13 December 2007

Texas Education Agency and Chris Comer, Part 16

Chris ComerNow that the Chris Comer's resignation from the Texas Education Agency is a couple of weeks old, it's no longer news, and so reports are slowing down. But this story is going to be flaring up for a long time.

This article in the Dallas Morning News does a good job of looking at the long term issues at stake in Texas, namely the upcoming review of science standards that begins in 2008. It contains some blunt language.

Don McLeroy is crystal clear about his intentions:
"I'm a Christian, and I think about how this impacts everything," Dr. McLeroy said. "Religion is not just something you put on the side. It's everything. I see us all created in the image of God. I don't believe nature is all there is."
So there you go. McLeroy and company are bound and determined to promote a particular religious point of view. (And it's important to realize it is a very particular religious view, not a religious view generally.)

Likewise, Chris Comer is quoted:
"Any science teacher worth their salt that has any background in biology will tell you there is no controversy," said Ms. Comer, a mother of two grown children. "It is time for America to grow up." ...

"The way things are being done these days I don't think rational minds have a chance," she said.
The article also notes that Comer is a Christian.

Now here's the real fighting words:
"Emphatically, we are not trying to 'take evolution out of the schools,'" said Mark Ramsey of Texans for Better Science Education, which wants schools to teach about weaknesses in evolution. "All good educators know that when students are taught both sides of an issue such as biologic evolution, they understand each side better. What are the Darwinists afraid of?"
I'm afraid of willful ignorance.

I'm afraid of people subverting scientific process.

I'm afraid of people breaking the law. (See U.S. Supreme Court decision Edwards vs. Aguillard, 1987, among others.)

I'm afraid of people lying. (For example, the Kitzmiller v. Dover people revealed, unfortunately, a lot of dishonesty on the part of those opposing the teaching of evolution.)

I'm not afraid of honest intellectual debate about science. The problem is, there is no "other side," scientifically speaking. There's "another side" in the social debate, in the political debate, but there just isn't decent science. It's like the old joke about no entering a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

Make some predictions, run some experiments, analyze some data -- in other words, do some actual science -- and we'll talk.

Suggesting that scientists are avoiding the issue is absolutely mad. I will probably write much more about this later.

And another thing.



Makes it seems like a little cult of personality instead of a scientific discipline.

Makes it seem like there hasn't been an original idea since the publication of On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life nearly 150 years ago.

I prefer, "biologist."

KXAN has video related to the ongoing Chris Comer story. One of the titles they gave a piece is... underwhelming: "Some TX Biology Professors Support Evolution Education."

Was the "some" qualifier necessary?

Text version here.

And, in my quest to find alternative views, I actually did find a blogger who supports the Texas Education Agency's forcing Comer's resignation. Be warned before you click the link: It's shrill.

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