Friday, August 09, 2013

Representative Bloom Pushes Forward

Two days ago, I posted a story on Pennsylvania state senator Stephen Bloom's ill-advised to push a bill that would "...allow students in public elementary and secondary schools to question or critique "the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories.""  Today the Carlisle Sentinel has a bit more on the story.  Dave Marcheskie writes:
Bloom, R-199, has begun seeking co-sponsors of legislation that would require Pennsylvania's public schools to allow debate on scientific theories.

Bloom says his proposal, dubbed "academic freedom," would open up the classroom atmosphere so that a student or teacher could express doubts or concerns they might have about existing theories.

Students and teachers could debate current teachings on biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning, among other issues.

Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said teachers are not qualified to go beyond the state-approved curriculum.

"Certainly, a biology teacher is in no place to discuss religious theory," Hoover said.

As it stands, Bloom's proposal would require a school to assist a teacher when addressing such "controversies" in science classrooms.
Here is the problem: before reasoned debate can occur, there has to be an understanding of what is being debated. Very few kids in high school will have the necessary background to debate the merits of evolution or cloning cogently. These are things you learn about in little more than cursory fashion in high school and then pursue in college if interested.  It is clear from his understanding of science that Rep. Bloom did not pursue them.  He has no idea what a scientific theory actually is, and he has a very great distrust of the academy. 

This is all straight out of the Discovery Institute's playbook: promote "academic freedom" legislation with the ultimate goal of pursuing a post-modern view of science in which it can be redefined to include disciplines that, using modern definitions, aren't science.  When asked whether or not astrology should be considered a science, Michael Behe, senior fellow at the DI, admitted that, well yes, it would.  If you can redefine the scientific enterprise to include things like astrology, for which there are no testable scientific hypotheses, then you can redefine it to include anything, including, obviously, Intelligent Design.  The only reason science works as well as it does is that, through its framework, it fosters testable questions which, in turn, generate theory.  Rep. Bloom does not understand this.

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