Friday, May 29, 2015

What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?

The top result for the above search leads to a plug for a young-earth creationist book by Ken Ham which argues that humans dinosaurs coexisted and that dinosaurs were wiped out in the flood.  There Is No Scientific Evidence For This Position.  The dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago.  If you want a good kids resource for dinosaurs, check out Dinosaur Train.

UPDATE: Dinosaurs Lived With Humans?

I have been reflecting on the blogosphere's reaction to the Google page that results in the search "What happened to the dinosaurs?"  While it is true that the top result is a link to Ken Ham's absurd young earth creationist book by the same title, I wonder if the chief reaction: Have Google change the results page, is the correct one.  Do we really want Google discriminating its results?  That can work both ways and some things we don't want discriminated might be.  I suspect the best thing we can do is place similarly-worded page up that alert readers to the errancy of the result from Answers in Genesis.  To that end, there will be a follow-up post doing exactly that. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Hominin Species Coeval with Au. afarensis

A new hominin has been announced by Haile-Selassie and colleagues.  Here is the abstract from the Nature paper1:
Middle Pliocene hominin species diversity has been a subject of debate over the past two decades, particularly after the naming of Australopithecus bahrelghazali and Kenyanthropus platyops in addition to the well-known species Australopithecus afarensis. Further analyses continue to support the proposal that several hominin species co-existed during this time period. Here we recognize a new hominin species (Australopithecus deyiremeda sp. nov.) from 3.3–3.5-million-year-old deposits in the Woranso–Mille study area, central Afar, Ethiopia. The new species from Woranso–Mille shows that there were at least two contemporaneous hominin species living in the Afar region of Ethiopia between 3.3 and 3.5million years ago, and further confirms early hominin taxonomic diversity in eastern Africa during the Middle Pliocene epoch. The morphology of Au. deyiremeda also reinforces concerns related to dentognathic (that is, jaws and teeth) homoplasy in Plio–Pleistocene hominins, and shows that some dentognathic features traditionally associated with Paranthropus and Homo appeared in the fossil record earlier than previously thought.
The Washington Post has a write-up of the new find, which they glibly refer to as “An Ethel for Lucy.” Rachel Feltman:
Haile-Selassie and his co-authors believe the find should encourage reexamination of other possible instances of pre-Homo cohabitation.  Two other species have been proposed as living at the same time as Australopithecus afarensis -- Australopithecus bahrelghazali and Kenyanthropus platyops -- but both remain controversial, with some scientists saying they aren't different enough from A. afarensis to constitute a new species. And in a previous expedition, Haile-Selassie himself found a partial foot that he believed was from the same time period -- but not the same species -- as Lucy. Unlike the jaw reported in Nature, the foot didn't provide enough evidence to name a new species.
As noted with the Ledi jaw, there seems to be quite of a bit of morphological variability and experimentation going on at the Plio-Pleistocene boundary.   

1Haile-Selassie, Y., Gibert, L., Melillo, S.M., Ryan, T.M., Alene, M., Deino, A., Levin, N.E., Scott, G., Saylor, B.Z. (2015) New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity. Nature. 521(7553): 483-488.

Google: Dinosaurs Lived With Humans?

Google is in hot water for the reliability of its search results this morning.  This story will probably have a very short shelf life.  It turns out that if you ask the question “What happened to the dinosaurs?” the very first result you got was this:
This has sparked an outcry from the science community and several people have posted about it.  Of course, the search results have changed in the intervening time.  Now when you do the search, you get hits from people asking why Google is giving out this kind of information.  This hit the airwaves at least sixteen hours ago and Google has yet to adjust its search results, however.  The top result, after the “in the news” story, is still the one from Ken Ham's organization.  Greg Laden suggests that people tell Google that their results are unreliable by using the "Feedback" button next to Ken Ham's book plug.  I will be curious to see what this looks like a day from now.  He writes:
I’ve never, for one moment, gone along with the idea that Google can pull off a better, more reliable search based on the Google view of what sites are more reliable. My position on this has annoyed many of my colleagues. The promise of the Internet being less bogus and more educational is attractive. But it is a siren call. Regarding this particular issue I’ll claim the role of Galileo until proven otherwise.
Hat tip to Rob Mitchell.

UPDATE: This is lighting up all over the internet. I used the general feedback button to voice my opinion.

