I imagine Casey Luskin and Anika Smith sitting in a dark room together. The mirror ball spins as these Disco. titans take the floor for a podcast about the Texas science standards (aka TEKS: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). You’ll recall that I tripped up some of Disco.’s fancy footwork last Friday, but these two sashay right past the evidence.
At issue is a Disco.-inspired standard in the older TEKS which requires teachers to have students “analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information” (my emphasis). Disco. and their allies had hoped to use that language about “strengths and weaknesses” to push their brand of creationism into classrooms, and Casey explains that his hope is that the new revisions would actually narrow that broad standard down to apply only to evolution. He never explains why evolution should get such special scrutiny. He does explain that the newest Disco.-authored ID textbook, Explore Evolution, “would be very well-suited to be used in this kind of a standard.”

And this is where things get tricky. The expert writing committees for the various subjects dropped the “strengths and weaknesses” language (with some exceptions), replacing it with instructions that students “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.” This is vastly better language on its face, plus it boxes out the Disco. hustle.

Creationists on the Texas Board of Education (there are 7, with several swing votes) looked for a way around that, and decided that the solution was to name another panel of experts which would review the work of the first panels. Then the Board could cherry-pick from the second panel’s criticisms as they edited the first panel’s work. That second panel was chosen by having each of the 15 members submit a name, and any name with two sponsors would be put on the panel. Several members couldn’t agree, thus making the selection of a seventh reviewer impossible. The creationists selected two authors of Explore Evolution, plus a creationist from Baylor. The science supporters chose an expert in science pedagogy, a biologist, and an anthropologist. All of the science supporters are from Texas, while only one of the creationists is home-grown.

Once the TEKS are done, the board will use them as the basis for textbook approval. Approved textbooks can be bought with state funds, but unapproved books must be bought using local tax dollars, making the Board’s decisions very important. If the new TEKS include “strengths and weaknesses,” then the Disco. book might be approved, while if the language isn’t there, its relevance is much diminished.

Thus, the two authors of EE have a clear conflict of interest. By recommending changes that favor their book, they stand to boost their own income.

Casey doesn’t care for this argument:

Their argument is entirely hypocritical and self-serving. When you want to have people who are experts on the very topic of education that you’re dealing with, who better to invite than someone who has been involved with authoring textbooks that might actually be relevant to the curricular debate that you’re having. In this case, Explore Evolution is very relevant, and they happen to be co-authors on that textbook.

The proble with this argument is that, if there were a real scientific consensus behind this claim, it ought to be possible to find lots of well-credentialled people who could advocate that position, including at least three who aren’t authors of textbooks whose sales revenue will benefit from the very advice that they are offering. There are lots of creationists in Texas, after all. The ICR just moved to Dallas, Dembski lives in the area, and there’s always Carl Baugh with his Paluxy tracks. Surely Disco. could’ve scrounged up someone else without such a conflict of interest.

Casey doesn’t deny the conflict of interest, merely insisting that everyone is tainted:

The reason why this complaint is entirely self-serving and hypocritical is because the other side, sort of the pro-Darwin-only side, actually has scientists who are textbook authors, including one of which, David Hillis coauthored a textbook Life: The Science of Biology, that is currently approved for use in Texas, and the new edition, which Hillis co-authored might actually be slated for another textbook that could be used in Texas as, especially for the AP level, as a textbook that might be selected for implementing the various Texas science standards.

As I pointed out almost a week ago, though, Hillis has no conflict of interest. The TEKS aren’t used to judge books for AP courses because AP courses are standardized by the College Board, not by state standards. Hillis’s recommendations thus would not impact the approval or disapproval of his textbook, leaving him no financial stake in this process. Casey’s attempted tu quoque fails, and he knew it would since I know he reads TfK now and then.

Casey goes on to complain that:

What we really see at work here is a fallacious objection, where they’re trying to imply a double standard to one side, not applying it to their own side, you know, and any reasons they’d distinguish Dr. Hillis and Dr. Meyer and Dr. Seelke would really come down to nitpicking irrelevancies.

Except that Hillis has no financial stake in this process, while Meyer and Seelke (the EE authors) do. That’s not nitpicking, it’s basic public integrity.

And so, having made a giant stink an alleging all sorts of nonexistent double standards, and insulting the integrity of everyone who dares point out the basic dishonesty of his boss (Meyer is a VP at the Discovery Institute, and runs the CRSC where Casey works), Casey then proceeds to decry such behavior:

But the bottom line is, let’s leave all these nitpicking, self-serving double standards aside, ?, and let’s stop the mud-slinging and just let it go.

At which point he proceeds to sling more mud:

What really we see here, is it’s really clear in Texas, from the arguments we’re seeing that they’re willing to use just about any argument to prevent students from learning about any of the weaknesses of evolution, no matter how bad that argument may be. ? These are the outlandish conspiracy theories, and there’s the purely dogmatic assertions that are being made to shut down the ability of students and censor for them the ability to learn any scientific weaknesses of evolution.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Disco. ‘Tute.

Anika then asks Casey what happens next, and he trips over his own feet some more.

My understanding of the situation is that over the next few weeks, the various experts ? are going to be ? looking at the overall new proposed science standards and what they would support and what they would change and what they would have implemented into how Texas students learn about science.

That’s basically right. But then he says:

And keep in mind that this is dealing with many different scientific subjects, not just including evolution. So the question that is going to be at the heart of this debate is “will students learn about the pro-Darwin-only strengths of evolution,” ?, but will they also learn about the weaknesses of evolution?.

