Friday, March 23, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #49 - Part 4

Outrage of the Week: sneaking anti-science into Tennessee schools

Tennessee strikes again.

On March 18, the Tennessee state Senate passed a bill which would allow teachers to "help" students "understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories" like "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning."

The main sponsor of the bill said that the idea behind it is that "students should be encouraged to challenge current scientific thought and theory." That is, they should be encouraged on a topic like evolution to substitute their own judgement or that of their pastor for the consensus arrived at after 150 years of research and discovery. And encouraged to insist that global warming is a hoax because, well, Sean Hannity says so.

Still, face facts: Evolution is not the only target here, but it is the primary one. The go-back-to-1900 crowd can't teach creationism; it's religion. They lost that one. They can't outright teach the nonsense called "intelligent design," because when they have tried, they have lost there, too, as soon as it got into a forum where they actually had to try to defend it logically. But they don't give up and this is just one more attempt to create wiggle room to get intelligent design into schools.

The Tennessee House had already passed a version of the bill last April, so now it's just a matter of ironing out the details.

Indiana has a related bill moving through its legislature; Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Missouri have considered similar bills.

At a time when the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress says that less than half of US students are proficient in science, Tennessee's "close your eyes and it will go away" approach to science surely is the Outrage of the Week.


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