Richard B. Hoppe posted Entry 1925 on January 19, 2006 06:54 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1920

Last week a Toledo Blade editorial called the Ohio State Board of Education “… a painful carbuncle on the posterior of state government …”. Demonstrating that Ohio doesn’t have a lock on governmental duplicity, a report in The State.com out of South Carolina tells us that a legislator plans to call two “experts” to advise a school oversight panel.

State Sen. Mike Fair has invited two experts to advise the school reform oversight agency, which is evaluating the standards for teaching the origins of life.

Fair said he promised the two advisers he would protect their identities to minimize scrutiny of their views and credentials prior to their appearance before an EOC subcommittee next week..

Experts who can’t be identified? Who have to be anonymous to prevent scrutiny of their credentials? I wonder if they’ll wear brown paper bags over the heads with those neat little eyeholes cut in them.

Between Senator Buttars of Utah pushing “divine design” and anonymous “experts” in South Carolina, it looks like there’s a mad race to the bottom out there in creationism land. But the newspapers are catching on. Of Buttars, the Salt Lake Tribune said

But every time the West Jordan Republican opens his mouth to address the subject, he removes all doubt about the fact that he has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.

Buttars’ constant references to the lack of a “missing link” or his insistence that he’s never seen a dog change into a cat display a towering ignorance of the subject. That would be his own business, and perhaps a source of comfort to him, were it not for the fact that he is trying to enshrine his willful misunderstandings into state law.

As Nick points out just below, one of the Disco Institute’s official goals is to have 10 states “rectify the ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory”. Unfortunately, since there is no “design theory”, the freelancers out there in the world are taking the bit in their teeth and running straight to creationism. They’re not fooled at all by the Disco Institute’s rhetoric, it seems.

RBH

(Hat tip to Red State Rabble.)

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Comment #73749

Posted by steve s on January 19, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

South Carolina is terrible. It is among the worst among states in terms of education, poverty, religion, and crime.

If Christian Exodus wants it, they can have it.

Comment #73751

Posted by Erasmus on January 19, 2006 7:19 PM (e)

Steve as a supporter of science and as a proud member of the banjo picking minority i cordially invite you to shut the hell up about south carolina. there are more things to life than education, poverty, religion and crime.

Comment #73757

Posted by steve s on January 19, 2006 7:35 PM (e)

Well, I do love me some banjo…

(More than just a joke, I actually do. Did you see Steve Martin playing banjo on Letterman with Earl Scruggs? Kick-Aass)

Comment #73761

Posted by steve s on January 19, 2006 7:43 PM (e)

Anyway, I am allowed to disparage rednecks because I am one. My family is from Kentucky, I was born in a trailer in north Florida, and have lived in Texas, Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. I own an expensive Stetson and can speak in a beautiful Valdosta accent. I have owned and can do major repairs on a Ford F-150. And I believe fancy pointy boots go well with a suit. So I can talk about South Carolina all I want and you can kiss my ass!

;-)

Comment #73765

Posted by steve s on January 19, 2006 7:46 PM (e)

And if I need any more redneck cred, my dad drove a dump truck for Anderson Columbia in Lake City, Florida, and is a Young Earth Creationist.

Comment #73780

Posted by Hyperion on January 19, 2006 8:02 PM (e)

So are these expert witnesses in the Witness Protection Program or some such? To what could they possibly testify that would require their protection?

Maybe they know who killed off the Dinosaurs

Comment #73790

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 19, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

So are these expert witnesses in the Witness Protection Program or some such? To what could they possibly testify that would require their protection?

Maybe one of the witnesses is Ghost of Paley. He seems to really want to be a famous published scientist, but he never reveals his true name. I can see him showing up at the state school board in SC with a brown bag over his head, and a little name tag that says ‘G.O. Paley’.

Maybe they know who killed off the Dinosaurs

Screw that, ask ‘em who really killed JFK. :-)

Comment #73850

Posted by jason spaceman on January 19, 2006 10:03 PM (e)

South Carolina was one of the few states that received an ‘A’ in the most recent Fordham Foundation The State of State Science Standards 2005 report. And they were also given a 3 out of 3 for the way they taught evolution. But that could change if Mike Fair has his way.

Comment #73863

Posted by Dave Cerutti on January 19, 2006 10:31 PM (e)

[quote]Experts who can’t be identified? Who have to be anonymous to prevent scrutiny of their credentials? I wonder if they’ll wear brown paper bags over the heads with those neat little eyeholes cut in them.[/quote]

Perhaps one of the experts is the Intelligent Designer himself/herself.

Comment #73873

Posted by Nyarlathotep on January 19, 2006 10:47 PM (e)

Having been subjected to the South Carolina public school system during my time in Junior and Senior High school, I can only say that I am surprised that it has taken so long for this to happen. I did have a good experience with science in my high school classes due to an exceptional teacher, but she was one of a rare few. South Carolina is peopled overwhelmingly with bumpkins, hillbillies, and rubes, and I have no doubt that the threat of legal action, and financial consequences for local school districts, or the state as a whole, will do nothing to dissuade these backwards, bible-thumpers from exploiting any flimsy excuse to preach about the “Lord Jaysus,” in the science classroom. I was frankly shocked when I saw that S.C. was given an A rating by the Fordham Foundation, but now I can rest well-assured that South Carolinians are doing their level best to retain their status as 50th in education.

Comment #73882

Posted by GvlGeologist on January 19, 2006 11:23 PM (e)

Speaking as a geologist, it’s a shame that such a geologically interesting state as SC has morons in it like Mr. Fair. I can visualize the examination now.
“What is your name?”
“Hey, wait a minute. Sen. Fair said I wouldn’t have to give my name. I’d rather not say, because I’m worried that those evilutionists will… do something to me.”
“Hm… What are your qualifications?”
“Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it, I know alot about this.”

Yup, pretty convincing advice these guys will give.

Anecdotally, I do have hope. About 5 years ago I was in SC for about the 10th time to collect some fossils called Belemnites. After collecting a couple of dozen of the little guys, I headed back to the main road. Even though I’d been in this area several times before, I managed to get lost. I stopped in at a little country store for directions, and talked to a group of 3 or 4 locals. After giving me directions, they asked what I’d been doing (I was pretty muddy) in a friendly sort of way. I talked about the fossils, their age (at least 65 million years old), their behavior and appearence when alive, etc. All of these gentlemen were polite, understood the concepts, and seemed receptive to the ideas. So at least in this area, even though it was an extremely rural environment, some of the people are not “hicks” when it comes to modern science.

Comment #73890

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 19, 2006 11:51 PM (e)

Fair said he promised the two advisers he would protect their identities to minimize scrutiny of their views and credentials prior to their appearance before an EOC subcommittee next week..

This is disturbing to say the least. And this is how he is handling a government hearing. In secrecy. That is not how an open democracy works.

Comment #73891

Posted by Unforgivn on January 19, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

I’m from SC and have been lurking around here for about a year, and I have to concur with the prevailing idea on this thread (namely that South Carolina is full of fundigelical morons). Personally, I don’t know how I ended up not being one of them, since most of the people in my town are loud and proud with their “I didn’t come from no monkey” rhetoric, and my high school biology classes gave as quick and rudimentary a look at evolution as they could get by with.

I would love to see my home state deal another blow to the ID movement, but I have serious concerns that the population here will bring sufficient resistance. I, personally, have no children, so I probably won’t be able to bring anything to court myself, and I have yet to meet anyone in my town who opposes the IDC movement.

Comment #73893

Posted by Arden Chatfield on January 20, 2006 12:06 AM (e)

This is disturbing to say the least. And this is how he is handling a government hearing. In secrecy. That is not how an open democracy works.

They’ve learned their lessons from the Bush administration well.

Comment #73897

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 20, 2006 12:17 AM (e)

I, personally, have no children, so I probably won’t be able to bring anything to court myself, and I have yet to meet anyone in my town who opposes the IDC movement.

Be the first then! start up a local chapter of NCSE.

http://www.natcenscied.org/

gotta start somewhere!

Comment #73902

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 12:35 AM (e)

Nyarlathotep wrote:

South Carolina is peopled overwhelmingly with bumpkins, hillbillies, and rubes…

I will thank you not to refer to my friends and family that way.

I was frankly shocked when I saw that S.C. was given an A rating by the Fordham Foundation…

I wasn’t shocked at all. I went to public schools in SC and received an excellent education, particularly when it came to biology and evolution.

…but now I can rest well-assured that South Carolinians are doing their level best to retain their status as 50th in education.

According to what metric do you consider SC to be last in education? If it’s SAT scores, I hope you realize that fewer than half the states even use the SAT as their primary test.

