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Virginia Is For Lovers
And Kansas is for dumbshits. Kansas votes to teach school children new standards of "science," refusing to limit it to the search for natural explanations of phenomena:

The 6-4 vote was a victory for "intelligent design" advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics of the language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools in violation of the separation of church and state.

All six of those who voted for the standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted against them.

"This is a sad day. We're becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that," said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat.

...The standards will be used to develop student tests measuring how well schools teach science. Decisions about what is taught in classrooms will remain with 300 local school boards, but some educators fear pressure will increase in some communities to teach less about evolution or more about intelligent design. (Read how Kansas came to this point)

The vote marked the third time in six years that the Kansas board has rewritten standards with evolution as the central issue.

In 1999, the board eliminated most references to evolution, a move Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould said was akin to teaching "American history without Lincoln."

Two years later, after voters replaced three members, the board reverted to evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 and 2004 changed the board's composition again, making it more conservative.

Many scientists and other critics contend creationists repackaged old ideas in scientific-sounding language to get around a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1987 that banned teaching the biblical story of creation in public schools.

An terrific article on the subject (thanks, Jake) by Pat Shipman in American Scientist explains why scientists need to stop rolling their eyes about the ID idiots and go on the attack:

The Intelligent Design movement is a deliberate campaign to undermine the teaching of science in America, and the evidence of this intent is brazenly posted on ID Web sites. The movement's founder and chief theorist, lawyer Phillip Johnson, and most of its advocates are fellows of the Center for Science and Culture at a conservative think tank called the Discovery Institute. The Center's publicly stated aims include:

challenging various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory; ... developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design; ... [and] encouraging schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution, including the theory's scientific weaknesses as well strengths [sic].

With these statements, the Center hides its true agenda behind a false claim that it is promoting intellectual freedom when, in fact, it is doing the opposite: stunting intellectual growth by encouraging students to believe that a scientific theory is the same as a philosophical assertion.

Intelligent Design is part of a calculated strategy that Johnson calls the "Wedge," referring to the tool used to split a solid object—in this case, the cornerstone of biological science. According to a document that appeared on the Discovery Institute's Web site in 1999, the goal of this plan is "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies." The document also makes sweeping, inaccurate claims such as "new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature." This statement is pure propaganda. (The document can still be found on the Discovery Institute's Web site by searching for "wedge," although it is now prefaced by 12 pages of insistent justification.)

In the ID lexicon, "scientific materialism"—the idea that the world around us can be explained without resorting to supernatural forces—is the enemy. ID advocates favor instead something they call "theistic realism," which "assumes that the universe and all its creatures were brought into existence for a purpose by God." The most revealing word in this statement is assumes. Scientists rely not on assumption but on evidence, and there is none for ID. Theistic realism and ID are statements of religious faith, which does not require evidence.

Posted by aalkon at November 9, 2005 1:58 PM

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The ignorant in this world have killed the intelligent among us for millennia, because intelligence is unpleasant. For most people, their real enemy is not some anonymous bureaucrat or mythical demon, but their continuous choice to remain ignorant rather than endure the discomfort of awareness.

This Kansas thing will be self-limiting. School kids in Kansas will be left behind by their peers in other systems as easily as mockery will attend their "studies". In the meantime, educators will be totally flummoxed by those bright kids who will note now that the homosexual behavior of whiptail lizards, penguins and assorted pack animals, as well as their own vestigial features have Divine approval.

I hope that the competition for jobs halts this nonsense swiftly. Most people are unaware that the peculiar mental illness of dusty Middle Eastern theologians stunted the progress of "Western" cultures; they flatly do not know of the richness of life anywhere else in the world while their churches killed heretics for thinking.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 9, 2005 2:19 AM

I cannot for the life of me fathom how we got to this point or how we can go about repairing this sort of intellectual damage. This could seriously put an entire generation of high school students at such a glaring and unfortunate disadvantage.

this is the best article I have read on the subject:

Posted by: Jake at November 9, 2005 5:25 AM

Take heart:

The New York Times
November 9, 2005
'Intelligent - Design' School Board Ousted in Penn

Filed at 0:35 a.m. ET

DOVER, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Voters on Tuesday ousted a Pennsylvania local school board that promoted an ''intelligent-design'' alternative to teaching evolution, and elected a new slate of candidates who promised to remove the concept from science classes.

