The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 15 in a series

From the journal Science

 

There was a time we now call the Age of Enlightenment, centered in the 18th century. It was a time of scientific awakening, a time from which sprang many of our modern scientific principles. That was so three centuries ago. We may now have entered the Age of Embarrassment:

Science Teaching Guidelines Trigger Criticism in New Mexico

Sept. 19, 2017, at 5:09 p.m.

By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists and educators raised new objections Tuesday to proposed changes to teaching standards for science in New Mexico that substitute references to rising global temperatures and climate change with statements about climate “fluctuations.”

The New Mexico Public Education Department has suggested several custom additions and deletions as it moves forward with adopting a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences.

Additions that highlight the study of New Mexico’s unique natural history are being overshadowed by several deletions of references to evolution, the 4.6 billion-year age of the earth and climate change.

My goodness! Is it time to ride that old dinosaur into ground again?

The story, featured in The Washington Post yesterday, further describes idiotic themes promoted by the Mercer Counter public school system. According to the Post report, a lesson contained the following language: “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.” It continued: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” Additionally: “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

The Associated Press story, running in U.S. News and World Reports, has more to say. Issues such as this are often advanced by politicians who have personal stakes. Apparently one such is Representative Jim Smith, who is also a retired school teacher. He is quoted as saying:

“I think it’s better to take the middle ground where people in all those different areas of the state can accept standards that they can teach within,” he said. “You give students the opportunity to come to their own conclusions. I as a science teacher certainly don’t deny that there is global warming happening. I think ‘fluctuations’ is a better term for it.”

An inch-deep Google search does not reveal a lot about Representative Smith’s personal life, and his record in Santa Fe shows a genuine concern for good government. However, statements such as “You give students the opportunity to come to their own conclusions,” are indicative of the creationist movement’s approach to public school encroachment. Laws enacted in other states to promote “teaching the controversy” have demonstrated to be thinly-disguised fronts to enable teachers desiring to promote creationism and other biblical teachings. One effect of such laws is to provide cover for teachers who go outside the curriculum and introduce religious concepts.

From all appearances, Dr. Smith finds fault with the idea that human activity is mainly responsible for global warming. He likes the term “fluctuations” to give the idea the climate has always been changing, and there is no need to take action to forestall any calamitous consequences. He takes this stance in defiance of the best conclusions of modern science.

A story appearing in the Albuquerque Journal further highlights attempts to dilute the teaching of biological evolution:

 

The plan was criticized Friday by Stephanie Ly, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, who called it a “perverted, watered-down vision” of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Ly accused Ruszkowski in a written statement of proposing standards “that question climate change, deny evolution, promote the fossil fuel industry, and even question the age of the Earth – all areas of consensus among the scientific community.”

One proposed addition to the high school curriculum asks students to use a model to describe the effects of energy flows on Earth “that were caused by natural occurrences that are not related to human activity.”

Another omits the word “evolution” and replaces it with the phrase “biological diversity.”

Nothing has to date been signed off, and science teaching in New Mexico remains safe for the present. The continued actions by fact-deficient public employees remains a concern to a population still possessed of a healthy respect for fact-based governance. Though it may never come to pass, we continue to look forward to that day when creationists ride the dinosaur into the sunset.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Bat Shit Crazy

Tenth of a series

It’s a good thing none of that stuff is still going around:

This West Virginia school district has weekly Bible classes. A kindergartner is suing.

March 22

A kindergartner is battling county officials in federal court over Bible classes in public school.

In a federal lawsuit filed in January, Jane Doe, a pseudonymous plaintiff who is the mother of Mercer County, W.Va., kindergartner Jamie Doe, challenged the county’s “Bible in the Schools” program, saying it was unconstitutional.

“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The story, featured in The Washington Post yesterday, further describes idiotic themes promoted by the Mercer Counter public school system. According to the Post report, a lesson contained the following language: “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.” It continued: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” Additionally: “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

Yes, this public school is cool with the idea of passing on to students the false tale of Adam and Eve from the biblical book of Genesis. Additionally these public servants want to tell students that, contrary to known facts, people and dinosaurs existed contemporaneously. An item appearing on the Patheos blog provides additional detail:

Bible indoctrination classes have been taught in Mercer County Schools for more than 75 years. Between 1939 and 1985, the bible classes were designed, financed, administered and staffed by a small group of Mercer County citizens. Following complaints by parents of eight students in 1985, the Mercer County schools took over the instruction in 1986, claiming to follow nine guidelines from the Office of the Attorney General.

Financing is provided by the “Bluefield Bible Study Fund, Inc.,” which operates a fund to pay bible teachers to instruct about 4,000 students. Bible teachers must follow lesson plans almost without deviation. There are 70 to 90 visuals used in each lesson. Lessons have included images of Jesus being tortured, nailed to the cross, and ascending into heaven.

Public schools can teach a host of ideas, but the idea of a person ascending into the sky while people look on is the far side of truth. Where did all this start? Where is it going to end? Are chemistry students going to learn everything is composed of four basic elements—fire, water, earth, and air? Will history classes get into the details of the lost city of Atlantis? Will science classes describe how the sun goes around the Earth? The Post item paints a dismal picture:

One mother in Mercer County said her child was indeed bullied for not attending the Bible classes. In fact, the bullying got so bad that Elizabeth Deal took her daughter out of the county school system, she said.

“I think this is definitely an outright gray area, if not outright illegal,” Deal said.

The school district’s motion also pointed out that the classes, which are paid for by a nonprofit organization, receive no public funding.

“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective,” said Hiram S. Sasser, a lawyer representing Mercer County Public Schools who works for the First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on religious freedom. “To make sure that students obviously have the social currency to interpret Western literature.”

“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective.” Really? When did teaching history turn into teaching fables as true? Are students to be left believing Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan were true-to-life and their exploits real? Is Washington Irving‘s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to be elevated to the status of a historical narrative? When did “cultural enrichment” become indoctrination? At what point do we need to stand back and call this what it is, Bat Shit Crazy?

[Full disclosure: I am a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.]

The National Center For Science Education

The NCSE is the premier organization in this country promoting legitimate science in public schools and in the public forum. They are a 501 (c) (3) organization, deserving of your contributions. I give money to the NCSE. You should, too.

Following is a recent notice from the NCSE:

1904 Franklin Street, Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612-2922

510.601.7203 • www.ncse.com

With the unprecedented 2016 election finally behind us, we can all turn our attention back to issues that haven’t been in the spotlight lately. Like science education. As you’ll read below, there’s plenty to be concerned about. But NCSE has not taken its eye off the ball, and our new programs are really starting to pay off. I hope that you’ll consider joining our effort to help teachers cover evolution and climate change confidently and completely.

When you consider the state of science education today, it’s easy to be disappointed, disturbed, and dismayed. Consider the following recent incidents.

  • In Alabama, the state board of education voted to continue to mandate a disclaimer about evolution in the state’s textbooks. Such disclaimers date back to 1996. But even after Alabama adopted a new set of state science standards in 2005, that described evolution as “substantiated with much direct and indirect evidence,” the board disappointingly voted to retain the scientifically unwarranted and pedagogically irresponsible message.
  • A national survey conducted by NCSE with researchers at Pennsylvania State University, which asked 1500 science teachers in public middle and high schools about their attitudes toward and practice in teaching climate change, found disturbing gaps in their knowledge. For example, less than half of the teachers realized that more than 80% of climate scientists agree that recent global warming is caused primarily by human activities.
  • In Kentucky, a young-earth creationist ministry opened a Noah’s-ark-themed amusement park. The truly  dismaying aspect of Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter was its invitation to local public schools to flout the principle of church/state separation by bringing students there on field trips, at a special discounted rate. Judging from reports received by NCSE over the years, public school excursions to creationist attractions are dismayingly common.

Dealing, and helping people to deal, with such assaults on science education is all in a day’s work for us at NCSE.

But as you know, that’s not all that we’re doing. A suite of innovative new programs is aimed at reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally:

  • NCSEteach (http://ncseteach.com/), NCSE’s network to support climate change and evolution educators, now includes nearly 6,000 teachers, each of whom receive regular advice and resources from NCSE aimed at improving their scientific knowledge and pedagogical confidence. And they now know that NCSE will have their backs when they encounter challenges to the teaching of evolution or climate change!
  • NCSEteach’s “Scientists in the Classroom” program is bringing eager and energetic early career research scientists into middle and high school classrooms across the country to enrich students’ climate change and evolution learning experiences. Over one hundred teacher—scientist partnerships have already been formed, to the great and continuing benefit of all involved. More are in the works.
  • NCSE’s Science Booster Club project, piloting in Iowa, has provided fun, hands-on, and accurate educational activities on evolution and climate change to over 50,000 participants at local events in the last year, and raised funds to purchase science equipment for the benefit of over 3,000 local students. In 2016, the project not only exhibited at county and state fairs but also hosted a free summer science camp to provide rural low-income students with evolution education.

Are these programs working? Judging from the heartfelt expressions of thanks from teachers who have participated in NCSEteach, from teacher/scientist partners who have participated in Scientists in the Classroom, and from thousands of Iowans involved with a Science Booster Club, yes!

But to science fans like you and me, what’s even more convincing than testimonials is data. The Science Booster Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, administered a twenty-four-question science literacy survey at its public events throughout the year. And voilà:

scienceliteracycedarrapids

That’s significant—literally (p = 0.03) and figuratively. Working with a low budget but a high degree of enthusiasm, the science boosters in Cedar Rapids—and elsewhere in Iowa—are making a measurable difference.

I’m excited about these efforts, and I hope that you are, too. We want to extend these programs to communities across the country. To do so, we need your support. Your gift to NCSE will help us help teachers to present science properly.

You can donate on-line at ncse.com/join. A gift of only $500 will allow us to provide a new booster club with all the materials needed to provide hands-on evolution or climate change activities to 10,000 participants! Or consider a recurring gift of $10 or $20 per month; such donations help make our budget more predictable so we can start new projects with confidence. A gift of any size will go directly to improving science education.

By reinforcing the confidence of teachers, recruiting scientists to help, and rallying communities to support science education locally, NCSE is helping to ensure that science will be taught honestly, accurately, and confidently. Please help us to do so.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Reid

Executive Director, NCSE

 

When You Would Like To Live Forever

There are times I would like to live forever.

The Age of Enlightenment?

The Age of Enlightenment?

This post is dedicated to Clara Atkins, my high school English teacher. I last saw her at the 20th class reunion. She was old and frail at the time and did not live much longer after this photo was taken.

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Clara Atkins, Granbury High School

Mrs. Atkins told of growing up, a young bride, then a widow with five children, apparently devoting the remainder of her life to teaching the English language to small town students. Sometimes it may have seemed a thankless task, but her students never forgot. A Fort Worth newspaper ran a favorite teacher contest, and students rallied, massively collecting enough coupons to send her to New York to see Around the World in 80 Days on Broadway.

All the while I struggled under her whip. This obtuse language from an obscure island off the European coast was determined to defeat me. On an occasion my efforts were not enough, and I had an F on my report card. I was forced to try harder, finally out of high school and into college, where my woes continued. My crowning glory was to obtain an A in Technical Writing as I worked toward a degree in Engineering.

Later in life, as a manager of small engineering projects, it was my job to deal with reports prepared by recent college graduates. It became apparent that the language of obscurity was winning its relentless battle. Evidence of defeat was everywhere. I began to wonder whether our public schools had at last surrendered and in desperation had quit giving Fs in English. The signs were all about.

Now I’m finished with school and finished, even, with work. In my retirement I pour my thoughts and observations out onto this blog. And I still struggle. If grammatical blunders are thin on these pages, I owe a lot of that to a college roommate, who is a master of this language and capable in several others. If you miss seeing grammatical absurdities and horrendous typos, you have Byron Black from Bryan, Texas, to thank.

Which may or may not bring me to the subject of this post. First some history. In fact, how about a Quick History Lesson:

Facebook again. Somebody posted this on Facebook. It’s supposed to be a history lesson. In fact, it’s title is “Quick History Lesson.” It is quick.

My review of the Quick History Lesson details the flight of racists and other suppressive elements of American society from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. The title comes from a meme posted on Facebook by a conservative friend, and it wants to paint the current Democratic Party as the party of racism and suppression.

