floridian I am sorry to see this, but not surprised of course. “My Town” (Seminole, a suburb of St. Petersburg) is Jesus fish territory. I drive by at least 30 churches (and one homeopathy clinic) on my daily commute. If it weren’t for the fact that I love the beaches and the climate, I would be lookin’ for sanity elsewhere.

    BTW, I didn’t see PZ blog about it but I watched the tribute to George Carlin on PBS a couple of nights ago. Brought tears to my eyes. Double damn.

  103. #103 Kel
    February 8, 2009

    When shit like this continually comes out, it’s easy to see why so many biologists are hostile to religion. As much as moderates can preach that evolution and religion are compatible (and on that I do agree,) it should be pretty evident to everyone (maybe apart from Ken Miller) that the anti-evolution attacks are at their core a religious endeavour.

  104. #104 RickK
    February 8, 2009

    *rhythmically bashes head against keyboard*

    Why why why why are there so many people trying to make our children ignorant!?!

    Why can they only seem to find inspiration in the stories invented by man, and never in the glorious realities of our world and universe?

  105. #105 Kobra
    February 8, 2009

    Y’know, I was just starting to feel good about having Bill Nelson in office. Thanks for reminding me that there are still kooks in FL.

    To whom do I send my letters of rational outrage?

  106. #106 James F
    February 8, 2009

    I wish I had time to praise all of the sensible legislators on both sides of the aisle who voted against the “academic freedom” bills, but I have to share the story of an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Deutch and Sen. Nan Rich. In a failed but valiant attempt to sabotage the “academic freedom” bill, they proposed amending it to become the ?Evolution and Healthy Teens Academic Freedom Act,” adding a huge section requiring schools to teach a “medically accurate, factual and age-appropriate sex education curriculum.” Read more here. I’m happy to add that Deutch and Rich are still in the Florida Senate.

  107. #107 eddie
    February 8, 2009

    Dark Matter
    Another topic is how sedimentation works and how this relates fossils to dates. There’s a lot of misinformation about floods and such.

  108. #108 Richard Harris
    February 9, 2009

    AnthonyK @ # 98, I’d suggest that you read a book on evolution, one written by a scientist from a relevant discipline. You could also read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”, which is dated, but still interesting. He knew nothing about DNA, but still identified the basic idea of natural selection as the principle cause of evolution.

    The amount of evidence supporting natural selection as the principle cause of evolution, discovered since Darwin’s time, is both diverse & extensive. And there’s been nothing that goes against the theory, such as finding a fossilized rabbit from the Cambrian..

  109. #109 Jason Streitfeld
    February 9, 2009

    I’m about as strong an atheist as they come, and I have no interest in supporting Intelligent Design. Senator Wise’s argument is flawed, and Intelligent Design should not be thought of us a viable alternative to evolutionary theory.

    That said, I disagre with the overwhelming trend of antagonism towards Wise’s proposed legislation. Here’s why:

    http://specterofreason.blogspot.com/2009/02/wise-on-intelligent-design-in-classroom.html

  110. #110 clinteas
    February 9, 2009

    Blogwhore @ 109,

    from your blog:

    Despite what many people think, a discussion of Intelligent Design is relevant to a science education

    ID is creationism is religion,so discuss it in religion class if you must,but it has no place at all in a science class.Its religion packed in a fancy schmancy envelope of pseudoscience.

  111. #111 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 9, 2009

    Intelligent design is only relevant to science education as a classic example of pseudoscience. Other than to show real science works, it has zip, zero, nada to offer.

  112. #112 Mike
    February 9, 2009

    It’s probably been said but…

    ain’t it funny that someone named Wise is so fucking stupid!

  113. #113 KI
    February 9, 2009

    Rev BDC@24
    I hope you don’t think my comment about not going south of the fortieth parallel the other day was meant as a slam to the people who live there, I was referencing the bugs and snakes that don’t live up here in tundra-land.

  114. #114 Mike Cline
    February 9, 2009

    Wise might be Stupid, but at least many of the Times Union readers are not. Follow the link to the original article and you’ll find that most of the comments will restore some of your faith in Floridians. We aren’t all stupid and many of us teach evolution in the classroom with impunity, whether it’s in the damn standards or not. I teach geography and history and spend at least one full lesson on evolution.

  115. #115 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 9, 2009

    KI, nah. Not at all.

    I understood what you were saying.

    I just used 40 parallel instead of mason dixon line.

  116. #116 KI
    February 9, 2009

    Cool. Mason/Dixon line always reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon where one side is industrial desert and the other side is lush jungle. “Ahh-magnolias”.

  117. #117 AnthonyK
    February 9, 2009

    Richard Harris @ 108 – I’ve read loads of books about evolution – and I’m reading a perticularly good one at the monent, Dan Protheroe’s “Evolution – what the fossils say, and why it matters” – so I reckon I know about as much about the subjsct as it’s possible to know without spending ~8 years studying biology. I’m pretty much obsessed by the creation/evolution debate (which is how I came to this brilliant site).
    My suggestions to dark matter for questions to ask a biologist were purely to get experts to be able to talk about the overwhelming evidence for evolution while bringing up their own favourite examples. I could wax lyrical on any of those questions! I’d hate anyone to think I was in any doubt about the issue, but these seem to me to be exactly the kind of “simple” questions that scientists need to answer.

  118. #118 H-Bob
    February 9, 2009

    Paul Krassner said “Man is the only animal that laughs and has state legislatures” !

