"ID in Public Primary Education," A Primer

Saturday, July 12, 2008
Well, the IDiots are at it again. They have a recent victory in Louisiana, where they've veiled their desire to get their pseudoscience into public school curricula, this time based on the idea that IDiots are being denied "academic freedom" in the classroom. In other words, those mean, mean evolutionary biologists don't take us seriously! It's not fair! Except they call them "Darwinists" rather than "evolutionary biologists." Makes them sound more cult-like and less scientific, I guess. Ah, rhetoric.

So here's a primer on the issues.

IDiots: We should be able to teach Creationism in public schools!

Reality: No, you shouldn't. It's against the law, and contrary to the establishment clause. See Edwards v Aguillard for details.

IDiots: But Intelligent Design and Creationism aren't the same thing at all!

Reality: I'm not sure who you think you're fooling. Your rebranding efforts failed pretty miserably when it was proven during Kitzmiller v Dover that the Creationism and ID movements are the same movement. You just had to change the name after Edwards v Aguillard, because that mean, mean SCOTUS determined that theocracy was not in our future.

IDiots: But we're a Christian Nation!

Reality: What a shock that would be to our founding fathers, most of whom were Deists. By the grace of the establishment clause, we are a secular nation, with a majority Christian population. This a subtle but crucial distinction, and one that forms the basis for the legal protection of minorities in this country. Saying "we're a Christian nation" is the moral equivalent of saying "we're a white nation."

IDiots: It's an issue of free speech!

Reality: Actually, it's not. Hypothesis that have not been rigorously tested within the bounds of the Scientific Method do not belong in high school science class. We don't allow other forms of supernaturalism in the classroom, so don't make the argument that you're "special." Except in the Little Yellow Bus, sense, I mean. But you're free to spout your nonsense on the Internet, in self-published works, or at the Discovery Institute. Knock yourself out.

IDiots: But ID is science!

Reality: Really? ID is a negative argument, and thus unfalsifiable. It's not science, and the only people who think it is are the ones trying to introduce their religious views into the classroom. Want to prove that it is science? Publish your findings in a peer-reviewed journal such as Nature, and try to major in "Intelligent Design" in any accredited, respected biology department. Oh, and legally? It is most definitely not science. See Kitzmiller v Dover for details.

IDiots: But evolution is just a theory!

Reality: Yeah, the same way gravity is just a theory. Get your terms right. Implying that the word "theory" means the same thing in a scientific context that it does in every day usage is disingenuous at best.

IDiots: We should teach the controversy!

Reality: What controversy? The vast majority of people who have the education to understand the key issues believe that ID is not science. It's only the people with a religious agenda who believe there's a controversy. Not exactly an unbiased agenda.

IDiots: We're being discriminated against for our religious views!

Reality: Get over yourself. The academic and scientific world is under no obligation to give professional respect to every crackpot idea that comes down the pike simply because it's religiously based. There are plenty of scientists who manage to reconcile their lives of faith and the rigors of science. Just because you can't doesn't mean a new "branch" of scientific enquiry should be funded.

IDiots: It's a question of academic freedom!

Reality: Not really. If you had a theory that held up to scientific scrutiny, and the science world was trying to "keep you down," you might have cause to complain. But your hypothesis doesn't cut it. And neither do you.

And spare me the tired arguments of irreducible complexity, the origin of the eye, the discovery of transitional forms and anything brought up by ID's bitch, Michael Behe. All of these issues have been addressed so many times they're no longer even a dead horse - they're a wet spot on the floor. This type of "Lalalala, I can't hear you!" response is just so lame, I don't even want to discuss it.

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Title modified 7/12/008 2:40 p.m.. I changed the name of the is post to more accurately reflect the content. It occurred to me that the title probably implied I considered all the ID idiocy to be part and parcel of the Academic Freedom Law, and that is not the case. I consider the Academic Freedom Laws to be a vehicle of the ID crowd to promote their agenda.

28 comments:

island said...

Can anyone get in on this?... because I'd like to criticize your unproven assumption and the obvious ideological pre-dis-positioning that distorts your perception to make you think so unscientifically.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, island.

Please feel free to express your specific criticisms.

Just observe the rules of engagement.

Shawn Powers said...