HistoryLesson

My response was to turn the meme on its head and to note it is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, it’s a matter of liberals versus conservatives. When conservatives fled the Democratic Party, starting over 50 years ago, they found a home in the Republican Party. That has been an unhappy circumstance for the party that has in the past stood for so much of what is great about this country. The presidential campaign in progress this year is beginning to show some poison fruit from this union. More about this in another post. Things can develop between now and November.

In the mean time, my post on the Quick History Lesson continues to draw readership. 31 readers yesterday. 287 on 14 June. 20 so far today. And this political history story collects comments from time to time. I appreciate them all. Some are favorable. Some are delightfully not. Here are three received within the span of a few minutes this morning. They have been copied and pasted directly from the blog post. This is one of those times I would like to live forever:

This author is your typical Deceitful and Dishonest DemonRat. Regardless of labels changing, it makes no difference on his word play on Liberals and Conservatives, the simple Truth is you can’t change the simple FACT DemonKKKrats have always been the Party of Racists with their KKK Wing, Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, and today with their Black Racial Arsonists and Poverty Pimps. Yes, the lone good Democrat in history in JFK called himself a Liberal, bit today he’s be a Far Right Wing NeoCon Teabagger by today’s Leftist DemonRats. It doesn’t change the FACT he was an aberration within the Dems Criminal Organization. JFK of course was murdered by sociopath LBJ, or at least those of US educated on the subject. But like this misleading opionion piece article, he tries whitewashing the Democrats shameful history of RACISM and Corruption that is the Dems past and present history….

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

The author is extremely uneducated. You can’t change the Voting Record of DemonKKKrats against Civil Rights, and the FACT they wrote and passed every Racist Legislation in the history of the USA. They can only try to blame and LIE their racist past on someone else.

These three are all from Tip Larkin and he (she?) is responding to comments posted by three others. You need to go to the blog post to sort it all out. Besides missing the point that the issue is liberal versus conservative rather than Democrat versus Republican, Tip illustrates his (her) point unintentionally. I was particularly struck by the irony of a juxtaposition within a single sentence:

He’s an uneducated American Idiot trying to hide his Parties history of RACISM and Murder. Absolutely mind boggling the Stupidity of the opinion piece.

Yes, the American education system has failed Tip, as it has so many others. Clara Atkins, please come back. We need you now more than ever.

Sanity Attack

Your state of mind at risk

Politics-MaryLouBruner

I need to alert readers to a recent and dangerous attack of sanity. This occurred in my home state of Texas. However, there is a potential this can spread to other regions, so people should be on the lookout for signs of sanity creeping into their neighborhoods. From The Texas Tribune:

In a stunning comeback, State Board of Education hopeful Keven Ellis won Tuesday’s District 9 Republican primary runoff over Mary Lou Bruner, who drew national attention for social media posts touting far-right conspiracy theories and other fringe views.

The East Texas Tea Party activist and former schoolteacher had been favored to succeed in the race after nearly winning the March 1 primary outright and accumulating heavy support from influential conservative groups that typically hold big sway in low-turnout runoff elections. But Ellis, a Lufkin chiropractor who presides over the local school board, maintained a double-digit lead over Bruner throughout Tuesday night, and that lead widened as vote returns rolled in. He ended the night about 18 points ahead of Bruner.

I know this may be distressing to some readers, but people need to know that sanity can attack at any moment without warning. The signs are there, and people should know how to recognize them:

  • Obama did not work as a male prostitute.
  • The United States should not ban Islam.
  • The Democratic Party did not kill President Kennedy.
  • Anthropogenic global warming is real.
  • Biological evolution is valid science.
  • The Earth is not flat.

If you notice your child, other family member, even a close friend, voicing such thoughts, notify authorities. This person is afflicted with sanity. Exercise extreme caution. It may already be too late to help the victim. Take immediate steps to protect yourself. Tune in to Fox News for additional details.

Wacko Come Home

It’s baaack!

Politics-MaryLouBruner

Just when you thought Texas had seen the last of Wacko, comes salvation in the form of Texas SBOE candidate Mary Lou Bruner:

MINEOLA, Tex. — On Super Tuesday, Dale Clark voted for a local Republican who claimed on social media that President Obama had worked as a gay prostitute in his youth, that the United States should ban Islam, that the Democratic Party had John F. Kennedy killed and that the United Nations had hatched a plot to depopulate the world.

Mr. Clark, 75, was unaware that the candidate he had supported — Mary Lou Bruner, 68, a former kindergarten teacher running for a seat on the State Board of Education — held such views. But as he sat with his wife eating lunch in this East Texas city, Mr. Clark was ready to give Ms. Bruner the benefit of the doubt.

“I would not discount her on the basis of having those beliefs,” said Mr. Clark, a retired pilot. “It convinces me, though, that she’s quite conservative, and if I were going to err either way, I would want to err toward the side of the conservative.”

Texas is superbly blessed.

I owe much of what I know of these blessings to the Texas Freedom Network (TFN). I have given my support (and money) to this organization for years, and you should, too. And what of candidate Bruner? Yes, there’s more:

You have to give credit to Mary Lou Bruner, the probable newest member of the Texas State Board of Education come November: Her far-right-fringe worldview is nothing if not coherent. In an election season where front-runners can’t decide whether they’re for or against immigration or the Trans-Pacific Partnership or a higher minimum wage, Bruner’s convictions never waver despite the seldom-flattering national attention she continues to receive.

Bruner—a Republican candidate for the District 9 seat on the Texas State Board of Education, who came in just shy of the 50 percent she needed to bag the nomination on Super Tuesday—has yet to walk back her claims that President Barack Obama worked as a gay prostitute in his 20s, or that humans cohabited the earth with dinosaurs, or that sex-education classes “stimulate children to experiment with sex,” or that Islam “is not a real religion.” Bruner, bless her, has also suggested that Paul Ryan’s manly beard makes him look “like a terrorist” and that opposing the Common Core is right up there with objecting to National Socialism. (I could go on.)

Please do not go on. I have had enough. Well, not quite. Here’s more from the TFN—some choice Facebook postings:

Politics-BrunerFacebook-01

Politics-BrunerFacebook-02

Yes, I do believe the education of Texas children is in good hands. And Oklahoma can keep its Wacko. We have a supply of our own.

Bat Shit Crazy

Seventh of a series

Politics-TheLongWarAndCommonCore

Last week I posted (see the link above) about State Senator Bob Hall, of Edgewood. He had some stuff to say about Common Core, the proposed nationwide education standard. I made no secret that what State Senator Hall had to say on the topic amounted to Bat Shit Crazy. I also touched on a reference the enlightened Senator made, which also turned out to be Bat Shit Crazy. From that post:

All right. That didn’t go far toward making the connection clear. Unless you are willing to read carefully between the lines, the foregoing will leave you with the impression this is a movement at the state level, leaving obscure any of Obama’s fingerprints. It may be necessary to draw from additional sources to get to the bottom of this. How about “Donna Hearne, author of The Long War and Common Core?” State Senator Bob Hall cites Hearne and her book as evidence “that the implementation of Common Core will completely transform America from a nation of responsible, moral, and independent human beings endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to robots and servants of the state.” That’s tall order for just one book, and what an amazing book it must be. My inspiration was to obtain a copy. And I did. Just a mouse click, and Amazon delivered a copy to me ($6 and tax) on my computer.

In that post I may have given readers the impression I intended to read Donna Hearne’s book and write a review. In this particular instance the impression was correct. I have finished reading the book, 160 pages. Here is the review.

Hearne wants to make the argument that Common Core is part of grand conspiracy to place central control of the American education system under the federal government, shape the minds of students, and condition them for life under a totalitarian government. That’s it briefly, and it really is Bat Shit Crazy. It’s not my intention to go into exhaustive detail—don’t tempt me. What I will do, instead, is bring up some of Hearne’s points, print a few excerpts, and provide a bit of Skeptical Analysis. Where to start?

Common Core threatens the very fabric of American society, and Hearne has a road map to salvation:

By understanding the threats to freedom as well as how to re-establish the strengths of freedom and liberty in the culture and schools, the future can be better because the ideas taught in the schools become public policy. Working together, the future can be one of fewer taxes, less regulation, stronger intact families, and a society where not only has crime been reduced and economic prosperity widely enjoyed, but we can protect ourselves against foreign threats such as Shariah/ Islamic/ Jihadists.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 197-200). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Get that. Fewer taxes, less regulation, stronger intact families, reduced crime, widely enjoyed prosperity. Who could ask for anything more? Let’s just add on protection against Islamic jihadists while we are at it. And that’s the straw that broke the reinforced concrete bridge. Hearne is one of those. This is going to be fun.

What else? You will be sorry you asked:

The two most powerful phrases in recorded history are:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness … (U.S. Declaration of Independence), and

So God created mankind in His own image. (Genesis 1: 27)

These two phrases liberated mankind, giving him eternal, unconditional value and purpose within the framework of a nation that recognized all human life as of equal value. These two phrases together, freed him from tyrannical government’s claim that each of us only has value and purpose as long as we are servants of the state. This is what the American Revolution was really about. Common Core seeks to banish not only these phrases, but also the rightful understanding of them. For freedom to endure, Americans must understand and embrace this distinctiveness of America. Human life is sacred.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 205-216). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

The words from the Declaration of Independence are soul-stirring, something we can all salute. But the latter is an excerpt from an ancient book of fiction. And that’s what this book is going to be about. This is not about quality education. It’s not about official malfeasance. It’s about protection of the author’s personal religious preferences. There are a few more.

For three hundred years, pre-Scopes Christian America believed that man was created in the image of God. If man is created in the image of God, then he has value given to him by his Creator, not by men. He is valuable not because society says so, but rather because of his innate being, a being created in the image of the Creator. Pre-Scopes America based its laws and values on biblical Judeo-Christian teachings. Its schools, churches and synagogues taught that each person was precious in the sight of God. Every person was to be treated with respect and dignity because man’s image was God’s image, and God Himself was to be respected and treated with dignity.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 571-576). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Particularly, let’s bear down on those concluding words: “each person was precious in the sight of God. Every person was to be treated with respect and dignity because man’s image was God’s image, and God Himself was to be respected and treated with dignity.” Really? That’s what we get from our Judeo-Christian heritage? Really? Just to make sure, let’s take a look at our Judeo-Christian heritage:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

I am overwhelmed by the flood of respect and dignity afforded to each person by our Judeo-Christian heritage:

Exodus 21:7 King James Version (KJV)

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

We should all be treated with such respect and dignity:

Deuteronomy 2:33-34 King James Version (KJV)

33 And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.

34 And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:

You will forgive me if I pause now for a moment, as I am suddenly overwhelmed by a flood of respect and dignity.

I’m back.

Along with a slavish commitment to biblical myth, Hearne has a disdain for modern science typical of many religious fundamentalists. One object of her scorn is Darwinian evolution. This she dispatches with an appalling absence of scholarship, completely misconstruing circumstances surrounding the Scopes Trial of 1925. She quotes from another source but still carries the baggage:

“Scopes, a teacher of science in Rhea High School, (sic) Dayton, was arrested on a charge of violating the Tennessee state law prohibiting the teaching in public schools of any theories that deny the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible. Scopes, a biologist, had been teaching evolution. The immediate issue was as to whether the defendant had or had not violated the provisions of the state law as to the subjects to be taught in public schools, but the wider issue was as to the extent to which the state, in its control of public education, may determine the nature of the religious instruction given to the students in its schools. The trial itself was the culmination of a controversy that had been going on for years.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 539-544). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Discrepancies abound. For example, John T. Scopes was not a biologist. He had graduated from the University of Kentucky the previous year with a major in law and a minor in geology. He was the football coach at Rhea County High school and did substitute teaching. He was not arrested. The facts are these:

There was a discussion of the freshly-minted Butler Act, and prominent people of the town (Dayton, Tennessee) were sitting around in a drugstore discussing the consequences. They got the inspiration that Dayton should host a test of the new law, and young Scopes, a part-time teacher, was summoned from his tennis game. The proposition was put to him, and he agreed to stand trial. He went back to his game and into history.

On the second part, Scopes never did teach evolution in the school. He was completely innocent. In all likelihood, the school principal taught the class that covered evolution. And all parties to the trial were aware of this, and nobody spilled the beans. The people wanting to defeat the bill needed a conviction they could take to an appeals court. Even the prosecution team was in on the scam. Students were allowed to perjure themselves and claim Scopes taught evolution.

