Texas bill to protect creationist professors

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Calboner, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Calboner

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    Reported in Mother Jones:

    By "alternate theories," I assume that the authors of the bill mean "alternative theories"--unless they imagine that these "theories" are lined up in a row, with some professors defending the odd-numbered ones and some defending the even-numbered ones.

    The idea seems to be to make it impossible to count it against a professor of biology who is up for review for tenure, say, that he showed incompetence by publishing articles defending creationism or intelligent design. This would be equivalent to making it illegal to count it against a professor of astrophysics that he published defenses of the geocentric cosmology, or against a professor of medicine that he published articles defending the raw-foodist "theory" of disease. (Raw-foodists deny that diseases are caused by viruses or bacteria: they hold them to be caused by the eating of cooked foods.)
     
  2. Calboner

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    From a report of the legislation at TFN Insider:
     
  3. D_Davy_Downspout

    D_Davy_Downspout Account Disabled

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    Well they can sure research whatever they want, but if their research is dumb, the school can definiately defund or fire them.

    I'm really not sure what kind of "research" you could do on Intelligent Design or creationism. Theology? Sociology?
     
  4. Calboner

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    I don't think they can, under this bill, if the dumbness consists in advocating creationism or intelligent design "theory." Those pursuits would be under special protection.
     
  5. phillyhangin

    phillyhangin New Member

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    It's unlikely that it would stand up to a Constitutional challenge, since the SCOTUS already has precedents that help determine whether a theory meets the definition of "scientific." Basically, the criteria are:

    1)Is it testable?
    2)Has it been peer-reviewed?
    3)Is there a known error rate? (This only applies to specific techniques and only applies when determining whether the results of those techniques are admissible in court.)
    4)Is the underlying science generally accepted?

    Since creationism/ID does not meet any of those criteria, it is not, as far as the SCOTUS is concerned, a scientific theory. It could then be challenged on the grounds that either version requires an untestable element (i.e. some Intelligent Designer, whether named or not), the existence of which is a matter of faith. And while a person's faith in an Intelligent Designer (named or otherwise) is protected by the 1st Amendment, their ability to use their position at an "institute of higher education" to preach that faith to students is not.

    The end result will be an enormous waste of time and taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible. But perhaps this is just another way of distracting voters from the utter lack of any policies that address the actual issues facing the state.
     
  6. maxcok

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    ^ I wouldn't count on any of that applying in Texas. Have you been following what's going on with their State Education Board rewriting the textbooks, by extension rewriting the nation's textbooks? As Texas Dumbs Down, So Does the USA


    Anyhoo . . .

    Why are y'all so afraid of alternate theories?

    The evidence is compelling.

    The Earth may not be as old as you think.

    Cal, why do you hate Jesus?
     
  7. D_Tully Tunnelrat

    D_Tully Tunnelrat New Member

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    No surprise here. No cogito ergo sum. More like credito ut intelligam.

    To eliminate this localized system of preferential (read as biased) education, we really ought to employ the International Baccalaureate system on a national basis. In the IB, only 25% of your grade is determined locally, the remaining 75% is determined by professors around the world, who grade according to an internationally accepted standard.
     
  8. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    In your worship of your own mind, did you stop to think that it may be a bill to protect them from religious discrimination? Having been a chemical engineer, I saw people in the science arena openly make fun of people who had devout religious beliefs. I observed them treat the believer with contempt, and question the abilities of the individual.
     
  9. Calboner

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    Pretty presumptuous words to come from a chimp. Maybe you need to read what the bill says. What form of religious discrimination would this bill protect anyone from? Citizens are protected against religious discrimination by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill before the Texas legislature has no bearing on the religious beliefs, practices, or affiliations of people. It invents a fictitious form of religious discrimination to protect academics who do "research" relating to the "theory" of intelligent design "or other alternate theories of the origination and development of organisms" against their being subject to the standards of scientific practice. Under the bill, such academics would effectively be exempted from the normal process of peer review. Review committees that judge the candidates' work to be scientifically worthless would be charged with unlawful discrimination. This would be analogous to introducing a bill to protect flat-earthists from discrimination in geology.
     
  10. maxcok

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    . . . . or protect psychic surgeons and voodoo practioners from discrimination in medical research.

    More analogies.
     
  11. SilverTrain

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    Mythology
     
  12. Calboner

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    :yup: It will also probably bring this Representative Zedler loads of support, in the form of votes from his constituents and money from both inside and outside his district.
     
  13. ThickMeatJacker

    ThickMeatJacker New Member

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    Great more GOP whack jobs.... It is sad to see science removed from the education process. Why not teach kids the universe revolves around the earth or that the earth is flat. I call bullshit on the earth being only 6,000 years old and that man walked with the dinosaurs. They won't be happy until we revert back to like the pilgrims...
     
  14. phillyhangin

    phillyhangin New Member

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    Oh, I'm fully aware of that particular debacle. That's part of the reason that I find Texas's state slogan "It's like a whole other country" to be quite ironic.

    My personal alternate theory is called "The Great Cosmic Marshmallow," in which an insane deity from a past universe held her marshmallow a little too close to the Primordial Campfire. We all know how marshmallows maliciously burst into flame with very little provocation, so the end result of the goddess's folly was a conflagration of cosmic proportions - i.e. the Big Bang. Her universe was destroyed in a gooey sweet Ragnarok to make way for ours.

    The proof is simple: All of the elements in the universe are either found in marshmallow or can be sythesized by fusion or fission from marshmallow, therefore, it must be true!

    And don't get me started on His Profound Rotundity, the Holy Rutabaga...
     
  15. phillyhangin

    phillyhangin New Member

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    Ain't it the truth!
     
  16. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    Scientific establishment in the past has not been so kind to those who do not agree with them. Yet, you elevate them to the level of universe judges. Once again your viewpoint is based upon contempt for those who do not believe as you do. Not a surprise on this site. So often the people who claim to be the most tolerant wind up being the least tolerant of those who disagree with them.
    It never ceases to amuse me that people who do not even live within a state think they are the judges of all the goes on within the nation, and their viewpoint is the one and only right one. Personally, I really don't care if the people in California or any other state think they are the most intelligent. It won't be long before this nation is down the tubes, and nobody will be able to afford to post their nude pics. I think I've discovered a way for the government to increase revenue. Tax all nude photos, and videos on the internet.
     
    #16 D_Bob_Crotchitch, Mar 17, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  17. maxcok

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    Not so much ironic as entirely apropos. I wish they'd hurry up a secede.

    How utterly profound that all was. I can hardly wait for Cal to eviscerate you with that rambling setup. :smile:
     
    #17 maxcok, Mar 17, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  18. Calboner

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    First of all, the point about this bill--namely, that it is an attempt to pervert US law to promote a religiously based counterfeit of science--has nothing to do with whether anybody agrees with me or not. I am not a scientist; I do not pretend to be; but I am certainly not so ignorant, or so complacent in my ignorance, as to say, "Scientific establishment in the past has not been so kind to those who do not agree with them." The scientific establishment has been extremely welcoming toward those who disagree, provided that they have evidence in support of their views that passes the rigors of scientific examination. What they do not welcome is pretentious ignoramuses and ideologues who have absolutely no evidence on their side, nor even a scientifically testable hypothesis, but who expect their baseless fantasies (e.g., creationism, "intelligent design theory," and other "alternate" theories, as the Texas bill illiterately calls them) to receive the same degree of support from institutions of research and education as genuine science. If you cannot tell the difference between the two cases (as it appears you cannot), then you are just making an ass of yourself by voicing opinions about the matter.

    As for your red herring about "tolerance," first of all, I defy you to find me an instance in which I have ever "[claimed] to be the most tolerant." That is not to say that I admit to being "intolerant." Rather, I consider the whole language-game about "tolerance" and "intolerance" to be so full of dishonesty that I prefer not to play it. Second, and more to the point, so far as tolerance has anything to recommend it, it has nothing to do with accepting pseudo-scientific speculation as on an equal footing with theories and judgments that have shown their merit by surviving rigorous testing.

