State Board of Education Testimony

Following are the remarks I have prepared to deliver at the Texas State Board of Education hearings in Austin on Tuesday.

Good afternoon,

I wish to thank the Board of Education for giving me this opportunity to speak, and I will keep my remarks brief.

My comments concern how I came to be here today, and you will see that they relate to the business at hand.

Over 50 years ago I came to Austin to attend the University of Texas. I had intended to get a degree in physics, but understanding the employment realities, I registered, instead, in the School of Engineering, and I obtained an engineering degree.

What I find humorous is that my degree program required an elective course, and that could include either biology or geology. I was aghast at taking either of these courses. Biology I found messy, and geology too hard. I elected, instead a course in Russian literature. But first I needed two course in Russian grammar, which did not count toward my degree. So I took those, as well, and I got an engineering degree and a smattering of foreign language. But no biology and no geology.

I began my career in engineering, and eventually had a man working for me who told me firmly the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. He was a creationist. I thought it was so odd that an educated person refused some to acknowledge some obvious facts of science, and I began a private study of creationism.

I purchases books by creationists and also books by legitimate scientists, and I attended presentations by creationists. Since creationists talk a lot about geology and biology, I began to learn more about geology and biology.

One day a creationist told me the sun cannot be billions of years old, because it is not fired by nuclear fusion. The explanation he gave was the character of neutrinos from the sun was wrong for that type of reaction. This was information I should have known already. Then I remembered I was originally supposed to get a degree in physics, so at the age of 50 I went back to college and got a degree in physics.

In the mean time, some real physicists worked out the sun neutrino solution and went off to Stockholm to pick up their Nobel Prize. And I continued to study the works of the creationists.

Last December I quit my job and retired. This provided me the opportunity to volunteer to review physics texts for the Texas Education Agency, and for that I am most grateful for being selected.

Then an amazing thing happened. While participating in the team reviews in Austin this summer I met again some creationists I had met in my previous 25 years studying creationism. These creationists were reviewing biology texts for our public school students. Some of these people have no more formal training in biology than I do, and I have since learned of their attempts to influence the biology curriculum to fit their personal beliefs.

How these people were selected to review the biology texts is by now public knowledge, and the people involved are in this room today. I will say no more about that.

This is so ironic. Because of creationism I wound up learning about modern biology, geology and paleontology, and I also got a degree in physics, which is how I came be here today. I have the creationists to thank for furthering my own education, but not in the manner they envisioned.

So, finally I address those of you here today who are sincerely interested in Texas public education and in the validity of modern science. Look around you. Think about why you are here today. The creationists already know. The ones I know personally are all basically good people, and you would appreciate having them as neighbors. But they have a skewed view of science and how it works. They are dedicated, they are diligent, and they are persistent. They were here yesterday, they are here today and they will be here tomorrow. They are not going away.

To all who support real science I post this challenge. What are you prepared to do?

2 thoughts on “State Board of Education Testimony

  1. I am surprised that physics, chemistry and mathematics are optional for engineers in the US. We had to take those subjects, enough to graduate with a bachelors in each, to just get into presitgious, govt. (state & central) engineering colleges in India. (1 out of a hundred who writes the entrance exam gets a rank low enough to get a seat. Many who want a seat don’t even attempt knowing it is futile.)

    Well, I can’t help it, I am pro-science, so in that spirit I will oppose people attacking it in the classrooms. But I guess the question, “What are you prepared to do?”, is more to the TEA. Good luck with that, I hope they are pro-science too.

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