Hearne’s book is a remarkable conglomeration of facts and fiction, backed by a ton of references. Unfortunately there was no real effort to dive into the topics highlighted in the book.

Hearne bemoans the devastation that engulfed this country following the sensation of the Scopes trial. From that point forward evolution poisoned the minds of school children by the horde.

Wrong again. Scopes’ conviction was overturned on a technicality, and the law was never challenged. Not for decades—evolution was not taught seriously in American public schools until the 1960s, with the implementation of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study following the advent of Sputnik.

Hearne attaches multiple evils to evolution:

If evolution is the explanation for man’s existence, then it stands to reason that the society in which he exists determines his value. If society determines his value, it must also set limits on that value and control it. How does society control man’s value? It controls that value by force or by whomever has the power to carry out that force. What then does society do about someone like Hitler who acquired that force and defined the value of man his own way?

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 567-570). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Well, evolution is the explanation for man’s existence, and that is inescapable. How is that working out with respect to Hearne’s supposed consequences?

To be sure, anthropogenic global warming (AGW) also catches some knocks:

In actuality, the real-world temperature data shows just the opposite of this Disciplinary Core Idea. There has been no statistical warming since 1997, eighteen years ago. In addition, a graph of 90 Climate Models shows that the actual surface temperature has gone down slightly. This is the same data the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 1181-1185). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

A problem here is that Hearne doesn’t directly cite any references, but the end notes for this chapter contain “Sowell, Thomas, “Stormy weather and politics,” West Newsmagazine, February 3, 2015, p. 3.” What it seems to match is this:

It was refreshing to see meteorologists apologize for their dire — and wrong — predictions of an unprecedented snow storm that they had said would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has seen lots of big snow storms before and will probably see lots of big snow storms again. That’s called winter.

Unfortunately, we are not likely to hear any similar apologies from those who have been promoting “global warming” hysteria for years, in defiance of data that fail to fit their climate models. What is at issue is not whether there is “climate change” — which nobody has ever denied — but whether the specific predictions of the “global warming” crowd as to the direction and magnitude of worldwide temperature changes are holding up over the years.

I hope Hearne is not citing Thomas Sowell as a scientific source:

Sowell has a nationally syndicated column distributed by Creators Syndicate that is published in Forbes magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and major newspapers, as well as online on websites such as TownhallWorldNetDaily, OneNewsNow and the Jewish World Review.

Sowell comments on current issues, which include liberal media bias; judicial activism (while defending originalism); partial birth abortion; the minimum wage; socializing health care; government undermining of familial autonomy; affirmative action; government bureaucracy; gun control; militancy in U.S. foreign policy; the U.S. war on drugs, and multiculturalism.

In a Townhall editorial, “The Bush Legacy,” Sowell assessed President George W. Bush as “a mixed bag,” but “an honorable man.”

Sowell officially endorsed Ted Cruz for the presidency in a February article.

In the meantime, last month was the warmest February on record, and January was also the warmest on record. In fact:

800px-Global_Temperature_Anomaly.svg

But wait. That was last year’s chart. Here is the one for 2016.

Fig.A2-2016

If you are reading this, and you still want to talk to me about statistical significance, post a comment or send me an email.

Hearne’s infatuation with Judeo-Christian hegemony shows throughout. Everything admirable seems to be attributable to this mindset. According to Hearne, individual freedom was invented by Christianity:

It is evident in Huxley’s position on selective truth in Brave New World, that the 1994 History Standards are a perfect example of that selective truth. “Nowhere … will you find any mention of the fact that it was the Western tradition that first produced the idea of individual freedom. Nowhere will you find that it was in Christianity that the concept of individual freedom originated … you will find no acknowledgment of the fact that we have produced what no other country and tradition has,” said Professor Fox-Genovese to The Wall Street Journal. 82

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 1951-1956). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

All of which is in sharp contrast to known facts. Without benefit of Christianity, the North American Plains tribes had the concept of individual freedom well nailed down before Europeans ever rode over the horizon. Stephen E. Ambrose describes the maturation of Curly, who was to become Crazy Horse, the Sioux war leader who defeated George Armstrong Custer:

As a mature war leader, Curly would discover the full cost the Sioux had to pay for their individualism. The absence of compulsion, the freedom to do what one felt like doing, so long as no one got hurt, made the Sioux a woefully inefficient people.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2011-10-31). Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors (Kindle Edition) (Kindle Locations 1001-1002). PREMIER DIGITAL PUBLISHING. Kindle Edition.

Hearne makes, here and in multiple other places, such statements of fact completely without base and free of evidence. Throughout she harps on the need for fact-based education:

The classical education of seeking truth in an orderly way with chronologically historic facts including sequential mathematic exercises has been replaced. Fractured thinking and a smorgasbord of short snippets of literature and history without context, mathematics without logic, and science based on a political agenda instead of the scientific method are now the standard.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 460-466). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

In defiance of this advertised philosophy, Hearne’s narrative routinely pawns off whimsical fallacies as truth. Most egregious of these commissions is her reliance on biblical myth for truth:

In identifying the important areas of study, Common Core never seriously suggests the Bible. Thus, when the Bible is no longer examined as the standard for truth, man becomes the measure of all things, and the most powerful of men are the ultimate measure. Early American history is replete with the understandings that without God and the Bible, there is no fixed point of truth from which to judge and order society. Wisdom is only achieved by integrating the education of the mind with absolutes and a knowledge base and merging it with the transcendent values of the heart and soul starting with biblical truth.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 893-898). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Elsewhere in the book Hearne campaigns for reasonable, even logical, educational reforms. Her disregard for substance destroys any attempt she might make to convince a reasonable person. She is one of the varied definitions of Bat Shit Crazy.

Bat Shit Crazy

Sixth of a series

Politics-TheLongWarAndCommonCore

Readers may think I have to search far and wide to find material for these Bat Shit Crazy posts. Not at all. It turns out we have more Bat Shit Crazy right here in Texas than Bracken Cave has guano. Take, for example, State Senator Bob Hall, of Edgewood:

According to a noted authority, “Common Core is the latest effort by the progressive, autocratic elite bureaucrats to completely transfer all decisions concerning children from parents, teachers, and school boards to the Federal Government.”  Donna Hearne, author of The Long War and Common Corepoints out that the implementation of Common Core will completely transform America from a nation of responsible, moral, and independent human beings endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to robots and servants of the state.  In fact, under the direction of the chief players who wrote, promoted and schemed to sell Common Core Standards to the government, millions of our children will be subject to mandatory testing and invasive data collection at a level that is far more problematic and overreaching than is currently in place.  Under Obama’s plan, the federal government dictates the materials to be used in classroom instruction, participation is mandated, and states not implementing Common Core will lose federal dollars appropriated for the program.

What would Texans do if we did not have State Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood to alert us to dangers lurking in the nefarious mechanizations of the current administration? Why, we would be at the mercy of these “progressive, autocratic elite bureaucrats.” To be sure, a fate worse than death. A bit of background uncovers the rot at the base of the sinister menace that is Common Core:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational initiative in the United States that details what K–12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs or to enter the workforce.

The involvement of Barack Obama (the anti-Christ) is not immediately clear from the description posted on Wikipedia. A careless reader will get the idea that Common Core is the idea of the National Governors Association, along with the Council of Chief State School Officers. Some Skeptical Analysis is in order. A closer examination reveals the sad truth behind the NGA:

The National Governors Association (NGA) is an organization consisting of the governors of the states, territories and commonwealths of the United States. The NGA’s role is to act as a collective voice for governors on matters of national policy, as well as allowing governors to share best practices and coordinate inter-state initiatives. The organization was founded in 1908 as the National Governors’ Conference.

Yes, it would appear that shortly after the turn of the 20th century, scheming politicians were already laying the groundwork for Obama’s takeover. They must been aware back then about the coming of the anti-Christ.

Admittedly, all of this has failed to nail down the connection between Common Core and Obama’s plan for the federal government to dictate the materials to be used in classroom instruction. Perhaps additional reading from Wikipedia will clear the matter up:

In 2009, the NGA convened a group of people to work on developing the standards. This team included David Coleman, William McCallum of the University of Arizona, Phil Daro, and Student Achievement Partners founders Jason Zimba and Susan Pimentel to write standards in the areas of mathematics and literacy. Announced on June 1, 2009, the initiative’s stated purpose is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.” Additionally, “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers,” which should place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.

All right. That didn’t go far toward making the connection clear. Unless you are willing to read carefully between the lines, the foregoing will leave you with the impression this is a movement at the state level, leaving obscure any of Obama’s fingerprints. It may be necessary to draw from additional sources to get to the bottom of this. How about “Donna Hearne, author of The Long War and Common Core?” State Senator Bob Hall cites Hearne and her book as evidence “that the implementation of Common Core will completely transform America from a nation of responsible, moral, and independent human beings endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to robots and servants of the state.” That’s tall order for just one book, and what an amazing book it must be. My inspiration was to obtain a copy. And I did. Just a mouse click, and Amazon delivered a copy to me ($6 and tax) on my computer. Here’s a first glance:

We uncovered amazing documents unknown to parents who were connected with their schools, dedicated teachers and good competent administrators. This was the beginning of thirty-plus years of research, and in the 1990s, resulted in the publication of three straightforward books: The Dawning of the Brave New World; Sex, School and Politics; and Paychecks and Power written in an effort to awaken America’s families to the coming and ultimate collision of the individual and the state. The Long War & Common Core is birthed from these three works, along with a culmination of articles from Front Line, 1 a journal of current public policy information published by The Constitutional Coalition, and other resources.

Hearne, Donna H. (2015-08-03). The Long War & Common Core: Everything You Need to Know to Win the War (Kindle Locations 169-176). Freedom Basics Press. Kindle Edition.

Ouch! That is going to be interesting reading. Stand by, people. This is only 160 pages, and I will get on it, just as soon as I finish my review of Alan Turing: the Enigma.

Confession time. Search as I might, I was unable to locate the connection between Common Core and Obama’s evil plan for our nation’s school children. Perhaps revealing detail lies deep within Hearne’s 160 pages ($6 and tax). Maybe not.

And that’s all I have to offer today, folks. Try as I might, I keep stumbling across facts. After over seven years everybody still has their guns, satanists are not sacrificing babies in classrooms, and the President is still a Christian. All the rest is bat shit crazy.

Bat Shit Crazy

Third of a series

KathyMillerDonMcLeroyMSNBC

Cathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network and former SBOE char Don McLeroy

Here is absolutely good news for Texans and their children in public schools. Former teacher Mary Lou Bruner has obtained her party’s nomination for the office of State Board of Education (SBOE) District 9. The district includes the following counties: Anderson, Angelina, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Delta, Fannin, Franklin, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rockwall, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt, and Wood.

Regarding Bruner, her creds will take your breath away:

“Mary Lou Bruner’s genuine love for her students and respect for their parents as a classroom teacher make her imminently qualified to become a member of the State Board of Education. I hope my friends will join me in supporting Mary Lou Bruner for the Texas State Board of Education.”

~~ Cathie Adams, President of Eagle Forum & Former Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas

The world rejoices, and so will you. That is, if you are bat shit crazy:

Bruner

Yes, that appears to be a screen shot of candidate Mary Lou Bruner’s Facebook feed. As I am known for saying—actually I’m not known for saying it, but I should be—”There is crazy, and then there is bat shit crazy.” In Bruner we may have hit the mother lode. This vein can be mined for more. From The Gawker:

Just think about how much money the government has wasted educating the people about the government hoax which officials first called “Global Warming”. Government later changed the term to “Climate Change” because government lies or predictions did not come true, and the people were becoming very suspicious because the world wasn’t getting warmer. It was much easier to call the hoax “Climate Change” because with the new name, corrupt government officials and scientists could say every hurricane, tornado, flood, drought, snow storm, earthquake, tsunami, blizzard, and EVERYTHING that happened was caused by “Climate Change”. And a few people still believe them.


When the flood waters subsided and rushed to the oceans there was no vegetation on the earth because the earth had been covered with water. It took a while for grass and trees to grow back and the big plant-eating dinosaurs needed lots of vegetation to live. The dinosaurs on the ark may have been babies and not able to reproduce. It might make sense to take the small dinosaurs onto the ark instead of the ones bigger than a bus. After the flood, the few remaining Behemoths and Leviathans may have become extinct because there was not enough vegetation on earth for them to survive to reproductive age. Most of the dinosaur fossils which scientists have found are permanently preserved in positions of great distress as if they were trying to keep their heads above water or above the mud.


