Kentucky religious conservatives cannot wrap their head around theory of evolution

If you're clinging to evolution in preference to the analysis of evidence, then that WOULD BE quite similar to religion. But I don't think any of us are doing that, and I suspect it's quite rare.

Part of what got me there was exposure to more varied fields of science. Part was having the opportunity to engage with people who, instead of simply arguing the usual "that's wrong, and stupid to boot" angle, approached the things I had been told as a fellow thinker and reasoned through "interesting; how would x, y and z factor into that also" with me. Part was getting good instruction and modeling of critical thinking, and learning to internalize the "scientific" way of looking at things.

Similar to my experience, although with less Fundamentalist character assassination and fiscal misconduct.

Emotional displays of frustration by "evolutionists" who are at the end of their argumentative rope are often pointed to by creationists as evidence that evolution is just as much of a belief system as creationism. The only counter to that is the patient clarification of actual scientific principles and critical thinking, and allegiance to that above everything else. Even evolution

And this is why the Gish Gallop is so popular with Creationists in public fora.

What's really interesting about all this - Creationism, traditional marriage, Biblical literalism - is that it is in itself cherry-picking. For example, if you go back to St. Augustine for support for traditional marriage - a popular tactic among Biblical literalists - it's not usually stated that the Church fathers at the time, and for hundreds of years before, had disdained literalism in favor of an allegorical reading of the Bible similar to today's (dwindling) Mainline Protestant sects. (The Church had to go allegorical, as it was clear that the predictions of the Kingdom of Heaven's arrival within the lifetime of the disciples' listeners had not come true.) And remember when I remarked that the Reformation had been a bad thing for Christianity? In large part, that's due to both Martin Luther and John Calvin *opposing* the allegorical readings of the Bible popular in the Church (although they split on whether the world was a Revelation of God, with Luther arguing that it could not contradict scripture, while Calvin believing that natural observation could be considered equal to the written revelations, because both were from God, even if nature contradicted the Scriptures. Hence the split in modern Protestantism...) So biblical literalism? Mostly modern (post-Reformation). Church interest in marriage rites? Mostly 12th century and later. "Traditional family"? A creation of the Industrial Revolution. And so forth. It all changes over time, but unfortunately, the current changes are retrograde, and we see that moving backward in the social conservative policies on the table in the elections of the last 30 years in the US.

Most of the modern Christian Church, including the Bible Believing varieties, would be pretty unrecognizable to Church groups throughout history (even Catholicism has changed major interpretations of Scripture to fit scientific evidence). Unless you're a practicing Jew or have a way to explain away literal readings that failed, you're not doing it the way the early Church did it. And if you're a literalist, you've wiped out claims to pre-Reformation Church thinkers, because they uniformly felt literalism was a sign of ignorance and unsophistication.

So I am begrudgingly thinking perhaps intelligent design may be the answer to introducing science and critical thinking. I think it is possible to hijack the message and turn the mind control on its end.

It won't be science but the information will hopefully counter the deluge of misinformation and cherry picking. I think the start may be something as non threatening as developing thoroughness in discovery. That new observations should lead to curiosity and other new observations. I think that is the crux of this problem is that people find an inflammatory fact or just stop when they find something they are looking for or something that meshes with their ideology. The thought process needs to continue well past that.

I think there is a general conflict between order and chaos. Logical people can gloss over statistically irrelevant anomalies. This is important to not bog down the scientific process but it opens up a weakness to be exploited. The single chaotic anomaly will always be used as ammo with the "you can't say that you are %100 sure" retort.

So we should focus on the anomalies. We dance between the order in a see of chaos. Asimov said that "any technology sophisticated enough is indistinguishable from magic." I posit that any system (order) sophisticated enough (like the solar system, weather, the sun, tides, the virus) is indistinguishable from chaos. So teach the chaos and you may reach more detractors and will take away their cyclical major argument.

LarryC wrote:

We're looking for a usable weapon against Creationist movements in Kentucky.

