California: Board OKs Darwin challenge - Alex Branning Responds

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alex.b...@gmail.com

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Mar 25, 2006, 10:52:23 AM3/25/06
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Greetings,

There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
recently passed Science Philosophy document (
http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
a great opportunity to share my thoughts.

First, reading through the original thread on the decision in
California I realize that there are so many people that have the wrong
idea over what this decision means. I know that the media is describing
it as anti-evolution (they've sensationalized the story) but this
Science Philosophy document is not an attack on evolution, nor is it a
"backdoor" for the creationists. It simply allows (even encourages) the
teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom. Evolution
is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is only
to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
fact." I'm sure we all agree that makes sense.

Second, my motives have been questioned. Because of the scare tactics
and fear-mongering of the NCSE and other organizations, it is an
automatic response to put anyone who even resembles an
anti-evolutionist in the "creationism" camp - and then to immediately
assume that I want to bring the Bible into the science class. These
things couldn't be further from the truth. The motives behind this move
are the sinking test scores - students don't care about science and
they are failing the class miserably. While my idea to promote
discussion (and hopefully pique their curiosity at the same time) may
be off the mark, we must do something!

I appreciate the invitation to share my side of the story.


Regards,


Alex Branning
Integrity in Academics
http://www.integrityinacademics.com

John Harshman

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:28:48 AM3/25/06
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alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:

That was seriously disingenuous. First, your organization is
specifically set up to " improve the way evolution is taught in the
local schools". Not just all science, but evolution in particular.

Second, the word "evolution" appears only once in the document, but
evolution is singled out for special treatment, and is the only area of
science actually mentioned. Why? Isn't it also true that atomic theory,
the refraction of light, and the existence of electrons should be taught
"as theory, not unalterable fact"? If not, what's the difference?

You may be entirely innocent here, but I doubt it. Creationists have
lately been forced to lie about their motives and enter in disguise,
since the direct approach has consistently been found unconstitutional.
And your approach here is exactly the sort of thing that creationists
have done elsewhere. Is that merely coincidence?

Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and strictly about
evolution going to significantly help science test scores?

Ron O

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:30:13 AM3/25/06
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This sounds like the same lame stuff that creationists are always
spouting. They talk a good game, but what is it that they want to
teach?

Give us a sample lesson plan. What are you going to teach, how are you
going to teach it, what do you expect the students to learn from the
lesson and how are you going to evaluate the students on the material
that you think that they should have learned.

Not having anything of value to teach is one of the problems with
creationists like yourself. Why concentrate on biological evolution?
Isn't it a lame excuse to make the claims that you are making when you
don't believe them yourself?

Prove it. Demonstrate that you know what you want to teach and that
you know how to teach it. Just making claims that you can teach this
stuff honestly and with integrity has been just talk. Do more than
talk. You should have had a lesson plan that demonstrated that you had
something to teach before you got the board to put out this statement.
Why didn't you do that? Shouldn't you have demonstrated that you had
something to teach before you conned the board in to putting out that
statement? How are you going to work the "problems" with evolution
into this course? How are you going to set the students straight? If
evolution isn't the deal, why does your web site claim that it is?

Produce the lesson plan if you have any integrity at all. You should
have done it from the beginning. How did you con the board into
issuing the statement without a lesson plan? Why did they believe that
you could teach the subject honestly without such evidence, when they
just have to read the paper about Dover, Ohio and Kansas? They even
know their own reasons for backing you probably have nothing to do with
science education.

It isn't the scientific taliban that is the problem. It is the guys
like yourself that either don't have a clue or don't care. If you
wouldn't do stupid things like this would any science educators have to
object?

It is simple, tell us what you want to teach and how you are going to
teach it. The statement is bogus until you can demonstrate that you
know what you are talking about. Have you ever encountered a
creationists organization that really had something worth teaching in
the public schools? Do you have any examples of honest creationist
sources of information that you can use for this class? Where are you
going to get your information on science? You could be the first so go
for it.

Ron Okimoto

wf3h

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:31:33 AM3/25/06
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alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> Greetings,
>
> There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
> recently passed Science Philosophy document (
> http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
> I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
> a great opportunity to share my thoughts.
>

amazing the orwellian doubletalk of the christianists. as they attack
the very foundations of western civilization...logic, reason,
empiricism, and seek to replace it with a theocratic state, they do so
under the guise of 'freedom'.

what they are really referring to, of course, is the 'freedom' of
christianist/islamist theocrats to determine values for everyone. since
they believe they have the 'truth', and part of this 'truth' is their
'freedom' to force it on everyone else, they believe it's illegitimate
to partition science from religion.

the attack on civilzation is intense, deep, and widespread. while alex
double talks his way through this issue, proof of his
christianist/islamist focus is the discussion of evolution.

why evolution? why specifically THIS theory? what possible reason is
there to discuss evolution alone, instead of science? what possible
value could islamist/christianist theology have to add to science?

the answer is that they wish to eviscerate independent thought, and to
bring ALL of science under islamist/christianist control. evolution,
which contradicts a literalist approach to scripture, is fatal to their
argument, so it MUST be the first theory in science to be destroyed.
it's no accident that both christianists and islamists both portray
evolution as anti-god, anti-religion, etc.

christianists say they are fighting for academic freedom. but there is
a difference between being gullible and being open minded, or, as one
commentator put it, 'dont be so open minded that your brains fall out.'

alex isn't interested in science, or children, or the future of the US.
he's interested in religion, specifically the aspect of religion which
enables it to control the way information flows in a free society.

he's against it. christianists and islamists always are. because to
believe in freedom is to believe in suicide.

John Harshman

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:32:33 AM3/25/06
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alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:

Ooh, here's a nice giveaway. On the web site there is a teacher's
petition, and here is the full text:

" I support broadening the scientific education of our students to
include scientific evidence that poses challenges to Darwin's
evolutionary theory."

Now just what sort of evidence are we talking about? Perhaps using
Pandas and People as a supplementary text? Integrity in Academics is a
fraud. You should be ashamed.

neverbetter

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:50:19 AM3/25/06
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alex.b...@gmail.com kirjoitti:


> Second, my motives have been questioned. Because of the scare tactics
> and fear-mongering of the NCSE and other organizations, it is an
> automatic response to put anyone who even resembles an
> anti-evolutionist in the "creationism" camp - and then to immediately
> assume that I want to bring the Bible into the science class. These
> things couldn't be further from the truth. The motives behind this move
> are the sinking test scores - students don't care about science and
> they are failing the class miserably. While my idea to promote
> discussion (and hopefully pique their curiosity at the same time) may
> be off the mark, we must do something!

I don't see how it's going to make them more interested in science and
improve their scores if you simply tell them that you think that the
theory of evolution is bogus. Would you be interested in learning
something that ain't even true? If I had to save sinking test scores
I'd suggest identifying the problems in the science education in your
area and fixing them. I don't know if you need to hire more competent
teachers, choose better textbooks, allow more money in the budget for
materials and equipment or what but I doubt that a simple statement
saying that evolution is just a hunch is going to make a difference for
the better.

Dave

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:55:49 AM3/25/06
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alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> [...]

> I appreciate the invitation to share my side of the story.

There are liars and then there are bald-faced liars and then there are
stupid bald-faced liars.

Zachriel

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Mar 25, 2006, 11:58:02 AM3/25/06
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<alex.b...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1143301943.3...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...

> Greetings,
>
> There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
> recently passed Science Philosophy document (
> http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
> I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
> a great opportunity to share my thoughts.
>
> First, reading through the original thread on the decision in
> California I realize that there are so many people that have the wrong
> idea over what this decision means. I know that the media is describing
> it as anti-evolution (they've sensationalized the story) but this
> Science Philosophy document is not an attack on evolution, nor is it a
> "backdoor" for the creationists. It simply allows (even encourages) the
> teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom. Evolution
> is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is only
> to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
> fact." I'm sure we all agree that makes sense.


Actually, the very statement indicates a poor grasp of the process by which
science establishes fact.

Gravity is a fact and a theory. Evolution is a fact and a theory. Atoms are
a fact and a theory. Though all scientific assertions are considered
tentative and subject to revision in the light of new information, do you
understand that the Theory of Evolution is as well established as the Theory
of Gravity?

And honestly tell us why you singled out evolution. The various theories of
gravity are currently subject to substantial scientific revision.


--
Zachriel
"Evolution is .... The Theory of Evolution explains ...."
http://zachriel.blogspot.com/2005/08/evolution-defined.html

R. Baldwin

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:00:55 PM3/25/06
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<alex.b...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1143301943.3...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com...

Sir, it is the one mention of evolution in the Lancaster policy that places
your motives firmly in the creationist camp. Specifically, the sentence
reads "Evolution, then, should be taught as theory, as opposed to
unalterable fact." By singling out evolution among all other scientific
theories, when evolution is one of the best established scientific theories
and only controversial in the social realm, you are clearly making a
pro-creationist statement with this policy. There would be absolutely no
doubt in the mind of any member of the public what you mean by the
statement.

The statement is made worse by the phrase "as opposed to unalterable fact."
As the Lancaster policy notes in the previous sentence, science doesn't
commit itself to facts any more than theories, and it doesn't consider facts
unalterable, because observations are subject to error and imprecision.
There are evolution facts, which the policy fails to note; and none of them
are considered unalterable, yet the policy suggests they are.

If you had included the statement "Gravity, then, should be taught as
theory, as opposed to unalterable fact," it would be just as correct but
seem ludicrous. The statement about evolution is just as ludicrous in the
context of science.

If the evolution sentence were struck so that the paragraph read:

"Students should learn that science never commits itself to any fact,
hypothesis, or theory, no matter how firmly it appears to be established.
Discussions that question a theory may be appropriate as long as they do not
stray from the current criteria of scientific fact, hypothesis, and theory."

It would be correct, though it could be better worded.

