Science Marches On . . . Even In Texas

Charles Darwin

Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Last Thursday, July 21, the Texas Board of Education in an 8-0 unanimous vote opted to keep teaching evolution in high school biology classes using approved scientifically accurate textbook supplements from established mainstream publishers. They did not approve of the creationist-backed supplements from International Databases, LLC. Four times as many people showed up to testify in favor of the scientifically accurate texts as showed up to oppose them.

Although a creationist member of the Board objected to the supplement from textbook publisher Holt McDougal by releasing  a list of Holt’s supposed errors involving evolution and common descent, the Board responded by noting that the list had not been signed off on by the Board of Education’s review panel in full.  The Board went on to approve the Hold McDougal supplement, but submitted it for review by Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to look at the supposed errors and suggest changes to the Holt McDougal supplement.  Local educators and the National Center for Science Education are confident any of Director Scott’s revisions will show the current state of evolutionary biology.  In a statement released by the NCSE, NSCE Director Dr. Eugenie  Scott praised the Texas Board of Education, saying “These supplements reflect the overwhelming scientific consensus that evolution is the core of modern biology, and is a central and vital concept in any biology class. That these supplements were adopted unanimously reflects a long overdue change in the board. I commend the board for its refusal to politicize science education.”  This is squarely a victory in the battle to keep public education educational over the forces that would make public education into religious and/or political indoctrination.

Source: NCSE

~Submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

222 thoughts on “Science Marches On . . . Even In Texas”

  1. Now, you’re learning, science boy.That fancy education didn’t go completely to waste.

    Scientific results tell us far more than just “facts,” science boy, you know that.

    And the opinions of scientists, dare I say the consensus of scientists, has its uses, just so long as the scientists don’t confuse their opinions with actual science.

    The late Michael Crichton has a good speech on the topic. Go read it and learn something and come back with the proper amount of humility that a scientist should have.

    I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

    In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

    In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let’s review a few cases.

    In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth. One woman in six died of this fever.

    In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no.

    In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compelling evidence. The consensus said no.

    In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent “skeptics” around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.

    There is no shortage of other examples. In the 1920s in America, tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, were dying of a disease called pellagra. The consensus of scientists said it was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the “pellagra germ.” The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory.

    Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. They and other volunteers swabbed their noses with swabs from pellagra patients, and swallowed capsules containing scabs from pellagra rashes in what were called “Goldberger’s filth parties.” Nobody contracted pellagra.

    The consensus continued to disagree with him. There was, in addition, a social factor-southern States disliked the idea of poor diet as the cause, because it meant that social reform was required. They continued to deny it until the 1920s. Result-despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.

    Probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly, and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had in fact drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology-until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

    And shall we go on? The examples can be multiplied endlessly. Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theory. Saccharine, margarine, repressed memory, fiber and colon cancer, hormone replacement therapy. The list of consensus errors goes on and on.

  2. So, instead of consulting the scientific consensus (which represents our best understanding given our current information), you just want the results of every single experiment ever performed… Which will tell you what, exactly? Science isn’t just about facts – it’s about how we use facts to understand the world around us. Something I suspect you are incapable of.

  3. The repeatable results are the repeatable results. The scientists’ opinion on the repeatable results are superfluous and prone to confirmation bias problems. And, that’s why scientific consensus isn’t science. If you got the science (including the repeatable results) you don’t need the consensus. And, if you need the consensus for validatation, then you are probably lacking in the science.

    Why do I need your consensus to tell me that the theory of evolution is valid? No. I don’t need it, I just need the repeatable results.

  4. Scientific consensus is built out of repeatable results, not opinion.

  5. Hey look I found a post where Slartibartfast actually made sense.

    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.

    All that matters in science is the evidence.

    Polling the scientists as to their opinion or consensus, not so much.

    What happened between then and now? Perhaps the job loss affected his thought process.

  6. Bdaman,

    I’m just saying that you’re throwing a lot of stones for someone living in a glass house…

    {W(t) = ^..^ | t before now},

    Hi there!

  7. Bdaman,

    I have frequently used a lower case “b” when referring to you – generally because you’ve done it frequently yourself (I generally try to follow everyone’s personal usage – except for {W(t) = ^..^ | t before now}).

    You missed my point regarding Buddha is Laughing. Regardless of who is whom in meatspace, BiL is gone from TurleySpace – and no matter how you felt about what he said about you, he paid you a lot of attention. I don’t look at posts by “Wahoo” or “bdaidiot” or “Observant” and say “that’s B(b)daman” (or “bdatroll” or “John B. Seh” or “bdaloser”), why do you feel the need to force a persona onto another person?

    Could you give it to me again a little slower this time,

    It was to fast and definitely way deep 😉

  8. OS,

    Short answer – yes. Send me an email (see above).

    James,

    I agree 100%! 14 in 14 or bust! (14 TeV in 2014 or a black hole that swallows the Earth)

  9. Slartibartfast/James,

    I’m interested in what experiments currently under development will show about Susskind’s Holographic Principle. You want to talk about game changers, that could be a big one.