Here is the problem, there is none. All they *think* they need to do is somehow the scientific evidence that has been collected in the past, and they believe that the theory will fall over like a house of cards. As you know it is very easy to tear things down than to build things up.

Of course asking for them for one piece of scientific evidence collected to back their creationist theory and all they are really doing is looking for evidence to fit their theory. Not testing a hypothesis. Like Flood Geology, which purposely aims to support Creationism.

My main point of my original post was that these same people were hoping to use the Next Generation science standards to support their Creationist agenda, and now that the draft has been proposed they don't like what they see, even though it really was all about microevolution and would not even touch human evolution. That and the politicians really do not know what they are talking about when they state that the theory of evolution has not been put up to scientific scrutiny.

And I completely agree with you LarryC on taking scientific theories as dogma. They should be questioned at all times.

LarryC wrote:

We're looking for a usable weapon against Creationist movements in Kentucky.

National education standards. That can be achieved either through the Department of Education or a collaboration of universities. IE in order for students to be applicable to enroll at post secondary schools they must demonstrate a GED or Diploma ticking off a few required courses including certain criterion.

I find the latter more and more likely. Colleges are having difficulty getting students a BA or BS in 4 years because so much of the freshman year is spent getting students up to speed with respect to what were once basics. Math, science, literacy, and writing. My freshman year in college and in high school was eerily similar, except one was 4 times as much.

Schools and public school systems should have to demonstrate a required curriculum including education in the 3 basic maths (algebra, geometry, trigonometry), reading/literature, writing-people are getting as far as graduate schools without demonstrating a professional capacity to write, the 3 fundamental branches of science Biology with a serious time spent on the theory of evolution(I cannot imagine the biological disciplines without the theory), Chemistry, Physics.

Schools must be open with their text books, teachers, and be subject to review. The AMA and ABA pop in on schools from time to time for this very reason. The college board already is comprised of thousands of schools and has undertaken our standardized testing. I see no reason why they cannot undertake this as well.

Tonight's episode of Things You Need to Know wasn't a bad survey of evolution, natural selection and genetics. I challenge any Creationist not to be won over by James May's childlike enthusiasm.

Well see I think the process is more important than the subject matter. Science has never been about no being wrong or only lending your brain power towards the collective or established right. I think Clover actually benefited quite a bit from her Flood Geology research. People who believe critical thinking damages parental authority are not against critical thinking when it supports what they believe. So Clover's support structure (parents/family/church?) won the battle (marginally) but lost the war. I.E. the critical thinking stayed but the misinformation evaporated.

For another example I can help but think of the intricate system the came up with to explain an earth centered solar system. People balk at it but that kind of creativity is much more beneficial to furthering the scientific process than "God did it."

KingGorilla wrote:
LarryC wrote:

We're looking for a usable weapon against Creationist movements in Kentucky.

National education standards. That can be achieved either through the Department of Education or a collaboration of universities. IE in order for students to be applicable to enroll at post secondary schools they must demonstrate a GED or Diploma ticking off a few required courses including certain criterion.

I find the latter more and more likely. Colleges are having difficulty getting students a BA or BS in 4 years because so much of the freshman year is spent getting students up to speed with respect to what were once basics. Math, science, literacy, and writing. My freshman year in college and in high school was eerily similar, except one was 4 times as much.

Schools and public school systems should have to demonstrate a required curriculum including education in the 3 basic maths (algebra, geometry, trigonometry), reading/literature, writing-people are getting as far as graduate schools without demonstrating a professional capacity to write, the 3 fundamental branches of science Biology with a serious time spent on the theory of evolution(I cannot imagine the biological disciplines without the theory), Chemistry, Physics.

Schools must be open with their text books, teachers, and be subject to review. The AMA and ABA pop in on schools from time to time for this very reason. The college board already is comprised of thousands of schools and has undertaken our standardized testing. I see no reason why they cannot undertake this as well.

I think you're exactly right here. I also think it's no accident that some of those on the right want to kill the Department of Education.

