Posted by mattusmaximus on December 5, 2012
My friend and skeptical colleague Phil over at Skeptic Money has passed along some welcome news: the Louisiana private school voucher program has been found to be unconstitutional! Whoo-hoo!!! :)[**Aside: If you recall, the state of Louisiana has been a hotbed of creationist activity over the years; more on that here and here. And yes, that fact is important. Read on…]
This is news partly because the program was being used to funnel public school money to private religious schools which specialized in indoctrinating children into fundamentalist forms of Christianity which taught, among other things, creationism as “science”. In addition, let us also not forget that this was the award-winning 21st century educational plan which would teach that the Loch Ness Monster was real as a way of supporting creationism. Phil has some more interesting information on these developments:
News from the State of Louisiana today!
“A state judge on Friday shot down Louisiana’s sweeping school voucher program, ruling that the state could not use funds set aside for public education to pay private-school tuition…”
This is huge. They were going to spend $11 Million to teach creationism.
“Louisiana is preparing to spend over $11 million to send 1,365 students to 20 private schools that teach creationism instead of science as part of Governor Bobby Jindal’s new voucher program.”
This $11 Million is to come out of the public schools. According to a report from “American Legislative Exchange Council” Louisiana ranks 49 out of 51 (They also ranked the District of Columbia). I guess they want to race to the bottom.
The governor is not happy about the ruling.
“Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who had championed the program, called the ruling “wrong-headed” and “a travesty for parents across Louisiana who want nothing more than for their children to have an equal opportunity at receiving a great education.” “
A great education? These children are not being educated. They are being thrown back to the bronze age. We might as well teach them that 2+2 equals “fish”.
“While State District Judge Tim Kelley ruled the voucher program unconstitutional, he did not issue an immediate injunction to stop it. The 5,000 students currently receiving vouchers will be able to continue attending their private schools pending an appeal, state officials said.”
What? The state creates a blatantly illegal program and a judge rules against it but yet it continues. It looks like they are still going to spend that $11 Million on creationism. I feel like we live in some kind of bizzaro world.
This is all promoted by a guy that wants to be the next President of the United States Bobby Jindal.
So… the program will continue for the immediate future (probably until the end of the current academic year), which will no doubt give Jindal and his political allies time to come up with another cockamamie scheme that will bilk the taxpayers and direct their money towards religious zealots who have no interest in teaching their kids (or anybody else’s kids) science.
I agree with Phil. The irony here is that Jindal and his religious right allies go on and on about “giving the kids a great education” but it’s apparent they wouldn’t know good science education if it bit them squarely in the ass. Remember folks, these are the same people who want to give public tax money to schools that teach the Loch Ness Monster is real. Just chew on that for a bit, folks…
In conclusion, I think it is appropriate to end this post with the following clip from Bill Maher’s movie Religulous. In it he is interviewing a U.S. Senator (Mark Pryor from Arkansas) who is trying to justify creationism. When challenged by Maher, the Senator responds with the following, quite telling, line: “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate…”
Yup, he really said that. Watch for yourself (the dialog leading up to the line starts at 4:00):
Posted in creationism, cryptozoology, education, politics | Tagged: A Beka, A Beka Book, academic, Accelerated Christian Education, ACE, biology, Bob Jones University, Bob Jones University Press, Christianity, court, creationism, cryptids, cryptozoology, curriculum, dinosaur, education, evangelical, evolution, freedom, fundamentalist, government, ID, intelligent design, Jindal, judge, Loch Ness, Loch Ness Monster, Louisiana, Mother Jones, Nessie, origin of life, politics, private, public, religion, ruling, school, schools, science, separation of church and state, Skeptic Money, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, unconstitutional, vouchers, Zack Kopplin | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 8, 2012
This past June, I reported that the science curriculum in Louisiana was on its way to going down the proverbial tubes, and evidence of this fact was made available through the uncovering of a creationist curriculum which wants to seriously teach the “reality” of the Loch Ness Monster. Well, as I predicted over a year ago, due to the stupidity of Louisiana’s so-called “academic freedom” law, the state will now be funding (with taxpayer dollars) private school vouchers which will be used to push all manner of nonsense, far beyond your usual garden-variety young-earth creationism, in Louisiana schools. It seems that the door to all manner of flummery and idiocy has been thrown wide open, and the students of these Louisiana voucher schools will be subjected to some truly unbelievable “facts” in their education; just get a load of these (from Mother Jones)…
—By Deanna Pan
Separation of church and what? Currier & Ives/Library of Congress
Thanks to a new law privatizing public education in Louisiana, Bible-based curriculum can now indoctrinate young, pliant minds with the good news of the Lord—all on the state taxpayers’ dime.
Under Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, considered the most sweeping in the country, Louisiana is poised to spend tens of millions of dollars to help poor and middle-class students from the state’s notoriously terrible public schools receive a private education. While the governor’s plan sounds great in the glittery parlance of the state’s PR machine, the program is rife with accountability problems that actually haven’t been solved by the new standards the Louisiana Department of Education adopted two weeks ago.
For one, of the 119 (mostly Christian) participating schools, Zack Kopplin, a gutsy college sophomore who’s taken to Change.org to stonewall the program, has identified at least 19 that teach or champion creationist nonscience and will rake in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations.
Many of these schools, Kopplin notes, rely on Pensacola-based A Beka Book curriculum or Bob Jones University Press textbooks to teach their pupils Bible-based “facts,” such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn’t have to.
