Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How misleading can one possibly get?

The Washington Post provided us with this article submitted by Paul A. Hanle, President of the Biotechnology Institute.

From the article:
I recently addressed a group of French engineering graduate students who were visiting Washington from the prestigious School of Mines in Paris. After encouraging them to teach biotechnology in French high schools, I expected the standard queries on teaching methods or training. Instead, a bright young student asked bluntly: "How can you teach biotechnology in this country when you don't even accept evolution?"

Huh? I have to wonder whether the author of the article or the “bright young student” have a clue as to what they are talking about.

Or, could it be that the author is purposely misleading us? There is a vast difference between the facts of evolution vs. the assumptions of Darwinism which, btw, is actually what the controversy is all about.

From the article:
I wanted to disagree, but the kid had a point. Proponents of "intelligent design" in the United States are waging a war against teaching science as scientists understand it. Over the past year alone, efforts to incorporate creationist language or undermine evolution in science classrooms at public schools have emerged in at least 15 states, according to the National Center for Science Education. And an independent education foundation has concluded that science-teaching standards in 10 states fail to address evolution in a scientifically sound way. Through changes in standards and curriculum, these efforts urge students to doubt evolution -- the cornerstone principle of biology, one on which there is no serious scientific debate.

Let me give you an example of this horrendous “creationist language” that is being thrown upon our children in order to “undermine evolution in the science classrooms”...

The changes made to the Kansas science standards can be viewed at this link. I urge you to try to find anything that will in any way “undermine” the teaching of evolution in the classroom.

Remember the Dover trial? Although the public was told that the Dover school board was proposing to “teach intelligent design”, in actuality all the hubbub was about a requirement that students hear a four-paragraph statement defining intelligent design as “an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view”. It provided nothing about the substance of the theory whatsoever. Students were also told that “the reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves”. This CERTAINLY does not indicate that the theory of Intelligent Design was going to be taught in Dover schools, nor does “undermine evolution”.

From the article:
This war could decimate the development of U.S. scientific talent and erode whatever competitive advantage the United States enjoys in the technology-based global economy. Already, U.S. high school students lag near the bottom in math skills compared with students in other developed nations, and high school seniors are performing worse in science than they were 10 years ago.

These trends can only worsen if students come to regard evolution as questionable or controversial. Thirty-seven percent of the high school Advanced Placement biology examination tests knowledge of evolution, evolutionary biology and heredity, according to the College Board. Students who do not thoroughly understand evolution cannot hope to succeed on this exam; they will be handicapped in competitive science courses in college and the careers that may follow.

This type of scare tactic is almost unforgivable. No one has proposed to take any evolutionary content out of science curriculum. The reason for that is because evolution is a valid and factual theory! Obviously, microevolution is paramount to various areas of scientific exploration. No one questions that.

What our students should be able to critically analyze are the factual statements put forth regarding macroevolution, which is the notion that the entire universe evolved randomly from the first cell (or whatever). We are told to believe that ~something~ evolved from ~nothing~ which was the common ancestor to everything we observe in our universe today. Through the mechanisms of evolution, we are to accept that we are the product of a branching tree of evolving organisms. Okay... nice theory, but don’t push it off as fact.

The problem is that we have never witnessed macroevolutionary changes actually occurring in nature without some type of manipulation from the scientist doing the experiment (the Designer, if you will). Even then, the results are minute in comparison with what we are suppose to believe in regard to macroevolutionary changes. Fiddling with flies in a laboratory is nothing in comparison to submitting that the entire universe evolved from that first living organism.

As far as macroevolution is concerned, the evidence that scientists proclaim as ~facts~ are assumptions, inferences, and speculation from what they have observed through ~micro~evolutionary experimentation and exploration.

From the article:
By teaching intelligent design or other variants of creationism in science classes at public schools -- or by undercutting the credibility of evolution -- we are greatly diminishing our chances for future scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations, and are endangering our health, safety and economic well-being as individuals and as a nation.