Well at issue is the Department of Ed has largely been rendered impotent already. The House Subcommittee on Education along with the senate committee is where DOE gets funding. The House committee is largely illiterate when it comes to science and history, it was flooded with conservative Republicans after the 2010 election. The House Committees on Science and those on Education are largely filled with anti-science and pro-ignorance Republicans.

Yay! I wonder if someone should point out to them their own fear-mongering about how U.S. students are falling behind the nebulous Chinese.

fangblackbone wrote:

Yay! I wonder if someone should point out to them their own fear-mongering about how U.S. students are falling behind the nebulous Chinese.

The godless hell bound communist heathens?

I was talking with one of my professors on this yesterday. The disconnect of American perceptions of their own exceptionalism and all of the areas where we are ranked among third world nations or developing. We rank in the tops of executions, incarceration rates, infant mortality, school drop outs. Lagging behind in public health, education, clean energy(wonder if that may change sooner given new policies), water quality, pay for workers, infrastructure, wealth inequality.

So we have a crumbling nation filled with unhealthy dullards. At some point we stopped trying to be the best, and just started telling ourselves we were. Much like the star QB In high school when he reaches middle age. Every day he waddles to the mirror sucks in a bit of his gut, runs his hands over his scalp where hair once was and tells himself how sexy and strong he is.

National educational standards definitely would not help the conservatives who want to rewrite history and science, at least not until they take over the bureaucracy, in which case the Department of Education will suddenly become incredibly important to the nation's future.

A great man once said, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" And now we can finally answer, "You betcha!"

Remember, if you build a Federal mechanism of that type, the bad guys can seize and use it for purposes you really don't support. If the Federal government can dictate that evolution be taught in schools this year, well, in the future it will be able to dictate Creationism.

Malor wrote:

Remember, if you build a Federal mechanism of that type, the bad guys can seize and use it for purposes you really don't support. If the Federal government can dictate that evolution be taught in schools this year, well, in the future it will be able to dictate Creationism.

And private schools are free to be bought by a hard right group and have their curriculum unilaterally changed.

Really, in this case it seems we're hosed either way.

Do nothing for fear of imaginary monsters, or take down the real monsters? A lot of what you say Malor, where it comes from, died in the mid 1860's. And frankly, so far as I can tell when the state or local authorities in Arkansas, or Mississippi, or Kentucky fail their students, the Federal Government has and must step in to the aid of the students.

If the federal government can force integration of schools, they can just as easily force segregation again. That is all you said, just a different word. If the federal government can force states to allow women or minorities to vote, they can just as easily take that away.

You make it seem that education standards are like solar panels on the White House roof.

KingGorilla wrote:

Do nothing for fear of imaginary monsters, or take down the real monsters? A lot of what you say Malor, where it comes from, died in the mid 1860's. And frankly, so far as I can tell when the state or local authorities in Arkansas, or Mississippi, or Kentucky fail their students, the Federal Government has and must step in to the aid of the students.

If the federal government can force integration of schools, they can just as easily force segregation again. That is all you said, just a different word. If the federal government can force states to allow women or minorities to vote, they can just as easily take that away.

You make it seem that education standards are like solar panels on the White House
roof.

That's exactly right. The private sector is just as capable (if not more so) of being abused as the public sector. However, the public sector is supposed to have checks and balances to prevent such a thing from occurring.

Yes, the bad guys have already taken over the educational standards in several states. And they did it because they figured out doing so was easier than attempting nationally. This was, I believe, the strategy Ralph Reed perfected.

Well, for one thing, private sector schooling is voluntary. If one's doing it wrong, you can go elsewhere. If the conservatives hijack the Federal government and require that all American children be taught Creationism, there's nothing you can do about it.

Malor wrote:

If the conservatives hijack the Federal government and require that all American children be taught Creationism, there's nothing you can do about it.

Except sue and have it declared unconstitutional...just like what happens every time some podunk school district decides there needs to be less science and more Jeebus in the classroom.

