19 October 2008

More responses to creationists on science review board

The Dallas News explains how three creationists ended up on the review panel of the Texas science standards:

The committee was chosen by 12 of the 15 members of the board of education, with each panel member receiving the support of two board members. For example, Republican board members Geraldine Miller of Dallas and Pat Hardy of Weatherford selected SMU anthropology professor Ronald K. Wetherington, who is also director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the university. ...

Jonathan Saenz of the conservative Free Market Foundation said the panel is "balanced" because two of the other three members, UT-Austin biology Professor David Hillis and Texas Tech Professor Gerald Skoog, have joined a group of science educators wanting to eliminate a current requirement that weaknesses of the theory of evolution be taught.

"If the theory of evolution is so strong and without weaknesses, why are the evolutionists so afraid to let students have a discussion about it?" he asked.

Dan Bolnick has an article in the Waco Tribune has a guest column that answer's Saenz's questions well:

(E)volution opponents continue to promote worn-out arguments based on demonstrably false information.

For instance, they claim that an incomplete fossil record disproves evolution. Yet they ignore the millions of fossils (yes, millions) that clearly illustrate a history of evolution.

Opponents also frequently distort published research from respected scientists in an effort to mislead the general public about the scientific consensus supporting evolution.

Evolution opponents who promote such phony “weaknesses” claim we are trying to censor them, suppressing free speech. But the entire point of education is to provide students with the best information available, without wasting time on bogus arguments.

We don’t teach alchemy alongside chemistry, for example, or astrology alongside physics. We don’t ask students to decide for themselves whether Earth revolves around the Sun or vice versa. Is that “censorship”?

No, it is good science.

Meanwhile, a blog entry at Thoughts From Kansas examines the Discovery Institute's claims that one of the biologists on the review panel has a conflict of interest.

An article in University Star (apparently a Texas State University student publication) about the 21st Century Science Coalition, which gets several interesting quotes from anthropology professors:

Floyd Melbye, professor in the anthropology department, said pressure between politicians and publishing companies is to blame for the sudden curriculum revision. Publishers over the years have grown more anxious for multiple editions of the same textbooks, though the difference in content is “miniscule,” he said.

“Learn to ask yourself who’s making the money,” Melbye said. “Booksellers have a cash cow called the State of Texas legislature. Whether you’re a student or not, it’s everyone’s tax money.”

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