Creationism stays out of Texas textbooks (for now)
July 25, 2011 9:08 AM   Subscribe

On Friday, July 22, the Texas Board of Education voted 14-0 to support scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements, rejecting the proposed creationist materials. Instead of including such material, the education board voted to let Education Commissioner Robert Scott work with the publishing company Holt McDougal to find language that is factually correct and fits the standards adopted in 2009. "My goal would be to try to find some common ground," Scott said.
posted by filthy light thief (58 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
See, miracles can happen!
posted by nickmark at 9:10 AM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank God!
posted by kmz at 9:13 AM on July 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


This diagram seems to be iillustrating the principle that a full rotated square will create 16 corners, 96 hours and 4 simultaneous 24 hour Day circles within only a single imaginary cubed Earth rotation.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2011 [20 favorites]


Surely this is just to lull us into a false sense of security before they secede/attack/reveal themselves as baby-eating lizard people/rescind women's right to vote/SOMETHING.

Rational behavior from the previously batshit is extremely unnerving.
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


That 14-0 vote is very happymaking.

And I really want to have been a fly on the wall during this, just to hear how the discussion went -- or if there even was one, as opposed to a very quick "okay, let's get this nonsense over with -- is ANYONE opposed to this? No? Good, because SERIOUSLY."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on July 25, 2011


I'm a pretty conservative Catholic and I find this to be good news. I think Creationism can be very instructive in a science course in explaining the difference between "hypothesis' and "theory" as well as illustrating the dangers of letting ideology drive the scientific method.
posted by cross_impact at 9:18 AM on July 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fluttershy responds.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:18 AM on July 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


A snapshot of Texas in the early 21st century: It's a news story when science wins.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:20 AM on July 25, 2011 [37 favorites]


Still waiting for MLP to go. away.
posted by rebent at 9:21 AM on July 25, 2011


I think Creationism can be very instructive in a science course in explaining the difference between "hypothesis' and "theory" as well as illustrating the dangers of letting ideology drive the scientific method.

You know, I also think that the best way to disprove Creationism is to go ahead and subject it to the very scientific analysis in the mainstream scientific community that Creationists are asking for.

I took a look at a couple of Creationist sites, to see what kind of evidence they were putting forth, and one of them had an argument about the fossil record that sounded somewhat plausible -- until I then checked a detail in their theory against a mainstream science site and realized that the Creationist argument about the fossil record was dependant on something that completely violated fluid dynamics.

Picking at those loose threads could be mighty handy. And, well, Creationists are asking for the mainstream scientific community to take them seriously -- this is what they've been asking for, right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good work, Texas. Now figure out a way to make Shiner Bock available up north and all will be well.
posted by jonmc at 9:23 AM on July 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I'm afraid it wasn't that straight-forward. From the first link:
In hearings yesterday, NCSE members and allies showed up in force. At least four times as many people testified in favor of the supplements as written, versus those opposing the supplements or demanding significant changes.
And from the last link:
Last year's election might have had something to do with that. With four new members, the balance of power on the 15-member board shifted just enough toward the center so that the conservative bloc could no longer push through its policies unimpeded.
Creationism lost, but it didn't go quietly.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:23 AM on July 25, 2011


WWMUSAT (What Would Miss USA Think)
posted by stbalbach at 9:23 AM on July 25, 2011


But they're still going to teach our children about pastafarianism.....right?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:24 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


See, miracles can happen!
So these fucking magnets, we'll find out how they work now?
posted by PapaLobo at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the last link:
Then the board unanimously approved the online science materials that will supplement existing textbooks, contingent on Scott's decision on the disputed submission.

Board member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, said there were enough votes to back the publisher's position. But the compromise will produce the same result in a less contentious manner.

"We acknowledged that with our limited time and our limited experience with this issue, we needed help," Ratliff said.

Board member Gail Lowe, a widely respected member of the conservative bloc and, until recently, the board's chairwoman, endorsed the compromise. She said it was the best way to be consistent and fair to all the publishers.
I'm still suspicious, though. The claim seems to be that the 'compromise' is really just a polite way of rolling over the creationist opposition, but in that case why not just do it with a straightforward vote? It seems like they're intentionally leaving the door open for more problems later.

