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. IS,

    I’m still unclear as to what you’re saying? Are you proposing a Lamarkian type mechanism?

    If you’re saying that environmental pressure selects for certain genetic variations, that’s dead on. If you’re saying that environmental pressure CAUSES the genetic variation, then you are mostly wrong. There are epigenetic changes that are caused by environmental factors, but those are (by definition) changes in how the gene is expressed, rather then changes to the gene itself.

    Similarly with the Viral theory, if you think that Viruses accounts for a very small part of genetic variation, that’s fairly accurate. If you think that accounts for most mutations and changes in DNA you’re incorrect. If you’re really interested in the subject of the mechanics of genetic variation, that book I recommended to Slart is a great place to start.

  2. If the Creator changes the design; is it still called evolution?

    Was the creation of life a random act?

    Are the different species of man a result of self-contained evolution, or the result of a power that we just can’t explain.

    Scientists work hard against acknowledging a Creator, and the possible continued influence of a Creator. Why? They would need to admit that some things can’t be explained.

    Look! It changed. It must be evolution. The factory didn’t authorize that.

    Do you have to be religious to believe in a Creator?

  3. Indentured Servant,

    Actually the elephant herds in these locations are starting to have adults with small tusks because they are the ones that are surviving to reproduce.
    *******************************

    And do you not think that it has something to do with the environmental issues? Not that I think that elephants should be killed just for there tusk and hide. I have never eaten elephant, so I cannot say that it is something that I want to try.

    I did raise pig in High School. The sow got up to over 800 pounds before she died. Most swine do not get that big. Do you think it had something to do with the environment? She was my original show pig. She also had arthritis, I had a VW bus (in the 70’s go figure) and would chase her in the fields (on the farm)honking that awful shrieking horn while she ran. I guess today someone could say that I was being cruel. Not in the least, that was one of the attributes that she was judged on walking gracefully. She was worth too much to kill. Each piglet I earned between 100 to 125 a piece for, not bad money in the 70s’ she was proven stock.

    ______________________________________________

    I don’t think the majority of gas and oil come from decomposing plant and animal matter. There is a good case to make for the earth being full of methane which “distills” as it rises through the earth’s mantel.

    Humm, kind of like your statistics back it up. I did and here it is for you. The bottom line is it comes from some form of waste, however you define it. For those with trained minds we like to have a source to rely upon when you make statements other than personal ones, which can neither be proved or disproved, when they are our life experiences.

    Where does methane come from?

    Methane is emitted from a variety of both human-related (anthropogenic) and natural sources. Human-related activities include fossil fuel production, animal husbandry (enteric fermentation in livestock and manure management), rice cultivation, biomass burning, and waste management. These activities release significant quantities of methane to the atmosphere. It is estimated that 60% of global methane emissions are related to human-related activities (IPCC, 2001c). Natural sources of methane include wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils, and other sources such as wildfires.

    Link: http://chem.ps.uci.edu/~kcjanda/Group/clathrateweb/MethaneSource.htm

  4. AY:

    Actually the elephant herds in these locations are starting to have adults with small tusks because they are the ones that are surviving to reproduce.

    I don’t think the majority of gas and oil come from decomposing plant and animal matter. There is a good case to make for the earth being full of methane which “distills” as it rises through the earth’s mantel.

  5. IS,
    …. Oh and Gyges there is another example of environmental pressure in the hunting of elephants for tusks, the elephants are starting to have small tusks because hunters are killing the ones with large tusks. So the gene pool is being changed.

    ***************************************

    Well ya think? Hum, kill the full grown elephants and alls you have is the little elephants. Makes sense to me.

    This is reminiscent of Renewal Energy sources. The fossils keep decomposing making new oil which keeps on giving. Have you ever thought nothing really dies, it lives on in a cyclical response to the environment that it is in.

  6. Slarti/Gyges:

    Why is a DNA mutation caused by an external pathogen so unbelievable? Or environmental pressures?

