De-Evolution: Missouri School Officials Order Return of Band T-Shirts Showing Picture of Evolution

320px-Ape_skeletons300px-TTUbandEvolution in Sedalia, Missouri appears to be moving in reverse. The band leaders of the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band thought that they had a cute idea in showing the images of monkeys evolving into band members under the words “Brass Evolutions 2009.” Parents and teachers objected that evolution (a scientific theory) was advancing a “religious” viewpoint. Amazingly, the school agreed and ordered the t-shirts turned in by the students.

The Darwinistas who undermined the science-phobic parents were Assistant Band Director Brian Kloppenburg and Band Director Jordan Summers. They were probably laboring under the odd idea that the a scientific theory was a perfectly appropriate image for a school, particularly given the new programs based on “Brass Evolutions.”

When the band marched in the Missouri State Fair, the complaints began from parents who believe that evolution is a myth and contradicts the teachings of the Bible.

Yielding to such extreme views, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt ordered the t-shirts returned. It was a remarkably dim-witted decision that caved to religious objections on a matter of a scientific reference. It accomplished the very thing that these parents complained about: allowing religious values to shape a school decision.

Pollitt insisted that he had to take the action because the school was required to stay neutral on religious issues. However, evolution is not a barred religious doctrine or theory. Extremists want to make evolution into a religious question, but it is not. If the parents started to object to pictures of Freud from an anti-psychiatry view of Scientology, would Pollitt order their removal? How about if Evangelical Christians object (as they did in Texas) to pictures showing the Moon as illuminated by reflective light, would he take down the posters? How about pictures showing the Earth aging more than 6000 years, another fact disputed recently by religious politicians and parents (here).

225px-Charles_Darwin_seated180px-Christ_Carrying_the_Cross_1580Pollitt insists that “If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing.” Well, the problem is that Darwin was a scientist and Jesus is a religious figure.

Nevertheless, District teacher and Band parent Sherry Melby was one of those objecting and stated “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.” Evolution should not be associated with her high school? The statement only demonstrates how Pollitt used a claim of neutrality on religious to enforce a religious belief. Melby may want her children to be scientifically illiterate, but public education requires students to be educated on scientific facts. If Melby and others want their children to be sequestered from science, they can go to any number of religious schools that teach only creationism.

Notably, the school song proclaims:

“Majestic structure, thing of beauty, in a class you stand alone. You don’t know just how we love you, for you’re made of stone.
You’re a monument to learning, and our hearts swell up with pride. As we stand and look you over, end to end and side to side.
May you send forth men and maidens worthy of the highest fame. Filled with knowledge and ambition, making for themselves a name.
May we ever do you honor, As we each go on our way. While all happy memories linger, till the closing of our day.”

Well, it turns out that many parents want to “send forth men and maidens” “filled with knowledge’ with the exception of a few details like evolution. Not exactly a “monument to learning” for all of those “maidens.”

In the meantime, someone needs to look at how teachers in this town evolve into positions of authority when they are clearly uninformed on the law and policy governing neutrality on religious questions. The comparison of a picture of evolution to a picture of Jesus shows either a lack of understanding or a hidden bias. Either way, the decision is wrong and has the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Band marching to a creationist tune.

For the full story, click here.

61 thoughts on “De-Evolution: Missouri School Officials Order Return of Band T-Shirts Showing Picture of Evolution

  1. Gyges,

    You’re right, my bad. And I’ll check out that book when I have a chance.

    JoshOnPC,

    I was just picking nits about forgo… And I totally agree with what you said about trying to educate David – we’ll see if he comes back to respond to our remarks.

    IS,

    I’d respond to your remarks, but Gyges already did a fine job of that, so I’ll just second what he said… And for once I’ll agree with you: It is entirely possible that oil and gas are not actually ‘fossil fuels’ (or at least that the process you describe is responsible for the majority of the deposits).

  2. gYGES:

    I don’t know no Lamark. What I am trying to say is that elephants with big tusks are being hunted because of those big tusks. The elephants with small tusks are thus taking advantage of breeding opportunities that were not open to them when big bulls with big tusks were around to chase them away. So environmental pressure (from hunters) has allowed small tusk bulls to mate or mate more frequently, thereby allowing a relatively “rare”(?) gene to rise to the top of the pyramid. Environmental pressure has allowed the small tusk gene to express itself more prominently.

    The hunting pressure did not create the small tusk gene, it was already in the population. Who knows why the small tusk gene arose. It could be a spontaneous mutation or the large tusk gene could be a mutation that allowed for more breeding success and now has limited success because of environmental pressure from hunters.

