News roundup

My apologies for this quick news link dump. The chemistry class I’m taking now is kicking my butt. I hope to have some thoughts on the movie situation up here tonight. In the meantime:

Herald Tribune. I’m not buying what Mr. Luskin is selling.

Stein and John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Action, insisted the legislation would not permit teaching intelligent design or creation science because the bill only applies to criticism of evolution based on scientific information, not the introduction of other theories.

Casey Luskin, a lawyer for the Discovery Institute, agreed but said he personally believes intelligent design is scientific.

It is unclear who would decide what information is scientific, though Stein suggested it ought to be left up to teachers.

The Miami Herald has in their headline “Intelligent Design could slip into science class”

The religiously tinged evolution-questioning theory of Intelligent Design could more easily be brought up in public-school science classrooms under a proposed ”academic freedom” legislation being pushed by conservative lawmakers. And it’s not just the ACLU saying it anymore….

Church-state separatists say religious groups are trying to use the bill as a Trojan horse to introduce religion in science classrooms.

”The Intelligent Design movement has embraced this political strategy to sneak its religious views into the science classroom, and that’s what you’re seeing now in Florida,” said Howard Simon, a Florida director for the ACLU, which filed the Dover case.

”The strategy is this: Let’s call Intelligent Design scientific information, and let’s make sure that teachers can teach that scientific information,” Simon said, adding that his organization would sue if the bill became law and teachers began proselytizing in class.

Said Simon: “There is no constitutional right to mis-educate Florida students. If a science teacher is teaching serious science and is censored, that’s an academic-freedom issue we would defend. But if they’re having Sunday school in science class, that’s a problem.”

Hernando Today has an article polling the local legislators about the creationism bills: “Hernando Lawmakers Weigh In On Evolution Bill”

The Tampa Tribune: “Actor Stein Plays Role In Debate On Evolution Education”

It remains unclear whether the bill permits the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.

“The answer is no,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council. “This does not allow the permitting of alternate theories to be taught. It only allows the criticism and the presenting of relevant, objective scientific evidence which criticizes chemical or biological evolution.”

That would seem to settle the question. Yet moments later, Casey Luskin, an attorney for the Seattle-based Discovery Institute said that even as he agreed with Stemberger, he personally considers intelligent design to be “scientific information.”

All of which raises questions about what qualifies as “science” – and who, ultimately, decides.

The film’s producers said that decision was made because of the current rough form of the film, which they are completing for release to all audiences April 18, but the exclusive screening only fueled attacks from the skeptics.

“We are deeply concerned that, however many legislators show up, they will be spoon-fed this material and mostly no one from the public will be there to see what goes on,” said Brandon Haught, spokesman for Florida Citizens for Science.

Tallahassee Democrat: “Lawmakers attend Tallahassee screening of movie by Ben Stein”

Few lawmakers were among about 100 people who showed up for the private screening of Stein’s film.

Organizers refused to let reporters or uninvited spectators into the theater, which was rented for two hours at $940.63, but insisted that no discussion of pending legislation would occur.

But House Minority Leader Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, who testified in favor of evolution at the Board of Education meeting last month, said there is no evidence that teachers or students in Florida are being punished for challenging Darwinian theories. Gelber said allowing “any scientific theory” in classrooms was a back-door attempt at getting creationism into the curriculum and might result in racists or Holocaust deniers demanding a platform for their beliefs in biology or history classes.

“I wasn’t aware of anybody being penalized for questioning evolution,” said Gelber. “The Legislature needs to walk away from this debate. The State Board of Education has addressed it and that’s the end of the debate. This is a solution in search of a problem.”

I have not doubt I missed some stories. Feel free to link away in the comments.

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
This entry was posted in Creationism Bills, Expelled movie, Our Science Standards. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to News roundup

  1. “It is unclear who would decide what information is scientific, though Stein suggested it ought to be left up to teachers.”

    Why does Stein think teachers are more qualified than the scientists themselves – NAS, AAAS – to decide what is/isn’t scientific?

  2. firemancarl says:

    What horse hockey! Imagine that, Casey Luskin says that ID is scientific. I agree Cheryl, why don’t they let the teachers teach and the ID supporters can keep active in their church. Didja notice that they don’t other theories taught, they just want creationism and (un) intelligent design to be the overriding “theories” *cough*cough* taught.

    To paraphrase Blake Stacey, it’s amazing that these people use the discoveries of science to then point out how bad science is.

  3. S.Scott says:

    How do we find out which legislators attended?

  4. S.Scott says:

    I know the article said “few” legislators attended, but was it just those 3 ??

  5. Jonathan Smith says:

    Steins movie does not make it clear who would decide what information would be considered scientific but implies it should be left to the teachers . Considering the lack of trained teachers conducting science classes in Florida (many are converted Phys Ed teachers) is that such a brilliant alternative?
    Let the real scientist decide what is taught in the science classroom. Religious advocates who clearly do not understand science should not be making that decision.
    This debate is about weather a public school teacher has ,or should have the right to ignore state and district approved science curricula and propagate their own ideologies without fear of retribution, the answer must be emphatically NO.
    The Discovery Institute along with their partners in crime Ben Stein(from the West Coast) and a few overly zealot fundamentalists, are attempting to influence the science education in our State.
    Science educators and scientists from Florida have already considered all these issues and made their recommendations. The Florida Board of Education considered them at length also and approved those standards.
    Introduction of this Bill can only cause confusion ,students and teachers will introduce ID into the classroom thinking it has scientific validity and just as in Dover a judge will be left to decide what is science and what is theological non-science.

