If you’ve been following the ongoing saga over the years that is the Texas Board of Education and their textbook adoption process, then you no doubt understand that there has been a far-right conservative faction of people who have attempted to push their ideology (including creationism) into Texas public schools. Now the recent history of this saga has been chronicled in a PBS documentary titled “The Revisionaries”. I encourage you to take the time to share and watch this important documentary, which you can do online here until February 27th:
Posts Tagged ‘Wedge document’
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 30, 2013
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, biology, board of education, Christianity, creationism, democracy, documentary, Don McLeroy, evolution, fundamentalist, history, ID, Independent Lens, intelligent design, PBS, politics, pseudoscience, Public Broadcasting Service, publishing, religion, science, scientific creationism, Texas, Texas Board of Education, Texas Citizens for Science, Texas Freedom Network, textbook selection, textbooks, The Revisionaries, theocracy, video, Wedge document | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 26, 2012
If you know who Don McLeroy is (and if you don’t, read up on him here), then you know he is quite notorious for being reality-challenged. In what I can only describe as a stroke of comedic genius, Stephen Colbert interviews McLeroy on the Colbert Report. Enjoy
Posted in creationism, education, humor, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, biology, board of education, Christianity, Colbert Report, comedy, Comedy Central, creationism, Daily Show, democracy, Discovery Institute, Don McLeroy, evolution, fundamentalist, funny, humor, ID, intelligent design, Jon Stewart, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, politics, primary, pseudoscience, publishing, religion, satire, science, scientific creationism, Stephen Colbert, Texas, Texas Board of Education, Texas Freedom Network, textbook selection, textbooks, theocracy, Wedge document | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 23, 2011
In a bit of good news regarding the ongoing Texas evolution/creationism textbook battles, the pro-science side scored a major victory today! You may recall that in recent years there has been a big conflict in Texas regarding the issue of material presenting (or not presenting) evolution in state textbooks. This is also a national issue because the market for textbooks in Texas is so large that many publishers write their textbooks to cater to that market, and the rest of the country just has to follow along. Well, due to the downturn in the economy, Texas didn’t purchase new textbooks (which would have likely been influenced by creationist nonsense, due to the idiocy of the previous BoEd); instead, the current BoEd has decided to purchase supplemental materials for Texas schools. And here’s where the cause for celebration comes in: the BoEd voted today unanimously (8-0) to accept scientifically-accurate supplements!
The National Center for Science Education reports more details
Pop the champagne corks. The Texas Board of Education has unanimously come down on the side of evolution. In an 8-0 vote, the board today approved scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers–and did not approve the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC.
“This is a huge victory for Texas students and teachers,” said Josh Rosenau, NCSE programs and policy director, who testified at the hearings this week. In his testimony, Rosenau urged the board to approve the supplements–recommended by a review panel largely composed of scientists and science educators–without amendments, and to reject International Database’s creationist submission. The board did just that, and asked for only minimal changes to the approved supplements.
In hearings yesterday, NCSE members and allies showed up in force. At least four times as many people testified in favor of the supplements as written, versus those opposing the supplements or demanding significant changes. …
This just goes to show you that if we in the skeptical and pro-science community are persistent, unite, and organize, then we can affect real, substantive change! Who would have thought – with all of the lunacy coming out of Texas regarding evolution and education in the last few years – that we would have seen such a resounding victory (not one board member voted against these scientifically-sound supplements – NOT ONE!) on this subject?
Let’s not rest on our laurels, folks. You can bet the creationists and their religiously fundamentalist allies won’t rest; they’ll be looking for their next opportunity to push their pseudoscientific nonsense in public schools as soon as we aren’t watching. So stay vigilant!
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, biology, board of education, Christianity, creationism, democracy, Don McLeroy, evolution, fundamentalist, ID, intelligent design, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, politics, pseudoscience, publishing, religion, science, scientific creationism, supplemental materials, supplements, Texas, Texas Board of Education, Texas Citizens for Science, Texas Freedom Network, textbook selection, textbooks, theocracy, Wedge document | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 2, 2011
I found out recently that Casey Luskin of the intelligent design/creationist “think” tank the Discovery Institute has responded in print to my takedown of his public lecture last August in Chicago. I think it is important is to dissect his arguments and point out the utter failure of him to make any headway in his arguments; he is simply recycling the same ol’ same ol’, in my view. For reference, here is my account of what happened at the event last August.
And I also wrote a follow-up post specifically criticizing Luskin’s claims of the supposed scientific nature of ID’s so-called “design inference”. It is pretty telling that Luskin never addresses any of these points in his response, but more on that later.