I probably should have used better wording but wanted to get it out.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Peter J.Reilly: Kent Hovind To Be Set Free in August?

It looks like Kent Hovind may be a free man.  Peter J. Reilly writes:
It is pretty hard to surprise me, but Judge Margaret Casey’s Rodgers’s ruling reversing Kent Hovind’s conviction for contempt of court did the trick.  There was something of a one-two punch as I was also surprised over the weekend when the Government sought dismissal without prejudice of the remaining counts of the indictment, that the jury had not reached a verdict on in March.
I guess that the government figured out that Hovind and his support network of Hovindicators were not worth the effort any more.  Reilly has long thought that the government's case against Hovind was more of a witch hunt, although I doubt he would use those words.  Maybe we will see Dr. Dino back in action.  Interestingly, it is not clear whether or not his co-defendant, Paul Hansen will be set free as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Earliest Stone Tools?

Artifacts have been found near Lake Turkana that are reported to be the earliest stone tools yet produced.  Live Science has this:
Until now, the earliest known tools were about 2.8 million years old, the researchers said. The artifacts are by far the oldest handmade stone tools yet discovered — the previous record-holders, known as Oldowan stone tools, were about 2.6 million years old.

"We were not surprised to find stone tools older than 2.6 million years, because paleoanthropologists have been saying for the last decade that they should be out there somewhere," Harmand said. "But we were surprised that the tools we found are so much older than the Oldowan, at 3.3 million years old."

It remains unknown what species made these stone tools. They could have been created by an as-yet-unknown extinct human species, or by
Australopithecus, which is currently the leading contender for the ancestor of the human lineage, or by Kenyanthropus, a 3.3-million-year-old skull of which was discovered in 1999 about a half-mile (1 kilometer) from the newfound tools. It remains uncertain exactly how Kenyanthropus relates to either Homo or Australopithecus.
Part of this is because Kenyanthropus is very badly deformed postmortem and it is very hard to figure out its morphology. In recent years, it has not been seriously included in human lineage models.There is evidence at the site of Gona for the use of tools, around 3.3 million years ago, but no actual tools, themselves.  This represents a more concrete example of early tools.  According to the picture, these are very rudimentary choppers.  More pieces of the puzzle.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Evolution and the Environment: A Graph by Josh Rosenau

Josh Rosenau, at NCSE has constructed an interesting, if somewhat reductionist graph plotting acceptance of evolution and support for environmental regulations among the major religious groups.  Downloading questionnaire data from the Pew Research Center, the two questions he analyzed were:
  • Stricter environmental laws and regulations cost too many jobs and hurt the economy; or Stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost and
  • Evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth
The Graph that he came up with is here.  The x-axis is the evolution question and the y-axis is the environmental question.  The first surprise I found is that the Seventh Day Adventists exhibit more support for environmental regulations than the Pentacostals.  Not sure what is driving that.  It is a given that most members of those denominations reject evolution almost uniformly.  In fact, as Ron Numbers points out, many of the early creationists, including Ellen White, were SDA. 

I am also not surprised at the non-denominational evangelical lack of support for evolution.  Many of those folks, like me, came of age in the 1980s when house churches were springing up everywhere and inductive bible studies were the rage.  Those folks are now in their 40s and 50s and raising their own kids.  My church could serve as a poster child for this group.  This group, based on what I have read, also makes up the vast majority of the home school movement, which is almost lock-step anti-evolution.  

There is much lost in the analysis of only two questions and each group's theology has nuances that are certainly not covered here, but it is an interesting analysis of these two questions.  

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A Closer Look at Accelerated Christian Education

England is currently grappling with a controversy surrounding its free schools: some of them are teaching young earth creationism.  Javier Espinoza, of the Telegraph, writes:
Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools despite Government threats to withdraw their funding, the Telegraph can disclose.

Last August Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools found teaching creationism as scientific fact would not be eligible for any money from the taxpayer.

Yet a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show that 54 private schools are still being funded by local authorities, while continuing to teach that the Earth began with Adam and Eve.

Only 14 of the 91 schools teaching creationism have had their funding withdrawn, an investigation by the British Humanist Association revealed.