  119. #119 William Murray
    February 9, 2009

    Sigh…

    Every time I get nostalgic about having grown up in Jacksonville, I read or hear about _another_ example of why I moved away from there. Behavior like this (unlike what a previous posted stated) is typical of the area.

  120. #120 mothworm
    February 9, 2009

    I grew up in Jacksonville as well, and still go home occasionally to visit my family. This doesn’t sound the least bit surprising. It would be nice to believe that the situation has improved, judging by the few defenses posted above, but when last I lived there, The Florida Times Union was the most over-the-top piece of propaganda I have ever encountered. It might as well have been published by the First Baptist Church (for non-locals, FBC owns most of the city’s downtown area, not to mention the minds of most of the city’s residents). Anti-evolution/science/atheist/progressive/gay/feminist editorials and letters to the editor were a daily staple of the paper.

  121. #121 Jason Streitfeld
    February 9, 2009

    #110 and #111

    I guess I’m a blogwhore for posting a link to my own blog here?

    Should I have posted my entire argument, instead of posting that link?

    Anyway, clinteas, you say that “ID is creationism is religion,so discuss it in religion class if you must,but it has no place at all in a science class.”

    I addressed this in my argument. Your suggestion that religious issues have no place in a science class is philosophically suspect. Do you have some argument to motivate your disagreement with Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins on this matter?

    NerdOfRedhead, you say, “Intelligent design is only relevant to science education as a classic example of pseudoscience. Other than to show real science works, it has zip, zero, nada to offer.”

    I’m not sure if you were responding to my argument, but if you were, then let me clarify something. I never said ID has any special scientific content of its own to offer. Rather, the fact is that ID is a societal force that must be reckoned with. Yes, it is pseudoscience, and yes, by debunking it in the classroom we can better teach our students how real science works; and we can help them overcome their prejudices against scientific methodology in general and evolutionary theory in particular.

    But, hey, dismiss me as a blogwhore, if that floats your boat. I’m just trying to get people thinking here.

  122. #122 ArchangelChuck
    February 9, 2009

    Wait a minute. Didn’t a federal judge rule it UNCONSTITUTIONAL to teach it in school, as a religious movement?

  123. #123 James F
    February 9, 2009

    #122

    Technically, Judge Jones’s decision applies to the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It was such a powerful legal precedent, however, that it would be foolish to essentially try the same issue all over again.

  124. #124 DGKnipfer
    February 9, 2009

    “Are there no senior, wiser heads in these legislatures who are willing to take these clowns by the collar and explain to them that they are an embarrassment to the state and the nation? Or are legislatures all brain-dead from top to bottom?”

    I thought brain damage was a requirement anymore for those seeking elected office.

  125. #125 Lowell
    February 9, 2009

    Archangel Chuck # 122,

    The Kitzmiller decision didn’t address a situation where ID was discussed in the science classroom to point out it’s pseudoscientific nature or its religious motivations. It addressed a situation where it was portrayed as valid science (“teach the controversy” and all that nonsense).

    So, no. I don’t think the ruling prohibits all discussion of ID.

  126. #126 Lowell
    February 9, 2009

    Jason Streitfeld,

    Maybe I’m missing something, but the kind of legislation Wise is talking about would require teachers to teach ID as good science.

    How do you get from that to teachers debunking ID in the classroom and textbooks containing a unit on why ID is pseudoscience?

  127. #127 Jason Streitfeld
    February 9, 2009

    Lowell #126

    I doubt Wise’s proposed legislation would specify anything about the scientific status of ID. The kinds of legislation ID supporters go after is much vaguer. If they tried to present legislation that explicitly referred to ID as science, it would never pass mustard.

    I grant that it is not such a small step to go from a rather vague call for discussion and “critical thinking” to an explicit debunking of ID in the classroom. But that doesn’t mean the steps aren’t there to be taken.

  128. #128 Jason Streitfeld
    February 9, 2009

    Just to push the point a little more . . .

    It’s not like I think this kind of legislation is going to make everything okay. The point is rather that the reasons for opposing this legislation are no good. The reasons scientists oppose this legislation is because either they trust in NOMA or because they don’t trust in the possibility of a decent science education. We’d better spend our time and our political efforts arguing for the explicit inclusion of ID in the public science classroom–again, as crankery to debunk, not as legitimate science.

    So, while Wise’s call for “discussion” and “critical thinking” is clearly based on ignorance and faulty reasoning, we shouldn’t take that as a reason to reject such a call. We just need to push for the right sort of discussion, and the right sort of critical thinking.

  129. #129 ArchangelChuck
    February 9, 2009

    Lowell wrote:

    So, no. I don’t think the ruling prohibits all discussion of ID.

    No, it doesn’t, but it does prohibit all teaching of ID in the classroom, as would be required by Wise’s legislation.

    The ruling is worded as follows:

    With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

    If I’m reading correctly, that is precisely what Wise’s legislation aims to do. Thankfully, his colleagues aren’t buying it. :)

  130. #130 ArchangelChuck
    February 9, 2009

    Correction: It does NOT prohibit it as I mistakenly typed; rather, it sets a powerful legal precedent.

  131. #131 Jason Streitfeld
    February 10, 2009

    ArchangelChuck #129

    “No, it doesn’t, but it does prohibit all teaching of ID in the classroom, as would be required by Wise’s legislation.”

    Nobody’s seen Wise’s legislation yet. So far, he’s only called for “discussion” and “critical thinking.” Of course, he’s implied that ID offers a valid alternative to evolutionary theory, but any language to that effect would destroy any chances of his legislation passing. So I’m not expecting to see it.

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