The final sentence of the paragraph should not be coupled to this question.
To connect "Science instruction must respect the private beliefs of
students, but discussion in this regard should not be part of the science
curriculum" with a statement urging the questioning of evolution comes
across as a veiled threat from the school board to the science teachers that
they better dance gently around evolution rather than teach it.

As to academic excellence, any policy putting forth that textbooks are the
major source of a K-12 science curriculum is hardly promoting excellence.
Science textbooks do not remain current, and school districts cannot afford
to keep buying current textbooks. The AAAS Project 2061 Study, the Third
International Mathematics and Science Study, and an AIBS study all found
that available U.S. science textbooks are inadequate. They do not support
national or state science standards and benchmarks, are too broad, too
shallow. and contain too many factual errors.

So your motives have been questioned because they are indeed questionable.

But thank you for at least having the courage to post here.


noctiluca

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:08:04 PM3/25/06
to

alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> Greetings,
>
> There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
> recently passed Science Philosophy document (
> http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
> I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
> a great opportunity to share my thoughts.
>
> First, reading through the original thread on the decision in
> California I realize that there are so many people that have the wrong
> idea over what this decision means. I know that the media is describing
> it as anti-evolution (they've sensationalized the story) but this
> Science Philosophy document is not an attack on evolution, nor is it a
> "backdoor" for the creationists. It simply allows (even encourages) the
> teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom. Evolution
> is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is only
> to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
> fact." I'm sure we all agree that makes sense.
>
> Second, my motives have been questioned.

The evidence would indicate that your motives are questionable. You
could help to dispel that notion by responding in this thread to some
of the queries put forth.

Robert

Robert J. Kolker

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:07:54 PM3/25/06
to
John Harshman wrote:

>
> Ooh, here's a nice giveaway. On the web site there is a teacher's
> petition, and here is the full text:
>
> " I support broadening the scientific education of our students to
> include scientific evidence that poses challenges to Darwin's
> evolutionary theory."

If this is what he really means there is nothing wrong with it. But I
suspect he has a hidden wedge shaped agenda.

For example there are coherent theories that challenge the hypothesis
that natural selection is the sole or main processes of evolutionary
change. Genetic drift figures in and there is the matter of punctuated
equilibrium which challenges Darwinian gradualism. You will notice that
the alternative hypotheses are naturalistic and do not try to sneak in a
goddidit.

Bob Kolker

alex.b...@gmail.com

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:14:32 PM3/25/06
to
Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
one laymen care about.

Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
recommendation for science teachers to abide by.

neverbetter wrote: "I don't see how it's going to make them more


interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."

When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?

John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and


strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
scores?"

This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution! We are trying to
get students interested in and intrigued by science, this philosophy is
the best way we know how. Do you have any other ideas, maybe we can
work together?

Robert J. Kolker

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 12:12:19 PM3/25/06
to
R. Baldwin wrote:

Maybe and maybe not. Remember biological theories are much more diffuse
(by their nature) than theories of fundemental physical interactions and
objects. Evolution is the key to biological theories, so singling out
evolution need not imply some sly motivation. If I wanted to challange
modern biology the theory of evolution is a place where I would make the
challange. It is not a slam dunk that orthodox Darwinian theory is
completely right. What about punctuated equilibrium. What does this to
to the hypothesis of gradualism? What about mutation and genetic drift
without a selective advantage? What about variation in how regulative
genes work, without changing the genetic structure? There are many
legitimate areas of contention within the scope of evolution theory.

Bob Kolker

Ron O

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:31:13 PM3/25/06
to

alex.brann...@gmail.com wrote:
> Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
> the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
> one laymen care about.
>
> Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
> even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
> recommendation for science teachers to abide by.

This is a dishonest cop out and you know it. Without guidelines what
do you expect the teachers to discuss? If you can't present an honest
lesson plan on this issue, why would you expect a teacher to be able to
come up with one?

Present your lesson plan on the subject. Let's see what you consider
to be an honest lesson that teaches what you want taught. Why do I
believe that you can't or won't do that?

>
> neverbetter wrote: "I don't see how it's going to make them more
> interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
> that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."
> When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?
>
> John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and
> strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
> scores?"
> This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution! We are trying to
> get students interested in and intrigued by science, this philosophy is
> the best way we know how. Do you have any other ideas, maybe we can
> work together?

Your web page tells everyone that this isn't an honest response. How
did you con the board into pushing the statement when you claim that it
isn't what your web page claims that the issue is about? All anyone
has to do is go to your web page and see that someone isn't being
straight about their motives and that someone would be you because you
wrote the web site and you conned the board.

Present an honest lesson plan on the subject. A "guide" isn't any good
if you expect dishonesty, ignorance, and incompetence to accomplish
your goals. If you think that a teacher can teach this subject the way
you want it taught competently and honestly, prove it. Present the
evolution lesson plan and tell us how you are going to educate the
students about the issue. It should be simple, right? Any teacher
should be able to use your guide and do it, so do it or admit that you
can't.

Ron Okimoto

neverbetter

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:36:49 PM3/25/06
to

alex.brann...@gmail.com wrote:
> Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
> the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
> one laymen care about.

IOW, the evolution theory doesn't please certain religious groups.

> Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
> even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
> recommendation for science teachers to abide by.
>
> neverbetter wrote: "I don't see how it's going to make them more
> interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
> that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."
> When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?

When you singled it out among all the other scientific theories and
said that it's just a theory. See for example the thread Judge Jones /
new icon of science!
and especially Sverker Johansson's posts.
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/bc4b6a53c5e4b354/2cca2c4cb3379e5f#2cca2c4cb3379e5f

> John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and
> strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
> scores?"
> This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution!

Why does it single it out then?

>We are trying to
> get students interested in and intrigued by science, this philosophy is
> the best way we know how. Do you have any other ideas, maybe we can
> work together?

How about extra resources to improve the conditions in which teaching
occurs? Instructive fieldtrips? Seminars and brainstorming groups for
the science teachers on how to improve their methods and motivate the
students? Attempting to encourage the parents to value their children's
science education more and motivate them at home? This last bit might
be too much to ask if the majority of the voters in your community are
in favour of creationism.

Lee Oswald Ving

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:34:06 PM3/25/06
to
alex.b...@gmail.com wrote in news:1143301943.376045.297520
@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com:

> Greetings,
>
> There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
> recently passed Science Philosophy document (
> http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
> I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
> a great opportunity to share my thoughts.
>
> First, reading through the original thread on the decision in
> California I realize that there are so many people that have the wrong
> idea over what this decision means. I know that the media is describing
> it as anti-evolution (they've sensationalized the story) but this
> Science Philosophy document is not an attack on evolution, nor is it a
> "backdoor" for the creationists. It simply allows (even encourages) the
> teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom. Evolution
> is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is only
> to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
> fact." I'm sure we all agree that makes sense.

That depends on whether you have a sensible explanation of why Biological
Evolutionary Theory was singled out.

In fact, the sincerity of your protestations that you have no Creationist
agenda depends on it.

<snip>

> I appreciate the invitation to share my side of the story.

This would be a great time to start doing so.

Leonard Evens

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:43:34 PM3/25/06
to
alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
> the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
> one laymen care about.

Doesn't that depend quite a lot on which lay people you talk to? I
don't know many people who talk more about evolution than they talk
about other areas of biology or other scientific fields. There is lots
of interest in molecular biology and its relation to medical science. A
lot of people are interested in climate science. Also, consider the
popularity of programs like Cosmos which discuss cosmology and its
relation to modern physics.

So, the question is which people have you been talking to and how did
arrive at the misconception that evolution is the only scientific theory
that lay people care about?

> Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
> even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
> recommendation for science teachers to abide by.
>
> neverbetter wrote: "I don't see how it's going to make them more
> interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
> that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."
> When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?
>
> John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and
> strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
> scores?"
> This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution! We are trying to
> get students interested in and intrigued by science, this philosophy is
> the best way we know how. Do you have any other ideas, maybe we can
> work together?

My suggestion is that you leave it to established scientists to
determine science curriculums. That is hardly a perfect system but it
is better than any other. A good start would be to follow the
recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. You should look up
what they have to say on the subject.


>

Robert J. Kolker

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Mar 25, 2006, 12:48:56 PM3/25/06
to
Lee Oswald Ving wrote:

>
>
> That depends on whether you have a sensible explanation of why Biological
> Evolutionary Theory was singled out.

Theory of Evolution is more accessible to people than highly
mathematical physical theories are. And evolution/genetics has a clear
relevence to public policy which string theory just does not have.

Can you see any but a specialist get his passions around over string
theory versus loop gravitation? I can't. But evolution/genetics has a
great deal to do with cloning (should we or shouldn't we), artificially
changing genotypes to get "superior" individuals etc etc. You can see
why biological quesitions will rise to the top of scales of importance.

Bob Kolker

John Harshman

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Mar 25, 2006, 1:06:14 PM3/25/06
to
alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:

Again, you're being dishonest. Of course it explicitly addresses
evolution. That's the only thing it explicitly addresses, and that's the
only stated purpose of your organization, the only subject of your
"teacher's petition", and the only subject discussed at all on your
organization's web site.

The fact that you find it necessary to dissimulate about your agenda
speaks volumes.

I suggest teaching real science and ignoring all this ID and creationist
nonsense. Or did you only have in mind that teachers should discuss
punctuated equilibria, neutral evolution, and species selection?

Time to get specific. What sort of changes in the way science is now
taught did you have in mind, exactly? What evidence against Darwin's
theory did you have in mind? The only thing your site mentions is the
Cambrian explosion. How is that in any way inconsistent with Darwin?
Have you been swallowing Jonathan Wells's lie about that? In fact the
Cambrian explosion is features in almost every general biology textbook
I have seen. It's already taught. Just not the way Wells and, perhaps,
you would like.

Robert J. Kolker

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:14:21 PM3/25/06
to
John Harshman wrote:

>>
>
> Again, you're being dishonest. Of course it explicitly addresses
> evolution. That's the only thing it explicitly addresses, and that's the
> only stated purpose of your organization, the only subject of your
> "teacher's petition", and the only subject discussed at all on your
> organization's web site.

