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Education Science Politics

South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards 665

Toe, The writes "The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved new science standards for students except for one clause: the one that involves the use of the phrase 'natural selection.' Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are other theories students deserve to learn. Fair argued South Carolina's students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy. Hopefully they're going to teach the controversy of gravity and valence bonds too. After all, they're just theories."
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South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards

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  • States Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gpronger ( 1142181 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:09PM (#46220297) Journal
    So, if a State chooses to not teach their children what is accepted in the scientific community, should this be their prerogative? At the same time, a decade later, when their students do not fair well at college, or professionally, they should be comfortable with that aspect to their decisions.
  • Which Creation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:12PM (#46220333)

    I have no problem with presenting creationism as an alternative, as long as you include ALL creation myths in the curriculum. It wouldn't be "teaching the controversy" unless you teach them all.

    I mean, sure, we all really KNOW that the world began when Udu the Space Tortoise shat out the earth and His godly flatulence created the sun, but we have to let the kids decide for themselves.

  • Pull your head out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:13PM (#46220359)

    Teach religion in religion class and science in science class. If you can't test it, it's not science. If you CAN, even if it's something you find distasteful, it IS science...

    There's no controversy here, merely people who don't like the fact that the sun doesn't come up in the south.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:14PM (#46220373)

    Anybody who says is is a fact is just as dishonest as theses people. Evolution is a very well supported theory, far in advance of any competition. It is incomplete, and there is a residual possibility of it being completely wrong, but anybody that has even a bit of understanding of Science will accept it as very likely true unless exceedingly strong evidence to the contrary shows up. As such evidence has not turned up so far, Evolution is the way to go.

    Unfortunately, most people cannot deal with non-absolutes or very small probabilities. That is why so many hope to win the lottery or are afraid of being harmed by terrorists. Both events are so exceedingly unlikely that for all practical purposes they cannot happen to them. But there is a small, insignificant residual chance that they may happen and that confuses many, many people.

  • Because there are no other competing scientific theories.

    Do you have a scientific theory that explains what we see, makes prediction, and is factual verified 1000's of time?

    No. This is a politician shoving religion down are throat under a very thin vale. He should be tossed out for violating the constitution.

    Creationism is not science. Not my any stretch. It is a belief made on biblical literalism.

    Maybe you should learn what science is?

  • Re:States Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:16PM (#46220399) Homepage Journal

    But those kids can not get that time back. The morons doing this won't suffer, the students will.

  • Re:States Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roninmagus ( 721889 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:16PM (#46220413)
    Yes, it should be their prerogative. That's part of the basic foundation of our government, and was choen as the best method of government by intelligent people who had lived under tyrannical absolutes.

    As always, if you disagree with your state's laws, you can attempt to push a vote to change them or move to another state. That sounds dismissive, but it's good that it's an available option. If the law is national and therefore pushed from above, you have no way to get out from under it save moving to another country. Moving to another country is probably not appealing or easy.
  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:21PM (#46220505) Homepage

    Creationism is not a theory.

    Sure it is. It just isn't a *scientific* theory.

    A scientific theory makes testable predictions. Experiments can be devised whose results confirm or refute the predictions. Knowledge can be collected from the environment which either fits or refutes the predictions. That's what makes it science.

    Creationism and it's stepchild Intelligent Design make no testable predictions. Therefore they are not science. Therefore they do not belong in a science curriculum.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:22PM (#46220515)

    Creationism actually is a theory. It is just not supported by evidence at all and quite a few established facts contradict it. So it is a theory with a very low probability of being a model for reality and hence not worthy of study.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:24PM (#46220549)

    Only when there are other theories worthy of discussion. As far as scientific credibility goes, creationism is ridiculous. I'm all for silencing any discussion of creationism in schools - alongside astrology, palm-reading and other fields of nonsense.

  • Excellent! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DontBlameCanada ( 1325547 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:26PM (#46220587)
    Further erosion of the American education system means less competition for those of us (and our kids) living elsewhere in world.
  • Re:States Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohnocitizen ( 1951674 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:32PM (#46220691)
    I don't want to have to uproot my family, find a new job, and start a new life in another state just because the state I happen to live in wants to push religious beliefs onto my kids through the public school system. It's abusive and violates separation of church and state. I don't give a damn about state's rights, rights ought to be fundamental - not based on the invisible lines people draw to separate one bit of land from another.
  • Re:States Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:34PM (#46220729) Journal

    Unfortunately, it will take the child until they are 20 or so to feel the full effects of being poorly educated, worse, being denied the tools of critical thought. At that point bringing that person up to the capability to deal with the technology of the workplace that will face them in 2030 will be nearly insurmountable.

    The mere fact that someone should be able to assert that any old idea they have, has equal supportability because of what they assert semantics of words to be, is wrong at best, and megalomaniacal at worst. And we all know that this isn't about "alternate 'theories'" this is about attacking things that don't support the christian creation myth.

    I challenge *any* "teach the controversy" supporter to lay out their syllabus and rubric for *ALL* alternative science theories. As it has been stated above, it would have to include astrology, and alchemy, probably phrenology, humors, and I guess demonic possession.

