Monday, December 16, 2013

More on the Texas SBOE Decision to Adopt Scientifically Accurate Textbooks

Church & State has a short piece on the back story behind the adoption of the new scientifically-sound textbooks in Texas.  They write:
In the latest twist of a long-running battle, the Dallas Observer reported in October that the board has narrowed its biology textbook options down to 14 titles – and not one of those choices includes any theories that run counter to evolution.

Unfortunately, no credit is due the board for this development. Many of its members wanted creationism in the books, but textbook publishers refused to put religious concepts into secular science books.

The recent turn of events surprised some observers. Board chair Barbara Cargill is an avid advocate for creationism. In fact, she and her allies invited a few dozen people to review the textbook options this summer, including a handful of known creationists.

Critics believe the review process was stacked to aid creationists. The board has long leaned toward teaching creationism, and this year additional anti-science advocates secured spots on the oversight body.
Textbook writers are highly-tuned to the science they practice and the publishers know that the writers will jump ship rather than have their reputations ruined by putting their names on substandard textbooks. For most of them, money is not the object. It is a labor of love. To have their work watered down is unacceptable.

Judging from the article, some of the board thought that they could get the material changed.  Now that this has not happened, there is no time to go through the selection process again.  What a shame.

This, once again, underscores the need for people on these boards to be scientifically literate.  People that are anti-evolution should have to be able to articulate why, from a scientific perspective, they are that way and defend those answers.  The vast majority won't be able to and it will become clear that they know little of the subject and are basing their decisions on religious perspectives.  I am not sure how, politically, that sort of accountability structure would be set up but these problems will persist until they are.  They just need to be stopped at the door because, as one of my readers once put it, these sorts of viewpoints are religiously-motivated, will tend to persist and their adherents will not budge.   We saw this with Don McLeroy who, in the face of experts in various biological fields, remarked: "I disagree with these experts. Someone has got to stand up to experts." Hard to argue with logic like that.

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