Pharyngula

How did we get to this point?

The Texas Board of Education is led by Don McLeroy, a creationist dentist and plagiarist who believes that the earth is only 6000 years old.

Just stop there and savor it. The man who wants to dictate what all of the children in one of the largest educational systems in the country should learn about science believes his pathetic and patently false superstition supersedes the evidence and the informed evaluation of virtually all the scientists in the world. There is no other way to put it than to point out that McLeroy is a blithering idiot who willingly puts his incompetence on display. His job is not at risk, and he’s even advancing his freakish agenda with some success.

It’s a marvel, isn’t it? A fellow just wants to laugh and shoo him back to his church and his dental practice, but instead, he’s been given all this power over the education of American children, and it’s hard to laugh, because it is so damned terrifying.

But wait! The unbelievable insanity is not yet complete! The Texas school board is debating and will vote on a revised curriculum this week, a curriculum in which the uninformed, uneducated doubts of this arrogantly ignorant man will be enshrined in the lesson plans of every child in Texas. And the board is about evenly split!

There’s a deeper problem here than the simple superficial fact that we’ve got influential people trying to push nonsense into science classrooms. It’s that somehow, we have a system that gives flaming incompetents this kind of power — that we willingly hand over important decisions about the education of our children to people who aren’t qualified, who have no understanding of science, and who want prioritize a page and a half of vague, poetic metaphor from a ragged old hodge-podge of a book of mythology over the concrete, well-tested, and well-documented body of modern scientific information.

It’s ludicrous and painful to watch. Steve Schafersman will be live-blogging the proceedings. I think we’re obligated to follow along, in order to suffer for our national shortcomings. Think of it as penance, and as an object lesson. We need to correct the structural problems in the governance of our educational systems, no matter which way the decision goes. If you are in Texas, and you care about good science, then you should plan on showing up and testifying.

Even that is sad and pitiful. We rely now on getting enough presentable people to show up and speak forcefully in order to persuade a state board of education to support science?

Comments

  1. #1 MH
    March 24, 2009

    That’s democracy, folks!

  2. #2 KI
    March 24, 2009

    I’ve said it before, we need to get Minnesota, Wisconsin and the UP into Canada, if they’ll have us. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire can come along if they’d like.

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    March 24, 2009

    The man who wants to dictate what all of the children in one of the largest educational systems in the country should learn about science believes his pathetic and patently false superstition supersedes the evidence and the informed evaluation of virtually all the scientists in the world.

    But, but isn’t that what freedom means?

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

  4. #4 Phoenix Woman
    March 24, 2009

    The problem with Texas is that, like California, it’s such a huge state in terms of population that its textbook buys dictate what the textbook industry publishes — and in turn, what’s available for other states to buy.

  5. #5 oldtree
    March 24, 2009

    The children of Texas won’t be able to attend college in the US. They will no longer qualify, so no need applying out of state without credentials. They punish themselves.

  6. #6 Ben
    March 24, 2009

    PZ Says: Even that is sad and pitiful. We rely now on getting enough presentable people to show up and speak forcefully in order to persuade a state board of education to support science?

    Isn’t that the joy / problem with a democratic system? If your populace votes people into office that are stupid, then you get stupid legislation, stupid appointees, stupid curriculum, and stupid children.

    It’s not SAD that this happens. It’s a result from having stupid and apathetic citizens. Point the finger at the people that got things to this state–the same people that you’re now asking for help: the voters themselves.

  7. Building on what Phoenix Woman says – it’s also really important to follow the money: who profits when Texas moves on such a determined path of ignorance. I’m sure the money will be traced from the textbook publishers back to various churches and around to some politicians. Those are other points (perhaps the strongest points) at which to attack the problem.

  8. #8 Mozglubov
    March 24, 2009

    @KI,

    Don’t be relying too greatly on us northerners to save you… as much as we hate to admit it, our neighbours to the south influence us far more than we influence you. As PZ also pointed out a little while ago, we seem to have caught some of the anti-science bug too with our horrible excuse for a Science Minister.

    I think it might boil down to the same problem that results in continual budget and funding cuts for universities… voting in charismatic but ignorant buffoons doesn’t always have immediately obvious ramifications (especially at the state level), but eventually it will come around to bite you in the ass. Unfortunately, by now the cult of ignorance is firmly entrenched and unfortunately powerful.

  9. #9 cm
    March 24, 2009

    Oldtree: You are mistaken. Being taught badly in high school “science” is not going to stop anyone in Texas from attending college in the U.S. (outside of Texas), even good state universities. That is a fact, and I’m sure PZ and other profs would back it up.

  10. #10 Mik
    March 24, 2009

    Wow, a Creationist dentist. So presumably he thinks wisdom teeth were placed in our jaws as part of some divine plan and aren’t some kind of vestigial remnant from our ancestors.

    Perhaps he also believes that plaque is caused by miniature demons who run amok across our teeth.

  11. #11 Ben
    March 24, 2009

    And to respond to dissenters before they post: NO, clearly it is NOT enough in a democracy to simply vote. If you have stupid neighbors and all you do is vote, then you’ve really played your hand poorly. If you KNOW your neighbors are going to vote for stupidity, or are even at RISK for that to happen, then simply voting is clearly not enough. If you actually care, then you need to go out “into the streets” and try to make a difference.

    Democracy isn’t about your individual vote. It’s about getting into your community and making a difference. Y’all Texans failed to do this at a more appropriate time. I do hope y’all can try to mitigate damages by getting out there and doing it now, like PZ suggested.

  12. #12 Darby
    March 24, 2009

    So will they also mandate to math curricula that pi, according to “certain sources,” is exactly 3?

  13. #13 Not that Louis
    March 24, 2009

    On a recent visit to the dentist, my thoughts turned to Don McLeroy. Here is a man who looks into the human mouth with its decay, its constant need for maintenance and repair, its absurd vestigial teeth misnamed “wisdom”, its oral cancers. He looks at this mess and says, “Yes, this was intelligently designed by a loving creator.” What kind of sadly misplaced strength of character does that require?

  14. #14 NewEnglandBob
    March 24, 2009

    Like oldtree stated above, the State of Texas is punishing themselves if they vote incorrectly.

    They will have no academic credentials and the people will be shunned elsewhere.

    Eventually, the book publishers will ignore them. People of other (rational) states will laugh at them and the normal residents will pick up and leave for a more sane livable environment.

    I have heard of a family that moved from Texas to Massachusetts and the teenagers said they were astonished that their new school actually taught them something. They said they felt like they left a smoking fire and were now breathing fresh air. They vowed to never go back.

  15. #15 Eric the half-bee
    March 24, 2009

    #5, oldtree, I’m sure they’re aware of that, and are rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of all that tuition money going to Bible colleges instead of real universities. The universities in TX will have to choose between surviving and supporting the Evil Atheist Lie called Evilution.

  16. #16 Anon
    March 24, 2009

    I hate to say this, but I’m a prospective grad student from “backward” India, and I find this absolutely appalling! I can’t imagine something so inane being done in my country. We might be developing, but we’ve got our priorities straight. I’m shocked that they constantly only attack evolution. How about Quantum Theory, Relativity, Theory of Universal Gravity, String Theory, and the plethora of proven and applied theories in Physics and Chemistry. Don’t those numbskulls realize that all these theories were all arrived at using the same principles.

    How is evolution any different? Like PZ posted a few weeks back, Hinduism has beautiful allegory and mythology concerning the beginning of creation, but we leave it at just that! Mythology. I honestly can’t imagine this being done here. We seem to be eons ahead in mindset than Texas in this regard :-(

    I wonder if I settle in the US eventually, whether I’ll be wanting my kids raised in this kind of a curriculum. For 1/10th the cost, I’m sure they’ll have a far richer educational experience in India :-)

    Keep up the fight PZ! I hope there are more people like you; including politicians who take up rationality’s cause. Is there anything I can do to help out 10,000 kms away?

  17. #17 Mozglubov
    March 24, 2009

    @Not that Louis

    God made our teeth that way in his infinite wisdom so Don McLeroy could get a well-paying job in dentistry to finance his future career in state politics where he could spread god’s word.

  18. #18 Phil
    March 24, 2009

    One of my friends is a Chemistry post-doc at North Texas, and he has written a wonderful letter to the board explaining why the language in the bill is misleading and how teaching a critical analysis on evolution is not feasible in a high-school curriculum, even if it wasn’t just Cretinist code wording. I’m not sure he’ll be able to make it to testify in person, but actively trying to help out.

  19. #19 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Ben says,

    It’s about getting into your community and making a difference. Y’all Texans failed to do this at a more appropriate time. I do hope y’all can try to mitigate damages by getting out there and doing it now, like PZ suggested.

    After having watched the state of affairs in the rest of the US over the past decade, e.g. wacko school boards in Pennsylvania and Kansas, Prop 8 voters in California, various nutjobs in Florida, deregulating the banking giants in the northeast, electing Bush/Cheney twice!, I believe you meant

    It’s about getting into your community and making a difference. Y’all Americans failed to do this at a more appropriate time. I do hope y’all can try to mitigate damages by getting out there and doing it now, like PZ suggested.

  20. #20 robert
    March 24, 2009

    Unfortunately I have to face this nonsense head on as I live in Texas. I know my neighbors did not vote the idiot governor into office that has caused this. I also know that as more and more people have moved here from other states and the population has thus grown the problem has also grown. As more conservative people that do not pay attention to true issues, and will not listen when confronted with the issues, vote these people into office it gets harder to make a dent in the political agenda of the movement that they support.

  21. #21 And-U-Say
    March 24, 2009

    PZ:
    “It’s that somehow, we have a system that gives flaming incompetents this kind of power… ”

    This is what is known as Democracy. allowing the majority of the citizens to choose people for positions of power. In Texas, this is what the majority wants, so this is what the majority gets.

    I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that a Democracy requires a well informed electorate. This is why schools and journalists get such a prominent mention in the Constitution. As we can see here, both of these professions are failing us.

    And it is our fault.

  22. #22 yikes
    March 24, 2009

    There is an energetic and charismatic forensic entomologist who might be able to help. I don’t know how to get in contact with her anymore. I believe she’s working at A&M Texas University. Her name Adrienne Brundage.

  23. #23 Discombobulated
    March 24, 2009

    @Ben:

    Slightly OT, but I wanted to commend you personally.

    On a couple of different threads, I’ve seen you (if you’re the same Ben) make requests for assistance and more voices to various other news or blog sites generally related to the staged evolution non-debate. When I’ve seen them, I’ve headed over and usually run into a long thread of you single-handedly (and/or later joined by others) defending reason and science against hordes of troglodytes.

    So sad that evidence-based reasoning needs “defending”, but it does. I just wanted to single you out and say kudos for your efforts.

  24. #24 Lorkas
    March 24, 2009

    Unfortunately, registration to testify at the proceedings closed yesterday at 5:00 pm.

  25. #25 Jamie
    March 24, 2009

    If I understand this correctly, Texas is the biggest purchaser of school books in the country, and if they lower the standards for the science curriculum (and worse, get the Discovery Institute to write the textbooks), then this will have a detrimental effect across the whole country. Children will be denied a proper education, and the country will be deprived of many potential doctors and scientists if students can’t reach the required standards. If the pass rates are then lowered to compensate (which has happened in my country), all this will mean is that there will be a lot more ill-prepared doctors and scientists in the future who won’t be equipped to properly practise their professions. This will directly effect the well-being and prosperity of the whole country.

    By pushing his agenda forward, Don McLeroy is signing people’s death warrants. A child who could have been saved will not be because the attending physician won’t know enough to help him.

    Don McLeroy – you stupid, stupid, fundamentalist bastard. You are the scum of the earth, and I despise you – you incompetent moron. And how on earth did this brainless turd ever get into the position where he could poison the minds of children? Absolutely disgusting.

  26. #26 MikeMa
    March 24, 2009

    @PhoenixWoman #4
    Sadly, California hasn’t the clout that Texas has because the individual school districts pick books independently in CA while in TX, the state does it for all the schools. So if the fool McLeroy and his creationist buffoons win the day, they win the country.

    I’d advocate lobbying the publishers to tell Texas to shove their ignorance where their heads are but money is at stake. Truth and honor fall way below money.

  27. #27 Ben in Texas
    March 24, 2009

    @23 Discombobulated

    Yes, there are at least two Bens posting here, so I changed my moniker. I called for help a couple of days ago, pointing toward the blog of Texas Freedom Network.

    http://tfnblog.wordpress.com/

    Any help there is appreciated.

    Also, I do agree with what the “other” Ben said.

  28. #28 islandchris
    March 24, 2009

    For some reason it seems almost impossible to get through to the general public that science is NOT democracy. You don’t put scientific hypotheses and theories to the vote, you establish their credibility through observation, experimentation and prediction.

    A reasonable analogy for the process is a trial, where the conclusions have to be supported by a web of mutually supportive evidence – for example Dover vs Kitzmuller.

    The MSM are afraid, I think, to use this obvious analogy because the implications for all religious beliefs are too dire – none of them would stand up to scrutiny in an objective “trial”.

  29. #29 JWC
    March 24, 2009

    @Anon: “backwards” India produces a heckuva lot more comp sci grads than the US, I suspect. India seems a lot like the US, there are some parts that are intelligent and cosmopolitan and others that are backwards and full of religious nonsense. Trust me, we’ve got plenty of that here too.

    Personally, I’m really glad I’m not raising a kid in Texas. Ye-ouch. But the people of Texas are getting what they paid (voted) for. They must’ve wanted a tool like Don McLeroy involved in educating their kids. Shame on them.

  30. #30 Richard Harris
    March 24, 2009

    Dentist Don McLeroy favours religion over science. So then, all his teeth should be extracted by methods that owe nothing to science.

  31. #31 cervantes
    March 24, 2009

    Is he elected or appointed? Did he become chair because he was initially elected or appointed to that position, or was he elected chair by the other members?

    These all seem important questions. In other words, how exactly did this come to pass?

  32. #32 Engr Tony
    March 24, 2009

    In the realm of infrastructure design, consultants are selected for projects based upon both the firm?s qualifications and of the key individuals assigned to the proposed project; we must amply demonstrate our experiences and past successes on projects following similar parameters and requirements. We follow these rules because infrastructure work is critical to the overall safety and well being of the general public; bridges must not fall down, roads must not buckle, water treatment and sewer infrastructure must remain intact so as to not contaminate the groundwater or surrounding environment, etc.

    It is high time that one of two reforms should be mandated. One way could be to require individuals seeking to run public school boards be appointed by the state governor and confirmed by the legislature following a proper public vetting. Another way could be for the government demand those individuals seeking such office present evidence of appropriate education, professional or elected experience, and a well-documented history of producing acceptable results in fields relative to education. If someone seeking to run for such an elected office cannot demonstrate a minimal accepted level of competence then they should not be disqualified from holding such an office of the public trust.

    There can be nothing more important than the primary and secondary education of children whose families do not have the financial means to send them to private schools. If this country expects to remain technologically competitive into the future then we had better start demanding that public education be treated on the same level of national defense-it matters that much.

  33. #33 James F
    March 24, 2009

    To give some background, there are three possibilities for the board:

    1) Accept the original version of the revised science standards (no “strengths and weaknesses”)
    2) Accept the revised science standards BUT also accept the last-minute amendments that were actually WORSE, like the underlined sections below:

    The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal differing theories about the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

    The student is expected to: describe the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record

    3) Go back to the original “strengths and weaknesses” version of the standards

  34. #34 Holbach
    March 24, 2009

    The origins of his teeth are more than 6000 years old. Good grief, what a maroon. How does he reconcile the age of dinosaur teeth when we unearth them from ground millions of years later? With religion, anything is possible, even with insanity with no visible obvious signs.

  35. #35 KH
    March 24, 2009

    He’s not the only creationist dentist out there. My former dentist in the northern suburbs of Charlotte, NC, is another. While I was in the chair, he asked about my biology research focus (a fruit fly developmental process), then said he couldn’t see how such a phenomenon could come about by chance. I switched dentists after that. Regarding Texas, we’ll have to add them to our conference boycott list (along with Louisiana).

  36. #36 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    March 24, 2009

    Anon @16 said:

    I’m shocked that they constantly only attack evolution. How about Quantum Theory, Relativity, Theory of Universal Gravity, String Theory, and the plethora of proven and applied theories in Physics and Chemistry. Don’t those numbskulls realize that all these theories were all arrived at using the same principles.

