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Author Topic:   New Tennessee Monkey Law!
dwise1
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Message 1 of 126 (658936)
04-11-2012 3:09 AM


What? Nobody was monitoring this one? The Governor ignored this one and it automatically became a law.

"Monkey bill" enacted in Tennessee

quote:
Governor Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee's House Bill 368 to become law without his signature on April 10, 2012, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal (April 10, 2012). The law encourages teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of topics that arouse "debate and disputation" such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

This is the first bill in the Governor's 15 months in office that he allowed to be passed by being ignored.

KCRW (a Santa Monica, CA, affiliate of NPR) carried a program tonight interviewing several people, including the former state senator who had authored the bill, but so far it is not up on their site: http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/ww

The bill ... er, law, purports to defend a teacher from repercussions for presenting negative evidence of certain scientific ideas. The bill ... er, law, only specifies science classes to be subject to this law, not other classes. The law specifically targets evolution, climate change, and human cloning. The sponsor of the bill, the aforementioned former state senator, works for a very specifically religious organization. Furthermore, the only "negative evidence of said scientific ideas" can be found amongst creationists and IDists. And a scientist and wife of a high school science teacher interviewed on the afore-linked-to NPR program, "Which Way, LA?", pointed out that teachers have always been allowed to present opposing scientific ideas into their classrooms, so that law is totally unnecessary. The only purpose that the law could possibly serve would be to allow teachers to bring in religious creationist materials.

Of course, in my perversity, I want to imagine at least one teacher who uses this law for good, instead of the evil that its backers intend:
"OK, students, this is evolution. Any comments?"
"But it is a fairy tale, based on these false assumptions!"
"OK, let's examine those claims you just presented. ... As we can plainly see, all your objections have no basis."
"But what about this? And this?"
"OK, let us examine those. ... Well, we can now clearly see that those claims you cited are completely and utterly false."
"But what about this?"
"OK, let us examine that as well. ... OMG! I'm sorry, but this one is so ludicrous that I am truly embarrassed for you! Please, apply yourself more to your studies so that you might avoid such obvious howlers in the future."
"OK, so what about the mountains of negative evidence against evolution?"
"Such as?"
Claim is presented.
"OK, let's examine it. ... Sorry, but that is nonsense and here is the explanation of why it is such total nonsense."
"OK, so what about this!?"
"OK, let's examine it. ... Sorry, but that is nonsense and here is the explanation of why it is such total nonsense."

And so on.


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Message 2 of 126 (658938)
04-11-2012 9:26 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the New Tennessee Monkey Law! thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
subbie
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Posts: 3348
Joined: 02-26-2006


(1)
Message 3 of 126 (658945)
04-11-2012 10:02 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
04-11-2012 3:09 AM


Haslam didn't ignore it. He was well aware of it, having received thousands of protests from scientists, students and other concerned citizens. Instead, he chose to allow it to become law without his signature. He claimed he didn't think the bill was necessary. In essence, he wanted to go down on record as being against it, but he didn't want to actually do anything that would slow it down.

In the final analysis, there probably wasn't anything he could have done about it. Vetos in Tennessee can be overridden by a simply majority, and this piece of crap passed both houses by a wide majority, so it was going to become law regardless of anything Haslam did. But hey, at least he said he didn't like it.


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

Howling about evidence is a conversation stopper, and it never stops to think if the claim could possibly be true -- foreveryoung


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Jon
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Message 4 of 126 (658950)
04-11-2012 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
04-11-2012 3:09 AM



Like you said, teachers in public schools already are allowed to introduce scientific evidence that conflicts with other scientific evidence. So this law doesn't really do much other than encourage teachers to introduce alternative evidence and give defense to teachers who would like to use school time to promote religion.

In practice, few alternatives are ever taught through highschool. There simply is not enough time in the day nor money in the school budget to allow teachers to elaborate on all the different scientific opinions regarding every matter they teach. My guess is that even with this law in place there still won't be enough such time. Either nothing will change, or good science will get pushed out in favor of crackpot creationism. So, I agree with you: this law can have no purpose other than to promote the advancement of religion in the public schools.

I almost wonder, though, how many biology teachers there are out there that desperately want to teach anti-evolution nonsense. I would think there wouldn't be too many; I mean, evolution is such a central part of biological studies, it is difficult to see how anyone so opposed to it could find themselves teaching biology; it'd be like an Amish person teaching computer science. And how many of those are there?

Jon


Love your enemies!

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Catholic Scientist
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Message 5 of 126 (658951)
04-11-2012 10:23 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by dwise1
04-11-2012 3:09 AM


Why don't you guys ever post the actual verbiage from the legislation?

http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Bill/HB0368.pdf

Here's an interesting part:

quote:
(e) This section only protects the teaching of scientific information, and shall not
be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine, promote discrimination
for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination
for or against religion or non-religion.

It doesn't look too bad to me. And it doesn't really do anything. It just prevents the prohibition of teachers from helping students. BFD.


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nwr
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Posts: 5139
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 6 of 126 (658957)
04-11-2012 10:57 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Catholic Scientist
04-11-2012 10:23 AM


It doesn't look too bad to me.

It also looks okay to me.

I take it to mean that science teachers should point out that Genesis 1 is describing naive pre-scientific ideas, and in light of what is known to science, can be seen to be nonsense.

I take the law to imply that religion is no longer protected from criticism, at least on questions of science. If religion spouts scientific nonsense, then the facts should be presented to show that religion is wrong.


Jesus was a liberal hippie

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Catholic Scientist
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Posts: 9348
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 7 of 126 (658959)
04-11-2012 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
04-11-2012 10:57 AM


It also looks okay to me.
I take it to mean that science teachers should point out that Genesis 1 is describing naive pre-scientific ideas, and in light of what is known to science, can be seen to be nonsense.

I take the law to imply that religion is no longer protected from criticism, at least on questions of science. If religion spouts scientific nonsense, then the facts should be presented to show that religion is wrong.

Yeah. One of the ways you can get a sense of the intentions of the legislation is to look to the sponsor of the bill. In this case its Bo Watson.

From a different news article, I found this:

quote:
"Let me say what this bill does not do ... as may have been mischaracterized by many," Watson said. "This bill does not endorse, promote or allow the teaching of any nonscientific, nonconventional theories in the scientific classroom."

I don't think its really a "Monkey Law".


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subbie
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Posts: 3348
Joined: 02-26-2006


Message 8 of 126 (658961)
04-11-2012 11:16 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Catholic Scientist
04-11-2012 11:11 AM


It's not exactly a Monkey Law. That's really the press having a bit of fun with an anti science type law coming out of the state that hosted the Monkey Trial. But it's certainly in the same spirit as other anti science legislation.

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -- Thomas Jefferson

We see monsters where science shows us windmills. -- Phat

It has always struck me as odd that fundies devote so much time and effort into trying to find a naturalistic explanation for their mythical flood, while looking for magical explanations for things that actually happened. -- Dr. Adequate

Howling about evidence is a conversation stopper, and it never stops to think if the claim could possibly be true -- foreveryoung


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Catholic Scientist
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Posts: 9348
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.9


Message 9 of 126 (658962)
04-11-2012 11:23 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by subbie
04-11-2012 11:16 AM


But it's certainly in the same spirit as other anti science legislation.

What makes you so certain? I'm not seeing it...


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Wounded King
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Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


(2)
Message 10 of 126 (658964)
04-11-2012 11:44 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
04-11-2012 10:57 AM


I take the law to imply that religion is no longer protected from criticism, at least on questions of science. If religion spouts scientific nonsense, then the facts should be presented to show that religion is wrong.

Yeah, because that is so what the Discovery Institute and 'Focus on the Family' are all about, the science.

The legislation was drafted by Derek Fowler who heads up a non-profit lobbying organisation called Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) started up by Focus on the Family ministries. Fowler was helped in drawing it up by Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute (Source).

Anyone who thinks this is good legislation not intended simply to offer an opening for the DI's infamous wedge is monumentally naive.

An example of some of the material FACT promotes as part of the Truth Project DVDs it distributes ...

Darwinian theory transforms science from the honest investigation of nature into a vehicle for propagating a godless philosophy A careful examination of molecular biology and the fossil record demonstrates that evolution is not a proven fact.

Then again NWR you yourself used to have, and still may have, some sympathy for that attitude so maybe you do consider the source of this legislation to be reliable, you've swallowed the DI's nonsense (or Behe's at least) before after all.

TTFN,

WK


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hooah212002
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Message 11 of 126 (658965)
04-11-2012 11:45 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Catholic Scientist
04-11-2012 11:23 AM


I would say that it's the fact that it's about "teaching the controversy" and it's aimed at middle/high school. It's bound to confuse.

"Ok kids, we're discussing evolution. I am obligated to tell you that it is controversial. Not within the scientific community, mind you, but with a number of religious people. But, as per the law, I have to inform you that you will see controversy over evolution"


"Science is interesting, and if you don't agree you can fuck off." -Dawkins

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dwise1
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Posts: 2121
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Message 12 of 126 (658966)
04-11-2012 11:47 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Jon
04-11-2012 10:20 AM


Re:
I almost wonder, though, how many biology teachers there are out there that desperately want to teach anti-evolution nonsense.

While there are many good science teachers out there, the sad fact is that many science classes are taught by teachers with little or no science background. Especially in the smaller school districts, you teach what you are assigned to teach.

