ID Proposals in Ohio and Michigan Postponed

As Josh Rosenau reported yesterday, the latest attempt by the ID crowd to get their ideas into science classrooms in Ohio by hook or by crook was tabled at a state Board of Education subcommittee hearing. The meeting ran out of time before a measure sponsored by Deborah Owens Fink, which would essentially require schools to teach both sides of any "controversial issue", could be considered. Ohio Citizens for Science has put out a response to that proposal that shows its flaws.

After the board voted to remove the "critical analysis of evolution" lesson from the curriculum standards, Owens Fink is attempting to get it back in, but in a broader form to disguise its intent. They're calling it the "Controversial Issues Template". They want to require teachers to hold debates in class about controversial issues, but the template provides no framework at all on what topics should be so approached. But - surprise, surprise - an earlier version of the proposal obtained through a public records request showed that there are three areas they wanted to approach in this way: evolution, global warming and cloning or stem cell research. Gee, those are all the areas of science where the right wing thinks science is wrong. What a coinkydink!

All of this, of course, is right out of the "teach the controversy" playbook of the ID movement, a strategy their first proposed in Ohio in 2000. And, interestingly enough, early drafts of the critical analysis of evolution lesson plan actually referred to the lesson as the "great evolution debate." Indeed, one of the early drafts of that lesson plan had one section titled "Conducting the Macroevolution Debate". In a subsequent draft, it was changed to "Conducting the Critical Analysis Activity". The wording for the two sections was almost verbatim identical, they just changed "debate" to "critical analysis activity" wherever it appeared. Rather reminiscent of how they replaced "creation" with "intelligent design" in Of Pandas and People, eh?

The ID folks seem to think that if they just keep changing the name of their position, no one will notice. They don't want to teach ID, they just want to "teach the controversy", or the "arguments against evolution", or "critical analysis" of evolution. And when that's too specific, then they'll broaden it out to encompass "critical analysis" of everything - whatever it takes as long as they get their long-discredited claims into the science classrooms. Keep pouring that old wine into new skins and hope nobody notices.

All of this is good reason to get Deborah Owens Fink off the board of education in Ohio. She is the primary advocate for ID on that board and replacing her would be a huge victory. Tom Sawyer is running against her and needs your support. Please go to his website and volunteer your time and/or money.

In Michigan, we're facing a similar situation. At this week's meeting, the state Board of Education voted to postpone the adoption of the science standards to give the legislature time to have "input" on the issue. Given that the legislature includes people like Palmer, Moolenaar and Kuipers, this can't be a good thing. I've seen some of the proposed changes they have in mind and, while I can't make those changes public at this time, I can say that they will significantly weaken science education in MIchigan schools.

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Yesterday was a very good day for science education in the midwest. I wrote last week about ongoing controversies in Michigan and Ohio as advocates of intelligent design (ID) were trying to find a way, any way, to weaken science education and open the door at least a crack for the introduction of…
Or bills, in this case. It turns out that there are now two bills in the state legislature - HB 5606, sponsored by Rep. Palmer, which contains the "arguments for and against" language that will inevitably open the door to ID; and a Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Kuipers, that doesn't yet have a…
As I've discussed many times, the ID movement has changed its strategy regarding the policies they are advocating to be adopted by school boards and legislatures. They know that any hint of the phrase "intelligent design" is going to be struck down by the courts, especially in light of the Dover…
One of the standard talking points from ID advocates these days is that us evolution advocates are just plum crazy to even suggest that policies requiring schools to teach "critical analysis of evolution" are a way to get intelligent design into the classrooms. DI shill Casey Luskin even coined a…

They just don't stop... It's unbelieveable, and absolutely transparant.
I wanted to thank you for the link to Tom Sawyer's site. I was thrilled to see all of the links in his "News" section. How refreshing...

why don't we go along with them but add a few more controversies
critical analysis of Noah's Ark
critical analysis of Adam and Eve
why Adam ate the apple and we are all sinners because
of that let's recommend jailing son's of criminals, daughters too (that follows original sin to it's premise)
the power of Thor over Jesus
we can "teach the controversy" too

By richCares (not verified) on 14 Sep 2006 #permalink

Same old same old...

I always thought that science was a critical analysis of reality... maybe teaching the 'controversy' would be okay if you could restrict it to only using materials that had been published in peer-reviewed journals. It'd be a pretty short lesson too.

The intelligent design community is still winning the war on one battlefront. This one is located in the churches. I am a frequent listener to Christian radio, and it seems as if new revival of Darwin bashing has begun. They bring no new tactics to the field. They just line up the soldiers and march them back out on the field again. They fire shot after shot of "only people that hate God are against us".