The process does indeed involve many different subjects, including biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, aquatic science, environmental systems, earth and space science, and engineering design and problem solving. But as far as Casey cares, that all boils down to a contrived spat over whether creationists get to beat up on evolution in public schools. Therein lies the fundamental dishonesty at the core of this whole fight. There’s no recognition of the importance of science education per se, only an interest in his own petty culture war.

After predicting the slings and arrows he and his allies will face, Casey makes a funny:

All that stuff aside, all that rhetoric aside, when these experts actually do file their reports, we’re going to see a very very critical analysis of these standards and what are the quote-unquote “strengths and weaknesses” (heh) of the proposed standards themselves.

Funny, funny, man. If only he invested a fraction of the effort that crappy pun required in actually verifying the nonsense he spews, things would be much more interesting.

I look forward to sharing a stage with Casey next Wednesday.

Comments

  1. #1 James F
    October 23, 2008

    Robert Crowther seems to be trying to outdo Luskin in the deception department. In response to Alan Leshner’s article in the Houston Chronicle, he comes up with this:

    In Texas Former CEO of AAAS Agrees With Teaching Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution

    Hold Luskin to the facts next Wednesday, Josh – looking forward to hearing a report of it.

  2. #2 James F
    October 23, 2008

    Oops…forgot the hat tip.

  3. #3 Larry Fafarman
    October 24, 2008

    Disco. and their allies had hoped to use that language about “strengths and weaknesses” to push their brand of creationism into classrooms, and Casey explains that his hope is that the new revisions would actually narrow that broad standard down to apply only to evolution.

    How and where did Disco. say this?

    The creationists selected two authors of Explore Evolution, plus a creationist from Baylor.

    Why should anyone be surprised that the school board members who support retention of the “strengths and weaknesses” language nominated panel members who support that position? And the “conflict of interest” is irrelevant — those panel members were chosen because they support the “strengths and weaknesses” language, not because they have a conflict of interest. No one is pretending that they are impartial. A conflict of interest is a problem only where someone is supposed to be impartial, e.g., a judge.

    Teaching scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms (or weaknesses) of evolution broadens students’ education, encourages critical thinking, helps students learn the material, and increases student interest. Also, some scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms (weaknesses) of evolution are so technically sophisticated that they can be properly taught only by qualified science teachers (this stuff isn’t just “poof”-type creationism). For example, IMO the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a valid criticism of evolution, but analysis of the SLoT as a criticism of evolution would be a worthwhile educational experience for the students.

    The Darwinists’ proposal to eliminate the “strengths and weaknesses” language just to prevent the fundies from misusing it to introduce creationism and supernaturalism into science classes is a scorched-earth policy. It throws out the baby with the bathwater. I propose rewording the language to say “scientific strengths and scientific and pseudoscientific weaknesses” — this rewording would exclude creationism and supernaturalism because those things do not pretend to be scientific.

    Also, it is noteworthy that both the chemistry and the astronomy standards committees decided to retain the “strengths and weaknesses” language.

  4. #4 Bilimseverler
    October 24, 2008

    A great post.. thanks..

  5. #5 Monimonika
    October 24, 2008

    Larry,

    You mention that some scientific and pseudo-scientific criticisms/weaknesses are so sophisticated they need to be explained by qualified science teachers. From there you give the very much discredited SLoT creationist talking point as such a “sophisticated” example. So not only does the science teacher have to explain the basic concepts of the Theory of Evolution, he/she will also have to explain to the students the basics of the unrelated SLoT (which should be covered using physics class time, not biology class time).

    Since you set the SLoT claim (which even the “Noah’s Ark is a true story!” AiG threw out of their own list of evolution criticisms) as a benchmark of what should be covered in science class, almost every item of the Index to Creationist Claims (ala talkorigins.org) should also be covered. Hey, creation science qualifies as pseudo-science, therefore almost every argument on that list is up for time-consuming explanation.

    Nevermind that a lot of the claims are usually only one or two sentences long while the refutations of each of said claims usually take up to about a quarter of a page and involve details and concepts way beyond the basics of ToE needed to learn in high school.

    Nevermind that there are studies in which people who are told that something is not true (“Abortions do not cause cancer. The few studies linking abortion to cancer are methodologically unsound.”), are likely to later on believe they heard somewhere that that something is true (“Abortions cause cancer, right? I think that there were some studies done linking them.”).

    Qualified science teachers obviously have all the time in the world to go off on Gish Gallop inspired tangents as they struggle to make even the simple basics of ToE stick inside students’ minds.

    Oh, and if you could mention one actual scientific weakness of evolution that you think should be explained in detail to high school students, it would be greatly appreciated. And it does have to be an actual one that goes against the ToE, not the type that whines that the ToE can’t point out each and every single mutation and environmental factor that lead to the flagellum (or whatever).

  6. #6 Larrry Fafarman
    October 24, 2008

    >>>>> From there you give the very much discredited SLoT creationist talking point as such a “sophisticated” example. <<<<<<

    Sheeeesh, dammit, I just presented the SLoT as an example, and you are treating it like the core of my argument.

    If there is not enough time to teach some of the weaknesses of evolution, then there is not enough time to teach evolution.

    You Darwinists are just a bunch of dumb anti-science anti-intellectual crackpots and there is no point in discussing anything with you.

  7. #7 sinned34
    October 24, 2008

    If there is not enough time to teach some of the weaknesses of evolution, then there is not enough time to teach evolution.

    You said it perfectly right there, Larry. There just is not enough time to teach evolution, therefore there should be no time wasted with teaching pseudoscientific efforts to cast doubt on the scientifically sound theory of evolution.

  8. #8 Larry Fafarman
    October 25, 2008

    there should be no time wasted with teaching pseudoscientific efforts to cast doubt on the scientifically sound theory of evolution.

