Posted by mattusmaximus on June 9, 2012
As a quick follow-up to my last post, I wanted to share with you all the following YouTube video from a symposium on the topic of how creationism has mutated and spread around the world in the last 25 years, after the famous Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision which found that teaching creationism as science violated the U.S. Constitution. Give it a look…
Symposium | Why Does the Debate Matter?
On May 11th, 2012 Stanford’s Constitutional Law Center, along with the Center for Law and the Biosciences and the National Center for Science and Education (NCSE) hosted the symposium, “Science and Religion in the Classroom: Edwards v. Aguillard at 25.” Nathan Chapman (Stanford) moderated the panel, “Why Does the Debate Matter?” featuring Michael McConnell (Stanford), Hank Greely (Stanford), Ronald Numbers (Wisconsin), Michael Ruse (Florida State) and Eugenie Scott (NCSE).
Posted in creationism | Tagged: biology, Christianity, creationism, discussion, education, evolution, fundamentalist, Genie Scott, government, ID, intelligent design, National Center for Science Education, NCSE, origin of life, panel, politics, public, religion, schools, science, separation of church and state, Stanford, symposium, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, university | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 24, 2012
Given the amazing success of the Reason Rally this weekend in Washington, DC (roughly 20,000 secularists/atheists/non-religious people showing up in the rain is a success to me ), it seems more than appropriate that the Freedom From Religion Foundation runs an ad which will receive a nationwide airing on CBS on Sunday and Monday. The ad opens with President John F. Kennedy’s famous remarks about an absolute separation between church and state. Here’s the ad:
Wonderfully done, and well-timed. This is an especially important time for those of us in the non-believing community to step up and be counted, given the preponderance of religiously-oriented stupidity on display in election-year politics these days. If we hope to uphold church-state separation and fight back against those who would turn our secular republic into a theocracy, we need to get vocal and get active!
Hat tip to The Friendly Atheist for bringing this to my attention!
Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: 2012, ad, advertisement, atheism, atheist, CBS, conservatives, election, FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation, God, gods, government, JFK, John F. Kennedy, news, nonbeliever, nonreligious, politics, Reason Rally, religion, religious right, secular, secularists, separation of church and state, television, The Friendly Atheist, TV, United States | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 1, 2011
You may have already seen it: the video of would-be Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann commenting that not teaching creationism (or, “intelligent design”, as she calls it) in public school science classes is “government censorship.” Check it out…
Wow, there are so many things wrong with what she’s saying, it’s hard to know where to begin. While these arguments from creationists are nothing new, I’ll just hit some of the high points:
1. The “Teach All Views” Argument: I think this one bugs me more than any others, because it is a disingenuous attempt to play off the American sense of fairness. “Just teach all the theories” says Bachmann, but she makes a very interesting omission – what she omits in her argument is that creationists don’t actually want “all ideas on the table” as she states. What they really want is to insert their very narrow religious ideology (typically, the view of young-Earth creationism) into public school science classes.
If Bachmann and her ilk were really genuine in their argument, then they would have no problem with “equal time” for a large variety of creationist ideas: old-Earth creationism, day-age creationism, gap creationism, flat Earth creationism, geocentrism, Islamic creationism, various Native-American creation myths, Scientology, and even Raelianism. I especially like proposing “equal time” for Raelianism under Bachmann’s plan, because the Raelians are an atheistic UFO-cult which believes that humans were not created by God but aliens. You have to wonder how willing Bachmann and her pals would be to give “equal time” to the Raelians!
So, I say to Bachmann: go for it, but if you really mean “teach all views” then be prepared to open the door to every kind of creationist idea out there. And perhaps after all views have been equally represented, the science teachers in U.S. public schools just might have a couple of weeks at the end of the school year to teach actual science. Who cares if our students will be effectively scientifically illiterate and we start to have massive brain-drain as compared to China and India? At least we can all feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that we “taught all views”. Gee whiz, thanks Ms. Bachmann!!!
The logical conclusion of applying the creationist idea of “teaching all views”…
2. The Whiny “Censorship” Argument: here again we have another facepalm moment. These creationists actually believe, or they try to make us believe, that just because the U.S. government doesn’t give their particular set of religious beliefs some kind of priviledged status in public schools that it means they are being “censored.” Purre rubbish, plain and simple. For one thing, there is this little thing in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which is called the separation of church and state. It basically means, in this particular context, that the public schools don’t get into the business of favoring one particular religion over another – that is, the government remains neutral on the question of the “correctness” of various religious beliefs in the public school classroom.