    I think that many creationists actually realize that science works(they just don’t know how). This is why they crave the legitimacy that “scienceness” brings, jumping on any little bit of science they can use (or make up) to bolster their faith. Some creationists think that scientific truths are actually unchanging and eternal (as they think their religion is) not provisional and subject to improvement. Only THEY are doing science correctly.

  37. #37 Bryn
    March 24, 2009

    Perhaps he also believes that plaque is caused by miniature demons who run amok across our teeth.

    Wait…you mean it isn’t?!?? Ugh, school boards–largely populated by people wanting to use a minor office as a stepping stone to bigger and better political offices or by a minority wanting to push an agenda. Until more people are willing to spend the time and get involved, I’m afraid school boards will remain largely populated by those two types.

  38. #38 cervantes
    March 24, 2009

    The student knows how Earth-based and space-based astronomical observations reveal differing theories about the structure, scale, composition, origin, and history of the universe.

    Well, there are competing theories about these questions. For example, there is a building debate among cosmologists right now concerning whether dark energy is necessary to explain the apparent acceleration of the expansion of the universe, or whether our galaxy might happen to be near the center of a large region of low relative density, which would create the illusion of accelerating expansion. This language, taken literally, is quite unexceptionable, in fact it would seem to propose a depth of cosmological pedagogy that one does not normally expect in public high schools.

  39. #39 E.V.
    March 24, 2009

    There’s few feelings worse the the impotence of playing Cassandra at the gate.
    Knowing you’re correct is worthless when you have to deal with Evangelical minds in the LSS. DI has built a Trojan Horse in conjunction with Bush’s hand picked people, mainly Rick Perry and cronies.
    The born and grazed in Texas folks know no better, they think they’re winning a war for God by fighting the evolutionists -aka godless intellectuals. McLeroy is just another home grown religiotard thinking he’s paving the way to heaven for all the good little crishchun chil’uns. He’s completely unaware of how malignant he is to the pursuit of knowledge. (The Protestants hold sway here, particularly evangelical christians.) Even though I was born here, I die a little each day, the longer I stay.

  40. #40 Scott M.
    March 24, 2009

    I am convinced these guys are actually trying to destroy the public school system so we’ll all be driven to private religious “schools”.

  41. #41 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    MikeMa,

    “Sadly, California hasn’t the clout that Texas has because the individual school districts pick books independently in CA while in TX, the state does it for all the schools.”

    You liberals still don’t get it. Liberals raised education to the state level because local control of the school districts was “unfair” to poor districts, so the states needed to equalize funding, making all districts equally poor. With state funding comes state control. Modern humans in mass society are subject to viral populism. The solution is NOT to turn education in California into a statewide political football, but to support the conservatives in Texas that believe in local and parental control. Mistakes and aberrations in a distributed system are isolated and smaller.

    Improved science education by central planning fiat does not work. When you use force you get pushback. Probably the worst thing Texas has done is to required 4 years science and math and two years of a foreign langage for the high school graduation. The pushback from the students and parents, and the need to bring everyone along to graduation is going to result in the dumbing down of the course, just as distribution requirements at universities have resulted in watered down “survey courses” for the sciences. Oppressive science mandates will do more to turn off and burn out those interested in science than to inspire those who aren’t.

    You will have more success trusting the individual student’s and parent’s desire to succeed, than trusting the mob to be rational.

    We’ve had the “education president”, and he gave us “No Child Left Behind”, so do we recognize the errors of our way, or do we look to the United Nations for “better” central planning, perhaps a rotation chairmanship of a UN education committee. Perhaps we can look forward to when it is Saudia Arabia’s or Iran’s turn.

  42. #42 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Scott M.,

    “I am convinced these guys are actually trying to destroy the public school system so we’ll all be driven to private religious “schools”.”

    The lesson is, don’t concede control of any part of your life to the government, unless you are sure you will never lose an election.

  43. #43 Bureaucratus Minimis
    March 24, 2009

    OK, PZ, you’ve correctly identified the problem, but what’s your proposed solution?

  44. #44 minimalist
    March 24, 2009

    AG:

    The solution is NOT to turn education in California into a statewide political football, but to support the conservatives in Texas that believe in local and parental control.

    … thus making it local political football. I think it’s cute that when libertarians chant “individual” enough, they kinda forget that even the almighty “local” level is a product of aggregate human activity, subject to precisely the same whims.

    Mistakes and aberrations in a distributed system are isolated and smaller.

    Prove it, without appealing to mealy-mouthed unevidenced libertarian axioms. Seems to me it would also make the problem more widespread, considering that even states with proper science standards contain significant localities dominated by the local fundie freakshow. Get out of the city more.

  45. #45 Marc Abian
    March 24, 2009

    The lesson is, don’t concede control of any part of your life to the government, unless you are sure you will never lose an election

    So the lesson is abolish the government. How did you ever get to be so clever?

  46. #46 Pablo
    March 24, 2009

    Isn’t that the joy / problem with a democratic system? If your populace votes people into office that are stupid, then you get stupid legislation, stupid appointees, stupid curriculum, and stupid children.

    And sadly, it’s well known that the more ignorant tend to be more confident in their correctness (using ignorant in its proper descriptive fashion). This is kind of what bothers me. I am a highly educated person, and, in fact, am considered a world’s expert in my field. However, that doesn’t make me qualified to determine what belongs in a high school biology curriculum. Heck, I probably wouldn’t even speculate much on a high school chemistry curriculum, and that is even my field (although I could probably come up with some reasonable suggestions of what I want students to know when they come to college). But biology? No clue. I’ll leave that to experts in biology and biology education.

    Yet, people with no expertise in biology – heck, maybe even no biology training at all – have to make this decision. Yes, they can consult with advisers, but there are no restrictions on the advisers they chose. Very often they chose a stinking minister or something.

    My argument has always been that pretty much every state has some of the best biologists in the world on the payroll, in the form of the faculty at their state institutions. Why not ask THEM what THEY think should be in the biology curriculum? Personally, as a citizen, I cede the decision about biology education to biologists. I will support whatever recommendations they make.

  47. #47 E.V.
    March 24, 2009

    AG:
    Unfortunately your assessment is apt. You cannot drag people kicking and screaming into reason and knowledge when their adopted ideology is threatened by it, especially if there are organized groups behind them who are willing to fight for their own selective brand of ignorance. “One size fits all” is a terrible approach to anything and Bush made it law.
    I loathe Dr. Phil, but he has a salient point when he asks, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

  48. #48 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis, #41:

    Improved science education by central planning fiat does not work.

    Except that Western European education, which does work through greater centralization that seen in the US, seem to be far superior to American education every measurement that I have seen.

  49. #49 tomh
    March 24, 2009

    @#26

    California is a little more complicated than that. For grades 1-8, the California Constitution, Article 9, section 7.5 states: ?The State Board of Education shall adopt textbooks for use in grades one through eight throughout the State, to be furnished without cost as provided by statute.?

    For high school, textbooks are bought locally but each must be certified to meet state standards. I never heard of a creationist textbook passing muster.

  50. #50 Free Lunch
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    My understanding of the history of education in Texas is not remotely similar to your libertarian fantasy. You really sound like Marxists in the USA who kept finding excuses for why Marxism in China and the Soviet Union were completely wrong. You’ve aligned with these reactionaries. Live with the consequences.

  51. #51 Mozglubov
    March 24, 2009

    And this discussion just went off the rails again…

  52. #52 Eamon Knight
    March 24, 2009

    I’ve said it before, we need to get Minnesota, Wisconsin and the UP into Canada, if they’ll have us. Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire can come along if they’d like.

    We’ll take the lot, happily. I’ve vacationed all those places, and I’d love to be able to go there, spend loonies, and not have to show a passport.

  53. #53 Tom Farrell
    March 24, 2009

    A message to all the intelligent 50% of people of Texas: MOVE. Go to a blue state! Take your children someplace where their educational system won’t be a joke! Go live somewhere where the people are sane! YOU could use the break, and WE could use the population for the census.

    I have a friend who is an editor for a major textbook publisher. My friend tells me that when they publish textbooks, they make two versions of each, which are internally referred to as the “California” edition and the “Texas” edition. The “California” edition has to have an even mix of races and genders in the photos, and damn the content. (So it gets truthful content, including evolution in science/biology texts.) When they submit the book for review by the state of California, the reviewers won’t say a peep about evolution, but they’ll get a comment like ‘it needs a photo of a black woman and an asian boy, and in the photo on page 37 the hispanic man needs to be smiling more.” The “Texas” version, on the other hand, will get comments from the state of Texas like “too much evolution” and “I don’t like that photo”, and they’ll keep getting “I don’t like that photo” if the people in it aren’t white, so they have to dumb down the science and make sure most of the photos are white people to get it accepted. I asked my friend why they bother with Texas, under the circumstances, since they obviously find it highly distasteful to deal with, and I was told that about 50% of the states want the “Texas” version book, while the other 50% go for the “California” version book, so the management decision is that they have to make the “Texas” version or they’ll lose fully half their customers to a competitor that will.

  54. #54 Alexis
    March 24, 2009

    I am reminded of a story (i don’t know if it’s true or not) from about 1954 when morning opening exercises still included the recitation of the lord’s prayer and a bible reading.
    It seems that the King James bibles in use in Texas schools were showing signs of age and needed replaced, but with what? The debate raged for hours over whether to keep the KJV, or to go with the more modern Revised Standard Version (which retains all of the obfuscation of the KJV while eliminating half of the beauty). After going back and forth on this for so long, the issue was finally settled when the president of the most powerful board of education in the country stood up and said “If King James English was good enough for my lord and savior jesus christ, it’s good enough for me.”

  55. #55 Free Lunch
    March 24, 2009

    If we start moving states to Canada, I think we should allow the rest of Michigan to go along as well (if greater Grand Rapids wants to become part of Indiana, fine, it would make both states more liberal).

  56. #56 MikeMa
    March 24, 2009

    tomh,
    Thanks for the clarification. Still leaves Texass’s buying power in the driver’s seat for high school science.

    One choice is to mandate teaching evolution in grades 1-8 in CA. (Well maybe just grade 8 but you see where that’s going.)

    AG,
    I think you need to drag people kicking and screaming into the light. If you leave them too long under their rock, they’ll grow mold.

  57. #57 Coyote
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis,

    This really isn’t the thread for more of that crap. If anything, decentralized control of standards leads to more stupidity, not less, because then smaller communities can be more easily taken over by a vocal minority, or, if they’re particularly unlucky, majority of cretinist IDiots, leading to spotty education for the people who need it most.

    In short, yes, there are some things that require government intervention. Sheesh.

    -A Rational Libertarian.

  58. #58 Free Lunch
    March 24, 2009

    Coyote, AG picks and chooses, he is perfectly happy to ignore what happened in Dover PA because it doesn’t fit his narrative.

  59. #59 Coyote
    March 24, 2009

    Oh, I know, I know. Sometimes I feel that I spend way too much of my life talking to brick walls of various sorts.

    But occasionally I get through to someone, and that makes it all worth it.

    Fat chance it’ll happen with AG’s thick skull, though. Still, can’t help but try.

  60. #60 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Minimalist,

    “Seems to me it would also make the problem more widespread, considering that even states with proper science standards contain significant localities dominated by the local fundie freakshow”

    School districts are often a key consideration in choosing where to live whether the concern is academics or athletics. It is usually easier to move across a district line than a state line, especially in state the size of Texas or California. It is probably easier to please more people, even idealogues by working politically for more choice than for more mandates.

    It is interesting that “scientists” in Texas have been pushing for more science mandates in Texas, somehow forgetting that education is not yet a science, and that they somehow become scientists without those mandates. Mandating 4 years of science, 4 years of math, and 2 years of a foreign language for all but a purposely degraded high disploma is central planning hubris. Schafersmann’s yeoman work is misguided. Somehow not having the 4×4 will be the ruination of Texas, without every little mandate of it, students won’t be properly prepared for university, and universities will have to continue to give remedial classes. Minimalist…shouldn’t the burden of evidence be upon those who are proposing MANDATES?

  61. #61 Mikey
    March 24, 2009

    I’m a science teacher in Texas, and I am looking forward to the next few days about as much as grown man facing circumcision.

    The idiots in Austin are placing my career in jeopardy. If revisions that introduce their pseudoscientific longhorn excrement are placed in the TEKS I will not teach them. I will not lie to my kids even if it leads to trouble.

    I’ll teach the truth and be damned if need be.

  62. #62 IST
    March 24, 2009

    AG> 4×4 block scheduling is an abomination… instructional time is lost to, well, everything because it typically fails to provide for anything outside of regular classes, students have less out of class time to digest material (less than half the weekends), the spring semester ends up with fewer instructional days than the fall, you lose net hours of instruction per semester, and, most importantly, middle and high school students have serious attention issues over 1 and 1/2 hour class periods. I was a student under a 9 period a day traditional calender, and I’ve taught under both… I’ll gladly take 6 classes all year long (shit, give me 6 preps) over block.

  63. #63 Fernando Magyar
    March 24, 2009

    islandchris @ 28,

    For some reason it seems almost impossible to get through to the general public that science is NOT democracy. You don’t put scientific hypotheses and theories to the vote, you establish their credibility through observation, experimentation and prediction.

    Hmm, maybe if we lived in a country where we established the credibility of our politicians through observation, testing by fire and measuring the results, we could use that information to predict whether or not they are fit to be leaders and vote them out of office if they are not up to the task.

    Not holding my breath, that in this land of massive ubiquitous ignorance, no, outright denial of reality, that any thing like that will come to pass. Party on dudes!

    And I?m proud to be an American *IGNORAMUS* where I don’t even know I’m free.
    And I don’t know about the men who lived, and gave that right to me.
    And I won’t stand up next to you to defend our freedoms still today.
    ?But you cain?t doubt I love this laaand, Gaaawd bless the U.S.A.

  64. #64 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Marc Abian,

    “So the lesson is abolish the government. How did you ever get to be so clever?”

    Someone else will have to defend anarchism, I don’t think anarchism as a form of social organization for a mass society is any more compatible with human nature and happiness than totalitarian central control is. I add the “happiness” caveat, because unfortunately as Stalin and N Korea demonstrat totalitarian terror works quite well, and is able to persist despite considerable disatisfaction. If markets hadn’t out produced communism, 5 year plans and summary executions and purges might have become the norm. Yes we would all be poorer, but we might also have colonies on the moon, and be well on our way to becoming the borg.

  65. #65 Jim B
    March 24, 2009

    HWC #29 said:

    But the people of Texas are getting what they paid (voted) for. They must’ve wanted a tool like Don McLeroy involved in educating their kids. Shame on them.

    Don McLeroy wasn’t elected; he was appointed by Gov. Perry.

  66. #66 Jim B
    March 24, 2009

    To clarify — he was elected to the board, but Perry appointed him to the Chairmanship.

  67. #67 Eric
    March 24, 2009

    I guess I’ve been rather lucky, but following on the heals of my first live encounter with an apparent young-earth creationist (someone I’ve know for 20yrs!), this news from Texas just enhances my feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck.

    Ugh

  68. #68 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Mikey said,

    The idiots in Austin are placing my career in jeopardy. If revisions that introduce their pseudoscientific longhorn excrement are placed in the TEKS I will not teach them. I will not lie to my kids even if it leads to trouble.

    I believe, if you reread some of PZ’s recent entries about “teaching the controversy”, you will see how you can teach good science and also meet the misguided standards.

    Specifically, teach the students just how horribly inept the alternative “theories” to evolution are, teach how overwhelming the evidence is for evolution, and teach how sufficient common descent is.

    If you have a little time left over, which you probably will not, teach your students how the politicizing of science is bad. Use McLeroy as an example.

  69. #69 taz911
    March 24, 2009

    Most of the anti-evolution group is from the Republican Party. Texas allows straight party voting. Most people who voted straight ticket didn’t even know they were voting for State Board of Education.

  70. #70 bobxxxx
    March 24, 2009

    If you are in Texas, and you care about good science, then you should plan on showing up and testifying.

    Just be sure to respect Christianity. Don’t mention the obvious fact that virtually all Christians are scientifically illiterate stupid assholes who are out of their freaking minds.

  71. #71 Brownian
    March 24, 2009

    You will have more success trusting the individual student’s and parent’s desire to succeed, than trusting the mob to be rational.

    Stated, as always, as a fervent belief with no fucking evidence whatsoever. And you fucking Libertarians wonder why we can’t stand you and your continual vacuous thread derailment.