Speaking of which, here is Luskin’s response. Technically, it isn’t really a response to my blog posts, because he never references my blog or the posts in his article, but he does refer to me and the questions I asked at his lecture (though he doesn’t name me). Allow me to go through his points one at a time…
ID’s Critics Engage in Motive-Mongering to Avoid the Evidence
By Casey Luskin
In August 2010, the creators of Salvo graciously invited me to speak at the University Club in downtown Chicago. After a short 40 minute presentation on the positive scientific case for intelligent design (ID), we opened up the floor to the audience.
Most of the inquiries led to serious and worthwhile scientific discussions. But one gentleman [that's me] was confident he came armed with a “gotcha question” that would stump me. His challenge essentially boiled down to this: What about the ‘Wedge Document’?
The Wedge What?
Salvo readers generally believe—quite rightly—that seeking truth requires merely following the evidence where it leads. As a result, they don’t get bogged down in endless debates about personal motives or the religious (or non-religious) beliefs of scientists. At the end of the day, what matters is the evidence. Right?
For many ID critics, that’s not right. In fact those who follow the ID debate closely are depressingly familiar with the fallacious distraction of the “wedge document.”
While the “Wedge document” has no bearing on whether the information-rich molecular machines that underlie every living cell point to an intelligent designer, it’s worth rebutting to help those who are seeking truth understand this debate.
What is now called the “Wedge document” was originally a short fundraising packet compiled in the late 1990s by the pro-ID think tank Discovery Institute (“DI”). Like any good prospectus, it laid out the goals of the DI, centering around using pro-ID arguments to influence various branches of culture, including science, politics, education, and theology. …
Actually, the Wedge Document (and related strategy) is entirely relevant to the entire question of ID and its origins as an explicitly religious enterprise. That’s because, as I documented earlier & as Luskin fails to note (surprise), during his lecture he stated on multiple occasions that “ID isn’t about religion, it’s about science!” So when I pointed out the fact that the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document most certainly shows that the primary motivation for pushing ID is religious in nature (with such notable sections as the “20 Year Goal: To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.” – yup, that’s a direct quote, entirely within context. Read it for yourself), Luskin was hoisted by his own petard, so to speak. In fact, I had a conversation with one of the other audience members in the lobby of the University Club after Luskin’s lecture, and while this fellow wanted to agree with Luskin, he simply couldn’t because of exactly what I’d pointed out.
What was Luskin’s reaction to my criticism? Well, the next section of his article pretty much spells it out. Read on… Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in creationism | Tagged: atheism, biology, Casey Luskin, Center for Science and Culture, Christianity, court, creationism, design, design inference, Discovery Institute, Dover trial, Dover vs Kitzmiller, education, evolution, God, ID, IDM, intelligent design, intelligent design movement, materialism, public schools, religion, Salvo magazine, schools, science, theology, Wedge document, Wedge Strategy | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 10, 2010
A little over a week ago, I gave a presentation to the Illinois North Shore chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State about the lecture I attended in August by Casey Luskin of the intelligent design-creationist think tank called the Discovery Institute. Specifically, my presentation, titled “ID’s Next Strategy in the Evolution/Creationism Wars?” was a rebuttal to the various points made by Luskin and the intelligent design movement in general. I recorded the audio of my talk, and I’d like to share it with you here. Enjoy!
Click here for the audio of my presentation -
Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: Americans United, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, atheism, AU, biology, Casey Luskin, Center for Science and Culture, Christianity, church state separation, court, creationism, Discovery Institute, Dover trial, Dover vs Kitzmiller, education, evolution, God, ID, IDM, intelligent design, intelligent design movement, materialism, public schools, religion, schools, science, theology, Wedge document, Wedge Strategy | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 7, 2010
In an earlier blog post, I gave a detailed rebuttal to a lecture by the Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin titled “Intelligent Design: Dead Science or the Future of Biology?” – however, it wasn’t until recently that I came up with what I consider to be the real killer criticism of a basic intelligent design argument: their so-called “design inference” model. During his talk, Casey Luskin showed a picture of Mount Rushmore, which he stated the design inference model shows is clearly a product of ID, not the result of natural processes. The implication is, of course, that much of evolutionary science is false because ID’s design inference model can prove that ID is a better explanation; but there’s a fatal flaw here.
The basic argument is simply a variation of the classic watchmaker argument, which is essentially an argument from ignorance. Not to mention, Luskin has stacked the deck in favor of the ID design inference model because every time an ID-advocate trots out their model it is in the context of a post-hoc analysis: they already know ahead of time that the object/situation they’re analyzing is the product of intelligent (human) processes. Hell, of course Mount Rushmore is the result of (human) ID, because we have records & photos of humans chipping away at the damn rock! So they can’t lose – in this sense, the ID folks are proposing a non-falsifiable model, which makes it NON-science.