  10. Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate the kind words from you, Mike Appleton and everyone else who has been supportive. We just came from the hospital and managed to catch one of the doctors making rounds. He seemed optimistic, but concerned that she had lost so much weight. She used to be an athlete, riding hunter-jumper horses and swimming. Her arms and legs look like matchsticks now.

    As for physics, I agree the solution is probably going to be found in plasma physics. My best friend from high school is a physicist who specialized in dense matter phenomena–the really difficult stuff. I watch the Nobel awards every October to see if they call his name–he deserves it. Anyway, he thinks pretty much the same thing. He doesn’t have much use for the alternative energy sources now on the market, saying they all have serious drawbacks and all have some kind on negative impact on the environment.

    OT, but do you ever make it to the western end of the state for a holiday? Maybe we could meet up for a cup of coffee and some conversation.

  11. Slartifartbast, one predicts Hans Alfven’s work will be seen as fundamental in tomorrow’s textbooks, along side Watt and Maxwell. We have to cure our addiction to computer models as evidence first, and scuttle the whole Dark Whatever movement. Until we fully understand what we have in front of us, it makes no sense to invent New Crap that has the terribly convenient property of escaping observation. A dear friend who teaches at U of M says you either go into physics to study dark whatever, or you do not get funded. Before that, it was string theory. Before that it was luminiferous aether.

    LHC may be getting whiffs of Higgs. Doom hangs in the balance! Well, for the Standard Model, at least!

  12. Bdaman,

    I have frequently used a lower case “b” when referring to you – generally because you’ve done it frequently yourself (I generally try to follow everyone’s personal usage – except for {W(t) = ^..^ | t before now}).

    You missed my point regarding Buddha is Laughing. Regardless of who is whom in meatspace, BiL is gone from TurleySpace – and no matter how you felt about what he said about you, he paid you a lot of attention. I don’t look at posts by “Wahoo” or “bdaidiot” or “Observant” and say “that’s B(b)daman” (or “bdatroll” or “John B. Seh” or “bdaloser”), why do you feel the need to force a persona onto another person?

    OS,

    As I don’t have any children, I can only imagine how you feel – I saw my sister go through hell when her daughter’s lung collapsed twice in a week (she’s fine now). I’ll be thinking of your daughter and wishing your family the strength to get through this.

    Hans Alfven was a plasma physicist who figured out how the aurora worked (and won a Nobel prize for it). He later came to believe that the same principles of electromagnetism that caused the aurora played a significant role on larger scales and talked about something that he called the “cosmic triple jump” (planet -> solar system -> galaxy -> REALLY BIG). His theories explained the accretion of the largest visible structures (things that make megalightyears seem tiny) and the properties could be demonstrated on a small scale in the lab. He had the best explanation of a quasar I’ve ever seen (basically a galaxy-sized disk generator).

    If I had stayed in physics, I would have liked to have studied plasma physics – the view from Hans’ shoulders must be FUCKING AWESOME! How beautiful would the aurora be if you truly understood it? (and I believe that fusion power will ultimately arise out of plasma physics, by the way…).

  13. Sorry, a big chunk of my post got deleted somehow (the end of my response to Bdaman and the beginning of a post to OS – I’ll redo them and try again in a sec.

    We apologize for the inconvenience.

  14. Geeze, I go away for a couple of hours…

    Gyges,

    Please send me an email at (first name)@(last name).net

    (apologies if you have previously done this and I lost your address)

    Bdaman,

    I have frequently used a lower case “b” when referring to you – generally because you’ve done it frequently yourself (I generally try to follow everyone’s personal usage – except for {W(t) = ^..^ | t solar system -> galaxy -> REALLY BIG). If I had stayed in physics, I would have liked to have studied plasma physics – the view from Hans’ shoulders must be FUCKING AWESOME! How beautiful would the aurora be if you truly understood it? (and I believe that fusion power will ultimately arise out of plasma physics, by the way…).

    kidiot,

    you’re not worth wasting my time – go gnaw on your own liver. You’re an idiot. Have a nice day.

    Gene,

    Stardust sort of implies the remnants of a supernova (at least to me – I know, I’m a geek), so internal fusion doesn’t seem necessary. Everything but hydrogen was forged and the heart of a star and exploded into space (possibly after firing all of it’s guns at once, lyrically speaking…). Could you email me, too?

    Kevin Kesseler

  15. Gyges, a case could be made we are both. The heat of our metabolism arises mostly from the local star. But I think we focus too much on the “stuff” and not enough on the “star”.

    A case could be made we already have life everlasting. If life arises from exploding stars, and explosions have been occurring since nearly the beginning of time, there are likely strains of life around a red dwarf star in a quiet corner of the universe with worlds which bear life from the first stars.

    A case could be made we are already beings of light and energy. The illusion of materialism occurs at the interface between the negative electric fields which prop up the universe. Feels like stuff, but it’s energy instead.

    A case could therefore be made we’re already in heaven. You will be arguing with your grandchildren over the age-appropriateness of genetically enhanced wings, so that part is easy.

    You are all, therefore, brilliant. Awake to that fact? Well, now, that’s another post…

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