    You are really talking through your hat. If evolution is so scientifically sound, then why is it so easy to cast doubt on it?

  9. #9 Monimonika
    October 25, 2008

    Hey Larry! You still haven’t come up with a SCIENTIFIC criticism of evolution example that should/could be taught to high schoolers. Are we to conclude that there aren’t any? How can you be in favor of teaching something you can’t even name an instance of, much less describe or explain?

    You are really talking through your hat. If evolution is so scientifically sound, then why is it so easy to cast doubt on it?

    It’s easy because most people have a poor understanding of what the ToE is actually about, so they automatically take at face value whatever information (whether it be true or not) that comes their way. Unfortunately, the information they most likely come in contact with is the Creationist Gish Gallop (or ID Gish Gallop, which is simply a trimmed down version of the Creationist one). Not having to back up or explain things in detail makes claims against evolution really easy to make. It also helps that short, detail-free sound bites are more memorable than long, detailed, accurate explanations/refutations.

    Here’s a real-life analogy to how creationists/IDers act in evolution debates (at least online ones):

    “1 = 0.999…” in decimal.
    (in which 0.999… is “0.” followed by infinitely recurring 9s)

    Most people would call the above equation false. They would say 1 must be greater than 0.999…, because the notation “logically” suggests so.

    In fact, the equation is absolutely true and has several mathematical proofs to back it up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0.999…). But because of most people’s poor understanding of mathematics, there are still debates kept going on by naysayers trotting out long refuted arguments based on their misinformed conception of how decimal numbers work. These naysayers do all the same things Larry’s ilk does:

    Goalpost shifting
    Ad hominem attacks
    Quote-mining
    Repeating of what has just been refuted with no acknowledgment of the refutation.
    Appeals to supposed authorities.
    Ignoring of requests to back up own assertions (*HINT*HINT* Larry *HINT*HINT*).
    etc.

    Using these tactics, naysayers of both kinds refuse to admit defeat and obnoxiously declare false victory when those arguing against them leave to do something more worthwhile than feeding the trolls reasoning with unreasonable people.

    And Larry? Stop being lame in your next reply and just give me that scientific example I asked for. Seriously, you should know what you’re arguing for (if it even exists beyond your assertions, that is).

  10. #10 James F
    October 25, 2008

    Monimonika,

    Alas, you’ve given Larry an impossible task. There is simply no data that refutes evolution or supports so-called “alternatives” like “intelligent design” in any peer-reviewed scientific research paper. Rather than focusing on developing an actual body of research, of course, the antievolution crowd tries to put untested pseudoscience into our high school classrooms by government fiat. Shameless, dishonest, and anti-Constitutional.

  11. #11 Larry Fafarman
    October 25, 2008

    Monimonika:

    You still haven’t come up with a SCIENTIFIC criticism of evolution example that should/could be taught to high schoolers. Are we to conclude that there aren’t any?

    You missed my point — I said that teaching even PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC criticisms of evolution is justified for the purposes of broadening students’ education, encouraging critical thinking, helping students learn the material, increasing student interest, and having highly technical criticisms of evolution be taught by qualified science teachers instead of by unqualified people. Examples of scientific or pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution are criticisms concerning: irreducible complexity; specified complexity; the genetics of the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction; co-evolution of obligate mutualism and complex parasitisms (a specialty of my blog “I’m from Missouri”); chromosome counts; the Cambrian explosion; and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Some of these criticisms are ID and some are non-ID. It is not necessary to identify what these criticisms are, and some criticisms that are unknown or not widely known now could be discovered or become prominent in the future. Dogmatically spoonfeeding Darwinism to the students is anti-science and anti-intellectual.

    You are really talking through your hat. If evolution is so scientifically sound, then why is it so easy to cast doubt on it?
    It’s easy because most people have a poor understanding of what the ToE is actually about, so they automatically take at face value whatever information (whether it be true or not) that comes their way.

    Then why teach students evolution at all if they can’t understand it and if teaching it to them is only going to confuse them? Evolution is not something most people need to know — many people have led happy, fulfilled lives while knowing little or nothing about evolution. Evolution is nice for biologists to know because it is used in cladistic taxonomy and scientific papers, but students who specialize in biology can study evolution in college. And as radio talk-show host Dennis Prager said, you can believe in creationism, you can believe in witchcraft, you can believe that the earth is on the back of turtle and still be a great medical researcher (or other kind of biological researcher).

    Here’s a real-life analogy to how creationists/IDers act in evolution debates (at least online ones):
    “1 = 0.999…” in decimal.
    (in which 0.999… is “0.” followed by infinitely recurring 9s)
    Most people would call the above equation false. They would say 1 must be greater than 0.999…, because the notation “logically” suggests so.
    In fact, the equation is absolutely true and has several mathematical proofs to back it up (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0.999…).

    If 1=0.999…., then there is no such thing as irrational numbers (e.g., pi, Euler’s number e, and the square root of two), because then an “irrational” number could be expressed exactly by an infinite string of digits.

    But because of most people’s poor understanding of mathematics, there are still debates kept going on by naysayers trotting out long refuted arguments based on their misinformed conception of how decimal numbers work.

    So you are saying that the question of whether 1=0.9999…. should not be discussed in math classes?

    James F:

    anti-Constitutional.

    There is no constitutional principle of separation of pseudoscience and state.

  12. #12 Monimonika
    October 25, 2008

    Larry,

    I asked for a “scientific” example, not “scientific or pseudo-scientific” examples (you already gave me the SLoT example for the pseudo-scientific part, I don’t need more). Nice way of attempting to cover your butt there with that “or” clause. Guess you really can’t tell what scientific criticisms of evolution are to specifically point them out, or even if they exist. Therefore, you are lame and don’t know what you’re trying to support the teaching of. Thanks for playing.

