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Education Science

Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory 763

Posted by Soulskill
from the guns-evolved-from-the-jesus dept.
An anonymous reader writes "[Ars Technica] recently reviewed the documentary The Revisionaries, which chronicles the actions of the Texas state school board as it attempted to rewrite the science and history standards that had been prepared by experts in education and the relevant subjects. For biology, the board's revisions meant that textbook publishers were instructed to help teachers and students 'analyze all sides of scientific information' about evolution. Given that ideas only reach the status of theory if they have overwhelming evidence supporting them, it isn't at all clear what 'all sides' would involve."
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Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory

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  • FSM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HybridST (894157) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:08PM (#42837875) Homepage

    May we each be touched by his noodley appendage!

    • Re:FSM (Score:4, Interesting)

      by flyneye (84093) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:51PM (#42839057) Homepage

      I find complete harmony in both evolution and creation, but then I study the original Hebrew and Aramaic in addition to following science. Most Christians shit their drawers when I talk about Christs use of - and most atheist start trying to impress me with the skeptics bible which seems to be written by Beavis and Butthead. No need to choose either, when you can harmonize both.

      • "I find complete harmony in both evolution and creation..."

        So, how do you do that? And what does it have to do with studying original Hebrew and Aramaic? And what is this skeptics bible you mention?

        • Re:FSM (Score:4, Interesting)

          by flyneye (84093) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:05PM (#42840129) Homepage

          It's a very long road.
          The easy part is an understanding of evolution, most people have a basic knowledge of this.
          The harder part is an understanding of the Bible as a book of history as well as the word. To do this and dispense with the nonsense of being asked to believe impossiblilities is to understand what it is you are looking at. Primarily it is a history book, an understanding of world history of Israel and pre- Israel and it's surroundings, politics and how this history survived in spite of being destroyed and by word of mouth and through translation is essential. A good place for the beginner to start, with an author familiar and enjoyed by most is to acquire a copy of the two volume set " Azimovs guide to the Bible" and let the scholar begin shining a flashlight around the dark for you. Later ,study of Hebrew, Aramaic,Apocryphal books and early Christian and Gnostic writings, translations , their implications and politics come from a need for more knowledge. I've seen Issac Asimovs book floating around P2P ,if this is out of print, as it was written in 1967. Be a good soul and make a donation to somewhere worthy in his name if you should download it. The understanding you gain will be in direct ratio to your hunger and effort.
          As for the "Skeptics Bible, it is an Atheist book by book refutation of the Bible done with all the rigor you would expect Beavis and Butthead to put into "disproving" the Bible as the word. Laughable, I think you can find it in full on some website. Just as lazy and argumentative as you would expect, but gives some insight into what is lacking in Atheism.
          For me to share my faith with you would be to write a book. I'll instead let you discover and decide for yourself.

          • Re:FSM (Score:4, Insightful)

            by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:17PM (#42840583)

            Primarily it is a history book,

            bullshit.

            its 100% fiction and you bloody well know it.

            its no more history than zeus and the roman/greek stories.

            NO MORE.

            who, today, would argue for ANY 'historical' basis on greek/roman mythology?

            and note, we ALL call it mythology.

            why can't you accept that yours is also at the SAME exact level?

            because you were raised on it? is that any reason at all? honestly?

          • Re:FSM (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @12:41AM (#42841025) Homepage Journal

            ..." insight into what is lacking in Atheism."

            Actually, the only thing lacking in atheism is a god.

          • Re:FSM (Score:4, Insightful)

            by hairyfish (1653411) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @06:24AM (#42842185)

            The harder part is an understanding of the Bible as a book of history as well as the word.

            Before we even get that far you need to tell why I should even care? Just I feel no need to watch Desperate Housewives, Harry Potter, or study Barraiya, Maui, or Asmat, why would I even waste my time with these fairy tales?

            As for the "Skeptics Bible, it is an Atheist book by book refutation of the Bible

            Again who cares? Atheism isn't a religion (I know this is obvious but it seems to be a hard point to get through to some people). If one Atheist decides to publish some crap doesn't mean anyone else believes it or cares. In fact most literature I've come across on Atheism is a waste of space. Personally I find historical study to be a lot more fulfilling when you learn from an independent point of view, rather than any one particular fairy tale.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              Just I feel no need to watch Desperate Housewives, Harry Potter, or study Barraiya, Maui, or Asmat, why would I even waste my time with these fairy tales?