First off, I qualify the following with the disclaimer that I DO in fact believe in evolution. I generally don't spout about it, because it would ruin many of the relationships I've formed over the years. It sounds smug, but I find that I can handle others believing what they do, but they are incapable of the same. I think it's a character flaw, but not one worth ending a friendship over.

I said all that so I could say this: Evolution and creationism is one of those topics much like abortion. The reason the disagreements are so vehement is because the constructs going into the situation are different.

Creationists (and yes, ID is the same thing, just attempting to be a bit more rational about it) truly believe what they say. It is absolutely not just a belief for them. That's the thing about belief, you only believe when you think it's fact. Claiming that creationism is any less scientifically VALID simply doesn't compute. In the mind of the creationist, it's just less PROVEN.

What I'd like to see is for local communities to decide how such things are approached. Like it or hate it, evolutionism is important for everyone to understand. Ignorance is never the option. Point of view can vary, but ignorance is never OK. That said, I don't think it's unfair to ask for some religious sensitivity. Failing to do so has the potential to either undermine the family structure, or encourage poorly executed homeschooling.

Oh, and island? Sure, you can chime in, but realize you must be intellectually "this tall" to play in Janiece's pool. :D

island said...

heheh... I'll be good... ;)

Kay, for starters:

IDiots: But Intelligent Design and Creationism aren't the same thing at all!

WHOOPS!... Unfounded leap of faith.

Academic Freedom isn't ID and you can't established that this is a "veiled" attempt do LEGALLY teach ID in school.

Your assertions are based on unproven assumptions that I find are quite common to left-winged reactionaries, not mainstream Americans.

These academic freedom bills, which typically work in conjunction with the science standards are written to strictly prohibit the teaching of religion, creationism, “creation science”, “creation facts”, and ID.

Any attempt to violate the law will put teachers and/or schools in jeopardy of prosecution, so all of the necessary mechanisms to prevent this from happening are in place.

You automatically over-react to assume that the DI has simply repackaged their game, rather than to change it’s tactics, but this has NOT been established, and is NOT what the law allows, so your bogus assertions are based solely on your paranoid fear of the unknown.

This kind of stereotypically predictable reaction-ism, and the ideologically distorted half-truths or blatant lies that go with it, are the reason why I’ve started this very incomplete list for the next go-round in Florida.

Bobby J. also got a copy, and I hope that I had an effect on him, because neodarwinians are out of their minds if they think that the creationists can't use real scientific information to put their dogmatic antifanaticism against the ropes.

Academic Freedom

island said...

Oh, and island? Sure, you can chime in, but realize you must be intellectually "this tall" to play in Janiece's pool.

I can assure you that I play this game with PhD's on a regular basis... ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

Shawn, thanks (as always) for your perspective. I know it's grossly unfair to you, but I do count on you to "represent" for the critically thinking profoundly devout around here.

Jeri said...

You know, this *would* have been a fun conversation to take part in. :P

island said...

Except they call them "Darwinists" rather than "evolutionary biologists.

Just an FYI, but:

The highly respected and publicly honored evolutionary biologist, Lynn Margulis, refers to herself as a "Darwinist", as do I. She refers to the antifanatics as "neodarwinians" for the same reasons that I do, which are diffferent from that of creationists, with the exception of the noted feature; "antifanticism".

The problem with neo-Darwinism is that Random changes in DNA alone do not lead to speciation. It was like confessing a murder when I discovered I was not a neo-Darwinist. I am definitely a Darwinist though. I think we are missing important information about the origins of variation. I differ from the neo-Darwinian bullies on this point.

-Lynn Margulis, as the honored guest speaker at the last evolution conference.

Rhetoric? Probably. Justified?... most definitely.

I have to run for a little while, but I'm very disappointed if jeri thinks that I'm not fun!... lol

Shawn Powers said...

I think Jeri was giving me a hard time regarding my "intellectually this tall" comment. Based on previous encounters, she more than qualifies. ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

island, thanks for chiming in.

IDiots: But Intelligent Design and Creationism aren't the same thing at all!

WHOOPS!... Unfounded leap of faith.


I may grant you an "Appeal to Authority," but I won't grant the "Unfounded leap of faith."

