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Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law 672

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tennessee-legislators-evolved-from-trogdolytes dept.
MrKevvy writes "The Tennessee 'Teaching the Controversy' bill was passed into law today. 'A law to allow public school teachers to challenge the scientific consensus on issues like climate change and evolution will soon take effect in Tennessee. State governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill — passed by the state House and Senate — to become law without signing it, saying he did not believe the legislation "changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools."'" The governor adds: "However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools."
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Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:32PM (#39645441)

    I can't wait for the first lawsuit involving a teacher fired for teaching kids about gay sex in his sex-ed class, or the first atheist teacher who catches even a sideways glance for teaching about evolution openly in any way he/she wants to.

    When I went to school in Georgia many years ago, biology teachers would have killed for a law like this. Not so they could preach about Jesus riding a dinosaur, mind you, but so they could teach *evolution* openly with absolutely no fear of retaliation for it.

    Try firing Scopes now, you bible-thumping fucktards.

    • by Shatrat (855151) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645523)

      I don't think this law does what you think it does. I believe the goal of this law is to allow teachers to present creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to natural selection.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:40PM (#39645611)

        ...legitimate scientific alternative...

        Despite it being none of these things...

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:44PM (#39645683)

          Modded down? Seriously? How did they do that without thumbs?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:46PM (#39645697)

          Meanwhile in China, students are learning.

          • by flyhigher (643174) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:05PM (#39646045)

            Creationism (as in Biblical creationism) is spreading in China through missionary work:

            http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/01/18/chinese-creationist/ [skepticblog.org]

            But it's worse than that. US creationist organizations are actively translating their materials and working to disseminate them on a global scale:

            http://nwcreation.net/international.html [nwcreation.net]

            • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#39648675)

              I don't know whether to be pissed off that they're spreading falsehoods across the world, or happy that they're sabotaging a rival country's scientific progress!

          • by readin (838620)

            Meanwhile in China, students are learning.

            ...learning the version of history approved by their government.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Even if their history class is being approved by their government, that pretty much goes for EVERY country in the world. You are taught your own version of history with a flavor slanted towards your country being the best.

              However, in china, they're at least learning proper mathematics, language, and the various fields of science properly. You can't say the same for north americans. (Yes, I'm including Canada in that.)

            • by ChatHuant (801522) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:56PM (#39646891)

              Meanwhile in China, students are learning.

              ...learning the version of history approved by their government

              It's indeed fortunate that history is taught objectively and neutrally [texastribune.org] in the US

        • by Benfea (1365845) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:16PM (#39648935)
          The matter of what is and isn't science isn't so cut and dry as people think. There are scientists and philosophers who do nothing by try to answer the question of what is and is not science. According to some who study this question, creation theory is a scientific theory, it's just a debunked scientific theory like luminiferous aether. According to them, creation theory is science because it is falsifiable and in fact has already been falsified.
      • by crazyjj (2598719) *

        Yes, that's the *goal*. I think you missed to point of my post.

      • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:55PM (#39645853)

        Exactly what it is. If I had my child in a Tennessee school and the Teacher started using tax payer money to advance creationism, I would be the first to line up to sue the school, and I hope that is exactly what happens. Tax payer money should not be used to fund religious teachings and any state that thinks this is ok deserves to be hit with a lawsuit.

        Stupidity at it's finest.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District [wikipedia.org]

        For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (page 24)
        A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants' protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
        The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
        The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
        Throughout the trial and in various submissions to the Court, Defendants vigorously argue that the reading of the statement is not ‘teaching’ ID but instead is merely ‘making students aware of it.’ In fact, one consistency among the Dover School Board members' testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. We disagree. .... an educator reading the disclaimer is engaged in teaching, even if it is colossally bad teaching. .... Defendants’ argument is a red herring because the Establishment Clause forbids not just 'teaching' religion, but any governmental action that endorses or has the primary purpose or effect of advancing religion. (footnote 7 on page 46)
        After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64)
        [T]he one textbook [Pandas] to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case. (pages 86–87)
        ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
        Accordingly, we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the publi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Covalent (1001277)
          They will be sued...probably later this week.

          As has been said previously, all this accomplishes is a gross waste of taxpayer money.
        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:13PM (#39646163) Journal

          If I had my child in a Tennessee school and the Teacher started using tax payer money to advance creationism, I would be the first to line up to sue the school, and I hope that is exactly what happens.

