In Oklahoma, and at Heartland, Climate Deniers Hate Evolution, too

February 2, 2016

Above, I show how climate deniers like Harrison “Jack” Schmitt welcome evolution denial into our education system, in an alliance with far right wing fundamentalists, in order to further the fossil fuel industry’s narrative.

I interviewed Schmidt at the Heartland Climate denial conference in Chicago, 2012, and have included part of his lecture touting the virtues of education “reforms” that teach kids the earth is 5000 years old.

Boing Boing:

Every year, like clockwork, longstanding Oklahoma legislators in the state’s house and senate introduce bills that try to find a way around the prohibition on teaching Biblical Creationism in American public schools.

These bills have been subjected to evolutionary pressure over the years, cross-breeding, mutating and speciating as their tactics are predated upon by courts and fellow legislators, and as such, watching each fresh crop of bills emerge is a bit like discovering a few more Galapagos finches and working out the unique environmental pressures that gave rise to them.

For five years in a row, State Senator Josh Brecheen has introduced Creatonism education bills, declaring that he wanted “every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” The latest one, SB1322, climbs down from any explicit mention of Creationism, limiting itself to immunizing teachers who discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

9650462984_866c7452ff_o

Meanwhile, Republican rep Sally Kern’s HB3045, characterizes many branches of science — biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics — as “controversial” and allows science educators to teach any “facts” about these disciplines that they believe to be true, without regard to any kind of scientific consensus about objective reality. Although the three predecessors of this bill explicitly mentioned religion of their motivating factor, this version of the bill explicitly declaims any religious intent, and insists that it has no common ancestors with those exinct species that failed to pass evolution’s tests.

The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

The bill responds to that uncertainty by ensuring educators can just teach whatever they want as long as they think it’s science, and nobody can discipline them. Students, meanwhile, cannot be penalized if they “subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.” And the author makes sure to point out that none of this has anything to do with religion, just in case a casual reader ended up confused by its similarity to earlier bills with overtly religious motivations.

Ars Technica:

The Senate version of the bill is by State Senator Josh Brecheen, a Republican. It is the fifth year in a row he’s introduced a science education bill after announcing he wanted “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” This year’s version omits any mention of specific areas of science that could be controversial. Instead, it simply prohibits any educational official from blocking a teacher who wanted to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

 

The one introduced in the Oklahoma House is more traditional. Billed as a “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act” (because freedom!), it spells out a whole host of areas of science its author doesn’t like:

The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.

The bill responds to that uncertainty by ensuring educators can just teach whatever they want as long as they think it’s science, and nobody can discipline them. Students, meanwhile, cannot be penalized if they “subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories.” And the author makes sure to point out that none of this has anything to do with religion, just in case a casual reader ended up confused by its similarity to earlier bills with overtly religious motivations.

Some of said bills have the same author as this one: State Representative Sally Kern, a Republican. This is apparently her fourth try at an academic freedom act; previous attempts have passed the Oklahoma House before dying in the Senate education committee.

National Center for Science Education:

South Dakota’s Senate Bill 83 — which would, if enacted, allow teachers to teach “the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information” presented in courses aligned with the state education standards — received coverage from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (January 31, 2016).

The bill’s principal sponsor, Jeff Monroe (R-District 24), told the newspaper that science teachers often take a “unidirectional” approach with regard to the Big Bang and climate change: “In societies those are debates that rage, but in the schools they’re taught as fact.”

As NCSE previously reported, Monroe previously sponsored bills that would have allowed teachers to teach “intelligent design” and that identified “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” as scientifically controversial.

NCSE’s Glenn Branch, however, argued that because the bill prevents educational authorities from controlling teachers who purport to be teaching the weaknesses of scientific theories, it is “a recipe to encourage teachers to go rogue.”

Julie Olson, the president of the South Dakota Science Teachers Association, added that science teachers are not in the need of the protection ostensibly offered by the bill as long as they’re presenting theories based on factual evidence.

 

 

Advertisements

6 Responses to “In Oklahoma, and at Heartland, Climate Deniers Hate Evolution, too”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    The difference between scepticism and denial:


    • Lets give them a brain snap

      Not only an underwater city that was inundated 10,000 years ago , but appears to date back 30,000 + years and appears to fit in with ancient Indian ancient texts.

      It wasn’t of the lineage of Adam

      Ahh the work of the Devil, all that devils sciency dating stuff is a scam anyhow to corrupt the true believers.

      Please donate generously to support our missionary work converting the heathens in our midst

      • addledlady Says:

        I would like now to state for the record my everlasting _contempt_ for the apparently relentless encroaching of trite, adolescent sci fi themes into more and more historical and archaeological topics.

        Instead of doing a decent overview of the work, and the blunders made, in the investigation of these sites, we have halfwits displaying their puerile imaginings of what-if-there-were-aliens scenarios. That kind of thing is supposed to die a dignified, decent death during scriptwriters’ meetings, not be launched half-baked into the real world where it gets in the way of good solid work, and also in the way of analysing and criticising not so good, pretty iffy work.


  2. […] Seems like a rash of attacks on the teaching of biology, in tandem with atmospheric science. No way the fossil fuel industry has anything to do with this. […]


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: