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Education United States Science

Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design 813

An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on new legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives which is seeking equal time in the classroom for Intelligent Design, and to redefine science itself. You can read the text of the bill online. It uses over 600 words to describe Intelligent Design. Scientific theory, the bill says, is 'an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.' It would require that 'If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught.' The legislation's references to 'scientific theory' and 'scientific law' make it clear the writers don't have the slightest idea how science actually works. It also has this odd line near the end: 'If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.'"
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Missouri Legislation Redefines Science, Pushes Intelligent Design

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:03PM (#42877537)

    is that someone is being paid to write this shit.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:04PM (#42877561) Journal

    As long as there's a monopoly on schooling, what gets taught in those schools will be a political issue. End the monopoly, let's have school competition, and we'll see that schools that teach hogwash will be less successful than schools that teach science.


  • Wait... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:19PM (#42877711)

    teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course

    They're supposed to be teaching the scientific method. ie: creating a hypothesis and proving or disproving it.. If you can't prove or disprove it, you've failed. Yet it is illegal for the teachers to mark it as wrong, since they can't question it?

    So I could say elephants have a long nose because the flying spaghetti monster decried that it shall have a noodley appendage and I would be correct because I don't have to verify the identity of the flying spaghetti monster?

  • Re:Treason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SwampChicken ( 1383905 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:21PM (#42877743)
    Removing them will do little. It's the lobbyists who are pushing Intelligent Design that need to be weeded out.
  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:24PM (#42877765)
    For a reason. Banking _de_regulation caused the world crisis. Energy market deregulation caused Enron.
  • Re:It's a race... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @09:48PM (#42878043) Homepage Journal

    Oh, no. They got the text of the law exactly right. They said that it had to be taught, then said that you cannot teach who the creator is unless you can prove it scientifically. In order to comply with the law, schools in Missouri will have to teach intelligent design in a way that clearly casts it as an unprovable philosophical discussion rather than science. If anything, this will help disabuse those students of any notion that ID is a true scientific theory, which will actually lead to folks in that state having a better grasp of science in the long run.

    Don't get me wrong, it ain't science, and it really doesn't belong in a science classroom, but since we don't have philosophy classes in American high schools, at least Missouri's students will get to hear the science side of the issue instead of just an ultraconservative preacher's views.

  • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @10:07PM (#42878193)

    looking at Syria, America is currently pushing with all its might for yet another religious state, and in Egypt is also best friends with the forces of darkness (i.e. Mursi and his Brotherhood).

    So we should have let Mubarak turn machine guns on the protestors? That's not really a good way to be a beacon of hope and modernism. Also, we haven't exactly done much in Syria, tens of thousands of deaths later. (Disclaimer: I am not actually advocating any particular course of action - I think we should mind our own business.)

    This crazy foreign policy becomes much more comprehensible if we consider how America is already morphing into a religious state itself.

    Dude, our religious fundamentalists despise the religious fundamentalists in the Middle East - one of the many reasons why they despise Obama is that they think it's his fault that the Muslim Brotherhood rules Egypt now. Rick Santorum, who is about as much of a hectoring, superstitious prude as you can find in our country, was quite vocal with his view that we should have backed Mubarak until the bitter end. Your statement makes pretty much zero sense.

  • by sam_nead ( 607057 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @10:11PM (#42878231)
    Bible - "For when I am weak, then am I powerful."

    Orwell - "Weakness is strength".

    Awesome. Never saw that before. Thanks!

  • Re:It's a race... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stripe7 ( 571267 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @10:15PM (#42878277)
    How about teach the Indian cosmology, Chinese creation, African tribal belief's in cosmology? Do they have to teach all of that now too?
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:04PM (#42878667) Homepage Journal

    No, Newton was pretty much a lunatic by today's standards, believing in all kinds of crap - much of which the church would not touch with ten foot crucifix.
    That didn't stop him from also making great progress in the sciences, but many of those were by-products of his quest for the philosopher's stone and other things we think ridiculous today, and which were thought blasphemous back then.

  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:07PM (#42878693)

    Science does not question the existence of the almighty. Science does not question the existence of creation. Science causes no crisis of faith in one that is faithful. All science does is disrupt those that want to use faith to gather personal power, wealthy, and in the process elevate themselves to the level of the almighty.

    A science teacher of mine (Jesuit priest, actually) would teach evolution and everything else without any problems.

    In his words: "Science teaches us how. Religion teaches us who was behind it, never HOW".

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:11PM (#42878725) Journal

    I don't know if the anti-evolution folks really understand what they're asking for when they say that teachers should "Teach the Controversy".

    One theory of evolution says it took billions of years. Another says evolution all happened in six days back in 4004 B.C. and then stopped, and that it may have gotten further restricted a thousand years or so later when all the land animals drowned except one boatload of them. How would you compare those two theories? What kind of evidence would let you reject or tentatively accept one of them? Are there fossil records that fit better with either? What about historical records from different cultures around the world? Does the distribution of animals around the planet tell us anything that would let us pick one of the theories, or lead us to modify either of them?

    So yeah. Teach The Controversy. Proudly.