    Then why teach students evolution at all if they can’t understand it and if teaching it to them is only going to confuse them?

    And that’s exactly the attitude that has led to why most people currently don’t understand even the basics of the ToE. Students can understand basic evolution principles if it is actually competently taught to them. But it is people like you who want to confuse the students by throwing random ignorant “criticisms” of evolution at the students before they can even parse what the ToE even is.

    Why focus on teaching negative misconceptions when the teacher can spend the time more wisely by teaching the students the actual theory, thus giving the students a framework to build further knowledge upon? After that, maybe some misconceptions can be addressed.

    But most of those misconceptions are based on faulty knowledge of the ToE and the scientific method, so teaching actual science for evolution in the first place should dramatically cut down the number of pseudo-scientific or out-right lies against evolution that would need to be dealt with. If there is a scientific criticism of evolution (not that you seem to know what one could be), it may be addressed once the students are sufficiently knowledgeable enough of the ToE to understand why the criticism is scientific (which I suspect will be around college-age, excluding those determined students who may pursue further studies on their own).

    The point you seem to be trying to get me to acknowledge is that talking about pseudo-scientific criticisms of evolution (and how they fail to be scientifically valid) would be good for developing much needed intellectual skepticism in students and strengthen the teaching of evolution. And since nowhere in your list of examples

    Examples of scientific or pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution are criticisms concerning: irreducible complexity; specified complexity; the genetics of the propagation of beneficial mutations in sexual reproduction; co-evolution of obligate mutualism and complex parasitisms (a specialty of my blog “I’m from Missouri”); chromosome counts; the Cambrian explosion; and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    do you point out which items are supposedly scientific, I can’t help but suspect that they are all in the same range of non-validity as the SLoT example (which you also list as if being equivalent to the rest of the items). So, unless you’re willing to point out which of those items (if any) are scientific criticisms of evolution, I’m guessing that you’re saying all of what you listed are not actual weaknesses of the ToE, but just misconceptions.

    If 1=0.999…., then there is no such thing as irrational numbers (e.g., pi, Euler’s number e, and the square root of two), because then an “irrational” number could be expressed exactly by an infinite string of digits.

    Bwahahahahaha!! Oh, Larry, you really do know how keep consistent, don’t you? Go educate yourself on the concept of limits and what irrational numbers are. I don’t blame people for initially being lead astray by their commonsense, but I have a feeling you will be exactly like the naysayers and refuse to learn from the proofs on how and why you are wrong about saying 0.999… does not equal 1.

    So you are saying that the question of whether 1=0.9999…. should not be discussed in math classes?

    If you actually were taught what the mathematical definition of irrational numbers, limits, recurring digits, decimal system, etc. are, then you would be able to easily figure out on your own why 1 = 0.999… is true. That’s why positive education is so necessary. Thanks for proving my point.

  13. #13 Larry Fafarman
    October 25, 2008

    Monimonika:

    I asked for a “scientific” example, not “scientific or pseudo-scientific” examples

    Do you read what I write? I said that teaching these criticisms (weaknesses) of evolution is justified even if they are pseudoscientific — and of the criticisms I listed, the only one I conceded is pseudoscientific is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and the reason for that is that that criticism is based on misinterpretations of the 2nd Law.

    Why focus on teaching negative misconceptions when the teacher can spend the time more wisely by teaching the students the actual theory, thus giving the students a framework to build further knowledge upon? After that, maybe some misconceptions can be addressed.

    So when are those “misconceptions” going to be addressed? For the many students who are not going to take college biology, their high-school biology courses will be the last time that they can be taught these “misconceptions.”

    About 38% of respondents in a national survey of science teachers spend 11-20 hours or more on “general evolutionary processes” and some spend more time on human evolution, so you can’t tell me that there is not enough time to squeeze in an hour or two about criticisms (weaknesses) of evolution. The same survey showed that about 25% of respondents spend some time on creationism or intelligent design — see
    http://im-from-missouri.blogspot.com/2008/08/state-of-evolution-education-in-usa-and.html

    If 1=0.999…., then there is no such thing as irrational numbers (e.g., pi, Euler’s number e, and the square root of two), because then an “irrational” number could be expressed exactly by an infinite string of digits.

    Go educate yourself on the concept of limits and what irrational numbers are.

    You are the one who needs to be educated.

    The issue here is not just limits but also whether a number can be exactly expressed as a decimal number. For example, 1/3 cannot be exactly expressed as a decimal number. BTW, 1/3 is a rational number even though it cannot be expressed as a decimal number, because the definition of a rational number is a number that can be expressed as a ratio of two integers.

    The concepts of limits and convergence also apply to irrational numbers –like Euler’s number e — that can be expressed as the sum of an infinite series. An alternating infinite series is absolutely convergent if the sum of the absolute values of the terms converges but is only conditionally convergent if only the sum of the alternating positive and negative values converges.

    BTW, I looked up several Internet references addressing the question of whether 0.999 ….=1, and none addressed the issue of an apparent inconsistency between 0.999 …=1 and the existence of irrational numbers.

    If you actually were taught what the mathematical definition of irrational numbers, limits, recurring digits, decimal system, etc. are, then you would be able to easily figure out on your own why 1 = 0.999… is true.

    OK, I have figured it out. Using mathematical induction, I will prove that 0.9999 . . is not equal to 1. In mathematical induction, if something is shown to be true for both (1) the nth term of a series and (2) the (n+1)th term of that series, then it is true for all n. An infinite string of 0.99999. . . cannot be equal to one because there is a number closer to one that can be obtained by adding another 9. But that closer number also cannot be equal to one because a still closer number can be obtained by adding yet another 9, and so forth. So I have shown that what is true for the nth case is also always true for the (n+1)th case, and hence a string of 0.99999 …. can never equal one. Q.E.D.

