The following reaction was sent to the media earlier today following the anti-evolution bill debate in the Florida House. The St. Petersburg Times education blog, the Gradebook, has already linked to it.
Florida Citizens for Science response to today’s House debate on HB 1483 and SB 2692 concerning the teaching of evolution.
Florida Citizens for Science commends Rep. Martin Kiar for his attempt to control Rep. D. Alan Hays’ misguided, uninformed bill that attempts to regulate how the subject of evolution is taught in the public school classroom. Rep. Hays’ own comments condemn him to being a complete fool when it comes to matters of science. He claims that his bill has nothing to do with religion, and yet the off-kilter things he says about science are obviously straight out of creationist literature.
His claim that there are no transitional fossils clearly illustrates his lack of knowledge about the current state of the fossil evidence. Natural history museums across this country and around the world are packed full of transitional fossils. Florida Citizens for Science will gladly pay for Rep. Hays’ admission price to a museum, such as perhaps the Florida Museum of Natural History, and provide a working biologist as his tour guide. That museum’s Hall of Florida Fossils: Evolution of Life and Land is outstanding! Rep. Hays is in desperate need of such a fact-finding trip. He holds a cartoon version of evolution in his head that is completely at odds with the reality. He actually demands that science produce some chimera creature, such as in his own words a half fly/half monkey. No biologist would ever propose that such a creature exists. This gross distortion of science is a common creationist tactic, which Rep. Hays is wielding with gusto.
Many lawmakers today wanted to know what scientists have to fear from critical analysis. Nothing. If the bill does not pass, that does not mean that critical analysis will be stifled in any way. It happens right now in the science classroom, and will continue to happen. These lawmakers are setting up a red herring of “what are you afraid of”? If Hays’ carnival funhouse mirror version of evolution is what he’s basing his critical analysis on, then I can see why he is confused. It is offensive that a person who has such a dismal understanding of science would dare to write a law regulating that science. It’s no different than him saying the sun rises in the North and then trying to write a law based on that childish notion.
His response to there being no controversy in the scientific community over the fact of evolution was to direct lawmakers to the Expelled movie. Hays has swallowed whole the story fed to him by the Discovery Institute of Seattle, Wash. The controversy, such as it is, is all public relations and completely manufactured. The website expelledexposed.com provides proof of this.
Rep. Shelley Vana was correct in cautioning against having this debate concerning evolution. It shows that Florida is woefully stuck in the dark ages, and most certainly will drive away the high-tech scientific research industries the state has been courting for years.
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