Or require that you have to say the pledge of allegiance every home room, or say it all with the rest of your class, or say under god.

Malor wrote:

Well, for one thing, private sector schooling is voluntary. If one's doing it wrong, you can go elsewhere. If the conservatives hijack the Federal government and require that all American children be taught Creationism, there's nothing you can do about it.

Well the ACLU has a sterling record in the courts on that issue presently. And here in lies the issue at hand. By making it go state by state, each individual district in essence must be sued by parents or a concerned group. And that cannot provide permanent solutions, because without a blanket federal rule, that suit must be brought time and time again. But to stomp out a federal rule, presumably at the highest courts would make a blanket rule.

You are right, even the Bill of Rights did not stop DOMA from passing as an example. And our courts today are awash with suits stemming from it. Citizens have been second class for 2 decades now. There is no taking that back. When states such as Texas or Florida which are so populous that their educational guidelines determine how textbooks nationally are written, that is a national issue. When children of several states are risking non-accredited diplomas, are graduating without the skills and education to move on to further education or the workforce, that is a national issue.

But going state by state, district by district is not a solution to education standards any more than letting states decide their own depths of racial equality was post war. And I think given current trends, just as we had problems with agriculture, industry, healthcare where local deficiencies were having vast national consequences, federal intervention is needed.

But as I said, the College Board might also play a major role. The same groups of colleges behind the SAT and ACT testing, could fill that role before such intervention becomes an absolute need. As I said using ABA and the AMA as a basis, it is attainable.

There's absolutely no guarantee that even the current Supreme Court would strike such a law down, were it carefully crafted, much less one with another couple conservative justices.

Remember, if you build a Federal mechanism of that type, the bad guys can seize and use it for purposes you really don't support. If the Federal government can dictate that evolution be taught in schools this year, well, in the future it will be able to dictate Creationism.

Since this true at every level from the Federal to the local, I assume the answer is, just don't set any standards? Help me out here.

KingGorilla:

Speaking of developing nations, would you like the opinion of someone who lives in one?

The Philippines is not known for being the best country in the world for education. It's probably one of the worst; I haven't checked because anything that says otherwise is probably a complete fabrication. My mother is a teacher in the public education system; I have family friends and a fair amount of relatives in the system. They all say that it's a terrible, terrible system.

The insight I have on Bush's "No Child Left Behind," policy is largely from the experience of teachers who have had to labor under that policy locally for the better part of a decade before Bush decided that it was a good idea. It's really, really, really not - from a purely empirical standpoint.

Nonetheless, over 80% of my graduating class in medicine went to the US; they took the MLE and had no difficulties passing it. One of my close colleagues described it as "moderately challenging," and she's not exactly at the top of the class. Those who remain here (like me) choose to do so largely because we believe in serving the people, and where can you find more people who need the help than in a poor third world country?

This is the result of instituting standards at undergrad or graduate level education. Ateneo University system and the University of the Philippines has some of the most challenging requirements for college education anywhere, for various reasons. Ateneo because they strive for high standards, and UP because they largely leave you on your own - if you're not good, you drop out fairly quick.

While this allows us to create graduates who can compete internationally, it does nothing for anyone who does not or cannot hope to enter secondary education. Many of them have difficulty reading basic written sentences in any language; even though they're supposed to be able to do that.

I don't know how much this translates over to your system. Maybe your suggestion will have the desired impact. My gut reaction is that it will have a similar impact as the same policies had in our system, even though they are dissimilar in many respects. Instituting requirements at higher levels only has teeth if most people are interested and are capable of advancing that far in education.

Do nothing for fear of imaginary monsters, or take down the real monsters? A lot of what you say Malor, where it comes from, died in the mid 1860's. And frankly, so far as I can tell when the state or local authorities in Arkansas, or Mississippi, or Kentucky fail their students, the Federal Government has and must step in to the aid of the students.

I'm with clover and fangblackbone on this broadly, but I'm with you on where an easy battle could be won.

