Texas, Science and ‘Dog-Cats’ in the News


We suppose having a sense of humor is important when elected officials are turning your state into a national laughingstock. Religion Dispatches offers a shocking photo of the rare “dog-cat” that Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, must have been talking about during the recent debate over teaching about evolution. Mercer has argued that the absence of transitional animals like a “dog-cat” and a “cat-rat” is proof that evolution is a fraud. Humor aside, Lauri Lebo’s accompanying article is an excellent review of what happened in Texas. She even gets board Chairman Don McLeroy, R-Bryan, to once again argue that science should include supernatural explanations.

And in a wide-ranging interview with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Magazine, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology, John Holdren, weighs in on the Lone Star mess:

(M)y impression from reading about it is that it was not a step forward but rather a step backward. Of course, all science needs to be skeptical. It’s hard to be against skepticism. But when you get into the domain of promoting particular views about the basis for skepticism of evolution, and those views are not really valid, then I think we have a problem. I think we need to be giving our kids a modern education in biology, and the underpinning of modern biology is evolution. And countervailing views that are not really science, if they are taught at all, should be taught in some other part of the curriculum.

12 thoughts on “Texas, Science and ‘Dog-Cats’ in the News

  1. TFN:

    Just a brief note here in case you do not know. Lauri Lebo was a reporter for the local newspaper in Dover, PA, when the big ID trial was underway. If I recall correctly, her dad is a fundie but she is not—and some of her articles and past interviews with her have actual discussed her own internal religious struggles in dealing with her family and the evolution issue. She and I have swapped some e-mail messages in the past. Is she working in Texas now? What is her connection to texas—such that TFN would mention her name in its blog piece. Thanks!!!

    1. Lebo contacted us because of her interest in what was happening in Texas and similarities with what happened in Pennsylvania.

  2. TFN says,
    –We suppose having a sense of humor is important when your state is making itself into a national laughingstock.–

    How do you expect to get support from Texans when you call the state a “national laughingstock”?

    I have the highest regard for Texans.

    TFN says,
    –Lauri Lebo’s accompanying article is an excellent review of what happened in Texas.–

    She exaggerates the power that the Texas board of education has over textbook content. Even in Texas, local school districts do not have to use state-approved textbooks if the districts pay the full cost.

    She says, “Publishers may end up producing a textbook for Texas and other conservative states and a separate version for other states.” As I have pointed out, a popular biology textbook, “Biology” by Miller and Levine, already comes in regular, Texas, California, Florida, and North Carolina editions.

    Lauri Lebo says,
    Now the issue is whether there is enough prima facie evidence to challenge the Constitutionality of the wording now, or wait for the textbook review process in two years.

    The wording of the new Texas science standards is lawsuit-proof.

    You Darwinists should stop relying on the courts, where anything can happen. For example, the courts could declare the evolution controversy to be non-justiciable, something that I think the courts should do. Questions are non-justiciable when there is “a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the question.” Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267 (2004). The Supreme Court might decline to review cases on the evolution controversy, with the result that federal appeals court decisions on the controversy would be binding only in individual circuits. And the courts today are slower than molasses in a mid-winter cold snap at the South Pole.

    TFN says,
    –And in a wide-ranging interview with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science Magazine, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology, John Holdren, weighs in on the Lone Star mess:

    “(M)y impression from reading about it is that it was not a step forward but rather a step backward.” . . . . . .–

    You missed his following very important opening statement: “Well, I have not reviewed that decision carefully.” How can he express an opinion about it if he hasn’t read it carefully? His information about the new standards is just second-hand.

  3. Ooooh, Larry. May I quote you on this? “The wording of the new Texas science standards is lawsuit-proof.”

    After the lawsuits, of course.

  4. In honor of our dear friend, Larry the troll (because Larry the Cable Guy was already taken), I thought I would delve into the way back machine and look for some other wonderful comments.

    “One way to start eliminating the confusion would be cessation of use of the term “ID creationism” by critics of Intelligent Design. ID is based solely on scientific observations and scientific reasoning whereas pure creationism is based on religious sources. It is OK to consider the religious or philosophical implications of ID, but ID should not always be associated with its religious and philosophical implications. Evolution has religious and philosophical implications too, but critics of evolution don’t use terms like “evolutionary atheism” or evolutionary materialism.” Smug, overconfident Darwinists brazenly use the term “IDC,” not seeming to care that their use of the term could hurt their credibility. Also, Darwinists who use the term “IDC” have a real rotten nerve complaining about the D-words “Darwinism” and “Darwinist,” which are fairly accurate because evolution theory is still basically just random genetic variation plus natural selection, just as it was when Darwin proposed it. Also, as I have said many times, there needs to be more recognition of the fact that there are also non-ID scientific (or pseudoscientific to some) criticisms of evolution. ” from everyone’s favorite ignorant ID group http://www.uncommondescent.com/education/agnostic-pro-id-vs-theist-anti-id/

    “Darwinism itself has religious connotations — supernatural explanations are required to explain many of the gaps in Darwinism.

    A critical analysis of evolution should be assumed to have no religious connotations so long as it does not reference religious sources and uses only scientific facts and reasoning.

    Consider, for example, my arguments about co-evolution, e.g.,:

    In the co-evolution of total co-dependence between two different kinds of organisms, unlike in evolutionary adaptation to widespread fixed physical features of the environment, e.g., water, land, and air, there may be nothing to adapt to because the corresponding co-dependent trait in the other organism is likely to be locally absent. How does that statement have religious connotations?

    Anyway, what is wrong with religious connotations if there is no explicit connection to religion? Sometimes religious connotations are unavoidable.

    Also, assuming for the sake of argument that there are no legitimate scientific criticisms of evolution now, that does not mean that none are going to be discovered in the future.

    Thoughts for the day:

    There is no constitutional separation of bad science (or pseudoscience) and state.

    If design can be an illusion, then maybe evolution can also be an illusion.” from http://www.flascience.org/wp/?p=542

    I just thought everyone could use a good laugh

  5. Thanks , Curly. Larry still hasn’t been able to refute the idea that his mind is controlled by Satan. The evidence in favor of that idea is Larry’s own writing.

  6. Joe, I probably found this site via Huffington Post or Right Wing Watch.
    I don’t think there has been any reports on the doonybrook in Texas in the mainstream press but the same issue arose in Kansas and the ABC (our equivalent of NPR) broadcast a 30 minute documentary on the issue. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also presented a programme on Patrick Henry College and the way in which home schooled kids were trained in the art of Republican politics.
    Ausralia is not a very religious country so I find the politicization of religion fascinating if not a little bizzare.

  7. Ausralia is not a very religious country so I find the politicization of religion fascinating if not a little bizzare.

    You lot gave us Ken Ham, you have a lot to answer for! ;-D

  8. True , true, James and I offer my most sincere apology.
    In response and perhaps this is a little unfair but the US did give us George.

  9. Well at least Texas adopted Georgie “W” Bush, so when Texas secedes from the union with Chuck Norris as president, we can get rid of the crazies at once while throwing life jackets to the sane ones.