    Replace ‘free market’ with ‘fairies’ and you guys all become Peter Pans. “You just gotta belie-e-e-e-e-e-ve!”

  72. #72 Coyote
    March 24, 2009

    And that’s why straight party voting is a very silly system.

  73. #73 jorge
    March 24, 2009

    I was fortunate in that all 3 of my kids graduated from one of the top rated school districts in the state. I have paid quite a bit of attention to the school board candidates with every elections cycle. A couple of years ago there was a big push to put some people who do not share my views on science up for the school board. Fortunately, the voters in this area wanted to continue to be a top perforing school district. You also have to be willing if no one stands for election resulting in a blank slate, to throw your own hat into the ring. Otherwise you never know what types of low-lifes are hiding in the local woodwork. Across the county there wasn’t much interest in the school election until one of the nuttier churches put up some of the “staunchest” candidates. They vowed to stop the leakage of Jesus from our school system. It ended up as 1 or 2 of them getting elected due to no competition. Needless to say after 2 to 4 years of stupidty it was time to take out the laundry in the next election.

  74. #74 ndt
    March 24, 2009

    The system is only part of the problem. The weak link is the voters.

  75. #75 Somnolent Aphid
    March 24, 2009

    It can’t happen here. – f.zappa

  76. #76 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    taz991 said,

    Texas allows straight party voting

    The democrats attempted to use this fact to their advantage in the last campaign. Knowing that many new voters were voting just to vote for Obama, who still had no chance of winning the state, they started a “vote straight ticket Democrat” campaign. Not sure if it changed any results, but amusing anyway.

    I am opposed to straight ticket voting options (or even having party affiliation on the ballot), so I skipped that option. Strangely enough, I found myself voting for a Democrat in every contested election (and I used to consider myself fiscally conservative).

  77. #77 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis, #64: I add the “happiness” caveat, because unfortunately as Stalin and N Korea demonstrat totalitarian terror works quite well, and is able to persist despite considerable disatisfaction. If markets hadn’t out produced communism, 5 year plans and summary executions and purges might have become the norm.

    Wow. Centralized textbook buying leads to summary executions and purges. Who’da thunk?

    (Wait! If that wasn’t his point, why did he inject it into the conversation?)

  78. #78 Fer
    March 24, 2009

    Posted by: ndt @ 74

    The system is only part of the problem. The weak link is the voters.

    When I did tech support we used to say that the main system was fine but we were getting an ID 10 T error somewhere between the chair and the keyboard ;-)

  79. #79 raven
    March 24, 2009

    I’m shocked that they constantly only attack evolution. How about Quantum Theory, Relativity, Theory of Universal Gravity, String Theory, and the plethora of proven and applied theories in Physics and Chemistry.

    Don’t worry. They are on the list. First they came for biology. Next will be geology, astronomy, paleontology, archaeology, and then history. All of which contradicts their mythology.

    The ultimate science textbook in Texas will be cheap and 1 page. Godditit (sic).

  80. #80 Marc Abian
    March 24, 2009

    You know, for the last year I’ve been really disappointed with politics outside of my own country (perhaps we need better journalists here). It seems whoever’s not incompetent is a fruadster.

    Some jerk pays his volunteer sister 180,000 from the campaign fund and gives her a car compliments of the county, and I can’t even find any surprise in me.
    http://www.pe.com/localnews/politics/stories/PE_News_Local_S_stone24.38a5b2a.html

  81. #81 Peter Ashby
    March 24, 2009

    Except for degree, how are these people different from the Taliban? They are not against education, its just that it should only be for boys and only in learning to recite the Koran in Arabic (a language they don’t understand). After they see off evolution what will be next? Because they won’t stop there, emboldened by their success there will be other ‘changes’ they will want to make. So where and when are you going to make a stand?

    Do you fail to protest the squeezing of the ordinary universities like PZ’s because your kids will be going to Harvard or Stanford? or when your doctor or dentist or accountant or nuclear technician is incompetent?

    Remember, all previous great civilisations and empires fell. Some of their denouements were long and protracted, like the Byzantines or us Brits who still have a rump of tax haven outposts, but may need our second IMF bailout. Ask yourselves if you want that for your children or grandchildren.

  82. #82 Knockgoats
    March 24, 2009

    You liberals still don’t get it. – Africangenesis

    Right. Conservatives are just wonderful at educational provision. That’s why education is so much better in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Nebraska than in Vermont, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

  83. #83 Kevin Beck
    March 24, 2009

    “There is no other way to put it than to point out that McLeroy is a blithering idiot”

    Hey, come on, PZ. That’s a loaded word. Can’t you just say that McLeroy says idiotic things? It’s important to uncouple the idiocy from the person, even when the person’s only apparent reason for waking up in the morning is to yawn, scratch his balls, and say, “Hmmm. Wonder what kind of blithering fucking idiocy I can get up to today?”

  84. #84 NewEnglandBob
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis @41

    Your premises and conclusions are complete nonsense. You obviously speak from hate and dogma because what you say is illogical and wrong. You advocate for giving in to ignorant morons and boosting the irrational.

    No wonder you are a candidate for removal.

  85. #85 Brownian
    March 24, 2009

    Here’s a sticky wicket: if–according to Libertarian mythology–people can be counted on to do what’s in their best interest, and Libertarianism is in people’s best interest, then why aren’t we all already Libertarians?

  86. #86 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Kevin Beck noted,

    Hey, come on, PZ. That’s a loaded word. Can’t you just say that McLeroy says idiotic things? It’s important to uncouple the idiocy from the person

    Why are intelligent people afraid to call other people names?

    In this case, it is very important to call McLeroy an idiot. If he only said idiotic things on rare occasions, then you might be correct. Since he repeatedly and intentionally tries to harm schools and children with his idiocy, it is important that we point this behavior out to any impartial (but potentially interested) bystanders, lest they think his opinions are worth listening to.

    McLeroy is an idiot.

    If you are an intelligent, rational, and well informed person, don’t be afraid to point out idiocy. Intelligent people need to learn from the hardships of other discriminated groups: be polite until politeness no longer works, then be confrontational.

  87. #87 Steve
    March 24, 2009

    RE: Africangensis

    “Minimalist…shouldn’t the burden of evidence be upon those who are proposing MANDATES?”

    Please pull your head out of the sand and spend 5 minutes googling for stories about how the US is falling behind the other industrial nations in education, particularly science and math – the two subjects largely responsible for the wonders of the 21st century.

    You want to play the devil’s advocate, that’s fine. That doesn’t require you to act willfully ignorant.

  88. #88 deang
    March 24, 2009

    Very sad. And these cretins are having an effect. I have a 13-year-old niece living near Dallas, a wonderful girl with an inquisitive mind, who’s currently going through the teenage conform-to-the-norm craziness that’s part of being a teenager in the US. Unfortunately, in much of Texas, conforming to the norm means sarcastically mocking the idea of evolution and supporting creationism. So sad. I hope it’s only a phase for this girl.

  89. #89 H.H.
    March 24, 2009

    Brownian wrote:

    Here’s a sticky wicket: if–according to Libertarian mythology–people can be counted on to do what’s in their best interest, and Libertarianism is in people’s best interest, then why aren’t we all already Libertarians?

    Ha! Excellent point! Of course, according to Libertarians like AG, people are either inherently rational when it comes to looking out for their own best interests, or “the mob” is inherently irrational, depending on whatever argument they want to make at the moment.

  90. #90 Kevin Beck
    March 24, 2009

    @ Aaron:

    Sorry, a bit of an inside joke there.

  91. #91 deang
    March 24, 2009

    Just thought of another disturbing Texas anecdote:

    I had a coworker years ago, a sociologist married to another sociologist, originally from Illinois. She raised her daughter to appreciate nature and science and the natural world, and then the daughter marries a right-wing Dallas man, moves to Dallas, and becomes a creationist like all her neighbors and in-laws. I’m told the daughter is still a good person, but not open to questioning her conversion to creationism.

  92. #92 rnb
    March 24, 2009

    As a Texas taxpayer, I support state wide funding of schools.
    I don’t have kids myself, so my interest in funding education is more general than parents who are interested only in their own kids.
    If the level of educational support in the poor districts is acceptable, then the wealthy districts should cut their tax rates to match so the education level is similar.

  93. #93 Brownian
    March 24, 2009

    Of course, according to Libertarians like AG, people are either inherently rational when it comes to looking out for their own best interests, or “the mob” is inherently irrational, depending on whatever argument they want to make at the moment.

    You know, I’d almost expect a Libertarian to whine that this is some sort of strawman argument, but as you’re inherently rational in your self-interest, H.H., and Libertarianism is in your self-interest, it would be completely irrational of you to create a strawman for the purpose of attacking Libertarianism.

    Of course, another Libertarian might suggest that you’re mistaken about the nature of Libertarianism, but since being ill-informed would not be in any of our self-interest, it must be untrue that we are ill-informed with regards to Libertarianism.

  94. #94 Weaponsofmassdeception
    March 24, 2009

    AG, #41

    Oppressive science mandates will do more to turn off and burn out those interested in science than to inspire those who aren’t.

    Um, can you DEFINE ‘oppressive science mandates’? I’m curious.

    Because to me, mandating that students be taught the prevailing thoughts of the scientific community based on the procedures used in science is not oppressive. It’s science standards.
    Requiring a science teacher to teach about anything out of the realm of science is an “oppressive mandate”.

  95. #95 ndt
    March 24, 2009

    Posted by: taz911 | March 24, 2009 2:29 PM

    Most of the anti-evolution group is from the Republican Party. Texas allows straight party voting. Most people who voted straight ticket didn’t even know they were voting for State Board of Education.

    And they’re at fault for not knowing.

  96. #96 Bunnies
    March 24, 2009

    Anybody else feel the world getting flatter?

  97. #97 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Steve,

    “Please pull your head out of the sand and spend 5 minutes googling for stories about how the US is falling behind the other industrial nations in education, particularly science and math – the two subjects largely responsible for the wonders of the 21st century.”

    What is with all this nationalist BS? If someone wants to learn science in the US, they can. Perhaps Europe is doing a better jobs producing students who test well in science even though they weren’t interested in science, but why is that? Is it the curriculum, social pressure to conform, aquiencence in mandates, high stakes testing? Perhaps the cultures just value academic achievement more than texting, chat rooms, athletics, video games, dances and counter-culture music. Are the actual scientists they produce any better? Does the US have a scientist supply problem that can’t be satisfied either domestically or by immigration? Isn’t there actually a danger of an oversupply of scientists and engineers flooding the markets from India and China?

    Are those systems with high stakes testing actually holding back or blocking would be scientists, that the US allows to continue on? Students don’t have to conform and perform (like puppets) as much in the US as in more regimented societies. In the US, the culture may be anti-academic, but it may be easier to fight the culture than a system that puts the screws to the students.

  98. #98 taz911
    March 24, 2009

    This is from the Texas Republican Party Platform

    Theories of Origin ? We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

  99. #99 rnb
    March 24, 2009

    State Board of Education elections aren’t really stressed here like they should be.

  100. #100 nilla_cake
    March 24, 2009

    I posted about this in January for some more info on our state (crazy) board of ed here in the lone star state:
    http://lifecollage.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/science-under-fireagain-in-texasagain/

    …and yes we need support out there at the SBOE final curriculum voting if you’re in the Austin area tomorrow (3/25). The TX freedom Network (the only sanity left in Texas) is asking attendees to wear green to show your love for science.

  101. #101 Endor
    March 24, 2009

    If its true that texas “decides” the textbooks for the whole country, then that is one more reason to (for me) to never, ever breed.

  102. #102 Fifi
    March 24, 2009

    The problem is simple : no penalty.

    What do people like Don McLeroy have to lose in this kind of crap?

    - They win ? Success! They manage to push their bigotted crap on the populace and make the US a dumber, crappier, poorer place, which is their ultimate goal.
    - They lose ? Success! They are oppressed victims of the great evul’ librul’ fact-based conspiracy. Help! Help! I’m being victimized! Send me money! Vote for me!

    As long the Don McLeroys of the world don’t have to pay a price for their fraud or their deliberate incompetence, they’ll keep coming.

    May be it’s time to introduce for politicians a actionable notion which is fairly common in trades, at least the obligation of means if not an obligation of results, obligation of means as in being competent and properly informed of the tangible reality and the state of the art applicable to the matter at hand.

  103. #103 Free Lunch
    March 24, 2009

    Thanks taz911 for pointing out that the Texas Republicans are willing to write down how profoundly ignorant and foolish they are. Too bad there are enought ignorant, foolish voters in Texas that they didn’t scare them all away.

  104. #104 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Weaponsofmassdeception#94,

    “Yes, Um, can you DEFINE ‘oppressive science mandates’? I’m curious.”

    Yes, it is the Texas standards for graduation from high school, 4 years of science and math for ALL students except for a basic diploma which is only allowed upon agreement of the parents, counselors AND administrators (note the “AND”, parents alone would not be enough)

    Here are the type of standards that have been proposed in texas:

    http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/collegereadiness/CRS.pdf

    Note the minutia, the emphasis on facts, not understanding, on completeness of coverage, etc. As if, somehow if someone wasn’t exposed to “torque” or “Ohm’s law” in high school they aren’t “college ready”. The emphasis is on things they could learn in an evening, either in college, or later if they needed them. This is the type of standards that Dr. Schafersmann is fear mongering that Texas science education will suffer if it is lacking.

    It is the nanny society that will smother our children. I recall that once my children reached “school age”, I was no longer able to find shoes with velcro closure, they all had shoe strings. The clerks explained that the fear was that the children wouldn’t learn to tie their shoes, if the velcro was still available. As if, a 16 year old or adult couldn’t learn to tie his/her shoes in a fraction of the time as a 5 year old, if they ever had the desire or need. A nanny society was bad enough, a nanny state will be even more oppressive.

  105. #105 uppity cracka
    March 24, 2009

    “…who want prioritize a page and a half of vague, poetic metaphor from a ragged old hodge-podge of a book of mythology over the concrete, well-tested, and well-documented body of modern scientific information.”

    well said.

  106. #106 teammarty
    March 24, 2009

    KI @ #2

    Can the Lower Peninsula join too? After all, Detroit is the only place where you go south to get to Canada.

  107. #107 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis complained,

    It is the nanny society that will smother our children. I recall that once my children reached “school age”, I was no longer able to find shoes with velcro closure, they all had shoe strings. The clerks explained that the fear was that the children wouldn’t learn to tie their shoes, if the velcro was still available.

    What?!? The free market couldn’t save you in your effort to find non-velcro shoes for your kids, but you think it will work wonders for our educational system?

    If these actions in Texas have taught us anything, it is that most people are not rational, do not make good choices for themselves, and will completely screw the rest of us (with dissenting views) in a free market situation. Just like your velcro example.

  108. #108 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Remind me again, isn’t Africangenesis a global warming denier? If so, that would explain why he would be mandating that high school students actually learn some science.

  109. #109 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Oops. That should be “…he would be opposed to mandating that high school students actually learn some science.”

  110. #110 Josh
    March 24, 2009

    The emphasis here is mine:

    Theories of Origin ? We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

    Jesus fucking CHRIST. Did no one is this fucking country, who now arrogantly presumes to speak for science, study any fucking science?

    Hypotheses, theories, and laws are different motherfucking things! They do different jobs in science. The words are not interchangeable, people. Theories don’t become fucking laws! Why is that so hard for the goddamn lawmakers to get through their fucking thick heads? Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick.

    These assholes are hurting our kids’ educations. Period.

  111. #111 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Aaron#207,

    “If these actions in Texas have taught us anything, it is that most people are not rational, do not make good choices for themselves, and will completely screw the rest of us (with dissenting views) in a free market situation. Just like your velcro example.”

    People don’t suddenly become rational when they become central planners, and it is the central planners in Texas that are screwing it up for the rest of us. BTW, the velcro shoe situation has eased in recent years. The profit motive won out over what the manufacturers had been doing based on the advice from teachers. Kindergarten teachers must have something better to do now.

  112. #112 Stu
    March 24, 2009

    Students don’t have to conform and perform (like puppets) as much in the US as in more regimented societies.

    Yes, exactly! Except entirely the opposite.

    Holy mackerel you’re an ignoramus.

  113. #113 Brian P
    March 24, 2009

    @AG, 97: a) You are clueless about Europe and its students. b) The issue is not whether US students are able to learn science. The issue is why they should have to suffer a load of religious tripe thrown at them in a science classroom.