The real problem is, Americans have such a poor knowledge of science you could tell them anything, and they would believe it. It doesn't matter that the claims of the ID movement have been refuted. They speaker sounds good, and them rocks sure are pretty!

I wonder if we have chosen the correct location of the battlefield. We can sit university halls and listen to speeches that say science is right, they are wrong, every night of the week, and never change one heart.

The crusades must go to the churches. Conversations must occur with the leaders and then with the congregations. This phony baloney science is not only bad for our education systems, our constitutional rights, but also one's belief in God.

while I can't make those changes public at this time, I can say that they will significantly weaken science education in MIchigan schools

and the Michigan science standards are pretty abysmal already, according to the Fordham study. *sigh*


By Becca Price (not verified) on 14 Sep 2006 #permalink

elbogz, I listen to that stuff too (yes, I know, I'm a masochist) and I don't think there has been that serious a revival recently. D. James Kennedy did trot out his entire back catalogue of anti-Darwin diatribes recently, but that was as part of his marketing blitz for his latest "Darwin caused Hitler" nonsense. Otherwise there's always been a constant drip-drip-drip of creationist attacks on their Darwin bogeyman.

What's really striking to me is when I listen to local pastors attacking evolution on the radio. Their arguments barely ever rise about the level of "you never see a dog becoming a cat" or "you can never get a rabbit from a rock". But they always manage to solicit a chuckle from the congregation.

Forget ID and the convoluted theories from creationists as they try to explain away billions of years of evidence. There is a profound ignorance of evolution (and science in general) that is being fed from the fundamentalist pulpits every Sunday morning.

Thank you. I heard about this on NPR on my way home from work, and I told myself I'd blog it when I got home. I remembered the bit (unrelated) about the HPV vaccine, but could not remember the ID topic. It turns out that they were wanting to include climate change among the controversies that would be taught.

That is a clever strategy. By broadening the assault, they would make it harder to argue that they have a religious agenda.

I assume "our side" is on to that, and has a counter-strategy prepared. (?)

I assume "our side" is on to that, and has a counter-strategy prepared. (?)

Yes, we are having god written out of religious textbooks, and specifically the bible, and requiring that people teach the controversy and give equal weight to all fictional characters that attract unwarranted degrees of devotion including Father Christmas, Batman and Darth Vader.

As far as I am aware, the idea is to make Where The Wild Things Are the primary text in the syllabus on account of having the best pictures.

Ed referred to "old wine in new skins." The preferred locution in Ohio is "old trash in new bags". It's no coincidence that Owens Fink is a marketing professor -- relabeling old crap is a common marketing tactic.

Their arguments barely ever rise about the level of "you never see a dog becoming a cat" or "you can never get a rabbit from a rock".

Those would be miracles. Is the lesson we take away from this that there are no such thing as miracles? That's an interesting choice of lesson for a pastor... ;-)

Couldn't science educators go a long way toward preempting the nonsense by actually teaching the real controversies in the sciences that they teach? (That's my argument at

For example (although not in biology): The Pluto controversy isn't really a controversy over what is Pluto: It is, rather, a controversy over what is the scientifically best way to conceptualize and classify bodies orbiting our sun. I am frankly puzzled by how much people seem to care about this in the general public; but the level of interest suggests that it could work as an example of a real controversy in science, what kinds of things are argued about, and why, what kinds of arguments are used, with what kinds of use of what kinds of evidence and reasoning. It would unsettle naive ideas about scientific truth that IMHO contribute to the framing of the ID-creationism rhetoric.

Why not have real controversies at least mentioned in every chapter of biology textbooks?

Having been a marketer of various products before retiring I take mild umbrage at RBH's describing "...relabeling old crap is a common marketing tactic..." The best marketing tool is a good product and any marketer worth his/her salt knows that a bad product shouldn't be marketed. Owens-Fink apparently doesn't know that and is trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear (pardon the cliché). Were she truly a marketing expert she'd have long ago told the DI and its local disciples to carry their own water. That would have been the ethical thing to do. But no, she just went along with relabeling the product, and the ethics be damned. That's unethical marketing.

Please forgive my shameless shilling. But you can all help us bring Ohio back into the Age of Enlightenment. The Ohio DOE board member who has been the ringleader of Creation Science in the classroom is up for reelection in November. For the first time, she will not be running unopposed. Please visit and see what you might be able to do to help.

Tom Sawyer's just began his run for this position only a month ago and needs a lot of help to get it off the ground quickly. He is a well respected statesman in Ohio and has a number of excellent ideas on how to save the ailing educational system in Ohio. He is well endorsed by the education, science and engineering communities here.

Remember, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.

OK, "teach the controversy>" I don't see what the problem is. Teach the controversy right where it belongs. A political issue gets taught in a Government class.