Education

Two interesting developments over the last few days. First, the science teachers have banded together to ask that they not be required to read the ridiculous statement that the school board passed as a disclaimer to their students. From the York Daily Record: All but one teacher in the Dover Area School District's high school science department signed a letter Thursday requesting that they be allowed to "opt out" of reading the "Intelligent Design Theory" statement meant for students. "We do not believe this is science," said high school science teacher Jen Miller... "We believe that…
Ed. note: This is a guest post on the ACLU lawsuit filed against the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania by Dan Ray. Dan is an attorney and the director of the Paralegal Studies Program at Eastern Michigan University. He studied in law school under the esteemed Jack Balkin of the Yale Law School. Looking Over the Cliffs of Dover by Dan Ray Like all those who are interested in science, education, and the separation of church and state, I've been watching the developments in Dover very closely over the past several months. It has been fascinating on many different levels: religious and secular…
Dean Esmay, a blogger I respect, has a post about ID that might surprise some folks. Dean is an atheist, you see, but he doesn't think it's a bad idea to teach ID in schools, or at least to bring it up in biology classes and mention that there are some smart people who advocate it. The question he wants answered is essentially this: what would the negative consequences be of taking time in science classrooms to discuss intelligent design? So far all he has heard are vague slippery slope arguments (which he appears to erroneously believe is always a logical fallacy; it is not) and arguments to…
One of the cherished myths of the social conservatives is the one that says that the US, by "throwing God out of the schools" has been following in the path of godless, immoral cesspools of permissiveness like Sweden or the Netherlands. And in this context, I don't mean the good kind of myth, the kind of unifying historical narrative that brings a people together; I mean an outright falsehood. The truth is that by the US should be following the lead of such nations because, by almost any measure, they're doing a whole lot better than we are on issues like the breakup of the family, teen…
The AP has a story about the string of problems Georgia has had with evolution recently and how it has hurt people's view of the state:First, Georgia's education chief tried to take the word "evolution" out of the state's science curriculum. Now a suburban Atlanta county is in federal court over textbook stickers that call evolution "a theory, not a fact." Some here worry that Georgia is making itself look like a bunch of rubes or, worse, discrediting its own students. "People want to project the image that Georgia is a modern state, that we're in the 21st century. Then something like this…
As some of you know, there is a trial going on in Georgia this week involving the Cobb County School District (CCSD) and their use of a disclaimer on all public school biology textbooks. The disclaimer says: This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. It all sounds very rational. Who could be against studying any textbook with an open mind and careful consideration? The problem is that this is applied only to textbooks…
We all know that President Bush is passionate about "protecting the sanctity of marriage", especially from people who want to get married. One of the programs he has proposed to do so is the Healthy Marriage Initiative. As the Heritage Foundation described it: The President's Healthy Marriage Initiative has been included in the two major TANF reauthorization bills. One of these is the Personal Responsibility, Work, and Family Promotion Act of 2003 (H.R. 4) that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May 2002 and again in February 2003. The Healthy Marriage Initiative has also…
I've recently added a new link to I Speak of Dreams, the blog of Liz Ditz. Lynnie and I have really enjoyed exploring her page and strongly encourage everyone to pay her a visit. Liz has a varied and interesting background, including working for the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies at various times. She is, like us, a big advocate of independent education and has many interesting thoughts on that subject. Another very interesting page on that same subject is Erin O'Connor's blog, Critical Mass. Erin is an English professor from Penn who recently, along with her partner,…
Please welcome Reed Cartwright's De Rerum Natura to the blogosphere. Reed is currently finishing his PhD in genetics at the University of Georgia and is involved with the Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education. A few weeks ago I cited his analysis of the proposed Georgia science standards, which have thankfully been changed. You may recall that Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox, in one of the most flagrant displays of idiocy I've seen from a public official in a long time, called a press conference to announce that they were leaving the word "evolution" out of the new…
One of the best blogs to read on both legal issues and evolution is that of Brian Leiter, director of the Law and Philosophy Program at the University of Texas Law School. He writes fairly extensively on evolution and the ongoing controversy of Intelligent Design. Recently, he took to task a young Harvard law student named Lawrence VanDyke, who had written a positive review of a pro-ID book in the Harvard Law Review. Leiter wrote a rather scathing review of VanDyke's book note on his blog. The book in question was Darwinism and Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of…
Stephen Meyer and John Angus Campbell of the Discovery Institute had an op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday concerning the recent flap over evolution in the science curriculum in Georgia. In a way, you have to admire how skillfully the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has mounted the ongoing public relations campaign, with a boatload of clever catchphrases and the language of inclusion and reasonableness. But that is all the more reason to respond to them and show the reality behind the word games. They begin simply by briefly discussing the recent controversy, then say:…
My thanks to Ed Darrell for pointing me to an article by Peter Gomes in the Boston Globe. Gomes is the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and minister of the Memorial Church at Harvard. Of the recent court cases involving gay marriage, he writes:We have seen this before. When the courts eventually invalidated long-established laws sanctioned by church and society that forbade interracial marriage, the so-called "miscegenation" laws that obtained in many parts of this country within living memory, the courts that did this were invariably maligned as interventionist, arbitrary, and…
There is a terrific new website designed to help teachers and students learn more about evolution that is finally up and available for public use. The Understanding Evolution site was an enormous project that has been under development for quite some time under the auspices of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), funded primarily by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Science Foundation. To quote from the site's opening announcement:The Understanding Evolution web site -- written for teachers but…
Charles Darwin had no great hope of witnessing natural selection at work in his own time. He assumed that it would operate as slowly and imperceptibly as the water that eroded cliffs and canyons. He would have been delighted to discover that he was actually wrong on this count. By the mid-1900s, scientists were running selection experiments in laboratories and beginning to document the effects of natural selection in the wild, such as the rise of insects that were resistant to pesticides. Still, the work has been slow and painstaking. Peter and Rosemary Grant of Princeton have done some of…
Intelligent Design Creationists are actively working in several states and at the federal level to get their ideas into public school science classrooms. In their famous Wedge Document, the Discovery Institute's strategic blueprint for overthrowing materialistic science, Phase 1 was supposed to be "Scientific Research, Writing and Publication." Indeed, they say that without this, everything that follows will be hollow:Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to…
Intelligent design advocates have been furiously busy trying to find a way to sneak their views into science classrooms around the country. In Kansas, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, Michigan and several other states, they have tried a variety of tactics to get in to the curriculum. But if this is any indication of what they want to do with education, I'm not sure whether to be alarmed or amused.... William Dembski is one of the leading voices of the IDC crowd. My friend Rob Pennock sets the scene in his article Wizards of ID on Metanexus:IDC is a theological movement crafted to win a particular…
[Note: This is a copy of a document found at this link on John Lott's website on April 6, 2003. I have added critical commentary, written in italics like this. Tim Lambert ]Statement on John Lott's Survey Work on Self-Defensive Uses of Guns by David B. Mustard Monday 10 February 2003 Background John and I started working on our concealed carry paper in the fall of 1995. I was finishing my Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago, and John was a faculty member. We worked on our paper intensively from about February 1996 to September 1996. We presented it at the American Law and…