    @taz 98: Thanks for enlightening us to the stupidity of the TRPP.

  114. #114 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis, #111:

    Huh? Kindergarten teachers were responsible for the scarcity of velcro shoes?

    Do you plan on getting your own blog? I’m sure that you’re analysis of current events would make fascinating reading.

  115. #115 Brownian
    March 24, 2009

    The clerks explained that the fear was that the children wouldn’t learn to tie their shoes, if the velcro was still available.

    I’d seriously question the thinking process of anybody who takes the anecdotal word of a cashier at Payless and uses it to inform their political thinking, but that’s so irrational no self-interested individual could have possibly said such a thing, so it must not have been said.

    Besides, I’m crushed by the weight of argument encapsulated in the phrase ‘nanny state’. “Oh noes! Only babies have nannies! Therefore a state run by nannies must be a state for babies! Quick: deregulate everything–I don’t want to be called a baby!”

  116. #116 Stu
    March 24, 2009

    I’m sure that you’re analysis of current events would make fascinating reading.

    I suggest “Yes, I drank the bong water” as the blog title.

  117. #117 Steve
    March 24, 2009

    Re; Africangenesis #97

    “What is with all this nationalist BS? If someone wants to learn science in the US, they can.”

    It’s “nationalist BS” because it affects the entire country and it’s culture. Increasingly, the people behind the ID movement want a culture where people don’t want to learn science in the US. What good is the theoretical opportunity to learn when you indoctrinate the citizens from an early age to think science is wrong and not worth learning, a culture where ignorance is celebrated?

    “Does the US have a scientist supply problem that can’t be satisfied either domestically or by immigration? ”

    Domestically, it will. That’s the entire point of this. If our children grow up to distrust science and are unable to understand the basics, then you do have a supply problem domestically. As for immigration, well how can we attract top foreign scientists here when we’re increasingly voting for less funds for education and research?

    I’m normally all for letting people be responsible for themselves but when it comes to education, the fragmented system we have that gives control to local boards means that people are able to push their ignorance onto others and that’s unacceptable. Parents and teachers can only do so much to show their kids the right way. Call on personal freedoms all you want but you can’t deny how a culture of ignorance will influence people.

  118. #118 JBlilie
    March 24, 2009

    AG:

    “You liberals still don’t get it. Liberals raised education to the state level because local control of the school districts was “unfair” to poor districts, so the states needed to equalize funding, making all districts equally poor”

    Never been to Minnesota, eh?

  119. #119 JBlilie
    March 24, 2009

    AG:

    “The solution is NOT to turn education in California into a statewide political football, but to support the conservatives in Texas that believe in local and parental control. Mistakes and aberrations in a distributed system are isolated and smaller.”

    Ah! I see the solution! NO STANDARDS! The truth and knowledge are whatever woo the locals decide upon. Cool! That’ll fix’er up good.

  120. #120 Newfie
    March 24, 2009

    What weaknesses of theory are taught in other disciplines?

  121. #121 Metalcynic
    March 24, 2009

    Y’all say that like it’s impressive or something. Now here in South Carolina (as in “Miss Teen South Carolina”) where we’ve had the worst test scores for decades, maintain the lowest graduation rate in the nation, and really didn’t need any help at failing our children we have Mark “Doofus” Sandford on the job! Governor Doofus reappointed one Kristen Maguire to the State Board of Education … and now she’s been elected PRESIDENT of said Board for this year (2009)

    Maquire is not only a Young Earth Creationist (who has said on local TV ‘talk back’ interviews that “there is no evidence for Evolution whatsoever”) but, and I swear that I’m not making this up, SHE HOME SCHOOLS HER 4 CHILDREN!!! That’s right kids: the head of the State Board that makes the decisions about the curriculum for all of the PUBLIC school children in SC doesn’t send her OWN kids to those same public schools!!

    lest any of you think I’m kidding here’s a link to the local free paper’s article on the whole mess from this past Dec:

    http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A37623

    Another link to some of the shenanigans that are ongoing:

    http://www.sc-scied.org/EE/index.php/scied/comments/misleading_responses_from_the_media/

    And just for shits and giggles here’s some slightly older stuff with Sen. Mike Fair’s “academic freedom” bill from last year (his most recent of many):

    http://ncseweb.org/news/2008/05/antievolution-legislation-south-carolina-001680

    SC was already a national laughing-stock (“People can’t find Iraq on a map … um … because they don’t have maps!”) …just imagine how much we’re looking forward to Governor Doofus making a run for the Republican Presidential Nomination (we all know he’s going to) so that his opponents can bring up in the primaries that this moron wants to bring to the rest of the nation what he’s helped maintain here in SC: in addition to the worst schools in the nation we ALSO have one of the highest unemployment rates (10% last I checked), and, thanks to the slashing of taxes during the boom years, the entire state government is on the brink of bankruptcy (and Doofus, of course, keeps playing political games: first he said he wouldn’t take the Stimulus, now he’s saying he wants to use it to pay down the DEBT rather than, you know, CREATE JOBS or anything useful).

    So I’m sorry, but the folks in TX (and elsewhere) are just going to have to try a little bit harder if they want to beat our brand of Southern Fried FAIL.

    ps-sorry for the long post : )

  122. #122 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Chiroptera,

    Since I believe the evidence supports a significant anthropogenic contribution to the recent warming, technically, I’m not a “denialist”. I am part of the claimed “consensus” for AGW. But as someone else has already mentioned in this thread, science is not a democracy.

    I am just skeptical of the model based attribution and projections, and I believe the models are critical to making any case that the GHG net effects are greater than the natural variation. We may not have to wait for significant increases in model skill, if we are able to gather good data about solar forcing and coupling to the climate when the sun is at a lower level of activity. So far, during the period of high quality satellite data, and focus on the climate, we have only experienced an unusually high level of solar activity (among the highest in the last 8000 years per Solanki in Nature, and subsequent pubs). If the next few solar cycles are as quiet as some are projecting, then our understanding should improve significantly.

    Ironically, those who imagine they know a little science seem far more susceptible to the AGW fearmongering hysteria.

    I would hope that people would want to learn about science and enjoy keeping up with it, but I’m not convinced that primary and secondary factory model schools do more good than harm.

  123. #123 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis, #122: Since I believe the evidence supports a significant anthropogenic contribution to the recent warming, technically, I’m not a “denialist”.

    Ah. My apologies for the mistake.

  124. #124 'Tis Himself
    March 24, 2009

    AG, as a good looneytarian, believes everyone (and that is EVERYONE) is rational as an individual and always makes the absolutely correct decision on all topics. That is, until they get involved in the government. Then these supremely rational people become automatically stupid and evil.

  125. #125 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis replied,

    People don’t suddenly become rational when they become central planners, and it is the central planners in Texas that are screwing it up for the rest of us.

    I disagree. The individuals may not be rational, but the systems can be rational. Rules can be put in place governing behavior to encourage more rational outcomes.

    1. Improving transparency improves the system, making it more rational.
    2. Improving gathering and analysis of results improves the system. Our current standardized testing system needs a lot of work, but quantitative analysis will lead to more rational behavior.
    3. Disparate planning schemes across localities makes it harder to behave rationally. Correlations between teaching and learning will be harder to establish, because there will be too many factors to do any sort of proper statistical analysis.
    4. Movement of populations between localities will further complicate any efforts to rationally analyze the benefits of local standards of instruction.
    5. Since people tend to ignore local politics except when it directly harms them, an unfortunate flaw in our democracy, local standards will be even more susceptible to corruption and manipulation. Central planning, at least, is exposed to investigation by bigger media outlets.

    To prove that last point, would this story be as important to Pharyngula if it was a small state or school district that was screwing up their standards?

    No. We’d still be concerned, but it is easier to fight one big fight in Texas than about 1200 small ones.

  126. #126 Sperry
    March 24, 2009

    I know AG is probably full from his meal, but…

    Perhaps the [European] cultures just value academic achievement more than texting, chat rooms, athletics, video games, dances and counter-culture music.

    I wonder where a US cultural bias against scientific achievement could’ve possibly arisen? Certainly not from ignorant quack dentists who abuse positions of community leadership to piss on the scientific community and promote the fostering of superstition as a virtue…

  127. #127 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Steve#117,

    “Domestically, it will. That’s the entire point of this. If our children grow up to distrust science and are unable to understand the basics, then you do have a supply problem domestically. As for immigration, well how can we attract top foreign scientists here when we’re increasingly voting for less funds for education and research?”

    “we”, you are identifying with the national collective. China and India are producing an abundant supply of technicians, scientists and engineers. These may not be the best professions to go into currently. If that region of the world is able to deliver more scientific advancement for the resources expended so be it. Human’s enjoy music and movies also, perhaps that is what this region will produce. The key thing is for the individuals to have the opportunity. Teachers and schools may think they are essential, but this particular prussian factory model system has only been around for about century and a half, and it hasn’t proven itself yet.

  128. #128 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    Cue facilis defending these bills as a means to help science in 3…2…1…

  129. #129 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    I wouldn’t go anywhere near that “dentist” to work on my teeth. Anybody who exhibits such blatantly irrational judgement can’t be trusted to perform any medical procedure. This particular “dentist” certaintly can’t be trusted to ensure that the young people of Texas are given an educational curiculum based on a solid foundation of SCIENCE to cut their teeth on.

    It’s about time the good people of the great state of Texas spit him and his ilk out into the sink. While you’re at it, maybe the Texas chapter of the American Dental Association ought to review his “practice”.

  130. #130 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    It just wouldn’t be a thread on Pharyngula without a libertarian hijacking the comments section to talk about the relative worth of libertarianism. Don’t you have your own blog AG to talk about libertarian ideals?

  131. #131 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 24, 2009

    I think AG thinks he is educating us, but I bet 70% or so of the regular posters have killfiled him. I know I don’t read his inane posts.

  132. #132 Ichthyic
    March 24, 2009

    Teachers and schools may think they are essential, but this particular prussian factory model system has only been around for about century and a half, and it hasn’t proven itself yet.

    *yawn*

  133. #133 beth
    March 24, 2009

    I was a little confused by the article and had to do some more digging. Apparently the curriculum that they are voting on has BETTER science standards, and the *existing* standards are the ones that have the “weaknesses” thing. The creationists are wanting to dumb down the new standards and not adopt them.

    In any case, I can’t believe the kids don’t learn about evolution until high school. That is lame.

  134. #134 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    You’d think that any person who wants to work on getting the best possible aims would look at societies and cultures where the education system is producing the best results at a secondary level. Why don’t the libertarians point to the likes of Finland even though the get the best global results? Hell, I’m thinking of moving to Finland when I have kids just so they have the best possible education.

  135. #135 Primewonk
    March 24, 2009

    Josh @110 so eloquently stated: “Jesus fucking CHRIST. Did no one is this fucking country, who now arrogantly presumes to speak for science, study any fucking science?

    Hypotheses, theories, and laws are different motherfucking things! They do different jobs in science. The words are not interchangeable, people. Theories don’t become fucking laws! Why is that so hard for the goddamn lawmakers to get through their fucking thick heads? Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick.

    These assholes are hurting our kids’ educations. Period.”

    PW – To bad there’s not a rec function here – I’d bet you’d blow the lid off the sucker.

    Unfortunately, it’s not just Texas. As recently we’ve seen the Disco Inst. stick their whiny little heads into Oklahoma, Florida, Iowa, etc. Crap – look at Jindal in Louisiana – supposedly an degree in Honors Biology from Brown. Now look at the little cretin.

    I’m beginning to think this will only end when we decide to start running some science folks for public office.

  136. #136 Ben in Texas
    March 24, 2009

    Chiroptera @114
    Stu @ 116

    Africangenesis does have a blog:

    http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=14288905&blogId=264065904

  137. #137 Steve
    March 24, 2009

    AG, correct me if I’m wrong but you’re essentially taking this position by my understanding.

    “If market forces dictate that the US should be a nation of undereducated and ignorant people then so be it.”

  138. #138 Ben in Texas
    March 24, 2009

    MetalCynic @121

    Several of the creotards on the Texas SBOE also homeschool their spawn.

  139. #139 bybelknap, FCD
    March 24, 2009

    So some clerk pronounces that the dearth of velcro shoes is because kindergarten teachers complain, and it is now THE TRUTH?! Gimme a friggin break. Anecdote isn’t evidence. More horseshit from libertard AG.

  140. #140 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Aaron#125,

    After over a century of debate and various trials, there still is not even an agreed upon method of teaching reading. However, rational central planners think they are, education is not a science, and settling upon one way by fiat or imposed “consensus” will just reduce the chances of finding something better. This was previously discussed in another thread:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/wanted_texan_scientists.php#comment-1452740

    Would having settled on just one way before the evidence is in have benefitted us somehow? Cheaper mass produced texts or something?

    I agree on the principles of openness and transparency, but these are seldom realized. I don’t know why scientists are so particularly susceptible to the idea that they know best how rationally organize human society. In the area of education, the central planners whether their goals, even if accomplished will benefit society, much less whether their methods will achieve those goals. I’m sure that John Taylor Gatto’s “Open Source Learning” can accomodate some factory model schooling for those that simply must have it, but lets not assume that we should settle on just one answer yet. Human educational systems are still in their infancy.

    The US still has a culture that values education despite having schools that excell at propogating a peer culture that doesn’t. That valuing of education may go much further to making sure that it happens than the minutia of any mandates, or the best intentions of any central planners.

  141. #141 Jeanette Garcia
    March 24, 2009

    To bad Texas can’t go back to being a sovereign state again and leave the F’n rest of the country alone. We can then move the school book publishing business to another place, preferably a state that demands research based information be taught to children.

  142. #142 Desert Son
    March 24, 2009

    In a small effort to steer the thread somewhat away from the rapidly encroaching kudzu-like “L” word, I include below a copy of the email I sent to the Texas State Board of Education.

    I won’t be able to attend the hearing tomorrow due to a schedule conflict, but I’ll be raising a clenched tentacle salute in solidarity, and sent the following to my district Board member and the full board. Unfortunately, the representative for my district voted against science, but all the more reason to let her know she can redeem herself.

    Cynthia Dunbar and members of the Texas State Board of Education:

    As a concerned citizen of Texas, and as a graduate student in Educational Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, I write to express my sincere hope that the Texas State Board of Education will vote in support of sound scientific instruction in Texas public schools. The public hearing to be presented on 25 March 2009 presents a vital chance for the board and citizens of Texas to recognize that the future of science education for Texas children is at stake. It is critical that Texas schools be provided with the opportunity to conduct rigorous, fundamental scientific instruction based on the peer-reviewed research presented in the outstanding journals of the professional scientific community. Furthermore, it is critical that Texas schools be encouraged to demonstrate and support such scientific instruction in spite of contrary opinion intent on undermining education with false equivalency “controversy” and unsubstantiated “weaknesses” in evolution.

    The science curriculum and instruction standards proposed to the Board in December by Texas teachers and academics represent the foundation of sound scientific instruction versed in the scientific method, including the recognition that evolution is the standard and accepted scientific explanation of biological development. If Texas children are to compete for prestigious and important scientific work in the future, and if Texas children are to translate their education into careers that benefit Texas and the larger world, then Texas children deserve the highest quality scientific instruction, which includes evolution unmarred by pseudo-scientific obfuscation masquerading as controversy where none actually exists. I implore you to strike the January amendments to the curriculum that subvert the tested, valid, relevant, and scientifically demonstrable tenets of evolution upon which credible scientific achievement and understanding in the biological sciences depend.

    The Texas State Board of Education stands at a watershed moment. By choosing a scientific curriculum free of religion, superstition, and supernatural “gap”-rationalization the Texas State Board of Education can elevate itself in the eyes of the nation, and more importantly, can increase the opportunities for Texas public school children to learn and develop critical thinking skills that will help better the world around them, an ambition we all share, and in which we all have a stake. Imagine what champions of future development you will be when you demonstrate to the students and citizens of Texas that science and the scientific method, including the vital component of evolution, represent the standard to which we adhere, and by which we elevate ourselves – a standard not founded in unsupported speculation, but buttressed by proven testing and critical assessment time and again, regardless of ideological conviction.

    As a special note, I wish to extend thanks to the members of the Texas State Board of Education who, in January of this year, voted in support of solid science, and whose decision stands as inspiration for the citizens and schools of the Lone Star State. The Texas State Board of Education has a chance to validate the voices of those courageous and praiseworthy members: in the wake of the public hearing scheduled for 25 March 2009, I urge the Board members to choose solid, rigorous science over ideology for Texas, for the United States of America, and for the world.