That by itself is not enough to condemn. The question is how
evolutionary science is subject to criticism. I pointed out in another
post on this thread that there are many problematic issues (genuine
scientific issues) in the realm of evolution science. Such things should
be examined critically.

The importance of gentics and evolution to the general non specialist
public is not surprising. It impinges on such things as cloining,
genetic modification to overcome diseases, genetic modification to
produce a "better" human, culling of genetically diseased individuals by
either euthanasion or sterilization. Many questions impinging on public
policy are there to be discussed. So the importance of things bilogical
should not be surprising.

I would hold off judgement until we see what he is really proposing in
some detail.

Bob Kolker

Victor Eijkhout

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Mar 25, 2006, 1:17:14 PM3/25/06
to
<alex.b...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
> the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
> one laymen care about.

Reading slashdot (a computer site), I sometimes get the impression
rocketry is the only science people care about. No, evolution is the
only theory *you* care about. You don't care about science. If you cared
about science, why not advocate a critical look at the theory of
gravity? There are serious objections to that, and there are people who
actually have alternatives; google for MOND. You knew that, right? So
why don't you care about it? I thought you cared about science in
general?

Victor.
--
Victor Eijkhout -- eijkhout at tacc utexas edu
ph: 512 471 5809

alex.b...@gmail.com

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Mar 25, 2006, 1:19:39 PM3/25/06
to
John, in a 408-word philosophy statement, the theory of evolution is
discussed in one sentence, less than 3% of the document focuses on it.

My organization's goal is to, as you noted, partner with teachers to
improve the way evolution is taught. I'm sure you read our mission
statement which addresses our views on intelligent design and
creationism: we do not support the inclusion of either subject in the
science classroom.

As I have noted on this thread before, we are _not_ encouraging
teachers to change the way evolution is taught, we want them to discuss
some of the scientific differences that opponents of evolution have,
and we want them to get the students thinking so that the students can
start thinking for themselves.

We want science in science class. We want discussion in the science
class. We do NOT advocate alternatives to the origins or diversity of
life. We do NOT want to change the curriculum We do NOT want to water
down the teaching of evolution in the class. We want to initiate
discussions and encourage the scientists of tomorrow to start thinking
today.

TomS

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:25:08 PM3/25/06
to
"On 25 Mar 2006 09:14:32 -0800, in article
<1143306872.4...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com>, alex.b...@gmail.com
stated..."

>
>Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
>the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
>one laymen care about.
[...snip...]

That is what I have always suspected.

What has been called "pithecophobia" - the revulsion that some
people feel for being physically related to other creatures, most
especially those animals which are so clearly related. As John
Wesley wrote:

"Animals of the MONKEY class are furnished with hands instead of
paws; their ears, eyes, eye-lids, lips, and breasts, are like those
of mankind; their internal conformation also bears some distant
likeness; and the whole offers a picture that may mortify the pride
of such as make their persons the principal objects of their
admiration." (A Survey of the Wisdom of God in Creation, vol. 1
page 148, Third American Edition, 1823)

All of the lame arguments are really just trying to justify
this pithecophobia. ("Pithecophobia" seems to have been coined
by William K. Gregory, "Two Views of the Origin of Man", Science,
June 24, 1927.)



--
---Tom S. <http://talkreason.org/articles/chickegg.cfm>
"It is not too much to say that every indication of Design in the Kosmos is so
much evidence against the Omnipotence of the Designer. ... The evidences ... of
Natural Theology distinctly imply that the author of the Kosmos worked under
limitations..." John Stuart Mill, "Theism", Part II

Cheezits

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:40:33 PM3/25/06
to
alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
[etc.]

> It simply allows (even encourages) the
> teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom.

Am I supposed to believe that without this decision, teacher are not
allowed to "have discussions about science"?

> Evolution
> is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is
> only to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
> fact."

[etc.]

I don't know of anything in science that is taught as "unalterable
fact". The only thing I know of that is taught that way is religious
dogma.

What are your qualifications, and how do they enable you to tell science
teachers how they should teach?

Sue
--
Full bibliographic references to the peer-reviewed
scientific literature, please. - Herb Huston

John Harshman

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:38:13 PM3/25/06
to
alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:

> John, in a 408-word philosophy statement, the theory of evolution is
> discussed in one sentence, less than 3% of the document focuses on it.

But that's the whole point of the document, isn't it? Again, your need
not to come clean about your purpose speaks volumes.

> My organization's goal is to, as you noted, partner with teachers to
> improve the way evolution is taught. I'm sure you read our mission
> statement which addresses our views on intelligent design and
> creationism: we do not support the inclusion of either subject in the
> science classroom.

Sure. That's a necessary legal fig leaf.

> As I have noted on this thread before, we are _not_ encouraging
> teachers to change the way evolution is taught, we want them to discuss
> some of the scientific differences that opponents of evolution have,
> and we want them to get the students thinking so that the students can
> start thinking for themselves.