I'm reminded of the cheap action movie trope where the hero, having finally gotten the villain on the ground, turns and walks away without delivering the decisive killing blow — so that they can get shot in the back a few moments later.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2011


It is a small victory, but in Texas, well, we take what we can get.
posted by emjaybee at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm afraid it wasn't that straight-forward...Creationism lost, but it didn't go quietly.

Which would still have satisfied my fly-on-the-wall wish for a very different reason. (smile)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on July 25, 2011


So students won't be learning about how the Flying Spaghetti Monster started the world with a mountain, some trees and a midgit?

[insert sad face here]
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:28 AM on July 25, 2011


Kadin2048: I'm still suspicious, though. The claim seems to be that the 'compromise' is really just a polite way of rolling over the creationist opposition, but in that case why not just do it with a straightforward vote? It seems like they're intentionally leaving the door open for more problems later.

Exactly my thought (and my reason for the title of this post). My hope is that Scott played nice (with his "goal to find some common ground") at the discussion while he doesn't intend to add any creationism into the online curriculum (as the one offering that did touch on intelligent design failed to make the list recommended by Education Commissioner Robert Scott, and board members showed no willingness to add it).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:32 AM on July 25, 2011


...the education board voted to let Education Commissioner Robert Scott work with the publishing company Holt McDougal to find language that is factually correct and fits the standards adopted in 2009.

Sounds ok on the surface, until you realize that, according to the third link...The conservative wing in 2009 had pushed through controversial standards that called for schools to scrutinize “all sides’’ of scientific theory.

This sounds like the schools are still obligated to teach creationism as an alternative. This decision, then, merely rejects one batch of materials from the publisher. It doesn't outright eliminate the teaching of creationism.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ironic thing about all this is that there are some pretty big problems with the "modern synthesis" which probably won't get talked about in high school level classes. Now that would be teaching the controversy.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:35 AM on July 25, 2011


Just to clarify, it's not that the modern synthesis isn't the best explanation we currently have, but that we really don't have a complete understanding of the mechanisms that drive evolution.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:43 AM on July 25, 2011


It's pretty near impossible to find a clear, factual book on evolution targeted towards preschool through around 4th grade. Even when you are pretty well up on evolution, it's nice to have some backup, good pictures, etc. I have no idea what other parents can possibly be doing with their kids (probably nothing, mostly, or worse, getting one of the dime-a-dozen religion and/or "diversity is awesome!" non-content books).
posted by DU at 9:47 AM on July 25, 2011


Sounds ok on the surface, until you realize that, according to the third link...The conservative wing in 2009 had pushed through controversial standards that called for schools to scrutinize “all sides’’ of scientific theory.

This sounds like the schools are still obligated to teach creationism as an alternative.


Okay -- I remember my high school textbooks having all sorts of extra material in them that teachers were encouraged to give us students, but I don't recall a SINGLE INSTANCE of that actually happening in practical reality because there was just too much other crap to handle. (I mean, show of hands -- whose high school history classes actually made it past World War II?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 AM on July 25, 2011


Whoops, my point wasn't finished, sorry --

what I mean is, the conservative wing may have gotten that "study all sides of scientific theory" in there on paper, but in reality what will probably happen will be that teachers will look at that, hold that up against the reduced schedule they're now on because of No Child Left Behind test prep, and roll their eyes and figure they'll try to remember to mention Creationism once or twice in class and call it a day, and then they forget and it doesn't actually happen after all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on July 25, 2011


It's just nice to hear some good news after all the tragedy this last weekend.
posted by happyroach at 9:52 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, I also think that the best way to disprove Creationism is

best to avoid it and treat people who champion it as having a [mental] disorder. In relative terms, these are normal and intelligent people who by misfortune lack the wherewithal to deal in commonly accepted scientific facts and truly believe their hypothesis, no matter how nutty they are, to be on par with those of the peer-reviewed scientific community by virtue of being a hypothesis. They are the Billy Corgan-enabled Courtney Loves.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:21 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In relative terms, these are normal and intelligent people who by misfortune lack the wherewithal to deal in commonly accepted scientific facts and truly believe their hypothesis, no matter how nutty they are, to be on par with those of the peer-reviewed scientific community by virtue of being a hypothesis.

Not sure I follow you. I agree that they are incorrect that their ideas are on par with the peer-reviewed scientific community, and I also agree that they don't have an understanding of how peer-reviewed science works.