Anyone who wants to pile on SC can first wonder what’s wrong with PA, GA, CA, OH, and just about every other state that got into the anti-evolution business long before SC did. Of course SC is hardly some beacon of progressivity, but if there’s any lesson to be learned by the anti-evolution shenanigans in recent years, it’s that every state is vulnerable, and the typical (and typically wrong) stereotypes don’t apply.

Comment #73905

Posted by caerbannog on January 20, 2006 12:59 AM (e)


Anyone who wants to pile on SC can first wonder what’s wrong with PA, GA, CA, OH, and just about every other state that got into the anti-evolution business long before SC did.

Folks shouldn’t forget that “liberal” California should be included on that list. Believe me, the “Deep South” comes nowhere near having a monopoly on the wingnuts.

Those of us on the Left Coast may feel tempted to “pile on” Southerners from time to time, but we really shouldn’t let ourselves get too smug…. lest we forget that Lebec is located in California, not Alabama, and that the Murrieta Calvary Chapel (the outfit that is suing the University of California for refusing to give students science credits for taking “creation biology” classes) is located right here in southern California, not South Carolina.

Folks should not underestimate California winguts (and we’ve got ‘em by the *millions* here). They may have more money, live in bigger houses, and drive fancier cars than a lot of poor Southern folks do, but that doesn’t mean they are any more sophisticated than those stereotypical Southerners….

Comment #73907

Posted by Nyarlathotep on January 20, 2006 1:09 AM (e)

“I will thank you not to refer to my friends and family that way.”

My family and a number of my friends still live in South Carolina too, but that doesn‘t change the fact that the majority of the population of the state only stop dragging their knuckles long enough to bang their bibles into their heads.

“I wasn’t shocked at all. I went to public schools in SC and received an excellent education, particularly when it came to biology and evolution.”

I did too, but that was because I had an exceptional teacher. The other science/biology teachers in my school taught as little about evolution as they could possibly get away with from what I heard.

“According to what metric do you consider SC to be last in education?”

When I lived there, I can remember politicians putting up billboards promising to lift South Carolina out of the nation‘s lowest place for things like literacy and test scores. I wonder whether they didn‘t get elected, or whether they reneged.

I would love to see South Carolina strike another blow against ignorant fundamentalism, but I think it far more likely that just the opposite will happen. Rare is the parent in South Carolina that will buck the entrenched theocracy and bring a suit against a district or the state for pulling these kinds of theology-as-science dog and pony shows.

Comment #73908

Posted by caerbannog on January 20, 2006 1:10 AM (e)


Folks shouldn’t forget that “liberal” California should be included on that list.

Silly me…. California *is* on that list (as well as it *should* be).

And frankly, if it weren’t for the democratic Latino base here in CA, the Republican Party would *own* California. And in California (as in many other states), the wingnuts *own* the Republican party.

Comment #73910

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 20, 2006 1:18 AM (e)

Folks should not underestimate California winguts (and we’ve got ‘em by the *millions* here). They may have more money, live in bigger houses, and drive fancier cars than a lot of poor Southern folks do, but that doesn’t mean they are any more sophisticated than those stereotypical Southerners….

Lalalarry Fafarman lives in LA.

‘nuff said.

Comment #73914

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 1:47 AM (e)

When I lived there, I can remember politicians putting up billboards promising to lift South Carolina out of the nation‘s lowest place for things like literacy and test scores.

Well, I guess “billboards I’ve seen” is a type of hard data. ;)

Comment #73915

Posted by Bob O'H on January 20, 2006 1:54 AM (e)

Fair said he promised the two advisers he would protect their identities to minimize scrutiny of their views and credentials prior to their appearance before an EOC subcommittee next week..

Fine, but who are the likely suspects? Doesn’t the NCSE Dirty Tricks department have a filing cabinet with all the dirt on all major players in the IDC team? And if not, why not? :-)

Bob

Comment #73916

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 20, 2006 2:02 AM (e)

And frankly, if it weren’t for the democratic Latino base here in CA, the Republican Party would *own* California. And in California (as in many other states), the wingnuts *own* the Republican party.

CA is a lot more complicated than that. having lived in SF, San Jose, and grew up in Orange County, I can say from experience that CA is about split into three parts:

Northern CA metropolitan is about as “liberal” as it gets (think San Francisco).

