Louisiana will spend $12 million to teach creationism

The state of Louisiana is doing everything it can to force feed its students creationism despite numerous constitutional restrictions that prevent religious activities in public schools. It also passed the Academic Freedom Act in 2008 which allows “science” teachers to teach creationism as a “theory” equivalent to evolution to students. Of course, I also discussed how Louisiana provides vouchers for students to attend private Christian universities, some of which use textbooks that think a real Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution.  

According to an article in the the Lafayette, LA Independent Weekly, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education considered a set of accountability guidelines for private schools at its July 24, 2012, meeting. Zack Kopplin, “an 18-year-old Rice University student best known for his efforts during the last two legislative sessions to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, was one of several people who addressed BESE recently in opposition of the controversial voucher program”,  testified that of the roughly 6600 spaces available for students under the program, 1350 will be filled “at private Christian schools that teach creationism and peg evolution as ‘false science.’” Kopplin claims that Louisiana is about to spend almost $12 million to fund the teaching of creationism through this new voucher program that uses public school funds to pay for tuition and certain fees at private schools for students who attend low-performing public schools and whose family income is below 250% of the federal poverty level.  Continue reading “Louisiana will spend $12 million to teach creationism”

The Holy Merger: creationism and the Loch Ness Monster

Well, it had to happen–one pseudoscience, creationism, is using another pseudoscience, the nonexistent Loch Ness Monster, as proof. Herald Scotland is reporting that a book, produced by the A.C.E. Curriculum Program and called Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education, informs students that Nessie is proof that evolution never happened.

According to the book, 

Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

The creationist logic is apparently that this lone plesiosaur got captured in Loch Ness during the biblical flood. Thus, we can assume, Nessie proves that dinosaurs didn’t die out 65 million years ago. Continue reading “The Holy Merger: creationism and the Loch Ness Monster”

Americans believe that dinosaurs lived with humans

Shocking news once again–a new Gallup poll claims that the rate of acceptance of evolution in the United States is “essentially unchanged” over the past few years. The recent poll from Gallup asked “which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin an development of human beings:”

  • 32% of the respondents accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process,” 
  • 15% accepted “Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process,” and 
  • 46% accepted “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”

Continue reading “Americans believe that dinosaurs lived with humans”

Americans believe in debunked myths–shocking news

According to a Reuters poll, nearly 15 percent of the earth’s population believe that the world will end during their lifetime, while another 10 percent think the Mayan calendar proves that the world will end in 2012.  The end of the Mayan calendar, which spans about 5,125 years, on December 21, 2012 prompted a whole field of pseudoscience about the apocalyptic end of the word, sometimes spurred on by some of the junk programs on the History Channel.

What’s worse than all of this is that 22% of Americans believe in an impending Armageddon in their lifetime (the highest rate along with Turkey).  This compares to obviously better science educations in France, where only 6% believe in this silliness, in Belgium, only 7% believe, and the United Kingdom, only 8%. The poll also indicated that individuals with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 years old, were more likely to believe in an apocalyptic end of the world.  Maybe the History Channel has a broader reach than originally thought. Continue reading “Americans believe in debunked myths–shocking news”

Analytical thinking undermines religious belief

When reading statements from creationists, it’s always unclear why they accept the premise that the world is only 6000 years old, despite a huge amount of evidence that shows otherwise. Or why they cannot accept or just reject common descent of all organisms, including humans, through the powerful processes of evolution. Is it because biological evolution is so difficult to grasp? Or the evidence takes a certain amount of scientific knowledge? Or is it because it is impossible to comprehend the almost infinite number of changes in DNA that are required to evolve from a single cell organism to an ape?  Continue reading “Analytical thinking undermines religious belief”

Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education

As you recall, Tennessee’s governor, Republican Bill Haslam, did not veto HB 368, but allowed it to become law.  The legislation allows public schools to teach the scientific controversies about evolution and global warming.  Once again, there are no scientific controversies regarding evolution and global warming (though admittedly there are ongoing discussions about mechanics and other issues, as there are with all scientific theories).  The only controversies are political and rhetorical, and evolution-denialism is based in religious beliefs, not in real science.  Tennessee now will allow the teaching of creationism, a religious dogma, in publicly funded schools in direct opposition to the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.  In every single case, when these religious laws were brought before State and Federal courts, the laws were overturned.  This law will also be thrown out. Continue reading “Tennessee’s Monkey Bill–harmful to education”

Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 5)

There’s really not much more to report, except that House Bill 368 is still sitting on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto. Actually, there’s a third way, he can just ignore it, and it will become law after a set period of time.  

The Los Angeles Times, in an editorial, Tennessee’s attack on the teaching of evolution, makes a few more points that were intended for the eyes of Gov. Haslam, if only we could be sure that he read the LA Times.

In deciding whether the bill advances a religious agenda, the governor needs to look at context and history as well as the text. A useful reference work would be a 2005 decision by a federal judge in Pennsylvania striking down a school board policy requiring that students be made aware of “gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design.” In that case, Judge John E. Jones concluded that intelligent design and teaching about “gaps” and “problems” in evolutionary theory are “creationist, religious strategies that evolved from earlier forms of creationism.” Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (Update 5)”

The UK is learning bad habits from the United States

Fabrice Muamba receiving emergency treatment on field.

No, it’s not how the UK is getting our bad reality TV.  We actually stole that from the BBC.  

No, it’s not getting obese from eating too many fast foot restaurants.  To use the old adage, “that ship has sailed.”  

No, it’s not religion becoming a part of the political discourse.  Oh wait, here we go.

First a little background.  During a football match (the British version, what we call soccer, something we haven’t borrowed from them), a player named Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch (field).  Only 23 years old, he had a cardiac arrest, and he was defibrillated 12 times over a 78 minute time period before his heart restarted.  The newspapers in England (not always known for their ability to control sensationalist headlines) touted that he was dead for 78 minutes, and that it was some sort of miracle that he survived. Continue reading “The UK is learning bad habits from the United States”