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Education United States News Science

Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law 672

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 ocean_soul ( 1019086 ) <tobias DOT verhulst AT gmx DOT com> on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:36PM (#39645497) Homepage
    I weep for the kids in Tennessee.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:42PM (#39645637)

    It's not just Tennessee, it's a good chunk of the South (and Texas). Are there non-Southern states which are into this anti-science education trend? I would have guessed a midwestern or western state might pick up on it, but I think the infection hasn't spread outside the area yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @12:52PM (#39645813)

    My Biology teacher laid out that he believed in creationism and simply wouldn't teach any theory. He taught everyone about current biology and environment.

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @01:18PM (#39646233)

    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 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 Jeff Hornby ( 211519 ) <jthornby@sympati[ ]ca ['co.' in gap]> 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

  • by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @03:06PM (#39648011)
    Which may work in Romania... In the United States we are taught to viciously attack any ideologies that in any way differ from our own. Remember, pride is to stand firm to your beliefs even when somebody has demonstrated them to be wrong. After all, only the weak question what they feel in their gut when presented with evidence to the contrary.
  • by hubang ( 692671 ) on Wednesday April 11, 2012 @04:21PM (#39649005)
    You know, there is a point of view about how science has become a dogmatic religion of it's own ( People take science as truth, on faith. What is the one true system of mechanics? The system that has not been dis-proven in any case (which would rule out the entire system according to the scientific method)? Newtonian? Relativistic? Quantum?

    Evolution is a great example of this. No one argues about the principles of heredity, as laid out by a very religious man, a friar ( But the larger, completely extrapolated principle of evolution is a topic of debate.

    The argument goes like this:
    Scientific Person: Rodents evolved to Monkeys evolved to Apes evolved to Man
    Judeo-Christian Person: Man did not come from monkeys!
    Scientific Person: Where did man come from, then?
    Judeo-Christian Person: G*d created him in his image!
    Scientific Person: Well there's no proof of that.
    Judeo-Christian Person: Well there's no proof that!
    Scientific Person: Didn't you just hear me say that Rodents evolved to Monkeys evolved to Apes evolved to Man? What more proof do you need? It's SCIENCE!
    Judeo-Christian Person: And didn't you just hear me say that G*d created man?!?

    And so forth. But there has never been a single documented case of a genus changing due to evolution, that I'm aware of. Not one. It can't be shown experimentally. Dogs have dog babies. Cats have cat babies. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    Scientifically, evolution is a supported theory. But it is just a theory. According to the scientific method, everything is either a LAW (a set of assumptions to establish a framework) or a THEORY (a set of assumptions derived from the law that haven't been dis-proven yet).

    And yet, here on Slashdot, the rank and file members of the cult of science cheered when schools in Georgia were forced to take that basic scientific principle ( off the front covers of their text books.
    "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. " (

    It's a valid, 100% scientifically correct statement. It was forced off of textbooks because of dogma.

    The courts did right in Tennessee. A person might believe in science. A person might believe in Flying Spaghetti Monsters. A person might believe the world is flat. But a balanced viewpoint, and by extension a balanced education, requires more than an ostrich-like ability to stick your head in the sand when facing a viewpoint you disagree with while bleating a dogmatic mantra. And the courts should not silence ( a debate because it hurts the sensibilities of ANY group. At least not in the US, where the Constitution ( grants the right to say anything.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!