  14. #14 Monimonika
    October 26, 2008

    Do you read what I write?

    Yes, I do, as shown here from my previous comment:

    The point you seem to be trying to get me to acknowledge is that talking about pseudo-scientific criticisms of evolution (and how they fail to be scientifically valid) would be good for developing much needed intellectual skepticism in students and strengthen the teaching of evolution.

    Larry wrote:

    of the criticisms I listed, the only one I conceded is pseudoscientific is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

    You know, I was about to take this part of the sentence to mean that you claim the rest of the items on your list to be scientific weaknesses of evolution, but then realized that nowhere are you explicitly saying that. All you’re clearly stating is that the SLoT example is pseudo-science. That’s it. No direct assertions that the other items are actually scientific. I know you’re going to say it’s implied, but your inability to answer my simple request for a scientific example without needlessly mixing the pseudo-scientific SLoT example into your ambiguous answer makes me highly suspicious. Give me a straight answer on this without the weasel words, please. This couldn’t possibly be that hard to do, right?

    Oh wait, I think I see why you won’t give me a straight answer. Just by seeing your inclusion of “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” (neither of which have any merit in the scientific community at all), I guess you can only list (along with the SLoT) the criticisms of evolution that you hope may sometime in the future become scientific but are just not there yet. Sorry, I won’t accept that even a single item on your list is scientific until you 1) specifically assert which ones are scientific, and 2) I fail to find out why the ones you point out are not scientifically supported (at which point I give in to admitting ignorance).

    Just to be clear, I already know “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” are not scientific criticisms of evolution (no evidence, no tests, no explaining power other than “Designer-did-it for some unexplainable reason in some magical way to get whatever result we are currently looking at”). To be additionally clear, vague/desperate hope of becoming scientifically accepted in the future is NOT the same as being scientific accepted (i.e. supported by at least some evidence and tests).

    So far I have not seen a clear example of a scientific criticism of evolution. I’ll leave it up to you to rectify that in your next reply.

    As for the time issue. You’re saying that there is enough time to go over misconceptions of evolution. But you also say:

    So when are those “misconceptions” going to be addressed? For the many students who are not going to take college biology, their high-school biology courses will be the last time that they can be taught these “misconceptions.”

    Didn’t I just say, “After [teaching the students the actual theory], maybe some misconceptions can be addressed.”? Do you even read what you’re quoting from me? Anyway, if the students are not clear about something (they have a misconception), they can simply ask the teacher (or the teacher can notice that their answers to test questions are not what they should be) and the teacher can simply address it then. No real need to introduce it to students if it doesn’t exist in their minds in the first place. If there’s time, it can be allowed for discussion, but not required in the standards (and you’re arguing for having it required, right?).

    The issue here is not just limits but also whether a number can be exactly expressed as a decimal number. For example, 1/3 cannot be exactly expressed as a decimal number. BTW, 1/3 is a rational number even though it cannot be expressed as a decimal number, because the definition of a rational number is a number that can be expressed as a ratio of two integers.

    This just shows you don’t know how decimal representation works. According to you, the only fractions of the form p/q (where p and q are integers, and q does not equal 0) that can have decimal representations are ones where q is a product of the powers of 2 and the powers of 5. So fractions like 1/7, 1/13, 4/15, 19/21, etc. do not have decimal representations, but 3/15, 1/4, 13/26, etc. are okay.

    That’s an awful lot of rational numbers to not be able to represent, isn’t it? How can going from having a decimal representation for 3/15, suddenly turn into not having one for 4/15 or 5/15? Kinda makes the the decimal system extremely pointless, doesn’t it?

    Fortunately, you’re wrong about decimal representations having to be terminating (i.e. be followed by recurring 0s). You do know that “1 = 1.000…”, right? (And before you say anything, I am talking mathematically, not as in engineering where 0.80 and 0.8 are considered different values.)

    1/3 does have a decimal representation. It’s “0.333…”. You can get this easily by simple long division. 2/3 has the decimal representation “0.666…” (also by long division).

    In fact, ALL repeating/recurring decimals are rational numbers. ALL rational numbers have repeating decimal expansions (and some can be said to have finite/terminating decimal representations if you want to consider infinitely repeating 0s at the end to be terminating and with invisible 0s instead of repeating). This is a basic mathematical fact implicit in the definition of what rational numbers are. I’m surprised you don’t know it.

    Look up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurring_decimal
    (sorry, I can’t figure out the html for links at this time of night)

    If you don’t like Wikipedia, do a Google search for “repeating decimals rational numbers”.

    Since all repeating decimals are rational numbers, 0.999… is a rational number. This is a matter of mathematical definition. You really can’t argue against definitions.

    So what does the rational number 0.999… have to do with irrational numbers (which are defined as numbers whose decimal representations are non-terminating and non-repeating, i.e. not rational)? I don’t know. You tell me how the heck you’re connecting the two things and be a lot more specific of what you are referring to as an “inconsistency”. Are you trying to say that the geometric series “0.9 + 0.09 + 0.009 + 0.0009 + …” does not converge or something? *confused*

    OK, I have figured it out. Using mathematical induction, I will prove that 0.9999 . . is not equal to 1.

    Ooh, I recognize this classic naysayer argument! (Yes, it’s been refuted many, many, many times before.)

    In mathematical induction, if something is shown to be true for both (1) the nth term of a series and (2) the (n+1)th term of that series, then it is true for all n.

    Nothing wrong so far.

    An infinite string of 0.99999. . . cannot be equal to one because there is a number closer to one that can be obtained by adding another 9.

