Friday, May 13, 2005

Let There Be Light (in their Brains)

I sure am sick of talking about evolution. It's like talking to a brick wall. I mean, either you believe facts, or you don't. Anyone so willing to ignore all the evidence sure isn't going to be convinced by reading a few more articles, or listening to a few more scientists. Nevertheless, here's another pretty good article on the subject. I think the problem all comes down to this one paragraph:

But Martin had trouble even articulating just what she dislikes about the current standards. Martin, you see, has not really read the curriculum committee's report, nor does she think such scrutiny is necessary.

"Please don't feel bad that you haven't read the whole thing," Martin told a creationist "witness" at the hearings on the science curriculum, "because I haven't read it myself." Audience members groaned. To clarify, Martin later explained: "I'm not a word-for-word reader in this kind of technical information." So it went at Kansas' evolution hearings, which concluded Thursday, a Board of Education event where a concrete understanding of all that pesky technical information involved in science was apparently considered unnecessary to reach a verdict on evolution.
Bingo! There's the problem. As Butthead used to say, "If I wanted to read, I'd go to school." Books are for sissies.
"It's frankly not a controversy," said Alan Lesher, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, about the hearings. "In the scientific community, evolution is an accepted fact." Krebs, though, sat through the hearings, which began in Topeka on May 5, watching a parade of creationists testify about intelligent design, and working with evolution's lone advocate in the proceedings: Topeka civil rights lawyer Pedro Irigonegaray, who concluded matters with a presentation highlighting the religious underpinnings of intelligent design -- the contemporary version of the 19th century argument that life is too complex to have evolved incrementally from simple forms.
And as I'm sure you're aware - that is not science. I don't get it, so it must be false. Science involves coming up with theories for things we don't understand, not for giving up and saying - too complex! Had to be God! Even if your theory falls apart upon inspection, that is to say, even if they did find some evidence disproving evolution, that doesn't prove that God did it. Science starts again to find another, better non-supernatural theory.
A principal aim of the creationists is to scrub the definition of "science" from Kansas classrooms -- now described as "human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations" for phenomena -- and to replace it with a more general definition lacking the words "natural explanations." If that sounds like an innocuous change -- well, that's the aim. By removing the notion of "natural explanations" as part of science, the creationists aim to give religion a foothold in the classroom, in the name of scientific balance.
It's basically the same strategy as the one used by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against John Kerry. Make up a whole bunch of shit to confuse the feebler minds among us, leaving in their minds some doubt as to what happened. If you just throw around a bunch of half-truths you can create your own controversy, and then point to it as evidence that there's controversy on the subject. You see the circular logic that's involved there? Then kids grow up with the impression that it might not be true. But as any scientist will tell you - it is, kids.
Foundations like the Discovery Institute, which produced creationist witnesses at the Kansas hearings, are better funded than their pro-evolution opponents and churn out sound bites by the score. "Teach the controversy," for instance, is a favorite slogan of creationists, who say their own dissent is evidence that a scientific controversy exists.
Teach the controversy that we've stirred up apropos of nothing.
"The mainstream religious community, the business world, the scientific community, they haven't always taken this as a serious threat, but they're starting to," says Krebs. "We're seeing a much greater level of concern than we had in 1999." After all, the notion that bad science education can lead to fewer jobs in the future is an argument almost everyone can follow -- even if they don't want to read a bunch of technical stuff about science.
And there's the problem at the end of the day. We can't be turning out stupid kids who are willing to disregard science in the name of existing prejudicial dogmatic beliefs. We just can't. I'm begging you.

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