Dover, Kansas, Creationism and Sound Science

Some might be aware of the court case over the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in Dover Pennsylvania high school biology classes. My take on the court case is that the side opposing the teaching of the religiously motivated psuedo-science is most likely going to win. However, in other news the election for the school board in Dover has swept the school board clean of the ID proponents.

Dover CARES candidates swept eight seats available on the Dover Area School Board in tonight’s election, according to unofficial vote totals from the York County elections office.

Sixteen candidates sought the eight seats and were split into two camps, based largely on the issue of intelligent design.

Dover CARES candidates think that if intelligent design is referenced, it should be in an elective course, such as comparative religion.

All of the winners ran as Democrats, but it is my understanding that at least 4 of the incoming board members are actually Republicans who ran as Democrats to oppose the ID favoring incumbents.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Intelligent Design is banned from the school as some people like to claim. Judy McIlvaine, a winning candidate who will take a seat on the board on December 5th has said,

“We are all for it [intelligent design] being discussed, but we do not want to see it in biology class. It is not a science.”

In short, what it looks like is that ID will be in the school, it just wont be part of the science curriculum, but will instead be part of an elective course.

In Kansas however the news is less good. The Kansas Board of Education has come out with new standards that allow for the teaching of ID in science classrooms. This is really a sad day for Kansas school children as they will now be lied to as part of the State’s official policy. The policy has statements such as,

The new standards include a statement that fossil records are inconsistent with evolutionary theory.

This notion is either the result of somebody who has an ideological/religious agenda and is dishonest, completely ignorant, or possibly both. Of course, there are gaps in the fossil record. We expect their to be gaps because fossilization is not a common occurence. Thus, the idea that there should be all these fossils showing gradual evolution for all lifeforms is expecting too much. In fact, precisely the opposite case can be made. If we looked around and found fossils showing gradual evolution for any and all life forms we should be suspicious. This would be a case of “data that is too good to be true”. The same thing can be said for the often heard claim by creationist that dogs don’t give birth to cats. No, the don’t and if they did it would actually be evidence against evolutionary and not evidence in favor of it.

Over at the Discovery Institute (DI) they are happy with this outcome. Of course, this nonsense about “a controversy” with regards to ID is just that: nonsense. There are controversies in evolutionary theory. One previous controversy I mentioned previously was the notion of symbiogenesis which initially was considered nonsense. But the primary proponent of the new theory, Lynn Margulis, did hard work, gathered data and presented it in the professional journals. Now her work is considered to be a break through…and get this it is non-neodarwinian to boot. Of course, this is an advanced topic and wholely unsuitable for an introductory course such as high school biology courses.

The controversy that the DI people talk about is a fake controversy. They point to the “weaknesses” and make it sound like this is evidence for their theory of supernatural intervention (a.k.a. Intelligent Design). The problem is that all theories have “weaknesses” and it is bad science to then attribute these “weaknesses” to the supernatural. The ID controversy is completely non-existent.

We can only hope that the people of Kansas will realize that their Board of Education has humilated them by opening the door to psuedo-science once more and will head to polls and vote these clowns out of office as was the case in Dover.

Update: Just thought I’d linke to Michael Demmon’s post on letting the political process decide what is and is not science. Michael is quite right, it is the wrong way for our society to go. While majority rule, democracy, and so forth are preferred to other forms of government it does not follow that it should be used for any and all decisions. In science alternate explanations do not have to get “equal time” or be given the same consideration as the dominant theory. Science is evidence based and those theories and hypotheses that fit well with the data are given the most weight.

FILED UNDER: Education, Science & Technology, , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. http://is.gd/gGzH cnn revolucion óer el directo v í facebook http://is.gd/gg9s




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  2. ken says:

    Yeah, right Steve. You vote for these guys. What the hell are you complaining about?

    When you start writing posts supportive of Democrats then we will know you are serious and not just indulging in mental masterbation.

    Your fact based approach on this topic is wasted on conservatives and liberals already get it. If you want to make a difference use your intellect to help elect reality based democrats.

    If this stuff matter to you, you need to realize you will never, never, find an electable republican worthy of your support.




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  3. Jack Ehrlich says:

    There is no such thing as a reality based democrat. That is a fact. You lie to each other, and wonder why the rest of us do not believe you. After all, it was printed in the newspaper, or was on CNN or some other bias source. Reality based? Quit it.




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  4. Steve Verdon says:

    Yeah, right Steve. You vote for these guys. What the hell are you complaining about?

    Ken you are such an idiot. I live in California. And for your information, at least 4 of the “Democrats” are actually Republicans who wanted to run against the ninnies on the DASB.

    Just because I’m a small government guy doesn’t mean I have to buy into the Religious/Christian Right. Frankly you are a small minded bigot who lumps his opponents together into one basket.

    Your fact based approach on this topic is wasted on conservatives and liberals already get it. If you want to make a difference use your intellect to help elect reality based democrats.

    I happen know quite a few conservatives who will have nothing to do with Creationism, ID and such nonsense. I know this wont register with your bigotry shields up, but at least other commenters and readers will see you for what you are a bigot.

    If this stuff matter to you, you need to realize you will never, never, find an electable republican worthy of your support.