          The real travesty is that you can't individually sue the lawmakers who passed an obviously unconstitutional law. If the people who passed laws suffered when they were found unconsititutional we'd see fewer unconstitutional laws passed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If I had my child in a Tennessee school and the Teacher started using tax payer money to advance creationism, I would be the first to line up to sue the school

          I don't think you've ever lived in the Bible Belt. You and your kid probably would be cut out from the community before you even got to that point. Everyone is Christian. Everyone prays together. One of the first questions people ask on meeting strangers is, "What church do you attend?" If you sued the school, expect yourself and your poor kid to be face serious repercussions.

          Not very Christian by my understanding of the word, but that's the Bible Belt.

          • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:22PM (#39646319) Homepage
            "expect yourself and your poor kid to be face serious repercussions." The very teachings of Jesus himself. One can almost see him smiling lovingly down on the persecution of non-believers.
          • If I had my child in a Tennessee school and the Teacher started using tax payer money to advance creationism, I would be the first to line up to sue the school

            I don't think you've ever lived in the Bible Belt. You and your kid probably would be cut out from the community before you even got to that point. Everyone is Christian. Everyone prays together. One of the first questions people ask on meeting strangers is, "What church do you attend?" If you sued the school, expect yourself and your poor kid to be face serious repercussions.

            Not very Christian by my understanding of the word, but that's the Bible Belt.

            Quite right. It's already happened. Cf McCollum v. Board of Education [wikipedia.org]. The activities of Mrs. McCollum's neighbors (as well as plenty of nut jobs from around the country) was reprehensible to say the least. Mrs. McCollum and her kids talk about this in Jay Rosenstein's documentary film [jayrosenstein.com].

            Sir Peter Medawar (see below) had it nailed.

            The USA is so enormous, and so numerous are its schools, colleges and religious seminaries, many devoted to special religious beliefs ranging from the unorthodox to the dotty, t

      • I don't think this law does what you think it does. I believe the goal of this law is to allow teachers to present creationism as a legitimate scientific alternative to natural selection.

        True, and the intelligent design folks are salivating at the thought of getting their viewpoint out as "scientific." However, all laws are double edged swords - what about the controversy over ancient astronauts? The Great Spaghetti Monster? If the state argues it only allows certain controversies to be taught then it's likely unconstitutional.

        All Hail Pasta!!!

    • by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:40PM (#39645607) Journal
      My teachers in S.C. just ignored the laws pertaining to religion in schools. There weren't enough atheists, Jews, or other religious minorities around to make it an issue.
    • by tomhath (637240) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:00PM (#39645957)

      When my kids were in school their teachers suggested evolution had problems and that creation was an alternative to be considered. The students laughed about it afterwards. They don't live in the cloistered environment their grandparents did

      I expect this bill will do more to make students see the wisdom of scientific process than spread any religious philosophy.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:06PM (#39646071)

      See, something like this sort of happened before [firstamendmentcenter.org] and when the University of CA systesm was sued, the judge dimissed it [faith-freedom.com].

      When TN students start getting rejection letters from accredited universities or at the very least colleges that understand that this is the 21st Century, maybe they'll change their tune.

      This also happened with Kansas when one of their school boards banned teaching of evolution [holysmoke.org] and California told their students to not even apply to their schools. [holysmoke.org]

      In the meantime, the rest of the World - even die hard theocratic countries - are pushing science educatoin. China is already on our heels when it comes scientifc progress.

      Religious fundamentalism is destroying science education in this country - and giving everyone else of faith a bad name.

      • by the gnat (153162)

        In the meantime, the rest of the World - even die hard theocratic countries - are pushing science educatoin

        True, but apparently many Muslims (in both the Middle East and Europe) are just as militantly against the theory of evolution as evangelical Christians in the US. Moreover, it's not like many of these developing countries don't have their own pathologies; China still officially endorses Marxism, which as far as I'm concerned is as nutty as any religion. And everything I read about the Chinese governm

        • Moreover, it's not like many of these developing countries don't have their own pathologies; China still officially endorses Marxism, which as far as I'm concerned is as nutty as any religion.

          It would be more correct to say that China pays a lip service to Marxism - it has, effectively, devolved into a ritualistic religion there. They've stripped all substance from it decades ago, and they certainly don't use it to make decisions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Religious fundamentalism is destroying everything
    • Wait until the Muslim schools use this as a defence for teaching that Christians are evil and deserve to be killed.
  • There you have it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Squiddie (1942230) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:35PM (#39645491)
    Politicians killing science in the American south. I wonder what they'll try to make controversial next. Gravity, perhaps?
    • by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645541)
      "Newton was a commie, gravity is actually God keeping you on the ground."