And that means specifically not giving any previledged status to a particular religious view in schools. So while it would be appropriate to have a class on, say, comparative religion where the topic of creationism is studied, it wouldn’t be appropriate to insert those views into a science class since that crosses the boundary between science and religion. Religious ideas are taught in religion class, and science is taught in science class!
3. “Scientists don’t agree on the origins of life”: while this is technically true, because the subject of abiogenesis (the study of life’s origins) is a subject of much discussion in the scientific community, Bachmann plays fast and loose with the facts by erroneously equating abiogenesis with the well understood and accepted theory of evolution. These are not the same thing, and it is a common tactic of creationists to equate the two in an effort to give the sense that the scientific community doesn’t support evolution. That’s just plain wrong, because – as these statistics point out – evolution is well-established in the scientific community.
4. Evolution is “just a theory”: this is another tried and true argument used by creationists to denegrate evolution. They try to make it sound like a “theory” in scientific terms is equivalent to a hunch or a guess, but this is incorrect. In science, a theory is a well-established and tested set of ideas that ties together a large set of observations and evidence into a coherent explanatory framework. An analogy in physics would be to talk about the theory of gravity – would Bachmann or her creationist ilk try to seriously argue that gravity is “just a theory”?
If so, I invite her and anyone who agrees with her to take a dive off the nearest tall building without a parachute
I jest, of course, but in my jest there is a note of seriousness: if these creationists truly believe that evolution is “just a theory” (that is, a guess) then why do so many of them continue to use modern vaccines and antibiotics which are made as a direct result of the application of evolutionary theory? If we didn’t understand evolution, we simply wouldn’t have those medicines. So to avoid being labeled as hypocrites, I think creationists need to at least acknowledge that evolution is more than just a simple guess.
But I won’t hold my breath. One thing’s for sure: creationists certainly are persistent, and as long as they’re up to their shenanigans we have to be equally vigilant.
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: 2012, Bachmann, biology, censorship, Christianity, creationism, education, evolution, freedom, fundamentalist, GOP, government, ID, intelligent design, Michelle, origin of life, politics, president, primary, race, religion, Republican, science, separation of church and state, Tea Party, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, United States | 5 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 6, 2011
I just got the following action alert from the American Association of Physics Teachers. If you value not only scientific research but science education as well, I encourage you to contact your Senators and tell them to fully fund the NSF. As a physics teacher/professor, I cannot tell you how valuable programs like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are for reaching out to the public and promoting science. In addition, these and other similar programs are absolutely critical to helping insure that the United States has well-qualified science and math teachers in our schools; these programs also help to shuttle many students into science and engineering-oriented careers, which ultimately benefits all of us.
Anyway, read the AAPT’s press release below…
If you live in the United States, AAPT and the nation need your help. On Friday, September 16th, the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies reported a bill to Congress recommending a reduction of science funding for fiscal year 2012. Specifically, the bill recommends reducing funding for the National Science Foundation by an amount of $161,772,000 or 2.4% below the 2011 enacted level and $1,068,905,000 or 13.8% below the budget request.(See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ CRPT-112srpt78/pdf/CRPT- 112srpt78.pdf for the full bill). This is particularly disappointing because the House has recommended much higher funding amounts ($6,698,100,000 for the Senate versus $6,859,870,000 for the House and $7,767,000,000 for the 2012 requested). Particularly hard hit is the Education and Human Resources Directorate of NSF which has a recommended cut of $32,030,000 or 3.7% below the 2011 enacted level and $82,200,000 or 9% below the request. This Directorate funds many of the programs that support STEM education including many key AAPT programs such as the New Faculty Workshop, ComPADRE, and the SPIN-UP Regional Workshops.
I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to support the full requested level of funding for NSF for the 2012 fiscal year. You might mention the legislated calls to double the NSF budget as a fundamental investment in our society, but we realize that goal will be difficult to meet in the current difficult enconomic situation. This is particularly urgent if one of your senators is a member of the CJS Subcommittee. You can find your senator at the US Senate website http://www.senate.gov/general/ contact_information/senators_ cfm.cfm and members of the CJS Subcommittee are listed at http://appropriations.senate. gov/sc-commerce.cfm.
