In Which Florida Jumps on the Dumbass Bandwagon

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Florida evidently suffers from dumbass envy. The dumbassery in question was that incredibly retarded Oklahoma House Bill 2211, under which students would be allowed to answer scientific questions with religious answers and not be penalized.

Well, it's evidently not sufficient to compromise science education only in the mid-section of our great country - the east coast must also be considered rejects of the modern world.

According to Florida Citizens for Science, there's a new bill afoot in Florida that "Provides public school teachers with a right to present scientific information relevant to the full range of views on biological and chemical origins. Prohibits a teacher from being discriminated against for presenting such information. Prohibits students from being penalized for subscribing to a particular position on evolution, etc."

This kind of unadulterated bullshit evokes desperation in me. If we, the most prosperous nation in the world, can't keep this sort of dogmatic, dark ages clap-trap out of our public schools, then what hope is there?


H/T to The Bad Astronomer

13 comments:

Cindi in CO said...

None. There is no hope for this country in its present incarnation.

I find it incredibly depressing that I think that, even though I don't think it all the time.

Meh.

John the Scientist said...

Cindi, I quite disagree. That sounds a little strange coming from someone who fights this crap all the time, but it is part and parcel of the American patchwork.

Europe, and to some degree the rest of the world, sent us a two types of people. The tired and poor from the old country came in a bimodal distribution. The talented folks who were tired of the old system did well and made this country what it is. The poor who were too stupid or lazy or criminally minded to make anything of themselves are still here, too, though. And they serve a purpose. They keep us sharp. They keep us from making stupid assumptions and getting lazy, ourselves.

Europe lost both its very top and very bottom to us, and as a result they are stagnating. They set up a gigantic welfare state and said to themselves “no one would ever take advantage of the system”. America was able to look at people like Bob Ewell in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and say “I’m not so sure everyone deserves a living from the government”. Because the Europeans were hugely, overwhelmingly solid, dull middle-class burghers, they were right - in a specific time and place. But after a few generations, rot begins to set in, and people like Bob Ewell start to show up en masse. I give Europe another 2 generations before the whole system collapses. Their science and their economy is coasting on wealth gathered by past generations, and they are forgetting how to compete.

Complacency also allows Europeans to countenance people such as Richard Dawkins, who regularly overstep the epistemological bounds of science, without argument, because homogeneity breeds groupthink. Americans are sharp, Americans can compete, from economics to the marketplace of ideas, because the large barbarian base is there to keep us on our toes.

I get tired of fighting this crap, but it is necessary. The price of freedom – and in this case I mean the true freedom of thought that comes from constantly having your assumptions questioned – is eternal vigilance.

Cindi in CO said...

John, because I live in a small town in a rural area, I have to deal with, and listen to, these fruitcakes ALL THE TIME, and it just makes me tired.

"Cynicism is the last refuge of the idealist."
Oscar Wilde

Janiece Murphy said...

John, sometimes I feel like Cindi, too.

Not all the time.

But sometimes I, too, get tired. And I don't even deal with it all the time.

But I still see the value in fighting the good fight.

grafixer said...

Being a Florida resident and somewhat involved in this debate, I would urge you all to go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy and read about the Wedge Strategy and The Discovery Institute. Pay particular attention to the 20 year strategy. These folks are using evangelicals as soldiers to wage a battle against democracy - and replace it with a theocracy. Also do a quick wikipedia search for the people behind the bill - Rhonda Storms and Alan Hays. Education (be it Science or general) is key to understanding. This is not about Academic Freedom. Their definition of the phrase is neither academic nor free. It is Academic FreeDUMB!
If these bills pass, it simply shows that either our representatives need to go back to school and learn about what real science is, or... they simply need to quit their jobs and hit the road as preachers. Simply put, they are either for teaching religion in schools, or not. They either back our constitution and the separation of church and state or they don't.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, grafixer.

I think you'll find you're (to steal a religious metaphor) "preaching to the choir" around here, but I appreciate your input and background information.

The Discovery Institute may be "using" evangelicals, but I submit they're willing participants in this dumbassery.

Please let us know if there's anything we non-Florida residents can do to help defeat this measure!

Nathan said...

Chiming in as someone who grew up in Florida, I'll just say you need to replace the picture of Florida you probably have in your head. You're seeing beaches and palm trees and beautiful tanned people running around, aren't you? Sure you are. Admit it.