    For example cystic fibrosis is almost always found in people of northern European ancestry. Why because (I am pretty sure about this) they contain a gene that allowed them to survive one of the gastrointestinal diseases such as cholera. So people with one of the CF gene mutations were able to survive by virtue of their intestinal motility or mucosa consistency caused by a single cf gene (it takes a pair to actually have the disease), I believe this is what would be called a “soft” sign. I would call this environmental pressure.

    And as far as a virus causing mutations, I guess you haven’t yet read that there appear to be snippets of viral DNA embedded in our own. Where did they come from and how do they react with our own DNA? Does genetic coding some time go awry? Is that why some genetic diseases just abruptly pop up in a family with no history of them? How did they become wrapped up in our code?

    Well anyway if anyone has any other info on this I would certainly be interested.

    Oh and Gyges there is another example of environmental pressure in the hunting of elephants for tusks, the elephants are starting to have small tusks because hunters are killing the ones with large tusks. So the gene pool is being changed.

  7. Slart,

    I think you should have directed the comment about the statistics to AY.
    I wonder if you’ve had a chance to read “Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body” by Armand Marie Leroi? If not I (and my wife) highly recommend it. It’s incredibly well written. Comparable with Sagan as far as making the science accessible without dumbing it down.

  8. ck:

    “Ahh, it looks like my post about Mr. Turley and photogate had been preceded by mespo727272. Congrats mespo – I feel awkward now :-/”

    ****************

    No need for awkwardness. That two keen minds happened upon the same conclusion lends credit to both.

  9. Ahh, it looks like my post about Mr. Turley and photogate had been preceded by mespo727272. Congrats mespo – I feel awkward now :-/

  10. Thanks Slartibartfast. I knew that about forgo, but it looked wrong when I typed it. Also, I’m too lazy to spell check. Obviously I didn’t write a masterpiece there and I can’t type up an entire Dawkinsesque defense of evolution in a message board for a blog post, but believe me I would if I thought it would explain anything to David. I know he’s almost assuredly trolling, but he did ask the questions. Why not answer them logically (if inadequately brief) at least once?

  11. Well, seems I spoke too soon Mr. Turley. After mere moments of having you on a pedestal in my noggin, I decided to read the entirety of the comments. In these comments you say:

    “Indeed, Bentley, I could not locate a single public domain picture of those dazzling Darwinistas of the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band. You will have to image this marching band on an evolutionary scale.”

    If your attention to detail was a great as I was proclaiming, I thought for certain a quick search would turn up absolutely zilch. But alas, a google image search for “smith-cotton tigers band” returned this as the very first result…

    http://entertainment.webshots.com/photo/2612592920064738883hTaGDR

    They’re even wearing the very same shirts this article is about! So maybe it’s the public domain thing? But the site has built in links to embed the photos (you can choose the size too 🙂 on your blog if you so choose. I don’t know, feels like dropped the ball here…

    I feel empty now.

  12. JoshOnPC,

    Excellent post – a nice explanation of some of the nuances of evolution. Your last point about comparing people to primates is insightful, too. However, I do feel compelled to mention that the word ‘forgo’ doesn’t have an ‘e’ on the end (or anywhere else, for that matter). 😉

  13. IS,

    You said:
    I do find it hard to believe that a land animal turned into a whale by virtue of environmental pressure. Fruit flies over thousands of generations dont become cockroaches.

    If you look at the fossil record, you can see various steps in the process of land animals evolving into whales – I was recently in a natural science museum in Raleigh, NC where they have several whale skeletons in which you can see the vestigial structure of legs in the bones of their fins. Why is it so hard to believe that environmental pressures led to a change which we can see has happened? Your comment about fruit files just shows your ignorance of evolutionary theory – cockroaches are your cousins (do I see some family resemblance?) and so are fruit flies. What the theory of evolution says is that all species evolved from a common ancestor (hence the term ‘origin of the species’).

    You said:
    But there is a progression in the fossil record and so something is going on to make these changes. Personally I think it might be a virus or some other pathogen that caused mutations in DNA.