I'm not going to go with forcing ToE because it focuses on the wrong thing. Stengah and I fundamentally disagree on this; if I'm reading him right.

"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime."

Forcing ToE on students and schools is like giving them the fish. They know where ToE is at the point where they're taught it, but they miss out on the more essential skill. Teaching them critical thinking - real critical thinking, not fake - is like teaching them to fish. They may or may not support ToE going into the future, but as long as they know and practice good science, it's really beside the point.

Redwing:

Apologies for bolding your name, but I think that the point you raised here is important and bears attention:

People get grumpy when they're trying to make a point, or simply add their view, and others pick apart the terminology being used rather than the central conceit. Personally, I realise I'm not using the right terminology all the time, and I realise I'm not ever going to be as smart as LarryC or most of the other posters on the board (by the way, I'm not angsting about this, it's true! I accept it! And it's usually one of the reasons I love GWJ, I love to hear intelligent people discussing things that interest me), but other people are generally polite enough to make assumptions about what I'm saying, rather than point out every little mistake in my line of thinking. I don't mind being educated, but very few people like being condescended to, even inadvertently.

I know that no one likes being condescended to. I also know that I have what my friends have dubbed, "a supercilious manner." I apologize for any of that I've done, and for any that I know I will inadvertently do in the future. I'm stupid that way. I'm trying to fix it; many people here have helped me, I think, but I also have no illusions about becoming normal there. I've resigned myself to having an effective Charisma of 6 as far as this sort of discussion is involved.

Note that clover rightly gives me credit for the content of what I say, and charitably forbears to comment on the way that I said it. Thanks, clover!

TL, DR: Sorry, I really can't help it; I have chronic foot-in-mouth disease.

My main point "against" you here is that I believe that Western media and many scientists everywhere have given many people the unfortunate impression that you have to be smart to be a scientist. Yes, I know that I'm really not the best person to be saying this.

A scientist doesn't have to be smart. In fact, the most successful scientists generally aren't. They have to be charismatic. That's because of the nature of peer review. You can foist off statistical analysis to a statistician, study design to a lackey, and actual experimental work to undergrads. What you can't pass on is representation. If you're the main proponent of a theory, you have to speak about it; eloquently and often on the fly.

Even in those historical cases where the data trumps charisma, the operative attribute is insight - Wisdom, not Intelligence.

This is why I'm pushing for rigorous critical thinking and exact terminology in science. These are skills you can develop that will make you into an everyday scientist - the skill is practical, pragmatic, and simple. I've taught my 5-year old not to take anything at face value and to check multiple sources for data. I've also taught her to use language precisely. If she can do it, most adults should be able to, as well.

By the way, if I'm managing to offend you with anything above, please, please ignore any offensive connotation. I'm not meaning it that way. The short version is, don't sell yourself short; anyone can be a scientist.

Shut up Larry! You're out of your element.

But what you mention in passing is another part of the issue. An American, education, or Canadian, English is a major draw bring young people into these nations. Those individuals went on to stay in these nations or have helped raise up their own nations-the Arab Spring, India's boom. As the US lags behind in infrastructure, education, health as these institutions of higher learning become more remedial, that ends. We suffer more brain drain, Once upon a time these students would choose going home and staying in the US, having kids.

I want the US to have more smart people than the rest of the world. That is how we got to the moon, America and Russia imported German and Austrian physicists and rocket scientists. I want the smart students from India, from Egypt, from Pacific islands to say America is great, I want to become a citizen and stay here.

In Kansas, in Kentucky, Tennessee smart is bad, science is bad, educated is bad. At least at a policy level. I would think most parents want their kids to be as smart and as educated as possible. And what I am saying is it behooves the Jayhawks and Wildcats to put leverage on their respective states to shape up. Absent that, federal pressures.

I am going out on a limb. No Child Left Behind was the best thing GW Bush ever did. It was a great first step to get national attention on the issue. I like NCLB it made schools accountable.