      I weep for the future.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:47PM (#39645727) Journal

        Man was created in God's image, so gravity is really just the man keeping you down?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TofuDog (735357)
        Yes it's God keeping you on the ground; specifically the loving (and delicious) tendrils of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Like, ID His role in gravity is merely an alternative "theory". This contention is proven by the more frequent touching by FSM (pesto be upon him) that made past humans shorter than today. Now there are too many of us to be receive as frequent touching (except for midgets, who are his favorites, and have clearly been pushed down more by the loving, al dente tendrils). RAmen.
  • by ocean_soul (1019086) <tobias.verhulstNO@SPAMgmx.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:36PM (#39645497) Homepage
    I weep for the kids in Tennessee.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:36PM (#39645499) Journal

    Aliens built the Pyramids
    Teach The Controversy

    http://controversy.wearscience.com/ [wearscience.com]

    • by residieu (577863) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:45PM (#39645693)
      We'll start this chapter by watching the first few seasons of Stargate SG-1.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59PM (#39645927) Journal

      This is Slashdot, but did you even think to browse the page and a half bill? It's quit simple in saying that only discussions with scientific merit are worthy and to be sensitive to other views and discuss that the controversy exists and not that it is right.

      • by the gnat (153162) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:43PM (#39646685)

        the controversy exists

        Except it doesn't. The "controversy" is manufactured by religious pressure groups; among actual scientists, while there certainly are controversies about the mechanisms of evolution, the fact of evolution is not disputed, save for a handful of professional cranks. We shouldn't have to be sensitive to their views, any more than flat-earthers, moon hoaxers, 9/11 Truthers, or Birthers.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645531) Homepage Journal

    I mean they're just competing narratives, aren't they? I can hardly wait for the Gay Nazis for Christ to teach their 'controversy'. It will be awesome.

  • Cults: 1 Logic:0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645535) Homepage Journal

    So when can science teachers start to tell these cults what sort of nonsense to spew in their brainwashing sessions every Sunday?
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:37PM (#39645537)

    Not because the bill means anything - I agree that it probably has no effect relative to what is currently allowed - but because we, as a nation, need to get over this urge to make meaningless laws.

    If the law has zero net effect, than DON'T MAKE IT LAW!

    And if the legislature makes meaningless laws, veto it as a statement of principle. If they want to override, that's their privilege.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:40PM (#39645609) Homepage Journal

    Throughout history, ideas have warred it out through the process of open discussion and debate. Right now, this issue is totally Balkanized and neither side is talking to the other. Opening it up to discussion might allow us to get farther than trying to pick on side or the other.

    • by macromorgan (2020426) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:47PM (#39645725)
      What debate though? One side is backed up by reason and evidence, and the other is not. There's a lot of facts on one side, and a lot of plugging fingers in ears screaming "I can't hear you" on the other side.
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:49PM (#39645749) Homepage Journal

      This isn't a matter of picking a side, it's facts and evidence vs. fairy tales.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:52PM (#39645811)

      You're assuming both sides have valid positions. They don't. One side is based on the principle of scientific inquiry, the other one on a book written by goat herders a couple of thousand years ago.

      The biggest problem in the US right now is that everyone is assumed to have a valid opinion. in the vast majority of cases, there are a few valid opinions, and a whole lot of completely wrong intuitions, gut feelings and "everyone knows" positions.

      • by AioKits (1235070)
        It would appear you are being down modded. I can only conclude this is because you're using the derogatory term, goat herders. May I offer assistance by suggesting the term 'Capra aegagrus hircus range and mobility engineers' in its place?
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:53PM (#39645819)

      Without evolution, nothing in biology beyond the 4th grade level makes sense. Morphology, Anatomy, Physiology, Cytology, Embryology, Ecology, Taxonomy, Genetics, Paleontology, Microbiology... nothing, nothing, nothing in any of those fields can be adequately explained without bearing evolution in mind. Debating evolution in a biology class is like debating Netwon's third law of motion while riding a rocket to the moon.

    • by tgibbs (83782)

      Throughout history, ideas have warred it out through the process of open discussion and debate. Right now, this issue is totally Balkanized and neither side is talking to the other. Opening it up to discussion might allow us to get farther than trying to pick on side or the other.