The board of Dover Area School District in south-central Pennsylvania lost eight of its nine incumbents in an upset election that surprised even the challengers, who had been hoping for a bare majority to take control of the board.

The new board, which includes teachers, opposed the incumbents' policy of including intelligent design in science classes.

The ousted board was the first school board in the country to implement such a policy. The challengers also criticized what they called arrogance and secrecy by the incumbent board.

For the last six weeks, the teaching of intelligent design has been challenged in federal court by a group of Dover parents. They said the concept is a religious belief and therefore may not be taught in public schools, because the U.S. Constitution forbids it. They also argue that the theory is unscientific and so has no place in science classes.

Bryan Rehm, one of the winning board members and a former teacher at Dover High School, said the new board will hold a public meeting to decide the precise future of the policy. He said intelligent design will no longer be a part of the science curriculum, regardless of how the court rules.

Defeated board members were not immediately available for comment.

Dover residents have been split on the issue of intelligent design since the board adopted the policy in October 2004.

The policy requires that students be read a four-paragraph statement that says there are ``gaps'' in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and that students should consider other explanations of the origins of life, including intelligent design.

Intelligent design holds that some aspects of nature are so complex they must be the work of an unnamed designer, rather than the result of random natural selection, as argued by Darwin's theory.

The trial, which attracted national and international media attention, was watched in at least 30 states where policies are being considered that would promote teaching alternatives to evolution theory.

U.S. President George W. Bush, whose re-election was boosted by many Christian-conservative votes, has said he believes intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution.

U.S. District Judge John Jones is expected to rule on the case in December or January.

Posted by: Joe at November 9, 2005 6:02 AM

Commenting on what Joe wrote about Pennsylvania, one can almost imagine, a fracturing of the states by region, just like in the days before the Civil War. The northeastern dozen or so states, along with California and Oregon are one block, the scientific block, and the south, midwest and north western states becoming the citadels of creationism, and guys that think ya got a "purdy mouth." And one wonders if it would follow an analogous path, and who would win? The scientific community or the banjo players? Are you ready for war, pilgrim?

Posted by: wonderful chris that everybody hates at November 9, 2005 7:10 AM

Well, all the school board members in Dover, Kansas, the first of the ID group, were turned out yesterday. All 8 of them were replaced. NICE. Especially since it's a Republican district and all the challengers were Dems.

Posted by: hrc at November 9, 2005 7:41 AM

That was Dover, Penn.

Posted by: Joe at November 9, 2005 8:12 AM

The most vexing thing about ID is that it is a concept invented by politicians in an attempt to find a common ground between rational thought and superstition. Since there is no common ground, ID contradicts both science AND the ancient Hebrew creation myth of the Old Testament.

ID not only undermines children's education in science, but it also undermines parents' right to raise them to believe in their traditional religious stories. If these religious zealots who are pushing ID in schools bothered to think things through, they would realize that and join the pro-science side in defeating this political nonsense. Unfortunately, religious zealots are, by definition, not people who waste a lot of energy thinking for themselves.

Posted by: Bear at November 9, 2005 12:13 PM

what ever my personal belif on creationism i have just one question- how will teaching creationism take more than 5 minutes out of the enitre yr?

how serioulsy ridculas is this?

can you imagine it? after the enire yr in science minuets before the last bell the teacher says "and the other therory is life is so complex it needs a designer."

how can they possible expect more than this one sentance let alone an entire course study?

Posted by: john at November 9, 2005 12:30 PM

Kansas? Last year or the year before a guy named either Thomas Frank or Frank Thomas wrote a book called What's the Matter with Kansas, about how the people in The Sunflower State can't be trusted with the power of their own best judgment. When reading the book I started taking notes of all the stupid things he said, but ran out of notebook paper long before the book was over. The phrase that finally stuck was "the inexorable degradation of working class life."

Inexorable? Does he think that the chores of the working class can somehow be passed off to some subhuman agent? What exactly would that agency be? (Presumably a tawny minority... Or am I being presumptuous?)

Listen, I lived in the Ozarks and have been to Kansas... In my heart it will always be known as the Flatass State. But people who think that this-or-that region is too unsophisticated to be trusted are kidding themselves about the magnitude of their own righteousness. Be VERY, VERY careful before saying that someone who disagrees with you is a "dumbshit."