… The school shootings started after government removed the Ten Commandments and the Bible from public school buildings, and disallowed prayer at school and school events. The school shootings started after the schools started teaching evolution is an absolute fact and the classes cannot talk about weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution. The shootings started after the schools started teaching the Constitution of the USA is a flawed document written by selfish aristocrats who were only looking out for their own wealth, The school shootings started after the government started teaching children to feel sorry for themselves if they do not have as much as other children in the school….


Every parent of young children should hear this woman speak. Most parents do not know about the drawings of nude men, women, boys, and girls in some children’s books in our public schools. Many children’s books on the recommended list contain frank discussions about sexual issues which are inappropriate in my opinion. Many of the books which teachers read to your small children are not allowed in jails and prisons because of the bad effect the books have on the prisoners. These books stimulate children to experiment with sex. Please attend this meeting if you can.


Many people believe the Democrat Party had JFK killed because the socialists and Communists in the party did not want a conservative president. Remember who followed JFK as president — (LBJ). the exact opposite of Kennedy — a socialist and an unethical politician. It does seem like this might have been the master plan: They sneaked the bad guy (LBJ)into the administration on the coat-tail of a good guy (JFK). Then they got rid of the good guy; in the end, they got a socialist president which is what they originally wanted.


It is a goal of United Nation’s agenda 21 and the One World Order to reduce the population of the world by 2/3. That should cause people to wake up because to reduce the population more people have to die than are born. At some point it could mean that one of these methods of depopulation are in the Global plan: World War III, mass faminine, mass disease epidemic or pandemic, or Nuclear Bomb.

People, are you listening?


The Muslims use our own First Amendment against us. Islam is not a religion. Islam is an inhumane totalitarian political ideology with radical religious rules and laws and barbaric punishments for breaking the religious rules.

If Islam is a religion it is a cult religion. A group that forces people to join or die is not a real religion. A group that kills people who try to leave the group is not a real religion. A group that disfigures, dismembers, or mutilates bodies as punishment is not a real religion. A group that practices child sexual abuse or forced marriages of small girls to adult men is not a real religion.

The USA should ban Islam and stop all immigration. from Muslim countries because Islam’s stated goal is to conquer the USA and kill the infidels (nonbelievers).


If you had any doubts about the motivation of the Muslim “clock boy” who made a “clock” using the blueprint of a time bomb, then brought the “clock” to school — possibly this story will help you understand what inspired him.

Was this a “set-up” for the school? Was this an evil scheme to give the Muslim boy an opportunity to claim he was “profiled” because he is a Muslim?

This boy was given a full scholarship and he chose to attend a Muslim school.

Could Obama have been complicit in the scheme from the beginning? Just askin’!!!!!


FB is only partially shut down here. Sometimes my posts are not posted at all. Sometimes the posts are published, but not immediately. Yesterday, I wrote an opinion about education. Several hours had gone by and my comments still had not appeared. I thought the post was not going to be published so I wrote another short post on the topic. Then the first opinion magically appeared. Both posts have been published on my page – at least for now.

When you get on Obama’s Terrorist List you get monitored closely and sometimes even censored. I asked Sheriff Smith if my name was on the Terrorist List. He laughed and said he hadn’t seen it yet.


 

NO, NO, NO. Don’t tell us the The Supremes have spoken and the gay marriage issue is over. We are not moving on.

WE MUST CHANGE THE THINGS WE CANNOT ACCEPT. WE CANNOT ACCEPT UNCONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULINGS WHICH DESTROY FREEDOM OF RELIGION PROTECTED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT. WE CANNOT ACCEPT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STOMPING ON STATES’ RIGHTS. WE CANNOT ACCEPT THE DESTRUCTION OF TRADITIONS WHCH ARE THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD AND THE BEDROCK OF OUR SOCIETY. WE CANNOT ACCEPT A COURT RULING THAT SAYS IMMORALITY IS JUST AS APPROPRIATE AS MORALITY. WE CANNOT ACCEPT THE COURT RULING WHICH SAYS GAY MARRIAGE IS LEGAL IN ALL 50 STATES REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE STATE LAWS SAY. WE CANNOT ACCEPT 9 UNELECTED JUDGES TAKING IT UPON THEMSELVES TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION ALL BY THEMSELVES, OVER-RULING THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.

Does anybody out there know a better way to spell bat-shit-crazy? Attach your comments below.

Bruner is running for the SBOE post to replace Thomas Ratliff, who seems to have tired of the Board’s clown atmosphere and declined to run for another term.

My previous experience with the SBOE has been, while shallow, exasperating:

And it was certain that Texas Governor Rick Perry knew exactly what he was getting when he nominated Cargill as chairwoman. I get the idea that Cargill was not the governor’s first choice:

One would have thought that maintaining our lead to the bottom would involve keeping Dr. McLeroy in his place on the Board. You would have been right in the first respect, but you would be wrong if you thought the Texas Senate was suited up for the game. Possibly state politicians got tired of answering embarrassing questions and of seeing national and world publications mention our state with the hint of a sneer. In any event, Governor Rick Perry reappointed McLeroy as chairman of the Board (way to go, Guv), but the Senate, dominated by Perry’s own party, rejected the nomination. Sic transit Gloria. Worse yet, the Senate rejected Perry’s nomination of notorious creationist Gail Lowe to replace McLeroy as chairman. What can you do with a government like this?

People, we are preparing for another round of bat shit crazy at the SBOE. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

HairDryer

Below is a problem from one of the physics textbooks I reviewed two years ago.

  1. A hair dryer and a curling iron have resistances of 15 Ω and 25 Ω, respectively, and are connected in parallel. They are connected to a 60 V battery. Calculate the:
    1. current through the circuit.
    2. power used by the hair dryer.
    3. power used by the curling iron.

I insisted the problem be reworded. What’s wrong with this problem?

Submit your answer as a comment below. I will provide the answer by Friday if nobody has submitted a correct answer by then.

Solution

Mike has hit upon the obvious answer. This problem does not make sense. You do not run a hair dryer off a battery. A hair dryer has an AC motor, and requires an AC power source. The authors of this book are not practical physicists or engineers.

This recalls an issue encountered by physicist Richard Feynman. He took on the job of reviewing physics books for California 50 or 60 years ago. One problem assigned to students in a book went like this:

There are three stars. One has a surface temperature of 5000, another 6000, and another 7000 (Kelvin). What is the sum of the temperatures?

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

SellGold

A previous Quiz Question went like this:

The problem is stated:

A scam artist hopes to make a profit by buying and selling gold at different altitudes for the same price per weight. Should the scam artist buy or sell at a higher altitude? Explain.

The concept being studied here is the variation of gravitational attraction with respect to distance from the center of the Earth. Don’t solve the problem. It really is quite simple. Instead, answer the Quiz Question of the week:

What’s wrong with this problem?

The answer is that gold is weighed using a balance scale, and gravity would not have any effect. Suppose the Federal Reserve banks did use a spring scale to weigh the gold. Suppose a crook figured to purchase gold at one altitude and sell it at another. Would this work?

Why?

Post your answer as a comment below. I will provide the answer Friday if nobody supplies the correct answer by then.

Update

The answer is that a scam artist could, in principle, make money by purchasing gold in Denver and selling it in San Francisco, provided the gold is weighed using a spring scale. A spring scale does not balance the gold against another object, so gravity will have an effect.

Fortunately, gravity is not the only factor working. There is also buoyancy due to the density of the air.

Here are the critical numbers:

Gravity – San Francisco = 32.174, Denver = 32.159

Density of air – San Francisco = 23.77, Denver = 20.48

These density figures are not in in g/cc, so converting them gives:

Density of air – San Francisco = 0.001225, Denver = 0.001056

The effect of gravitational difference would be 0.0004662 of the weight of the gold. This would show up on a spring balance.

The density of gold is about 19 grams per cubic centimeter. This means that the change in buoyancy will be 0.000008895 the weight of the gold.

Even accounting for air buoyancy, gravity still wins out. A scammer could buy low in Denver and sell low in San Francisco.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

View the image below. It’s a scan from a high school text book.

SellGold

The problem is stated:

A scam artist hopes to make a profit by buying and selling gold at different altitudes for the same price per weight. Should the scam artist buy or sell at a higher altitude? Explain.

The concept being studied here is the variation of gravitational attraction with respect to distance from the center of the Earth. Don’t solve the problem. It really is quite simple. Instead, answer the Quiz Question of the week:

What’s wrong with this problem?

As always, post your answers as comments in the section below. If there are no correct answers by Friday I will post the solution then.

Update

A correct answer has been submitted. See the comments below. You don’t weigh gold and other precious stuff with a spring scale. You use a balance scale, which is not affected by gravity. That’s what’s wrong with this physics problem.

There’s more

Yes, that’s not all that’s wrong. the change in gravity is dwarfed by the change in density of the air. A bar of gold being weighed is buoyed up by the surrounding air. It will weigh less at the San Francisco bank than it would at the Denver bank. If you employ a spring scale. What if you use a balance scale? How will atmospheric density affect the measurement if you use a balance scale?

Wacko Mountain High

Mother and Son

With apologies to John Denver.

Colorado is known for high peaks and another manner of high. It would appear that wacko has also reached heights in the mountain state:

Controversy swirled around Williams, Witt and Newkirk almost as soon as they were elected in 2013. The county’s well-regarded, longtime superintendent resigned, saying she could not work for the conservative majority.

The conflict that drew national attention to the growing disputes came last fall, when Newkirk, Witt and Williams indicated that they wanted to “review” the content of the AP U.S. history course taught in county high schools because it failed to promote patriotism.

Williams, Witt and Newkirk are Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. The three obtained seats on the Jefferson County school board in the 2013 election with a platform aimed at a “expanding school choice and increasing transparency.” Samantha Lachman, writing for the Huffington Post relates the particulars:

The pro-recall and anti-recall sides weren’t necessarily divided along partisan lines, as Democrats who wanted to protect funding for charter schools campaigned against the recall and Republicans who resented the new board members’ tactics campaigned for it.

Charter schools have traditionally been a politically conservative notion, espoused by Republican candidates. These schools are operated by private concerns, using funds that would otherwise go to public schools. They divorce themselves from government mandates and offer more flexibility in hiring and firing teachers, since it is difficult for the unions to penetrate these corporate-held concerns. Defenders of public education object to these schools, as they take money from the public sector without taking many of the responsibilities burdened by public schools.

Although not always practiced, the principle of charter schools has the potential of providing a gift to wealthy parents at public expense. It would be possible, under suitable arrangement, for a parent of means to game the system. Tuition at a private school could, for example, be $10,000. A parent may be able to only afford $5000. This parent could combine the his $5000 with the $5000 public grant to the private (charter) school and enroll his child. A parent who is unable to come up with the additional $5000 would be cut out of the program, and his child would have to attend the public school as before.

Without the burden of accepting all applicants, charter schools have the benefit of claiming higher graduation rates and higher scores on standard tests. Likewise with discipline problems. It is more difficult to remove a problem student from a public schools.

Politicians advocating elimination of public education in this country invoke charter schools and school vouchers as a move in that direction. In the 2010 elections David Harmer ran for Congress to represent California District 11. He lost. He was an acknowledged Tea Party candidate, and he had this to say:

So long as the state Constitution mandates free public schools, a voucher system (or refundable tuition tax credit) is the best we can do. To attain quantum leaps in educational quality and opportunity, however, we need to separate school and state entirely. Government should exit the business of running and funding schools.

Privatization of education was not the only issue in Jefferson County. The school district had incorporated social studies material objectionable to conservative elements:

At issue are changes to the Advanced Placement history course, one of the academically rigorous classes high school students across the country take in hopes of earning college credit and impressing admissions officers at selective schools. Last year, nearly 440,000 students took the AP history exam, one of the most popular AP tests offered.

The College Board, which administers exams to students upon the completion of AP courses, has revised the history curriculum in ways that have angered conservatives, who say it paints a darker picture of the country’s heritage and undervalues concepts such as “American exceptionalism.”