    Here’s where you go wrong. Where are you finding the space to add another 9 to 0.999… (which has an infinite string of 9s, thus filling every single decimal place to the right)? Carefully think about that for a bit.

    But that closer number also cannot be equal to one because a still closer number can be obtained by adding yet another 9, and so forth. So I have shown that what is true for the nth case is also always true for the (n+1)th case,

    This would be correct if you were talking about 0.999(finite n number of 9s) to which you would add another 9 to get 0.999(n + 1 number of 9s). I think I need to remind you that “n” here is a natural number.

    So tell me, is “infinity” a natural number? Can you add the natural number 1 to “infinity” to get another natural number? Are “infinity + 1″ or “infinity + 2″ natural numbers? Hm?

    and hence a string of 0.99999 …. can never equal one. Q.E.D.

    Nope. You make the mistake of thinking that “infinitely repeating string of 9s” is the same as “finite huge number of 9s”. Not even close.

    It’s true that you can start with 0.9, and for every 9 you add to the right of that 0.9, you can still add another 9 to the right to get closer to 1, but never reach 1 in value. But you failed to realize that you also can never reach 0.999… either. Because no matter how many times you add 9 to the right, the string of 9s is finite, which is less than the infinite string of 9s in 0.999….

    Just in case you skimmed the previous paragraph:

    Just like you can’t reach 1, you can’t reach 0.999… either. Your “mathematical induction” fails.

    How about this. Between two unequal rational numbers you will always be able to find a separate average number between the two numbers. So, the average between 3 and 5 would be calculated as:

    (3+5)/2 = 8/2 = 4

    The average between 1/3 and 1/2 would be:

    ((1/3)+(1/2))/2 = (5/6)/2 = 5/12

    Incidentally, here are decimal representations:

    1/3 = 0.333333…(recurring 3s)
    5/12 = 0.416666…(recurring 6s)
    1/2 = 0.500000…(recurring 0s)

    How conveniently that works out, huh?

    The average for 3/4 and 6/8 would be:

    ((3/4)+(6/8))/2 = (12/8)/2 = (3/2)/2 = 3/4

    3/4 = 0.75
    3/4 = 0.75
    6/8 = 0.75

    Oh my, the average is equal to both numbers, so that means that the two numbers are actually equal.

    Now let’s see what the average for 0.999… and 1 is:

    (0.999…+1)/2 = (1.999…)/2 = 0.999…

    And since you will probably not believe me if I don’t show this, here is the long division (I’m using the *s to take up character space and hopefully not get everything too misaligned):

    **0.9999…
    **____________
    2/1.9999…
    *-1.8
    **0.19
    ***-18
    *****19
    ****-18
    ******19
    *****-18
    *******1
    *********etc.

    Hey, I just ended up with an average of 0.999…, which is equal to 0.999…. So that means there is no other number between 0.999… and 1. Thus, 0.999… = 1

    For much better explanations and proofs, go to here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_that_0.999…_equals_1

  15. #15 Monimonika
    October 26, 2008

    Ack! Messed up the [blockquote]s. It should go back out of quoting at the paragraph starting with “This just shows you don’t know how decimal representation works.”

    :(

  16. #16 Larry Fafarman
    October 26, 2008

    of the criticisms I listed, the only one I conceded is pseudoscientific is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

    You know, I was about to take this part of the sentence to mean that you claim the rest of the items on your list to be scientific weaknesses of evolution, but then realized that nowhere are you explicitly saying that.

    I said it in the above quotation. The other criticisms (weaknesses) use scientific observations and scientific reasoning and do not misinterpret any scientific laws. And as I also said, it doesn’t matter whether these other criticisms are scientific or not — teaching them is justified for the following reasons that I stated in a previous comment:

    Teaching scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms (or weaknesses) of evolution broadens students’ education, encourages critical thinking, helps students learn the material, and increases student interest. Also, some scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms (weaknesses) of evolution are so technically sophisticated that they can be properly taught only by qualified science teachers (this stuff isn’t just “poof”-type creationism).

    To that I would add the following: teaching pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution would help correct or prevent misconceptions about evolution.

    So when are those “misconceptions” going to be addressed? For the many students who are not going to take college biology, their high-school biology courses will be the last time that they can be taught these “misconceptions.”

    Didn’t I just say, “After [teaching the students the actual theory], maybe some misconceptions can be addressed.”?

    “Maybe”? And when is “after”? If “after” means college, then a lot of students are never going to be taught these “misconceptions.”

    if the students are not clear about something (they have a misconception), they can simply ask the teacher

    That’s ridiculous — it is unlikely that the students are going to introduce these “misconceptions” on their own.

    If there’s time, it can be allowed for discussion, but not required in the standards (and you’re arguing for having it required, right?).

    I only support retention of the “strengths and weaknesses” language, which you Darwinists are trying to eliminate. I am not calling for the teaching of any specific criticism (weakness) of any theory, including evolution theory.

    So what does the rational number 0.999… have to do with irrational numbers

    What 0.999 …. = 1 and irrational numbers have in common is the question of whether a number can be expressed exactly by a decimal number of infinite length. If 0.999…=1, then why can’t irrational numbers like pi, e, and the square root of 2 also be exactly expressed by decimal numbers of infinite length? Of course, the definition of “irrational” number means a number that cannot be exactly expressed by the ratio of any two integers, not just ratios where the denominators are powers of ten, but there is still the question of why irrational numbers cannot be exactly expressed by a decimal number of infinite length if 0.999…=1.

    Here’s where you go wrong. Where are you finding the space to add another 9 to 0.999… (which has an infinite string of 9s, thus filling every single decimal place to the right)?