    I’m going to ignore this and suggest you forget about it unless you’re pitching a (bad) Star Trek episode…

    You said:
    Hundreds of millions of years is a long time and if a whale lives around 150 years it would be hundreds of thousands if not millions of generations.

    Um. Yeah. Sure. Your point?

    Anyway, if you have any more questions about the validity of the theory of evolution, I’ll do my best to answer them.

  14. So how exactly did you come across the school song? I mean who, while writing about creationists’ buffoonery, decides to look at the school song to see if there’s anything there for the story? If you really did look for it to see if you could find something, kudos to you – you’re quite detailed and I’m impressed.

    I suspect someone familiar with the school pointed it out and either it got to you directly or indirectly; however, until you state otherwise, I’m putting you on a pedestal in my `noggin`.

  15. Gyges,

    Let’s see how David responds to this – if he engages, I’m going to do my best Vince Treacy impression.

    David,

    Let me say up front that I am a mathematical biologist working in cancer research and your comments touch on an issue that is very important to me personally and professionally so I am going to try to explain to you why you are so very mistaken.

    You said:
    “Scientific theory” does not equal “scientific fact”! In truth, there isn’t anything scientific about evolution. There is absolutely no proof of evolution. It’s not even at the theory state; it’s still in the hypothesis state because evolution has not been verified.

    We need to start with a little vocabulary lesson – first off, a ‘scientific fact’ (more properly just a ‘fact’) is a piece of data. It is information that has been collected and can be used as evidence to support or refute a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a prediction about the behavior (of some system) that can be tested experimentally. When a hypothesis has a mountain of evidence to support it and the odds of it being substantially incorrect are lower than the chances of Dick Cheney admitting to war crimes, people start calling it a theory. There is no proof of any scientific theory – there is only evidence which supports or refutes it. You can’t ‘prove’ that gravity exists but there is plenty of evidence and I don’t recommend that you test out gravity by jumping off a cliff. And even the theory know as ‘Newton’s Laws’ has been shown to be incorrect under certain circumstances (things which are very small, very heavy, or moving very fast). The theory of evolution in fact has a mountain of evidence supporting it – if you search pubMed (an online database of medical and biological research) for evolution you will find over 200,000 articles – all of which support evolution and no evidence refuting it (or supporting creationist nonsense like intelligent design). The majority of medical science is based on an understanding of biology based on evolution. For those of us on the pointy end of the spear, it is hard to understand how anyone can question evolution – it’s like someone arguing that 2+2=3 – no matter how persuasive the argument is (and they aren’t very) that doesn’t change the fact that it’s just wrong. The concept of evolution is what makes modern biology fit together into a coherent whole – if evolution were wrong, then just about all of current medical research shouldn’t work.

    You said:
    The first irony here is that many “intelligent, educated” people rely on evolution like it has been proved. It’s more disproved because natural selection just isn’t reality. Why would there be monkeys now if they were suppose to have evolved into humans? Why are there “ugly” people, “dumb” people, people born with disabilities/defects, etc. if natural selection was true?

    I rely on evolution just like I rely on gravity – as something rock solid that I can depend on. (I consider myself an intelligent, educated person) Evolution has been observed in numerous species both in the past and currently occurring in the world today. Your comment about monkeys shows that you don’t understand the theory of evolution (maybe that’s why you hope that it is incorrect). Monkeys are not our ancestors, they’re our cousins. To illustrate the case for evolution, I’ll give you some evidence that humans are descended from the great apes: Humans (as you may know) have 23 chromosome pairs, while the great apes have 24 pairs. Since the loss of a pair is a lethal mutation, the only explanation consistent with evolution is that two of the great ape’s chromosomes got fused together in humans. Now chromosomes have a couple of special sections at the ends called telomeres and another in the middle called the centromere. If two chromosomes were fused together then the resulting chromosome should have a telomere block in the center and two centromeres. In fact, this is exactly what we find in chromosome 2 in humans. When a theory can make a successful prediction in a field that didn’t exist until 100 years after the theory was introduced, to me that seems very impressive (not to mention convincing).