In order to make the process easier, you can use the sample letter of support and insert the date, your address, your senator’s name, and your name and credentials. If possible, personalize the letter by adding a few sentences on the impact that a reduction of this funding will have on you and your students. Better yet, write your own letter emphasizing the impact the cuts will have on physics education. You can submit your letter directly to your senators via their websites to expedite the process.
Beth A. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Posted in science funding | Tagged: AAPT, American Association of Physics Teachers, budget, congress, educators, engineering, engineers, funding, government, house, math, mathematics, money, National Science Foundation, NSF, research, science, scientists, Senate, STEM, teachers, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 8, 2010
Last March I posted about a growing movement among scientists to restore the defunct U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which has been spearheaded by the Union of Concerned Scientists. I wanted to just pass along a quick follow-up about the progress made so far on this front & the work yet to be done. Please consider passing this along!
|Restoring the Office of Technology Assessment
Update on our efforts to bring the facts back to CongressThanks so much for speaking up in support of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). I’m writing to give you an update on our progress.
Your efforts are reinforcing the message we’ve delivered in visits to more than 30 congressional offices to date. The fact that district offices are hearing from constituents greatly strengthens our influence in Washington.
Recently, I met with Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in her home district, along with several of her constituents. As the chair of the subcommittee that can fund the OTA or keep it dormant, Representative Wasserman Schultz has a crucial role to play. She remarked several times how refreshing it was for her to hear about the OTA outside of Washington, and how valuable it was to hear that its restoration would contribute to quality of life in her district.
In May, we delivered a letter supporting the OTA to members of the House of Representatives signed by 90 organizations ranging from Consumers Union and the United Auto Workers to the ACLU and Republicans for Environmental Protection. We also delivered the statement of support for reviving the OTA signed by you and more than 3,100 other scientists. And dozens of other citizens throughout the country brought smiles to the faces of representatives and their staff by delivering mousepads featuring an OTA-themed editorial cartoon to district offices around the country.
|Your efforts add to the cumulative impact of all our work. We will know in a few weeks whether we’ve been able to convince Representative Wasserman Schultz to add funds to start up OTA to the legislative branch spending bill.
This is a very tough budget year. Even if we are not successful in getting startup funds this year, our combined efforts have begun the hard work of building a citizen-led push for restoring the OTA. These efforts often take more than one year to yield results, but if you remain persistently and energetically engaged, we will ultimately succeed.
I’ll continue to keep you posted and let you know if there are other opportunities to weigh in.
Learn more about our efforts to restore the OTA
National Field Organizer
Scientific Integrity Program
Posted in politics, science funding | Tagged: congress, funding, government, Office of Technology Assessment, OTA, policy, politics, Rush Holt, science, Science Debate, technology, Union of Concerned Scientists, United States, Wasserman Schultz | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 22, 2010
I don’t usually post on purely political topics, but some recent news is making me get out of my usual rut. I want to talk in this post about the U.S. drug problem… specifically, about how the “War on Drugs”, a.k.a. Drug Prohibition, is beyond useless – it has actually done far more harm than good.
Take a look at this recent news article showing how Drug Prohibition is a complete waste of time, money, resources, and essentially a civil war against our own citizens…
U.S. drug war has met none of its goals
After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.
“In the grand scheme, it has not been successful,” Kerlikowske told The Associated Press. “Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified.”
This week President Obama promised to “reduce drug use and the great damage it causes” with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment.
Nevertheless, his administration has increased spending on interdiction and law enforcement to record levels both in dollars and in percentage terms; this year, they account for $10 billion of his $15.5 billion drug-control budget.
Kerlikowske, who coordinates all federal anti-drug policies, says it will take time for the spending to match the rhetoric. …
Not only that, but at the high school where I teach there used to be a student supervisor who was a retired cop. Over the years of his time on the force, he spent considerable time working the drug beat. Just before he left the school, he confided in me a revelation he’d had: that all the work he and his colleagues had done in enforcing drug laws, fighting the dealers, and so on had done absolutely nothing to stop (or even limit) the drug problem. Nothing.
That’s a startling revelation from someone whose profession it was to enforce the very laws and carry out the very War on Drugs which are supposed to protect us from this supposed scourge upon humanity.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in politics | Tagged: alcohol, America, black market, Bullshit, cocaine, drug czar, Drug Prohibition, drugs, government, heroin, illegal, law, marijuana, Mexico, organized crime, Penn and Teller, politics, pot, prescription, prohibition, United States, War on Drugs | 2 Comments »