Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Florida Makes Shelley Sad

I have a love-hate relationship with Florida. The “hate” part of the equation comes from their shameful treatment of the manatee issue, their conservative Republican politics, their wanton destruction of the Everglades, and now, giving consideration to putting intelligent design in schools. As a product of the Florida public school system, I’m intensely grateful to the excellent teachers I had who instilled in me wonder for the natural world.

Polk County is close to where my entire family lives (Highland County) and close to where I went to undergrad (New College in Sarasota). A majority of Polk County School Board members want intelligent design in addition to evolution taught in public schools. People, do you realize how long it took for me to shrug off the trappings of anti-evolutionist mystical nonsense? And I wasn’t even formally “educated” to that effect.

Board member Kay Fields said last week she wants intelligent design, which is promoted by some Christian groups, taught in science classes in addition to evolution.

“If it ever comes to the board for a vote, I will vote against the teaching of evolution as part of the science curriculum,” Lofton said. “If (evolution) is taught, I would want to balance it with the fact that we may live in a universe created by a supreme being as well.”

Picture me, mouth agape, filled with shame over my former state of residence. Even worse is that currently, Florida doesn’t require the teaching of evolution at all, only that students are made known that biological organisms change over time. Yeeech. The new science standards, which Ms. Lofton takes such exception to, would require the proper teaching of the theory of evolution. The horror.

I’ll continue to quote mine from the article, as I am a glutton for punishment.

“My tendency would be to have both sides shared with students since neither side can be proven,” Tim Harris said.

“I don’t have a conflict with intelligent design versus evolution,” Sellers said. “The two go together.”

“It crosses the line with people who are Christians,” Lofton said. “Evolution is offensive to a lot of people.”

There are two pro-evolutionites on the Board, though.

“The standards seem to be supported by many of our science teachers,” Reddout said. “It doesn’t make any difference what our personal opinions are.”

“You’re talking about separation of church and state,” O’Reilly said. “I believe in intelligent design personally, but the court has ruled against it. We cannot break the law if it is set down before us.”

Now excuse me while I steel myself against the international ridicule of my peers.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan
    November 21, 2007

    Oh. I have a feeling that the Polk County school district will intelligently design itself into bankruptcy as a result of –yet another– expensive court case pointing out why creationist mythology is not to be considered science.

    Anyway, if they do allow that nonsense to be taught, I suggest we also demand that they teach alchemy in Chemistry classes, astrology in Physics class, and numerology in Mathematics classes.

    I’m sorry you feel bad for your home state Shelly. Just keep speaking out against the lunacy of ID/creationism, and hopefully the good rational people of Florida will make you proud.

  2. #2 Euan
    November 21, 2007

    I find it amazing that the anti-evolutionists never seem to grasp the subtleties of the religious aspects of the arguments unlike, say, their fellow Christians, the Roman Catholic church.

    Evolution, like much science, does not show there is no God. It just shows that no interventionist God is necessary to explain processes and outcomes that we can see for ourselves around us.

    But most of all, I wonder why all these parents want religion taught in science class. Would they want science taught in Sunday School?

  3. #3 Ex-drone
    November 21, 2007

    If they want both sides taught, then require the schools to show the PBS documentary Judgment Day without comment or discussion.

  4. #4 John C. Welch
    November 21, 2007

    Oh, don’t feel so bad. I grew up in Miami, I know the feeling. After a while, I would just look at them and say:

    “True, Florida is mostly run by morons. It’s always been that way. However, growing up, one of our favorite past times was to go out to the Keys, and watch the sun rise out of the Atlantic. We’d then have a bunch of fun playing on the beach all day. Near sunset, we’d turn west and watch the sun set in the gulf.

    For that, I can deal with morons.”

  5. #5 hypoglycemiagirl
    November 21, 2007

    Meh. Everywhere is run by morons, more or less. But not everywhere has a short drive to a place like Key West.

  6. #6 J-Dog
    November 21, 2007

    Shelley – Get in touch with Carl Hiassen, see where he stands on the issue. I think he would do a great job on describing some of the typical Creo loons, and he’s local and a conservationist. (At least I think he is, my thoughts based only on what I have gleaned from his writings.)

  7. #7 Mitchell
    November 21, 2007

    I think we should teach the controversy. I mean, there is plenty of evidence that the earth was created last Thursday by his magical noodly appendage (any memories you think you have that pre-date creation were put there by the devil to test your faith). Come on, where you cant ‘prove’ either side, teach the controversy!

  8. #8 educated_in_canada
    November 21, 2007

    Here in Canada, “intelligent design” is unheard of. I went to a Catholic high school, and even in Religion class we didn’t talk about “intelligent design.” What the politicians are doing to the American education system is a farce.

