Archive for the 'Other states’ news' Category

Texas science standards hearing

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Here is a live, first person account of Texas science standards hearings going on today. I’m not sure, but I believe more updates will be posted today.

Actually, here is another one that looks like it’s a bit more current.

Relatives down under

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The kangaroo genome has now been mapped, and it looks like humans and kangaroos have a lot in common.

Scientists said they had for the first time mapped the genetic code of the Australian marsupials and found much of it was similar to the genome for humans, the government-backed Center of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics said.

“We thought they’d be completely scrambled, but they’re not. There is great chunks of the human genome which is sitting right there in the kangaroo genome,” Graves said, according to AAP.

Texas scientists strike back

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

A recent survey takes the pulse of the Texas higher education folks to see where evolution stands.

The TFN Education Fund’s press release summarizes five key findings from the survey: “1. Texas scientists (97.7 percent) overwhelmingly reject ‘intelligent design’ as valid science. 2. Texas science faculty (95 percent) want only evolution taught in science classrooms. 3. Scientists reject teaching the so-called ‘weaknesses’ of evolution, with 94 percent saying that those arguments are not valid scientific objections to evolution. 4. Science faculty believe that emphasizing ‘weaknesses’ of evolution would substantially harm students’ college readiness (79.6 percent) and ability to compete for 21st-century jobs (72 percent). 5. Scientists (91 percent) strongly believe that support for evolution is compatible with religious faith.”

In case you didn’t know, Texas public education officials are trying to stack the deck in favor of “alternative theories” in their state science standards now under review.

More mess in Texas

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Florida Citizens for Science board member Kathy Savage granted me permission to post the text of a recent e-mail as a “guest post.” Here it is:

When you get a chance go and read [Texas Education Agency] the 27 pages of recommendations for the Texas Science Standards made by Stephen Meyer.  It is quite apparent that he is 1) trying to alter the definition of science to include critical analysis of ideas for which there is not any scientific evidence; 2) is trying to legitimize paranormal forces as possible scientific explanations; 3) water down the definition of science so that the framework of how science is defined is less stringent than should be required and leave the definition more open to “interpretation”; 4) will have students learning about the “strengths and weaknesses” of so many different theories that there will be no time for a solid groundwork of the main ideas at all, etc.

He refers to evolutionary biology as “primarily an historical science” (whatever the heck THAT means); he wants to require serious and in-depth discussions on the ORIGIN of life “including those from a pre-biotic soup”; he wants the standards to include evaluation of the “positive and negative impacts of biological research on society by studying examples from history including the germ theory of disease, the development of antibiotics, EUGENICS, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment; and theories of SCIENTIFIC RACISM”; and evaluate the evidence that the “HYPOTHESIS that the earth’s cooling led to tectonic activity, resulting in continents and ocean basins.”

And Charles Garner wants the “vague” term of evolution to be replaced with MICROevolution. I’m not sure what point he is trying to make here

But it sounds an awful lot like public opinion should be as valued as evidence when arriving at scientific conclusions (unless I’m reading this wrong).

Furthermore it looks like he wants to “bench” earth space science until a time when it can be determined that it is taught “within the bounds of science”. What?!?!

The seemingly innocuous changes that he and Meyers would like to make to the wording in the standards all would have the effect of weakening science as a way of “knowing” and understanding the material world.

What do you all think?