    Many thanks for your time, effort, and attention. I look forward to hearing that the Texas State Board of Education has made the right decision in support of science without superstition.

    Sincerely,

    No kings, (which I did not use as a closing for the email)

    Robert

  143. #143 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Minimalist#44,

    You are asking the skeptic for evidence. Isn’t that reversed? What are you “minamalist” about? It doesn’t seem to be running other people’s lives.

  144. #144 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    I wonder what AronRa has to say about this latest state of affairs. That man speaks eloquently on the issues in Texas. (Re: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/texas_voters_watch_this.php )

    I know he’s been beset by other commitments to his time (according to the latest YouTube blurb, among other things, a terrible circumstance involving a grandbaby undergoing chemotherapy – http://www.youtube.com/user/AronRa ) but that guy is an especially valuable asset to Texas.

    If he can, I for one would love to see another of his magnificently clear vids on this latest development…

  145. #145 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Ben in Texas#136,

    My marketing man. Thanx. However, it should be noted that my favorite myspace music selections are no longer available. “House of the Rising Sun” is OK, but “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” by Beaumont, Texas’ own Barbara Lynn would be my current choice. Also, I’ve been active at the Houston Chronicle, often directly discussing with Dr. Schafersmann. The Evosphere blog there is a good source for real information on the Texas State Board political situation, assuming you have a good bias filter:

    http://www.chron.com/commons/persona.html?newspaperUserId=africangenesis

  146. #146 Aaron
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis continues the L thread,

    Would having settled on just one way before the evidence is in have benefitted us somehow?

    Yes.

    As you know, science depends on experiments. Running a psychology experiment with one or two subjects is generally useless. You need a sufficient sample size in order to run a good experiment.

    Having a hodgepodge of science standards with no central oversight is not science. It will not lead to any useful science within our lifetime. The evidence will never be in, as you might say, because there will be too much noise.

    Testing a coherent science standard across a big population, such as Texas, allows us to directly evaluate what parts are working and what parts are not.

    If this fight is won in the name of good science, with good standards, we can then analyze the results, because there will be a sufficiently large population to evaluate. If this fight is lost, we the have a chance to evaluate the harm the bad standards will do. That science would never have been possible with over 1000 different standards.

    Education can be evaluated scientifically, as long as the libertarians do not get their way.

  147. #147 beth
    March 24, 2009

    re: my post at #133

    Okay, I think I have it all sorted out now. The existing standards have the “weaknesses” thing in there, the new standards take that out. Now the creationists are trying to pass the new standards with revisions, and it’s these revisions that screw up the new standards and introduce the creationist crap. I found a good summary here:
    http://ncseweb.org/news/2009/01/victory-over-weaknesses-texas-004236

  148. #148 Knockgoats
    March 24, 2009

    Why don’t the libertarians point to the likes of Finland even though the get the best global results? – Kel

    Come on, Kel, it’s just not possible that Finland is getting good results, let alone the best! After all, it’s highly regulated by the ebil gubmint, and while there are private schools, they are not allowed to charge fees. In other words, it doesn’t rely on the market!!!! So it just can’t be getting good results. And then there’s the lack of free elections, and all those political prisoners in the infamous Finnish gulag – so even if it was getting good results, the price would be far too high.

  149. #149 Jadehawk
    March 24, 2009

    wait… what…? “culture” is the reason Europe is better at science than the U.S.? but I thought “culture” was a trait of “societies”, and “societies” don’t exist? is AG committing libertarian blasphemy by admitting that groups of people can have their own dynamics? tsk tsk tsk

  150. #150 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    Come on, Kel, it’s just not possible that Finland is getting good results, let alone the best! After all, it’s highly regulated by the ebil gubmint, and while there are private schools, they are not allowed to charge fees. In other words, it doesn’t rely on the market!!!! So it just can’t be getting good results. And then there’s the lack of free elections, and all those political prisoners in the infamous Finnish gulag – so even if it was getting good results, the price would be far too high.

    Don’t forget the piss-poor health system they have over there… ;)

    I wonder why AG is so willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. this is what shits me off about libertarians, it’s never about what’s practical, it’s about appealing to an ideal. And they look for whatever flaw in the entire system to use as a straw-man against the entire system and replace it with their ideology – nevermind that their ideas have been tested throughout history already… maybe it’s different this time around because now people are more educated…

  151. #151 Tony Whitson
    March 24, 2009

    PZ writes

    If you are in Texas, and you care about good science, then you should plan on showing up and testifying.

    Actually, if you’re not on the list now, you won’t get a chance unless somebody lets you take their place. Here’s the list:
    http://curricublog.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/sboe-march-25-testifiers/
    As you can see, they will be using this to create a public illusion of balance on two sides of a legitimate controversy.

  152. #152 Ben in Texas
    March 24, 2009

    AG @145
    I assumed “House of the Rising Sun” was an attempt at subliminal manipulation, as was the snow photo.

  153. #153 ragarth
    March 24, 2009

    Time for a Technocracy, perhaps? Let’s elect our representatives based on credentials and reputation instead of who can make the most people swallow their kool-aid.

  154. #154 Knockgoats
    March 24, 2009

    I am part of the claimed “consensus” for AGW. – Africangenesis

    That’s a barefaced lie. The consensus is that anthropogenic GHG emissions are responsible for essentially all the warming since 1970, and that this is an urgent problem that requires coordinated international action to reduce those emissions.

    So far, during the period of high quality satellite data, and focus on the climate, we have only experienced an unusually high level of solar activity (among the highest in the last 8000 years per Solanki in Nature, and subsequent pubs).

    As I have pointed out before, this is far from being generally accepted: Solanki relies (as he must) on proxies for the level of solar activity before systematic observations were made, and other proxies indicate that current levels, while high, are by no means as unusual as he suggests. Moreover, we do know there has been minimal secular change in the sun since 1970 – the period during which warming has been rapid and if anything accelerating. It is, on the other hand, absolutely certain that GHG concentrations have increased considerably over that time. Your stubborn refusal to accept the consensus is quite clearly ideological, and has led you in the past to despicable and unsupported accusations of dishonesty against climate scientists.

    Ironically, those who imagine they know a little science seem far more susceptible to the AGW fearmongering hysteria.

    Utterly dishonest. Those who are most worried are those who know a damn sight more about the science than either you or me. I was at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen earlier this month; and I heard leading climate scientists express their conviction that urgent action is required.

  155. #155 10channel
    March 24, 2009

    “I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said that a Democracy requires a well informed electorate.”

    And when the electorate is not well-informed, then things usually turn out for the worse. Yet, perhaps it is better than dictatorship, because even of a dictator forces positive things on a population, popular acceptance of what is good and right is more important.

    Science is not a vote, but people’s decision to accept it is a vote, all to turn out for the worse if people decide to reject science. The tricky but necessary task, therefore, is to get the public to accept science.

  156. #156 Newfie
    March 24, 2009

    The National Center for Science Education has a series of 5 short youtube videos of Don McLeroy’s arguments last week, if anyone wants to pick them apart.

  157. #157 Primewonk
    March 24, 2009

    ragarth @ 153 said “Time for a Technocracy, perhaps? Let’s elect our representatives based on credentials and reputation instead of who can make the most people swallow their kool-aid.”

    PW – Maybe not a technocracy, but I’d sure like to see folks with a grasp of science running for office. [Jindal excepted]

    Unfortunately we don’t see a lot of joint Poly Sci / Physics grads.

  158. #158 Randy Randy
    March 24, 2009

    10channel #155 said

    The tricky but necessary task, therefore, is to get the public to accept science.

    To get people to accept science, we need to get religion out of the way. I propose the instantiation of a new religion, with the following rules:

    1. There will be no back-story provided, you’ve got to figure everything out on your own.
    2. There are no definite guidelines toward getting into heaven or hell.
    2a. If you don’t believe in this religion, you can still go to heaven.
    2b. Anyone who invokes Pascal’s wager goes to hell.

    This should be sufficient to satisfy people’s inherent religious tendencies, while not getting in the way of real work.

  159. #159 Josh
    March 24, 2009

    Josh @110 so eloquently stated:

    Yeah–the anger kinda got me there.

    I’m beginning to think this will only end when we decide to start running some science folks for public office.

    I’m not confident about our chances for widespread success.

  160. #160 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Kel #130: “It just wouldn’t be a thread on Pharyngula without a libertarian hijacking the comments section to talk about the relative worth of libertarianism.”

    You said it. This crap flung by one contrarian advocate asshole or another just to grandstand and push their shit down everyone’s throats is getting more digusting by the MINUTE.

    It’s gotten to the point where one can be confident that the magnitude of the number of comments one sees on one of PZ’s posts on the main page is nearly proportional to the amount of off-topic crap one can expect the comments to contain.

    Although many commenters keep on suggesting not to feed the trolls, anybody can plainly see that the trolls don’t need any responses in order to motivate them into sending more shlock.

    There is no genuine sense of embarrassment that can accrue from any internet exchange that comes anywhere near what people actually experience when they are bodily face-to-face.

    Everyone who “talks” on blogs and discussion groups rapidly learns that ridicule of the most withering sort is impotent. They are as likely to take a negative or contrary view as a challenge to respond, and the rotten cycle repeats itself. But a lack of feeding them OBVIOUSLY doesn’t stop the trolls from ASKING FOR IT. AGAIN AND AGAIN.

    Of course, trolls are the very same cowards who would rapidly retract what they say if you were face-to-face with them.

    PZ: man…I honestly don’t know how you can deal with this problem. Besides getting rid of some of the culprits, I think now maybe your recent “polling” scheme letting readers decide who should be banished wasn’t enough. The problem is bad enough that maybe you might consider an adendum to your scheme: for example, suppose something could be arranged where a quorum of some number of commenters (say 10) can flag a particular person for not keeping to the friggin’ topic. If anybody gets the limiting number of negative votes in that particular thread, that person automatically becomes a candidate for permanent residency in the dungeon. Call it LIMBO. Whatever. Then THAT’s when you (as you deem fit) to get rid of the offendinfg louse – or readers can vote the scoundrel to oblivion.

    I don’t know how easy that is to work out. But it seems that could stem this horrible tide of trolls, relieve you of some of the burden (which I imagine must be immense enough as it is) and help keep the rest of us on our toes too.

    Just a thought.

  161. #161 Tony Whitson
    March 24, 2009
    I’m beginning to think this will only end when we decide to start running some science folks for public office.

    I’m not confident about our chances for widespread success.

    Actually, I think that did happen, successfully, in Ohio.

    Of course, Texas is not Ohio, as we all know.

  162. #162 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Knockgoats#154,

    Of course I’m not part of the consensus, that is WHY I put “consensus” in quotes. The evidence for the “consensus” is based in part upon polls, we have discussed the polls before, I’m sure even you would agree that those poll questions are phrased such that I would be part of the “consensus” that is claimed, so much for polls. Once again you claim I “lie”, when I am scrupulous to do nothing of the kind. But what is really important here is not consensus or the evidence for the “consensus”, but the evidence, or lack there of, for the extreme claims of the IPCC report.

    “As I have pointed out before, this is far from being generally accepted: Solanki relies (as he must) on proxies for the level of solar activity before systematic observations were made, and other proxies indicate that current levels, while high, are by no means as unusual as he suggests. ”

    I agree partially. Your “by no means” is an exageration. The proxies still show solar activity in the latter half of the 20th century to be the highest in the last 8000 years. However, Solanki has acknowledged larger error bars than he first noted, and for that reason we only know that it is “one” of the highest in the last 8000 years and based on the statistical less than 8% likely to continue past 2050.

    You are being deceptive by putting forward a simple linear argument that GHGs were increasing in the latter half of the 20th century, while solar was essentiallly flat, when you know the linear fit to be poor and aerosols and the thermal inertia of the oceans to be complicating factors.

    Yes, my refusal to accept the “consensus” is idealogical. It is the ideology of science. I accept evidence, not consensi. You and the IPCC have no good evidence that nearly all or most of the recent warming is due to AGW. I need evidence before I dismiss one of the highest levels of solar activity in the last 8000 years as a mere coincidence, before I dismiss all the problems with the models that dwarf the energy imbalance, before I dismiss the aerosol cooling event that contributes so significantly to the European warming (global brightening and dimming), etc.

    Why do you have such faith in the consensus, that you hold a strong opinion about a position you don’t understand well enough to defend yourself?

  163. #163 Primewonk
    March 24, 2009

    Josh – I think getting mad is going to be exactly what it takes. For enough people to say, “This crap has got to end, and end now”. A critical mass of folks to say to those in charge of our kids education – Believe in whatever god or gods you want, but in science class we will teach science. I swear to god that if our school district ever tried this crap I would insist that they also include the creation myths of Bumba and Amma.

  164. #164 Paul Caggegi
    March 24, 2009

    I take comfort in knowing that the Cobbs case showed us that even if something as ludicrous as this passes, it can still be reversed once the hullabaloo blows over. We got some serious folks on “our” side who do their utmost to protect the integrity of science education (Eugenie Scott, Ken Miller, for example). They have been doing a fantastic job so far. I don’t doubt they will keep up the fight.

  165. #165 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Aack, that particular sentence should have been:

    “Then THAT’s when you (as you deem fit) [CAN] get rid of the [OFFENDING] louse – or readers can vote the scoundrel to oblivion.”

  166. #166 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    astrounit#160,

    “Of course, trolls are the very same cowards who would rapidly retract what they say if you were face-to-face with them.”

    Whew, for a second I thought you might have had me in mind.

  167. #167 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Primewonk #163…

    You swear to who?

  168. #168 Josh
    March 24, 2009

    *nods in agreement with Primewonk*

  169. #169 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis #166 says, “Whew, for a second I thought you might have had me in mind.”

    Honestly, until now, I didn’t care a flying fuck about you. But since you asked, I will now tender a motion to place you into LIMBO. Who will second it?

  170. #170 JJR
    March 24, 2009

    Since I did not find any reference in the comments, anyone see this related thread over at Brent Rassmussen’s Unscrewing the Inscrutable:

    http://www.unscrewingtheinscrutable.com/blogs/paul-fidalgo/texas-crazy-attack-evo-atheists

    Check out the book in particular…and the book’s page on Amazon…that is 100% undiluted crazy there.

  171. #171 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    And it just wouldn’t be a libertarian thread hijacking on Pharyngula without it turning into a debate on AGW.

  172. #172 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis #162 said, “Of course I’m not part of the consensus, that is WHY I put “consensus” in quotes.”

    MEANWHILE…

    Are we talking about Texas school curricula…

    OR WHAT???

  173. #173 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    Kel #171 : Yeah. No shit.

    Any contrarian asshole gets to step up to the soap box and bloviate forth on whatever it is that concerns them.

    I do think that we should have some means of flagging those who don’t stick to the topic.

  174. #174 Primewonk
    March 24, 2009

    @167
    Posted by: astrounit | March 24, 2009 6:36 PM

    Primewonk #163…

    You swear to who?

    PW – hence lower case g. I just didn’t have time to type in 10 billion different names.

  175. #175 Chiroptera
    March 24, 2009

    Kel, #171: And it just wouldn’t be a libertarian thread hijacking on Pharyngula without it turning into a debate on AGW.

    That was my fault. I meant to make a throw-away joke that, of course, a Global Warming Denier would be against having high school students taught a rigorous science curriculum.

    My apologies.

  176. #176 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    Any contrarian asshole gets to step up to the soap box and bloviate forth on whatever it is that concerns them.

    This blog has the same conversation with AG every few days. What’s going to be gained by having it one more time?

  177. #177 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Kel#171,

    I was discussing education. See #108 for the diversion to AGW, it was quite a gratuitious ad hominem attack. Check your facts before accusations of hijacking. If someone on a biology blog wants to bring up an education issue where school choice is part of the debate and rhetoric, naturally those in favor of school choice will be taking a stance that liberatians usually agree with. Now, you might want to argue that the issue is restricted to what is the best way policy for central planners impose upon others. I have particularly taken an interest in this issue in Texas, and while the rest of the country may be concerned about the influence a couple minor phrases might have on the textbook market, far more draconian to those in state is the 4 by 4 by 2, science, math and language requirement for any but a severely and explicitly degraded diploma. Dr Schafersman has a pet earth science course that he is pushing that will be used to evangelize the students for AGW action. I discuss it with Dr. Schafersman here:

    http://www.chron.com/commons/readerblogs/evosphere.html?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3af12fd84e-253f-46cf-9408-ee579f9a3a0bPost%3ad6735bb0-33a4-4949-9d3a-ef87ad1e1c01&plckCommentSortOrder=TimeStampAscending

    Let’s not assume the science is all on one side, or that this Texas debate is only about evolution and not about the AGW agenda also.

