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Hullabaloo


Thursday, June 12, 2008

 
A Confederacy of Dunces

by tristero

UPDATED BELOW

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a pro-creationism bill 94-3. It is expected that the Governor will sign if it gets to his office, which is likely. This will almost inevitably precipitate extensive, and highly expensive, legal challenges, wasting money that could be better spent improving science education in the state. Worse, it will miseducate students by giving religious nuts permission to teach them lies instead of facts.

For those of you unfamiliar with the latest creationist dog whistles, they have appropriated noble phrases like "critical thinking" and "academic freedom" to disguise their attempt to inject religious views into public school science classes. The twisting of such terms is an age-old tactic on the right, which calls recourse to a coat-hanger abortion "pro-life" or an inheritance tax on the wealthiest of all Americans a "death tax."

When it comes to evolution, there is a lot of very serious criticism and controversy. However, much of it is wildly inappropriate for an introductory high school biology class. This is because it requires more prior knowledge of biology, botany, biochemistry, the science of DNA, and genetics than most high school students have been exposed to.

Regarding the "validity of evolution" itself, however, there is no controversy. Repeat: there is no controversy. To teach evolution as if its reality is controversial is to engage in the very opposite of critical thinking.

Academic freedom does not include the freedom to teach lies as facts. To teach creationism is to teach a bald-faced lie. It doesn't matter whether or not that creationism is dressed up in the cheap tuxedo of "intelligent design," a religious doctrine funded by some of the most rabidly extreme christianists in the United States. It is still a lie to teach it as science.

Put plain, Louisiana lawmakers are trying their level best to make the students of their state stupid. This bill is an absolute disgrace.


Note to creationists of all ilks, and to their apologists: If you would like to argue that evolution is "just a theory" or some other such nonsense, please go to Pharyngula first and argue with PZ (and please say hello from me). If you convince him that you have a valid argument, then come on back here and I'll be glad to discuss it with you. Until you've convinced Dr. Myers, however, I am completely uninterested in what you have to say and will ignore you. I suggest all rational commenters do the same.

[UPDATE: Barbara Forrest has asked me to post a link to the Louisiana Coalition for Science, a new group she has co-formed. The site has an analysis of the bill and other information. ]

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