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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.
    • Re:States Rights (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Supp0rtLinux ( 594509 ) <> on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:13PM (#46220357)
      or better... if a majority of them do more poorly than their peers in other states, should they be allowed to form a class action suit against the education peeps or even the state?
    • 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.
      • Re: States Rights (Score:5, Informative)

        by Chef Jesse Kmiec ( 3533883 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:25PM (#46220571)
        James Madison, the father of both the Constitution and the First Amendment, consistently warned against any attempt to blend endorsement of Christianity into the law of the new nation. "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions," he wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments in 1785, "may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?" Unlike the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution conspicuously omits any reference to God.
      • "move to another state"

        Just enroll your child in the school district where your summer home is located.

    • Or better yet, Jon Hamm increases his army of embarrassed, out of context, blackmailed and possibly manipulated 'scientists' to on video for his next disastrous debate.

    • 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.

    • 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.

      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? I'm all for colleges and universities requiring additional science tests for students from states that teach creationism, but I seriously doubt that a large chunk of those kids are going to decide that science is what they want to do with their lives. Unless they accidentally choose a scientific major thinking that they're going to learn about religion.

      One o

      • 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 [].

        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: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?

  • 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.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Except it is not an alternative. It has zero scientific merit.

    • 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.

      I have no problem with what you are suggesting either. Just don't do it in a science classroom because none of these are science.

  • Hitchens yelling "for shame!" rang into my ears, straight from the 2009 "is the catholic church a force for good" debate.
    Available here []
  • Actually, it's the "law of gravity," not the "theory." As it should be with something that can be demonstrated by experiment, is reproducible and despite centuries of effort hasn't been refuted by experiment.

    Please don't compare experimental science with historical evidence science. Their conclusions don't have the same level of confidence and shouldn't be taught as if they do.

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      evolution has evidence.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Indeed. And a lot of it, and only very little against it. That makes it a "well established" theory. Creationism, on th other hand, has basically no evidence for it and a lot against it. That makes it a "crackpot" theory.

    • Actually, its the Theory of General Relativity that accounts for the observations. Same as the Germ Theory of Disease that account for a huge fraction of observed illness. A scientific theory is not a "hunch", "guess", or "notion". It ties together a huge number of observations and makes testable predictions that have overwhelmingly been tested and turned out to be correct.

      BTW, that's the case with the Theory of Evolution. Here's my favorite example []. (Some actual math here [].) Interestingly, we know the Tre

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Well, there is also a theory of gravity, but that is the mathematical model. Completely different meaning. A mathematical theory is a set of axioms and all you can derive from them. As axioms are always true, any mathematical theory is always completely true. It does just not claim to relate to reality in any way, that only happens when the axioms have some close connection to observable reality.

    • Sigh.
      Theory's and laws are different things.
      There is the law of gravity F=mg, and gravitational theory, aka the theory of gravity.

      So yes, you have the law of gravity and the theory of gravity.
      A law differs from a scientific theory in that it does not posit a mechanism or explanation of phenomena.

      To teach creationism as an 'alternative theory of evolution' is the exact same as teaching magic pixie dust pulls things down.

  • 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.

    • Umm... speaking of absolutes...

      A theory doesn't often get proven "completely wrong". Much more often it gets replaced with something that works better in fringe cases. For many practical purposes, the theory that the world is flat works just fine. It won't work for large distances, of course. But quite often I really don't need to worry too much that a triangle on a sphere actually summing up to more than 180 degrees. Again, Newtonian physics works just fine, indeed very well, for many purposes. It wa

    • 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.
  • 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: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.
  • There are other theories that should be taught as well, such as the round earth theory, the theory that we exist outside of "the matrix", and indeed the theory that god did not create us a tenth of a second ago.
  • Is pretty clear that that comitee members descended from monkeys... and kept descending.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:30PM (#46220657)
    It should be taught as science.
  • 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.
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @03:57PM (#46221071)

    How Does the U.S. Compare to Other Countries in STEM Education?

            The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education, and 5th (and declining) in overall global competitiveness
            The United States ranks 27th in developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering
            There are more foreign students studying in U.S. graduate schools than the number of U.S. students [vii] and over 2/3 of the engineers who receive Ph.D.’s from United States universities are not United States citizens

    And the government will wonder why?