The assault on Evolution, on Climate Science, on Thomas Jefferson and James Madison is under the bubble of the assault on thinking, critical thinking. Equating the bible with scientific theory is an assault on reason itself.

PS I pen this with scotch and a cigar in hand.

KingGorilla wrote:

I am going out on a limb. No Child Left Behind was the best thing GW Bush ever did. It was a great first step to get national attention on the issue. I like NCLB it made schools accountable.

NCLB was a poorly thought out legislation based on trying to apply BS B-school concepts of metrics to education. The only thing it makes schools accountable for is teaching children to take a standardized test. Worse, since jobs and funding are tied to the results of that test, the test is the only thing that gets taught. Period.

Say you're a science teacher and want to take some extra time to capitalize on the awesomeness that is the Curiosity rover to inspire your students. Well, you've just f*cked yourself because even though taking the time to talk about Mars, the rover mission, and the things that we're trying to discover might actually steer some of your students into science or engineering, the science portion of the NCLB mandated test doesn't cover Curiosity or Mars.

That means your students aren't going to do as well on the standardized test, which means it will look like you are a poor science teacher. You'll get a nice black mark on your file which will hinder your ability to change teaching jobs and you might even get fired. All for not teaching a standardized test that I doubt anyone in the country who says it's awesome actually knows who created it or what it covers.

I'm not saying accountability and metrics are wrong when it comes to education. I'm just saying how they are implemented in NCLB is going to come back and haunt us.

It did have the affect, though, of continually shining a light on how poor American schools are. I don't like what NCLB is intended to do. And conservatives are trying to use it to get rid of teachers' unions. But hey, they *are* frequently part of the problem. So having a mechanism, flawed as it is, to being this discussion to light frequently? That's a really good thing.

I remember going to college and spending most of my time there catching up with other kids. And I had straight As leaving high school. But they were meaningless as well at indicating what I'd been taught. Playing catchup like that sucked and ever since then I've been far more open-minded to attempts to reform public education.

I am skeptical of any suggestion that teachers' unions are a problem while we continue to pay most of our public school teachers a pittance. A good teacher [em]ought[/em] to be making six figures. This is one of the most important jobs there is.

Hypatian wrote:

I am skeptical of any arguments that teachers' unions are a problem while we continue to pay most of our public school teachers a pittance. A good teacher [em]ought[/em] to be making six figures.

This. Teachers, not technology, make the biggest difference in he classroom. Pay higher salaries and you will get to choose from better applicants. But tech is way cheaper than labor.

KingGorilla:

In case I didn't make myself clear (which happens often - foot-in-mouth-disease, you know), the problem I see in mandating entrance requirements at the Federal level for higher education is that it doesn't really address failures in lower levels of education, especially for those people who have no intention of pursuing college.

Making them remedial doesn't work, I agree, but that's an entirely separate issue, IMO.

I want the US to have more smart people than the rest of the world. That is how we got to the moon, America and Russia imported German and Austrian physicists and rocket scientists. I want the smart students from India, from Egypt, from Pacific islands to say America is great, I want to become a citizen and stay here.

I speak from one of the countries from where America draws its immigrants. May I say that you draw the best and the brightest from us? Brain drain has been a chronic problem with my country, and a fair bulk of our best professionals used to go to the US.

The reason that that doesn't happen as much nowadays isn't because your education systems are shot. It's because your immigration policies are too draconian. Why would I subject myself to the uncertainty and BS of American immigration, when Australia is falling all over itself to woo me?

If you want the smart people to want in on America again, you have to give them economic incentives to do so. The school system for their children is part of that, but it's a small part.

The assault on Evolution, on Climate Science, on Thomas Jefferson and James Madison is under the bubble of the assault on thinking, critical thinking. Equating the bible with scientific theory is an assault on reason itself.

If so, then giving up on critical thinking just to teach ToE means that you're throwing the war to win a meaningless battle. Give the Creationists their Creationism if you have to, but hold fast and firm on true critical thinking - that's the one thing that ought to be non-negotiable.