Southern CA metropolitan (especially OC) is about as close to pure neocon (excepting the latino base mentioned above) as you can find.

hell, the OC folks got Reagan, Wilson, and Arnold elected governor. The neocon base there is as strong as anywhere in the country. In fact, Howie Ahmanson has his primary residence there, IIRC.

then you have most of rural CA, which is just like every other “redneck” area you can pick off the map in any part of the US (think Lebec), and has a mix of Agricultural interests and down-home christian evangelism. hard to classify, but usually vote republican,

anywho, just like most states, CA isn’t just a “blue” or a “red” state.

Comment #73922

Posted by Odd Digit on January 20, 2006 3:14 AM (e)

Dave Cerutti wrote:

Perhaps one of the experts is the Intelligent Designer himself/herself.

I don’t see how that could be possible. I wasn’t planning to go.

Me: “I am The Designer!”
Deep voice from the back: “No, I am The Designer!”

Comment #73953

Posted by Tim Makinson on January 20, 2006 6:12 AM (e)

The identity of the ‘experts’ has just been revealed as Rebecca W. Keller (an associate of the ARN), and Richard M. von Sternberg (who we all know is a fellow of Dembski’s ISCID).
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/13667674.htm

Comment #73965

Posted by raj on January 20, 2006 7:14 AM (e)

Totally and completely of topic, but I know that Ed Brayton reads here. I have been unable to log onto your new web site to make comments. I do not know why. Could you please investigate the situation and get your comment provider to correct it. My “handle” is the same as here–raj. I do not know what I originally registered as–my previous computer died.

TIA

Comment #73970

Posted by GT(N)T on January 20, 2006 7:31 AM (e)

“The identity of the ‘experts’ has just been revealed as Rebecca W. Keller (an associate of the ARN), and Richard M. von Sternberg…”

It should be interesting to see whether Dr. von Wternberg manages to maintain his stated position of ‘non-Creationist’.

Comment #73973

Posted by Tim Makinson on January 20, 2006 7:54 AM (e)

I suspect it’s on the cards that somebody will make a determined effort to ‘out’ the good doctor. Other than ISCID, Baraminology & occasional attendence at ‘Creationists only’ seminars, is there anything else linking him directly to Creationism?

Comment #73982

Posted by Greg H on January 20, 2006 8:24 AM (e)

Having been born and raised in the South, and having spent my formative military years in South Carolina, I can honestly tell you that South Carolina exists for no other reason than to hold up highways that go to other places.

And the back gate of Carowinds. I wonder if the ticket price on the South Carolina side of the park is lower?

Now that I’ve picked on my southern neighbors enough to get me shot the next time I roll through there…

My question is has anyone challeneged this idea that the advisors should be kept secret? I mean, it’s an extreme example to be sure, but they could nick Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper in there under the guise of anonymity. Who would know better?

This sounds like the kind of dirty sleight of hand that the Bush era is going to be remembered for long after anyone remembers the Taliban. Oh wait…already forgotten.

Comment #73988

Posted by Jason Spaceman on January 20, 2006 8:36 AM (e)

2 scientists to advise in evolution debate

By BILL ROBINSON
Staff Writer

A pair of scientists with experience in challenging the teaching of evolution will serve as advisers during next week’s review of South Carolina’s curriculum guidelines for teaching the origins of life.

The S.C. Education Oversight Committee received commitments Thursday from Rebecca W. Keller, a former chemistry professor at the University of New Mexico, and Richard M. von Sternberg, a Smithsonian Institute researcher, to offer their views on biology lesson guidelines that emphasize the theory of evolution.

Keller, who helped write her state’s public school science standards in 2003, and Sternberg will participate at the invitation of state Sen. Mike Fair.

Fair has called on educators to be more flexible in teaching about life’s origins. Fair, R-Greenville, said Thursday he will pay the advisers’ expenses from his election campaign account.

Fair initially shielded the scientists’ identities. Thursday, he declined to explain how he identified Keller and Sternberg as specialists in the field.

Both have signed the DI’s “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” petition.

Comment #73989

Posted by Jason Spaceman on January 20, 2006 8:41 AM (e)

Some more info, showing the DI’s involvement in this:

Scientist to talk evolution

Keller said she was contacted about being a panelist by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based that tank that supports research developing intelligent design, the idea that an unspecified intelligent force is involved in the creation of complex life forms.