The campaign group also found that some faith schools' science departments were teaching pupils to identify what happened on each of the days of the creation.
Apparently, the focus of the inquiry is into a particular curriculum that is being used, that from Accelerated Christian Education. Well, its accelerated all right.  Johnny Scaramanga, of Patheos, examined the ACE science curriculum and found, among other things, that:
  • The Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution.  I wrote about this a bit back here.  The direct quote that Scaramanga uses that I have also quoted:
    Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short, has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.
    No, it hasn't. There is no evidence that this creature exists, whatsoever.
  • Solar Fusion is a Myth.  This is a retread of the old Russell Akridge argument that the sun is shrinking.  Howard Van Till wrote a detailed expose of this creationist “talking point,” and it is no longer an argument used because it was so thoroughly debunked.  Apparently ACE has not gotten the memo. 
  • A Japanese Whaling Boat Found a Dinosaur.  As was pointed out very shortly after the discovery, it was not a dinosaur at all but a badly decomposed basking shark.  Even Answers in Genesis backed away from this one. also gave it a pass.  Once again, ACE treads where other creationists have urged caution. 
  • Evolution Has Been Disproved.  Here, Scaramanga points out some statements found in the text that parrot the usual, discredited arguments:
    “This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis.” (Science 1099, p. 30)

    “No branch of true science would make these kind of impossible claims without proof. Because evolutionists do not want to believe the only alternative – that the universe was created by God – they declare evolution is a fact and believe its impossible claims without any scientific proof!” (Science 1107, p. 24)

    “It is not possible that our planet accidentally evolved into a living blue and green planet! No, the creation of our earthly home required a miracle. That miracle was the design and work of a mighty Creator.” (Social Studies 1098, p. 3)

    “The evolutionist does not realise that he also accepts his theories by faith; he cannot prove them by scientific demonstration, and he is dishonest when he claims they are science.” (Social Studies 1097, p. 25)
    Not only are these incorrect, they are couched in haughty arrogance and derision toward the scientists who work in this field. Contemptible.
  • Humans and Dinosaurs Coexisted.  This is an argument derived from what were considered dinosaur and human tracks at the Paluxy River, in Glen Rose, Texas.  Once again, this is an argument that creationists no longer use and have not used in years.   John Morris, of the ICR cautions his readers that this is not a credible argument. 
I have not looked at ACE's textbooks in awhile but, given the ruckus they have produced,their content has likely not changed much.  Other problems abound with this curriculum.  In another post, Scaramanga writes:
In 2012 I began a PhD studying ACE, and discovered that little had changed since I left in 1999. I have campaigned against ACE, with some success. The shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has described its stance on homosexuality as “dangerous” and “backwards”; the Advertising Standards Authority ruled last month that some ACE schools were mis-selling their qualifications; and the press finally noticed they were teaching that wives must submit to their husbands.

In all of this, however, little attention has been paid to the pseudoscience that ACE passes off as education. PACEs sometimes get basic science wrong, but more importantly they demonstrate that ACE can’t tell the difference between science and nonsense obscured with long words. For example, ACE’s Science 1087
(aimed at students in year 9) suggests it might be possible to generate electricity from snow.
That was written in September of 2014.  The rest of the article is a chilling expose of just how badly ACE has gotten basic science. It is astounding to think that sixty schools all over England are using it, or were using it five years ago. How will these kids react when they discover that the science they were taught is bogus? How will it affect their faith?  We know, in Scaramanga's case, it drove him to atheism

Strengths and Weaknesses Bill: Editorializes

Shelly Haskins of, an online conglomeration of several large newspapers (like has written an editorial about the negative national publicity that Mack Butler’s “Strengths and Weaknesses” bill (which she misidentifies as HB 572, instead of HB 592) in the Alabama  house has gotten:
This bill is just a waste of time in a year when Alabama legislators face real issues that need all of their time and attention, issues like how to fund state government before it implodes before our eyes, for instance.

Let's focus on the real problems facing our state, rather than meddling in the classroom, where I'm sure there's been no groundswell from teachers complaining that they aren't free to discredit evolution.

If, like the Alabama ACLU says, this bill opens up the door for "religious fanatics" to take over the classroom and open up Alabama to lawsuits, there's another practical reason to let this bill die. We can't afford more legal fees to defend possibly unconstitutional laws when we have no money to even run our own court system, much less police our streets or care for our elderly.

You might ask, "What would Jesus do?" Personally, I believe he would concentrate on feeding the multitude rather than blatantly calling attention to himself.

