Missouri Creationism: The Silly Season has Begun

Added Later: Pat Hayes at Red State Rabble provides hi own unique take on this bill. Can’t say I can argue with his characterization of the MO legislatures modus operendi.
According to Missouri Citizens for Science (a new blog I just stumbled across) a new creationist bill has been introduced in the Missouri House of Representitives by republican Robert Cooper, and makes for some interesting reading. [Added Later: The scary thing is Rep. Cooper is an MD]
The bill summary states:

This bill establishes the Missouri Science Education Act which
requires instruction for science courses in sixth through twelfth
grades to comply with its best practices within five years after
its passage. The bill defines “verified empirical data” and
“substantive amount” and specifies that information appearing to
be verified empirical data but is not verified must be separately
identified. Information that represents scientific thought, such
as theory, hypothesis, extrapolation, and estimation, among
others, must also be distinguished from verified empirical data
and may be presented in the light of critical analysis. Critical
analysis may discuss problems such as faulty logic, alternate
explanations, or conflicting experiments. A substantive amount
of critical analysis is required when teaching a theory of
biological origins or current scientific theory that deals with
prehistory or the future.
State assessments must comply with the
bill.


Note the bolded section. I understand the the bit about origins but what the h*&% is ” …current scientific theory that deals with… the future”??? Is this directed at global warming? The effects of environmental degradation? World domination by mutant offspring of cephalopds and Sasquatches? or what?
Wondering what “verified empirical data” means? According to the HB 1266 verified empirical data means:

“Verified empirical data”, information representing physical reality based upon repeated independent human observation, measurement, and experimentation with consistent results. Verified empirical data is without significant inference and is not theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, estimated data, extrapolated data, or consensus of scientific opinion.

Okay…
The bill requires that:

(1) Teacher classroom instruction shall use the following best practices to support the truthful identity of scientific information and minimize misrepresentation while promoting clarity, accuracy, and student understanding:
(a) Information that appears to be verified empirical data, but is not, shall be identified to distinguish it as separate from verified empirical data. Verified empirical data needs no specific identification. Inability to determine if specific information is verified empirical data shall not invalidate such best practice;

So even if you don’t know you still have to make a choice…

(b) Information representing scientific thought such as theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, extrapolation, estimation, unverified data, consensus of scientific opinion, and philosophical belief shall be identified to distinguish it as separate from verified empirical data;
(2) Teacher classroom instruction shall use the following best practices to support the objective teaching of scientific information and minimize dogmatism while promoting student inquiry, healthy skepticism, and understanding:
(a) When information other than verified empirical data is taught representing current scientific thought such as theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, extrapolation, estimation, unverified data, consensus of scientific opinion, and philosophical belief, such information shall be within the purview of critical analysis and may be critically analyzed. Critical analysis includes the teaching of anomalous verified empirical data, contrary verified empirical data, missing supporting data, inadequate mechanisms, insufficient resources, faulty logic, crucial assumptions, alternate logical explanations, lack of experimental results, conflicting experiments, or predictive failures where applicable;
(b) When information other than verified empirical data is taught representing current scientific thought such as theory or hypothesis regarding phenomena that occur in the future or that occurred previous to written history, a critical analysis of such information shall be taught in a substantive amount. If a theory or hypothesis of biological origins is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis shall be taught in a substantive amount.
4. No public elementary or secondary school science teacher shall be refused employment, disciplined, denied advancement, transferred, or otherwise discriminated against for teaching in accordance with the best practices in subsection 3 of this section within the time allotted the affected subject matter by the course curriculum.

So if I understand this correctly, if evolution is taught you also have to point out that god could have done it and if ID is taught one has to point out that there are no experimental results for it?? This is kind of confusing…

5. The state commissioner of education shall ensure that any assessment or competency testing of public elementary and secondary school pupils for academic performance used by the state and whose content may be modified by the state complies with the best practices in subsection 3 of this section by the proper identification of scientific information and critical analysis. If questions regarding information within the purview of paragraph (b) of subdivision (2) of subsection 3 of this section are included in a test, questions regarding critical analysis of such information shall be included in a substantive amount.

So, if ecolution is covered kids will be tested on creationism??
The Missouri Citizens for Science blog sums it up best:

These “best practices” will be familiar to anyone who followed Rep. Cooper’s previous effort along these lines, 2004’s HB911, but will be totally incomprehensible to any practicing scientist or science teacher.