Keller said that the changes made in New Mexico included revisions of wording like “students will know” to “students will critically analyze” or “understand.”

“If you teach science as a dogma, you are endorsing an ideology really,” Keller said. “Science needs to be objective if it’s going to be science.”

Taking out rigid language in New Mexico’s standards also gave students the freedom to discuss the broader implications of science and its impact on society, she said.

“That’s what education is all about, discussing different ideas and learning from different people,” she said. “It doesn’t have to break out into a fight as long as the students have to think objectively.”

Her husband, David Keller, a chemistry professor at the University of New Mexico, spoke at a conference of evolution skeptics in Greenville last year. Rebecca Keller said she wasn’t at that conference.

Comment #73993

Posted by raj on January 20, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 12:35 AM (e)

According to what metric do you consider SC to be last in education? If it’s SAT scores, I hope you realize that fewer than half the states even use the SAT as their primary test.

I don’ know whether or not you are a school teacher, but, when I was in high school, in a northern suburb of Cincinnati in the mid 1960s, we regularly (meaning every year) took “Iowa achievement tests” which, as I recall, were meant to measure not teacher performance, but primarily what we students were grasping. The intent of the tests was to provide feedback to the teachers so that they could plan according to what we were grasping.

I actually do believe that most public school teachers would like to produce educated students. The problem is that there are so many variables, that that makes it virtually impossible for them. The pupil doesn’t want to study. The parent rants about the failing grade. The parent rants against teaching of evilution. The parent rants about this, that and the other. I’m surprised that any self-respecting teacher agrees to teach in public schools.

That wasn’t the case when I was in public school in the 1950s and 1960s. In the midwest (suburb of Cincinnati). If I got caught mis-behaving, I was punished not by the school, but when I got home. Twice, once by my mother and then by my father. What has happened since then?

Comment #74000

Posted by Edwin Hensley on January 20, 2006 9:15 AM (e)

The Louisville Courier-Journal had two excellent editorials today. The first is The War On Science, by a geologist from Frankfort, KY. The author has many good points, but especially notes that fundamentalists are waging war on science, and not that science is waging war on religion. The second is Religion and Evolution, by the editorial board. This editorial focuses on a paper released by the Vatican that says ID is not science. The paper has also published two of my letters to the editor and many letters by others opposing ID.

Comment #74010

Posted by AC on January 20, 2006 9:43 AM (e)

Bill Robinson wrote:

Fair initially shielded the scientists’ identities. Thursday, he declined to explain how he identified Keller and Sternberg as specialists in the field.

If they really were specialists, it would be a simple matter not conducive to secrecy.

Whatever could Fair be trying to hide?

Comment #74013

Posted by mark duigon on January 20, 2006 9:58 AM (e)

“…Richard M. von Sternberg, a Smithsonian Institute researcher…”

Wasn’t part of the big hoo-ha a little while back the fact that von Sternberg is not exactly a Smithsonian researcher, but was allowed access to facilities at the Institution?

Comment #74015

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 20, 2006 9:59 AM (e)

Is Fair paying Keller and von Sternberg for their advice? With tax dollars? The original article does not mention payment at all, only that they had been invited “to advise the school reform oversight agency”

Payment would be tricky with the anonymity thing. Small unmarked bills?

Comment #74022

Posted by Chuck C on January 20, 2006 10:20 AM (e)

Hmm…..

Fair reiterated Thursday that “intelligent design is not part of this argument. I have not asked either one of (the out-of-state advisers) what their views on intelligent design are.” wrote:

Would seem to be at odds with

Keller said she was contacted about being a panelist by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based that(sic) tank that supports research developing intelligent design, the idea that an unspecified intelligent force is involved in the creation of complex life forms. wrote:

ID is not part of this, but he contacted her through Disco?

Curiouser…

Comment #74023

Posted by Chuck C on January 20, 2006 10:21 AM (e)

OK, don’t quite have the KwickXML thing down pat yet: gotta work on that…

Comment #74035

Posted by Tim Makinson on January 20, 2006 10:42 AM (e)

Fair, R-Greenville, said Thursday he will pay the advisers’ expenses from his election campaign account.

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/13667674.htm

Comment #74041

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 10:49 AM (e)

Is Fair paying Keller and von Sternberg for their advice? With tax dollars? The original article does not mention payment at all, only that they had been invited “to advise the school reform oversight agency”

He is paying their expenses through his own campaign money, from what I’ve heard. I have no idea if that’s ethical or even legal.

