Friday, November 21, 2008

An Interview with Eugenie Scott

Capitol Annex has an interview with Dr. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the NCSE about the new Texas science standards. She has this to say about "strengths and weaknesses:"

You don’t hear scientists talking about the strength and weaknesses of cell theory. ‘Strength and weakness’ are words that the public understands and it communicates that you are really being fair. But, if you go to a scientist, and say, ‘tell me about the weaknesses of evolution,’ they will look at you blankly. Go to McLeroy and say it, and he’ll haul out a list of very familiar creationist arguments. So, it is an old line in a new battle.

Questions about whether or not Homo habilis gave rise to Homo erectus/ergaster do not reflect a weakness in evolutionary theory. They reflect gaps in our knowledge about how it proceeded. About publishing standards, she has this to say:

...there is much more opportunity in the publishing industry because of digital layout for modular publications. In other words, it is possible to produce a textbook for the Texas market that nobody else would want to have because it is bad science. That is serious for you guys because if the [state] board says to the publishers, ‘you’ve got to put in a lot of bad science to sell books in Texas,’ the publishers might say, ‘well, we have to sell books in Texas,’ and put out a book with a lot of crappy science and that is the Texas edition. They’ll sell it here and nobody else will want it because it is crappy science.

That puts Texas students at a competitive disadvantage. The Texas science community–science professors–are unified, as we saw [with the study released yesterday]. We don’t argue over whether evolution took place, but this is what McLeroy wants to pretend to students is going on in the scientific community. He wants teachers to pretend to students that scientists argue over whether evolution happened. We argue how evolution happened–that’s good science–and that is not a weakness to us. To McLeroy, if scientists argue over whether dinosaurs are warm blooded or cold blooded, that is a weakness. That is just good, healthy science.

It is only that way because McLeroy knows nothing about science and how it works. As I said in an earlier post, it is amazing that someone so ignorant of basic science can have assumed so high a position in an education board, let alone be on it. His arguments, as well as those by Rob Crowther are, once again, examples of this "teach the controversy" strategy. They want to make it seem as though there are "weaknesses" (neither McLeroy or Crowther care about the "strengths" of the theory) and that students should know about them, whether they exist or not.

P.S. does Crowther really know what Michael Behe thinks about evolution? I Bet not.

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