Here are some of my favorite lessons:
1. Dinosaurs and humans probably hung out: “Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.”—Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007
2. Dragons were totally real: “[Is] it possible that a fire-breathing animal really existed? Today some scientists are saying yes. They have found large chambers in certain dinosaur skulls…The large skull chambers could have contained special chemical-producing glands. When the animal forced the chemicals out of its mouth or nose, these substances may have combined and produced fire and smoke.”—Life Science, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2007
3. “God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ.”—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994
4. Africa needs religion: “Africa is a continent with many needs. It is still in need of the gospel…Only about ten percent of Africans can read and write. In some areas the mission schools have been shut down by Communists who have taken over the government.”—Old World History and Geography in Christian Perspective, 3rd ed., A Beka Book, 2004
[And, believe it or not, it actually gets worse from here… :( ]
Posted in creationism, cryptozoology, education, politics | Tagged: A Beka, A Beka Book, academic, Accelerated Christian Education, ACE, biology, Bob Jones University, Bob Jones University Press, Christianity, creationism, cryptids, cryptozoology, curriculum, dinosaur, education, evangelical, evolution, freedom, fundamentalist, government, ID, intelligent design, Loch Ness, Loch Ness Monster, Louisiana, Mother Jones, Nessie, origin of life, politics, private, public, religion, school, schools, science, separation of church and state, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, vouchers, Zack Kopplin | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 25, 2012
I’ve written here before about the state of Louisiana’s so-called “academic freedom” law which is essentially a backdoor attempt to push creationism as science in public school science classes. As many critics of the law pointed out when it was passed, this would serve to dumb-down science standards and inevitably harm the education of students in Louisiana by placing pseudoscientific notions such as creationism on an equal (or better) footing than accepted evolutionary science. Well, as predicted, the consequences of this law are now becoming realized, and I’m sorry to say that things in Louisiana are getting even more stupid than I had predicted. Read this article for more detail:
For the 2012-2013 school year, thousands of Louisiana students will receive state-funded vouchers to attend private schools, many of which hold religious affiliations.
One of these schools — Eternity Christian Academy, in Westlake, Louisiana — utilizes the A.C.E. Curriculum Program, a Christian fundamentalist course of study that teaches students to “see life from God’s point of view.” And unbeknownst to most theologians, scientists, and amateur monster hunters, the Lord’s viewpoint apparently incorporates Scotland’s favorite cryptid.
Herald Scotland reports that a certain textbook in the A.C.E. curriculum transcends standard Creationist teachings and instead informs students that the Loch Ness Monster is proof positive that evolution never happened. (And here I always assumed Nessie was The Great Beast from the Book of Revelations.) Explains Herald Scotland:
“One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur. It’s unclear if the movie Godzilla was the inspiration for this lesson.
Jonny Scaramanga, 27, who went through the ACE programme as a child, but now campaigns against Christian fundamentalism, said the Nessie claim was presented as “evidence that evolution couldn’t have happened. The reason for that is they’re saying if Noah’s flood only happened 4000 years ago, which they believe literally happened, then possibly a sea monster survived.”
The Loch Ness Monster as “evidence” of creationism?!!… Oh… my… FSM.
So it’s come to this, folks. As a direct result of the “academic freedom” law in Louisiana, some versions of creationism which are probably even too extreme for many creationists are being seriously pushed as part of the “alternate science” curriculum available to teachers and students…
Apparently, this is the new cover for biology textbooks in Louisiana – image source
I wish I could say that I was surprised, but honestly I’m not. This sort of development is the inevitable result of making science standards so loose (through the invocation of so-called “academic freedom”) that just about any kind of stupid, pseudoscientific nonsense which is completely unsupported by the scientific community can pass muster and be taught as if it were science. As I wrote recently, perhaps this is just the kind of thing we need to have happen in states like Louisiana that try to give a thinly veiled wink and nod to creationists under the auspices of “academic freedom”; perhaps it is time to advertise far and wide that any kind of nonsense can be taught in Louisiana schools. And perhaps there will be a point where the politicians in Louisiana may become so terribly embarrassed at what is passing for “education” (after all, one has to wonder how amenable they would be to Islamic creationism, for example) in their state that they might act to remedy the situation.
Until that day comes, however, I think we should be prepared for much more silliness to come out of Louisiana. One thing’s for sure, it will be entertaining.
Posted in creationism, cryptozoology, education | Tagged: academic, Accelerated Christian Education, ACE, biology, Christianity, creationism, cryptids, cryptozoology, curriculum, dinosaur, education, evolution, freedom, fundamentalist, government, ID, intelligent design, Loch Ness, Loch Ness Monster, Louisiana, Nessie, origin of life, politics, private, public, religion, school, schools, science, separation of church and state, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, vouchers | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 19, 2012
In some of my recent blog posts, I wondered about the utility of calling the bluff of creationists and going with their argument of “teaching all views” regarding evolution, creationism, etc. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this June 18th cartoon from Non Sequitur just nails it :)
Posted in creationism, education, humor | Tagged: alien, biology, cartoon, Christianity, comedy, creationism, education, evolution, fundamentalist, funny, government, humor, ID, intelligent design, Non Sequitur, origin of life, public, Raelians, religion, satire, schools, science, teach all views, teach the controversy, theory, truth | Leave a Comment »
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 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 »