Another story on those goofy lawmakers

The Miami Herald just published a story online about some state legislators getting worked up over evolution in the state science standards. Of course, that’s bad news. But the overwhelmingly good news from my perspective is how the reporter prominently featured the correct definition of a scientific theory! It’s about time.

”It’s technically a theory. Let’s present it for what it is” Coley told The Miami Herald on Tuesday.

Coley’s proposal concerns backers of mainstream science because they fear the word ”theory” could be easily manipulated to cast doubt on evolution, a pillar of biology.

In common usage, a theory is just a guess. In scientific terms, a theory — like gravity or quantum mechanics — is a testable explanation of a phenomenon based on facts.

”If you use the word theory to imply that scientists think evolution is just a hypothesis and is not real, that gives an incorrect impression,” said Prof. Joseph Travis, the dean of Florida State University’s Arts and Sciences College, who reviewed the state’s science standards.

”If you use the word theory to say it’s the best idea to explain how it works, then that’s good,” he said.

Thank you, Prof. Travis! You are my hero of the day.

‘We are prepared,” said Coley, who raised the issue the day before during a conference call concerning class size. Coley hasn’t filed legislation but has discussed that option with next year’s House Speaker designate, Ray Sansom of Destin, and his likely successor, Dean Cannon of Winter Park, and Will Weatherford, Republican of Wesley Chapel.

Cannon said intelligent design should ideally be taught, but would leave that issue up to the ”curricular experts.” And Wise, who said he is considering ”legislative remedies,” went a step further by saying that creationism should be taught in schools.

”Put them side by side,” he said of evolution and biblical teaching.

And Wise, you are definitely my villain of the day.

Travis, the FSU professor, said teaching evolution is key because it underpins the biological study of everything from dinosaurs to diseases. He also wondered why the critics aren’t pushing to have the word ”theory” precede mentions of gravity in the standards.

Asked if it should be called the ”Theory of Gravity” in the standards, Coley said: “Sure.”

But, she said, people aren’t calling her about gravity.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in Alert, In the News, Our Science Standards. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Another story on those goofy lawmakers

  1. S.Scott says:

    Do you think we need to send Mr. Wise some e mails?

  2. Gustavo says:

    Hey, they should read this:

    Maybe it can help in her quest for adding “theory” to gravity as well 🙂

  3. Wally Anglesea says:

    1: I wonder if using the word theory in every day language could work. I mean by that, teach the “theory of numbers”, the “theory of algebra”, the “theory of Gravity”, the “theory of light”, the “Cosmological theory”

    Common usage of the word might teach the nitwits that evolutionary theory is equivalent in it’s space to all of the others.

    On second thoughts, the nitwits would then find ways to use religion to counter gravity 🙂

    2: Has anyone thought to ask any of the cretinists just how old they beleive the Earth is?

    If they answer 6,000 years, then you can laugh at them. If they say anything like 4.5 billion years old, then you can ask them if they really beleive that things cannot change over billions of years, then explain Golden Staph.

  4. Rob says:

    There already is an alternative to the Theory of Gravity — look up “Intelligent Falling” for a few laughs

  5. S.Scott says:

    Does anyone know what the feelings are of Gov. Crist on Evolution? I just heard that he might be McCain’s ‘running mate’.

    I just wrote him an e mail …

    Governor Christ,

    I’m writing this letter to remind you that experts worked diligently to create the science standards that will be voted on by the Florida Board of Education on the 19 nth of February.

    Their work represents essentials in each of the science disciplines. Retroactively dismantling, or reconstructing the standards (outside this group of committee professionals) will undermine the goal of having all of our students becoming scientifically literate.

    I am concerned about a statement made by some of our state representatives –

    From the Miami Herald.Com – which states that …

    “Rep. Marti Coley, future House Speaker Dean Cannon and state Sen. Stephen Wise, all Republicans, say they’re considering filing legislation this spring that would specifically call evolution a ”theory” if the state Board of Education approves the proposed science standards Feb. 19 as currently written.”

    Senator Wise goes so far as to say that –

    “Biblical creationism should be taught alongside evolution” !!

    For lack of a better word – I am ASTONISHED! This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen!

    Our students deserve the best science has to offer in science class.

  6. S.Scott says:

    Sorry – I forgot to give a “Hat Tip” to –

  7. Bill H. says:

    “Biblical creationism should be taught alongside evolution” !!

    Hmmph. I thought the Supreme Court settled this 20 years ago??

    Are these idiots seriously thinking that they would prevail against any sort of legal challenge to their unconstitutional policies?

    Talk about Dead-enders in Legal Darwinism….

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