Live Blogging the Science Debate II

BREAKING NEWS: A proposed amendment adding “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories back to the science standards has failed on a 7-7 vote.

11:17 – With the defeat of “strengths and weaknesses,” the board is now on to other amendments. Ms. Cargill begins.

11:20 Despite Chairman McLeroy’s repeated prohibition against signs in the hearing room (targeted at TFN members quietly holding signs saying things like “Stand Up for Science”), creationists who wanted “strengths and weaknesses” in the standards have brought a couple of bright neon signs to the hearing room today reading:
“Don’t Censor Science”
“No Science Censorship”
Finally, Mr. Agosto requested that Chairman McLeroy ask the creationists to withdraw their signs. He did.
11:28 – Here is the vote breakdown on the Mercer “strengths and weaknesses” amendment:
Yes: Bradley, Cargill, Dunbar, Lowe, McLeroy, Mercer, Leo
No: Agosto, Allen, Craig, Hardy, Knight, Miller, Nunez
Berlanga is absent today. We are told she will be able to participate tomorrow by videoconference.
This is a huge victory for sound science, but not the final word. The final vote will be taken on Friday. And board members may now offer additional amendments to the standards, so there is still room for mischeif by anti-evolution board members. So Act 1 is over with a victory for science advocates. Stay tuned as Act 2 begins.
11: 32 – Ms. Cargill’s amendments right now appear to be mostly small changes to some elementary science classes. Nothing on evolution yet.
12:02 – We’re still here. Ms. Cargill continues to offer amendments to elementary-level science classes. For the most part, these are fine and are bringing no objections from board members. Anti-evolution amendments are still to come.     

12:12 – The board is now moving on to amendments for standards for courses in secondary schools.

12:13 – Gail Lowe offers amendments that would apply to all high school courses. We’re checking them now. Update: So far, these look OK.

12:35 – The board breaks an hour for lunch.

13 thoughts on “Live Blogging the Science Debate II

  1. It’s too soon to declare victory. The final vote is tomorrow, and anything can happen. The original “weaknesses” language is definitively out, but worse can be done with new amendments, as we saw in January.

  2. I posted this earlier on the previous blog, and just wanted to make sure it wasn’t overlooked.

    Thanks TFN.

    My worry now is that we won’t be able to get rid of the ammendments to biology and ESS because the board is split 7-7. TFN can you clarify the situation?

    1. If Berlanga videoconferences tomorrow, there may be eight votes to remove the anti-science amendments added in January. But it’s unclear at this point.

  3. we are making the assumption that Berlanga will vote on the pro-science side. If she does not, its all over.
    Its kinda like the democrats vs. republicans………….but its the independent voters that determine the election.

  4. “A proposed amendment adding “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories back to the science standards has failed on a 7-7 vote.”

    Is this some kind of joke lead-in statement? When intelligent design goes through over 100 years of rigorous expert review and testing and becomes the backbone of its own branch of proven science (biology), then you can make statements like that.

    This is not a situation where science is somehow faulty and being applied incorrectly…it’s a case of quackery trying to pass itself off as science. This is all “Intelligent Design” is and it’s better suited to debate in a philosophy class than in the halls of science.

    I don’t know what they’re putting in the water down there, but it’s down right frightening.

  5. Oof, disregard that, I didn’t read it carefully enough.

    I think I’m in agreement with the overall view here.

  6. Communicate and apply “scientific information” extracted from various sources such as current events, news reports, published journal articles, and “marketing materials” ?

    With Cargill saying she doesn’t know how this would be applied, but giving the example of bringing a cereal box cover in and using that to teach from?

    I can understand where that could be used for, for instance, evaluating the health content of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs vs. Grape Nuts, but these quacks have me all paranoid and my spidey sense is tingling.

    This verbiage sounds like it could also be interpreted as “using material gathered from various sources as authoritative “scientific information” and thus treating it as such.” Using published, peer-reviewed journals for such sources is one thing; using promo materials from the latest infomercial as “scientific information” to “apply” is another thing entirely, unless it was explicitly treated as an exercise in critical thinking and evaluating ludicrous claims.

    I don’t know if it calls for challenging, but it smells of DI weasel words. Who did Cargill say was the Dr. who advised her on the verbiage, and who is he?

    (BTW, thanks for all of your hard work in providing this coverage; keeps those of us concerned with sound science in the loop).

  7. Also, some “peer-reviewed” journals are junk science factories, such as “Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington”, “Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum”, etc.

    Wouldn’t “Comprehend and evaluate” be better than “Communicate and apply”, from Bloom’s Taxonomy, especially given the different levels of credibility of her named example sources?

  8. Jason,

    I’m right there with you on “marketing materials.” What the….? I smell a DI wedge.

    I’m also with you on Rivista di Biologia, but I have to defend Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. PBSW is far from a cutting-edge journal, and it’s behind the times (e.g., they barely have a web presence, which is essential for modern science journals), but they have long published solid taxonomy papers. Meyer’s review article (note: no data, it was a review) was published because Sternberg violated editorial policy, and the Biological Society of Washington formally repudiated the paper (although most journals would have done an actual withdrawal – as I said, they are too old-school). Despite this, the DI continues to tout Meyer’s paper as if it were ID research.

    The important thing to remember is that none of the handful of papers in the scientific literature from people associated with the DI have presented any data or any testable ID mechanism; they are generally data-free review or hypothesis papers.

  9. @James F.,

    Ah, thank you for the clarification on the PBSW. I’ve now looked into it a bit more deeply, and it seems they subsequently took efforts to revise their editorial policies, too. I apologize to the BSW for mischaracterizing their journal.

  10. Now if the rest of the country can just their head out of their ass^M^M^M sand.

    “Intelligent Design” is really designed intelligence

    Those that think its real seem to mis-understand what the true goal is.

    Design a course of thought, that can not be contradicted.

    But, we know where that went.

    “Teaching intelligent design in public school biology classes violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (and Article I, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution) because intelligent design is not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

    Judge John E. Jones III
    December 20, 2005