But it just strikes me that actually giving them a taste of what peer-review science actually is like may be enough to wake them up to their ineptitude. It would be kind of like if a guy who just learned how to play chess last week suddenly challenged Kasparov to a game. If all you do is tell that him "you're not ready, just trust me on this," he's not really going to believe you. But if you let him get into a real competition and he gets his ass kicked, he would realize "oh. Okay, this is different than I thought."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on July 25, 2011


best to avoid it and treat people who champion it as having a [mental] disorder.

jsavimbi, this is not a personal attack. I actually do not ascribe to creationism as well, but seriously believing in something you do not believe in does not equate to a mental disorder. It is kind of insulting to folks who do have mental illnesses to even go down this path.

Or, did you mean treat them with compassion and understanding. accepting who they are without harsh judgements? Because most people deserve this.
posted by edgeways at 10:37 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ironic thing about all this is that there are some pretty big problems with the "modern synthesis" which probably won't get talked about in high school level classes. Now that would be teaching the controversy.

There are plenty of problems with the our current understanding of QM and GR and you'll never see those covered in high school because that shit's hard. It's not that we are trying to keep it a secret, it's just that there is an enormous amount you have to learn before you can understand the problem in its proper context.

(This is made worse by the fact that if we give any hint that there are some aspects of evolution that are not 100% understood the creationist types will immediately turn around and use a bogus mischaracterization of that as a big stick with which to beat the school boards into rejecting the "evolution, which is just a theory and even the experts say that we don't understand it and it's full of holes and doesn't work and is anti-Jesus").
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:51 AM on July 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Without having read the linked articles (sorry) two questions come to mind:
1. Does the decision that passed specifically name Robert Scott as the one to conduct the negotiation with the publishers, or just the Education Commissioner, whosoever that may be at the time?
2. How secure is Robert Scott's job at the moment -- i.e. who has the power to fire/replace him, and how quickly might they do so?

If, for example, Texas happened to have a very conservative governor who happened to have the power to swap in a creationist Education Commissioner at a whim, then this compromise would turn out to have been a rather bad one.
posted by logopetria at 10:57 AM on July 25, 2011


I was thinking that the best way to teach evolutionary biology would be by saying to the students, "This is the model by which biologists work, and the theoretical basis by which biologists try to understand living creatures and eco-systems. No one cares about your personal beliefs, that's for you and your family, but for this biology class you need to learn how biologists think."

I mean, I'm a devout agnostic, but I have had to engage with theology and devout piety and learn to understand it for classes on religious history, even if I didn't personally share the belief. Really, we don't care what people's faith is - we just want kids to understand eco-systems and future biologists to understand evolutionary theory.
posted by jb at 11:20 AM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


A snapshot of Texas in the early 21st century: It's a news story when science wins.

I'll take that over science losing any day of the week.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:23 AM on July 25, 2011


I was thinking that the best way to teach evolutionary biology would be by saying to the students, "This is the model by which biologists work, and the theoretical basis by which biologists try to understand living creatures and eco-systems. No one cares about your personal beliefs, that's for you and your family, but for this biology class you need to learn how biologists think."

This was pretty much the approach that my Texas high school biology teacher took. Actually, it was closer to, "If you want to pass the test, you better learn what's in the textbook. I don't care about your personal beliefs on the matter." This was in the 90s, when the textbook only covered evolution.
posted by donajo at 11:52 AM on July 25, 2011


...but seriously believing in something you do not believe in does not equate to a mental disorder.
posted by edgeways at 6:37 PM on July 25


It does if that belief is, you know, totally batshit crazy. As creationism is.

Meanwhile, preach the controversy!
posted by Decani at 12:36 PM on July 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


the Texas Board of Education voted 14-0 to support scientifically accurate high school biology textbook supplements, rejecting the proposed creationist materials.

YEEEEEE-HAW!!!!!!
posted by hal_c_on at 12:41 PM on July 25, 2011


It's refreshing to see that the education of children has yet to be reduced to a "whoever shouts loudest wins" contest.
posted by CheesesOfNazareth at 12:47 PM on July 25, 2011


...but seriously believing in something you do not believe in does not equate to a mental disorder.
posted by edgeways at 6:37 PM on July 25

It does if that belief is, you know, totally batshit crazy. As creationism is.


Ignorance and insanity are two different things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2011


Decani I agree. This is placing random ancient beliefs that have consistently been proven in error for centuries above verified objective evidence. The whole point is that we're not discussing a difference of opinion, we are discussing reality. When someone chooses to place mystical beliefs above science, which they often are in no position to even offer an opinion given their lack of education in the fields they are trying to dispute, and force others to take it seriously it is fair to call it completely freaking mental.
posted by karmiolz at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2011


(I mean, show of hands -- whose high school history classes actually made it past World War II?)

I always figured this was by design... It's really convenient that the state-run schools finish off with WWII and conveniently pass on talking about, say, the civil rights movement and Vietnam. Or the US socialist movement that was huge from the 1880's through 1920's, for that matter.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2011


I'll give you looking shady that they skip the socialist movement in the Progressive Era, kaibutsu -- but considering how poorly my teacher handled discipline, or teaching, or...anything, I'd certainly consider "lack of time and coordination" as a reason why we barely gotten into the Korean war by the time I graduated. And I learned more about Korea via M*A*S*H as it was.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on July 25, 2011


My Korean War Essay:

The Korean war lasted 11 years and was very funny. Korea looks mostly like Southern California.
posted by Bonzai at 1:05 PM on July 25, 2011


Meanwhile, preach the controversy!

I prefer these alternate controversies to teach and preach on.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


YOU DAMN EDUCATED STUPID ONEness FOOLS ARE DOOMED!
posted by CheesesOfNazareth at 2:10 PM on July 25, 2011


The whole belief/science thing causes a weird tension which seems to keep the fight going just as a cause in and of itself.

What I don't understand is why a belief (any belief) can't be beautiful and meaningful and indicative of a human reality and be divorced of the tools we use to apprehend all reality.
In a sense we do have a belief in evolution as a model and that is the perspective creationism folks seem to take.
So casting the disagreement as wrong belief vs. justified belief is just going to create more tension.

In education, teaching biology, there shouldn't be a disagreement at all (granted there wouldn't be anyway but for people pushing creationism).

Now our public schools can focus on teaching their students fact-based science that will prepare them for college and a 21st-century economy, said Kathy Miller, president of the group, which monitors the religious right.


But I do have an issue with not only casting this in an economic light (because only things worth money are worth studying?) but the whole "fact-based" thing.

It's not science vs. belief in that context, because scientific facts become outmoded (geocentricity, spontaneous generation, the aether, etc. were consensually validated) and we need to constantly update them, but rather, it's more the rules of grammar in a language vs. the subject matter (in this case contained in one book).

If I learn the rules of language I can learn to read and communicate, no matter what the book I'm discussing is.
If I learn only the subject matter, even in a wide variety of books, I only know how to talk about those topics.

So what's important isn’t the answer, whatever the subject matter, but the question being asked and how to systemically ask questions.

I suppose thinking takes a lot of effort, but it's fairly simple to see, even if you're Joe Bible, the difference between description vs. prescription and how it's more useful to use the tension between the two as mutual support rather than setting them at odds by demanding the preeminence not only of how things should be but how they should be according to only one bit of subject matter.

It's true in everything we do. You might believe God makes plants grow, but come growing season you're praying for rain, not for the plants to just suddenly come up. I mean, it'd be swell, but it runs contrary to all experience and would scare the hell out of the livestock anyway.

I suppose too blocking that process of asking questions is a method of oppression through subornation (again, a lot of people seem to think they're going to live forever setting that crap up)

But leaving it in that cast "no, these facts are more correct and consensually validated by people who aren't stupid like you" just maintains the resistance. I haven't heard of too many people anymore who still argue the Bible (or whatever) is descriptive and not prescriptive.

Not to say that the vote here isn't a good thing, but damn we've got a long way to go even in purely secular terms. Seems like that fight (prescription usurping description) is everywhere now.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:12 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman...

First...Huh?

Second....
"I haven't heard of too many people anymore who still argue the Bible (or whatever) is descriptive and not prescriptive."
You obviously have not spent much time in Texas or any other state in the bible belt.
posted by txmon at 2:33 PM on July 25, 2011


It's not science vs. belief in that context, because scientific facts become outmoded (geocentricity, spontaneous generation, the aether, etc. were consensually validated) and we need to constantly update them, but rather, it's more the rules of grammar in a language vs. the subject matter (in this case contained in one book).

Exactly - science class needs to teach how scientists think. How experiments work, repeatability, and especially what a theory really is (ie not "just a theory"). Individual scientific facts aren't important. I feel the same way about history -- though I do think we need to teach the overall shape of history better than we do (that classical comes before medieval, that early modern came after medieval and before the modern period, etc).

Besides, unless you are a Young Earth Creationist, there is absolutely nothing incompatible with believing that God created the universe and all life in it, and believing that evolution is a very good model for how species have changed over time. There are a lot of devout biologists.
posted by jb at 3:12 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But creationism isn't a testable claim. It is not an alternative theory to evolution. It can't be taught in a science class because supernatural claims are not testable. This issue will not die until people come to grips with the limits of science.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 3:12 PM on July 25, 2011


I'm a pretty conservative Catholic and I find this to be good news.

Yeah, I just finished a lecture on the argument from design (the Thomistic one, to be precise) and when we got around to examining the presumption that order = design, I mentioned evolution by natural selection and got the usual theologically-motivated rant against evolution. I then paused and said, basically: Look, the Pope accepts evolution. I would recommend getting on this train before it completely leaves the station. You can be religious and still accept evolution by natural selection. I, personally, do not (i.e., I am not religious) but it can be done by thoughtful people.

I mean, the Pope. Really? You want to be to the right (scientifically speaking) of the Pope?!
posted by joe lisboa at 3:13 PM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Creationism isn't a a scientific theory at all - it's a religious belief. It should be taught in religion class. We don't teach literature analysis in biology either.
posted by jb at 3:14 PM on July 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


...best to avoid it and treat people who champion it as having a [mental] disorder.

Please people. As a guy whose mission is to help properly form Christians in their faith, a mission which means helping Christians balance their regard for truths revealed by faith and those revealed by reason (all from God, in our way of reckoning.) We strive to focus on balance.

Stridency on either side just fuels the kind of irrational crap that keeps the flames of ignorance burning instead of stamping them out.

Creationism isn't a a scientific theory at all - it's a religious belief.

Creationism is a hypothesis which attempts to reconcile what people believe has been revealed about God with science in the context of the misconception that *only* science can establish truth. In other words, Creationism is an attempt to shoe-horn science into faith because people think faith must always be subject to reason.

Some of you out there may agree that faith must always be subject to reason -- that reason is the arbiter of all truth. To me that's faith of a different kind, different from mine.

In my faith it's never an either/or. Faith and reason are to be held in balance as co-supporting sources of Truth and each has its limitations. There are different ways of knowing, seeing, and sharing truth. Helping people understand that one tool does not do every epistemological job is a goal of religious formation. Perspective like that needs the kinds of understanding and nuance that just gets CRUSHED by self-righteous inflammatory bullshit (from either side.)
posted by cross_impact at 7:27 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stridency on either side just fuels the kind of irrational crap that keeps the flames of ignorance burning instead of stamping them out.

Quoted because it made me want to throw sparkly confetti and say HELL YEAH TESTIFY!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on July 26, 2011


Cross_impact:

It's not that only science can establish truth--it's that only science provides claims to truth which can be tested. If you can't test a hypothesis, it's not a hypothesis. It's a story.
posted by oneironaut at 12:40 PM on July 26, 2011


Well, okay, if you are going to quibble... Creationism is more like a set of related hypotheses like "The Earth is only a few thousand years old" and "Human beings originated in pretty much their present form at one time" which, when tested, will be determined to be false. That and a handful of erroneous arguments that challenge the supporting evidence of evolutionary theory.
posted by cross_impact at 5:04 PM on July 26, 2011


txmon - the bible has a prescriptive theme. By definition. For example the Ten Commandments. And all the parables. It's about how one should live.

Although I'd include any subject in that sort of catch-all. The Catcher in the Rye is about Holden Caulfield. It's about certain themes. It's one story with one message.

No matter the variety any book, or any subject contains, it's not going to be a description of the language it uses.
A computer program, no matter how awesome, is not the OS.
Unless you have the OS (and the hardware, but I digress) you're not going to be able to run the program.

"You obviously have not spent much time in Texas or any other state in the bible belt"

Yeah, but that's still folks willfully engaging in prescriptive acts.
'you should believe in the bible'
'ok, that aside, how do you selectively breed for traits in livestock?'

I'd suspect - 'just pray on it' won't be the (legitimate) answer of anyone who can feed themselves and they have a handle on why (descriptive) biology is separate from (prescriptive) religion.
Whether they admit to it, yeah, different story.