  6. PaulR says:

    Our local NPR station in Jacksonville, FL reported yesterday’s media circus in Tallahassee. I was struck by the lack of any rebuttal to the Cdesign viewpoint in the coverage. Not a single counterpoint to Ben Stein’s/ DI’s position was presented.

    FWIW – My County’s school board (St. Johns) opposed the new Florida Science standards for all of the reasons presented in this new piece of legislation. The irony is that our new High School opening next year is showcasing the “Academy of Biotechnology and Medical Research” major. How sad indeed.

  7. S.Scott says:

    Don’t worry about that school Paul.

    GooooooO Sharks!!

  8. Under a new anti-religious dogmatism, scientists and educators are not allowed to even think thoughts that involve an intelligent creator. Do you realize that some of the leading lights of “anti-intelligent design” would not allow a scientist who merely believed in the possibility of an intelligent designer/creator to work for him… EVEN IF HE NEVER MENTIONED the possibility of intelligent design in the universe?EVEN FOR HIS VERY THOUGHTS… HE WOULD BE BANNED.

    Above is a paragraph from “Ben’s Blog” at Expelled.

    If he means that, and if that is what the movie is about (as he indicates), how can he be claiming that the “academic freedom” he is pushing for in the film is not the same “academic freedom” that he is pushing for in Florida’s legislature?

    His whole point is that “religious science” supposedly is being “expelled,” rather than allowing that ID has never produced any evidence. Indeed, most of the complaints have been that ID (not by name, but by implication) has been “expelled,” though lately they’ve been whining more that “criticisms of Darwinism” have been expelled.

    And of course, since ID is nothing but “criticisms of Darwinism” which are supposed to support “design” through Dembski’s false dilemma (EF), there is no difference in their minds between “criticizing Darwinism” and “teaching ID.” Ben, though, seems so completely confused about science and what his complaint is, that this recent turn may be more evidence of his confusion than of deliberate mendacity (he’s also said that this is the freest country, thanks to capitalism, and then claims a conspiracy by the media, the educational establishment, and government to expel anybody who asks basic human questions like how the universe came into being–try understanding those two ideas in the same head).

    Anyway, here’s Mathis deliberately linking “academic freedom” and the teaching of ID:

    In a last minute compromise, the Board voted 4-3, requiring educators to teach the “scientific theory of evolution,” but balked at an “academic freedom” proposal which would allow teachers “to engage students in a critical analysis of that evidence.” In essence, teachers are now required to spend more time teaching only one of two possible theories about the origination and development of life, while forbidding this theory from being properly scrutinized, let alone allowing it to face competition from the competing hypothesis of Intelligent Design.

    So Ben is against teaching the “competing hypothesis” that his producer wants taught, under the “academic freedom” legislation? Either these people are competing with themselves (likely enough, since not a one seems competent in any of these matters), or Ben’s running some more of his confusion on his own time. Anyhow, there’s no question that the movie “Expelled” portrays ID as something legitimate under the principle of academic freedom, so Ben is at odds with the message of his film.

    I’d like to suggest that Ben should take his meds, get a checkup for Alzheimers, or what-not, if it weren’t that a whole lot of clinically sane and legally competent individuals were not equally confused by the incompatible ideas crashing around the ID community.

    Glen D

  9. S.Scott says:

    …” anti-religious dogmatism ” …

    Is that an oxymoron?? Let’s keep this quote…I have a feeling it may be useful!

  10. MelM says:

    If teachers are to decide any or all of what’s taught, then the standards and standards wirters are overridden with whatever unspecified materials teachers bring in to class. Standards for a subject subordinate the content taught under a rational specification process; letting teachers decide is allowing whim into the classrooms. The idea is ludicrous!!! No school with integrity and a commitment to providing a sound education should allow this–no matter what the subject. In this case, what’s inside the “academic freedom” Trojan horse is a bunch of creationist inspired “problems with evolution” that we all are aware of. The religionists know what’s inside the horse and the pro-evolution people know what’s inside the horse; are only the legislators–after all of this time–still ignorant?

    We’ve spent 2500 years in the West getting the gods out of explanations of the world so that science is possible; now, we’re about to lose this progress and the amazing material benefits that come to us from sound science (a computer is a puddle of oil, some sand, some metal ore,…the rest is science.) Turning back the clock 2500 years–an unbelievable outrage

  11. MelM says:

    A Ben and Ken love fest. Ben Stein as a “a 21st-century Einsteinian figure.” I had no idea…

    Ben Stein + Ken Ham: how sweet!

  12. firemancarl says:

    To quote Blake Stacey

    “I don’t understand how people can use the discoveries of science to argue that science is broken. It’s bass ackwards, that’s what it is.”

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