              Because, as this story demonstrates, enough people care about religion that it has a potential effect on your life. You can argue that this shouldn't be the case, but that won't stop it from being so. And that leaves you the choice of either understanding these "fairy tales" - and thus the reality the people who believe them operate in - or having your ab

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:09PM (#42837895)

    Sigh. There's just no cure for stupid. Full disclosure. I live in Texas and yes, this embarrasses me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No there is a cure, this measure just actively fights it.

    • by nbauman (624611) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:19PM (#42838019) Homepage Journal

      When I visited Texas I noticed that half the people were really cool guys and the other half were assholes. Of course most other places were like that but Texas took it to extremes.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:32PM (#42838141)

      Gravity is a very active area of theoretical study. We don't understand what it is very well, and there are strong indications that General Relativity is not complete, that we need a better theory to fully explain interactions, particularly on the quantum level.

      You may be confusing the theory with the fact. The fact of gravity is that objects attract, or on a more human scale, that things fall down. That is something you can just observe, sometimes without meaning to. The theory of gravity is to explain how and why the interaction works. That one we don't have nailed.

      Not trying to support Texas here in their unscientific bullshit, but gravity is not an open and shut case. What its method of action is, how it works on very small and large levels, and how it unifies with the other forces are still not well understood.

      • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:41PM (#42838257)

        I was treating it as a boolean issue (i.e. gravity exists). Kinda like evolution.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:48PM (#42838341)

          Well most of the god-tards have moved on from disputing that things evolve. Rather their new shit is intelligent design, which says that god works behind the scenes, controlling how things evolve and change. So they aren't disputing the fact that change happens, they are disputing the theory as to why.

          However their counter is not a theory, since there is no way to test it, and hence has no place in science class. Even if it is right, it is not science as it is not something one can test. Any time you mention god, by definition outside of the universe and untestable, you aren't talking science.

          • Well most of the god-tards have moved on

            You mean their theories have.....*puts on shades*....evolved?

      • by NXIL (860839) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:52PM (#42838395)

        Good sir or madame,

        you are operating in an entirely different dimension--string theory?--that the "theory" of evolution doubters in Texas.

        Just like gravity, we can see HOW evolution occurs (genes), why (mutations give survival advantage), etc. You can do MATH and run numbers and it works.

        We "discoverd" DNA in like the 1950s. So it's relatively new. It's complicated.

        But it's real.

        Gravity is real too. Yes, it seems that every day we are discoverning some weird new anomaly. But do you "doubt" gravity, and maybe want to propose that the turtle that holds up earth (the TOP turtle only, please) is pushing "up" so we all go "down"?

        I see the point you are trying to make. But go to the School Board Luddites who are pushing the bible as a science reference, present it to them, and they might burn you at the stake. They are superstitious, essentially, so why not?

      • by PRMan (959735) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:47PM (#42839027)

        And who really cares whether gravity IS an "open and shut case"? Students should be taught to think critically anyway.

        Einstein changed "open and shut case" Newtonian physics.

        Copernicus and Galileo changed the "open and shut case" of a flat earth.

        Even the "open and shut case" of what causes ulcers (stress) was later found to be bacterial.

        A large part of science is all about critical review of "open and shut cases".

        • Einstein changed "open and shut case" Newtonian physics.

          This is wrong for several reasons. Firstly, Newton himself wasn't happy with the implied action at a distance part of his theory. Secondly, it was known since Maxwell that there was no way that EM equations could support a standing wave from any frame of reference. Third, there was an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury that was inexplicable according to Newtonian mechanics.

          Hardly open and shut at all.

          Copernicus and Galileo changed the "open and shut case"

    • honestly? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:53PM (#42839073) Homepage Journal

      do something about it

      it's only like this because not enough texans like you are agitating about this

      i would bet a majority of texans agree with you. the problem is a highly motivated, highly vocal minorty highjack the process and the majority is quiet and complacent about the whole nightmare

      you need to get involved. you get the texas you deserve. so put some effort into it, kick these militantly ignorant morons off your school board, and restore texas to the modern world

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:10PM (#42837909) Homepage Journal

    ...or maybe a theorem. Or a rumor.

    Maybe a wacky folk story.

    "Darwin's Wise Tale of Evolution"

    • Let's just call it Punctuated Equilibrium [wikipedia.org]. They'll never catch on to it - too many fancy words and complex diagrams. Should keep the school board busy for a while.

    • Texas would like to think of it as a hypothesis or maybe a theorem. Or a rumor. Maybe a wacky folk story. "Darwin's Wise Tale of Evolution"

      Perhaps we should repay the favour and think of Texas as a work of wacky fiction too (not a very good one though because it the story seems too unbelievable). In this case though I'd suggest "The Land that Time Forgot".