    So that brings up a question, is man tampering with his environment or is he correcting a mutation?

  3. IS,

    Lamarck believed that learned behavior could be inherited – once a very popularly accepted theory of how evolution worked. I’m not sure how to respond to your elephant story – I think that you basically have the right idea, but you have some pretty serious misconceptions about evolution. Yes, hunters can cause an environmental pressure by killing elephants with larger tusks (provided they kill the elephants before they reproduce). This is not selection via mutation, but rather selection based on the natural range of variation (tusk size). To take the concept to the extreme, a mutation would be like a tuskless elephant while selection of variation would result in elephants with tiny tusks. You should also realize that the effect you are proposing is counteracted by large tusks being a desirable trait in a mate (which is almost certainly true). Also, you shouldn’t think of evolution as a pyramid – think of it instead as a river delta, spreading out more with each generation. Remember that success from an evolutionary point of view is to have as large a number of ancestors as possible. Your last statement, “So that brings up a question, is man tampering with his environment or is he correcting a mutation?” is silly bordering on non-sequitor. Man is certainly tampering with his environment (even just limiting ourselves to the discussion of the elephantine parts of our environment), and this bears no relation to correcting mutations (I study the cellular mechanisms for correcting mutations and I’ve never seen any evidence of the effect of elephant hunters ;-)).

  4. Slart,

    If I remember from my Highschool Bio class Lamarck’s sort of getting a bum wrap. He did believe that, but it was as mainly as possible explanation for how changes happened. The main thrust of his theory was that changes happened through a natural process. He got a lot of the details wrong, but he was one of the first people to propose that (he beat Charles Darwin by a couple decades) general idea.

    On a side note, I’m glad there’s someone else to do a lot of the heavy lifting explaining science. There were days that I thought I’d wear out the carpet between my desk and my “non fiction” bookshelf.

  5. Slarti:

    my guess is that variation in tusk size is probably the result of several gene combinations that when combined in a certain order cause the variation in tusk size. Certainly a 100 cm tusk and a 85 cm tusk and a 105 cm tusk is variation, but what about a 30 cm tusk? I am talking about tusk size outside the statistical norm.

    The pyramid was intended to mean the gene rises to the top of the breeding pool.

    “(I study the cellular mechanisms for correcting mutations and I’ve never seen any evidence of the effect of elephant hunters ).”

    you havent looked hard enough!

  6. “Remember that success from an evolutionary point of view is to have as large a number of ancestors as possible” ???

    Did you mean descendants?

  7. Gyges,

    You are correct, Lamarck was the first to advance a cohesive theory of evolution – he had the right overall idea, he just got the process of how it occurs wrong. Glad to help you with the heavy lifting – it’s nice being able to talk about a topic I actually know something about.😉

    Ormond Otvos,

    d’oh!

    IS,

    You said:
    my guess is that variation in tusk size is probably the result of several gene combinations that when combined in a certain order cause the variation in tusk size. Certainly a 100 cm tusk and a 85 cm tusk and a 105 cm tusk is variation, but what about a 30 cm tusk? I am talking about tusk size outside the statistical norm.

    Again you are simplifying things beyond the point at which your comment has meaning. Tusk size is most likely the result of a combination of hundreds or thousands of variables genetic, epigenetic, and environmental and in order to have any further opinion on the topic, I would have to do research which I am too lazy to do…

    You said:
    The pyramid was intended to mean the gene rises to the top of the breeding pool.

    It’s comments like this that would make me tear my hair out if I weren’t bald already (by choice, not nature). What is this even supposed to mean?

  8. I came here to review today’s additions to this thread and feel like I did when I inadvertently stumbled into an upper level statistics class one day back in college: clueless.

  9. sLARTI:

    since I am not a biologist I am using thoughts that make sense to me. I am trying to say that once organisms have a chance to inject a particular trait into a gene pool that particular trait will be expressed more often than not due to the over abundance of organisms with that particular trait. Obviously this also has other actions associated with it, one of which I think is called penetrance. Whcih I think means the degree to which a gene will express itself in future offspring.

    Just shine that big dome with some Armor All and have a cold brew, maybe a Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown. I had one a couple of weeks ago and it was some mighty fine beer. Here is the web site:

    http://www.hookandladderbeer.com/Public/Content.aspx

    ps my taste buds are better than my biology knowledge. You can trust me on the beer quality if not on the genetics. Hopefully this tip will make up for your frustration. If you have already partaken I would like to know your opinion of the beer.