  • by TsuruchiBrian ( 2731979 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:01PM (#46221147)

    Up until a few decades there was a controversy around gravity. There were some discrepancies between the current model for gravity and observations. 2 leading hypotheses emerged. One proposed to change the model, Modified Newtonian Dynamics (or MOND), and the other proposed to change the observations, the existence of dark matter. In recent years it seems the dark matter hypothesis has the clear advantage.

    The "controversy of gravity" is not *that* gravity exists, but rather with the correctness of the explanation for gravity as demonstrated by the ability to make accurate predictions. The dark matter hypothesis is currently "winning" because it is making better predictions than MOND in circumstances where the predictions of both models diverge (e.g. galaxy collisions).

    I would also like to point out the difference between the two concepts of "evolution" (*that* life evolves), and "the theory of evolution by natural selection", originally proposed by Charles Darwin and later improved by others which is an explanation of *how* life evolved. There really isn't any controversy regarding "evolution" (*that* it happened). Evolution by natural selection is also on very firm ground, although there are lots of holes to fill in, to improve our understanding of the specifics of evolution by natural selection. Maybe there is some controversy somewhere in the study of evolution, but hypotheses that are unfalsifiable (e.g. creationism, and intelligent design, etc) are not valid as opposing hypotheses in any controversy.

    So we should absolutely *not* "teach the controversy" of evolution in regards to intelligent design, because it is just fabricated. However, we should not attempt the reductio ad absurdum of "teaching the controversy of gravity", given that ther actually *was* a controversy regarding gravity in the recent past, and this controversy probably should have been taught given that it was legitimate.

    Also, gravity is the last of the 4 primary forces yet to be made compatible with quantum mechanics. because of this, our understanding of gravity is currently known to be incomplete. There absolutely is controversy in our understanding of gravity, and I think teaching it would be a great way to show the scientific method in action.

  • by log0n ( 18224 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:19PM (#46221379)

    does this make South Carolina the bottom 2%?

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:19PM (#46221381) Homepage Journal

    The real question is, do you want your children educated through a system designed by majority vote? (and/or designed by people elected by majority vote) Do you really want everyone in your community weighing in on your children's education or not?

    If you really believe in democracy, I don't see how anyone can fault this. Personally, I do not believe in democracy, and think it's a terrible way to educate a child. But if you really believe in the whole electoral process, I don't think you have room to complain: you have to take the bad with the good, and vote for someone better next time.

    • 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.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:50PM (#46221803) Homepage Journal

    Hey, it could be worse - they could be teaching Common Core.


  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @05:11PM (#46222087)

    I'm about sick of people engaging in these debates with "Creationists" over evolution. Each and every time, the person supporting evolution argues the completely wrong argument. Instead of arguing the validity of Evolution, they instead try to argue that there is no God... or that Evolution means there is no God. Meanwhile the creationist simply has to lean on his Bible and say "Well see? It says right here... God did that bit, that's how!"

    It's pretty much impossible to prove some omnipotent being didn't just make everything the way it is. How can you argue against that other than its statistical unlikelihood?

    So, the correct argument... It's simply: There is nothing about Evolution that contradicts a belief in God. You can believe in Evolution and Believe God, just as a belief that Egg Noodles are tasty would have no baring on your belief in God either. The Bible doesn't mention egg noodles, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist at the time.

    But oh! you say, the bible says the earth is 6000 years old, so obviously it contradicts Evolution.
    Well, no, on all accounts. First off, we didn't decide the Bible is the word of God yet, there are lots of religions out there after all. But lets assume so... nowhere in the bible is the age of the earth mentioned. You'd think that if this was something God was particularly concerned about, he' have stated something like "The earth was created on January 1 3995 BC" but no... instead we have biblical scholars that have added up the dates between different events in the bible and declared the age of the earth as 6000 years. To me, this isn't at all clear. And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to find flaws in the bible here, I'm trying to get things right. If the Bible is the real word of God and he really wanted us to be arguing over how old the earth really was... Don't you think he would have put it in there? He wasn't sneaky about Murder... or stealing... but the entire natural history of creation he made a riddle? That doesn't make sense to me.

    There are lots of other facts and figures that are mixed up in the Bible. Again, I'm not looking for flaws. I personally believe in God and think the Christian bible is indeed his work. I just do not think the Bible is the white-papers for the earth. I think it's poetry (and in fact, a lot of it really is poetry) and like poetry needs to be accepted as a whole work, not dissected and fiddled with to find hidden meaning. The truth of the Bible is obvious. Those things that seem questionable, we should leave that way. Make your own decision about what they mean and don't force it on others.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!