This was a legal conclusion based on the Kitzmiller v Dover decision, linked in the post. The "appeal to authority" part comes from the fact that I simply do not have time to read the entire transcript of the trial, so I am forced to rely on the decision, the Nova documentary detailing the case, and other source material. The link between Creationism and ID was proven to my satisfaction based on what I've read. Could there be other ID organizations out there that didn't spring from a Creationism background? Of course. But the poster child of this movement (whether the IDers like it or not) is the Discovery Institute. Yes, I realize they deny they're a Creationist think-tank, but in light of Edwards v Aguillard who wouldn't?

Additionally, such legislation is almost always sponsored and nursed along by ID proponents. While I will not indulge in Faulty Causality here, I find the correlation more than just coincidence.

You claim that the law as written specifically prohibits the teaching of ID. While I see that Section 1D prohibits teaching "religion" per se, there's an issue with the status of ID.

One of the primary claims of ID is that it is not religiously based, in spite of the legal correlation between Creationism and ID. From your comments, I am unclear if you assert that ID is religiously based, and so must be excluded by section 1D, or if you believe ID is not religiously based, and so should be taught in public high school science curriculum. Either way, the current case law prohibits it, so the discussion is probably moot, but I would like some clarification.

And a note on the labels you so casually lace in your post - I'm not a left-wing reactionary, nor a paranoid reactionary. The only labels I'll accept are "liberal," "veteran," and "smart ass."

Based on my own research of the material available, I think ID is not scientifically sound, and should not be included in public school science curriculum. I also believe the Louisiana Science Education Act opens the door for that to happen.

If you do believe ID is a scientifically viable theory, please present your evidence. But leave out the parts about irreducible complexity, the origin of the eye and transitional forms. As noted in my post, I think those concerns have already been answered sufficiently.

As for the LSEA, if I'm jumping to conclusions, please present your evidence that I'm full of crap - I'm willing to admit the error of my ways if I've misread the legislation and it is not, in fact, a vehicle for ID proponents to get their theory into public primary education.

Please note that I am not opposed to the introduction of controversial scientific theories in primary science education - I am opposed to the introduction of non-scientific hypothesis. Additionally, I'm not fanatical about the Theory of Evolution - I realize there is always more to learn.

As for the Darwinist/Newdarwinist labels, I consider them rhetoric when a person uses them as an epithet and not a self-bestowed descriptor.

And Jeri? Feel free to jump in. I'm quite sure you're tall enough. :)

Janiece Murphy said...

The highly respected and publicly honored evolutionary biologist, Lynn Margulis, refers to herself as a "Darwinist", as do I.

Are you an evolutionary biologist? Your profiles did not specify, but this comment implies you are.

Janiece Murphy said...

Note to the Gallery: I changed the name of the is post to more accurately reflect the content. It occurred to me that the title probably implied I considered all the ID idiocy to be part and parcel of the Academic Freedom Law, and that is not the case. I consider the Academic Freedom Laws to be a vehicle of the ID crowd to promote their agenda.

island said...

This was a legal conclusion based on the Kitzmiller v Dover decision, linked in the post.

Nope, your unfounded leap of faith is made when you equate Academic Freedom to ID or anything that happened in Dover without proof, zero, none.

And then I explained why this is bogus, but you seem to have missed it.

Janiece Murphy said...

island, it occurred to me (after I had posted my response, of course) that we were probably talking about two different issues.

Leaving aside the scientific veracity of ID for the moment, let's look at the ID/LSEA connection for a moment.

Are you asserting that the similarity between the LSEA and the Discovery Institute's sample academic freedom legislation is entirely coincidence?

island said...

"i" wrote:
"The highly respected and publicly honored evolutionary biologist, Lynn Margulis, refers to herself as a "Darwinist", as do I."

janiece said:
Are you an evolutionary biologist? Your profiles did not specify, but this comment implies you are.

No, what I said only indicates that I consider myself to be a Darwinist.

Physics is more my forte`, and yes, physics is meaningfully related to all of this.

island said...

Leaving aside the scientific veracity of ID

Okay, but let me make clear that ID has no "scientific veracity", rather, the problem for science that raises my dander occurs with the unscientific reaction to certain evidence that creationists sometimes use to support their position.

You should check the info in the link that I previously provided.

Now, maybe you've got me. Let me look at the rest of what you said to see if I need to modify or abandon my position.