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men,” Matthew 6:5.
It is unfortunate when well-meaning but ignorant legislators stick their noses into areas they have no business in. If passed, this will cause more headaches, like those that Louisiana currently has.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Update: Alabama "Strengths and Weaknesses" Bill: The Mask Comes Off

The Anniston Star has a story that makes clearer the motives of Mack Butler, the Alabama Republican representative who has introduced the "Strengths and Weaknesses" bill in the legislature.  Ostensibly, the bill was to require the teachers to promote inquiry and discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of all scientific theories.  Not by half.  Amanda Woolbright writes:

Butler called the bill one that “doesn’t promote anyone’s agenda” and said it would foster open and honest debate in science classrooms all over the state.

“There are some teachers who are uncomfortable teaching evolution as fact, and some are scared to tiptoe around alternate theories,” he said.

Yet, how local educators are currently teaching students wouldn’t drastically change.

“I’m a little puzzled why we have to create a law stating that. They are teaching evolution theory, as well as creation, so it’s currently taking place now,” said Mike Newell, director of operations for the Jacksonville Board of Education.

Many teachers in the state say they are already allowing students to explore various theories, including both creationism and evolution.
Once again, how that is done is critically important, but Butler is sticking his nose into the mix with a smoke and mirrors law because he doesn't like evolution. He could care less about controversies in gravitational theory, geology or any of the other hard sciences. But that is not the underlying reason that the bill is being put forth in the first place. For that we go to the last sentence in the article:
“There is animosity to anything Christian. We are getting so secular and hostile toward Christianity. I’m just trying to bring back a little balance,” Butler said.

Evolution = atheism

The dichotomy couldn't be more stark, or more misleading.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Alabama Introduces "Strengths and Weaknesses" Bill

NCSE is reporting that a bill that would allow teachers to investigate “strengths and weaknesses” of contentious scientific theories has been put forth by Mack Butler (no reason to point out his political party, since we all know what it is) as HB 592.  Here is the synopsis:
This bill would require the State Board of Education, local boards of education, and staff of K-12 public schools to create an environment that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about scientific subjects. This bill would also allow public school teachers to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of all existing scientific theories covered in a science course.
Now, once again, ask yourself this question: why, in a science class, where all kinds of theories are taught, and the emphasis is on critical thinking in the first place, would such a bill be necessary?  Here's why:
The bill's sole sponsor is Mack Butler (R-District 30), who, discussing a different bill of his with (January 21, 2015), commented, “It takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution.”
So, despite the vague wording, the whole purpose of this bill, it seems, is to protect the teaching of alternate theories to evolution, of which there are only two: Intelligent design and young earth creationism, neither of which have any solid science behind them.

This is what the Discovery Institute hath wrought: a legislative minefield where bills like this crop up here and there like an absurd Whack-a-Mole game.  And not a one of these legislators could describe evolutionary theory to save their lives.   

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Peter J. Reilly: The Trials of Kent Hovind: An American Tragedy

Peter J. Reilly, who has written previously in Forbes on the saga of Kent Hovind, writes that he is, yet again, facing trial:
Kent Hovind is facing another trial in the federal court in Pensacola on May 18th. In 2006 Hovind was convicted on a 58 count indictment - interfering with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, failure to pay payroll taxes on the employees, or as he refers to them “missionaries”, working for Creation Science Evangelism and structuring, the systematic withdrawal of cash in amounts somewhat less than $10,000 in order to avoid currency reporting requirements.  Hovind was sentenced to ten years in prison, three years of supervised release and forfeiture of over $400,000 in structured funds.
Reilly has championed the idea that Hovind is the victim of prosecutorial overreach and has highlighted that here and here.  Having said that, he appears to be no supporter of Hovind, himself. As he notes:
Kent Hovind adamantly maintains that he is not a “tax protester”.  I have some issues with that.  If you go to the flagship website of his supporters #FreeKent you can follow the links to Proof Number one “Letters from professionals absolve Kent Hovind from all wrong-doing“.   The first letter is from Kent to one of the professionals and starts with:

“I am writing to request your professional opinion regarding the voluntary nature of Form 1040.”