  9. #9 Brandon
    November 21, 2007

    Don’t fret too much, Shelley, there are some good folks defending your honor in Florida.
    http://www.flascience.org/wp/

  10. #10 AgnosticOracle
    November 21, 2007

    I went to elementary school in Polk County (Medulla Elementary School 2nd to 5th grade). I remember my 5th grade teacher telling me how dinosaurs were taken on Noah’s ark. Mind you this was circa 1978.

    I also remember there was an on-going conflict at the time between the Jehovah’s witnesses and the other Christians. You see the other Christians wanted to have religious songs for Christmas, while the Jehovah’s witnesses don’t believe in celebrating Christmas. So this doesn’t seem out of character from my childhood memories.

  11. #11 AgnosticOracle
    November 21, 2007

    To be clear the conflict between the Jehovah’s Witnesess and the other Christians was about children preforming the religious Christmas songs in school.

  12. #12 Bryce M
    November 21, 2007

    As a person who works in Polk County, I was made aware of that Polk is actually an acronym for “People of Little Knowledge.”

  13. #13 Brian X
    November 21, 2007

    I’m not sure what to think about the second pro-evolution board member. A healthy respect for the law, yes, but… then again, that’s more than a lot of fundies these days. The concepts of “lawful” and “evidence” seem to be escaping more and more people these days, and I haven’t the slightest clue what is to be done about it.

    (As an aside, a friend of mine also went to New College. I don’t remember what year he graduated (I want to say 2000 or 2001), but he dressed up as Doctor Who for the graduation. I think he was shooting for Sylvester McCoy, but he kind of came down halfway between Tom Baker and Colin Baker.)

  14. #14 JanieBelle
    November 21, 2007

    Florida makes JanieBelle puke.

    Ok, it’s bad enough that the morons in Dover…

    But then after that

    to still…

    blah. Idiots. Bottom of the intellectual food chain. Sorry, after an entire bottle of wine (by myself), I have nothing even slightly charitable to say.

    In fact, I think I’ll just go bitch in private.

    Frakkin morons. Which part of “Breathtaking inanity”…? Bah. Blech. AAAAAHHHHHHHH!

    Ok, I feel better, how ’bout you?

  15. #15 ivan
    November 22, 2007

    Well, if the board member Kay Fields says that “she wants it”, than there is not much to argue about. Maybe she can write the letter to the Santa asking him to fulfill her desire. However, I thought that the rulling over the Dover case would make elusive such attempts (at least) in the near future.

  16. #16 Kristjan Wager
    November 25, 2007

    The imagine how Elsberry is feeling – he grew up in the area. He has written an open letter about his feelings.

  17. #17 slim
    November 29, 2007

    Shelley,

    I grew up in Manatee County and went to Manatee H.S. just off Manatee Avenue, so I know what you mean about love-hate when it comes to FL, especially on environmental and educational issues. (I went to the USF side of New College – before they cut down all those beautiful old live oaks to build the new airport access road. Are there still classes in the old Ringling mansions?)

    Anyway, unfortunately I think the central part of FL will always tip toward the southern evangelical, and they always seem to have enough of a majority to win the day, at least temporarily. My Dad recently got a raft of hell in our hometown for not only being on the board of Planned Parenthood, but writing an editorial in the paper supporting their new clinic in Bradenton. As long as there are people like him still fighting the good fight – and not running away to the Pacific NW like I have – the FL evangelicals and their ilk won’t win for good.

  18. #18 Baldeagle
    December 1, 2007

    Texas makes me sad. :(

    Texas booted its Director of Science Curriculum for commenting on how Creationism and ID are hand in hand.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/us/30resign.html?ei=5088&en=fdeb788cd7207717&ex=1354078800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1196547780-bw5LSKlL4dWwo4h2jq3ZPw

  19. #19 teacherninja
    December 11, 2007

    Shelley and Slim, when were you guys at USF/New College?

    I was there ’87-’91 but my folks still live around there so I visit often.

  20. #20 NonBreeders
    December 13, 2007

    You want to get rid of creationism? Outbreed them, as long as they outbreed smarter people, you will have to suffer their religious traditions and their infiltration into what you deem sacred.

    Darwin would be having a good laugh about now, religious people outbreed ‘the brights’ by quite a lot…

    Intellectuals cause the death of society by not noticing their addiction to the bourgeois lifestyle and not recognizing and therefore accepting imperfect mates, and responsbilities that come with children.

    I will keep laughing at this whole situation because both sides are incredibly moronic.

    Yours truly,
    The Geometer of reason