  • by eagee (1308589) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:12PM (#42837935)
    Examining all sides of a scientific theory that are contrary to an established scientific theory means examining decidedly unscientific theories as if they were scientific... or, you could just say, "Teaching our students Not-Science"
  • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:19PM (#42838015) Homepage

    The Texas School Board will be happy to accept their prize for turning biology on its head.

  • What about God? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:21PM (#42838039) Homepage Journal

    OK, as long as history and science classes have to give arguments on both sides about the existence of God.

  • It's very clear... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doug141 (863552) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:22PM (#42838047)
    Textbook publishers take note, you'll sell Texas a ton of books if you pander to our religious beliefs in your science books.
    • Textbook publishers take note, you'll sell Texas a ton of books if you pander to our religious beliefs in your science books.

      Perhaps but you are not going to be able to charge much if your text book on electromagnetism just contains the single sentence "Let there be light.".

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:23PM (#42838063)

    It is incorrect that ideas only reach the status of "theory" when there's overwhelming evidence. A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis. We have theories that aren't well tested. We don't go teaching them in science class, but that doesn't mean they aren't theories. This idea that "theory" means "proven beyond any reasonable doubt" is silly. It doesn't.

    For that matter, some things get called theories that aren't. Like String Theory. Not only is there no proof, there's no testable predictions. As such right now it is a hypothesis. It is a neat bit of math, internally consistent, but so far there are no testable predictions, no way to falsify, so it isn't really a theory. We don't want to go teaching it in high school science class yet, but we do want to keep looking at it.

    The reason why all the god backed proposals aren't theories is they aren't testable, aren't falsifiable. They rely on an entity that by definition is outside of the observable universe. As such they can't be tested and thus are not scientific theories. They could be right, but they still aren't science. Science is concerned with the testable. A testable, falsifiable, hypothesis is a theory. Heck even after it is falsified it is still a theory, it is just wrong :).

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:52PM (#42838401) Homepage Journal

      Bullshit. You're equivocating for the same nonsense of the creationists.

      A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis.

      This isn't true at all. You're redefining theory as the sole progenitor of hypothesis. You've got it backwards, there, chief.

      The National Academy of Sciences lays it out for you:

      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=6024&page=2 [nap.edu]

    • by paiute (550198) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:58PM (#42838507)

      It is incorrect that ideas only reach the status of "theory" when there's overwhelming evidence. A theory is a theory because it makes a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis. We have theories that aren't well tested. We don't go teaching them in science class, but that doesn't mean they aren't theories. This idea that "theory" means "proven beyond any reasonable doubt" is silly. It doesn't.

      A hypothesis is a testable, falsifiable conjecture. A theory is arrived at by testing one or more hypotheses in a model and finding them not to be untrue. You are correct that there are theories which have not been exhaustively tested. The TOE is not one of those. A shitload of observations in many fields support it - or rather, do not support an alternative to it.

  • The "two sides" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Empiric (675968) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:39PM (#42838231) Homepage

    As I see it, the "two sides" are this:

    1. The assertion "evolution occurs", which is testable and extensively tested, which science overwhelmingly supports and very few theists have any issue with. It allows inclusion of all of the specifics of evolutionary theory regarding plausible mechanisms for biological change, specifically and appropriately to the degree valid science calls for.

    2. The assertion "only evolution occurs", which is untestable and unscientific, and seems to have as its only apparent benefit that it's seen as a necessary premise for atheism. Need causal exclusivity to be true, therefore it is, need it to be scientific, therefore it is, though it factually fails on both counts.

    The only real questions are what one specifically means by "evolution" in a given presentation, and whether that usage bears scientific scrutiny--and managing to stick with that usage in the face of an opportunity to make a non-sequitur argument for atheism.

    • Re:The "two sides" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:04PM (#42838589)

      Although the assertion "only evolution occurs" is dodgy science, there still is not a single fact about the shape and nature of life as we observe it which is not explanable by evolution.

      So you might say that the default position is to assume that only evolution occurs, because no other mechanism has been found to be necessary.

  • by bunbuntheminilop (935594) on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:58PM (#42838521)

    There is a scientific alternative to Darwinism. It's called Lamarckism. And it's something that *should* be taught alongside Darwinism in biology classrooms.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:32PM (#42839365) Homepage Journal

    I like this idea because I can change the cover and resell their textbook as a comedy book.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:52PM (#42840451)
    There, I think I've exhausted the major variants.
  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @12:44AM (#42841047)

    Jesus these jumped up apes are chattery!

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