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science education

The Epistemological Deficiencies of Barbara Forrest

Denyse O’Leary writes about Barbara Forrest’s fact-free attack on Frank Beckwith, which recently appeared in Synthese. While Denyse focused more on Beckwith’s response to Forrest’s scholarly article diatribe, it might be worth taking a closer look not only at Forrest’s article, but the entire issue of Synthese in which it is found. First Forrest. In the abstract for her article with the breathtaking title “The non-epistemology of intelligent design: its implications for public policy”, Bar writes:

Intelligent design creationism (ID) is a religious belief requiring a supernatural creator’s interventions in the natural order. ID thus brings with it, as does supernatural theism by its nature, intractable epistemological difficulties.

Okay, so we’re only 2 sentences into the abstract and we can already see that Bar has no clue what ID is about. Read More ›

Creationism in the schools advocate sighted in Chicago

If this isn’t a hoax, it is a rarely sighted genuine effort to “teach creationism in the schools”, as opposed to an attempt to replace the Beard Almighty with some/any kind of science thinking about evolution:

Still, when asked about adding creationism to the curriculum, Lake Zurich School Board candidate Doug Goldberg said to the Daily Herald interviewers, “I’m a good, God-fearing American and the answer is ‘Yes.'”- “Suburban School District Candidates Believe Creationism Should Be Taught” (HuffPo, 2 28 11)

Well, does Mr. Goldberg think that Francis “junk DNA yes?/no?” Collins and the infinite variety of folk over at Biologos (= anything but evident design) are not God-fearing?

Heck, more “God” yatters out of those guys than ever did out of little old Catholic me. The trouble with the Christian Darwinists is that they have way more God than evidence.

And aren’t most of the Thumbsmen and Darwinoid trolls Americans*, while not God-fearing (and I am no judge of whether they are “good”)? Read More ›

“If it ain’t broke … ” Cricket shows no change in 100 million years. Nor does Texan School Lobby from New Dark Ages

Yes, apparently, the cricket has carved out new territory in sheer conservatism:

A fossil found in northeastern Brazil confirmed that the splay-footed cricket of today has at least a 100-million-year-old pedigree.Researchers have discovered the 100 million-year-old ancestor of a group of large, carnivorous, cricket-like insects that still live today in southern Asia, northern Indochina and Africa. The new find, in a limestone fossil bed in northeastern Brazil, corrects the mistaken classification of another fossil of this type and reveals that the genus has undergone very little evolutionary change since the Early Cretaceous Period, a time of dinosaurs just before the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana.

[ … ]

Although the fossil is distinct from today’s splay-footed crickets, its general features differ very little, Heads said, revealing that the genus has been in a period of “evolutionary stasis” for at least the last 100 million years.

– (ScienceDaily, Feb. 4, 2011)

The paper is free online at open access journal ZooKeys. While we don’t know for sure, the explanation seems to be that the cricket could always find a habitat that let it just go on being what it is. If I were a teacher, I’d love a recent find like this, to demonstrate that evolution doesn’t necessarily just happen; something pushes it.

But apparently, findings like this are not to be taught to students in Texas. According to the local Darwin lobby, Read More ›

It used to be called teaching …

An unbylined news feature in Raw Story (January 30th, 2011) tells us “Oklahoma bill would mandate educators question evolution in classes”

Educators in Oklahoma would be forced to openly question in their classes the legitimacy of the scientific theory of evolution should a new bill become state law.

“It’s a simple fact that the presentation of some issues in science classes can lead to controversy, which can discourage teachers from engaging students in an open discussion of the issues,” state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, said in defense of the bill she filed recently.

That used to be called teaching. Or a part of it anyway. Put another way: Any fact-based proposition that can be true can, alternatively, be false. Learning to hold intelligent opinions means considering reasonable arguments for adn against a proposition.

But, to get some idea how Darwinism is probably taught today, among Raw Story’s readers, note this: Read More ›

Well, it’s Valentines Day, and …

… it turns out that Jerry “whyevolutionistrue” Coyne doesn’t like Elaine Ecklund, a Templeton author on faith and science*: Elaine Ecklund is making more hay out of her Templeton-funded research than I would have thought possible. Author of the book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think, she has spent her post-publication time distorting her findings as loudly and as often as possible, and spinning them to claim that they show the need for a consilience of science and faith. Templeton could not have gotten more bang for their bucks. Her latest piece, “Science on Faith“, is in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (It’s behind a paywall but I got it from the library.) Once again Ecklund emphasizes the many Read More ›

Lots of people are starting to notice that the textbooks are full of it

Ken Connor, commenting on Jonah Lehrer’s New Yorker piece (December 13, 2010) on the loss of replicability of science findings over time, writes, But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts were losing their truth: claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology. . . . For many scientists, the effect is especially troubling because of what it exposes about the scientific process. If replication is what separates the rigor of science from the squishiness of pseudoscience, where do we put all these rigorously validated Read More ›

A friend advises, re the dangers of teaching non-crackpot science …

It looks like New Mexico is next up for the scientific controversies wars. A new bill has been introduced that would allow teachers to inform students of controversies with respect to science, and specifically would prohibit them from being punished for doing so. The bill states ” A teacher who chooses to provide such information shall be protected from reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so.” Entire bill (less than 1 page), here. This should bring the science tax burden mediocrities out in force. We can’t stress enough how New Mexicans need to be protected from any suggestion that the Beard or some other nabob might not know all the answers.

What’s really interesting about this wan Nature article on …

the supposed scandal that most American high school biology teachers have not drunk the Darwinade yet is the comments section, for example, I’m completely convinced that the reason actual science has such a poor impact in the science classroom is that large segments of the scientific community absolutely insist on drawing sweeping theological conclusions from biology that they feel strongly impelled to proselytize. Yes, some do openly acknowledge the obvious New Atheist attempt to get the biology teacher to teach what has never been demonstrated, but supports the Darwinist worldview. It;’s almost like all the tax burdens and rich and thick widows’ legacies went to lunch, and some real people had a look. Enjoy it. Won’t last.

Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) Weighs in on Science Education

Dr. Cornelius Hunter recently posted on some findingsfrom the NCSE (the National Center for the Selling of Evolutioner, I mean, Science Education, on how many biology teachers are reluctant to teach evolution. Now, TV personality Bill Nye “The Science Guy” has given us his two cents worth on this controversy. In the interview he’s asked what he thinks about the reluctance of teachers regarding evolution. He says:

It’s horrible. Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back. And it’s fine if you as an adult want to run around pretending or claiming that you don’t believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people who don’t believe in science, that’s a recipe for disaster. We talk about the Internet. That comes from science. Weather forecasting. That comes from science. The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach it to our young people is wrong.

Read More ›