Monthly Archives: February 2006

Florida schools choose between bad and worse with new, ID-influenced textbooks

Due to pressures from the Discovery Institute (I.E. creationist propagandists — look them up) the only choices considered were a textbook that flaunts “Intelligent Design” and one that is merely tainted by a watering-down of its coverage of evolution. Fantastic.

Broward selects biology text with watered-down passages on evolution: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Previous editions of the textbook said Darwin’s theory “is the essence of biology.” In the Broward edition, students will read instead that Darwin’s theory “provides a consistent explanation for life’s diversity.” The county plans to spend $1.2 million for 20,000 copies of the book. It will be required reading in Biology I classes until 2013. “We’re very pleased,” said Rick Blake, spokesman in Chicago for Holt, Rinehart and Winston. “Science is a very strong area for Holt.”

Science was a very strong area for Holt.

ADDENDUM: The ReDiscovery Institute plans to take the success the Discovey Institute in applying Design “Science” to biology, and extend it to other disciplines. They also plan to follow the Discovery Institute’s political strategy:

“Until we gain total control, keep the old testament part of our agenda quiet because it frightens normal people.”

These aren’t the transplants you’re looking for…

A former oral surgeon and his pals were stealing organs from cadavers without consent and selling them for transplant. This is another argument in favor of tissue engineering research — the market really wants more transplant tissue.

D.A.: Body parts case like ‘cheap horror movie’ – More Health News –

Prosecutors said the defendants took organs from people who had not given consent or were too old or too sick to donate. The defendants forged consent forms and altered the death certificates to indicate the victims had been younger and healthier, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the body parts were sold to
tissue suppliers and ultimately used in disk replacements, knee
operations, dental implants and a variety of other surgical procedures
performed by unsuspecting doctors across the United States and in

Happy Mardi Gras

This is a synthesis of two recent Mardi-Gras-related posts from my LiveJournal (my personal journal). The first was relatively popular as my LJ posts go.

Happy Mardi Gras
Ahh, even with everything all messed up post-katrina, sometimes I really love this city. Yesterday evening when I was out for my run, I passed some guys in the Neutral Ground on St.Charles, near Louisiana I think, wearing clown outfits with a cooler on wheels and a portable radio. On the way back toward home, I heard the distinct sound of Mardi Gras music as I approached, and one of them held out a strand of beads for me.

“Happy Mardi Gras!,” he yelled happily as I snagged the beads. “Hey, Happy Mardi Gras,” I replied, and went on my merry way, the beads bouncing with each step as I ran.

Some things have changed forever, but it’s good to know that some things haven’t changed a bit.

No bus? I’ll run.
I realized a bit too late this afternoon that I wouldn’t make it to the bus before they shut down most of the route for parades. I took the bus to Napoleon and then got off (as I had to).

Then I started walking on the neutral ground.

Then I saw some people running, and I thought, “you could just run, Brock.”

So I cinched down the straps on my backpack, took my umbrella in one hand and my 20oz diet coke in the other, and I started running. In my 10-year-old $7 sandals from K-Mart. I ran past Fat Harry’s, and I ran past Louisiana, and then I passed Washington and Jackson, and now I’m home. I got a lot of strange looks, and I worry that my calves might hurt tomorrow, but you know what? It actually felt pretty good, sandals or no. It was probably just over a mile and a half, maybe 1.75 or something.

I feel better about not running earlier in the week, like somehow running in normal clothes and sandals with my backpack for 1.75 miles makes up for not running 3 miles in proper attire. I might wander back out there later to catch Muses…

ADDENDUM: By the way, it’s only 5 hours later and my calves are already quite tight from the run in sandals.

Creationism vs. Evolution: The Battle Continues

It appears the problem of Creationism in Academia is not constrained to the US. Several stories dropped into my feed reader this morning:

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Academics fight rise of creationism at universities

A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur’an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists.

So much for England, generally considered to be one of the most secular nations in the West. Apparently in this case it’s not just fundamentalist Christians, but Muslim students as well (see the article). From the same article:

Now similar trends in this country have prompted the Royal Society, Britain’s leading scientific academy, to confront the issue head on with a talk entitled Why Creationism is Wrong. The award-winning geneticist and author Steve Jones will deliver the lecture and challenge creationists, Christian and Islamic, to argue their case rationally at the society’s event in April.

The idea that one can have a debate over this should be recognized as folly. You can’t argue with unsubstantiated beliefs. A professor from University College London is quoted as saying something similar.

One member of staff at Guys said that he found it deeply worrying that Darwin was being dismissed by people who would soon be practising as doctors.

It is deeply worrying indeed.

The passage quoted from the Qur’an states: “And God has created every animal from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills for verily God has power over all things.”

Really? That’s not what the Bible says. Which version shall we teach in 9th grade science class, hmm? This is (fortunately) resulting in academic consequences:

At another London campus some students have been failed because they have presented creationism as fact. They have been told by their examiners that, while they are entitled to explain both sides of the debate, they cannot present the Bible or Qur’an as scientifically factual if they want to pass exams.

I’m sure lawsuits are not far off. On the domestic front, we’re making some progress by talking to science teachers: | Schools special reports | Teachers enlisted in battle against creationists

More than 300 teachers were invited to attend this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in St Louis, Missouri, yesterday, and many revealed their concerns.

Apparently some teachers fear losing their jobs if they teach evolution. We have a hard enough time hiring bright people to teach secondary-level science as it is. We don’t need pressures “from the students and the parents,” driving them away. You may think it’s all over now that Intelligent Design has lost a few court battles, but as noted in the article, “That doesn’t mean intelligent design is dead as a very popular social movement. This is an idea that has got legs.”

Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection is critical to the understanding of biology, inheritance, many diseases, tissue engineering, and more. To pass students who present myth as fact in place of critical bits of their field would be preposterous. It would be like granting a degree in electrical engineering to someone who wrote their thesis on the properties of ether (or aether, not the chemical).

Not Just Religion Attacking Science

So-called “Social Scientists” are doing it as well:

Talk Reason: arguments against creationism, intelligent design, and religious apologetics

“If a theory ‘forced’ one to assent to politically distasteful, depressing, and counterintuitive claims, then one could regard those consequences as in themselves good reasons to find the theory implausible,” says feminist philosopher Sandra Harding;

If we don’t like the results, well, we can just throw them out! Let the revolution in science begin!