*snip*

The bill also holds harmless any teacher who introduces creationism into the classroom. It apparently was drafted by J. Gene White, an evolution-denying engineer from St. Charles who was also behind HB911. Of course, he’ll tell you that he’s only trying to improve science education. Guess the way to do that is to deny the foundation of Biology.

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15 Responses

  1. A substantive amount of critical analysis is required when teaching a theory of biological origins or current scientific theory that deals with prehistory or the future.
    You have to wonder why critical analysis never seems to matter much, except when it involves “origins” science, then apparently scientists just lose it and politicians, mathematicians, lawyers, engineers and pastors need to step in and set them straight.
    It does play into the ignorant mind-set that for some reason, unless some event is happening right this second, we just can’t say anything about it scientifically.

  2. Note: I posted the above.
    Dave S.

  3. looks really similar to the Oklahome bill http://biosurvey.oklahoma.edu/oese
    they use language liek ‘scientific’ and ‘proof’ in an attempt to allow ID in the classroom. which i find funny since the primary critique against the movement is that EVEN IF they’re correct, they have neither science nor proof on their side.
    I signed up to be one of their speaker-type people, so we’ll see what happens.

  4. OK, fine. But why apply these criteria and strictures just to “science’? Why not to EVERY area of study in public schools, for example, to history, political science, comparative religion; whatever. Don’t they equally involve “current … thought such as theory, hypothesis, conjecture, speculation, extrapolation, estimation, unverified data, consensus of … opinion, and philosophical belief”? Paragraph 3(b) might more broadly be rephrased: “When information other than verified empirical data is (sic) taught representing current … thought such as theory or hypothesis OR ACCOUNT regarding phenomena that ARE KNOWN ONLY FROM PREVIOUSLY unwritten OR WRITTEN history, a critical analysis of such information shall be taught in a substantive amount. If ANY theory or hypothesis OR ACCOUNT is taught, a critical analysis of such theory or hypothesis OR ACCOUNT shall be taught in a substantive amount.” “Written history” should not be exempt from the definition of “verified empirical data” since we carelessly rely on much writing from the past as “fact” when it is, variously, received wisdom, heresay, opinion, political bias, and otherwise unverifiable in any objective way.
    Let’s hear it for critical analysis! Hear hear! But, before we get too invested in this it would be helpful to know whether this is going to succeed with average high school students. Of course, I am not so naive as not to understand the real purpose of this kind of veiled attack on teaching evolution.

  5. Speaking of critical analysis, I would like to recommend “Was There a War of 1812″ on TalkOrigins.

  6. I guess the future refers to climate change. But how about economics?

  7. Coturnix – that was my take.
    IndianCowboy – keep us all posted on how that turns out.

  8. That gobbledygook looks like a parody. Is that really how bills are written? I would like to see someone challenge the legislator who introduces this drek to summarize — in his own words, no peeking — what the bill says.

  9. Gerry – except for my own cooments and some bolding I added that is the text of the actual bill…frightening ain’t it?

  10. Zounds! Why not just write a bill that includes all of the lesson plans for all of the classes? Was this written by a politician whose party is dedicated to minimizing government interference?

  11. Naaah! It was written by a republican!

  12. Holy gobbledygook, Batman. I knew it wouldn’t be long before the Ignorance League International would ramp their nonsense back up in this state. Problem is, in a state that will elect a boob like Blunt, this is too real a threat.

  13. There are no plans to hold a hearing on the bill, yet…

  14. Critical Analysis as a Surrogate for Something Else

    I started to write about this the other day when it was more timely, then I got side tracked so I thought I’d take another shot today. As background you might want to read the posts on afarensis and Dispatches…

  15. Regardless of whether humanity truly evolved from blobs of jelly and monkeys, Creationists cannot prevail in the ongoing debate about our origins. Their position is fatally flawed. You see, the Creationist position fundamentally relies upon the premise that the Judeo-Christian Bible is the Word of God. If it’s not; if the Bible is just a book, then there is no Creationist position. Recently, a lawyer embarked upon a mission to become the greatest Christian on the planet. In his quest he made a profound discovery. He discovered that the Bible is unequivocally not the Word of God. His argument is compelling. After reading his thesis, I am both shocked and embarrassed that I spent my whole life as a Christian and a Creationist. And while his thesis does not invalidate the so-called theory of “Intelligent Design,” it absolutely dismantles the theory of Biblical Creationism. You can read his Thesis at http://www.indefenseofgod.com/

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