When I was stationed in North Dakota, the first town we lived in (Hatton, population at that time: 888) had a high school. If you taught there, you not only taught whatever subject they gave you, but you also had to coach one of the teams. The Will Schuster (Glee) example of somebody who doesn't know anything about Spanish being the Spanish teacher is alive and doing quite well, unfortunately. The school has to offer certain classes and it has a limited pool of teachers to draw from, so the short straw gets the job.

In Orange County (ie, hardly in the boonies like Hatton), when my son was in middle school, his science class (mainly biology) was taught by the home-ec teacher. The other students used to always come to him with their questions, because he knew more than the teacher did, or at least could explain it better than she could. Fortunately, his physical science teacher the next year knew the subject matter.

One creationist court case was in 1980's Orange County: John Peloza. His BA was in Physical Education and his MS was in Education with his thesis being about coaching softball. As a fellow teacher described him, Peloza had taken the absolute minimum biology classes. But on Santa Catalina Island he wound up teaching biology, thanks, I'm sure, to the "Hatton Effect". He continued to teach biology when he moved to the Capistrano School District until his injection of creationism into the class and telling Jewish students they were going to Hell surfaced. I heard him speak at that time and everything he said about science was straight from the ICR.

While there are undoubtedly many biology teachers out there who are qualified in biology, there are also many who are not. And among those, there are many who do indeed want to teach anti-evolution nonsense.

... ; it'd be like an Amish person teaching computer science.

As I understand, there are quite a few tech-savvy Amish, especially among the young going to town on their smartphones.

And, no, "Super Bad" is not my source on that.


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Modulous
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Message 13 of 126 (658968)
04-11-2012 12:00 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by hooah212002
04-11-2012 11:45 AM


"Ok kids, we're discussing evolution. I am obligated to tell you that it is controversial. Not within the scientific community, mind you, but with a number of religious people. But, as per the law, I have to inform you that you will see controversy over evolution"

That's kind of what we do in the UK:

quote:
Some people find it hard to accept that such complexity could have evolved through natural selection. Some religious people believe that all living things on Earth were made by God, or that life was begun by God but then evolved through natural selection. We will probably never be absolutely certain about how life began, as no one was there to observe it. But scientists must base their theories on evidence.

From here

Kind of like that.

quote:
...shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine...

I don't see the need to put this in there, if the intentions really are secular. I think they've quit trying to convince the courts that ID is science and are gearing up to promote something like 'irreducible complexity' or 'specified complexity' as if they were scientific objections to evolution.

If they did, I hope the objectors will point out that biochemical irreducible complexity is a prediction of evolution, not an objection. (The prediction was made in the twenties I think, and again in the fifties)


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dwise1
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Posts: 2121
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Message 14 of 126 (658969)
04-11-2012 12:03 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Catholic Scientist
04-11-2012 10:23 AM


Creationists have been lying to us non-stop since the 1970's and even before then, so whyever do you assume that they have suddenly switched to being truthful?

It serves no real purpose. Science teachers have always been free to present opposing scientific ideas, so there's no need for this law to protect them. What teachers are not allowed to do is to teach religion and the only "evidence against evolution" that's out there comes from "creation science", which is pure religion, and "intelligent design", which has become a thinly veiled disguise for "creation science."

It specifically targets science and further specifically targets three subjects: evolution, global warming, and human cloning. Why? To "promote the teaching of critical thinking"? So why not promote that in English class? Or social studies? Why only target science? And why only target those three subjects specifically? You know, they're still lying to us.

Even though we feel that creationists refuse to learn anything, they are not dumb and they do indeed learn. They learn that their creationist laws fail and they are able to figure out why. So they learn to be increasingly clever and deceptive about the wording of their laws. They learn to be better at lying to us. But that does not mean that they have stopped lying to us.

Derek Fowler, the author of the bill, was on Which Way, LA? (link in the OP) last night. Of course, he kept emphasizing that it had nothing to do with promoting religion. And he even tried to provide sources to support his claim. Well, only one source: The Discovery Institute.

'Nough said?


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2121
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 15 of 126 (658972)
04-11-2012 12:13 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by subbie
04-11-2012 11:16 AM


It's not exactly a Monkey Law. That's really the press having a bit of fun with an anti science type law coming out of the state that hosted the Monkey Trial.

True. The Monkey Laws specifically forbade the teaching of evolution in the public schools or even the mention of that "e-word". I'm not sure about the Tennessee Monkey Law, but the Arkansas law required that the teacher not only be fired, but also barred from ever teaching again (which is why, when Susan Epperson's school administrators required her to use the BSCS textbook in which evolution was the central unifying theme, she had to sue the state, which led to the striking down of the monkey laws).

Rather, this law is intended to provide a back-door to bring creationism into the classroom. "We only want to be able to present the evidence against evolution" is just a ruse; creationism is practically nothing but "evidences against evolution".


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