But that's not what most of the state is like. Most of the state is scrub pine and sand and dumbass redneck hicks. Florida may have some beautiful shores and some thoroughly modern cities but it also has no shortage of crushing poverty. And I'm not sure exactly where the bible belt is located these days, but Florida is the buckle.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, I can't speak for anyone else, but I did know that about Florida (unfortunately). One of the benefits of serving for as long as I did is that eventually you run into folks from every state in the Union. And people who enlist in the Armed Forces tend to come from less affluent families, many of whom enlist just to "get the hell out of (insert hick town here)."

Jeri said...

As one whose immediate family includes YECs and theocracy advocates, I am in a unique position to agree - their position scares me to death.

Shoot, even my ex has attempted to indoctrinate my children as YECs, thank goodness they're skeptical teens. Their disdain for those who don't agree with those beliefs is staggering.

I spend many family get togethers listening to rants about "our Christian nation", "sanctity of marriage", prayer in the schools, and yes, creationism. I have permanent bite marks in my tongue, because there's no point in debating their fanatically blind beliefs when you're the minority dissent in the room. These are intelligent people - the men are engineers, mostly, and the women are housewives.

An additional corollary actually came to mind when I was reading Jim's post. Thank goodness my ILs don't home school... but they do believe that a woman's place is home with her children and working outside the home is wrong. Their children get a fairly balanced, if not stellar, education in public schools. I can't help but believe that those who home school end up giving their daughters an unequal education - why do they need any advanced classes when their role is to remain home? My MIL herself said her daughter would not allow her to take advanced classes or attend college because education was wasted on girls. (Hopefully that's an artifact of the era...)

We're growing a fanatical, undereducated underclass. Again, very scary.

Jeri said...

Oops, MIL said that her father would not allow...

Janiece Murphy said...

Jeri, they scare me, too. That's why I post about stuff like this when I hear about it. I don't want to wake up one day and have my grandkids being taught YEC claptrap in a public school because I was asleep at the wheel.

vince said...

From what I have seen, the problem is that our schools are fair game for anyone who believes their version of reality should control what is taught. Read an American History text book recently? Between the far right in Texas and the far left in California (these states have an enormous amount of control over textbooks because of the number they buy), they're generally a joke. During her senior year, I helped my daughter annoy her history teacher by pointing out all the gaps, and in several cases, flat out inaccuracies in her history textbook. Although some newer textbooks are an improvement, far too many schools can't afford updated textbooks. And they way in which we fund our schools is a disgrace. This country's children are primarily educated based on how affluent their neighborhood is. In addition, our schools do a piss-poor job of teaching children how to think for themselves (no think allowed, only regurgitation), how to analyze an argument, or how to track down original sources when they are quote by their textbooks, by the media, etc.

Cindi, I do believe there is hope. But we must constantly be vigilant. And good for you Janiece for posting about this crap when you see it. As far as I'm concerned, there are NO circumstances under which the goverment at any level has the right to tell me what I or anyone else should or should not believe, and I say that as a Christian.

John, you made several good points, especially the statement that true freedom of thought comes from constantly having your assumptions questioned. I have no problem discussing why I believe what I believe with those who wish to do the same. I can respect those who hold different views when they can defend them without resorting to wack-a-mole behavior. I can respect and listen to those who believe I am wrong when they have some actual knowledge of Christianity and the evidential and philosophical arguments both in favor of and against it.

Despite how I believe, I do NOT believe in indoctrination of children. Yes, I did raise my children Christian, but never ducked the hard questions when they asked them, and never forbade them from or criticised them for exploring alternatives. My daughter, for example, is also a Christian, but there are a number of theological areas where we very much disagree. And I am proud that she is able and willing to think for herself, even when she disagrees with her always-right father (grin).

Jeri, I have no permanent bite marks in my tongue because I have a low tolerance for bigotry and stupidity (and that is exactly what it is) of people such as you are forced to deal with and annoying these people in return doesn't bother me at all. But the advantage I have over you is that I don't have to deal with family and in-laws. I don't envy you at all, at all.

Thus endeth my rant for today.

Janiece Murphy said...

Vince, you're welcome to rant here anytime.

The difference between you, John, and other reasonable people of faith and the deluded asshats is that you recognize there are certain things you believe on faith. Belief in a creator God, that Jesus is the Son of God, the Virgin birth - these are all matters of faith, and as such cannot be proven.

I respect other peoples' faith, provided they recognize it for what it is - faith. My panties get in a wad when people of faith attempt to pass off the things they believe as a matter of faith as fact. Facts are things you prove - repeatedly. So for me, science and faith are completely separate matters, and should not mix in an academic setting.

This subject makes me a bit screechy.