Many have been mystified that, even in the 21st century, Texas remains embroiled in a heated debate over evolution. In 2008 and 2009, for example, creationists on and off the State Board of Education insisted that new science curriculum standards for Texas public schools include requirements that would open classroom doors to anti-evolution junk science. The state board is set to adopt new science textbooks and other instructional materials based on those standards this year.

But the argument over evolution in Texas really isn’t much of a surprise. That’s because creationists have proudly rejected out of hand the overwhelming scientific evidence behind evolution. They have reveled, as former state board chairman Don McLeroy infamously said, in “standing up to experts.”

In fact, McLeroy — a self-described “young Earth creationist” who lost his re-election bid in 2010 — continues to do so. Last month he agreed to be interviewed by Steven Novella, who is president of the New England Skeptical Society (NESS). You can find the posts about that interview on the NESS blog, NeuroLogicalBlog. But if you don’t have time to check out those posts, just look at one to… Read More

Update: HB 285 has been pulled from today’s House Higher Education Committee hearing. We will let you know when it comes up for consideration again.

——————————————–

Earlier: Texas scientists have gotten wind of Rep. Bill Zedler’s proposed legislation forcing the state’s colleges and universities to validate and support “intelligent design.” And they’re not happy.

We’ve obtained a letter signed by 19 University of Texas science professors telling the Texas House Committee on Higher Education to oppose the Arlington Republican’s bill.

Read the letter here.

The gist is that Rep. Zedler wants to bar universities from “discriminating against” faculty members or students who try to pass off “intelligent design” or other religious doctrines as science. So it should come as no surprise that mainstream scientists are concerned about the bill.

The professors write that:

While we strongly support academic freedom and protections for valid scientific research, we don’t think colleges and universities should be required to look the other way when faculty and students distort mainstream science. Yet HB 285’s broad language could require that colleges and universities do more than simply look the other way. By barring discrimination “in any manner,” HB 285 could force… Read More

How badly has the State Board of Education wrecked the educational reputation of Texas? Pretty badly, if a policy adopted this week by the local school board in New Orleans is any indication.

On Tuesday the Orleans Parish Public Schools board passed the following policy:

“No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the state of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories.”

Ouch.

The policy goes on to insist on the separation of religion and science instruction:

“No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class. No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.”

That vote comes four years after the Louisiana Legislature passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which opened the door to teaching creationism in the state’s public schools. Then in 2009 creationists on the Texas State Board of Education passed new science curriculum standards they hope will force publishers to challenge evolution in new biology textbooks for public… Read More

Remember during the 2011 Texas Legislature when state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, proposed legislation that essentially validates academic fraud, then did himself no favors by defending the bill in an interview with Mother Jones? That was fun.

And now, Round 2: Zedler is back, filing the exact same creationism bill ahead of the 2013 legislative session that begins next month.

The bill bars universities from taking action — called “discrimination” by Zedler — if a faculty member or student promotes ideas not supported by science. So if, for example, a professor at the University of Texas insists science shows that the earth is flat, that prof should be held in the same regard by the university as another professor whose research is, well, a bit more up-to-date.

Both TFN and our good friends at the National Center for Science Education are tracking this legislation. We’re also looking out for any new Zedler interviews.

The 2011 bill, incidentally, went nowhere.… Read More

The war on science education — based on the myth that science and faith must be in conflict — continues to rage across the country. Talking Points Memo has a piece up about a talk by Georgia Congressman Paul Broun at a Baptist church banquet last month. Broun, a physician with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, actually launched into an anti-science tirade:

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

More:

“You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

The TPM piece includes a link to the full video of Broun’s speech. Here’s a clip from Bridge Project, a progressive organization “dedicated to exposing the conservative movement’s dishonest… Read More