  178. #178 Knockgoats
    March 24, 2009

    The evidence for the “consensus” is based in part upon polls, we have discussed the polls before, I’m sure even you would agree that those poll questions are phrased such that I would – Africangenesis

    Another lie. The evidence for the consensus is the scientific literature.

    The proxies still show solar activity in the latter half of the 20th century to be the highest in the last 8000 years.

    Solanki relies on isotopic variability in carbon and beryllium, but these proxies themselves are not consistent, nor do they always agree with observed sunspot number, as shown by Muscheler et al 2007 (Quartenary Science Review 26, 82-97), who say “The tree-ring 14C record and 10Be from Antarctica indicate that recent solar activity is high but not exceptional with respect to the last 1000 yr”.

    You are being deceptive by putting forward a simple linear argument that GHGs were increasing in the latter half of the 20th century, while solar was essentiallly flat, when you know the linear fit to be poor and aerosols and the thermal inertia of the oceans to be complicating factors.

    The fit is not poor; over the 20th century, the change is of course not monotonic, let alone linear. As I have noted repeatedly, models that attribute most of the early 20th century warming to the sun, and effectively all that since 1970 to GHGs, and which incorporate aerosols, reproduce the time course of global temperature over that period very well. No other models do so – and specifically, no models attributing late 20th century warming to a delayed solar effect do so. Why not? After all, it is quite open to the denialists either to write their own models, or to take published code and modify it. Why haven’t they? Why haven’t you, given your vast expertise and formidable brilliance? As for the thermal inertia of the oceans, they have been warming along with the surface – while the stratosphere has been cooling. This is as expected from the consensus hypothesis – but why should the stratosphere cool if the main causal factor is changes in the sun more than half a century ago?

    Yes, my refusal to accept the “consensus” is idealogical. It is the ideology of science. I accept evidence, not consensi. You and the IPCC have no good evidence that nearly all or most of the recent warming is due to AGW.

    “Consensi” isn’t a word, you pretentious semi-literate: the plural of “consensus” is “consensus”. The good evidence is in the consilience of modelling studies with the observed spatio-temporal pattern of warming and cooling (on more than one occasion that when models and data conflicted, it was the data that turned out to be wrong); and the extent of temperature swings in past ice ages and interglacials which cannot be explained without a strong feedback from C02. It is quite plainly your dogmatic “libertarianism” that motivates your rejection of the consensus of relevant scientists: their findings call for urgent, coordinated action by governments, and this sticks in your craw, so you cast around desperately for any shreds of justification for denial – exactly as creationists do with regard to evolution. You’re not fooling anyone, except perhaps yourself.

    the aerosol cooling event that contributes so significantly to the European warming (global brightening and dimming), etc.

    This event is of course well known to climate scientists, and included in relevant modelling studies. It was also a regional rather than global event – global levels of aerosols have probably increased over the past few decades as large parts of Asia have industrialised.

    Why do you have such faith in the consensus, that you hold a strong opinion about a position you don’t understand well enough to defend yourself?

    I understand it well enough to recognise and point out your dishonest cherry-picking; and unlike you, am not sufficiently arrogant to think I know better than the consensus of relevant scientific experts in an area where I am not one, or to make unsupported accusations of lying against them.

  179. #179 Kel
    March 24, 2009

    I was discussing education. See #108 for the diversion to AGW

    I see that now, apologies for the comment @171.

  180. #180 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Chiroptera#175,

    Thanx for owning up. My later post was started before yours, so I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it, if I had seen yours first. — regards

  181. #181 Africangenesis
    March 24, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    Evidently, when “lie” rolls off your keyboard, it usually means your lying. We discussed the poll here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/alert_edward_tufte.php#comment-1380314

    This was question #2, to which I can agree:

    “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

    The 97.4% who did agree was propagandized like this:

    “It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists.”

    This evidently is the original full text of the report on the poll:

    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    You state:

    “Another lie. The evidence for the consensus is the scientific literature.”

    That is a bit of an exaggeration isn’t it? If your are referring to the Orieskes study, it only looked in the abstracts, not the full text including the discussion where the implications for the AGW hypothesis was more likely to be mentioned.

    “”Consensi” isn’t a word, you pretentious semi-literate: the plural of “consensus” is “consensus”.

    I guess you could call that an affectation that I indulge from my days studying latin.

    We’ve discussed the models plenty of times, simulations based upon the latest global brightening publicatiions haven’t taken place yet, and probably won’t be completed until the next IPCC reports. You know I’ve pointed out correlated model errors biased against solar larger than the energy imbalance in the literature, and other literature showing that the solar signature is poorly represented.

    I agree there are problems with the solar proxies, but you should agree that even the IPCC acknowledges that solar variation is poorly understood. A nice lull in solar activity will be very welcome at this time, and would help decide the issue. Now do you admit there are problems with the tree ring proxies in the Mann hockey stick and that his study has a regional dependency just like the global brightening does? BTW, global “averages” are influenced by regional differences. Warming in Europe is part of that average, and it is an area that is particularly well sampled at a high lattitude where most of the effect occurrs.

  182. #182 Coyote
    March 24, 2009

    And here goes the thread in ANOTHER pointless direction. Joy.

  183. #183 Ray Ladbury
    March 24, 2009

    Africangenesis, You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts, and your “facts” on climate change are far from the mark. First, the case for climate change is not dependent on global climate models–they merely reflect our current understanding of the planet’s climate. In fact GCMs do quite a good job at reproducing observed trends (e.g. the effects of volcanic eruptions, etc.).
    Your assertion of high solar activity is misleading. Solar irradiance has actually been flat for 50 years–the period where we’ve seen the greatest warming.

    Most bizarre is your idea that scientific consensus reflects some sort of poll or vote. It does not. The scientific consensus is based on the literature–when a particular technique, idea or theory becomes so indispensible to progress that almost every published work uses it, it becomes part of the consensus. Consensus science is part of the scientific method, whether for the Standard model of particle physics, the big bang theory in cosmology or anthropogenic causation of the current warming epoch. I urge you to read:
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

  184. #184 astrounit
    March 24, 2009

    PW, #174 “hence lower case g. I just didn’t have time to type in 10 billion different names.”

    Glad to know you don’t subscribe to any of the 10 billion by saying so.

  185. #185 Evangelatheist
    March 24, 2009

    @A-freak-ingenuous #181

    “”Consensi” isn’t a word, you pretentious semi-literate: the plural of “consensus” is “consensus”.

    I guess you could call that an affectation that I indulge from my days studying latin.

    Of course if you weren’t such a pompous idiot who enjoyed talking out your ass all the time, you would have taken 10 seconds and looked up the word to find that the plural of consensus is consensuses. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/consensus

  186. #186 Evangelatheist
    March 24, 2009

    uggh…i hate it when i /blockquote in the wrong place!

  187. #187 eyesoars
    March 24, 2009

    Hey, we (Minnesotans) have our very own Michele Bachmann here, if you want b*tsh*t crazy religious whacko in position of authority. Iowa has King. Oklahoma has plenty…

    It’s a “target rich” environment. Alas, I’d like to live someplace where most people are sane, but I’m not sure such a place exists.

  188. #188 Elaine
    March 24, 2009

    This is SO frustrating! I, and about 100 of others, already spent an entire day testifying back in November about this. Then they had more testimonies about 1 1/2 months ago, and yet we are supposed to testify again? What the hell is going on? How many testimonies do they need to have to make this simple decision. In the end, all it is is the removal of one damn sentence. No wonder they get their way in the end. I don’t have the time to spend another 8 hours in front of the board to testify again, and I am sure many others feel the same way. It seems to me that the only ones that want to hear these testimonies are the ones that are vehemently opposed to evolution and just want to disagree with you.I think their minds were made up a long time ago.

  189. #189 Primewonk
    March 24, 2009

    PW, #174 “hence lower case g. I just didn’t have time to type in 10 billion different names.”

    astrounit: Glad to know you don’t subscribe to any of the 10 billion by saying so.

    PW – Hell, I don’t even play poker because the odds suck. What are the odds that I’d pick the one right god? It ain’t worth all the worrying that I picked the right one out of all the ones I didn’t even know about.

  190. #190 AdmiralNaismith
    March 24, 2009

    So will they also mandate to math curricula that pi, according to “certain sources,” is exactly 3?

    They already tried declaring pi to be exactly 3.14. Then all the basketballs in the state went wonky and they had to repeal it. When it affects sports, Texans notice.

  191. #191 Lynn David
    March 25, 2009

    McLeroy said he would hope everyone would read the book, “Sowing Atheism” by some yahoo named Bob Bowie Johnson. It’s a religious screed against evolution. McLeroy says he will be basing his argument at the upcoming meeting on the book.

    You can see/read the book at:
    http://www.solvinglight.com/ http://www.solvinglight.com/blog/sowing-atheism-table-of-contents/
    PDF (ultimately): http://www.solvinglight.com/titles/sowing_atheism/sowing_atheism_download_details.htm

    See the review of SOWING ATHEISM by Don McLeroy, Chair of the Texas State Board of Education at: http://solvinglight.com/blog/2009/03/mcleroy-recommendation/

    Or as Johnson terms it: “THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES’ SINISTER SCHEME TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN THEY’RE DESCENDED FROM REPTILES.”

    Sorry stuff….

  192. #192 Leigh Williams
    March 25, 2009

    Someone upthread said: “My argument has always been that pretty much every state has some of the best biologists in the world on the payroll, in the form of the faculty at their state institutions. Why not ask THEM what THEY think should be in the biology curriculum? Personally, as a citizen, I cede the decision about biology education to biologists. I will support whatever recommendations they make.”

    Oh, but we tried that. Texas Freedom Network commissioned a study asking faculty members in biology and biological anthropology at 50 Texas universities and colleges what they think about teaching evolution, intelligent design, and creationism.

    The researchers sent out a long questionnaire. To their surprise, they had a 45% response rate, very high for a “cold call” — a total of 464 replies. You can see it here.

    And here’s a shock: the professional biologists overwhelming said, “Teach evolution. Do not teach ID or creationism — they’re not science.”

    This information simply ran off the solid rock heads of the diehard creationists on the SBOE without penetrating in the slightest.

    We have 7 of 15 board members firmly for the “strengths and weaknesses” language, all of whom are avowed creationists. The 7 includes Don McLeroy, the chairman, who wields great power over the debate, and who is completely nuts.

  193. #193 bbk
    March 25, 2009

    PZ – From what I’ve read about the Texas school board, they influence much more than just Texans. Textbook publishers aren’t going to publish a separate books for every school district, so they go with whatever their largest and most influential customer wants. This affects the whole country.

  194. #194 Pat
    March 25, 2009

    I’m in Texas. I’m a local citizen, I try my best but the tide and current of ignorance is strong. This is an environment where, far from just religious infection, the culture is one of ignorance being lauded. Is it any wonder there are so many religious conservatives in Texas?

    There is a streak of “common-man wisdom” fable that exists here, twisted from its original meaning. Texas and the frontier were a kind of meritocracy again in an age of dominance by big business and monopolies. Go to Texas, be a rancher or buy land in the way of the railroad, and you could get around the lack of opportunities that are the usual heavy tax for poor education.

    But it’s turned to where the obstacle is now the goal, as if being ignorant is necessary to success, and this is identified strongly with being “Texan” and having the appropriate drawl and plain-spoken manner.

    I long for a time when education was a sign of success, rather than wealth or, as in Texas, ignorance is status. Claiming a lack of knowledge is laudatory, as if you spent your time on a more fruitful endeavor such as being more folksy, closer to the land, keeping it real. The stench of manure is perfume, and a hard day’s labor is looked upon more favorably than years spent in research.

    What happened to the other kind of frontier folksiness? The real humorists and others who were truly of the land but clever and intelligent and educated?

    Me? I blame fraternities. A special-friends club that gets you into education in spite of lacking qualifications preferentially where it seems to be a contest to see how poorly you can do while partying excessively and still graduate. Working the system by cheating, hiring others to go to class for you, cajoling teachers into non-failing grades until sick of you they eventually cave, all are broken elements in our accreditation system.

    You, too, can graduate as a dentist without ever taking the time to actually learn.

  195. #195 Ian
    March 25, 2009

    Nisbet’s policy of “Sit down and shut up” is quite evidently working in Texas. For the creationists.

  196. #196 Bug
    March 25, 2009

    If I were a Texas resident with a child between the age of 0 and 8, this would constitute all the reason I needed to look for a job in another state (I hear Minnesota’s not too bad) and prepare to take out a loan for the impending move. If that weren’t possible, I’d start reading up on home-schooling immediately.

  197. #197 Knockgoats
    March 25, 2009

    We discussed the poll here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/alert_edward_tufte.php#comment-1380314
    -Africangenesis

    No, we did not discuss it. If you check that thread, you will find that I had only one comment in it, before your comment on the EOS poll – and I did not follow the thread after making my one comment, so never saw your comment. The only place a scientific consensus can be assessed is in the scientific literature; and while Oreskes’ study is one piece of evidence, the AR4 itself is a much larger one. If you claim there is no consensus, where exactly is a coherent alternative to the view that GHG emissions are the main cause of post-1970 warming, and reducing emissions is urgent, developed?

    “”Consensi” isn’t a word, you pretentious semi-literate: the plural of “consensus” is “consensus”.
    I guess you could call that an affectation that I indulge from my days studying latin.

    Your study of Latin was obviously similar in depth to your study of climate science: “consensus” is fourth declension, so the nominative plural in Latin is “consensus”. If you’re going to be affected, try to be right as well.

    You know I’ve pointed out correlated model errors biased against solar larger than the energy imbalance in the literature, and other literature showing that the solar signature is poorly represented.

    You have made numerous poorly-supported claims of this kind, backed by cherry-picking. Your ignorance of modelling methodology was starkly exposed when it emerged that you didn’t know what a “physically-based model” is. Your approach here as elsewhere closely resembles the more literate creationists: find a paper, or more usually a sentence or two, that can be used to support your claims that the models are inadequate, while ignoring the larger context of consilience between modelling and empirical evidence. You ignore my point that no-one has produced a model opposed to the consensus that comes anywhere near accounting for the climate record. You ignore the point about the cooling stratosphere. You ignore the paleoclimatic evidence for a climate sensitivity to CO2 in the range postulated in AR4.

    Now do you admit there are problems with the tree ring proxies in the Mann hockey stick and that his study has a regional dependency just like the global brightening does?

    I haven’t studied this issue in any detail, but I’ve no doubt there are questions about the proxies, as is generally the case. However, the evidence that current global temperatures are higher than at any time in the last millennium is strong. (I note that this is exactly what you should expect if the main influence is solar, and the sun is as unusually active as Solanki claims. Another point of similarity with creationists – never mind about putting together a coherent alternative, just throw anything you can at the science and the scientists, together with unsupported accusations of lying and ulterior motives.)

  198. #198 Fatmop
    March 25, 2009

    As a bachelor’s of econ, I feel I would be supremely qualified to show up and comment on the validity of evolution. I mean, they teach us graphs in econ. I know graphs. And apparently, some biologists use graphs too, so hey, right there we got something. I could totally make the case to the board of education.

    Sadly, I’m in Houston and I have work.

    OHHH just realized – I’m in Houston. Fossil fuel capital of the world. I work for an oil company, though I don’t know any geologists – but geologists! We need to hire these people! And no sane geologist is going to tell you that those fossils come from Fred Flintstone and Dino.

  199. #199 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    March 25, 2009

    This blog has the same conversation with AG every few days.

    This blog, and every forum I’ve ever followed, has the same conversations with everyone every few days. Doesn’t stop people from talking about them. People love to talk, regardless of the topic, regardless of how many times it’s been rehashed here or elsewhere.

  200. #200 syferdet
    March 25, 2009

    Bug @ #196:

    If I were a Texas resident with a child between the age of 0 and 8, this would constitute all the reason I needed to look for a job in another state (I hear Minnesota’s not too bad)…

    I hope you’re right about that in Minnesota. I’m doing that exact thing in two months. Not because of this situation in Texas, though.

