Antievolution legislation–Oklahoma safe for now

The Oklahoma legislature adjourned for the year on May 25, 2012, and all three legislative attempts to force the teaching of the nonexistent “scientific controversies” in evolution and climate change. The first antievolution bill was SB 1742 died in committee in March. The second science denialist bill, HB 1551, died in the Senate Education committee in April. The third attempt, which was an amendment to a school funding bill, HB 2341, died because the amendment could not be added in time.

Once again, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education led the charge to kill these bills. If Oklahoma citizens can do it, it should be possible everywhere. 

via Oklahoma okay at last | NCSE.

Evolution vs. creationism scorecard: 2012

Since the beginning of 2012, Republicans throughout the country tried to violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by pushing religion into public schools. They lumped evolution denialism and global warming denialism into the broad terminology of “scientific controversy” (in case you’re reading, there are no scientific controversies over these theories, just political ones). And those Republicans tried their best to give the children in those states the worst science education ever. Evolution is the foundation of biology, that field of science that is the basis of our health, of medicine, of agriculture, of our environment, and of every living thing on the planet.

 So far, in 2012, there have been several attempts by Republican controlled state legislatures to force religion into public schools. It’s been a mixed bag, with several close wins for the science side, and a notable loss. Continue reading “Evolution vs. creationism scorecard: 2012”

Private school scholarships–gateway to creationism

You have to hand it to the antievolution folks. They don’t give up and they try every method possible to get their evolution denialism into the educational system despite every constitutional argument going against them. They tried to use intelligent design to force creationism into public schools, but lost in Federal court, costing the schools district over $1 million in legal fees. The have tried to push creationism in several states, succeeding in Tennessee, failing to do so in others. They keep trying, mostly failing. Continue reading “Private school scholarships–gateway to creationism”

Creationism dies–at least in Missouri

After the disaster of Tennessee’s science-denying Monkey Bill being signed into law, there has been relatively (and possibly temporary) good news in Oklahoma and Alabama, who did not vote on the anti-science legislation prior to the adjournment of their state legislatures. Of course, they could bring it up again in 2013, but a win is a win.

Yesterday, the Missouri legislature also adjourned, and two antievolution bills died in the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education before getting a hearing. House Bill 1227 would have permitted teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of the theory of biological and hypotheses of chemical evolution.” House Bill 1227 would have required “the equal treatment of science instruction regarding evolution and intelligent design,” both in public elementary and secondary schools and in “any introductory science course taught at any public institution of higher education” in the state. 

Again, to be absolutely clear on the point, there are no “scientific weaknesses” in the fact of evolution. There is some ongoing debate about the mechanisms of evolution, but the basic principle of change in a population of organisms over time by the mechanisms of natural selection and genetic drift is sound and fully accepted by a huge majority (about 99.6%) of scientists. And intelligent design is not science, it is creationism with different clothing. It is pseudoscience.

A win, hopefully permanent, for science education.

via Antievolution legislation dies in Missouri | NCSE.

Good news for science education in Alabama

Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Alabama legislature tried to enact a bill, House Bill 133, that would have established a scheme to allow high school credit for creationism. HB 133 would have authorized  “local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students.” The purpose of the bill was to teach creation “science” as equivalent to evolution. The bill died in the legislature, since it did not come to a floor vote before the legislature adjourned on May 16, 2012. Continue reading “Good news for science education in Alabama”

Creationism legislation–Oklahoma update 5

As discussed before, Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature undertook a last-ditch attempt to push evolution- and climate change-denialism into the Oklahoma educational system.  The two original anti-science bills, HB 1551 and SB 1742, died in committee in March, 2012.  Republican Oklahoma Senator Steve Russell then attempted to amend HB 2341, a bill originally intended to extend by two years a deadline for local school districts to meet standards for media, equipment and textbooks, to add language from HB 1551.  The amendment “encouraged” teachers to present “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of controversial” topics such as biological evolution and global warming.   Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Oklahoma update 5”

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”

Tennessee allows creationism in classroom

Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam refused to sign or veto HB 368, which protects anti-science teachers who insist on pushing creationism or global warming denialism.  By not signing or vetoing the bill, the governor has, legally, allowed it to become law.  

The bill claims there is a scientific controversy about evolution and climate change, which, of course, is completely untrue.  Science accepts the evolutionary basis of biology.  It accepts that the planet is warming faster than it should because of human activities.  There is only a political debate on these matters.

The key provision of this bill is to support creationism, which is a religious belief.  According to the Establishment Clause of the Unite States Constitution, as confirmed by numerous court rulings, creationism is religion, and teaching religion in public schools is not permitted.

This is a huge disappointment.  If you care about science, you won’t learn real science in Tennessee public schools.

How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 2. Revised and repost.

Recently, we discussed how science works. It’s not a belief. It’s not a random set of rules. It is a rational and logical process to determine cause and effect in the natural world. Pseudoscience, by its very nature, ignores the scientific process; instead, it claims to come to conclusions through science, usually by using scientific sounding words, but actually avoids the scientific process.  They tend to use logical fallacies to make their case.  Just to be clear, logical fallacy is essentially an error of reasoning. When a pseudoscientist  makes a claim, or attempts to persuade the public of this claim, and it is based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy. Continue reading “How pseudoscience makes its case-Part 2. Revised and repost.”

Creationism legislation–Tennessee Monkey Bill (update 6)

According to the Nashville News, Governor Bill Haslam told reporters that he will probably sign antievolution bill, which allows teachers to discuss the scientific “controversies” regarding the fact of evolution and the fact of climate change.  Not to be overly pedantic, there is no scientific controversy over either theory; however, there is a political one.  Another problem with the bill is how will a teacher discuss everything there is to know about evolution in a few hours.  How can you critically analyze evolution or global warming denialism in just a few minutes?  That would be like teaching someone to be a surgeon in a couple of days.  It’s almost impossible.

Stay tuned.  We’ll see if Governor Haslam actually signs the bill.  Republicans rarely keep their word, so who knows what will actually happen.