    You said:
    The second irony here is that black people find it offensive to being compared to other primates, but yet 74% with post-graduate degrees believe that all people descended from chimps.

    BTW, 39% of Americans believe in evolution vs. 91% of Americans believe in God.

    Note to Gyges: The last statement is not inconsistent – it just says that 30% of Americans believe in evolution and God (assuming no one doesn’t believe in God or evolution).

    I don’t really care about your statistics – polls don’t matter in science, all that’s important is the evidence and all of that agrees with evolution. I will note that you are descended from great apes, not chimps (again, they are cousins of yours) and I will also note that if you look at people with post-graduate degrees in biological or medical fields, agreement with evolution is nearly unanimous.

  16. David

    “The first irony here is that many “intelligent, educated” people rely on evolution like it has been proved. It’s more disproved because natural selection just isn’t reality. Why would there be monkeys now if they were suppose to have evolved into humans? Why are there “ugly” people, “dumb” people, people born with disabilities/defects, etc. if natural selection was true?”

    ?????? Well, you clearly do not understand the ideas put forth by the evolutionary theory. There are many rational and compelling explanations for these occurances. Firstly, the advancement of one species does not neccesarily out compete similar species. In fact if different species are on seperate land masses they may not compete at all. In addition, a specific adaptation may not work to the detriment of competitors, it may in fact simply open new possibilities for survival. And, why are there ugly people? Well, ignoring that your question is entirely subjective, there may also be reasons for adaptations that might not be commonly aesthetic. I.E. an “ugly” larger nose may allow a person the ability to more readily obtain oxygen and therefore to thrive in particular environments or lifestyles. Or, perhaps physical appearance is less important among members of our species that have evolved beyond the necessity for trophy wives.

    “Dumb” people. Again your question is entirely relative, but there are still reasons that a more emotional human or less intellectual human may thrive in different environments. If you request examples I will happily provide them, but in the interest of brevity I will forgoe that now.

    The question you have regarding birth defects is an interesting one, but a complicated one. It depends on many factors that would be dependant on the kind of defects you mean, but in general, most mutations are harmless, many mutations are detrimental (probably far more than benificial) and may be considered “defects” I suppose. That is, until something happens in our environment (illness, dietary restrictions, climate change, etc…) that enables those with mutations to thrive better than you or I (I.E. Sickle Cell Anemia).

    Needless to say I take exception to your baseless assumption that natural selection doesn’t exist, it clearly does, and can be seen in many species, deceased and ongoing. It can be seen in a petri dish in any lab. Go ahead try a few experiments.

    “The second irony here is that black people find it offensive to being compared to other primates, but yet 74% with post-graduate degrees believe that all people descended from chimps.”

    No, almost everyone will take exception when you compare them to primates with the intent of degrading or dehumanizing them, and rightfully so. Quite honestly the fact that you think that way seemingly exposes your own racist tendancies.

  17. jack:

    I’ll get Professor Turley to send you an invoice for your “info-comment” above.

  18. “Indeed, Bentley, I could not locate a single public domain picture of those dazzling Darwinistas of the Smith-Cotton High School Tiger Pride Marching Band. You will have to image this marching band on an evolutionary scale.”

    *******************************

    Come on JT, here’s whole slew of band pictures from our favorite devo Mizzou High School (Are we not created men?):

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://thumb3.webshots.net/t/69/569/0/83/28/2126083280064738883lRBhUC_th.jpg&imgrefurl=http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/560827983GQszlu&usg=__q0L6-HFm0rz9BunTPBGmQu9yiA4=&h=75&w=100&sz=6&hl=en&start=4&um=1&tbnid=9Ih3NAk5R-jMbM:&tbnh=61&tbnw=82&prev=/images%3Fq%3DSmith-Cotton%2BHigh%2BSchool%2BTiger%2BPride%2BMarching%2BBand.%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

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