"Evolution Academic Freedom Act" in Iowa

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"Evolution Academic Freedom Act" in Iowa

Is the ID movement weaseling in Iowa? Take a look at House File 183 entitled Evolution Academic Freedom Act, currently in an education subcommittee at the Iowa house of representatives.

http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&ga=83&hbill=HF183

Some quotes:

"A teacher who is employed by a school district may objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological andchemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution."

"A teacher who is employed by a school district shall not be disciplined, denied tenure, terminated, or otherwise discriminated against for objectively presenting scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological or chemical evolution in connection with teaching any prescribed curriculum regarding chemical or biological evolution."

 

The language of the bill makes it look like current Iowa law somehow doesn't protect the right of instructors to teach "the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution", whatever the hell that means. I would be very surprised if someone was somehow reprimanded for teaching evolution to kids, it's in the curriculum after all. Two things makes me suspicious of this. First, why would evolution need such 'protection'? Why so specific regarding "biological and chemical evolution"? What about other things on the science curriculum, like... classical mechanics?

Second, the bill is introduced by this guy, Rod Roberts (R), Carroll, Iowa:

http://votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=CIA22467

Everything listed there literally screams pastor. They're widely known for their concern and insight regarding the integrity of scientific theories and the education thereof.

Anyway, if this is ID weaseling, they may be shooting themselves in the foot:

"The bill defines "scientific information" to mean germane current facts, data, and peer=reviewed research specific to the topic of chemical and biological evolution. For elementary and secondary schools, the definition is linked to the state's core curriculum for science."

ID has no peer reviewed research.

 


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Quite possibly you have

Quite possibly you have made a good catch for what could be the next trick that creationists try. I find it hard to be more specific than that because this thing will have to play out for a couple of years to see if this is really them up to no good yet again.

 

That being said, the bill text does have my bullshit alarm going off on two specific points. Before I get to that, however, let me preface by saying that I assume that the creationists will be back at some point. The Kitzmiller case only sent them into a corner to lick their wounds for a bit until they can find a new angle to work. This could well be one of those angles.

 

My thinking on this is that they have perhaps accepted to some degree that they cannot just do stuff and then get the court system to give them a pass. So they are now going to try to get laws passed that will grant them some broad authority.

 

Now remember that the traditional role of the courts is only to interpret the will of the legislature and the people. Some recent news stories not withstanding, only rarely do they like to overturn a law in whole or find that a law really meant something that it never really said in the first place. So a carefully worded law could possibly limit the ability of the courts to stop the next attempt to get creation back in the schools.

 

So the Scopes trial was 85 years ago and the legislature in just now realizing that they need a law to make it legal to teach science? The very concept is almost worthy to snort soda out of my nose. That is probably not the real basis of the new bill. Rather, I can find in it a possible reading that would allow the teaching of creationism, provided that it is dressed up as science.

 

Let me now turn to my first point.

 

From the bill text:

 

Quote:
That in many instances instructors have experienced or feared discipline, discrimination, or other adverse consequences as a result of presenting the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.

 

What are the notable recent examples of this? Seriously, has anyone in Iowa been in trouble for teaching accepted scientific fact for what it is? Or is there a fear on the part of creationists that if they try to push their crap without enabling legislation they they are just going to get their pee-pee slapped by the courts again?

 

Quote:
That current law does not expressly protect the right of instructors to objectively present scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.

 

Potentially more silly text games here. As a fellow science freak, I could have a fairly narrow reading of that and say that they just want to teach science in the regular accepted way. However, laws should be read not as scientific reasoning but as legal reasoning.

 

So what might the phrase “the full range of scientific views” mean to a lawyer who wants to slip something past us without us realizing? Sure, as science progresses, the range of acceptable views becomes at once narrower and deeper. But remember that creationists want to define some wacky alternative stuff as science. The “full range of scientific views” could easily be read as just open ended enough to be the point where they can make inroads into the classroom.

 

Quote:
That existing law does not expressly protect students from discrimination due to their positions or views regarding biological or chemical evolution.

 

Pardon me? What discrimination is apparent here? They are students and by any reasonable definition, they are not expected to know the material of a class before they actually take that class. If they go into the class holding a view that is at variance with the material which they are there to learn, then tough for them. At the end of the class, they need to be able to show that they have learned the material. Whether they agree with it on a personal level or not has no relevance.

 

Put simply, if a Christian take a class in geometry, he can believe all that he wants to that pi=3.00 as is clearly stated in 1 Kings 7:23. However, if he puts that on his final, then he should get marked down for the stunt. He should not be entitled to legal protection and an automatic passing grade because he holds a bad idea.

 

Now onto my second point. Specifically, the bill contains a definition of science as

 

Quote:
"Scientific information" means germane, current facts,and peer=reviewed research specific to the topic of chemical and biological evolution as prescribed in the state's core curriculum for science.

 

And just why is that even in the bill? Sure, peer review is one of the foundations of science but why does it need to be explicitly defined? Again, this should not be read as a scientist might but rather as a lawyer might. Done that way, just what door is being opened that perhaps should not be?

 

Peer review is all well and good but who are the peers and where are the reviews being published?

 

Remember here that the creationists have a small core of academic power on their side, including a core of people with legitimate Ph.D.s in various fields (Michael Behe in biochemistry, William Dembski in mathematics, Russell Humphreys in Physics just to name a few).