My take is these conservative elements want school curricula to be a cheerleader for their rosy picture of American history and culture. The unfortunate fact is that study material is typically prepared by academics who have made these issues their life’s work and tend to be dispassionate to an unacceptable extent. That said, there were some sticking points:

The College Board administers the course and other AP classes, which are meant to prepare students for college and give them a chance at earning college credit. It says the framework — an outline of the course built around themes like “politics and power” and “environment and geography” — isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of everything to be studied, and teachers are always free to add material required by their states.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t mentioned in the framework, but the Black Panthers are. The College Board’s instructions about the new framework say teachers know to include King but asked for help with less obvious examples of people and events to discuss around some of the themes.

But besides who is mentioned and who isn’t, veteran history teacher Larry Krieger, of Montgomery, New Jersey, faults the framework for having a global, revisionist view. He said it depicts the U.S. as going from conquering Native Americans to becoming an imperial power, while downplaying examples of cooperation and unity.

That item was published a year ago, and the edition available this fall incorporates changes to the College Board curriculum framework. Martin Luther King is now mentioned twice and the Black Panthers not at all:

During and after World War II, civil rights activists and leaders, most notably Martin Luther King Jr., combatted racial discrimination utilizing a variety of strategies, including legal challenges, direct action, and nonviolent protest tactics.

[Page 79]

A copy of the current edition is available from me on request. It exceeds the limit I can upload.

The successful move to recall the conservative members of the school board pitted grass roots activists against moneyed conservative forces. The Koch Brothers, through their Americans for Prosperity, threw their support behind the three board members, and an estimated $1 million was spent by both sides combined. The recall movement spent about $277,000.

As I have noted in times past, other places do not have a lock on wacko. The last time I looked, Texas was number one. But things can change.

That in mind, Colorado may be siphoning from the Texas play book:

This year the Texas State Board of Education is reviewing social texts for adoption. Texts approved by the SBOE will be available for use in Texas public schools starting fall of next year. The TFN funded a scholastic review of texts submitted for approval. Their press release links to the results of that review. Here are the core findings:

  • A number of government and world history textbooks exaggerate Judeo–‐Christian influence on the nation’s founding and Western political tradition.
  • Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional concept of the separation of church and state.
  • Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.
  • All of the world geography textbooks inaccurately downplay the role that conquest played in the spread of Christianity.
  • Several world geography and history textbooks suffer from an incomplete – and often inaccurate – account of religions other than Christianity.Coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often due to the assumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with Christian events and doctrine.
  • A few government and U.S. history textbooks suffer from an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system, both by ignoring legitimate problems that exist in capitalism and failing to include coverage of government’s role in the U.S. economic system.
  • One government textbook flirts with contemporary Tea Party ideology, particularly regarding the inclusion of anti–‐taxation and anti–‐regulation arguments.
  • One world history textbook includes outdated – and possibly offensive – anthropological categories and racial terminology in describing African civilizations.
  • A number of U.S. history textbooks evidence a general lack of attention to Native American peoples and culture and occasionally include biased or misleading information.
  • One government textbook (Pearson) includes a biased – verging on offensive – treatment of affirmative action.
  • Most U.S. history textbooks do a poor job of covering the history of LGBT citizens in discussions of efforts to achieve civil rights in this country.
  • Elements of the Texas curriculum standards give undue legitimacy to neo–‐Confederate arguments about “states’ rights” and the legacy of slavery in the South. While most publishers avoid problems with these issues, passages in a few U.S. history and government textbooks give a nod to these misleading arguments.

Full disclosure: I give money to the Texas Freedom Network. You should, too.

Coming up later: the return of Texas wacko. We can only hope.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Hawks For Christ

aron_ra

I first ran into Aron Ra at the Texas school book hearings two years ago. He was among those stepping up to comment on the ongoing textbook foolishness. His YouTube channel is a well-crafted source of comment on religion and its fits of folly. He recently posted on rampant dysfunction in rural Texas schools:

Amber Barnhill recently moved her kids to a small south eastern Texas town called the city of China. There she found out what Lilandra and I have been complaining about for so long. All the local schools push their Christian religion. They do it overtly, during school hours, and as part of all curricular activities. They put crosses everywhere, promote prayer in every activity, and even have the elder students preaching to the younger ones as part of their daily morning assembly. There the students are required to learn and rehearse Bible verses. Welcome back to the dark ages.

So Amber complained to the school, and her complaint was largely ignored. Worse though, she got a lot of hate on social media, as you might expect; including quite a lot of threats from religious reactionaries who seemed as though they wanted to lynch her. None of these religious reactionaries had any idea what the issue even is. The zealots imposing their religion in public schools never understand that they’re even doing anything wrong. They think they’re being oppressed or attacked if they’re disallowed from indoctrinating everyone else’s kids. And it doesn’t help that all the kids in town have already been indoctrinated. Because they don’t understand what the problem is either, and and secular government requirement will invariably be seen as some sort of victimization, which feeds right into the typical Christian persecution complex. People like this never seem to understand the necessity of secular government until or unless they have to give fair consideration to Muslims. Then suddenly the Christians leap over to my side of the political spectrum, demanding separation of church and state just as I do. Hypocrites.

Aron, real name L. Aron Nelson, has posted two relevant clips on his channel, and a viewing is enlightening. The first is from a presentation on separation of church and state, and it features Amber Barnhill’s story. Of interest is the collection of graphics Aron has pasted into the clip. Many are screen shots from Facebook postings, apparently postings by local people. I will show some of the clippings and comment on a few. Watch the video for the complete story:

Apparently this is a typical school-sponsored activity in China, Texas.

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Hawks For Christ is promoted by the school.

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Religion, particularly the Christian sect, seems to be promoted to the exclusion of all others.

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The reason for drilling in on the interviewee’s distinctive hand marking is not clear.

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Many of the Facebook postings are worth archiving. I will post the text to make it easier for search engines to find.

Brandi time to get the pitch forks out lol

Tina besides pitch forks are so out dated, I would rather use my AR 15.

HawksForChrist-05

Just better leave us country folks alone! what happins when you mess with fire, of course you get burned, what happins when you mess with setx christians? you burn at the end of my rope! just leave us country folks alone!!!!!!!!!!!

I may have miscounted the exclamation remarks, but I did not miscount the failings in English grammar. Some people in China, Texas, have not suffered the benefits of an elementary school education.

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I say we go protest in barnhills front yard

4 hours ago via mobile

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Jacob Boudreaux Lol whoever it was that tried to bring Kountze cheerleaders to court ended up settling outside of court… so yes, the Kountze cheerleaders won… and our great Governor just signed the Merry Christmas bill… I think its about time all democrats evacuate Texas… I don’t understand why democrats and atheists and others want to come to a Christian Conservative state like Texas and then try to change it… it will never happen, Texas will forever remain Texas, and if it changes, the end will soon follow.

Jacob Boudreaux does not understand why Democrats and atheists want to come to Texas? Maybe most of them were born and raised in Texas. Like in small town Texas. Even a town smaller than China, Texas.

We may never know why “if it changes, the end will soon follow.”

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These people that complain about prayer in school should be sent to live in a 3rd world country that wasn’t founded on fundamental Christian beliefs. I don’t recall any children being hurt or winding up

In prisonn from too much prayer!! Just saying…

#countryisgoingdownthetoilet

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It’s past time for people to stand up to those who hate God! We are a Christian nation–they can just get over it!

Passing over for the moment the fact that many protesting what the local government is doing are people of faith, mostly Christians.

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Who was it that complained? Someone of someone know who it is!!!! PLEASE,,, OH PLEASE,,, Place there name here on FACEBOOK!!! That way we know who and what the problem is!!!

By removing the book is DISCRIMINATION against my beliefs!!! Mr. Holmes needs to return the books before he has a bigger problem in his hands!!!

Often times a single exclamation mark will not do. Apparently neither will an elementary school education.

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1 Atheist parent has contacted Freedom FROM Religion Foundation and sent photos of my kid’s book fair at school of books containing the words “God’, “prayer”, etc etc. The group contacted the superintendent, he went to the school late at night and pulled books off the library shelves. contacted the principle, and instructed her to continue in pulling of books.

This parent has communicated that she wants her child to have the right to choose what he/she believes when she is in fact the one taking that right away from him/her.

SLE PARENTS: Your book fair is next week and you should all know that all books containing anything religious have already been pulled. However, I’m sure you will have an abundance of books with tales of witchcraft, ghosts, demons, zombies, violence, sex, and evolution.

Skipping over “principle” versus “principal,” let’s go to books about witchcraft, ghosts, demons, zombies, violence, sex, and evolution. That would sound a lot like the Bible. Except for the part about evolution, of which the Bible remains clueless.

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Little Blessings Thanks to all of you who purchased the FCA/HFC t-shirts. YOU made FOF possible! Come out and Let Your Light Shine For All The World To See….

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China Elementary science teacher

September 29, 2014 Beaumont, TX

Hawks for Christ at CE is meeting at 7:30 in the morning in the gym. It’s going to be an exciting time. Be looking for further information in the next week on the positive things God is doing in HFC. God is doing a mighty work through something that was intended to harm. Continue to support your students as they exercise their right to worship!

But no weapon that is used against you will succeed. People might bring charges against you. But you will prove that they are wrong. Those are the things I do for my servants. I make everything right for them,” announces the Lord.—Isaiah 54:17

Great verse to remember as we prepare for FOF. The enemy has and will continue to attack, but the battle is already won. May we stand firm as we act accordingly to bring God glory!

Like · Comment In a private HFC group for “students and parents”

 

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The FFRF is a group of radical uneducated hate mongering fools that is no different than the west bureau Baptist church. Piss on them and tell them I said it!

Like · Reply September 29 at 9:07 pm

I hope this writer meant so say “Westboro Baptist Church” and not what he actually said.

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This is a two-part snip. The scene is from Aron’s video, showing the FFRF panel presentation.

Freedom from religion can file a lot off lawsuits in HE–.

I presume that would be “lawsuits in HELL.”

These people go under the word atheists but they are communist! Christians had better start standing up against the devil before it is to late ! GOD BLESS AMERICA

 

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Dawn Hardt This is the first I’ve heard of this & my kids all go to HJISD schools. It seems strange that this request was immediately fulfilled. That Atheist must have some pull!

March 19 at 7:46 pm

Atheists or not, whoever seems to be challenging school policy that promotes religion has powerful pull. That pull would be the Constitution of the United States. The First Amendment clearly prohibits using government power for promoting religion. Apparently the administration of this school district is violating the law. There aren’t many ways around the consequences.

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This item from Kelly was possibly directed toward Amber Barnhill, but I was unable to confirm she is the same Amber Barnhill who has this business in nearby Beaumont, Texas.

I hope your business has suffered for the anti-Christian thing you did.

2 hours ago near Aledo, TX

Aledo is hundreds of miles from China, Texas. In fact, it is next door to where I was raised, and it’s the home of gonzo historian David Barton.

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Wow just wow … Wth people really this is BS . I would not allow just a hand full of devils to change my schools beliefs … All these foreigners and atheists can go jump on the nearest boat out of America… Pfft

Let me see if I have this straight. Government officials set themselves out to violate the law, and some people complain. And the ones who complain are called devils and not the people breaking the law.

Regarding foreigners and atheists, that would include me, born in Texas. Father born in Texas. His father born in Texas. My great grandmother born in Texas about the time Texas became independent from Mexico. I need to go back to where I came from?

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CHRISTIANS UNITE…these haters are the MINORITY and BULLIES!!!

“Haters” seems to be word loosely bandied about. It’s becoming apparent from the language of these posts who is doing the bullying.

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Take ur urself and ur kids to a muslim school r better yet country …i bet u wont do that eigther u just want to be o tv…if i were the teacher i would say im sorry for a prayer …

I’m thinking this one does not require additional comment.

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Its a prayer in school, if ya dont want to pray then dont, simple as f*** , ya dont wanna see a cross then dont look at it, simple as f***, its as much a right for believers to do it ANYWHERE as it is non believers ANYWHERE, fckin jackasses

Allow me to pause a moment. I’m temporarily overcome by the blessings of Christian love.

HawksForChrist-25

Since your letterhead states you are from Madison, WI..Maybe you should mind your own business their in Wisconsin. My Ma always said, “you dont go spoiling for a fight, but if a fight is brought to your doorstep then I reckon you better handle it.” I dont really think Texas is where you want to bring the fight..just my opinion..

Once again, I’m from Texas, and I’m staying. You’re going to hear more from me until you decide to get your affairs in order.

