Skip to comments.Evolution Disclaimer Supported
Posted on 12/11/2002 6:28:08 AM PST by A2J
By WILL SENTELL
Capitol news bureau
High school biology textbooks would include a disclaimer that evolution is only a theory under a change approved Tuesday by a committee of the state's top school board.
If the disclaimer wins final approval, it would apparently make Louisiana just the second state in the nation with such a provision. The other is Alabama, which is the model for the disclaimer backers want in Louisiana.
Alabama approved its policy six or seven years ago after extensive controversy that included questions over the religious overtones of the issue.
The change approved Tuesday requires Louisiana education officials to check on details for getting publishers to add the disclaimer to biology textbooks.
It won approval in the board's Student and School Standards/ Instruction Committee after a sometimes contentious session.
"I don't believe I evolved from some primate," said Jim Stafford, a board member from Monroe. Stafford said evolution should be offered as a theory, not fact.
Whether the proposal will win approval by the full state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Thursday is unclear.
Paul Pastorek of New Orleans, president of the board, said he will oppose the addition.
"I am not prepared to go back to the Dark Ages," Pastorek said.
"I don't think state boards should dictate editorial content of school textbooks," he said. "We shouldn't be involved with that."
Donna Contois of Metairie, chairwoman of the committee that approved the change, said afterward she could not say whether it will win approval by the full board.
The disclaimer under consideration says the theory of evolution "still leaves many unanswered questions about the origin of life.
"Study hard and keep an open mind," it says. "Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth."
Backers say the addition would be inserted in the front of biology textbooks used by students in grades 9-12, possibly next fall.
The issue surfaced when a committee of the board prepared to approve dozens of textbooks used by both public and nonpublic schools. The list was recommended by a separate panel that reviews textbooks every seven years.
A handful of citizens, one armed with a copy of Charles Darwin's "Origin of the Species," complained that biology textbooks used now are one-sided in promoting evolution uncritically and are riddled with factual errors.
"If we give them all the facts to make up their mind, we have educated them," Darrell White of Baton Rouge said of students. "Otherwise we have indoctrinated them."
Darwin wrote that individuals with certain characteristics enjoy an edge over their peers and life forms developed gradually millions of years ago.
Backers bristled at suggestions that they favor the teaching of creationism, which says that life began about 6,000 years ago in a process described in the Bible's Book of Genesis.
White said he is the father of seven children, including a 10th-grader at a public high school in Baton Rouge.
He said he reviewed 21 science textbooks for use by middle and high school students. White called Darwin's book "racist and sexist" and said students are entitled to know more about controversy that swirls around the theory.
"If nothing else, put a disclaimer in the front of the textbooks," White said.
John Oller Jr., a professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, also criticized the accuracy of science textbooks under review. Oller said he was appearing on behalf of the Louisiana Family Forum, a Christian lobbying group.
Oller said the state should force publishers to offer alternatives, correct mistakes in textbooks and fill in gaps in science teachings. "We are talking about major falsehoods that should be addressed," he said.
Linda Johnson of Plaquemine, a member of the board, said she supports the change. Johnson said the new message of evolution "will encourage students to go after the facts."
How do you know?
Faith in scientific observation.
One of the things that was interesting about Piaget's observations of learning in children, was the almost universal attainment of basic kinetic physics by children right around the age of 9 months, as I remember. What he observed was that at that age, children will begin to track objects that disappear from view. If a ball travels behind a couch, the child will begin to anticipate the ball coming back into view at the appropriate place and time with it's eyes. An act of faith in Newton's laws, I contend.
Mine might not be the most common usage, but I don't think my terminology is messed up spectacularly. At the base of scientific perception is, I aver, faith--no proof exists that compels me to believe what an oscilloscope screen tells me is in any way related to a physical signal, only usage and custom and a continuous stream of accurate results (when the dang thing is tuned right) shore up my belief. This is, at best, strong inductive evidence, not proof.
Striking at the heart of the argument, at the base of logical proof is, I aver, faith in the axioms and predicates, which are, by definition, not proved--ie. taken on faith.
Let's leave the rude presumptuousness to exmarine, he's better at it. Nothing is "deeper" or more interesting than science to me.
Good of the Designer to find a way to pack all that good "pre-learned" stuff into our DNA.
Didn't I once get into a discussion about Chompsky on this issue -- whether such skills are inborn or have to be learned? Mighty tight coding, in any case.
You're about the only one left who will talk to him.
Perhaps you could consider respect for Newton's laws a tropism. Like algae swimming toward light. Quite a handy thing to have if you have to live outdoors, and make a living in rough terrain all day.
Well, in this group we all know that "proof" is not an operative word. When asked for "proof" the reply is often (I paraphrase here) "Proof is for math, science does not use proof". In light of that condsideration, to ask how something disproves evolution is not a consistent application of the premises in the discussion. It is evident to me that ground-up and tree-down are mutually exclusive methods to achieve a single end in this particular instance. If it were not so, I believe scientists would have offered a plausible hybrid theory by now. So with all of the "quantification" inherent in fitness functions etc., one or the other of these methods of evolution should be predicable. This is not apparent. What is apparent is that just-so stories abound in Darwinian evolution.
As to both being true at the same time, they both are in a way. We know animals that glide and, of course, birds fly off the ground.
I'm quite sure that a lot of our behavior follows some pretty simple rules. I'll be impressed with A.I. when it can emulate the learning of these rules with a handful of components.
They also swim. Is there a swimming theory for the evolution of birds?
I'm not just being picky. I think the terminology points are of great importance in helping to clarify our thinking. In the case of inductive reasoning, conclusions are based on what is properly labeled "confidence" (not "faith"), which arises from the evidence of previously observed instances involving the same phenomenon. "Faith" is a word used to describe propositions which are accepted notwithstanding zero evidence, which is why I think it's a mistake to use the word "faith" in such a context.
Axioms are also different. We can demonstrate that without a particular axiom (e.g. the validity of sensory evidence), no reasoning can be conducted. This is the kind of logical demonstration which a matter of "pure faith" (e.g. the existence of heaven) is lacking. By being sloppy, and using the word "faith" in contexts where it is inappropriate, we get confused declarations like: "It takes more faith to believe in evolution than in creationism."
Well, that might be due to the fact that not many trees grow under water. But penquins do "fly" out of the water onto the land. As to being odd for two things to use the same object differently, that was not the problem. The problem is the just-so nature of the tale of Darwinian evolution.
Concerning your swimming chicken, have you seen the latest evidence for the swimming theory of evolution?
You are being picky. You subvert the common meaning of words to your own ends.
The second definition sets out the common meaning of faith in the context we use it. Faith is not proven. Axioms fall into this category. Faith also in this particular definition does not rely on material evidence. Notice the word material.
irrelevant adj : having no bearing on or connection with the subject at issue [syn: unrelated]
Do you have to work at being irrelevant or is it something that just comes naturally?
So this baby seal walks into a club...
What a spectacular demonstration of deliberate misunderstanding. I was just looking for an example to show to a friend. Thanks, Dollface!
But to clear up any lingering confusion for the lurkers, no scientific theory will ever be "proven," but a scientific theory is always subject to disproof. And for exactly the same reason.
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