    Right, and the 4 who won in Dover…you explain that how?

    As for supporting Democrats, when they actually start doing something I can support, I’ll consider writing something in their favor.




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  5. ken says:

    Just because I’m a small government guy doesn’t mean I have to buy into the Religious/Christian Right.

    You don’t buy in? Then why do you vote for them – Bush, Cheney, etc?

    You know Steve, you would actually have some credibility if your words and actions matched up. People like Herb, ignorant as they are, are at least honest. They never even pretend to be intellectually offended by the core republican electorial philosophy or policies. You write posts as if you are different, yet you actually do nothing about it except pretend superiority to your less intellectually gifted bretheren.

    Someday I hope you grow up.




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  6. Steve Verdon says:

    You don’t buy in? Then why do you vote for them – Bush, Cheney, etc?

    So you supported everything that John Kerry said? You thought increasing troop numbers in Iraq and staying the course are the right thing to do?

    Just because I vote for a candidate does not mean I support his entire platform. Heck it doesn’t even mean I support much of his platform. It could be I just saw that candidate as worse on many issues important to me.

    You know Steve, you would actually have some credibility if your words and actions matched up. People like Herb, ignorant as they are, are at least honest. They never even pretend to be intellectually offended by the core republican electorial philosophy or policies.

    I’m not a Republican. I typically don’t vote Republican. So why should I buy into their electoral philosophy?

    Someday I hope you grow up.

    If growing up means I have to act like you ken forget it. I’ll wallow in my immaturity.




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  7. floyd says:

    so, the purpose of dominate theory is to dominate?




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  8. floyd says:

    ad-hominem is the refuge of those without an argument,is it the truth you seek, or just the silence of your opponents, good science requires an open mind. remember the widely accepted “science of phrenology?[lol]




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  9. Steve Verdon says:

    Floyd,

    Sure, good science requires an open mind. However, ID is neither science (as promulgated by the Discovery Institute and their supporters) nor is it even good science in general (that is the only scientific aspect of ID is if we posit that aliens are the designers).




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  10. floyd says:

    every scientist goes to work with his own baggage of prejudice, anger threatens an open mind, so the comment was on an open mind,not on ID. don’t be afraid of wrong ideas . be very afraid of excluding ideas.




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  11. floyd says:

    steve, if you want proof of intelligent design, read “the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” the mice had the earth built as a giant computer in order to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything.BTW the answer is “42”. do you know the question? PS, i really do like to read your stuff, lighten up, you’ve been designed to live longer that way[lol]




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  12. floyd says:

    it is “what is six times seven?” but i bet you knew that,didn’t you?




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  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Floyd,

    Yes, the aliens did it is the only way for ID to be science. Are you really telling me you think God of the Bible is an alien?

    Further, if you look at anybody representing the Discovery Institute position, Behe, Dembski, Meyer, et. al. they all think the designer is God. And their designer is supernatural who is omnipotent. Such an explanation explains everything and nothing. Hence it isn’t science but theology, and IMO, bad theology at that.

    Yes, I’ve read the frist 2 or 3 HGTTG books. Amusing and fun, but nothing much more than mind candy, IMO.




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  14. floyd says:

    mind candy?? shucks, and all this time i thought it was a profound historical treatise[lol]oh well,there goes another explanation of history. c’mon at least it was great social satire? huh? point is it doesn’t scare you like conventional creationism does. still,like evolution, phrenology is real science. antisocial people do seem to end up with more lumps on their heads??!! OK i promise to be more serious, since, as Barry Lamb once said ” sarcasm is too often lost on the hearer to be useful”




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  15. Steve Verdon says:

    mind candy?? shucks, and all this time i thought it was a profound historical treatise[lol]oh well,there goes another explanation of history.

    Well rest easy there Floyd, after all if “your side” wins on the ID debate, maybe your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews/etc. might be learning about Raelian Design theory and that would make the Hitchhiker series look like sober academic writings. So cheer up. Of course, they might be learning about he astrology design theory. Maybe even the Church of Satan will come up with their own design theory and kids can learn about that. After all, the ID promulgated by the Discovery Institute guys doesn’t tell us exactly who the designer is. Could be aliens, could be the Devil, could be Jupiter in the 7th House of Saturn.

    Pretty cool, eh?




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  16. Steve Verdon says:

    So long and thanks for all the fish Floyd.




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  17. floyd says:

    proof that barry was right. speaking to a closed mind is like bouncing a ball against a wall, there’s nobody to catch eventhough the ball comes back anyway.




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  18. Steve Verdon says:

    Sorry Floyd, this isn’t really my mess. Remember, I oppose ID so the problems ID poses for religion aren’t really my problems.




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  19. floyd says:

    my side? clearly i have not taken a position on ID in the public school. i have not even taken a position on whether there ought to be public schools. at any rate ,high cost,low quality schools are your problem and mine since we pay dearly for them. until they again teach basic reading, math,logic & reason,we should not be concerned with such childish nonsense as evolution or ID. i would just like to see high school graduates with inductive and deductive reasoning skills, the ability to make change for a ten, and read with comprehension. then just try and brainwash them!




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