The responses are something of potpourri of tax protester arguments, that have been ruled by courts to be frivolous.  As Hovindicators often correctly point out Kent Hovind was not convicted of tax evasions, so the letters, which were clearly meant to set up what is called  a Cheek defense, really have little to do with what he was convicted of.
Along the way, he peppers the story with videos detailing exactly what Hovind believes (some of which is out there even by creationist standards), involving conspiracy theories.  Nonetheless:
The Hovindicators are right that the treatment of Kent Hovind has been harsh, particularly this second set of charges.  What is most troubling is that a conventionally tax compliant Kent Hovind would not have had to pay a lot of taxes.  If Creation Science Evangelism had applied for 501(c)(3) status the support that the ministry could have been plowed into the real estate with no income taxation.  As an ordained minister Kent could have taken a modest salary and a large tax-free housing allowance from CSE.  Instead, when he finally gets out he faces an income tax deficiency of over $3,000,000.
Of course, the reason that Kent’s sentence on the first conviction is harsher than that of most people who are initially convicted of tax-related crimes, is, in part, his continued insistence that he has not broken any laws.  Many cases are settled by pleas and there is credit given in the sentencing guidelines for “acceptance of responsibility”.  And of course, he believes that 501(c)(3) status is a trap for churches.
Read the whole thing.  It is an interesting expose of how tax law is sometimes prosecuted.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Is Science Class the Best Place to Expose Creationism?

In a follow-up editorial to the goings on involving Arroyo Grande Technical School's Brandon Pettenger and his attempts to inject at least some degree of young earth creationism into the science curriculum, Joe Tarica opines that, perhaps, science class is the best place to bring up young earth creationism:
We can examine the bones of dinosaurs and early human ancestors to prove the two never walked the Earth together, despite what the Creation Museum claims.

We could explore just why it would be obviously impossible for Noah to get two of every creature into an ark to avoid the great flood. He was in the Middle East, for crying out loud. How would he get his hands on polar bears, penguins and all the many other species of animals that live in unique habitats half a world away?

We can study astronomy, light and matter to understand the formation of the universe, which most certainly did not occur a mere 6,000 years ago.
A huge assumption is being made here: that the science teachers that bring up creationism will actually honestly address the science. As we have seen in a number of instances all over the country, not all science teachers do this. In fact, the reason this ruckus started in the first place is that there is evidence that Pettenger didn't. if Pettenger favorably brought up a blog like Answers in Genesis (none of the stories mention which blogs he asked his students to summarize) then the train has already left the tracks.  Further, he wouldn't be alone.

A poll that was done some years back revealed that 29% of special science teachers in England who were polled approved of the teaching of creationism alongside evolution.  A similar poll done in the United States, in 2011, showed that 13% of high school biology teachers who responded “explicitly advocate creationism or intelligent design by spending at least one hour of class time presenting it in a positive light” and that only 28% of high school biology teachers actually followed NRC guidelines on teaching of evolution because it is so controversial.  If you opened the door to the examination of creationism in science class, how would you control for these things?  I think it would be very hard to do so.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Answers in Genesis Files Injunction Declaring Discrimination

Charisma News reports that Ken Ham and AiG have filed suit against officials in Kentucky on the claim that they are discriminating unfairly against AiG in their attempt to get tax incentives for the Ark Encounter.  A. Larry Ross writes:
With the injunction, AiG is asking the court to allow the Ark project to participate in a state sales tax rebate, even as its religious discrimination lawsuit proceeds. The motion today seeks to override the blocking efforts of Gov. Steven Beshear and his tourism secretary and send the incentive application directly to a state tourism board (the Tourism Development Finance Authority), where the ultimate approval for a tax rebate is given.

AiG is asking the court that its rebate application be treated by the state as it would one filed by a non-religious group and go through the approval process without being blocked. The Tourism Authority had already given preliminary approval to AiG's application, but when secularist groups around the country vigorously protested, the governor and his tourism secretary, Bob Stewart, bowed to the pressure and kept the application from being voted on by the Tourism Authority.
No word on how the junk bonds are selling. This continues to be an uphill battle for Ham.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Nazarene University Professor Fired

The Daily Beat is reporting that a well-respected Nazarene professor has been terminated not because of their theological stances but because they dared to support evolutionary theory.  Karl Giberson has this to say:
Evangelicals have just voted another intellectual off their island.

On the eve of April Fools’ Day, while on vacation in Hawaii with his wife, Professor Tom Oord got an email from the president of Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) notifying him that he was being terminated. NNU is one of eight schools sponsored by the evangelical denomination Church of the Nazarene.