    . . . . It’s true that you can start with 0.9, and for every 9 you add to the right of that 0.9, you can still add another 9 to the right to get closer to 1, but never reach 1 in value. But you failed to realize that you also can never reach 0.999… either. Because no matter how many times you add 9 to the right, the string of 9s is finite, which is less than the infinite string of 9s in 0.999….

    So? The same problem exists anywhere that mathematical induction is used. Are you saying that mathematical induction is wrong?

    Also, reductio ad absurdum reasoning can be used: Assume that a string of decimal 9’s is equal to one. That assumption is absurd because a number closer to one can always be created by adding another 9. Q.E.D.

    Anyway, you are only proving my point — introducing the question of whether 0.9999…. = 1 in a math class would broaden students’ education, encourage critical thinking, help students learn the material, increase student interest, and help assure that the question is taught by qualified math teachers.

  17. #17 Monimonika
    October 26, 2008

    The other criticisms (weaknesses) use scientific observations and scientific reasoning and do not misinterpret any scientific laws. And as I also said, it doesn’t matter whether these other criticisms are scientific or not

    I have two interpretations of what you said, and neither lead to good conclusions.

    The first interpretation is you seem to be saying that items like “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” are scientific criticisms of evolution. This, despite the fact that neither are even at the level of having a TESTABLE hypothesis. If those examples are what you call scientifically supported weaknesses of evolution, I have to conclude that your support of the putting in “strength and weaknesses of evolution” into the standards is based on your misconception of what science is. It’s clear that you can’t tell what actual scientific criticisms of evolution are. At this point, I give up on making sense of or replying to any further replies from you on this matter.

    The second interpretation is that you are still being vague about which items are or are not scientific criticisms of evolution, and (as you clearly state) you think the distinction doesn’t matter. In other words, scientific (fact&evidence-based) claims will be treated as equal to pseudo-scientific (logically faulty, lacking positive evidence, untested) claims.

    Just like how you listed various examples of “weaknesses of evolution” under the heading of “scientific OR pseudo-scientific” without any distinction as to which is what, teachers wouldn’t really have to tell their students whether the “weaknesses” the students are being told about have any scientific validity or not.

    Sure, you’re going to insist that pseudo-scientific weaknesses will be presented as just that, pseudo-scientific. But your very own behavior to my requests for specifically identifying which claims of weaknesses are scientific (added with your statement that the distinction doesn’t matter) strongly indicates to me that you simply want to make it easier for teachers to be able to undermine the ToE (despite the lack of valid scientific support for said “weaknesses”) in any way possible. Given your statements and behavior to my request, I see that you have an ulterior motive and I will not reply to any further replies from you on this matter.

    I only support retention of the “strengths and weaknesses” language, which you Darwinists are trying to eliminate.

    Let’s see, you either:

    (A) Think unsupported things like “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” are scientifically supported criticisms of evolution. Which makes your support for the “weaknesses” language look extremely ill-informed.

    OR

    (B) Can’t (or refuse to) identify a single scientific weakness of evolution, so don’t even know what you are insisting be required for the “weaknesses” part of the “strength and weaknesses” language. To cover this, you want to add in a “or pseudo-scientific” category to the “weaknesses” language so that you can claim that you (or teachers) are not lying as non-supported criticisms are taught in class without mention of the “non-supported” description.

    I am not calling for the teaching of any specific criticism (weakness) of any theory, including evolution theory.

    If the standard for teaching Physics came with language requiring the teaching of the “strengths and weaknesses of the Theory of Relativity”, wouldn’t you ask what is meant by “weaknesses”? Wouldn’t you be the least be curious the reasons why board members are adding such language to the standards? Or would you just let it slide by you unquestioned until you walk into a classroom and some teacher is arguing that Albert Einstein’s theory doesn’t correspond to Islamic-Malay cosmological doctrine?

    That’s an extreme example, but are you saying that even questioning what will be taught as “weaknesses” is not allowed? That questioning what you (Larry) think “weaknesses” are (and thus figuring out why you support the language) is unreasonable?

    As for irrational numbers and 0.999… = 1, I’m sorry, but you’re still not explaining anything to me at all. I can see you are questioning if irrational numbers can be represented in decimal, but see no connection whatsoever to 0.999… = 1. What, does decimal representation for irrational numbers suddenly make sense if 0.999… does not equal 1? How does that even work? Just asserting “if 0.999…=1″ does not explain how you’re going from one to the other.

    Of course, the definition of “irrational” number means a number that cannot be exactly expressed by the ratio of any two integers, not just ratios where the denominators are powers of ten, but there is still the question of why irrational numbers cannot be exactly expressed by a decimal number of infinite length

    Yes, irrational numbers are not rational numbers. Rational numbers can be expressed by the ratio of any two integers (provided the denominator is non-zero). All rational numbers can be expressed in decimal (or even in bases other than base-10) as either repeating or terminating. 0.999… is a rational number. 1 is a rational number. 1.000… is a rational number. 0.(142857)…(“142857″ repeats) is a rational number (equal to 1/7).

    Irrational numbers in decimal neither repeat nor terminate. Decimal representation of irrational numbers is difficult due to there being no pattern (that means there is no repeating) to the string of digits that compose their decimal forms.

    There are ways to calculate the first couple of digits for some of the irrational numbers such as pi (approx. 3.14159 26535 89793 23846), e (approx. 2.71828 18284 59045 23536), square root of 2 (approx. 1.41421 35623 73095 04880), etc. Of course, each of the examples I just gave have been calculated to much further, and are still apparently being worked on.

    Because irrational numbers are non-repeating and go on for infinitely many digits (non-terminating), it is obvious that, by definition, an accurate decimal representation cannot be possibly written down in finite form.

