Thursday, November 29, 2007

Walter Williams Opines on Public Education

Ordinarily, I agree with Walter Williams, but in his recent column, titled Take School Control From Government, he has engaged in a logical fallacy. He writes:

I like the Lexus LS 460. I also like Dell computers. Many other people have a different set of preferences. Some might prefer a Cadillac and an HP computer while others prefer a Chrysler and IBM computer. With these strong preferences for particular cars and computers, we never see people arguing or fighting in an effort to impose their preferences for cars and computers on other people. There's car and computer peace. Why? You buy the car and computer that you want. I do likewise, and we remain friends.

and a bit further:

Prayers in school, sex education and "intelligent design" are contentious school issues. I believe parents should have the right to decide whether their children will say a morning prayer in school, be taught "intelligent design" and not be given school-based sex education. I also believe other parents should have the right not to have their children exposed to prayers in school, "intelligent design" and receive sex education.

Here he has made a tacit assumption that prayer in school, sex education and ID are equivalent in nature and that to disagree on them is on the level of disagreeing about which car to buy. They are not. Supposing a high school teacher decided he didn't like the theory of gravity and decided that he would teach that it is just as easy to believe that a giant vacuum cleaner exists in the center of the earth (think Spaceballs) and is responsible for the effects we normally attribute to gravity. Even if you could demonstrate that gravitational theory was perfectly capable of explaining the effects of gravity, he might disagree. I think that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that teaching the vacuum cleaner theory is a good idea. The two are not on the same scientific footing. That is one problem.

The other problem I have is that sex education and prayer in school are social issues. ID is a scientific issue that is quantifiable. It is not subject to debate, but rather to testing. Here, again, it fails because it offers no hypothetical questions to test and, as has been shown by many different authors (Kenneth Miller, Allen Orr, Howard van Till to name a few), offers examples of "design" that have been refuted.

Science education must be uniform and present the most well-founded and supported theories and hypotheses. ID does not do this. ID provides no comparable theoretical structure, other than "God did it." As I have noted before, there are plenty of articles out there that ask, "Yes but HOW?" ID does not currently address that question and, until it does, is not science.

No comments:

Post a Comment