Saturday, June 06, 2009

The New Texas Science Standards and What is Wrong With Them

The NCSE has a story about what is wrong with the new science standards crafted by the Texas State Board of Education. It is found in the new issue of Earth Scientist and starts on page 30. The article puts a plain face on some of the things that went under the radar of the mainstream press and others that were reporting on the changes. For example:
The ESS standards include material on the fossil record, and this was a predictable
target for creationist board members. A standard in the original ESS read:

(c)(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and
rate of diversity of evolution.

This was amended to:

(c)(8)(A) evaluate a variety of fossil types, proposed transitional fossils, fossil
lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance,
completeness, and rate of diversity of evolution
and assess the arguments for
and against universal common descent in light of this fossil evidence.


One pro-science board member attempted to return (c)(8)(A) to its original language, but was voted down; as bad as most of these amendments were, things would have been worse had it not been for the efforts of pro-science board members.The final language adopted by the board removed references to common descent and evolution:

(c)(8)(A) analyze and evaluate a variety of fossil types, transitional fossils,
proposed transitional fossils, fossil lineages, and significant fossil deposits with regard to their appearance, completeness, and alignment with scientific explanations in light of this fossil data.
Other changes were made with regard to the age of the earth:
The age of the universe standard was amended from:

(4)(A) evaluate the evidence concerning the Big Bang model, such as red shift

and cosmic microwave background radiation, and the concept of an expanding universe that originated about 14 billion years ago.

to:

(4)(A) evaluate the evidence concerning the Big Bang model, such as red shift and cosmic microwave background radiation, and the concept of an expanding universe that originated 14 billion years ago, current theories of the evolution of the universe including estimates for the age of the universe.

Why would the Texas SBOE omit the specific age of the universe? The basis of this removal is not scientific uncertainty; the widely-accepted number of 13.7 billion years is well-established by numerous separate lines of evidence. The phrase “14 billion years” was removed in order to satisfy creationist board members who believe the universe, and the Earth, to be less than 10,000 years old.
Now one begins to understand why Casey Luskin claimed victory for the standards in his blog. These are absurd changes and, as Steve Newton writes, will only serve to confuse students who are trying to understand these already hard concepts.

1 comment:

  1. http://koti.phnet.fi/elohim/howdideverythingbegin2.html

    Concerning the Big Bang and expansion, it is an issue that we cannot detect with the naked eye or even with a telescope, no matter how much we look. Revolving and rotary movements of the bodies we can see – at least in the near space – but we cannot see expansion.

    Instead, some have thought that the best piece of evidence supporting the Big Bang is red shift, which can be observed in distant stars. It has been thought that when the spectrums of light in distant galaxies and stars move towards the red end of the spectrum, this indicates expansion. Red shift values of these celestial bodies should indicate their escape velocity and distance, so that all bodies are drawing away from us at a velocity proportional to their distance.

    However, using the red shift as evidence for expansion is questionable. It arises, for example, from the following factors:



    The light of all stars is not red shifted. The first problem with the red shift is that the light of all stars is not red shifted. For example, the Andromeda Galaxy and certain other galaxies show blue shifted light, which means that they should be approaching us. (It has been estimated that the Andromeda Galaxy is approaching us at 300 kilometres a second! On the other hand, the escape velocity of the Virgin Constellation should be 1,200 km/s and that of Quasar PKS 2000 as much as 274,000 km/s. Where do these more than a hundredfold differences come from, if everything began at the same point?) These kinds of exceptions indicate that there may be some other explanation to the red shift values than drawing away from us. Maybe the values have nothing to do with their movements.



    The values of adjacent galaxies. Another problem with the red shift is that some adjacent galaxies may have completely different red shift values, even though they are in connection with each other and quite close to each other. If the red shift value could be really used to tell the distance, there is no way these galaxies could be close to each other: instead, they should be far away from each other. This indicates that the red shift must be caused by some other facts, such as internal reactions and radiation of stars, which can also be detected from the Earth.

    Because of the same matter some researchers deny the importance of the red shift. They say or doubt it having anything to do with expansion. In fact, the whole Big Bang theory is then without its most important evidence:



    I do not want to imply that everyone is of the same opinion regarding the interpretation of the red shift. We do not actually observe the galaxies rushing away from us; the only issue that is sure is that their spectrums have moved towards red. Famous astronomers doubt whether the red shift has anything to do with the Doppler shifts or with the expansion of space. Halton Arp of the Hale Observatory has emphasized that groups of galaxies can be found in space where some galaxies have quite different red shifts; if these groups are really composed of galaxies that are close to each other, they could hardly move at very different velocities. Furthermore, Maarten Schmidt noticed in 1963 that certain kinds of objects resembling stars had enormously high red shifts, up to more than 300 per cent! If these "quasars" are at the distances that can be deducted from their red shifts, they must radiate an extremely large amount of energy in order to continue being so bright. It is also very difficult to measure the correlation between velocity and distance when the objects are really far away. (Steven Weinberg, Kolme ensimmäistä minuuttia / The Three First Minutes, p. 40)

    ReplyDelete