    Hopefully this won’t start a trend in other states, but it probably will.

  201. #201 Mike Latiolais
    March 25, 2009

    A link I just found: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/html/HB04224I.htm
    Apparently, another Texas legislator is attempting an end run around the school board process to guarantee that this garbage will pass into law.

  202. #202 Akiko
    March 25, 2009

    This was copied form a hoem school gruop I belong to. The qustion was “Where can I find books for high school science that are non-religious?” Here was an answer posted. This person teaches high school in my state that has one of the lowest 5 scores in the country on standardized testing. I love where he says “science is not a collection of facts”. Where did he get his degree?

    “I teach high school science classes without discussing origins. My personal
    viewpoint is creationistic, but I teach from an empirical standpoint. I use
    secular textbooks and in biology, the chapters on evolution are optional for
    extra credit, or the students can substitute a book with a different point of
    view, if they wish for those chapters.

    I want my students to understand current scientific theory. I also want them to
    be able to think critically and to understand the difference between scientific
    fact, theory and hypothesis. I also want them to understand that the scientist
    must be open minded and be careful in interpreting experimental results. When
    we hold on to popular belief too strongly, scientific progress is stifled. I
    really want my students to understand that science is not a collection of facts
    but an ongoing and changing exploration.

    We usually have a wonderful mix of students and as long as everyone is being
    respectful, we often have lively discussions. I will from time to time play
    devil’s advocate and see if the students can pick up my error. (Though I have
    to be careful with that!)”

  203. #203 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    March 25, 2009

    How did we get to this point?

    It’s pretty simple, you NAZIfy your mass media and then you start indoctrinating your children with NAZI propaganda at a very early age. Then wait thirty years. It works ever time.

    Unless of course, you nip it in the bud. That didn’t happen.

  204. #204 Africangenesis
    March 25, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    “You ignore my point that no-one has produced a model opposed to the consensus that comes anywhere near accounting for the climate record.”

    Strangely, you state this after quoting the text where I address it. If ALL the AR4 models have a correlated bias against solar, it is no surprise that the models aren’t able to match the recent warming with solar. You have ignored my point that noone has produced a model in FAVOR of the consensus that comes anywhere near accounting for the climate record. There is more to climate than just average global temperature. Every model has a positive surface albedo bias. ALL of the models fail to reproduce more than half of the precipitation increase associated with the recent warming, MOST reproduce only about a third of the precipitation increase. NONE of the models reproduce the extent of the Arctic melting, and NONE reproduce the amplitude of the signature of the solar cycle on the climate.

    “You ignore the point about the cooling stratosphere.”

    I don’t ignore this, I’ve addressed this previously. Since AGW makes a significant contribution, there isn’t any need for further explanation of the cooling stratosphere. The stratospheric cooling doesn’t tell us whether AGW’s relative attribution should be 30% or 90% or anywhere in between. It is just strange that you repeat it when it isn’t an issue.

    “the nominative plural in Latin is “consensus”. If you’re going to be affected, try to be right as well.”

    “consensus” is singular in english. Hopefully the dictionaries with descriptive philosophies will catch up us in a revision or two. Join me in propagating this affectation.

    “Your approach here as elsewhere closely resembles the more literate creationists: find a paper, or more usually a sentence or two, that can be used to support your claims that the models are inadequate”

    I assume the creationists put on their pants one leg at a time also. Why is more than a sentence or two needed, when the statement is that the models aren’t ready for “multidecadal projections” for instance? It should be enough that such statements in the peer review literature both punctures the consensus and the IPCC projections. Each paper only has a piece of the puzzle. I could quote the whole paper, but that would be spamming the forum. Providing a reference is enough.

  205. #205 Nankay
    March 25, 2009

    I have gone to the site for the live blogging, but nothing seems to be up? Any help?

  206. #206 Africangenesis
    March 25, 2009

    Ray Ladbury#183,

    “Your assertion of high solar activity is misleading. Solar irradiance has actually been flat for 50 years–the period where we’ve seen the greatest warming. ”

    Sorry, I’ve never mislead on this, Knockgoats as my witness. Your point isn’t particularly relevant, given the centuries long time required to adjust to a new level of forcing due to the thermal inertia of the ocean (see climate commitment studies), and also due to aerosols which prevented some of that irradiance from reaching the surface in the first part of that 50 years (global dimming) and then did allow that irradiance to reach the surface in the latter part (global brightening). regards

  207. #207 Steverino
    March 25, 2009

    I nominate Don McLeroy for Toolbag of the Week

  208. #208 Discombobulated
    March 25, 2009

    Nankay:

    Looks like Steve just started the live-blogging at 12:16 local time.

    Here we go… “Cross your fingers” for science and reason.

  209. #209 Nankay
    March 25, 2009

    THANK YOU!!!

  210. #210 Nankay
    March 25, 2009

    Is anyone listening to the live feed???? I don’t think we have a chance. My head hurts.

  211. #211 Discombobulated
    March 25, 2009

    Nankay: Yeah, and I am depressed about it, too. :-| I keep having to mute the audio lest I break my laptop screen off its hinges in fury.

    On a good note, I noticed from Steve’s second paragraph, that Lawrence Krauss is there. He’s been a very vocal supporter of sound science in many areas, as well as being a big promoter of the ScienceDebate2008 movement (with its partial success). Though, he is a physicist and not a biologist…

    Not to take away from any of the other great and vocal supporters of REALITY (including Steve himself for being kind enough to live-blog the entire thing), but it was nice to see that Dr. Krauss had come over from ASU to lend his support.

  212. #212 Knockgoats
    March 25, 2009

    I’ve never mislead on this [flatness of solar output over recent decades], Knockgoats as my witness. – Africangenesis

    True.

    Your point isn’t particularly relevant, given the centuries long time required to adjust to a new level of forcing due to the thermal inertia of the ocean

    Nonsense, it’s highly relevant, as the ocean itself has been warming, and this warming has not slowed, as would be expected if this were simply analogous to continued warming after the heat is turned up under a pan.

    also due to aerosols which prevented some of that irradiance from reaching the surface in the first part of that 50 years (global dimming) and then did allow that irradiance to reach the surface in the latter part (global brightening).

    Global aerosol levels are probably higher now than at any time in the 20th century, see:
    Clear Sky Visibility Has Decreased over Land Globally from 1973 to 2007
    Kaicun Wang, Robert E. Dickinson, Shunlin Liang
    Science 13 March 2009:
    Vol. 323. no. 5920, pp. 1468 – 1470.

  213. #213 Africangenesis
    March 25, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    That is a new result. I’ll look it over. thanx

  214. #214 Nankay
    March 25, 2009

    So far, the best has been the woman who was a science teacher for 30+ years and the President of University of Tx at Dallas. I fear what they have said went in one ear and out the other. I can almost hear the board saying to themselves: “Yeah..blah blah blah”

    I have to quit now or I will die a of a stroke at a relatively young age.

  215. #215 Knockgoats
    March 25, 2009

    “You ignore my point that no-one has produced a model opposed to the consensus that comes anywhere near accounting for the climate record.”
    Strangely, you state this after quoting the text where I address it. If ALL the AR4 models have a correlated bias against solar, it is no surprise that the models aren’t able to match the recent warming with solar. You have ignored my point that noone has produced a model in FAVOR of the consensus that comes anywhere near accounting for the climate record. There is more to climate than just average global temperature. Every model has a positive surface albedo bias. ALL of the models fail to reproduce more than half of the precipitation increase associated with the recent warming, MOST reproduce only about a third of the precipitation increase. NONE of the models reproduce the extent of the Arctic melting, and NONE reproduce the amplitude of the signature of the solar cycle on the climate.
    – Africangenesis

    Here you simultaneously miss or evade my point, and show your failure to understand modelling methodology. My point was that to be a viable alternative to the “mainly GG” hypothesis, a “mainly solar” hypothesis ought at least to be able to show models that do as well as the “mainly GG” models. Why haven’t you, or any denialist, produced such models? Of course there is more to climate than mean temperatures, but a model does not have to be perfect to yield useful forecasts. Indeed, we can be pretty certain that no model of a complex system ever will be perfect. Since explaining and forecasting mean global temperatures has been the primary aim of most modellers, and since there are good reasons to expect this to be easier to get right than precipitation (where details of cloud formation are crucial) and snow melt (where the physical properties both of snow and of the ground it falls on are), it is hardly surprising that it does less well on these issues. Incidentally, with regard to snow melt, Brown and Frei (Comment on ??Evaluation of surface albedo and snow cover
    in AR4 coupled models?? by A. Roesch) JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 112, D22102, doi:10.1029/2006JD008339, 2007 argue that Roesch (whom you have cited on this issue) used unreliable data; and Roesch, in his response (JGP 112, D22103) concedes considerable ground. Once again, this shows it will not do to assume, where models and data differ, that it must be the models at fault. More generally, in order to understand when imperfect models can nevertheless be useful, you need an expert level of understanding both of modelling methodology, and of the domain. Climate science teams using models will typically have both; you (and I) have neither.

    I recall you making the claim that the models show a “correlated bias against solar”, but if you produced any evidence, you’ll have to remind me what it was.

    Since AGW makes a significant contribution, there isn’t any need for further explanation of the cooling stratosphere. The stratospheric cooling doesn’t tell us whether AGW’s relative attribution should be 30% or 90% or anywhere in between.

    Can you really believe that the amount of stratospheric cooling, and the amount of tropospheric, surface and ocean warming due to increased GHG concentrations have no relation?

    Why is more than a sentence or two needed, when the statement is that the models aren’t ready for “multidecadal projections” for instance? It should be enough that such statements in the peer review literature both punctures the consensus and the IPCC projections. Each paper only has a piece of the puzzle.

    Because, when you pick your sentence, you ignore (as for example with Lean 2005) even explicit statements by the authors that they agree with the consensus position, and thus give a grossly misleading impression. (I can’t now find the paper your “multidecadal projection” quote is from, BTW, although I recall you giving a reference – please repeat it.) Your last two sentences quoted above are, so far as I can see, an explicit admission that you are indeed cherry-picking. You are not considering the literature as a whole, placing (real or apparent) anomalies in context and assessing whether they cast serious doubt on the consensus position – because you don’t have the knowledge to do so, and in any case are only interested in finding your cherries to support your politically-determined position.

    I’ll close with three wider points. First, if there is even a 1% chance the consensus position is right, the need for action is urgent, because failure to act would have such disastrous consequences. You at some point said we should be taking action to prevent potentially disastrous asteroid strikes. I agree – but the chances of an asteroid large enough to cause the kind of catastrophe AGW will do if the consensus position is right and action is not taken, hitting the Earth within the next 1,000 years, is tiny. Second, even if the consensus position is wrong, there is still the problem of ocean acidification – much less studied, but again, potentially very serious, possibly wiping out most fisheries as well as causing a mass extinction. Third: it’s obvious to just about everyone but you that your position is not a scientific one at all, but is dictated by your political convictions. Suppose the warming is in fact due to GHG emissions. Do you believe the market would bring about the necessary fall in emissions, without government action? If so, how? As a corollary, do you accept that inter-governmental action, such as the Montreal Protocol, was necessary to curb the emission of ozone-destroying chemicals?

  216. #216 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    March 26, 2009

    I have to quit now or I will die a of a stroke at a relatively young age.

    I’m beginning to think this is an impossible battle myself. They’ve got the media and the legislators in their pockets, and thirty years of cultural indoctrination behind them now.

    These people are literally ineducable.

  217. #217 Discombobulated
    March 26, 2009

    Eugenie Scott’s testimony, featuring leading questions from Cynthia “Lobotomized Lawyer” Dunbar, and Don “Root Canals for Christ” McLeroy cutting her off:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3BhqRi3_co

    *sigh* Dover 2? Can we just ship all of these telephone sanitizers out already?

  218. #218 Africangenesis
    March 26, 2009

    Knockgoats,

    “Why haven’t you, or any denialist, produced such models? Of course there is more to climate than mean temperatures, but a model does not have to be perfect to yield useful forecasts.”

    Models represent dozens of man years of development, the runs can take several CPU years on massively parallel computers. Yes, the models don’t have to be perfect to yield useful forecasts. I originally thought that just by getting the energy imbalance right, that they would at least be able to project a decade due to climate commitment if nothing else, but this last decade has proven me wrong (as well as the models).

    “Roesch, in his response (JGP 112, D22103) concedes considerable ground.”

    I had previously read his response and concluded that he responded well to the issues raised, dismissing most of them and conceding nothing that impacted his albedo bias results. I have just reread it, and don’t see where your characterization is justified. It would help if you could quote the particular points you think are relevant. His defense of the USAF data is particularly strong. His albedo results are based mainly on satellite data, and ground observations such as the USAF data were mainly used to confirm the quality of the satellite results.

    “I can’t now find the paper your “multidecadal projection” quote is from, BTW, although I recall you giving a reference – please repeat it.”

    We discussed that here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/the_ways_of_the_bush_administr.php#comment-1301735

    “You are not considering the literature as a whole, placing (real or apparent) anomalies in context and assessing whether they cast serious doubt on the consensus position – because you don’t have the knowledge to do so, and in any case are only interested in finding your cherries to support your politically-determined position.”

    I’m not aware that cherry picking is a logical fallacy. I quote specific sentences for the results they represent, and I don’t think you have ever found that the context alters those results. The fact that the authors often make other statements supportive of the consensus should only serve to enhance the credibility of the statements in your eyes and those of others concerned about authors with “denialist” bias. Because an author claims support for the AGW hypothesis, doesn’t negate the results that I cite.

    On your three wider points in #213, first the issue is 1% chance of what? The model projections don’t have credibility for the reasons I’ve cited, plus recent pubs even assuming the model projections, dismiss any chance of significant contributions from greenland or antartica to sea level rise. There doesn’t seem to be any hurry there. Hurricane fearmongering has similarly been called into question with no model evidence that frequency will increase, and even the possibility that they will decrease and some publications projecting only a slight intensity increase. The most concerning of the other fearmongering is the potential for increased droughts, however, this is particularly incredible because it is based on models that reproduce less than one half to one third of the precipitation increase in the observations. It appears that climate change will increase the availability of much needed fresh water. The concern about warming reducing water storage in the himilayas snow pack can be addressed much less expensively with dams than with any global cap and trade. Any increase in extinctions is likely to be only a small percentage increase in the massive extinction event that is already underway due to human habitat destruction.

    Second, on ocean acidification, this is one issue I haven’t figured out yet, it appears a physical contradiction. CO2 is less soluable in warmer water, so why isn’t there less acidification? Perhaps the equilibrium with levels nearly twice as high in the atmosphere is still acidifying even at higher temperatures. I’d like to see a good analysis. This issue may not be well understood, e.g,

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/24/study-hemispheric-co2-timing-suggests-that-annual-increases-may-be-coming-from-a-global-or-equatorial-source/

    Third, if the scientific case for AGW solidifies and the concerns become credible, I do think intergovernmental action would be necessary. I would support revenue neutral carbon taxes, and I think that would most efficiently and economically address the problem, unless some other geo-engineering or other technical solution is found. I would support government action, just as I would in the case of the near earth object threats.

    Apologies, I still haven’t had time to look up that Science article. regards

  219. #219 Lynn
    March 26, 2009

    Here’s what I (a Texas resident) wrote to the Texas Education Agency:

    I understand you are deciding either not to teach evolution in Texas public schools, or mandate that “creationism” or “intelligent design” be taught along with it.

    I heartily object to such a regressive, anti-intellectual retreat into the Dark Ages. Already there is such an anti-science sentiment in America, that people are refusing to listen to the scientists about global warming — the latest study by top NASA climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, finding that if we persist in burning all fossil fuels we could push the climate into runaway conditions as on Venus, ending all life on planet Earth 1 billion years ahead of schedule (see especially pg. 24 of http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/AGUBjerknes_20081217.pdf).

    If you are worried that evolutionary science might harm students’ religious beliefs, then I can tell you that is a totally unfounded fear. I first learned about evolution in Sunday School in the 1950s, studied it deeply in high school, then went on to become an anthropologist, studying it even further. It has done nothing but strengthen my belief in and awe of God, who is so much greater than a David Copperfield intelligent designer, so far beyond our puny imaginations. I am sure that refusal to accept and teach evolution as scientific fact is an insult to God, a sin, akin to lying. God is truth, and Truth cannot deny truth. The earth and the universe are like other Bibles written directly by God, and the scientists are like interpreters. To disrespect their findings and facts (provisional and subject to change as science may be) is to disrespect God. Failing to listen to the scientists and heed their warnings about global warming is a very serious sin — amounting to complicity in murder and genocide.