  • Re:It's a race... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iiii ( 541004 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:23PM (#42878827) Homepage
    That's really an excellent point that I had not considered. It would certainly be possible to build a curriculum that is completely in compliance with these laws, but that uses the presentation of Intelligent Design as a counterexample to show what science is *not*. You could teach the scientific method and the work that led up to our current understanding of evolution, including the abundant evidence supporting it and the hypotheses that have been shown to be true. Then teach a unit on logical fallacies, manipulation, rhetorical trickery, superstition and cult psychology. Then use what you have learned to examine the scientific merit of Intelligent Design. Fuck, I just convinced myself that we *should* be teaching ID!! And teaching it well, so people understand exactly what it is, what the claims are, what evidence exists (or doesn't) to support those claims, how the message is carefully crafted for specific effect, and how the whole thing relates and compares to actual scientific work. Once we have this curriculum ready, any time some idiotic state passes a law like this schools in that jurisdiction would be able to turn to it to maintain their standards. Make it so!
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:30PM (#42878885) Journal

    At least some states have said that teachers have to teach Intelligent Design, but aren't allowed to teach any particular religion's view of who the Intelligent Designer is, because that would be establishing religion and therefore blatantly unconstitutional.

    But that doesn't mean that different cultures don't have different beliefs about the design process that lead to different world views separately from the issue of the Designer's identity. For instance, did it happen quickly or slowly? Recently, or a long long time ago? Just once, or repeated in multi-million-year cycles? Did the stars, Earth, plants, animals, and humans get designed together, or in some order? How could you tell? Did the design follow song-lines? Were only natural processes involved, or supernatural beings, or pirates or other tricksters? Does there seem to have been just one designer, or multiple designers in the process? Does the design process appear to have been personal or impersonal? Can we learn anything from the distribution of genetic material in different human populations, or the genetic differences between modern humans and Neandertals and other apes? Why are we more closely related to fungi than to plants? How does Death affect design?

    If you want to teach Intelligent Design as Science, not just as philosophy, you can do it, but you'll find it's a much harder problem than its proponents think, and they may not like all the questions you'll be asking, much less the answers your students come up with.

  • by BakaHoushi ( 786009 ) <Goss,Sean&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:46PM (#42879001) Homepage

    I've always found the "Teach the controversy!" line to be humorous. How much controversy is necessary to require equal representation in a classroom? If I raise enough of a stink, can I get a school to teach alchemy alongside chemistry?

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @11:56PM (#42879077)

    It's only sad that they force this on the children.

    I think this is the problem. Christian parents don't want their children being taught something that goes against their beliefs. This isn't all that different from the argument at hand, that believers of evolution don't want religion being taught to their kids.

    Christianity isn't science. Creationism is not science, and Intelligent design is definitely not science.

    There are certainly atheists who may not want their children exposed to religion, there are also many many people who are Christian who don't want religion taught in science class. It is just about impossible to keep children away from it in my area, where there are churches who use our school auditoriums to hold masses every Sunday, and accidentally leave pampllets all over the schools. There are also bible clubs and religion study classes as part of the curriculum. There is plenty of God in many of our schools.

    All very well and good - I don't care what people believe in, as long as they don't try to force it on others.

    Time for a little anecdote on just what happens though, in an environment where the curriculum is determined by faith....

    When I was in high school, the mandated sex education consisted of one hour during health class one day, where we were told if we had sex - though the word was never mentioned - we gould get veneral disease. What was interesting, the wording was such that we didn't actually know that that was our sex ed class until it was over. The classes were also segregated by sex. I have no idea how that ever passed muster. People who knew what was going on laughed, and people who didn't remained as clueless as before.

    My senior year, there was a little more offered, but maybe two days instead of one. (but my grade was finished with that) Well, one of the young ladies became interested in the issue of basal metabolic temperature. She got another book at the library, and figured out the rhythm method. Well, some parents found out, and the parents came to a board meeting. The first guy up had a paper bag, and when called upon to speak, he pulled out a Penthouse, opened the Centrefold, and showed it around screaming that our school was teaching Pornography to theirr children. A lot of us kids were at the meeting for a different purpose. But this was shortly after they began showing pubic hair in the Men's magazines, and very ironically, there were several students that left that meeting knowing more about sex than they ever learned at school. Didn't matter that she didn't learni it at school. We learned that the athieststic, communists in the school system were busy destroying our youth.

    That was sort of amusing, but the most insidious part of religion ruling school was in science class.

    It beggars the imagination, but anything that did not agree with the concept of the universe being created in 4004 b.c.e. was not taught. This included a whole lot of physics. You couldn't teach about radioactivity, because anything with a half life greater than 6000 years was on shaky ground. There was no discussion of dinosaurs, and of course, evolution. we had a good bit of dissection biology, electrical based physics, and chemistry, we just didn't cover the entire periodic tables, every year it was a start at the beginning, and time ran out bofore we got to the forbidden elements, and no isotopes.

    As a person who grew up in a religious household, and with even thoughts of becoming a priest during adolescence, I was pretty well versed in the Bible. As I neared graduation, however, I had access to a local university library. There I learned the forbidden subjects and knowledge. The ideas born of science by investigation and discovery, and experimentation. And not having seen a single verse in the bible that denied evolution, or even that 6000 year old universe, I was forced into the conclusion that all of the religious objections were due to a combination of fear of

  • by anyanka ( 1953414 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @12:54AM (#42879585)

    If you want them to be able to just skip it, like kids being able to skip sex ed, then that just seems silly.. because they're not having a logical reason they want to skip it. Going home school is a way to skip all of the stuff in which they don't believe.

    I might be able to live with kids skipping evolution, though it's silly, and they'll have trouble becoming scientists when they grow up – but that's nothing compared to skipping sex ed. That's just plain dangerous to society, and should be outlawed. Sex ed should be mandatory, even with home schooling and weirdo religious schools.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein