Live Blogging the Final Science Vote in Texas II

11:10 – The board moves on to amendments at other grade levels.

11:14 – The amendment with “on all sides” applies to all science classes in third grade and up.

11:58 – Board members have moved off of evolution over the past hour, but we expect them to bring up amendments after an extended break.

12:32 – Members are now going to hear amendments attempting to strip out anti-science amendments adopted by the board yesterday and in January. Lawrence Allen offers an amendment striking chairman Don McLeroy’s measure challenging common descent in the biology standards.

12:36 – McLeroy is opposed. “If I knew I had to debate this again today, I would have brought all my evidence.” The fossil record, he says, doesn’t support common ancestry.

12:40 McLeroy: “People say I’m talking out of context when I speak about stasis.”

Well, yes, he is.

12:41: McLeroy: “I disagree with all these experts. Somebody has to stand up to these experts. I don’t know why they’re doing it.”

12:42: Stay tuned for our video clip on this strange lecture as soon as we have it ready.

12:42: McLeroy: The fossil record both supports and doesn’t support evolution. Let the students decide, he says.

12:43: Cynthia Dunbar: Striking McLeroy’s amendment will be OK because the new “compromise amendment” adopted earlier will allow these kinds of arguments. But then she says she opposes the motion to strike it. Very confusing.

12:45 – Barbara Cargill opposes Allen’s amendment striking the McLeroy measure. “Why is it that some things do stay the same over time?” She buys McLeroy’s “stasis” argument.

12:47 – Geraldine Miller: Supports Allen’s amendment. McLeroy’s amendment “basically doesn’t make any sense.”

12:49 – David Bradley opposes Allen’s amendment.  Knight supports it. Bob Craig supports it. Craig: McLeroy’s measure conflicts with the compromise adopted earlier. Agosto gave a confusing statement, so it’s hard to know but we think he supports Allen’s amendment. Mercer opposes Allen’s amendment. Berlanga: Supports Allen’s amendment. “When we need legal assistance, we go to an attorney…. When we know any assistance, we go to the experts in the field. I’m not a scientist.” She argues to listen to the science experts.

12:58 – Mercer: “The issue of  sudden appearance in the fossil record is important.”

12:59 – McLeroy: Mocks the argument that who is he, a dentist, to challenge scientists. He criticizes “the appeal to authority” as an argument against his position. “They are the experts, but science doesn’t operate on consensus.” But now he appeals to authority by quote-mining Stephen J. Gould.

1:03 – McLeroy: “Genetics is the foundation for modern biology, not evolution.” “Genetics goes back to a Christian monk who did precise data.” Huh?

1:06 – Allen’s amendment passes 8-7, striking McLeroy’s challenge to common descent in the standards. Very important victory.

1:08 – The board is taking a short break.

1:30 – Dunbar offers an amendment, calling for students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data on sudden appearance and stasis and the sequential groups in the fossil record.” Bob Craig wants to amend, striking “the sufficiency of.” Berlanga is bothered that the board is making recommendations on specific standards without allowing time for members to discuss the amendments with science experts. Very good question, of course.

1:43 – Terri Leo, acting as chair, says all this was debated yesterday, and the board doesn’t need anymore input from the science community. Of course, the board never asked science experts to advise the board about McLeroy’s measure in January or this week.

1:46 – Dunbar’s amendment, as amended by Craig, passes 13-2.

McLeroy is happy, which says it all. Creationists will now pressure publishers to challenge common ancestry in textbooks and base their challenges on McLeroy’s arguments.

1:49 – Allen moves to strip out McLeroy’s amendment, passed yesterday, challenging natural selection.

1:54 – This amendment passes 8-7.

1:59 – Craig offers an amendment: “Analyze and evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.” This amendment passes 13-2.

2:03 – Allen moves to strike a Terri Leo amendment passed yesterday that stated: “Analyze and evaluate the evidence regarding formation of simple organic molecules and their organization into long complex molecules having information such as the DNA molecule for self-replicating life.” The motion fails 5-10.

4:19 – Apologies for the long gap since the last post. We’ve been working with reporters for the last two hours. In addition to the amendments on the biology standards, board members also considered a measure to remove suggestions from the Earth and Space Science standards that there are competing scientific theories (besides Big Bang) on the origins of the universe. That amendment failed. The board then moved to adopt the full science standards document on a 13-2 vote.

78 thoughts on “Live Blogging the Final Science Vote in Texas II

  1. “… all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations…”

    The wording is unnecessarily lengthy and cumbersome, but it does specify all sides of scientific evidence

  2. It’s unfortunate that Craig even had to propose a compromise, but as Josh Rosenau noted on his blog, it’s better than “strengths and weaknesses” and “supportive/not supportive.” “In all fields of science” was a positive addition as well. I hope this will make it easier to strike the amendments questioning common descent, natural selection, and deep time, which are blatantly non-scientific.

  3. James, I worry that this “in all fields of science” will only provide cover for the all anti-evolution, anti-old-Earth amendments found elsewhere. One legal argument is that they exclusively attacked evolution and age of the Earth. Craig diminished that a bit.

  4. This is a good point, Joe, although unless the anti-evolution and anti-old Earth amendments are removed they’ve already painted a huge Establishment Clause breach like a legal bullseye on these standards.

  5. To me, the most problematic part of Dunbar’s amendment is the implication that there are multiple “sides” to the scientific evidence of a scientific explanation. The scientific evidence does not take sides on a scientific question. It is people who take sides as they select among the available scientific explanations for that evidence.

    Evolution is the consensus view of the scientific community because it has done the best job of explaining the available scientific evidence. It could have turned out otherwise, but it didn’t. Ultimately, though, the evidence doesn’t care.

    The tortured language of Dunbar’s amendment fails to make that distinction, and I predict that this ambiguity will be abused by individuals who think their personal opinions constitute scientific evidence.

  6. Well said, Jeremy. The greatest moment of clarity thus far happened at 10: 44 am.

    10:44 – Mary Helen Berlanga says she will oppose both Craig’s and Dunbar’s amendment because she wants to stick with the draft from the teacher and expert writing teams.

  7. The problem with all these apparently innocuous creationist shenanigans is that too many classroom teachers will feel empowered to teach religious-based pseudoscience because they buy into the false arguments. They believe the Cambrian Explosion IS proof the evolution is not sufficient to explain the natural world as is the blood clotting cascade, the bacterial flagellum, the lack of transitional fossils, the gaps in the fossil record, the mathematical impossibility of polypeptides and/or RNA self assembling in the primordial soup, etc. They accept these arguments and consider it acceptable to teach creationist versions of the science in a science class because of them. Answers in Genesis has a “peer” reviewed journal and the DI has some “scholarly” publications that all make this garbage look respectable and acceptable under the wording of some of these amendments. The problem is that board members are giving individual classroom teachers who may or may not have content knowledge expertise to make content decisions the legal right to teach material not in the standards. Texas, like Florida, formed a committee of experts with sound content and pedagogical knowledge to write their science standards. For this group of scientific illiterates to try amending them is the equivalent of me walking out on a golf course to tell (not advise, but tell) Tiger Woods how to hit his next shot.

  8. Mr. McLeroy–Sudden appearance of groups does NOT, NOT NOT disprove evolution. Experiments have shown there was plenty of time for that “quick” evolution to happen. It wasn’t really that quick. Hmm, a lot of my info comes from the book he’s talking about, “Finding Darwin’s God.” How did he not get this?

  9. McLeroy: “I disagree with all these experts. Somebody has to stand up to these experts. I don’t know why they’re doing it.”

    Holey cra…. – That just about says it all. It doesn’t matter what “the experts” say now does it.

  10. 12:41: McLeroy: “I disagree with all these experts. Somebody has to stand up to these experts. I don’t know why they’re doing it.”

    Unbelievable. He’s a DENTIST & disagrees with the experts who know far more than he does. What a loser. We need to vote these clowns off the Board.

  11. “Why is it that some things do stay the same over time?”

    Well, in the case of creationist arguments, it’s because they started with no evidence and haven’t discovered any evidence since then.

  12. I’m a chemical engineer in NJ who is keeping up with TFN’s live blog as well as the Houston Chronicle’s live blog. I am horrified about what is going on down there in Texas, and am afraid that Texas, along with Louisiana, will begin the process of having America considered a laughingstock in the international science community. I am dumbfounded that young earth creationists can be allowed to so obviously hold scientific knowledge hostage like they are, and prevent it from being taught properly in school.

    C’mon Texas! I’m rooting for you!!

  13. Geraldine Miller: Supports Allen’s amendment. McLeroy’s amendment “basically doesn’t make any sense.”


  14. Boy, sure glad they’re using a sample size of SIX EXPERTS. What about the much larger group of scientists in general? Those three experts who don’t support common descent represent 50% of the “six experts” but only a tiny fraction of scientists worldwide.

  15. I can’t believe McLeroy is proclaiming that “appeal to authority” is the strongest argument.

    Now he’s about to quote mine Gould again.

  16. JAW DROPPING as McLeroy actually brings religion into it. “Christian monk”–Mendel vs. “philosophical ideology”(was that it?)–Darwin.

  17. Does it strike anyone else as weird for a group of individuals who think that the entire universe is no more than 10,000 years old to be arguing about an event that occurred over 500 million years ago?

  18. The Christian monk he’s talking about is Gregor Mendel. What he left out is that Mendel’s findings support evolution, in fact they were one of the pieces Darwin was missing.