HawksForChrist-26

Bla bla bla, You are insane just like your fellow atheist kind, if we had MORE religion not less, our world would have better morals, we would grow up with less selfishness and be kinder to others, we wouldn’t be bullying or being oppressors, you are trying to make this a big issue out of this, otherwise you would have just complained to the school. You are a bully !

No further comment.

HawksForChrist-27

I’m just finishing a Bible Study by MaryJo Sharp called “Why Do You Believe That?” It has been an incredible study as I’ve been faced with personal attacks and also seen the attacks on our schools in this study, there is a page dedicated to engaging in conversation with an FFRF member. One of the main points is as follows: “By touting the terms ‘separation of church and state’ the FFRF has missed the broader underlying philosophical issue, which is about the state imposing a particular worldview on the citizen. By definition, atheism is a world view, as is every other religion. The state cannot enforce the practice of atheism or even enforce the practice of the appearance of an atheistic state according to the establishment and the exercise clauses of the U.S. constitution.” I find this point extremely important to us as Christians. We must be able to converse in love with opposing viewpoints in order to point them to the Truth of Christ. I pray God gives us courage to stand firm, converse in love, and present Truth even to people who attack us. We must gain knowledge in what we believe in order to confront opposition. As we continue to pray for this atheist group, may we also pray for opportunities to share Christ in ways that show the fallacies of this group’s beliefs. May Christians join together and stand for what is right. Our Constitution states we have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. May God receive the glory as we represent His Truth!

October 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I have transcribed the foregoing to the best of my abilities, and the transcription is exact. I have left in place the notable language oddities.

Beth wants to tell us that FFRF has missed the broader philosophical issue. What Beth has done is to miss the even broader issue. That broader issue is a government entity is in violation of the law, and the violations need to stop. Officials of this school district are using tax money, collected from taxpayers under force of law, said law backed up by the power of the United States Government, and using that tax money to promote a narrow religious doctrine. This is something that was made illegal over 200 years ago. Some people have yet to figure this out.

To belabor the point, religion is not being opposed here. What is being opposed is the illegal activity of taking people’s tax money and using it to promote religion.

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Enough is enough. This is a small community, small school that is overwhelmingly Christian. I refuse for one person’s right to believe or not believe to overshadow my child’s right to read which books she chooses.

The only people that stand up for anything lately are those wanting handouts and those that have zero faith, morals, or beliefs. We are on a very slippery slope of standing by and watching God taken away, please use your time to contact these groups and simply ask to be represented, instead of complaining and arguing online. It only takes a few mins for your voice to be heard. I’m doing it right now.

Repeating myself, people with “zero faith, morals, or beliefs?” Shall we talk about people shedding their morals as they subvert the law and use tax money to promote a particular religion?

Speaking of small school schools and a small community. Dover, Pennsylvania, is a small community, and the Dover Area School District is a small district. The illegal activities of that school board cost the tax payers over a million dollars in court expenses in a case decided ten years ago.

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With Connie Perkins and 34 others

OK not much really hacks me off but here it is….Hardin Jefferson ISD is in trouble again with one, count them, one, athiest parent that has caused a stink in the library. All Christian books, Easter, Christmas, any that mention God, Jesus, prayer, ANYTHING Christian, must be pulled off the shelves. The book fair books were also pulled. We need y’all on board to stop this!!!

Yeah, I’ll let this one slide. I’m leaving the language failures as I found them. Better is to come.

HawksForChrist-32

And my response to Barnhill is “you leesboe Kayunt, you can suck my fat, hairy, awrse if you don’t like it…..” The United States of America was founded on Christian principles but the framers of our Constitution had good sense to forbid the creation of State Church to avoid religious squabbles that plagued England since the time of the protestant deformation. So I would expect to hearing references to Jesus Christ and other Christian terminology in our American society during my lifetime and not going to have a stroke every time someone invokes the name of the Second Person the Most Blessed Trinity.

Again, overwhelmed by the love of Christ, I’m going to allow the language failures to lie as they fell.

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Jealous???.because God is blessing our district and protecting OUR KIDS!! Leave us alone! You have barked up the wrong tree!!! This community will come at you fully loaded and ready to battle!! Back off!! We’ve done NOTHING for you to come and get in our kids business!!!!! These kids chime to this school because the WANT to. No-one forced them to live here and attend this particular school. back off!!!####

What particularly strikes me about this is that nobody forced the kids to live in the school district. That is hot stuff! When I was a kid nobody, but no body, asked me where I wanted to live.

HawksForChrist-34

Jacob Boudreaux If you do reward them, that proves what kind of person you are… God does love us unconditionally, and he wants us to want him, we have our whole lives to do so, but if you do not chose him, he will not chose you… why would he bring you to Heaven when you did not earn your spot???? Instead, you earned a spot in Hell, so that’s where he sends you

Verbatim

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Here’s a view of the treaty between our new nation and a Muslim government.

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Laws who cares about laws our president breaks them every day. If you don’t believe in God then I will buy you a ticket to Iraq. Have fun with that.

September 28 at 10:12 pm

Maybe I should take this person up on his offer. Problem, it’s likely not a serious offer.

HawksForChrist-39

I am offended by the belief systems of these atheists. They attempt to dictate what can or can’t be said all the time now. Go make your own worthless school.

The short answer to this note is that it’s not atheists calling the shots. It’s the laws of this country that this person has issue with. Regarding an atheist school, we already have one. It’s called The United States Military Academy at West Point. Religion is not taught there.

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I grew up in & attended that district & it fires me up to see someone come along & write some stupid pointless article about how illegal it is for them to do what they’ve been doing for years. I graduated from high school close to 10 years ago. I attended Hawks for Christ several times, you don’t like that they’re doing this stuff, then go jump in a damn lake you worthless bigot.

Been doing it for years? The longer you get away with a crime the less a crime it becomes?

HawksForChrist-41

Get out our country if offended go where women can’t do anything but clean and prostitue.

22 hours ago via mobile

Sorry, I had to leave the text exactly as it was written.

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My daughter and her friends showing their school pride at HMS today! Feeling proud!

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I don’t know of any school group that isn’t headed by teachers. You can’t trust kids. Look what happened when god gave people free will. He had to drown everyone, lets not drown high school kids.

HawksForChrist-44

And that was so much with that.

Amber Barnhill has described how her experience with the school system destroyed her allegiance with Christianity:

Channel 12 first met Barnhill when she objected to officially mandated Christian prayers at her son’s public school pre-kindergarten class. In the wake of that news segment, Barnhill said she was the object of an outpouring of rage and abuse, including death threats.

The nastiness of the response, she said, contributed to her loss of faith in religion.

“That’s not why I lost my faith in God,” Barnhill said. “But it did have a huge impact on how quickly that happened.”

Barnhill said that she was raised in a strict, fundamentalist Christian home and graduated from seminary school. She has written an essay, “A Christian who Wasn’t Cross,” to document the evolution of her beliefs.

She told Channel 12, however, that her stance isn’t so much against religion as against children being forced to choose faith over secularism.

In case the point has been missed, it’s not only non-believes who object to school systems that violate the law. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists, as well have heartburn with these practices.

I have not viewed Aron’s second clip. Here’s a link to it.

China, Texas, is the face of a larger problem, and not just in Texas:

Meanwhile, as pseudo-Christians in China attack atheists for not wanting their child to be indoctrinated in her school, in Katy, Texas, the school board dealt with a controversy. Well, it was a controversy for the Fundie crowd.

It seems that 7th-grader Jordan Wooley accused her teacher of making her “choose between her grades and her faith” during a lesson in critical thinking. The lesson asked students to state whether a subject was fact, opinion, or a commonplace assertion. When Wooley was asked which category God fit into, she answered “fact.” She was informed that was incorrect, that God is a commonplace assertion.

The above discussion of social media posts contains references to Kountze Independent School District in Texas:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the same group that requested Kountze ISD prohibit Scripture banners from high school football games. That case is still winding its way through state courts. In the meantime, the cheerleaders are still using the Bible banners at football games.

Much is said in this about my religious liberty. I don’t feel my person religious liberty is being violated, since I am not one of those being indoctrinated at public expense. It’s more as though my pocket is being picked when public officials take money intended for one purpose and spend it to promote their personal agenda. Somewhere one of the Ten Commandments is being violated.

There are generally no laws dictating that government entities avoid promoting religion. Whenever a case comes up the recourse for plaintiffs is to file civil action. Nobody gets arrested. Nobody goes to jail. It’s the taxpayers who take it on the chin when loose-thinking officials ignore the law. We have the voters to thank for putting such people into positions of trust.

There will be more to come. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

 

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

This is a different kind of question. This time the requirement is not to provide the correct answer. Readers are asked to supply an answer that is not demonstrably wrong. This may be a case of providing the best answer. Here is the question, and it is one you might expect to encounter in a high school class:

Name the first English settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

Answer

Could be any number of English settlements from London on west. The 0 meridian runs through the east edge of London, so London is properly in the Western Hemisphere. When asked this question I always answer Birmingham, because it is solidly inside the Western Hemisphere, and I am dead sure it was settled before Jamestown and all the others.

Doctor Haw Haw

Former SBOE Chair Don McLeroy

Former SBOE Chair Don McLeroy

We have seen former Texas State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy before:

The big deal was the Texas State Board of Education had hearings on Tuesday, taking comments from citizens. School texts for the 2014 year are up for adoption, and I previously participated in the review process. On Tuesday I took my turn telling the Board what was wrong with the process. I could have just kept my seat. I was in the company of professionals.

Kathy Miller heads up the TFN and was there, of course. Zack Kopplin was there. He’s moved from Louisiana and now lives in Texas. Their loss, our gain. Also Josh Rosenau. And that was not the entire team present standing up for Texas science. On Tuesday the SBOE suffered a severe indictment for its political mechanizations directed at the school curriculum.

Did I forget to mention creationists were there, as well? Don McLeroy, former SBOE spoke, giving living proof that dinosaurs have not gone extinct.

What, then, is Don McLeroy of Bryan, Texas, up to these days? The Texas Freedom Network is glad to provide the answer. TFN blogger Jose posted the following:

Former Texas State Board of Education chair Don McLeroy isn’t done distorting history.

While McLeroy was on the board in 2010, he and his colleagues gave Texas schools new social studies curriculum standards that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War. Now, as a former SBOE member, he’s rewriting the role he and other board members played in writing those pretty much universally panned standards on which history textbooks for millions of Texas schoolchildren are based.

Jose is unkind enough to post a video clip. It shows TFN’s Kathy Miller and Don McLeroy in an interview on MSNBC.

KathyMillerDonMcLeroyMSNBC

A look at the video will be enlightening. Jose mentions that under McLeroy’s stewardship in 2010 the SBOE adopted standards “that downplay the primary role slavery played in the Civil War.” At the time the Christian Science Monitor noted changes promoted by conservative board members:

Among the changes: Students would be required to learn about the “unintended consequences” of Title IX, affirmative action, and the Great Society, and would need to study conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority.

The slave trade would be renamed the “Atlantic triangular trade,” American “imperialism” changed to “expansionism,” and all references to “capitalism” have been replaced with “free enterprise.”

The trailer for The Revisionaries, a documentary about the subject, shows McLeroy being interviewed by reporters. He says:

… we want to make sure our children are taught good, solid American history, and I think we’re in step with most of the majority of Americans.”

DonMcLeroyRevisionists

Jose provides additional narration from the MSNBC interview:

On the causes of the Civil War, McLeroy says the board “never really discussed that very much.” He actually makes that claim twice in the “Ed Show” clip. Coincidentally, that’s how many times the board discussed (at length) the causes of the Civil War in just one day — May 20, 2010.

Unfortunately for McLeroy, he is mistaken about “never really discussed that very much.” Jose has posted a video clip, apparently from 20 May 2010. You will need to be running RealPlayer to watch, but Jose provides a transcript of the pertinent parts:

Thankfully, there’s video of that day. At just after the 9:30 mark of this clip, SBOE member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, says this:

“Yes, this is historically correct. Sectionalism, states’ rights were the real issues behind the Civl War. Slavery was an after-issue. It was part of the reason for the sectionalism and the states’ rights deciding whether or not they could have slaves moving to the other states, etc. But the real issue that the South broke away was because they wanted to have the right to say that they could do that and that sectionalism was the idea of moving slaves to other sections of the territories. So those were the real reasons for the Civl War. That’s why they would have those first. Slavery came about as a side issue to the Civil War. And, so it’s not the reason for the Civil War. It was not slavery.”