    You cannot be honest in this "teach the controversy" thing and only do one piece. Doing so is really a lie to yourself, and everyone knows it.

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:37PM (#46220783)
    There is no "controversy". No. There isn't. So there is nothing else to teach, other than credible scientific theory, when it comes to how we got here. No, your beliefs do not come anywhere near to the definition of "scientific theory". Get over it and stop trying to make your children stupid.
  • Re:States Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:40PM (#46220831) Homepage Journal

    I think it only fair that if they choose to leverage "State Rights" to give a sub-standard "Faith Based" Educations, then it should be only fair that the Federal Government cut off all forms of Financial Funding for Education and Unemployment.

    Why should US Taxpayers support a bunch of backwards people that want to live in a Theocracy? In fact, I think we should cut Theocratic States off from the US entirely. Seriously, why don't we just end the Union already and let Jesustan and the rest of us go our separate ways?

    Why should the educated, secular States continue to support these backwaters that are filled with racist illiterates that contribute next to nothing to our GDP while consuming a disproportionate amount of Tax dollars in the form of Federal Subsidies?

    How will policies such as this do anything but cause South Carolina to require even greater amounts of Federal Subsidies to support their backward culture of bible banging red necks?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:48PM (#46220947)

    The distinction between what is and is not "science" doesn't mean much to those who want to make sure that their kids are not taught lies in school.

    Some people turn to religion to gain certainty where there is none. In order for this psychological device to work, they must honestly believe that the points of their religious teaching are inarguable fact, and that any evidence to the contrary is a result of either incompetence or deception. People who believe this don't give a hoot what is or is not "science," since they only care about what does or does not agree with their forgone conclusions.

    "Teach the controversy," is the second-best stance that they take only because they know that "teach our religion as fact" is already a lost battle (but would still be the best option).

    Trying to get logical consistency on these points is futile, since the basic motivation has nothing to do with challenging kids to think critically, and everything to do with ensuring that their kids don't lose their faith by going to school.

  • Re:Excellent! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thomasje ( 709120 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:52PM (#46221017)
    It also means a country full of religious hotheads, who are going to view their own increasingly bleak existence as the result of a conspiracy of all those godless people in Europe and Asia. You sure you're enthusiastic about that kind of development in a country as heavily armed as the U.S.? I'd rather see them be smart, personally.
  • Creationism is not a scientific theory. A scientific theory not only ties together a wide range of observations, it makes testable predictions that have gone on to be tested and verified. In science, 'hypothesis' is closest to what people commonly mean by the word 'theory'. For example, it's still the "Germ Theory of Disease" in science, but that's been, er, rather thorougly confirmed.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:07PM (#46221203) Journal

    First of all, evolution is simply the observation that the genetic makeup of a population changes over time. It is not an attempt to explain the origins of life, any more than geology attempts to explain the origin of planets or astronomy attempts to explain the Big Bang.

    Second of all, evolution is testable by every meaningful scientific definition of test, and so is abiogenesis for that matter.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:10PM (#46221235)
    During the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, the most telling question for me was when both were asked what would change their minds.
    Bill Nye: Show me evidence as to why I'm wrong.
    Ken Ham: Nothing will ever change my mind. No amount of evidence will do so.
  • by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:36PM (#46221593)

    creationism is a Judeo-Christian belief. hwat if you're not Christian? what if you're hindu? are hindu theories taught as well? surely they are just as valid as judeo chrisian theories from a neutral perspective.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:41PM (#46221657) Journal

    We put all sorts of limits on democracy. You can't democratically decide to enslave all red haired people. Even if the popular will is that red haired people are subhumans who can be treated like cattle, there are constitutional protections against this kind of an abuse. In other words, in most Western countries, and most certainly in the United States, the constitutional framers were all to aware that pure democracy; or mobocracy if you will, is as vulnerable to abuses against individual liberties as are governments.

    The same applies to public education. As public schools are a branch of the government, the Establishment Clause applies to them, and thus teaching Creationism, even in the watered down form of Intelligent Design, is a blatant attempt to use the organs of state to push a specific set of religious beliefs. That was the finding of the Kitzmiller v. Dover, and while the trial sadly doesn't apply universally, it, coupled with judgments like Edwards v. Aguillard create a compelling set of case law that will likely demolish just about every attempt to sneak Creationism into the class, or to somehow earmark evolution as being controversial.

    But really, particularly at the state level, politicians don't give a flying fuck about constitutionality. They probably know in most cases that any pro-Creationism law they try to pass will ultimately get tossed, but that makes vote-getting legislation even better, as when it gets tossed, they can make a lot of noise about meddling activist courts, and the deluded idiots who lap this kind of performance up nod their heads in agreement. It's a win win for these politicians, although it does become a tragic waste of taxpayer money.

  • Re:States Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:47PM (#46221741)

    Before anyone makes any anti-rational assumptions about me while reading this post, let me be clear that I'm a staunch defender of evolutionary theory, and I've even defended it here a number of times before.

    Really now, what do you think the chances are that someone who grew up believing that the planet is 6,000 years old would choose a career in science?