  10. Slarti:

    since I am not a biologist I am using thoughts that make sense to me. I am trying to say that once organisms have a chance to inject a particular trait into a gene pool that particular trait will be expressed more often than not due to the over abundance of organisms with that particular trait. Obviously this also has other actions associated with it, one of which I think is called penetrance. Which I think means the degree to which a gene will express itself in future offspring.

    Just shine that big dome with some Armor All and have a cold brew, maybe a Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown. I had one a couple of weeks ago and it was some mighty fine beer. Here is the web site:

    http://www.hookandladderbeer.com/Public/Content.aspx

    ps my taste buds are better than my biology knowledge. You can trust me on the beer quality if not on the genetics. Hopefully this tip will make up for your frustration. If you have already partaken I would like to know your opinion of the beer.

  11. IS,

    I’ve never tried Hook and Ladder, but I have friends who speak highly of it – I’ll try some next time I see it. I don’t go for an artificial shine on my head – although I’ve been known to have it painted for basketball games…

    I don’t doubt that you are sincerely trying to explain things and I am aware that you are not a biologist, the problem is that you seem to have some misapprehensions about how genetics and evolution work (which is nothing to feel bad about – even the people who understand this best (a group in which I am not included) understand only a fraction of what’s going on). Maybe it would help if you answered the following: What exactly is a gene and how are genes and mutations involved in natural selection?

  12. If eveolution does not exist, how do we explain the ability of bacteria to change themselves and defeat antibiotics?

  13. bOB C:

    do they change or are some just naturally resistant and those are the ones that end up reproducing?

    If you look up thread, Slartibartfast, Gyges and Ind. Ser. were talking about elephants and tusks.
    I dont know if this is similar but Slartibarfest appears to know a thing or 2 and can probably answer your question.

  14. Byron,

    I assumed that Bob C’s question was rhetorical – the answer is that without evolution, we can’t explain how anti-biotic resistant bacteria arise. This, like cancer are good examples of evolution – if you kill 99.999% of the cells in a tumor, you’ve just evolved a smaller tumor which is resistant to the treatment you just used. And the bacteria are actually changing to acquire resistance – it didn’t exist before.

  15. Slartibartfast;

    is the “evolution” caused by the antibiotic or does the antibiotic kill off non-resistant bacteria? Thereby allowing resistant bacteria to take control?

    I would think in every population of organisms some are resistant to pathogens and would survive. For example if we were attacked with Ebola, my guess is that, some of us would survive even though we had never been exposed. This survival could be due to something as trivial as the diameter of our red blood cells for example.

  16. Everyone shut up..you are just speaking in generalities and using big words saying nothing! No one will convince anyone on here, you are just wasting your breath as am I….

  17. Joseph,

    Thanks for reminding me I never answered Byron’s question (sorry to take so long, Byron…)

    is the “evolution” caused by the antibiotic or does the antibiotic kill off non-resistant bacteria?

    Actually, the antibiotic causes evolution by killing off the non-resistant bacteria. In the absence of the antibiotic the resistance is not a trait that enhances survival (i.e. it doesn’t give the bacteria an edge in reproducing itself) so the trait is not reinforced.

    Thereby allowing resistant bacteria to take control?

    Right—something evolves because a new trait allows the organisms that have it to take control.

    I would think in every population of organisms some are resistant to pathogens and would survive.

    Yup—that’s the mechanism of evolution.

    For example if we were attacked with Ebola, my guess is that, some of us would survive even though we had never been exposed. This survival could be due to something as trivial as the diameter of our red blood cells for example.

    That’s evolution.

  18. Joseph, don’t worry about me. I can breathe and type at the same time so I won’t be wasting my breath.

    On another topic, the thing is hilarious. The daughter of a friend of mine was taken out of her mother’s custody (mom’s an actress/singer) and placed in her father’s (dad’s a disbarred lawyer and admitted cocaine addict/alcoholic who married a convicted swindler) and when her mom got a visit, the girl’s main question was that her dad and step-mom told her she was not “allowed” to believe in Evolution because believing in it meant there was no god.

    I asked (in between munches because we were at a pancake house), “So is it impossible that there’s a god who created a world in which he wanted there to be evolution?”

    Her first reaction was SUSPICION: What was I trying to sell?

    I went on, without egg on my face, “If, for instance, god wanted life to arise in single cells from the water, could he arrange for that to happen?”

    …ye-e-ess…

    OK. If he wanted there to be sort of wormlike things a few million years later, would that be doable?

    …I gue-e-e-ess…

    And on we went. Toast, coffee, refills on the coffee.

    In the end, I pointed out that “EVE WAS FRAMED.”

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