What scientific differences do opponents of evolution have? Which
opponents were you thinking of? I don't know of anything scientific in
anyone's opposition to evolution, nor of any opponent of evolution who
is not religiously motivated. If you disagree, give me some specifics.

> We want science in science class. We want discussion in the science
> class. We do NOT advocate alternatives to the origins or diversity of
> life. We do NOT want to change the curriculum We do NOT want to water
> down the teaching of evolution in the class. We want to initiate
> discussions and encourage the scientists of tomorrow to start thinking
> today.

Why is thinking limited to thinking about the arguments of
anti-evolutionists? Why not discuss real questions within evolutionary
biology? And why, if the goal is to improve science education in
general, is evolution the only subject mentioned?

Ernest Major

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:41:37 PM3/25/06
to
In message <1143306872.4...@e56g2000cwe.googlegroups.com>,
alex.b...@gmail.com writes

Quoting has been fixed.


>Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
>the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
>one laymen care about.

That isn't the case. Climate change due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas
emissions is also another scientific topic that is associated with an
unwarranted public controversy.

>
>Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
>even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
>recommendation for science teachers to abide by.

You could have picked a better name - it makes you sound like Honest
Joe, Used Car Salesman. It's not even as if it's an appropriate name for
an organisation allegedly dedicated to improving science education -
that would be a matter of practice, not integrity.

>
>neverbetter wrote:
>>"I don't see how it's going to make them more
>>interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
>>that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."

>When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?

From your web site -

"Alex Branning founded the Integrity in Academics group after doing
extensive research on the evidence for evolution. Alex assembled a team
comprised of law attorneys, a constitutional lawyer, scientists and
teachers. "

Also from your web site -

"I support broadening the scientific education of our students to
include scientific evidence that poses challenges to Darwin's
evolutionary theory. "

From the Lancaster School District "Science Philosophy" statement -

"Discussions that question the theory may be appropriate as long as

they do not stray from the current criteria of scientific fact,
hypothesis, and theory."

>


>>John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly
>>and strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
>>scores?"

>This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution! We are trying to
>get students interested in and intrigued by science, this philosophy is
>the best way we know how. Do you have any other ideas, maybe we can
>work together?
>

To get students interested in and intrigued by science requires more
than a nebulous policy singling out, for no good reason, evolution for
special treatment.

You could get the students to do original research in evolution. There's
a number of taxonomically difficult genera in the Californian flora
which could do with further examination. Apart from the health hazards
of the irritant hairs, which might be a problem in these litigious days,
the geographic variation, and the degree of interfertility between
populations, of Fremontodendron could be studied. Then the possible
existence of cryptic species in Sidalcea could be studied.
--
alias Ernest Major


--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.385 / Virus Database: 268.3.1/292 - Release Date: 24/03/2006

Ron O

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:46:48 PM3/25/06
to

alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> John, in a 408-word philosophy statement, the theory of evolution is
> discussed in one sentence, less than 3% of the document focuses on it.
>
> My organization's goal is to, as you noted, partner with teachers to
> improve the way evolution is taught. I'm sure you read our mission
> statement which addresses our views on intelligent design and
> creationism: we do not support the inclusion of either subject in the
> science classroom.
>
> As I have noted on this thread before, we are _not_ encouraging
> teachers to change the way evolution is taught, we want them to discuss
> some of the scientific differences that opponents of evolution have,
> and we want them to get the students thinking so that the students can
> start thinking for themselves.

This is just scam speak.

Produce the lesson plan to demonstrate that a teacher can do what you
want done in an honest and competent manner.

Why do you think that not a single creationist organization has such a
lesson plan ready for the public school system?

Really, just demonstrate that you can do what you claim to want to do.
If you aren't scamming you should be able to do exactly what is being
asked. Produce the honest lesson plan. Let everyone see how you think
that you can cover the issue.

Ron Okimoto

>
> We want science in science class. We want discussion in the science
> class. We do NOT advocate alternatives to the origins or diversity of
> life. We do NOT want to change the curriculum We do NOT want to water
> down the teaching of evolution in the class. We want to initiate
> discussions and encourage the scientists of tomorrow to start thinking
> today.

Sure and there is a bridge in New York that is for sale cheap and you
can get in on the ground floor.... You should be able to demonstrate
this, but why can't you? Why does your own web site mark you as not
being honest about this? Are you proud of scamming the school board?
Don't you think that you should tell them that you really have no idea
about what you are doing? Where are the teachers going to get their
guidance on what they can teach on this subject? If you don't know,
why and how did you scam the board into doing this?

Ron Okimoto

Victor Eijkhout

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:53:48 PM3/25/06
to
<alex.b...@gmail.com> wrote:

> John, in a 408-word philosophy statement, the theory of evolution is
> discussed in one sentence, less than 3% of the document focuses on it.

Ok.

> My organization's goal is to, as you noted, partner with teachers to
> improve the way evolution is taught.

Wow! How do you switch sides of your mouth that fast?

Victor "leaving it to other people to ask, yet again, what your problems
with evolution are, what these purported scientific differences are, and
what you propose those teachers
teach/discuss/whatever-verb-you-prefer-but-will-you-finally-give-some-de
tails?"