And in this clip from the same day (at the 4:21:00 mark), board member Lawrence Allen, D-Houston, moves to change a standard in the eighth-grade U.S. history course to emphasize slavery as the cause of the war. Following debate, Allen’s motion is promptly voted down.

McLeroy, who is a practicing dentist when not campaigning for conservative interpretations of social studies and even science, is apparently not gone from the picture:

Governor Perry reappointed McLeroy, an advocate of creationism, as chairman to a second extend until February 1, 2011, but on May 28, 2009, the Texas Senate rejected the re-appointment; although the vote was 19-11 in favor with one member abstaining (along party lines; all 19 Senate members voting to reappoint were Republicans, while all 11 Senate members voting to reject and the one abstaining member were Democrats) the reappointment required a 2/3 majority for approval. McLeroy lost re-election to a moderate in the Republican primary in March 2010.

McLeroy was narrowly defeated for renomination to the SBOE in the Republican primary held on March 2, 2010. He lost to Moderate RepublicanRobert Thomas Ratliff (born c. 1967), then of Kyle in Hays County, a son of former State Senator and Lieutenant GovernorBill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant. McLeroy received 57,528 votes (49.6 percent) to Ratliff’s 58,388 (50.4 percent). McLeroy’s tenure on the SBOE is chronicled in the 2012 documentary The Revisionaries.

On a side note: William Joyce was from Brooklyn, New York, but his family moved back to Galway, Ireland. A Nazi sympathizer, Joyce moved to Germany in August 1939, shortly before the beginning of hostilities between England and Germany. He became a naturalized German citizen, and during the war he broadcast radio propaganda aimed at an English-speaking public. The appellation “Lord Haw Haw” was applied to Joyce’s predecessor and later to Joyce. Of course, it was a derisive term, coined by the British, who never took Lord Haw Haw’s ranting seriously. Like Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, a modern day propagandist, Joyce continued his bald-faced pronouncements over the radio right up to the end:

Joyce recorded his final broadcast on 30 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin. Rambling and audibly drunk, he chided Britain for pursuing the war beyond mere containment of Germany and warned repeatedly of the “menace” of the Soviet Union. He signed off with a final defiant “Heil Hitler and farewell”. There are conflicting accounts as to whether this last programme was actually transmitted, despite a recording being found in the Apen studios. The next day Radio Hamburg was seized by British forces, who on 4 May used it to make a mock “Germany Calling” broadcast denouncing Joyce.

British forces picked up Joyce near the border with Denmark in late May 1945, and he was subsequently executed. Since that time the “Haw Haw” label has come to identify people who make loud and public proclamations in the face of obvious contradiction. Former SBOE Chairman Don McLeroy is not to be confused with the likes Aziz and Joyce, but he carries on the practice to his own public humiliation. And to our own amusement.

Primary Colors

This is so cute. Some students from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma were having a pleasant night out. Just having fun. Exactly what you would expect for a college fraternity. There are some details.

It was Saturday. The students were on a bus, heading for a party. A nice night out. Meet some girls. Maybe have something to drink. Good college fun. And there was a video. That’s the problem. There was a video.

From Yahoo News

From Yahoo News

Allow me to translate:

You can hang him from a tree, but he’ll never sign with me… …there will never be a nigger SAE.

“Hang him from a tree?” Hang whom? There will never be a what [at] SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon)? I had to check my calendar. Yes, this really is the 21st century. I need to check again.

I need to take another look at something else, as well. These aren’t young men on there way to careers cutting your grass, right? These people are not headed toward jobs that involve asking, “Do you want fries with that?” That was also my conclusion. These people are what?

These people were—maybe not now—headed for positions in society that would manage our businesses, sit on the bench in our courts, make decisions affecting foreign policy. These were supposed to be the cream of society. It it possible a mistake has been made somewhere?

A chilling possibility is this is not the entire story. It’s possible this is merely the shadow of a rot that permeates our society. It is possible that somewhere, right now, somebody is pushing a broom after hours in a school building who should, instead, be working out plans to increase industrial productivity. Worse, it is possible that somewhere someone is helping write laws for all of us to live by—someone who should instead be picking up trash along the interstate.

Culture of Death

This is bad news:

America’s ‘Culture of Death’ Stems From a ‘Sinful, Godless Worldview That Rejects Christ’

Who would have thought? But you really should take this seriously. The words are from none other than the Reverend Franklin Graham. If you don’t know Franklin Graham, then you certainly must know his father, the Reverend Billy Graham.

walking-dead-season-1

These remarks are from the Reverend Graham’s comments appearing in the January issue of Decision magazine. He is additionally quoted as saying:

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this rise in the culture of death in our own country coincides with the embrace of an immoral, sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ. Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.

That is so shocking. The Reverend Graham is absolutely correct about the suppression of faith. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. People attempting to pray in public quickly get the attention of armed government thugs, who arrive on the scene shouting obscenities at them before hauling them off to jail. OK, not quite. It’s a little less extreme than I have portrayed it. But I have observed this: Government officials, attempting to use government funds to proselytize for religion, have been challenged in court for violation of certain fundamental laws of this nation. That, fellow citizens, should be enough to send chills down your spines.

There is one point, however, at which the Reverend Graham is spot on:

Sunday night NFL football has been a favorite television staple for several years, but on at least two occasions this past fall, it was definitely a second viewing choice for millions of Americans.

Instead of watching footballs fly, 17 million viewers chose to watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead, a series featuring foul zombies creating endless havoc. Just a few weeks later, nearly 15 million people tuned in to yet another episode, easily surpassing that night’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This is sickening. Instead of spending a quiet Sunday afternoon (after services, of course) watching 22 millionaires tussle over a leather-covered ball, 17 million otherwise intelligent citizens chose to watch a tawdry piece of fiction. On this matter the Reverend Graham has done us a great service. If the souls of 17 million are not worth saving, their brains certainly are. Powerfully aware that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, he warns us of the ruin that comes with this mindless activity. The Reverend Graham has deep knowledge of this kind of foolishness. Given the chance, he will go into great detail on stories about people, who once dead, come back to life, to walk among the living for 40 days or so. It’s a grim vision that will trouble young minds into their later years.

Reverend Graham rightly reminds us to take life, death (and the Bible) seriously:

However, despite our society’s fascination and obsession with death, there is virtually no understanding of the eternal consequences that death brings. Amazingly, as much as the entertainment industry cranks out movies and programs that are preoccupied with death scenes and motifs, death is not a subject often candidly discussed. I think that’s because we would prefer to portray death on a purely fictional level and avoid its stark reality.

The Bible says that once a person dies, he will face the judgment of God. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no reincarnation. There is no second chance.

Of course, the Bible has a lot more we should take seriously:

Ezekiel 23 New International Version (NIV)

15 But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red, 15 with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea.[b] 16 As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. 19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.

I will agree with the Reverend Graham if he insists American youth should read more of the Bible and spend less time watching trashy TV dramas.

Anyhow, there’s lots more that the Reverend Graham has said and that we should heed. People who take him for a featherweight do so at their peril. What he does may seem like wasteful meddling to many of our youth, caught up as they are in their world of materialism. They would take better notice were they to know this man of good deeds in 2010 alone pulled in  “$409,851 as chairman of Samaritan’s Purse and received $156,566 from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association as CEO.” Straighten up, young minds. Heed the word.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

NCSE Updates

NCSEReports

Texas edition

Full disclosure. I give money to the National Center for Science Education. You should, too. The NCSE is the premier organization in this country defending the teaching of valid science in the public schools. After decades of taking on the creationists and their efforts to push creationism, or at least to dumb down teaching of evolution, the NCSE has recently taken on the climate science deniers.

I receive periodically a copy of their Reports a few printed pages on recent events, book reviews and such. Most interesting is the Updates section. What’s been going on. I reprint here in its entirety a recount of last year’s episode with the Texas text book review process:

Texas: The Texas state board of education voted to adopt a slate of social studies textbooks on November 21, 2014. Among the books approved for use in the state were several textbooks that, after criticism from NCSE and its allies in the scientific, educational, and civil liberties communities, were revised by their publishers (including Pearson and McGraw-Hill) to eliminate misrepresentations of climate science.

A number of problematic claims were present in the textbooks as submitted for approval, including a statement that fossil fuel emissions have caused a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, a claim that scientists “disagree about what is causing climate change,” and a quotation from a notorious climate change denial organization presented in rebuttal of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

NCSE, together with the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), drew attention to these claims in a press release and analysis issued on September 15. 2014. The analysis (available at http://ncse.com/files/Texas-social-studies-report-2014.pdf) received wide coverage in the press, including the National Journal and Ars Technica (both 2014 Sep 15), as well as the Houston Press, Texas Public Radio, the Guardian, Newsweek, and Mother Jones (all 2014 Sep 16).

The analysis was issued in time for a preliminary hearing on the textbooks, on September 16, 2014, during which Charles Jackson, a research scientist at the University of Texas’s Institute for Geophysics, criticized “inaccurate textbook coverage casting doubt on the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is a serious and growing threat,” according to TFN’s live-blog of the hearing (2014 Sep 16).

Later, NCSE’s Josh Rosenau and Mark McCaffrey were invited by the Houston Chronicle (2014 Sep 30) to discuss the controversy. “Today, climate change isn’t just a scientific issue,” they explained: “critical debates about our response to climate change belong in textbooks covering civics, economics, history and geography, rooted in the social and political context while always informed by accurate science.”

“Unfortunately, many of the social studies textbooks under consideration simply ignore climate change,” they continued. “But there’s a problem that publishers and the board can solve today: the factual errors in the books that cover climate change. Most egregiously, several of these books claim that there is active dispute among scientists about the primary cause of climate change. That’s simply wrong.”

They concluded. “Tomorrow’s Texans will have big decisions to make—in deciding how to confront rising seas and declining freshwater, in choosing between the fuels of the future and those of the past, in creating new businesses and new kinds of jobs in the new world ahead. Social studies classrooms and textbooks are the perfect place to explore those questions and to prepare our students to build the future they deserve.”

Meanwhile, NCSE, TFN, and Climate Parents organized a petition calling on the state board of education to require the corrections of the textbooks. Signed by over 24 000 Texans, the petitions were delivered to the board and the publishers on October 20, 2014. In a press release, Rosenau explained, These petitions show that parents, teachers, students, and voters across Texas will make sure the board doesn’t let these errors slip into their classrooms.”

Additional organizations separately urging the state board of education to require the publishers to fix these errors included the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Ecological Society of America, the Geological Society of America, and the National Resources Defense Council.

As the time of the board’s final vote approached, Camille Parmesan and Alan I Leshner, writing in the Austin American-Statesman (2014 Nov 6), called on the Texas state board of education to insist on the correction of the textbooks: “Texas educators should reject the new textbooks unless they are edited to address the serious concerns outlined by the National Center for Science Education.”

“Children cannot compete in the global marketplace of the future unless they achieve science literacy,” they concluded. “Students deserve to know the true scientific facts about human-caused climate change.” Parmesan is a professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas, Austin; Leshner is the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In a press conference on November 12, 2014, NCSE, TFN, and Climate Parents charged that textbooks published by McGraw-Hill and Pearson were still problematic. Speaking to the Austin Chronicle (2014, Nov 12), NCSE’s Josh Rosenau observed that science textbooks from the same publishers manage to represent the scientific consensus on climate change correctly and described the social studies textbooks as “irresponsible” in contrast, adding that it’s “hard to understand how the social studies books went so far [a]field.”

Also released was a letter urging the publishers to “correct all factual errors regarding climate change in draft textbooks for K-12 students in Texas.” Signing the letter, besides NCSE, TFN, and Climate Parents, were the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Alliance for Climate Education, the National Resources Defense Council, Bill Nye, Sojourners, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Subsequently, Pearson revised a passage in its fifth-grade social studies textbook that initially claimed, “Some scientists believe that this carbon dioxide could lead to a slow heating of Earth’s overall climate. This temperature change is known as global warming or climate change. Scientists disagree about what is causing climate change.” As revised, the passage reads, “Carbon dioxide, which occurs both naturally and through human activities, is called a greenhouse gas, because it traps heat. As the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase, the Earth warms. Scientists warn that climate change, caused by this warming, will pose challenges to society.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Rosenau told the National Journal (2014 Nov 13). “The revised textbook [from Pearson] provides students with the reliable science they need to understand the social debates surrounding climate change and does so without manufacturing a scientific debate.” He also criticized McGraw-Hill, whose sixth-grade social studies textbook remained flawed.

But shortly thereafter, McGraw-Hill confirmed that it would remove the deeply problematic lesson that equated unsupported arguments from a special interest-funded political advocacy group, the Heartland Institute, with data-backed material from the IPCC, a Nobel-winning organization of scientists from around the world, from its textbook.

Rosenau praised the publishers for their decision, telling the National Journal (2014 Nov 17), “Pearson, McGraw-Hill and the other publishers did the right thing by making these changes. They listened to us and the nation’s leading scientific and educational societies, ensuring that students will learn the truth about the greatest challenge they’ll confront as citizens of the 21st century.”

There were expressions of discontent at the board’s November 18, 2014, meeting that “the other side” of the debate over climate change was not presented in the textbooks. as the TFN noted on its blog (2014 Nov 18), Nevertheless, the board approved a set of books for use, including the revised versions of Pearson’s and McGraw-Hill’s, on November 21, 2014, with a 10-5 vote.

Platforms Against Science

CreationismCompeting

Frank Harrold and Ray Eve were early technical advisors for The North Texas Skeptics. Frank Harrold served “20 years as a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Arlington.” Ray Eve spent most of his “career at the University of Texas at Arlington in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.” Together they published Cult Archaeology and Creationism: Understanding Pseudoscientific Beliefs about the Past. I own a copy (current on loan), and if you ever read it you will agree that, despite its title, it’s a real page-turner. Harrold and Eve collaborated extensively on studies related to belief in the paranormal, and a critical finding was the correlation between reliance on pseudo science (including creationism) with political conservatism.

What can be said about the sources of pseudoscientific beliefs? Creation science oriented beliefs merit attention because of their connection with Fundamentalist religious tradition in the United States. Kehoe (1985) has discussed the functions of “creation science” within the New Religious-Political Right of contemporary conservative politics. She contends that the acceptance of the inerrancy of the Bible inherent in “creation science” serves as a manifest sign of dedication to the central value of the New Religious-Political Right: acceptance of authority versus “reality testing” and adaptation. In this context, scientific gullibility may be seen as one facet of deference to authority, a kind of generalized willingness to accept as plausible that which appears to be commonly believed by others or what is asserted in folklore to have been proven by unnamed “scientists” or experts. Harrold and Eve (1987) have given support to Kehoe’s assertions about the political and attitudinal underpinnings of the “creation-science” ideology by showing that Creationism beliefs correlated positively with a measure of dogmatism r = .32, .18, .33 for TX, CA, CT) and a measure of political conservativism (anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, pro-death penalty) which they termed a Moral Majority scale. These findings hold for the USU population, although the correlation was only a moderate one (Creationism-Dogmatism, Pearson’s r = .20; Creationism-Moral Majority, Pearson’s R = relationship with reported number of books read that were not required in an academic course (R = -.24), a finding also reported by Harrold and Eve (1987).

The leading organization in this country working to counter the introduction of anti-science attitudes and teaching in public schools is the National Center for Science Education, headquartered in Berkeley, California. I give them money, and so should you. Their six times a year newsletter Reports of National Center for Science Education provides readers with a quick run-down of the latest events related to pseudo science and public education. There are also essays of interest by qualified researchers and reporters.

The most recent issue features an article by Sehoya H Cotner, D Christopher Brooks, and Randy Moore Evolution and Student Voting Patterns. The authors cite the political correlation previously observed by Harrold and Eve, and they bring these observations into the 21st century:

Democrats, too, have supporters and field candidates, such as Al Gore and Bill Clinton, who believe in a creator but accept evolution. However, Republicans frequently embrace creationism more explicitly than do their counterparts. In the field of candidates leading up to the 2012 elections, only Jon Huntsman (who was eliminated early) was vocally in support of scientific perspectives on evolution (Shear 2011). Perhaps most striking is the willingness of several state Republican parties to make teaching creationism in public schools
a part of their platforms (Figure 1), despite a consistent pattern of state and federal court judgments against this very activity—judgments that are largely based on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”). The recent (June 2014) release of the latest Texas GOP platform highlights the partisan nature of contemporary science—with teaching creationism as part of a bundle that includes “vaccine choice” and climate-change denial.

In particular, the authors published a list of excerpts from state Republican Party platforms that reveals overt support for pseudo science coupled with disdain for critical aspects of science:

Figure 1. State Republican party platforms on evolution and creationism
Alaska: “We support teaching various models and theories for the origins of life and our
universe, including Creation Science or Intelligent Design. If evolution outside a
species (macro-evolution) is taught, evidence disputing the theory should also be
presented.”
Iowa: “We support a balanced presentation of creationism and evolution in public schools. We believe that textbooks and teachers should clarify that Darwinian
evolution is only a theory and not scientific fact.”
Kansas: “Kansas students should be allowed and encouraged to fully discuss and critique all science-based theories for the origin of life in science curricula.”
Minnesota: “Educators who discuss creation science should be protected from disciplinary action and science standards should recognize that there is controversy pertaining to the theory of evolution.”
Missouri: The party supports “Empowering local school districts to determine how best to handle the teaching of creationism and the theory of evolution.”
North Dakota: The party supports “the rights of teachers to teach and discuss the scientific evidence for and against multiple theories of the origin of life, including intelligent design and evolution.”
Oklahoma: “We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and Biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught both should receive equal funding, class time, and material.”
Texas: “We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as challengeable scientific theory subject to change as new data is produced, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.”

And that brings us to the point of this post. It’s time for some Skeptical Analysis of these odd political positions. Let’s start with Alaska.

The state Republican Party wants to teach “various models and theories for the origins of life and our universe.” I have to say that is really odd.

What do you think these politicians intend by various models and theories? Regarding the origins of life, do they mean students should be exposed to some of the following?

  • Deep sea vent hypothesis
  • Thermosynthesis
  • Clay hypothesis
  • Gold’s “deep-hot biosphere” model

And others.

Actually, the politicians don’t have any of these alternatives in mind. If these were the available options they would not even walk across the street for them. What they have in mind for alternative explanations is spelled out in the wording that immediately follows the suggestion that other theories be considered: “[I]ncluding Creation Science or Intelligent Design.”

First of all I want to reflect my appreciation for the use of capital letters. English standard usage, especially in the United States, requires the names of religious movements be capitalized. The use of capitalization by the Alaska politicians is their honest recognition that these are religious ideas as opposed to scientific.

Next, Creation Science and Intelligent Design are, in fact, armor-plated religious concepts. Creation Science, as traditionally defined by organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research insist on the strict biblical interpretation that the Earth is about 6000 years old, an idea that is refuted by any number of scientific findings.

Additionally, Intelligent Design has been cast as a non-creationism and a non-religious alternative to natural processes. All such attempts to convince the world of this absurdity have ended in failure. Particularly, the religious motivation behind Intelligent Design is continually reinforced by proponents even as they seek to convince us otherwise. The documentary Expelled features actor Ben Stein presenting what are supposed to be the evil consequences of Darwinism. Yet viewers are served a lengthy interview with biologist Richard Dawkins, and they are discussing, what else, the existence of God. When Intelligent Design proponents obtained the opportunity to present their case in federal court in the Kitzmiller case they were totally unable to convince the judge there was no religious intent and further that there was any scientific basis behind Intelligent Design.

Regarding Iowa, the politicians want “balanced presentation.” They want creationism and evolution given equal or at least comparable weight in public schools. They want Darwinian evolution to be presented as a theory and not as a scientific fact.

There are two matters at issue here. First they want a conjecture with no scientific validity to be presented not only as plausible to students but also to be pumped up by the school system to give it credibility it has not earned. This is religious proselytizing at public expense.

The other matter is treating Darwinian evolution as a theory. First, Darwinian evolution is a scientific theory. Calling it a theory is like calling Everest a mountain. You do not diminish an idea by calling it a scientific theory. That’s a promotion. Additionally, there is little reason for not calling Darwinian evolution a fact. First, the fact of evolution is well-established. Evidence accumulates daily that living things on this planet share a common ancestry, and in the more than 150 years since it was put forward no scientific studies have come forward to refute it.

So, what do the politicians of the Iowa Republican Party want? My guess is they want to satisfy a religiously motivated base and also a base that has little appreciation for science.

In Kansas students are “encouraged to fully discuss and critique all science-based theories for the origin of life in science curricula.” A critical flaw in the embedded thinking is that there are science-based theories that are in conflict with Darwinian evolution. If a conscientious teacher in Kansas were to stand at the head of a science class and announce that what follows will be a discussion of science-based theories other than Darwinian evolution a profound silence would settle. Further, if opponents of Darwinism were to propose alternatives with any assumed scientific merit, Creation Science and Intelligent design would stand at the back end of a long line of superior proposals.

Minnesota wants to protect teachers “who discuss creation science.” That, quite obviously, will be a tough row to hoe if any teacher wants to put it into practice. First, an honest discussion of creation science would involve telling students what a stupid idea it is. This has been tried.

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge ruled that a public high school history teacher violated the First Amendment when he called creationism “superstitious nonsense” during a classroom lecture.

U.S. District Judge James Selna ruled Friday in a lawsuit student Chad Farnan filed in 2007, alleging that teacher James Corbett violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment by making repeated comments in class that were hostile to Christian beliefs.

According to a federal judge it’s not OK for a teacher to tell students that creationism is a bunch of crap. Let me put it another way. It’s not OK for teachers to discuss creationism. It’s not OK unless they are willing to be dishonest with students and give creationism some undeserved lift.

Additionally, in Minnesota the politicians want teachers to “recognize that there is controversy pertaining to the theory of evolution.” They want teachers to tell students that creationists have provoked controversy by continually asserting that they have a better idea. Remember, these are not serious researchers making these assertions. These are people like Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Douglas Axe, William Dembski, Paul Nelson, David Berlinski, Stephen C. MeyerCaroline Crocker, Guillermo Gonzalez, Richard von Sternberg and Ben Stein.

And when teachers break the law by promoting creationism in class, when they break the law by proselytizing for religion in class, they are supposed to be protected. Sadly, no position taken by the Republican Party of Minnesota will protect a teacher who actually breaks the law by promoting creationism. People will still sue, and the courts will still rightly decide this is against the law, and, as in the case with the Dover Area School District, the tax payers will be left holding the bill for a failed legal challenge.

The Missouri Republican platform contains language that parallels the intent of Minnesota. Politicians want to empower school districts, and they specifically mention creationism and evolution. They want to empower the school districts? Really? Creation and evolution and not mathematics? Not even physics and chemistry? Not even automobile mechanics? My guess would be politicians in The Show Me State have their sights set on evolution and not so much on empowering local school districts. Again, the idea is to provide protection, in spirit if not in fact, for districts that break the law by promoting creationism and other religious views.

North Dakota repeats the mistakes of the foregoing. What ever happened to South Dakota? Some investigation may be in order here.

Oklahoma, from whence Texas supposedly obtains all its drain-down wacko, requests the impossible in scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design (applaud capitalization) and Biblical creation. First of all the scientific evidence supporting would have to be manufactured on the spot by any teacher discussing it, and Biblical creation is so obviously religious the ACLU, and even the Society for the Inclusion of Sanity, would be waiting in the wings for the first teacher pushing those ideas in class.

And finally my favorite state, Texas. I have to love it, because I was born and raised here, and I went through 20 years of public schools here (I was a slow learner). Once again, a state Republican Party wants to allow open discussion without fear of retribution or discrimination. Of course, that is what science is all about, but it is not likely the politicians will receive what they expect were this to be the actual practice.

In actual practice, if strengths and weaknesses were discussed in class, creationism of all kinds would get a pretty rough ride. See the Santa Ana case above. A teacher who tells students that creationism is a load of crap, which it is, would likely not receive protection from retribution or discrimination of any kind as promised by the state Republican Party platform.

These words in the Texas Republican platform, like those in the other states mentioned, have no effect in practice. Statements of political policy are for the benefit of attracting votes and do not contravene existing law. Existing law is that public funds and offices of power cannot be used to proselytize for religion. The voters may not understand these facts, but what concerns me even more is that politicians, including some who hold public office, may not understand. We may, in fact, be getting the government we paid for.

ValueOfCreationism