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Education Science

Texas School Board Searching For Alternatives To Evolutionary Theory 763

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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  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:34PM (#42838163)

    Evolution has no moral lessons, you idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @06:39PM (#42838227)

    But you dismiss the fact that since it is still theory, it is subject to review and modification. For instance, Eldredge and Gould pretty much shook the foundations of evolution when they published their paper on Punctuated equilibrium [wikipedia.org].

    No they didn't. Don't over-dramatize. "Shaking the foundations" would've involved them calling into question the many lines of evidence which form the actual foundations of evolutionary biology. Eldredge and Gould were not even attempting to be that radical. P-E was a modification to theories about the pace at which evolution takes place, proposing variable pace rather than gradualism. In making their case for it, they used the very same foundational evidence which underpins the idea as a whole (fossil records, etc.).

  • 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.

  • by tbird81 ( 946205 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:43PM (#42839007)

    Not really. He is basing them on their actions.

    You have to be quite stupid to believe the things they do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @07:56PM (#42839097)

    And atheists are different?

    Quite so. Making up random bullshit to fill in your gaps in knowledge and actually believing it's true is quite different than experimenting, observing, and forming hypothesis.

    Those theories don't answer the question of "is there a creator?"

    They don't need to - that's not the point.

    I have zero tolerance for theist stupidity, so I am a bigot in that regard.

  • by zennyboy ( 1002544 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @08:21PM (#42839291)

    As TFA is about schools, let me offer this explanation:
    It's not about critical thinking to test a false theory.
    Within the school environment you have a certain amount of time to teach a subject. If you teach two 'versions' of it (one true, one false) to gain critical thinking, you halve the amount of time to teach the Quite Obviously True (TM) version.

    If the answer comes around to God Did It, it should be taught in Church, not school

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:21PM (#42839761)

    Eh? The Big Bang theory was proposed by a Catholic priest. It is most definitely not the atheist answer to anything.

  • Re:FSM (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:28PM (#42840645) Homepage Journal

    The RCC's doesn't include the requirement that believers take every word of scripture as "the one true and unerring word of god".

    Actually, they technically do. Their doctrine is that the Bible is wholly and completely true AND that science is discovering God's work in creation, and if you think one contradicts the other, you're misinterpreting at least one and should reinterpret them as necessary until they agree.

    It's nice that they don't go shouting down (or imprisoning or killing) scientists (anymore), but it's still a pretty big stinking pile of intellectual dishonesty. It's almost tantamount to flat out saying "The Bible is unfalsifiable. If you think you've falsified part of it, you're wrong. Now figure out where you're wrong."

  • Re:FSM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ginger Unicorn ( 952287 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @08:08AM (#42842461)
    The atheist's annotated bible is a very poor example from which to base your assessment of the depth of the reasoning behind atheism. It's around the level of youtube comments. The idea that it's at all representative is as credible as considering the Westboro Baptist Church to be an accurate representation of the attitude of most Christians.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings