Liveblagging VI: The Meyering

Stephen Meyer, Disco. Inst. veep and author of Explore Evolution.

He insists that the new standards treat evolution in a special way, ignoring critical evaluation. I note in passing that the new standards more accurately reflect the practice of science, including for evolution.

Then he talks about what evolution is. He is using slides from powerpoints distributed to teachers with EE. Distinguishes common descent from the mechanism of evolution, and presents "chemical evolution" as a third branch of evolution. Again, bogus.

What is a weakness of a theory. He claims a theory is weak if it can't explain something, or if it makes false predictions. ZOMFG! Evolution doesn't explain why things fall down! Evolution is weak!

Covers his non-biological resume, presumably to justify why he gets it so consistently wrong!

Scientists apparently weigh the strengths and weaknesses of theories. Actually we debate the strengths and weaknesses of lines of evidence! Stephen Meyer gets everything wrong.

He cites NRC recommendation that students assess strengths and weaknesses of scientific claims.

He speaks very fast. This makes it easier to breeze past quotemines, such as that offered of Darwin.

He has four binders with articles listing "weaknesses" in evolution. Some challenge random mutation and selection as a mechanism. Others deal with fossils or development. Others have conflicting phylogenetic trees. He also thinks that functional non-coding DNA conflicts with evolution. Plus some critique "chemical evolution." I will now take wagers on how many of those are addressed here. Naturally, he doesn't actually list the papers, or name the authors. He hopes his 8 inches of floppy paper will impress the Texans.

Cambrian Explosion! I win the pool on how fast he'll get to that, but only because he speaks too damn fast. Continues to use slides directly from EE, which rather confirms the whole issue of Meyer's conflict of interest. He's trying to sell his bullshit book, not address the science standards.

More Darwin quotemining.

If we don't do what Meyer says, we turn evolution into a "secular religion."

He trots out the Zogby push poll they commissioned in Ohio.

He thinks teaching strengths and weaknesses will engage student interest, in fact, it would simply confuse the hell out of them.

As before, questions from the board will be in blue.

Craig: You're from Washington, right? Yeah. Your degree isn't in biology, is it? No. You've got a book right? Yes. Would S&W help market your book? Hard to say. Casey disagrees. EE is meant for the capstone section of AP class. AP classes have to have their

Hardy: What's the deal with quasi-religion. Meyer bloviates about peer review, then says that not teaching S&W would make evolution seem like quasi-religion, indoctrinating students. I was indoctrinated because my teachers never told me the weaknesses of the germ theory.

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From an AP report:

Creationism vs. Evolution in Texas Schools

AUSTIN (AP) - It's Creationism vs. Evolution again today in Austin, Texas.

A public hearing on how evolution should be taught in Texas public schools is now in the hands of the Texas State Board of Education.

The proposal calls for deletion from the current science curriculum of a requirement that teachers address "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theory. A decision's expected in March.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

1) It's "hypotheses" that get measured; the word "theory" just means "best hypothesis so far"
2) It is possible to express the concept of "strength/weakness" formally for hypotheses via Minimum Description Length Induction (doi:10.1109/18.825807), but only meaningfully when comparing one hypothesis to another.
3) The strength/weakness is also a function of the set of data measured against (which ultimately, needs to be "all of it").
4) Under this measure, Evolution is the Theory.