    It is perfectly reasonable that the ancients of all cultures conceived of God or nature’s forces in anthropomorphic terms; “science” then was in its infancy. It was perfectly reasonable through observations and theorizing that they conceived of the sun as a fire bird or deity (something with a spirit that made it move) rising in the east and going across the sky. It was perfectly reasonable that they conceived of God in the image of humans, intervening at each stage and creating people, the way a potter makes a pot (or for some religions, a male god and female goddess reproducing and bearing children). But I must remind you that the Judeo-Christian Bible never said God is in the image of man, only that man is created in the image of God. Mystics of all ages and all religions do not second guess God, but stand in awe under the “cloud of unknowing.” We must let God be who he is, and not impute our favorite (finite and limited) images and qualities to him. Teaching creationism and intelligent design in this day and age is a sacrilege. If God chose the enact creation completely through the big bang and evolution and whatever else scientists are able to find, then that is his business, not ours.

    The very fears that you may have about children turning away from religion will surely be realized if you fail to teach the scientific truth — evolution — or insist on teaching creationism or intelligent design along side of it. The Religious Right’s attack on evolution is the most prominent issue that has the new atheists (an especially virulent gang) attacking religion mercilessly — desecrating the Eucharist, etc. Their claims that religion is a dangerous “meme” (cultural unit) infecting the minds of people and causing all the world’s problems is wrong in my view — they are biologists, not anthropologists, and they ignore many theories and findings in anthropology that show other factors, aside from the cultural (which includes religious beliefs and values), impact human behavior, including psychological, social, biological, and environmental factors. But I can tell you that their arguments have a special appeal to the post-9/11 youth, and schools that insist on not teaching evolution (or teaching intelligent design along side it) are pushing our youth into the laps of those new atheists.

    I strongly appeal to you to turn away from this retrenchment into the Age of Ignorance. Please do not stop teaching evolution in the schools, and please do not teach creationism and intelligent design as if scientifically accurate or possible. The children will one day find out the scientific truth and turn against all of you, and perhaps against their religions.

    Or, we will stumble blindly into runaway warming and annihilation of life on earth, and the Religious Right will perhaps find themselves “ruptured down” into a much hotter place than a globally warmed world, rather than “raptured up.”

    Thanks for hearing me out.

  220. #220 Walton
    March 26, 2009

    Here’s a sticky wicket: if–according to Libertarian mythology–people can be counted on to do what’s in their best interest, and Libertarianism is in people’s best interest, then why aren’t we all already Libertarians?

    Your question is flawed on two levels. Firstly, there’s a difference between the individual best interest and the collective best interest. An economist friend explained this to me once. A good example can be seen in farm subsidies. Here in the UK, farm subsidies cost the average taxpayer about £1 a year. The social cost of farm subsidies – the way they impoverish the Third World etc. – is, of course, invisible to the taxpayers. Thus, the average taxpayer has no incentive to vote or campaign to get rid of farm subsidies. Conversely, the farmers, and those who represent them, have a very powerful incentive to campaign to keep farm subsidies – and so every Western industrialised country spends billions of dollars a year in farm subsidies, taxing the majority of its population in order to support that tiny minority which is engaged in agriculture. Subsidies are vile, but we’re unlikely ever to get rid of them.

    The same can be said of almost any government programme. The average taxpayer doesn’t notice the money being spent on it, and so doesn’t factor it into their voting decisions. Conversely, those people and companies who benefit from it, and the interest groups who represent them, have a very powerful incentive to campaign to keep and expand the government programme.

    Secondly, you misunderstand libertarianism. We do not claim that everyone will always act in their own best interests. Many people are stupid and irrational. Left to their own devices, they will make stupid and irrational decisions that will harm their own lives and those of their families. This is not ideal. But what is even worse is allowing a mob of those stupid and irrational people to impose their stupid decisions on everyone, through the coercive agency of the state.

    Indeed, what the topic of this thread demonstrates is that if you give the State a power over our lives – in this case, the power to control education – intending that power to be used for good, that power, in the wrong hands, can also be used for evil. And because you have given the State the coercive power to impose its view on everyone, we have no recourse, unless you are lucky enough to be able to afford a good private school for your children.

    Some state control of education is perhaps a necessary evil; but ideally, I would rather see a free market in schools, with the State (through a “school voucher” programme) funding all schools on an equal footing. Parents, not government officials, would decide which school their children should attend; and because everyone would receive state funding, school choice would not be exclusive to the wealthy, as it presently is.

  221. #221 DGKnipfer
    March 26, 2009

    Texas holds the line, barely. Just stopped over from the BA’s site where he’s posting that the “Un”Fairness Doctrine has failed to pass in a 7-7 tie vote before the State Board of Education. Talk about your close calls.

  222. #222 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    March 26, 2009

    http://wattsupwiththat

    Third, if the scientific case for AGW solidifies and the concerns become credible

    Fourth, just in case someday you might actually grow up, will you then consider the benefits that a good secondary school education might provide for you and your family?

  223. #223 Africangenesis
    March 26, 2009

    Thomas Lee Elifritz#222,

    “Fourth, just in case someday you might actually grow up…”

    Ahhh, the numbering was Knockgoats’. But, by “grow up”, I assume you mean “become one with the true believers”, and mature enough to believe without evidence?

    You know, you really haven’t said something with any substance, but evidently you have matured to a point where that doesn’t matter.

  224. #224 Stu
    March 26, 2009

    Some state control of education is perhaps a necessary evil; but ideally, I would rather see a free market in schools, with the State (through a “school voucher” programme) funding all schools on an equal footing.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

    Oh, how precious. Yes, that’d work great.

  225. #225 Thomas Lee Elifritz
    March 26, 2009

    you have matured to a point where that doesn’t matter.

    It doesn’t matter, since you are demonstrably ineducable.

    I’ve reached the acceptance and forgiveness phase of grief – you’re a retard, you know not what you say or do.

  226. #226 Peter Perlsø
    March 31, 2009

    I find it quite interesting that a vocal part of the supposed scientific-minded and enlightened self-labelled liberal crowd here does not restrain itself from digging into the bucket of mud when it comes to answering not only conservatives, but also libertarians. What happened to the notion that intelligent and educated people need to resort to insults to make a point?

    That aside, it is more interesting, bordering on the comedic, that because a single libertarian dares voice off here, the crowd starts singing a tune the problems facing the US educational policy is a problem with too much freedom, local autonomy etc. which is absurd considering that the US is, despite its apparently layered political structure, still a country of a high degree of power centralization and (perhaps more so) authoritarianism.

    Bush has not been out of office a year, and already a lot of folks here seem to forget what he brought into the Oval Office, which is the pinnacle of US political power and thus centralization. And then some people cry for more of it…?

  227. #227 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2009

    What happened to the notion that intelligent and educated people need to resort to insults to make a point?

    Because we have been arguing with non-intelligent dogmatic never wrong libertardians for about 9 months now, and we are tired of their morally bankrupt politics. So, you are just at the tail end of our anger.

  228. #228 Peter Perlsø
    March 31, 2009

    NoR: “Because we have been arguing with non-intelligent dogmatic never wrong libertardians for about 9 months now, and we are tired of their morally bankrupt politics. So, you are just at the tail end of our anger.”

    You just illustrated my point.

    Bes

  229. #229 Peter Perlsø
    March 31, 2009

    NoR: “Because we have been arguing with non-intelligent dogmatic never wrong libertardians for about 9 months now, and we are tired of their morally bankrupt politics. So, you are just at the tail end of our anger.”

    Sadly, you just illustrated my point.

    Besides, “morally bankrupt politics”? Moral bankruptcy sounds to me like something coming from the US Christian Right. Is that the Liberal tune nowadays, scalding others for their low moral fiber?

    How times change.

  230. #230 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2009

    Peter Perlsø, unless you are willing to admit your politics might be wrong, you are just as dogmatic as those we argued against. They came to “educate”, not discuss. If that is your attitude, go away. We have had enough.

  231. #231 Peter Perlsø
    March 31, 2009

    NoR: “Peter Perlsø, unless you are willing to admit your politics ”

    What are “my politics”, pray tell? How would you know?

    “might be wrong,”

    Sure they might. Of course, thats a silly question, because I’ve said little about my preference in polices (not politics).

    ” you are just as dogmatic as those we argued against.”

    Why do you think I’m anything like them, whomever they might have been? I’m not them, they are not me. Pardon my asking, but is the concept of a human individual foreign to you?

    ” They came to “educate”, not discuss.”

    The functional difference being.

    ” If that is your attitude, go away. We have had enough.”

    We? Who is this ‘we’ you speak on behalf of?

    In any case. I see that I’m already being put in a box with big, certain, bold letters painted on it (my WAG is big-L Libertarian). No way I could possibly argue you out of such a mindset, even if i had, say 9 months…

    A good day to you and others reading this.

  232. #232 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 31, 2009

    Bye-bye Peter. We won’t miss your condescending attitude, which tells me you came to “educate”. Maybe indoctrinate is actually a better word.

  233. #233 Knockgoats
    May 10, 2009

    africangenesis@218:

    “Why haven’t you, or any denialist, produced such models? Of course there is more to climate than mean temperatures, but a model does not have to be perfect to yield useful forecasts.” – Knockgoats
    Models represent dozens of man years of development, the runs can take several CPU years on massively parallel computers.
    The second part of this is extremely misleading, since there are many models that can run on a desktop computer in a tiny fraction of the time you suggest. From FAQ on climate models
    ?There is a project called EdGCM which has a nice interface and works with Windows and lets you try out a large number of tests. ClimatePrediction.Net has a climate model that runs as a screensaver in a coordinated set of simulations. GISS ModelE is available as a download for Unix-based machines and can be run on a normal desktop. NCAR CCSM is the US community model and is well-documented and freely available.?
    The source code for GISS ModelE and CCSM is freely available, so there would be no need to start from scratch. If the models are, as you have claimed before, systematically underestimating the effect of changes in the sun?s output, it should be quite possible to modify one of these models accordingly, and produce the same degree of match to the 20th century surface mean temperatures as these models produce, with a lower sensitivity to greenhouse gas concentrations. Why haven?t any of the denialists done so? Because they can’t.
    “Roesch, in his response (JGP 112, D22103) concedes considerable ground.” ? Knockgoats
    I had previously read his response and concluded that he responded well to the issues raised, dismissing most of them and conceding nothing that impacted his albedo bias results. I have just reread it, and don’t see where your characterization is justified. It would help if you could quote the particular points you think are relevant. His defense of the USAF data is particularly strong. His albedo results are based mainly on satellite data, and ground observations such as the USAF data were mainly used to confirm the quality of the satellite results.
    [1] ?This reply questions some of the conclusions in the comment by Brown and Frei [2007]? It is not intended to fully reject the observation of Brown and Frei [2007] but rather represents a critical response to their critique.? [Emphasis added]
    [11] ?I apologise for the incorrect units for b2 in the snow density parameterization adopted from Verseghy?

    [12] ?I agree with BF2007 that during the snowmelt period, snow density might be slightly underestimated. However I distrust the very high densities? in May and June (BF2007, Figure 3)?
    [13] ?I consider that the following observation provides the best case for (at least partly) overruling the objection.?
    [14} ?This finding partially invalidates the magnitude of the systematic negative bias of USAF during the late spring?.

    "I can't now find the paper your "multidecadal projection" quote is from, BTW, although I recall you giving a reference - please repeat it." - Knockgoats
    We discussed that here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/the_ways_of_the_bush_administr.php#comment-1301735
    Thanks. Ah yes, the Tung and Camp paper, in which they conclude:
    ?The range of global warming at equilibrium due to doubling CO2 is 1.4f °K, or between 2.3 and 6.4 °K. The lower bound is relatively firm, while the ?upper bound? is more uncertain due to the form and value of heat flux assumed.?

    "You are not considering the literature as a whole, placing (real or apparent) anomalies in context and assessing whether they cast serious doubt on the consensus position - because you don't have the knowledge to do so, and in any case are only interested in finding your cherries to support your politically-determined position." - Knockgoats
    I'm not aware that cherry picking is a logical fallacy. I quote specific sentences for the results they represent, and I don't think you have ever found that the context alters those results. The fact that the authors often make other statements supportive of the consensus should only serve to enhance the credibility of the statements in your eyes and those of others concerned about authors with "denialist" bias. Because an author claims support for the AGW hypothesis, doesn't negate the results that I cite.
    I?m glad to see you admit to cherry-picking. I?m not sure what you mean here by ?a logical fallacy? ? cherry-picking is certainly unscientific (because even in the best-established and most consensual areas of science, it will always be possible to find statements which taken on their own, suggest continuing controversy), and typical of all varieties of scientific denialist. In the Tung and Camp paper) it is not results you are quoting, but a simple expression of opinion ? you leave out the results, because they don?t suit you.
    On your three wider points in #213, first the issue is 1% chance of what?
    1% chance that it is urgent that action to reduce emissions be taken if disastrous consequences are not to follow.

    The model projections don't have credibility for the reasons I've cited,
    They do, of course, as the vast majority of relevant experts agree.

    plus recent pubs even assuming the model projections, dismiss any chance of significant contributions from greenland or antartica to sea level rise.
    [citation needed] I cannot find any such papers.

    There doesn’t seem to be any hurry there. Hurricane fearmongering has similarly been called into question with no model evidence that frequency will increase, and even the possibility that they will decrease and some publications projecting only a slight intensity increase. The most concerning of the other fearmongering is the potential for increased droughts, however, this is particularly incredible because it is based on models that reproduce less than one half to one third of the precipitation increase in the observations. It appears that climate change will increase the availability of much needed fresh water.

    Total precipitation will increase, but precipitation is most unlikely to occur where and when it does now. Specifically, it is likely that southern Europe, large parts of the USA and southern Africa will become considerably drier, as climatic zones shift (see for example ?The implications of projected climate change for freshwater resources and their management?
    Z. W. KUNDZEWICZ, L. J. MATA , N. W. ARNELL, P. DÖLL,
    B. JIMENEZ, K. MILLER, T. OKI, Z. ?EN & I. SHIKLOMANOV.
    Precipitation is also expected to become more variable ? more droughts and floods.

    The concern about warming reducing water storage in the himilayas snow pack can be addressed much less expensively with dams than with any global cap and trade.
    [citation needed]
    You really think building dams sufficient to regulate water flow for well over a billion people (now!) is feasible in a remote, mountainous earthquake zone? I look forward to reading the detailed engineering studies on which you no doubt base this opinion.
    Any increase in extinctions is likely to be only a small percentage increase in the massive extinction event that is already underway due to human habitat destruction.
    You know, your arrogance never ceases to amaze me. You have never claimed any expertise in ecology, yet you can make such a claim without the slightest attempt to back it up. Why should not the effects be synergistic? (I?m not claiming to know they will be, but there are certainly some reasons for thinking so. Habitat destruction tends to leave species in pockets of remaining suitable habitat, surrounded by unsuitable habitat. Climate change will for many species mandate migration, but because of habitat destruction, this will not be possible.)
    Second, on ocean acidification, this is one issue I haven’t figured out yet, it appears a physical contradiction. CO2 is less soluable in warmer water, so why isn’t there less acidification? Perhaps the equilibrium with levels nearly twice as high in the atmosphere is still acidifying even at higher temperatures. I’d like to see a good analysis
    This issue may not be well understood, e.g, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/24/study-hemispheric-co2-timing-suggests-that-annual-increases-may-be-coming-from-a-global-or-equatorial-source/

    It is well-understood. Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by some 30% over pre-industrial levels ? a change that swamps the small reduction in solubility due to ocean temperature rise. The extent of the rise in concentration, and its continuous acceleration from 1800-now as shown by ice core records (tracking emissions from fossil fuel use) shows that Quirk?s attempt to attribute it to ?natural variability? is absurd, as does the change in isotopic concentration (Quirk suggests no possible mechanism for this if the increase is not due to fossil fuel use, his paper is full of ?might be expected to?s and weak links). Really, the stuff you will take seriously shows quite clearly that you?re just looking for any and every way to cast doubt on the consensus position because you dislike its political implications.
    Third, if the scientific case for AGW solidifies and the concerns become credible, I do think intergovernmental action would be necessary.
    It?s abundantly clear you will never admit this to be so.

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