  19. I can’t believe the speech McLeroy just gave. So many creationists arguments in 5 minutes. We’ll have to rename the Gish Gallop.

    Here’s the vote: 8-7 to strike!

    McLeroy loses this round.

  20. What was the vote distribution? Who voted which way?

    Knight and Mary Helen voted to strike. Who were the other 6?

  21. I’m so glad I decided to stay in my office today and listen instead of going down there… I never would have been able to keep quiet! At least this way I’m only yelling at my computer. Glad to hear that the 7B in Biology was struck though!

  22. I’m sure Gould is rolling over in his grave. Of course there is debate on the evolutionary process but not evolution itself. McLeroy sure likes to quote noted scientists out-of-context. First Bruce Alberts, now Gould.

  23. YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!

    Come on, pro-science people – strike that nonsense questioning natural selection and the age of the Earth/universe next! Come on, Ken Ham thinks dinosaurs and humans lived together and he’s fine with natural selection. That speaks volumes.

  24. Do students ever hear this creationist crap in class and just tell the teacher either to shut it or they walk?

    Indoctrinating a minor should be a crime. They have little choice but to suffer.

  25. This is ridiculous. Serious, someone needs to propose an amendment to prevent the proposal of amendments striking amendments that were just passed during the same voting session.

  26. I think someone almost said, “I second that emotion”
    oh, State board. Hilarity.

  27. This is fabulous news! I hope Cargill’s “I just want to add the proper amount of humility” garbage is next on the block!

  28. So how many times do the crazed, religious right creationist lunatics on the board get to offer up amendments restating in varied torturous language the same damn nonsense that was just stricken?

  29. Who has a wooden ruler?

    I feel the urge to rap it across their knuckles for trying to reintroduce this shit and say “NO! Bad judge!”

  30. This is like watching your child getting a tooth pulled by a blind dentist (guess who) screaming “Praise Jeezus” every time he reaches for the pliers…and not being able to do a thing about it.

  31. FWIW, I’ve been in contact with Bruce Alberts about the use of his work by McElroy and I think he is preparing a statement. I spent all morning typing up transcripts of the audio files and his quick response was “this is nonsense”.

  32. This is pretty absurd MCLeroy just keeps adding all this nonsense that basically boils down to “All Science must be questioned” He can’t possibly think that this is going to hold up to scrutiny.

  33. Now they are just going for inclusion of key phrases such as “complexity of the cell” and “stasis” as a wedge to get the discussion going that will then lead to the standard creationinst arguments.

  34. Teachers are being required to breach subjects that creationists think support them. I guess the best we can hope for is letting teachers teach whatever they want.


  35. Texas is doooooomed. If having a functional brain isn’t a prerequisite for sitting on a school board, I weep for the children whose lives will be ruined by these idiots.

  36. The SBOE should be overseen by experts in each of the curricula with lay people voted by the public to give input and recommendations, not the other way around. Lay people have no business telling me their opinion of a subject they have no familiarity with. They should advise only on general issues, not deciding whether the earth is round or flat.

  37. So let me get this straight. A writing committee of scientists and educators spends months putting together science standards.

    Then in a few days a panel of ordinary folk with no science background change the wording at will, vote on it and that’s that.

    This is an example of why state BOE’s need executive oversight. There are no checks and balances in the processes.

    McLeroy stood there and said that he, alone, a poor little dentist with no scientific credentials whatsoever, dares to stand against working scientists who have spent their lives researching and studying evolution. And the dentist is right because, well, it just makes sense to him.


  38. The tfn live blogging ended at about 2, and yet I know the debate on the standards went on for a while. Can anybody tell me what the final results were? Thanks

  39. I feel for my home state. This is a little victory for the creationist agenda but it could have large ramifications depending on how the verbage here is used. My hope is that a vast majority of science teachers see the problem with changing curriculum and the false reasoning of the anti-evolution crowd. It is time for those in the community to get organized and active to speak to the instructors of our state’s science classes. We have all seen the power of grassroots movements in the past year and this should be no different, homegrown presentations and discussions about these issues can be a powerful vehicle to transport the current and correct information concerning the tenants of science.

  40. I am wanting to see the new ESS standards as they were voted on and accepted today.
    I was on the writing team and I got lost with what is still in the document and what is not in it.
    Can someone please post all of the actual amendments that passed today?
    “GMO ROCKS!”

  41. Our Bill of Rights forbids prohibition of the free exercise of religion. This is what you are trying to do and it is a violation of the Supreme Law of the Land. Creationism is a harmless religious belief at the very worst but I see that the real thrust of your movement is to undermine our Constitution. Without a doubt your movement is part of the attempted Marxist takeover we are now seeing under this administration in Washington. All of this prattle about the fossil record, etc has no relevence in this dispute. We have freedom of speech and no prohibition on free exercise of religion. That is the American way. We surely will not permit the re-writing of our history by government schools.