    I can sympathize with people who are perplexed by this kind of issue and don't know what to think about it. I can even sympathize to some extent with those who, lacking knowledge of how science works, are persuaded that "intelligent design" has some merit and who offer, in a spirit of genuine inquiry, arguments for it, however bad those arguments may be. But I have no patience with people who try to defend such delusions by entering into a discussion with a burst of personal abuse and confused and irrelevant arguments. Prior to your entrance into this thread, I was aware of you only as a person with a cute alias and a rather endearing cartoon figure as an avatar, which naturally tended to attract my good will. But your boorish and ignorant utterances here have put an end to that.
    The proscription of the use of the resources of the government to promote religion is not "our viewpoint" but the doctrine of the Constitution of the United States. It never ceases to amaze me that there are people like you who fail to grasp that point. Perhaps you need to acquaint yourself with Kitzmiller v. Dover.
    I don't care either, but I do wonder what bizarre fantasy makes you entertain such an idea or think that it is in some way relevant to the issue before us.
    Uh . . . okay. Good luck with that.
     
  19. maxcok

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    Thanks, Cal, that gave me a massive brain hardon. :biggrin2:

    The weight of evidence.
     
  20. phillyhangin

    phillyhangin New Member

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    Science does tend to resist new ideas that challenge existing paradigms, but that resistance happens for a reason: Science is based on making observations about the world, creating hypotheses to explain those observations, and then conducting experiments in order to try to disprove those hypotheses. Disproof is important, because if an explanantion cannot hold up under repreated testing, then it's not a valid explanation. Those hypotheses that do hold up despite repeated attempts to prove them wrong become theories.

    When someone comes forward to challenge a well-established theory - one that has repeatedly proven to be the best explanation so far - there is naturally resistance. BUT, if the challenger can provide repeatable, peer-reviewed evidence that disproves all or part of the original theory, then scientists toss that theory into the dustbin of history, i.e. the geocentric view of cosmology or the idea of spontaneous generation.

    Creationism/ID is not a scientific theory because you cannot test it. How do you test the idea that some intelligent designer(s) snapped his/her/its/their fingers and everything came into being as is? You can't; there's simply no way humans can recreate that in the lab, and the idea makes no predictions about the world (other than the very unhelpful "what you see is what you get") that can be tested against real-world observations. You have to take the idea of an intelligent designer or designers on faith, which makes it a religious matter.

    Evolution can be demonstrated on the small scale in the laboratory as well as by comparing the predictions made by the theory against real-world observations. There is some debate about which of the many evolutionary forces are the most important (some favor the slow accumulation of mutations combined with a slowly changing environment, others favor the slow accumulation of mutations combined with a slowly changing environment combined with the occasional game-changing catastrophe), but the weight of evidence - collected over the last 150 years - is in favor of the idea that species change over time (which is ALL that evolution claims) even if the details of the mechanisms need further study.

    Creationism/ID is also not a scientific theory because you can't disprove it. If you can't test it - either directly or by comparing its predictions against real-world observations - then, by definition, you can neither prove nor disprove any of its core ideas; again, you have to take them on faith.

    The problem with the Texas law is that it promotes ignoring evidence in favor of ideology, and in an academic setting, that is unacceptable. Individuals are free to believe whatever they want, and existing laws already protect people from discrimination on religious grounds, but that is not the issue here. The issue is that Texas wants to exempt people from being held accountable if they fail to present the facts as they are presently known (pending further evidence); it also attempts to promote an untestable idea as equally valid when compared with a testable and well-supported theory.

    If Texas is unwilling to hold its teachers to international standards of scientific evidence, then that will be to the detriment of Texas students: No one will want to hire anyone educated in Texas for any positions in any of the science-related industries due to a lack of confidence in the quality of their education; since those industries are a major (and growing) economic sector, that's bad news for the current generation of students.
     
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