    Just to make it clear, “0.333…” is a finite representation of the rational number 1/3 in decimal.

    Then again, what this has to do with 0.999…=1 is still a mystery to me.

    So? The same problem exists anywhere that mathematical induction is used. Are you saying that mathematical induction is wrong?

    I apologize. I should have been more clear in what it was you were doing wrong. Please read the following carefully:

    Mathematical induction is not wrong. What is wrong is YOUR APPLICATION of mathematical induction to this case.

    You already know that as long as the numbers you plug in fit the forms of (n) and (n+1), the mathematical induction will work for every natural number n.

    So,

    0.999 , (n)=(3)
    0.9999 , (n+1)=(4)

    No argument here.

    0.999…, by definition, has an INFINITE string of 9s. So, (n)=(“infinity”)

    Now tell me, given that (n)=(infinity), what the heck is (n+1)? DO NOT IGNORE THIS!

    Or let’s let (n+1)=(infinity). Now what the heck is (n) equal to?

    Answer: “Infinity” is NOT A NATURAL NUMBER! It CANNOT equal n!

    Therefore, you cannot apply mathematical induction to “0.999…”, since it does not follow the form of (n) or (n+1). I am telling you that YOU are the flawed being using mathematical induction incorrectly, not that mathematical induction is flawed.

    If you still do not get this, you’re hopeless.

    Of course, you can attempt to prove 0.999… does not equal 1 in some another way that doesn’t use mathematical induction, but you’ll have to do that elsewhere with someone else. I’m getting a bit tired. Go and read the Arguments page at Wikipedia or something:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:0.999…/Arguments

    Also, reductio ad absurdum reasoning can be used: Assume that a string of decimal 9’s is equal to one. That assumption is absurd because a number closer to one can always be created by adding another 9. Q.E.D.

    Give me this number between 0.999… and 1, then. Remember, it should not equal either 0.999… nor 1, and must be greater than 0.999…, and lesser than 1. Don’t Q.E.D. me if you can’t do something this simple.

  18. #18 Larry Fafarman
    October 26, 2008

    I have two interpretations of what you said, and neither lead to good conclusions.

    How many times do I have to say that it doesn’t matter whether these things are scientific or not?

    Also, a lot of evolution theory is untestable, so the pot is calling the kettle black.

    If the standard for teaching Physics came with language requiring the teaching of the “strengths and weaknesses of the Theory of Relativity”, wouldn’t you ask what is meant by “weaknesses”?

    The “weaknesses” language is non-specific — it does not specify any particular theory or any particular weakness. Science standards should be flexible and not go into great detail.

    Therefore, you cannot apply mathematical induction to “0.999…”, since it does not follow the form of (n) or (n+1).

    But mathematical induction is applied to other series or sequences of infinite length — why not an infinite string of decimal 9’s?

    Anyway, if 0.999…. is exactly 1 because the difference between 1 and an infinite string of decimal 9’s is essentially zero, then the same argument can be made about “irrational” numbers, i.e., that an irrational number can be exactly expressed by an infinitely long string of digits because the difference between the irrational number and that string of digits is essentially zero, and by that line of reasoning there would be no such thing as irrational numbers.

  19. #19 Monimonika
    October 27, 2008

    *reads Larry’s reply*

    Okay, I’m done trying to make even a tiny bit of reason stick to the unreasonable mind of Larry. Repeating myself is all that I would be doing here. Bye.

  20. #20 Larry Fafarman
    October 28, 2008

    Okay, I’m done trying to make even a tiny bit of reason stick to the unreasonable mind of Larry. Repeating myself is all that I would be doing here. Bye.

    I am just too logical for you to handle, eh? That figures.

    “I’m always kicking their butts — that’s why they don’t like me.”
    — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

  21. #21 Johnny Vector
    October 28, 2008

    Larry Fafarman. Not even wrong.

  22. #22 Monimonika
    October 29, 2008

    I just wanted to clarify a few things before leaving Larry for good.

    I am just too logical for you to handle, eh? That figures.

    Says the guy who can’t do something as simple and clear as give a number between 0.999… and 1 to prove his point, even as he insists such a number exists.

    This is also the same guy who can’t tell the difference between finite and infinite, and thus dumbly thinks that mathematical induction (which only proves that any number with a FINITE string of 9s after “0.9” is less than 1) also applies to 0.999… (which has an INFINITE string of 9s). Larry, seriously, even a layman’s dictionary has the difference between “finite” and “infinite” clearly spelled out.

    an irrational number can be exactly expressed by an infinitely long string of digits because the difference between the irrational number and that string of digits is essentially zero, and by that line of reasoning there would be no such thing as irrational numbers.”

    Traslation of the above:

    Larry’s Premise: (A) Irrational numbers cannot be represented exactly in decimal.

    Condition: (B) Irrational numbers expressed exactly in decimal.

    Logic: (B) contradicts (A), therefore (B) is false.
    If (B) is true, then irrational numbers do not exist because of (A).

    Conclusion: Irrational numbers do exist, so (B) must be false.

    Of course, all Larry did was just assert already that (B) was false in his Premise (since (B) = !(A)). But since he’s going to be sticking to (A) (which is the exact same thing as !(B)) no matter what, any further discussion with someone(Larry) whose logic is this dumb is pointless. Yes Larry, your argument in your quote above is really that dumb.

    As for the “strengths and weaknesses” language, Larry just proves to me that his true reasoning for wanting the language is, “It doesn’t matter at all if the supposed weaknesses of evolution are justified or not. As long as evolution is undermined in some way, anything goes.” This dishonest sentiment exhibited by people such as Larry is the very reason why the “strengths and weaknesses” language has to be left out of the standards.

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