Posted in aliens & UFOs, creationism | Tagged: aliens, angels, atheism, Bible, biology, Casey Luskin, Center for Science and Culture, Christianity, court, creationism, Dembski, design inference, DI, Discovery Institute, Dover trial, Dover vs Kitzmiller, education, evolution, Face on Mars, God, ID, IDM, illusion, intelligent design, intelligent design movement, Jesus, Luskin, mars, materialism, model, Mount Rushmore, pareidolia, public schools, religion, schools, science, theology, Wedge document, Wedge Strategy | 4 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 20, 2010
This past Tuesday, I attended a talk by Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute at the University Club of Chicago. Attending this talk with me was Jamie Bernstein (her post on the event is located over at the Friendly Atheist blog) – we were both very curious to see what Luskin had to say on the topic of intelligent design (ID), which is essentially another form of creationism.
The event was a casual luncheon, and I must profess that the people gathered there were quite pleasant. After Jamie & I seated ourselves and started our meals, the group (which numbered approximately 30 in total) held an invocation (appropriate, considering as how the St. James Fellowship and Salvo Magazine – both Christian organizations – sponsored the event). It was at this time that Jamie & I felt a wee bit self-conscious, because we had started our meals before the prayer while everyone else was waiting – oops. But no one made a big deal out of it, for which I was thankful.
After awhile the talk got underway. I did my best to transcribe the talk on my computer, and I will include the notes I took below – all of my specific after-the-fact commentary will be in bolded italics…
Intelligent Design: Dead Science or Future of Biology?
talk by Casey Luskin (M.S., J.D., ESQ) of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture
at the Fellowship of St. James, University Club of Chicago
Posted in creationism, education | Tagged: atheism, biology, Casey Luskin, Center for Science and Culture, Christianity, court, creationism, Discovery Institute, Dover trial, Dover vs Kitzmiller, education, evolution, God, ID, IDM, intelligent design, intelligent design movement, materialism, public schools, religion, schools, science, theology, Wedge document, Wedge Strategy | 14 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 24, 2010
Speaker #3: We’re back from lunch! Our speaker is Dr. Ron Pine, explorer, retired biology professor, and debunker of “Intelligent Design”…
He’s from Lawrence, Kansas, and he’s here talking about evolution & creationism (and the newest version of creationism – “intelligent design”). One argument by creationists often used is to “teach the controversy”. In ID, there are basically no new arguments – the roots of ID are actually older than Flood Geology, Biblically based Young Earth Creationism. Thus, these ID arguments have been thoroughly refuted for a long time, yet the argument is back with new terminology. Essentially, the ID argument boils down to claiming that “we have proved the existence of God using science!”
That’s a pretty enormous claim, especially considering that there is no science in modern ID – it’s just a bunch of essays written by the proponents. They use all the standard creationist arguments against evolution which have been debunked for many years.
William Paley’s Watchmaker Argument: from the modern ID movement, it is clear that their version of the Intelligent Designer is their view of the Christian god.
Irreducible Complexity & Specified Complexity – IC is complexity which can not be broken down any simpler. SC speaks to specific functions (i.e., DNA, etc)
Law of Conservation of Information: basically, it is impossible for natural processes to come up with SC – wtf?!
The entire ID argument boils in large part down to an argument from incredulity – “I cannot conceive that God didn’t do it, therefore evolution is wrong & God did it!” When presented with explanations via evolution for what we observe, they essentially deny the evidence & rationalize it away.
Another ID argument is known as god-of-the-gaps… in the past, in the absence of natural explanations for various phenomena (earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, etc) the explanation of “God did (does) it!” comes to the front. However, as we learn more and more about the natural world, the god-of-the-gaps gets smaller and smaller, which is one reason why intelligent theologians do not like this line of argumentation.
The Center for Science & Culture via the Discovery Institute pushes ID through their Wedge Strategy, internal memos which explicitly state that they are attempting to push a Christian theocracy on U.S. society. They believe that this “wedge” will lead to a replacement of evolution in science by ID, and this will better society as a whole – note that they say specifically that they aren’t interested in science, rather they are interested in pushing their ideology. Questions such as Young Earth Creationism vs. Old Earth Creationism are said to be answered after evolution is replaced.
At least in YEC, there is some kind of model to be tested, making it at least a legitimate pseudoscience, whereas the modern ID movement is not even wrong, it’s not even a pseudoscience, because it doesn’t even have a model which can be tested in the first place!