 

Then there is the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) that has been handing out accredited masters degrees in science for over 20 years. If that is not enough, there are outright academic frauds like “Barry Setterfield Scientist”, an Aussie who has as his sole claim to being a scientist that he took one semester of freshman geology before becoming a creationist.

 

All of those nutjobs put together could easily claim peer review provided that they can manage to occasionally disagree with each other.

 

I would like my analysis to be wrong. In fact, I hope that it is. However, only time will tell and if it is right, we would not be wrong to start honing the academic axes right now so that we have a shrp blade when certain events come to pass.

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Answers in Gene Simmons

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

Now remember that the traditional role of the courts is only to interpret the will of the legislature and the people. Some recent news stories not withstanding, only rarely do they like to overturn a law in whole or find that a law really meant something that it never really said in the first place. So a carefully worded law could possibly limit the ability of the courts to stop the next attempt to get creation back in the schools.

I didn't even think about it that way. Curse my scientific training. I read things like there is a point in there, and the author is trying to make it as clear as possible. Not like the author is trying to be intentionally vague to allow for insertion of crap later. Now it's even scarier!

 

 

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

From the bill text:

 

Quote:
That in many instances instructors have experienced or feared discipline, discrimination, or other adverse consequences as a result of presenting the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.

 

What are the notable recent examples of this? Seriously, has anyone in Iowa been in trouble for teaching accepted scientific fact for what it is? Or is there a fear on the part of creationists that if they try to push their crap without enabling legislation they they are just going to get their pee-pee slapped by the courts again?

None that I can think of. But there was a high profile case of known ID proponent Guillermo Gonzalez being denied tenure at Iowa State University. The wikipedia article on that is pretty good. I apologize for it not being clickable, I tried everything. I think it has something to do with the () in the url that I couldn't get around.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillermo_Gonzalez_(astronomer)

 

 

 

 

 


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Guillermo Gonzalez

Guillermo Gonzalez (astronomer)

 

^^^You mean like that^^^?

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Actually, ID does have peer

Actually, ID does have peer reviewed research.  Nothing any of us would consider even remotely adequate or valid, but they could make an argument in court that their research, peer reviewed by other wackos though it is, meet the criteria.  That would be another way they might try to push fantasy into the science curricula. Check it out, they explain it on their website.

 

 

http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

 

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Bulldog wrote:Actually, ID

Bulldog wrote:

Actually, ID does have peer reviewed research.  Nothing any of us would consider even remotely adequate or valid, but they could make an argument in court that their research, peer reviewed by other wackos though it is, meet the criteria.  That would be another way they might try to push fantasy into the science curricula. Check it out, they explain it on their website.

 

 

http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

 

I have you trumped. Irreducible Complexity, the foundation of Intelligent Design, has been peer reviewed scientifically. That's why we know it's bullshit. It was a hypothesis that didn't pan out in experimentation.

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  Talk origins on

  

Talk origins on Irreducible complexity:

 


  1. Irreducible complexity can evolve. It is defined as a system that loses its function if any one part is removed, so it only indicates that the system did not evolve by the addition of single parts with no change in function. That still leaves several evolutionary mechanisms:

    • deletion of parts
    • addition of multiple parts; for example, duplication of much or all of the system (Pennisi 2001)
    • change of function
    • addition of a second function to a part (Aharoni et al. 2004)
    • gradual modification of parts

    All of these mechanisms have been observed in genetic mutations. In particular, deletions and gene duplications are fairly common (Dujon et al. 2004; Hooper and Berg 2003; Lynch and Conery 2000), and together they make irreducible complexity not only possible but expected. In fact, it was predicted by Nobel-prize-winning geneticist Hermann Muller almost a century ago (Muller 1918, 463-464). Muller referred to it as interlocking complexity (Muller 1939).

    Evolutionary origins of some irreducibly complex systems have been described in some detail. For example, the evolution of the Krebs citric acid cycle has been well studied (Meléndez-Hevia et al. 1996), and the evolution of an "irreducible" system of a hormone-receptor system has been elucidated (Bridgham et al. 2006). Irreducibility is no obstacle to their formation.
     
  2. Even if irreducible complexity did prohibit Darwinian evolution, the conclusion of design does not follow. Other processes might have produced it. Irreducible complexity is an example of a failed argument from incredulity.
     
  3. Irreducible complexity is poorly defined. It is defined in terms of parts, but it is far from obvious what a "part" is. Logically, the parts should be individual atoms, because they are the level of organization that does not get subdivided further in biochemistry, and they are the smallest level that biochemists consider in their analysis. Behe, however, considered sets of molecules to be individual parts, and he gave no indication of how he made his determinations.
     
  4. Systems that have been considered irreducibly complex might not be. For example:
    • The mousetrap that Behe used as an example of irreducible complexity can be simplified by bending the holding arm slightly and removing the latch.
    • The bacterial flagellum is not irreducibly complex because it can lose many parts and still function, either as a simpler flagellum or a secretion system. Many proteins of the eukaryotic flagellum (also called a cilium or undulipodium) are known to be dispensable, because functional swimming flagella that lack these proteins are known to exist.
    • In spite of the complexity of Behe's protein transport example, there are other proteins for which no transport is necessary (see Ussery 1999 for references).
    • The immune system example that Behe includes is not irreducibly complex because the antibodies that mark invading cells for destruction might themselves hinder the function of those cells, allowing the system to function (albeit not as well) without the destroyer molecules of the complement system.

 


 


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They just can't win for

They just can't win for losing.  Makes me wonder why they continue to try.  Oh, yeah.  That thing called "faith", turn a blind eye toward facts and believe in fantasy.

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