In many fields (especially law and medicine), the ability to teach is an important measure of intelligence. Maybe the evolution types have simply let us down.

Posted by: Crid at November 9, 2005 10:29 PM

john wrote:

what ever my personal belif on creationism i have just one question- how will teaching creationism take more than 5 minutes out of the enitre yr?

how serioulsy ridculas is this?

can you imagine it? after the enire yr in science minuets before the last bell the teacher says "and the other therory is life is so complex it needs a designer."

how can they possible expect more than this one sentance let alone an entire course study?


apparently, you spent less than 5 minutes paying attention in english class.

Posted by: g*mart at November 10, 2005 1:50 AM

img src no worky; copy and paste, post haste!

Posted by: g*mart at November 10, 2005 1:52 AM

While sorta taking your point about calling folk "dumbshit", there IS a dumbshit component to the ID argument - which isn't the obvious one.
A theory (i.e. ID theory) that basically calls most of the dreary stuff you are forced to learn in high school science a load brainwashing bull dreamed up by godless lefties is going to look pretty attractive to some average students.
There is just enough meat to the the ID argument to sound "good", or at least plausible, while also appealing to many teenagers' certainty that adults are mainly on earth to torture you with boring crap you didn't want to know in the first place.
If ID was more complex than evolution, it would be far less tantalising as something to waste time in science class discussing.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 10, 2005 7:35 AM

Crid, your observation about the teaching of evolution is right on. The scientists just aren't as compelling as the televangelists and their minions.

One problem with the way evolution (and, come to type it, just about everything else) gets taught in (overcrowded, underfunded) public schools is that students aren't given the tools to test Darwin's ideas themselves. Since few schools are equipped to help students connect the living evidence surrounding them with Darwin's theories, students are forced to take Darwin on faith. Once theory becomes separated from observable reality, faith in Darwin might as well be faith in Jesus.

Posted by: Gregg H. in MI at November 10, 2005 7:44 AM

Gregg, thanks for saying nice things (the comment you read would have been even better if it hadn't been written after red wine night... The presumably/presumptuous thing was just stupid)

> There is just enough meat to the
> ID argument to sound "good", or
> at least plausible, while also
> appealing to many teenagers'
> certainty that adults are mainly
> on earth to torture...

This is a tremendously important point. When you really believe in evolution, Intelligent Design isn't just wrong: It's a hideous mockery of the way science builds insight. People who propagate it think that's the way science gets done... Suits, haircuts, rhetoric of specified cadence, reassuring timbre and an absolutely dispositive conclusion. They're offering a reflection of how the scientific/intellectual/educational crowd appears to them. It ain't pretty.

Kaus sincerely thinks LA media could be improved by giving more attention to gossip; a lot of mysterious political alliances could be explained by known who's-banging-whose wife, or which particular councilman is fighting an alcohol problem.

Similarly, the Kansas voters we're talking about are far removed from the tussles of funding and tenure that make science happen. But academics and intellectuals are some of the snottiest people on Earth; they go to great pains to separate themselves socially and geographically from people in other walks of life. This is not an idle rant about 'coastal elites'. Frank's book (What's the Matter with Kansas) has a chapter about why he left the prairie after growing up.

> students aren't given the
> tools to test Darwin's
> ideas themselves...

Yeah, but what would those tools be like? They're mostly intellectual... Ideas that you take from one book as you read another.

If you're a student in Kansas, and you think you're going to be a laborer in a transmission shop or a mommy who eats salty snacks, there's no cost to dismissing evolution as the plaything of elites. It's not just the religious leaders who want it to happen. A lot of the elites themselves take pride and comfort in being dismissed. And they make it too easy.

Posted by: Crid at November 10, 2005 10:14 AM

Hey, Gregg H...thanks for dropping by! It's just like the bad old days -- minus the mini-thugs who made it bad.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 10, 2005 4:35 PM

Crid, those tools are indeed mostly intellectual, and tragically, our culture neither values nor models the curiousity that could create the context for developing them.

Amy: You're definitely welcome!! By "bad old days," do you mean junior high?? Thanks to worthwhile work, good humor, and clean living, I think I've finally erased the yuck of those years from my DNA.

Are you and Gregg gonna get to Ann Arbor anytime soon?

Posted by: Gregg H. from MI at November 10, 2005 5:29 PM

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