Cheezits

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 1:54:15 PM3/25/06
to
Ernest Major <{$to$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
[etc/\

> Also from your web site -
>
> "I support broadening the scientific education of our students to
> include scientific evidence that poses challenges to Darwin's
> evolutionary theory. "
[etc.]

I'd support it too, if I knew what the hell that evidence was (assuming
it wasn't the bogus arguments I've seen so far).

Sue
--
"It's not smart or correct, but it's one of the things that
make us what we are." - Red Green

Ernest Major

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 2:16:40 PM3/25/06
to
In message <Xns97918D6BE7CD1ch...@199.45.49.11>, Cheezits
<Cheez...@hotmail.com> writes

>Ernest Major <{$to$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>[etc/\
>> Also from your web site -
>>
>> "I support broadening the scientific education of our students to
>> include scientific evidence that poses challenges to Darwin's
>> evolutionary theory. "
>[etc.]
>
>I'd support it too, if I knew what the hell that evidence was (assuming
>it wasn't the bogus arguments I've seen so far).
>
>Sue

I should point out that the current evolutionary theory is not Darwin's.
Darwin was remarkably right considering what he had to work with, but
biology has moved on the last 150 years.

Mark VandeWettering

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 2:17:31 PM3/25/06
to
On 2006-03-25, alex.b...@gmail.com <alex.b...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Greetings,
>
> There has been so much controversy over the past week regarding the
> recently passed Science Philosophy document (
> http://www.integrityinacademics.com ) in the Lancaster School District.
> I was invited by Marc to share my views here, and I thought it would be
> a great opportunity to share my thoughts.
>
> First, reading through the original thread on the decision in
> California I realize that there are so many people that have the wrong
> idea over what this decision means. I know that the media is describing
> it as anti-evolution (they've sensationalized the story) but this
> Science Philosophy document is not an attack on evolution, nor is it a
> "backdoor" for the creationists. It simply allows (even encourages) the
> teachers to have discussions about science in the classroom. Evolution

> is mentioned only once in the entire document, and even then it is only
> to point out that it should be taught as theory, not "unalterable
> fact." I'm sure we all agree that makes sense.
>
> Second, my motives have been questioned. Because of the scare tactics
> and fear-mongering of the NCSE and other organizations, it is an
> automatic response to put anyone who even resembles an
> anti-evolutionist in the "creationism" camp - and then to immediately
> assume that I want to bring the Bible into the science class. These
> things couldn't be further from the truth. The motives behind this move
> are the sinking test scores - students don't care about science and
> they are failing the class miserably. While my idea to promote
> discussion (and hopefully pique their curiosity at the same time) may
> be off the mark, we must do something!
>
> I appreciate the invitation to share my side of the story.

I'm curious. The Lancaster School District Science Philosophy document
you linked only is mostly quite reasonable, and I suspect would provoke
little dissent. The only mention of evolution of course occurs in this
paragraph:

Students should learn that science never commits itself

irrevocably to any act, hypothesis, or theory, no matter how
firmly it appears to be established. Evolution, then, should be
taught as theory, as opposed to unalterable fact. Discussions


that question the theory may be appropriate as long as they
do not stray from the current criteria of scientific fact,

hypothesis and theory. Science instruction must respect the


private beliefs of students, but discussion in this regard

should not be part of the science curriculum.

(Any typos are mine).

Compare this to your charter:

We are a group of concerned citizens attempting to partner with
teachers, administrators and school boards to improve the way
evolution is taught in the local schools.

Do you think this statement of philosophy acheieves the goal of
improving evolution in education? Other than the three word summary
"don't be dogmatic" do you have any other ideas you'd like to share with
science educators about how they should improve science education?
How about some textbook recommendations? Materials that you'd like to see
included in school curriculum? Additions to standards to help assure
that graduating students possess the necessary mastery of the material?

It is also slightly disingenuous to pretend that promoters of
anti-evolutionary ideas are not religiously motivated. While the Dover
School Board tried to argue that their actions served some secular
purpose, the testimony in the case revealed that many of them lied to
the court and tried to portray events differently than they occurred:
that their motivation was religious and not designed to serve any secular
purpose such as improving science education.

So called "Intelligent Design" theorists have argued that their
motivations are purely scientific, but again, the Dover case is the
latest illustration that they are not. Their "star witness", Dr. Behe
was forced to admit that by his definition of science, astrology would
similarly have to be considered a science, as would, I suspect, teaching
epicycles as a theory of planetary motion. It's hard to imagine how
teaching nonsense improves science education.

As for fear mongering, school boards who adopt the idea that the public
schools are an appropriate place to try to win a culture war should heed
the words of Judge Jones in Kitzmiller:

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the
product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as
this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case
came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed
faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest
law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who
in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and
ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity
of the Board.s decision is evident when considered against the
factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this
trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area
School District deserved better than to be dragged into this
legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and
personal resources.