Oord was a tenured full professor—the highest rank in academia—who had been on the NNU faculty for 13 years, after several years as my colleague at Eastern Nazarene College. Oord was the university’s leading scholar, with 20 books on his CV; by most measures he was also the denomination’s leading scholar and one of a tiny number of Nazarene theologians whose reputations reached beyond evangelicalism. Oord had won multiple teaching awards and was wildly popular with students and respected by his colleagues. He had brought over a million dollars of grant money to the university—a remarkable accomplishment for a professor at a small, unsung liberal arts college.
With a glowing resume like that, why, in the Wide, Wide World of Sports was he fired? Here's why:
He strongly supported evolution and had long been a target of creationists in the denomination. He embraced “open theism,” the view that God does not know the future but responds in love—rather than coercive control—to events as they occur, rather than foreordaining everything. Fundamentalist critics called him a heretic and had been vying for his termination for years. But Oord was also gentle and pastoral, especially with students.
What is open theism, you ask? Here is a brief synopsis of this movement:
Open Theism, also called openness and the open view, is a theological position dealing with human free will and its relationship to God and the nature of the future. It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God. They hold that if God knows what we are going to choose, then how can we be truly free when it is time to make those choices--since a counter choice cannot then be made by us because it is already "known" what we are going to do.1 In other words, we would not actually be able to make a contrary choice to what God "knows" we will choose thus implying that we would not then be free.
This is diametrically opposed to reformed theology and reminds me of the joke involving the reformed minister who, after falling down a flight of stairs, gets up and remarks “Whew! Glad that's over with.”  Open theism is not process theology, which is even more restrictive on the power of God.  The basic premise, that God is bound by time, seems to me (the unaided eye) to have a fatal flaw in that: if God is bound by time, and time began with the creation of the universe, how would God have created it in the first place?  Perhaps someone with a much better handle on open theism can point out the response to this argument, but it seems pretty central. 

I find it unusual that Northwest Nazarene University had more trouble with his acceptance of evolution than with his acceptance of open theism.  Apparently, evolution gets the blood boiling but potentially heretical theology does not. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Arroyo Grande Technical School: Tribune Editorial

The editors of the Tribune in San Luis Obispo have written an editorial on the scuffle involving Brandon Pettenger and his inclusion of creationism as a discussion issue in class.  From the Tribune:
We don’t mind if science teachers want to briefly stray from the state-sanctioned curriculum to, say, discuss a shark attack off our coast, or engage in lively debate over nuclear power, or even to briefly vent about not being able to watch Dodgers games on TV.

After all, the best teachers are those who make their classes relevant, timely and interesting. If that means occasionally deviating from the lesson plan, so be it. But to spend three days showing a filmed debate on creationism vs. evolution — as Arroyo Grande High School science teacher Brandon Pettenger reportedly did — and to assign students to read and summarize a pro-creationist blog is not OK. It violates state teaching standards and the Lucia Mar Unified School District’s board policy. It also takes advantage of a position of authority to foist religious instruction on a captive audience, even if it’s done under the guise of giving students the information they need in order to decide for themselves.
It would be helpful if there was more information about which blog they summarized. If the blog is BioLogos, then the science is sound, even if it is within the context of Christian theology. If the blog was Answers in Genesis, then there is no science and the teacher did a massive disservice to the students. Once again, though, much is unclear. Did he have them summarize the scientific failings of the blog? Was it in the context of a discussion of “bad science?” Would be nice to know.

Ben Carson and Science

Ben Carson has thrown his hat into the ring as a candidate on the Republican side of the aisle for the presidency in 2016.  He opened his candidacy in Detroit and the Detroit News has a short bio, including his views on many different things, among them science.  According to Melissa Nan Burke and Chad Livengood:
Carson, 63, preaches personal responsibility, self-determination and standing up to bullies. He rails against liberal political correctness, opposes same-sex marriage and endorses voter laws requiring photo ID. He rejects the theory of evolution in favor of the Earth's six-day creation, as described in Genesis.

But his occasional provocations have raised questions about how broad his appeal could be, with statements comparing the Affordable Care Act to slavery, and America to Nazi Germany. He also conflated homosexuality with bestiality, and apologized in March after saying being gay was a choice.

“I know that we are all made in God's image, which means we are all deserving of respect and dignity,” Carson later wrote on his Facebook page. “I am not a politician, and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly.”
He had better start thinking about it clearly because the mainstream media will take him to the cleaners on these issues.