How misleading can one possibly get? No one is “undercutting the credibility of evolution“, and questioning macroevolutionary changes is certainly not going to hinder future scientific exploration. Any experiment that has been beneficial to man has been the product of microevolutionary breakthroughs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with macroevolution being taught in the science class. It has merit and is an interesting ~theory~. There are scientists who spend their time in labs trying to find the connection between species, and I have no problem with that. But, I seriously disagree with teaching the theory in a dogmatic fashion and insisting that there are no controversial issues related to this theory. That is a false and misleading assumption.

From the article:
This is not a war of religion against science. The two have thrived together for centuries. Nor is it a struggle of believers against godless materialists; many believers practice science and find inspiration for it from their faith. It is a battle between religious dogma cloaked as science and open inquiry that leads to new knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

No, this is a fight against ~scientific~ dogma. We shouldn’t have to fight against the bias of scientists who have shown time and time again that they have a prior commitment to naturalism. This is also a fight against those who have a deep seeded fear that ID supporters are trying to destroy the very needed separation of church and state laws. No one is out to insert religion in the public school system in any way, shape, or form. That would be a monumental mistake.

The opposition to evolution discourages the development of entire high-school classes of future scientific talent. "It seems like a raw deal for the 14-year-old girl in Topeka who might have gone on to find a cure for resistant infections if only she had been taught evolution in high school," H. Holden Thorp, chairman of the chemistry department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wrote in the New York Times last spring.

Multiply that girl's plight thousands of times -- in school districts in Georgia, Kansas, Ohio and other states that are discouraging the teaching of evolution.
Hold the phone RIGHT THERE! I am appalled that the President of the Biotechnology Institute would write and relay such underhanded and misleading information.

1. Kansas has NEVER discouraged the teaching of evolution! NEVER. Evolution has never been taken out of the standards or the curriculum, and it has been in every biology textbook since the dawn of Darwin’s theory.

2. There has never been a “14-year-old girl in Topeka” who wouldn’t be able to go on to find a cure for resistant infections. Good grief! Topeka has the same biology textbooks as everyone else in the country and evolution is taught in Topeka schools just like it is everywhere else. The ~only~ thing that the Kansas school board has proposed is that students should be allowed to critically analyze the notion that the entire universe evolved through macroevolutionary occurrences. For the record, finding a cure for resistant infections would be part of ~micro~evolutionary experimentation. Ugh...

From the article:
Last year, a report from the National Academies' Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century showed us a glimpse of the future. Of all the patent applications reaching the U.S. Patent Office, the report noted, the most by far still come from the United States. However, from 1989 to 2001, the rate of increase of patent applications from the world's fastest-growing economies, such as China and India, was nearly three times that of the United States. By that measure, innovation in those economies will blow past ours in little more than a decade -- just about the time the current classes of high school biology students will be starting their research careers.

LOL, well that certainly has nothing to do with school boards suggesting that students be allowed to question macroevolutionary theories. The correlation is ridiculous.

Perhaps if ~some~ scientists and various organizations like the National Center for Science Education spent more time actually doing science rather than fostering myths about ID advocates shoving religion down our throats, we wouldn’t have to worry about the author’s greatest fear.

From the article:
Non-scientific viewpoints deserve respect. But to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, bio-warfare and pandemic diseases, to discover lifesaving cures and life-improving breakthroughs, tomorrow's biologists must be equipped with scientifically based knowledge today.

Duh! No one is denying our students the chance to study every area of scientific thought. If they were, I’d be fighting alongside the Darwinists. Again, the supporters of ID are not taking any form of evolution out of science curriculum! They merely support critical analysis of some of the very significant gaps in the idea that all that we observe in nature evolved from a common living organism.

From the article:
Nations that value open inquiry and use scientific criteria in education, research and industry will outperform those that do not. If we are to continue to be leaders in the global economy, we must teach science, not religion, in the science classroom.

Unbelievable. ID is not religion, and this article makes me wonder whether the author has any clue whatsoever as to what the theory of Intelligent Design actually entails.

I encourage everyone reading this entry to set Paul A. Hanle straight. His article is horrendously misleading and he needs to be called on it.

Paul A. Hanle, President of the Biotechnology Institute.