ID proponents claim they have a theory, yet they don’t – no model to test – just a bunch of articles. They take advantage of the public’s misunderstanding of the word “theory”, which they imply is “just a guess.” Sadly, many high school texts don’t help with the manner in which scientific terminology is mangled (e.g., hypothesis is more than “a prediction”). This includes mixing up various terms such as scientific law, theory, etc.
There is no ID “theory” – it is simply an assertion. And scientists shouldn’t even use such language in reference to ID, because it gives them more credit than they deserve. …
Posted in creationism, skeptical community | Tagged: Center For Inquiry, Center for Science and Culture, CFI, Chicago, cosmology, creationism, Dangerous Nonsense, Discovery Institute, evolution, ID, intelligent design, irreducible complexity, specified complexity, Wedge document, Wedge Strategy, Young Earth Creationism | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 12, 2010
It seems that our friend on the Texas State Board of Education, Don McLeroy – who is infamous for his repeated attempts to water down the teaching of evolution in particular & science in general in Texas schools, has finally gotten his come-uppance… he has lost his seat on the Texas BoEd in the Republican primary. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has a good breakdown of what happened (below), but I think the long story short of it is that people in Texas are fed up with the creationists attempting to spread their extreme & divisive ideology through the public schools… at least, I hope that’s the case.
In the March 2, 2010, primary election, avowed young-earth creationist Don McLeroy narrowly lost his bid to be the Republican candidate for the District 9 seat on the Texas state board of education. As the Dallas Morning News (March 3, 2010) reported, “The fiercely contested race pitted McLeroy, a dentist from College Station and member of the board’s social conservative bloc, against [Thomas] Ratliff, a legislative consultant and son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff,” who is viewed as likely to side with the moderates on the board. There is no Democratic candidate for the seat, so Ratliff is expected to be elected in November 2010.
Originally elected to the board in 1998, McLeroy was persistently determined to undermine the treatment of evolution in Texas’s public schools. During the debate over biology textbook adoption in 2003, he was one of the four members of the board who misused the state science standards to oppose adopting the eleven textbooks under consideration. His attacks on science education — including his endorsement of a book that described parents who want their children to learn about evolution as “monsters” — were in part responsible for the state senate’s refusal to confirm him as chair of the board in May 2009, as NCSE previously reported.
McLeroy’s assault on evolution came to a head during a meeting of the board in March 2009 when he declaimed, in a now notorious moment, “Somebody’s got to stand up to experts!” (Video is available on NCSE’s YouTube channel.) Unfortunately, a majority of the board did so, voting to amend the Texas state science standards to add a requirement that students examine “all sides of scientific evidence” and to add or amend various standards in a way that encourages the presentation of creationist claims about the complexity of the cell, the completeness of the fossil record, and the age of the universe.
The board’s revisions to the standards were widely deplored, with the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology describing it as “a step backward” and the Austin American-Statesman (April 1, 2009) editorially complaining, “Don McLeroy, Dunbar and others have turned the education board into a national joke. But when it comes to teaching Texas children, what they have done is not funny.” But McLeroy was unabashed. “Our science standards are light years ahead of any other state when it comes to challenging evolution,” he told the Washington Monthly (January/February 2010), adding, “Evolution is hooey.”
Well, Don McLeroy may think that “evolution is hooey” but the voters of Texas have spoken, and McLeroy is history
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: academic freedom, biology, board of education, Christianity, creationism, democracy, Discovery Institute, Don McLeroy, evolution, fundamentalist, ID, intelligent design, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, politics, primary, pseudoscience, publishing, religion, science, scientific creationism, Texas, Texas Board of Education, Texas Freedom Network, textbook selection, textbooks, theocracy, Wedge document | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 27, 2009
Our friends at the National Center for Science Education have topped 1100 signatures to their Steve-O-Meter! For those who don’t know, Project Steve is an effort by the NCSE to show how bankrupt are the claims of creationists that a significant number of scientists “dissent from Darwinism”.
Creationist groups such as the Discovery Institute have engaged in a long-running campaign to fool the public into believing that there is a significant section of the scientific community that disagrees with evolutionary theory. In their “dissent from Darwinism” campaign, they’ve claimed that as many as 400-500 prominent scientists believe that evolutionary science is defunct.
Posted in creationism | Tagged: creationism, Discovery Institute, dissent from Darwinism, education, evolution, fundamentalist, ID, intelligent design, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, Project Steve, religion, Stephen J. Gould, textbook selection, theocracy, Wedge document | Leave a Comment »