Janiece Murphy said...

island, for your reference, here is one of the references I found regarding the connection between LSEA and the Discovery Institute, an ID think tank.

Janiece Murphy said...

island, now that I've resolved my "failure to communicate," allow me to respond in a more coherent fashion.

I don't deny the allegations you make in the link you provided. Scientists, and the scientific community, certainly are not immune from dogmatic thinking, and a failure to address specific findings of scientists who apply appropriate rigor and documentation is indeed a failure of science.

However, I would differentiate the examples you note from the assertions of Michael Behe. His "irreducible complexity" argument has been refuted again and again, and yet the Discovery Institute continues to trot it (and him) out at every opportunity to prove their point. That is an example of the "Lalala, I can't hear you!" mentality that gets on my damn nerves.

I don't know if your examples have also been refuted, but I will trust your credibility on this issue that in this case, it's the scientific community indulging in the "Lalala" mentality.

Having said that, my concern is that unscientific claptrap will be allowed to be taught in public primary school.

What standard do you use to determine what hypotheses are legitimate, and what are poorly veiled attempts to slip in ID or other religiously based (or non-scientific) ideas?

island said...

Are you asserting that the similarity between the LSEA and the Discovery Institute's sample academic freedom legislation is entirely coincidence?

No, I'm saying that the Discovery Institute doesn't appear to be violating any laws or science standards in their effort to LEGALLY ask neodarwinians some questions that teachers would normally get tagged and fired for asking without protection from the law.

Yes, this is an attempt to push their agenda. No, you can't stop them without the same level of proof that was provided in Dover, as long as they only use real, valid, scientific criticisms.

Every other theory welcomes valid scientific challenges, so neodarwinians should be chomping at the bit to take them on in this context, but they'd rather fight a culture war at all costs to science. They did everything that they possibly could do in Florida to weaken evolutionary theory in the science standard, and that didn't happen be neodarwinians give a damn about science.

Proof that the academic freedom bills somehow equate to ID DOES not come from the wording of law or the science standards, so you work only from assumptions about the sinister motives of IDists... ;)

As I siad:
These academic freedom bills, which typically work in conjunction with the science standards are written to strictly prohibit the teaching of religion, creationism, “creation science”, “creation facts”, and ID.

Any attempt to violate the law will put teachers and/or schools in jeopardy of prosecution, so all of the necessary mechanisms to prevent this from happening are in place.

island said...

What standard do you use to determine what hypotheses are legitimate, and what are poorly veiled attempts to slip in ID or other religiously based (or non-scientific) ideas?

The Florida bill that went though the house was very specific about peer review, but the term, "scientific information" is key to this, because it prohibits the kind of stuff that you think that creationist will try to "sneak" in.

They most definitely will be held in legal contempt if they try, which they will do... but this will serve to clarify what constitutes admissible "scientific information"... much to the chagrin of willfully ignorant academics in the field... I'm sure... ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

island, I think we've achieved a "meeting of the minds:"

- Yes, I do suspect the ID crowd, and attribute to them sinister motives. With historical precedent, I might add. I realize that presents a bias in my thinking, and I do attempt to compensate for it.

- While the laws you advocate may in fact have unintended beneficial consequences, I will continue to eye them with suspicion, not because I don't think evolution (or any scientific theory) shouldn't be challenged, refined and rewritten as new, scientific information becomes available, but because I suspect the pseudo-scientists.

- I look forward to the challenge you reference. Keeping religion out of public life is something I aspire to.

Nathan said...

Holy Crap! I didn’t want to put in one of those “Yay Janiece” comments this morning, so I didn’t say anything. Now I seem to have missed a little bit of a tempest.

Does anyone mind if I drop in with no scientific evidence, not citations and absolutely nothing to back me up but my own experience? As most regulars know, I grew up in an observant Jewish home. I’d now classify myself as a backslider who mostly believes in what I was taught as a child but am now too lazy to follow through on. Yeah, I suck.

Anyway, I went to a Jewish day school through third grade. Since that’s as far as the school went, I transferred to public school for fourth grade. I’ll never forget when Christmas rolled around that first year. Music lessons consisted of singing Christmas Carols. I was given a choice of A.) singing about how wonderful Jesus was, B.) sitting quietly and listening, or C.) sitting in the hall and doing my homework. Yeah, put the 9-year-old in the spotlight to decide if he wants to be different from everybody else in his class. (I sat in the hall, and yes, I still resent the sanctimonious fucks who forced me to make that decision as a child, thank you very much.)

