The Science Debate Today in Texas

With the final public hearing behind them, Texas State Board of Education members today will debate public school science curriculum standards that will be in place for a decade. Board members will likely consider a slew of amendments creationists have been circulating. Many of those amendments specifically target evolution, and almost certainly at least one will again call for requiring students to learn “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories (but it’s always about evolution).

Supporters of sound science on the board may try to strip out anti-evolution amendments passed in January. It’s unclear, however, whether all of the board’s pro-science members will be able to participate today. Two were missing from the meeting room yesterday because of urgent family and personal issues. (We will respect the privacy of each family. The reasons for the absence of the two members from the Austin boardroom are entirely understandable.) Dallas member Mavis Knight has arranged to participate (and vote) by videoconference today and Friday. Corpus Christi member Mary Helen Berlanga is set to participate by videoconference tomorrow but not today. If she is unable to attend today’s meeting in person, the board will be split 7-7 (if all other votes from January hold, which also is not certain). Motions fail on a tie vote.

Today’s meeting is officially as a “committee of the full board.” Typically, much of the board’s debate over an issue comes at these “committee” meetings, with a preliminary vote following the debate. During 2008’s consideration of new language arts standards, however, the board’s far-right faction cobbled together a new draft overnight and presented it to the full board just an hour before the final Friday meeting and vote. So anything can happen.

We will be live-blogging the debate and vote today and tomorrow. The debate today should begin at some point after around 10 a.m., central time, depending on how quickly the board moves through early agenda items. (It could be a bit later if early issues bog down the board.)

9 thoughts on “The Science Debate Today in Texas

  1. But TFN, it’s not all about evolution! It’s about teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses of ALL theories presented in public classrooms in Texas!!! Evolution is just one such theory. Mainstream scientists and engineers will advocate teaching both the recognized strengths and weaknesses!!! Will TFN and supporters advocate it too? You should if you really think you are mainstream!!!

    Yours Truly, ScienceMinded

  2. But ScienceUneducated Evolution does not have recognized weaknesses. How many times do you need to see that in order to get it into your thick skull. Do you really think teachers will jeopardize their jobs for the sake of teaching pseudoscience?

  3. The challenge remains open to anybody:

    Name a legitimate weakness in the theory of evolution.

  4. If what science minded (hilarious name btw) says is true then where are the dozens of blogs and institutions and hundreds of articles showing where these fundies are challenging ‘weaknesses” in other scientific theories?

  5. “Name a legitimate weakness in the theory of evolution.”

    Ok, here are several:

    1) The second law of thermodynamics.
    2) The probability of even the most simplistic DNA coming together by accident is astronomical.
    3) The probability of even the DNA decoding mechanism developing by accident is astronomical.
    4) The probability of even the most simplistic DNA coming together by accident AND the decoding mechanism developing by accident at the exact same time in history, at the exact same location on the earth is off-the-chart, out-of-this-world, impossible.
    5) DNA is the delivery system of coded information. Codes are never the result of chaos. Only intelligence can create codes. DNA alone is meaningless without each DNA “word” having been given a definition in the DNA language. What is the evolutionary process for that?

    That’s just a few. I’ve got lots more.

  6. Dear Jeff:
    point 1: not sure what exactly you mean by this.

    points 2-4 are all fallacies, in that, appeals to probability are unfounded, given the “astronomical” size of the universe. the chance of someone winning the lottery is also very tiny, yet someone wins the lottery almost every time they have a draw.

    point 5 restorts to the logical fallacy called circular reasoning.

  7. Dear Miles:

    Point 1: If you don’t know how the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies then you shouldn’t be responding.

    Point 2-4: The chances of winning the lottery are around 1:80,000,000 (8×10^7). That is a microscopic number compared to the probabilities I’m talking about. The chances of SOMEONE/ANYONE winning the lottery is like 1:3. So, your lottery comparison is a joke. Of course someone wins the lottery. Obviously you don’t understand the kind of numbers I’m talking about and your comparison shows your lack of understanding. I’ll educate you with the following quote…

    “Dr. James Coppedge, director of the Center for Probability Research in Biology in California, applied laws of probability of a single cell, protein, and gene coming into existence by chance. And computed a world including the earth’s crust and entire array of elements were available. He then had all the amino acids combine at 1.5 trillion times faster than they do in nature. In computing the probabilities, he found that a cell would take 10^119,841 years (that’s a one with 119,841 zeros after it), a single protein molecule 10^262 years.”

    So, science estimates the Earth to be a few billion years old. that’s just a tiny, tiny fraction of the trillions and trillions and trillions of years needed for life to be reasonably probable.

    Point 5: I don’t see your point about circular reasoning since I’m not reasoning anything. I’m stating some facts and asking a question. But for your sake, I’ll simplify it for you. Show me where, anywhere in the universe, that a code, a language, which communicates ideas or plans, has been created by random processes, leaving out DNA of course since we disagree on it’s origin.