Live Blogging the Texas Science Debate III

by TFN

1:43 – Sometimes the hypocrisy is really astounding. The anti-evolution Discovery Institute is harshly criticizing State Board of Education member Rick Agosto for asking that creationists remove their anti-evolution signs from the board room. Says the Disco:

Apparently Texas Board of Education member Rick Agosto isn’t just content to censor science by removing any criticisms of evolution from the science curriculum. The San Antonio Democrat even wants to prevent citizens from expressing their disagreement with that censorship. This morning Agosto demanded that some citizens quietly holding signs stating “Don’t Censor Science” at the Board meeting take down their signs. He even called on security personnel to forcibly remove the signs, but Board chair Don McElroy intervened to stop that abuse of power. 

We saw no effort to have security personnel remove anybody from the board room. Mr. Agosto was simply asking Chairman McLeroy to enforce the rule that McLeroy decreed after pro-science citizens brought signs with them to the November hearing.

Does the Discovery Institute think rules are only for people who support sound science?

1:47 – Terri Leo offers a bad amendment to the biology standards:

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.

Mr. Agosto says he will vote for it but then discuss it with science experts later with an eye toward moving to strike it tomorrow if necessary. That’s just a bad parliamentary strategy. It’s harder to remove an amendment than to defeat it outright.

The amendment passes 8-6, with Agosto and Craig voting for it.

1:50 – Mavis Knight moves to strip out the January amendment from Don McLeroy questioning common ancestry.

1:57 – Chairman McLeroy argues against Knight’s amendment and criticizes those who say his January arguments for the original amendment were “dishonest” and “deceitful.”

1:59 – Knight’s amendment fails 7-6, with Agosto abstaining.

2:01 – McLeroy moves the following amendment to the biology standards:

Analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of natural selection to explain the complexity of the cell.

Let the pseudoscientific babble and distortions begin…

2:03 – McLeroy acknowledges that his January amendment was intended to attack what he describes as the first important principle of evolution, common ancestry. He says now he’s going after the second, natural selection. He wants schools to be “honest” with the kids.

2:04 – McLeroy defends his new amendment by reading passages from the work of Bruce Alberts, former president of the National Academy of Sciences. We don’t have Alberts’ work available here, but we highly (HIGHLY) doubt that he would be pleased to see McLeroy interpret his work as proof of a “weakness” of evolution.

2:16 – Wow. Now McLeroy wants to amend his amendment to read the “sufficiency or insufficiency of unguided natural processes to explain the complexity of the cell.”

That’s creationism, pure and simple. McLeroy has just called on the standards to pit science against God.

2:18 – McLeroy withdraws the amendment to his amendment. He goes back to his original proposal attacking natural selection. It passes 9-5, with Agosto and Nunez voting yes.

2:21 – The board moves on to amendments for chemistry.

2:22 – What we’re seeing is a combination of things. Some board members seem to be seeking some political cover. On the other hand, some may genuinely not be aware that they’re putting creationist nonsense in the science standards.

2:32 – Nothing big on chemistry. On to Earth and Space Science. Bob Craig offers five amendments. One would change a problematic amendment passed in January that suggested there are differing scientific theories about the origin of the universe. Another changes language in a January amendment attacking common descent.

2:39 – We’re hearing news from the Capitol that the House Public Education Committee has approved legislation that would put the State Board of Education under sunset review. Will provide more details when we get them.

2:43 – Mr. Craig’s amendment about the origins of the universe fails 6-8, with Agosto voting no.

2:45 – Update: We hear that the House Public Education Committee vote to put the state board under sunset review was unanimous.

2:48 – Mr. Craig’s amendments, by the way, have come from a majority of members of the Earth and Space Science curriculum writing team. Creationist board members, sometimes joined by one or two other members, are opposing them (even if the have absolutely nothing to do with evolution, origins or common descent.) None can pass anyway on a 7-7 tie.

2:54 – Mr. Craig’s amendment to change language in the January amendment challenging common descent fails 6-8, with Agosto voting no.


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