Mark

Dr.GH

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 2:26:51 PM3/25/06
to
I find that Mr. Branning has zero experience as an educator, zero
experience as a scientist, and only minor experience as a conservative
apologist.

Mr. Branning's program is quite obviously creationist, and his denials
are pure hypocrisy. When he writes "... students don't care about
science and they are failing the class miserably" he is expecting us to
believe that students will learn more if they are told that science is
bunk and rubbish.

I have over thirtyfive years of teaching experience from California
middle schools to universities. I have never had students who were
totally disengaged from learning science unless their parent's
religious fanaticism had poisoned their minds years before they ever
entered my classroom. Mr. Branning, like the rest of his ilk, is not
content with merely the victims of parental intellectual abuse, but
would like to inflict this on all students.

We in America are faced with a critial choice with profound consequence
to our national security- will we allow these so-called conservatives
to dammage if not destroy the American scientific advantage along with
the tradition of separation of church and state?

Gary Hurd

Mark VandeWettering

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 2:33:34 PM3/25/06
to
> Many of you ask why single out evolution? The answer is simple: it is
> the only scientific theory that people talk about, arguably the only
> one laymen care about.

I suspect what you mean is that evolution is the only theory that certain
literal minded Christians find in opposition to their religious beliefs,
at least for today.

> Integrity in Academics is not putting forth any new lesson plans or
> even a change in curriculum, the new Science Philosophy is a
> recommendation for science teachers to abide by.

Without specific recommendations, lesson plans, materials, and standards,
how can you possibly keep a straight face when you claim that your goal
is to improve the state of education?

> neverbetter wrote: "I don't see how it's going to make them more
> interested in science and improve their scores if you simply tell them
> that you think that the theory of evolution is bogus."
> When did I say or imply that the theory of evolution is bogus?
>
> John Harshman writes: "Anyway, how is any policy that is explicitly and
> strictly about evolution going to significantly help science test
> scores?"
>
> This policy does _not_ explicitly address evolution!

Yes, it does. It specifically mentions evolution, saying that it should
"not be taught as unalterable fact". That's actually all well and good,
but science shouldn't teach gravitation or quantum theory as unalterable
fact either. Science realizes that future observations can change our
perceptions of the universe, and we have to accept these changes as they
are observed. Your specific and (despite your protestations) explicit
mention of evolution makes it seem that you've got some special axe to
grind with respect to evolution.

Which, of course, we all suspect you do.

> We are trying to get students interested in and intrigued by science,
> this philosophy is the best way we know how. Do you have any other
> ideas, maybe we can work together?

I'm sorry, but if you think you are trying to get students interested in
science, you are absolutely kidding yourself. Want to get students
involved in science? Here are some ideas that actually make a difference.

1. Fund your public schools.
2. Hire better teachers. Encourage them to continue their own science
education so they can pass their knowledge on to their students.
3. Review textbooks for factual errors and overall quality. Buy good materials
that encourage critical thinking and knowledge of the scientific method.
4. Develop lesson plans that are engaging, that require individual
participation and hands on activities.
5. Set standards for graduating students so that you can honestly decide if
the students have mastered the necessary material.
6. Show some enthusiasm for science! Science is responsible for the quality
of life that humans enjoy. Revel in it! Show how it is relevent to the
everyday lives of people everywhere.

Mark

Stuart

unread,
Mar 25, 2006, 2:37:42 PM3/25/06
to

alex.b...@gmail.com wrote:
> John, in a 408-word philosophy statement, the theory of evolution is
> discussed in one sentence, less than 3% of the document focuses on it.


When they say its not about the evolution, its about the evolution.

>
> My organization's goal is to, as you noted, partner with teachers to
> improve the way evolution is taught. I'm sure you read our mission
> statement which addresses our views on intelligent design and
> creationism: we do not support the inclusion of either subject in the
> science classroom.
>
> As I have noted on this thread before, we are _not_ encouraging
> teachers to change the way evolution is taught, we want them to discuss
> some of the scientific differences that opponents of evolution have,
> and we want them to get the students thinking so that the students can
> start thinking for themselves.

That seems to contradict your previous statement. First you assume
evolutions opponents have a genuine "scientific" difference. Above yo
say you don't support inclusion of these subjects in the classroom, now
you say you want there alledeged scientific differences discussed.

Hilarious. This is nothing more than the DI's "teach the controversy".
The problem here, is that the controversy is manufactured.

I hope you enjoy the public wedgie the school board will get from the
ACLU.

There are a number of interesting debates within evolutionary theory

gradualists vs punctualists
neutralist vs. selectionist

etc.

Why not teach those? Why not teach honest scientfiic debates?
Evolutions opponents neither offer an alternative scientific theory nor
are they honest.

>
> We want science in science class. We want discussion in the science
> class. We do NOT advocate alternatives to the origins or diversity of
> life. We do NOT want to change the curriculum We do NOT want to water
> down the teaching of evolution in the class. We want to initiate
> discussions and encourage the scientists of tomorrow to start thinking
> today.

You don't do that by wasting time on non-scientific issues. The only
alternative to evolution is ignorance.


Still waiting for your lesson plan.

Stuart