But creationism isn't a testable claim. It is not an alternative theory to evolution. It can't be taught in a science class because supernatural claims are not testable.

Indisputable.
However the opposition in this occurs, in part where you have "consensual validation" and some people feel excluded from the consensus, but mostly where the claims are considered supernatural. Which in these cases (divorced from the specific discussion in this thread, mostly) is used as a code for 'stupid.'

In fact, what I'm doing here, right now, is descriptive not prescriptive (and about 90% of the time people respond the way you fake out throw a ball to a dog an you both lose track of exactly what the hell game it is you're playing) that is, describing the collision of ideology and elucidation, not championing a certain side (although again, I consider evolution uncontested in any educational sense).

Here's the problem:
Is the claim "Holden Caulfield attended Pencey Prep" true or not?
Well, there's a number of things that can be said there.
One of which is that it's fictional.
Does that then mean we completely ignore all fiction because it's 'not true'? Well, of course not.

So then is the claim accurate? Yep, in the book, that's what happened. And that's where it goes off the rails socially.
When I say Holden went to Pencey, the tack is not to refute that by saying "No, he didn't, he's not real" because that opposes the accuracy of the statement. And that, in the limited sense here, is falsifiable, testable, because - is it there or not?

And it is a completely accurate statement for anyone who is willing to check (although how many people have actually read the bible vs. those who champion or refute it is a pretty large disparity so many statements about it are completely wrong - but, all that aside too).

And to say "Holden felt alienated" while a fictional representation, is that not a real truth of the human condition? I feel alienated at times, others do too at times, is that not then real?

Same thing, yep, it's real. Saying it's fiction doesn't negate the veracity of the portrayal of adolescent feeling and how we feel/felt the same. There is something there fictional or not.

So the wrangling, if one goes that way, becomes over what is truth.
That is - science vs. religion in terms of meaning.

And that's pointless because science is not about 'truth' it's about description.
"The Earth revolves around the sun" is a descriptive statement about what is.
"That which has been is that which shall be... and there is no new thing under the sun." is a prescriptive statement - whether it is fact or aesthetic.

(and I'd add from the other side whether or not one can derive prescriptive meaning, IMHO one can, from scientific observation. But again, moot point.)

So instead of competing facts or ideas, "common ground" can rest on how observation (science) is actually used (description), and necessary for any kind of prescription (religion, subject matter, aesthetic, etc) to exist.

We need English to have "Catcher in the Rye." English needs certain rules. Those rules need to be commonly learned in order to be effective. This is true whether "Catcher in the Rye" is preeminent among subject matter in the English language or not. And whether it's fictional or not.

In essence: Creationism should be invalidated by the desire to see the bible (or other God business) taught in any way. (You need a descriptive basis otherwise you get failure in the most obvious ways. Not that this is impossible, Lysenkoism flourished for a while. But it's failure (or success if it had it) is irrelevant to it's nature. It was prescriptive. It was doomed to ultimately devolve into it's own navel the same way "Catcher in the Rye" chews its own neologisms. Albeit on purpose in "Catcher")

This fight, unfortunately, is taking place on the prescriptive level amongst social institutions and in policy.
Which, again, in many areas, journalism, climate change, etc. etc. is a problem in the U.S.
in some ways by design.
But people will ultimately give ground to observation, given a chance, because they want to see their own prescriptions flourish and for that they need the competitive advantage that descriptive knowledge can bring.

S'why Joe Rancher can "believe" every word of the bible but will still go to Joe Geneticist to keep getting blue ribbon cattle (unless coerced not to obviously, but I'm dodging the injustice of coercion here and trying to stick to the thumbnail).

Like Brecht said, food first then politics. People know to eat, whatever they espouse.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:10 PM on July 26, 2011


It's really convenient that the state-run schools finish off with WWII and conveniently pass on talking about, say, the civil rights movement and Vietnam.

Eh, my grade-school education about the 20th century pretty much consisted only of the two World Wars and the Civil Rights movement. (1980s, public school, rural-becoming-ruburban area.) Granted, a lot of civil-rights stuff was pulled in in order to illustrate civics stuff ("see kids, this is what due process is good for"). But that state-run school probably turned out as many little Wobblies as little statists.
posted by hattifattener at 11:40 AM on July 28, 2011


Rick Perry Gives Up the Ghost on the ‘Intelligent Design’ Lie
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on August 18, 2011


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