I could live with having teachers say something along the lines of “All the religions of the world have theories about how the world was created involving a supreme being. The theory of evolution does not necessarily exclude these other theories, but that is between you and your conscious. I encourage you to discuss this with your parents.”

But, sorry, when you have a teacher (the authority figure) give equal weight to ID as to Evolution, you’re introducing religion into the classroom. And don’t tell me that this is equivalent to teaching Comparative Religion where you convey what various religions believe. Teaching ID is a whole other ball of wax.

And just in the interest of fairness…Janiece, not that I object to it, but your post referenced IDiots…an ad hominem attack from the start. Island (who I vociferously disagree with), gets a little bit of a pass from the start.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, you make a good point about my use of the term "IDiot." While it's widely used in anti-ID circles, it does constitute an ad hominem attack.

Luckily for me, Island is a gracious guest. The core issues, that the Discovery Institute, an ID think-tank, did indeed have their fingers in the LSEA, and that there might be some merit to the idea of challenging traditional scientific thought, was boiled down pretty quickly.

Thank you, Island, I learned something new today. You're welcome here anytime.

And Nathan? I'm sorry you had to sit in the hall. That sucks.

Jim Wright said...

I'm chiming in late here, because I was gone all weekend.

I'll also stay out of the discussion between Island and Janiece, as Janiece has made most of the points I would have.

Whenever this topic comes up - i.e. whenever I'm forced to discuss this by ID adherents who just won't take a hint - I am usually asked the same question: "What's wrong with teaching ID in public school? All we're asking here is for equal time." My response is always the same, "Equal time? Roger that - equal means the equation is balanced, so when ID people demand equal time for their pet theory, I take that to mean they will also be demanding that Evolution, as currently defined by mainstream science, will be taught by an accredited evolutionary biologist without bias or asides in every Christian Academy and Sunday School across the country. Equal is equal. Strangely however, IDists seem to have roughly the same grasp of math as they do of biology.

Janiece Murphy said...

Hee. I so want to see an evolutionary biologist teaching Darwin in a Fundie school. They'd have to have an ambulance on hand for all the bursting anuerysms...

Carol Elaine said...

I've written about this in the not too distant past, but Janiece, as usual, says it way more eloquently than I.

Interesting discussion, Janiece and Island. I got lost a few times, but it may be due to the congestion currently rattling around in my noggin, thanks to my head cold. Either that or I'm not intellectually tall enough - a distinct probability.

Jim, evolutionary biologist teaching Darwin in a Fundie school? So love the visual. Hee!

island said...

My response to Jim would fit well with this conversation that I've had elsewhere:

Paul said:
” The reason we won’t discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of Evolution is because there is as much evidence for Evolution as there is for the Atom… Yet no one disputes whether or not Atoms exist.”

And I replied:
It is highly misleading to say that ‘we won’t discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of Evolution because there is much evidence for Evolution’, since creationists know full-well that there are many unjustified or weakly supported assumptions about a number of obviously relevant evolutionary mechanisms that creationists are perfectly justified to cry foul about when they are dishonestly mislead in the manner that you have just done, intentionally, or otherwise.

Very much like what you’ll find in the “scientific paper”,(aka, cop-out on science), that is discussed here, which exposes that the author quite obviously evades the creationist question in order to call absurdity an answer:

Eugine Koonin

You are cracked in the head if you think that creationists shouldn’t have the right to ask for better answers than these kind of causally irresponsible issue-avoidance “answers” that very strongly appear to be intentionally designed avoid their questions, and it makes me sick to my stomach that I even have to say that!"

And Janiece, thank you very much. You don't know how rare that you are. Science would make great leaps forward if more were like you.

Janiece Murphy said...

Island, since I know Jim, and you don't, I'll say only that he's not the kind of guy who believes that science (and scientists) should not be challenged and questioned.

In honesty, I think it's the alternative that Creationists provide that sticks in the craw.

Not that Jim's incapable of speaking for himself, but my 2 cents.

And..."I'm special, I'm special, yay for me, yay for me!"

Yes, I'm 12.