I’m one of you

For me this has to be about the most remarkable quote of the year. The comment came from Texas State Board of Education chair Barbara Cargill while I was participating in the review of curriculum materials for the Texas Education Agency. I posted this topic some days ago.

I struck up a conversation with Ide Trotter and reminded him of our meeting, nearly ten years previous. He remarked on my keen memory, but he should not have been amazed, because I had taken his photo at the time, so my memory was quite fresh. Dr. Trotter is a noted creationist, and I was very interested in talking to him about any progress his movement has made with Intelligent Design in the past ten years. He assured me Intelligent Design is on solid ground.

Also, Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

“I’m one of you?” That was so embarrassing. The chair of the Texas SBOE mistook me for a creationist. Wait until I tell the guys back at the North Texas Skeptics about this. In the  course of researching creationism and meeting with creationists over the past 25 years I have had many and varied experiences. In my life I have been called worse. The United States government used to pay a guy to insult me, humiliate me, call me names and in general make my life miserable. So over the years I’ve developed a thick hide.

Here’s a photo of Ide Trotter and also creationist Ray Bohlin taken about ten years ago at a symposium hosted by the Texas Freedom Network.

Creationists Ide Trotter and Ray Bohlin in 2003

Which brings us finally to the subject of the Texas Freedom Network (TFN). The TFN works to oppose the influence of what they call “the religions right,” but which turns out to be all kinds of bad actors in Unites States politics and public life. They’re an Austin-based political action committee, and they provide a free e-mail news service. Visit their site, subscribe to the mail and send money.

Somehow the TFN picked up on my blog post, possible because I sent them a link, and their most recent mailing included a comment. Here’s the entire post from the TFN:

New post on TFN Insider
Cargill: ‘I’m one of you’
by Ryan

Another first-hand report from the science review panel meeting last month in Austin has emerged, and it seems to corroborate some of the concerns about the flawed process expressed last week by biology panel participant Jimmy Gollihar. Specifically, it raises more questions about what state board chair Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, was doing at that meeting.

This report comes from a member of the physics review panel, John Blanton, who writes about the experience on his blog Skeptical Analysis. During a break in the review session, Blanton struck up a conversation with biology reviewer Ide Trotter, long-time supporter of “intelligent design”/creationism, when suddenly:

…Barbara Cargill joined us in our conversation. Dr. Trotter and I were discussing Intelligent Design when she walked up, and I am afraid she was confused and thought I was a creationist. She remarked “I’m one of you,” and gave us a reassuring clap on the shoulder. She conferred for a moment with Dr. Trotter over some notes, and she went off to visit other volunteers.

(Blanton is not an “intelligent design” supporter, as he makes clear in his account.)

So not only did Cargill engage in extensive discussions with members of the biology panels (per Gollihar’s letter), now we learn that she was lending moral support to panel members who shared her personal anti-evolution beliefs.

As a reminder, TFN asked Cargill on August 1 some basic questions about the integrity of the review process and her participation in that process. We’ve yet to receive a satisfactory reply. Given the additional details emerging from multiple sources, we think the chair has an obligation to provide the public with some answers. Here, again, are the questions:

• When you attended the review team meeting on Wednesday, July 30, did you try in any way to influence the decisions of any review team members on questions of a particular submission’s content, TEKS coverage or factual accuracy?

• It appeared that you spent considerable time with the high school biology review teams on Wednesday. In talking to the biology reviewers, did you discuss the coverage of evolution/human origins and related issues in instructional materials?

• Is it your position that:

– It is appropriate for an SBOE member to join the formal deliberations of a review team?

– It is appropriate for an SBOE member to engage in extensive discussions with members over issues regarding the content of specific textbook submissions?

– It is appropriate for an SBOE member try to influence the decisions of that review committee?

• Do you have any concerns about a process that could allow SBOE members – in a meeting where the public has no access – to lobby review team members for specific recommendations to textbook publishers?

Ryan | September 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p2lkhk-5Qs

OK, my cover is really blown now. The whole world knows I am not a creationist. Is there no privacy on the Internet anymore?

Anyhow, all of this could make for some dicey conversation when I show up on Tuesday to provide my comments at the SBOE text book hearings in Austin. A lot of people are going to pointing me out and whispering “He’s really not a creationist, you know.” There’s no way I’m going to be able to keep this under wraps. Especially when I show up wearing my t-shirt from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Won’t that go over big with the creationists! Photos to follow.

As dirty as it gets – how the blog gets done

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One thought on “I’m one of you

  1. Posted this at TFN blog (couldn’t log in here to post the comment so I posted there. But now I am able to log in here.):

    We need to keep people with anti-science attitudes away from reviewing science text books. It just appears sensible to do so.

    It is like keeping away the Holocaust deniers from reviewing a History text covering WWII.

    These supposed controversies need be kept away from the review process so that they don’t enter the classrooms across the state.

    Anyone who thinks these are legitimate controversies should first convince the scientific community at large with peer-reviewed publications.

    They seem to be taking a short-cut by getting involved with the review process. Thus bringing unsound, untested views through the backdoor. This needs to be stopped.

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