      Right. Have open debate in a high school class whether heat is molecular motion or phlogiston. Or whether Einstein or Newton was right. Whether disease is due to germs or evil humours. Or whether the planets revolve around the eart

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:59PM (#39645949) Journal

      What's there to talk about. There is no controversy in the scientific community. Creationism was rejected more than a century ago. It's only a real controversy when a meaningful number of authorities in the same or similar fields disagree, like say, string theory. That's a scientific controversy. But no one in any of the sciences related to biology has seriously thought Creationism was rational, let alone, scientific in generations. Even one of ID's chief formulators, Michael Behe, doesn't disagree with evolution or common descent. There's certainly no generic conflict with Christianity, as most of the major churches have had no objection to evolution for decades.

      So "balkanized" is an absurd word to use, because it to somehow suggests there is a middle ground. But there is no middle ground.

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:43PM (#39645655) Homepage

    "Okay, students. Today we're going to 'challenge evolution'. Open your tests and follow the instructions. Be sure to use the scientific method to prove or disprove all of evolution's theories and predictions listed.

    Pencils down. What was the answer -- Billy? Yes, that's right, Billy, we have challenged evolution and proven that it is true using the scientific method. Isn't that an interesting result? Well done, everyone!"

  • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:48PM (#39645735) Homepage
    How can allowing teachers the ability to teach such utter bullshit help the U.S. stay competitive?
    IMHO this sort of thing will only hinder the U.S. in the coming decades.
  • Monkey Law (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spiked_Three (626260) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:53PM (#39645837)
    A very appropriate name. Kids raised in TN are destined for failure. I'm sure there are some smart people there, but they moved in from out of state and/or are the exceptions.

    I moved there in 2004, couldn't believe the ignorance, and ran out last year. That place is scary.

    To be honest this is the kind of lawmaking I would expect from people there, a waste of time and further dragging the country down with more uneducated bible thumpers.
  • by An Ominous Coward (13324) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:57PM (#39645903)

    As Bill Bryson quipped, this is just "proving conclusively that the danger for Tennesseans isn't so much that they may be descended from apes as overtaken by them."

  • 2+2=5 (Score:3, Funny)

    by tekrat (242117) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:19PM (#39646259) Homepage Journal

    Let's teach the controversy!

    I challenge ANY teacher to fail any kid or write "Wrong answer" on a test. Now you can sue the school if Johnny doesn't want to learn to read or write or do math, because God says he's right.

    After all, God says Rick Santorum should be president, and we see how right God is so far on that front.

    So now "God says" is a suitable answer for any test. Just ask Bill O'Reilly, who claims that the Tides going in and out are proof of God -- teach that one in science class. Moon's gravity pulling on the oceans? Bah! Superstition! 'God Says' is the right answer now!

    WIsh I could'a used that for my SAT tests, I would have gotten a perfect score and attended Harvard!

  • by osjedi (9084) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:42PM (#39646653)

    In my experience, the best and most enlightening learning has come through study of both the arguments for and against a specific topic, theory, solution, etc. I feel more confident in my opinions when I have heard all arguments and seen all evidence. If any of the evidence or arguments are hokey, let me be the judge of that. If I judge that argument A is a joke and B is correct, my conviction regarding B will be stronger than if a counter argument to B were never presented to me.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @02:03PM (#39647007) Journal

      In my experience, there is only a limited amount of time in a high school class, whether it be history, science, art or whatever, to teach. So having teachers wasting a good deal of that precious time on something that hasn't been a scientific controversy for a few generations, pretending that some controversy actually exists, seems an utter waste. If someone is interested in the "other side" they are perfectly capable of going to their pastor and asking all about Creationism.

      Unless you think a fair chunk of the history of the WWII era should be taken up with Holocaust Denial claims, you know, to be fair.

  • by Jeff Hornby (211519) <{ac.ocitapmys} {ta} {ybnrohtj}> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:59PM (#39646939) Homepage

    According to Wikipedia, Tennessee is 41st in median household income in the US. How long are they going to hold on to even that position when all of the educated people in the state (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) start moving elsewhere so that their children will get a proper education? I think we can write off Tennessee for the near future.

    Maybe the AMA and various other professional bodies should start reviewing the status of education in Tennessee to see if a child educated in such a system will ever qualify for med school. I'm pretty sure that I don't want a doctor who doesn't understand basic biology

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