Archive for December, 2011
In her talk at the recent Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, NCSE executive director Genie Scott explores why we still have to take creationism seriouslyin the U.S and in our state of Florida. This is a great video,and highlights the reasons why we at the Florida Citizens for Science should remain ever vigilant. As Dr Scott points out in her talk, the creationist movement is not going away any time soon. I’m sure we can expect another attack on real science this coming year. Let’s be ready.
Christopher Hitchens died yesterday after a long fight with esophageal cancer. I’m sure some of us would not agree with many of his thoughts on politics or religion,however we can all agree, he was a staunch advocate of science and science education. Hitchens spoke out against creationism (refusing to use the phrase Intelligent Design) and wrote many articles pointing out the obvious flaws in its idea. In his last essay, “How blind salamands make nonsense of creationist claims” Hitchens shows the likelihood that the post-ocular blindness of underground salamanders is another aspect of evolution by natural selection. He was a huge influence in the media with the mastery of logical argument. Science and intellectualism has lost a great ambassador
It’s certainly tough to fit all of the mandated academic subjects into the usual elementary school day. Unfortunately, that means that some important subjects are cast aside to make room. Science is one of those unfortunate victims. In order to expose kids to science, the school day has to be extended.
The report from the National Center on Time & Learning in Boston presents case studies of five schools that serve large numbers of children from low-income families, including the two in Volusia. All of them have carved out extra time for science instruction by offering longer school days.
That’s a promising approach, the report concludes, at a time when science instruction time has been reduced in many of the nation’s elementary schools because of the need to emphasize the reading and math achievement that’s measured under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
A 2008 national survey found elementary schools had decreased science instructional time by an average of 75 minutes a week, a 33 percent decline since the federal law took effect in 2002, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the report points to American students’ relatively low proficiency rates on national and international tests of science achievement.
You can read the full report this article was based on here.
Florida-based creationist Gary Parker has been featured in many newspaper articles over the years. The latest one in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is pretty much standard feature-article fare. But it does offer voices that take his creationist beliefs to task, including former Florida Citizens for Science board member Joe Meert.
University of Florida geologist Joe Meert says he is still waiting for creationists to get young-Earth research published in refereed science journals.
“But where the rubber really meets the road is when you look at oil and mining companies who use radiometric dating to find major deposits, because it works,” Meert says. “They don’t use Noah’s flood models, because they have to make profits.”
The National Center for Science Education also takes a shot at creationist museums in general.
“The whole existence of creationism belongs to the counterestablishment trend of opting out of government-supported education and insulating themselves from secular influences,” said Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education, Inc.
Here is the kind of thinking we are fighting against.
Parker says creatures annihilated by the Old Testament flood, like most dinosaurs, were victims of geography, not chronology.
“There were some dinosaurs that got off the Ark,” he says. “Where they migrated to depended largely on their source of food, which caused a lot of them to make a wrong turn, like to the north slope of Alaska.” The remains of extinct species found in the Peace River, he says, were likely deposited by “post-flood” forces.
Florida Citizens for Science vice president Jonathan Smith was on Radio Exiles’ 7 Day Challenge show. Check it out. You can listen to it online or download the podcast.