    Well, Isaac Newton did, and he even wrote books about details of Biblical chronology [wikipedia.org].

    And before you tell me, "Everyone believed in that stuff back then!" it isn't true. Newton was a wacko outlier in many ways, including his beliefs that he could show the detailed past chronology of the universe and calculate the date it would end. Many scientists of Newton's time had grave suspicions about those sorts of things, and they would certainly not consider it respectable "science" to write on such matters.

    Nonetheless, Newton managed to come up with some of the greatest advances of all time in a number of areas of physics and mathematics.

    I want to be clear: I don't think creationism should be taught in science classes in schools either, but your logic that no student with a religious upbringing would ever be curious enough about the world to want to study science is faulty.

    In my experience, the reason people choose careers in science has little to do with whether they are religious or not. And unless they want a career in a small group of scientific disciplines, what they think of evolutionary biology is unlikely to play a major role in their work.

    Now, of course, continuing to believe the earth is 6,000 years old -- that's a more difficult one to square with lots of scientific disciplines (from archeology and geology to cosmology), but there are lots and lots of people who are religious but who do not subscribe to that literal belief. Lots of scientists have qualms that evolution has "all the answers," but nevertheless function quite well.

    Not every creationist is a "young earth" creationist (and in fact, I'm pretty sure the vast majority are NOT), and a detailed understanding of evolutionary theory is not required for most scientific study.

    One of the best things that Bill Nye said in the recent debate was to encourage people to choose careers in science, and warning that the rash of anti-rationalism is going to have very negative consequences for the US. Those words might have fallen on deaf ears at the creationism museum in Kentucky, but it's the right idea.

    I don't think you've spent a lot of time reading arguments by the "Creation science" crowd. I'd hardly call them "anti-rationalist" -- they have their brand of reason. They understand very well the way to put together a logical train of thought. They just don't begin with the same axioms as you do for that logical tree. Hence, they might be "anti-empiricist" to some degree.

    I'm not trying to defend it. But regardless of those people, most Christians who just have "faith" in whatever creation story they subscribe to don't tend to think about such things in a "rational" manner. Heck, most humans don't tend to think or act "rationally" most of the time.

    And many people are capable of constructing logical arguments in other areas of thought, even if they subscribe to weird axioms in another one.

    I agree with Bill Nye on a lot of things, but the idea that religious beliefs are some sort of impediment to getting people to sign up to study science, or that such people must be "anti-rationalist" is just nonsense. People -- including even atheist scientists -- are irrational. If anything, it's people like Richard Dawkins and the militant atheist crowd who drive religious people away from studying science... not the religion itself.

    The biggest impediments to getting students to study science in the U.S. probably have to do with stereotypes about "geeks" and "nerds," along with anti-intellectualism. Wanna get people to study science? Change those attitudes first.

  • Re: States Rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chef Jesse Kmiec ( 3533883 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:58PM (#46221915)
    Make no mistake. As strenuously as Madison argued for religious freedom, it was for the overall benefit of man. Where man sees religion tied to government, he becomes supremely skeptical and cannot see the gospel as the free-gift that it is. This is Madisonâ(TM)s argument. Therefore, the author of the Bill of Rights that would become the Amendments to the Constitution wrote in our First Amendment âoeFreedom of religionâ and not freedom from it. Okay so according to this every religion is free to exist and practice in the United states as long as it is separated from the government. So we should teach every religions version of creation in schools as there is no public school that is only Protestant or only Jewish or only budist or only Islamic. Thank you for pointing this out.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @05:01PM (#46221951)

    creationism is a Judeo-Christian belief. hwat if you're not Christian? what if you're hindu? are hindu theories taught as well? surely they are just as valid as judeo chrisian theories from a neutral perspective.

    Creationism is pretty common among most world religions. Its just the details and deities that change. In Hinduism Vishnu commanded Brahma to grow the world out of an ocean via a lotus flower. Still creationism, just a very different version.

    That's why they cling to "Intelligent Design". By doing that and leaving out the details they can at least not have their children taught something that directly contradicts what they learn in Sunday school.

    As someone who is non-religious that grew up in a religious family, the GGP's post does pretty much fall spot on. Most of these people are misinformed, but their 'heart is in the right place". You have to understand that to an atheist, its very easy to sit back and "respect everyone's beliefs". That's because they truly see all of them as simple stories and culture. To a Christian though, that actually do truly believe that if you don't live your life according to their beliefs, then you're going to Hell. They see all of their annoyances and pestering as trying to help you avoid a fate that they are terrified of, and they regard teaching their children anything that contradicts these beliefs with great disdain.

    I'm not saying that I support removing evolution from the criteria (quite the contrary - I've argued with my religious mother many times in support of evolution) - I'm just saying that to truly understand their motives you have to understand where they're coming from.

    Its hard to convince someone of something that they absolutely KNOW is not true - even when it is.

  • Re: States Rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:52AM (#46226143)

    >So we should teach every religions version of creation in schools

    Absolutely. That would be in the "mythological literature" section of the curriculum, correct? It certainly shouldn't be *anywhere* near science class, because none of it stands up to scientific analysis.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"