Science education under assault again in Texas

Once again, somebody in Texas has decided that our science education is too good and wants to undermine it with nonsense. A dentist, Dr. McLeroy has decided to ignore a century and a half of observation, experimentation, all the overwhelming evidence in support of evolution, and the general consensus of every working biologist to say that there are “problems” with evolution and kids need to know this. Although active research continues on various mechanisms, and on particular details, there is no disagreement on the basic and central fact of evolution in general, or how it so comprehensively explains all the evidence in front of us. In one of the most ludicrous and inane situations ever, this has now come before the Texas School Board. This is extremely important because this may well determine whether or not future textbooks on a national scale will deal with real science or will get muddied up with time wasting nonsense. From the article:

The textbooks will “have to say that there’s a problem with evolution — because there is,” said Dr. McLeroy, a dentist. “We need to be honest with the kids.”

The vast majority of scientists accept evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth.

Yes, they say, there are unanswered questions — transitional fossils yet to be unearthed, biological processes still to be discovered. There is lively scientific debate about some aspects of evolution’s winding, four-billion-year path. But when critics talk about exposing students to the “weaknesses” or “insufficiencies” in evolutionary theory, many mainstream scientists cringe.

The fossil record clearly supports evolution, they say, and students shouldn’t be exposed to creationist critiques in the name of “critical thinking.”

“We will be teaching nonsense in the science classroom,” said David Hillis, a biology professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

The reporting here is not as good as it should be. A passing reference is made that “transitional fossils” are “yet to be unearthed”. Technically true. Making fossils does require a special set of circumstances and we are fortunate to have those we do. More fossils would be useful, and it is noteworthy that each new fossil discovered lends further credence to evolution. However, an unfortunate implication is that we are still hoping to find transitional fossils. In fact, we already have transitional fossils (and see here).

Again from the article:

The textbooks will “have to say that there’s a problem with evolution — because there is,” said Dr. McLeroy, a dentist. “We need to be honest with the kids.”

No Dr. McLeroy, there is no problem with evolution. There is no controversy in the science community on whether or not evolutionary processes are responsible for the immense diversity of life on our planet. There is a problem though and the problem is with your understanding of evolution and how the entire science process works. Do not inflict your willful and arrogant ignorance on Texas and the rest of the country. It may surprise you to know that having a scientifically literate populace will be a national strength. Going the direction you propose is to start on the path towards backwards medieval thinking, abdicating scientific leadership.

The school board is meeting this week, so Texans, do the right thing. I’ve lived in Texas for several years and know that there are some bright people there. Contact anybody on the school board you know. I can’t believe we really need to say this, but let’s fight to have actual real science in science classes. It’s the right thing to do.

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One Response to “Science education under assault again in Texas”

  1. All eyes on Texas « The Liquid Thinker Says:

    […] The Liquid Thinker Thought without well defined boundaries « Science education under assault again in Texas […]

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