Comment #74043

Posted by Larry Fafarman on January 20, 2006 10:53 AM (e)

One Jan. 18 article in The State newspaper said,

“In response to a Freedom of Information request by The State, the Education Oversight Committee released the names of two educators who will participate: Karen Stratton, a science coordinator for Lexington 1 schools, and Erskine College biology professor Mary Lang O. Edwards.”
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/13650027.htm?source=rss&channel=thestate_local

A later Jan. 20 article in The State newspaper said,

“The S.C. Education Oversight Committee received commitments Thursday from Rebecca W. Keller, a former chemistry professor at the University of New Mexico, and Richard M. von Sternberg, a Smithsonian Institute researcher, to offer their views on biology lesson guidelines that emphasize the theory of evolution.

“Fair initially shielded the scientists’ identities. Thursday, he declined to explain how he identified Keller and Sternberg as specialists in the field.

“Nonetheless, they will join Erskine College biology professor Mary Lang O. Edwards and Karen Stratton, a veteran educator who is the science curriculum coordinator for the Lexington 1 school system.”
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/local/13667674.htm

So why was it that The State newspaper was able to get the names of Stratton and Edwards – but not the names of Keller and von Sternberg – through a Freedom of Information request ?

And what was the advantage of keeping the names secret before the meeting?

I just don’t get it.

Comment #74044

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 20, 2006 10:54 AM (e)

He is paying their expenses through his own campaign money, from what I’ve heard. I have no idea if that’s ethical or even legal.

I guess it’s more ethical than using taxpayer money to finance it; but it’s also an admission that he understands that it would be unethical to use taxpayer money for it, and therefore maybe it’s something he shouldn’t be doing anyway.

Comment #74056

Posted by globigerinoides on January 20, 2006 11:25 AM (e)

“Speaking as a geologist, it’s a shame that such a geologically interesting state as SC has morons in it like Mr. Fair.”

And it’s a shame that such a geologically obvious state as Utah has morons like Chris Buttars. A glaring failure of science education.

Comment #74075

Posted by RBH on January 20, 2006 12:41 PM (e)

From Jaason Spaceman’s quotation

Her husband, David Keller, a chemistry professor at the University of New Mexico, spoke at a conference of evolution skeptics in Greenville last year. Rebecca Keller said she wasn’t at that conference.

Fair apparently attended at least one day of that conference. The conference program.

RBH

Comment #74080

Posted by Corkscrew on January 20, 2006 12:59 PM (e)

Larry: well spotted, I hadn’t noticed that.

Comment #74082

Posted by Corkscrew on January 20, 2006 1:04 PM (e)

Ah, no, I see. The first article you list is talking about two separate groups of people, the educators and the guests. It’s saying that they released the names of the former but claimed they were under no obligation to release the names of the latter.

Comment #74088

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 20, 2006 1:24 PM (e)

Some more info, showing the DI’s involvement in this:

*sigh*

no, we don’t want ID to be taught… no sireebob!

when is somebody gonna give these snakes the royal smackdown?

Comment #74102

Posted by qetzal on January 20, 2006 2:08 PM (e)

Slightly off topic (although GA & SC are neighbors):

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the following on yestersay’s front page:

Reviving a controversial religious measure debated years ago, a group of [State Senators] on Wednesday introduced a bill to create an elective high school class to teach the Bible.

If approved, the legislation would authorize the state Board of Education to adopt a state-funded academic course covering the Good Book’s influence on literature, art, music, culture and politics.

“Are they kidding?” asked an incredulous Jeffrey Selman, a Cobb County father who fought evolution “disclaimers” in students’ biology textbooks. “That’s just a disguise to put the Bible back in the classroom.”

[Proponents] downplayed the religious nature of the proposal, saying that to be well-educated, students must understand biblical allusions in Shakespeare or the religious roots of American democracy.

But [opponents] criticized the move as simply pandering to faith-based voters in an election year.

The punchline? It’s the Democrats pushing the bill, and Republicans opposing it! (In the original article, the bracketed phrases were actually “Senate Democrats,” “Democrats,” and “Republicans.”)

Comment #74104

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on January 20, 2006 2:09 PM (e)

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 10:49 AM (e)

Is Fair paying Keller and von Sternberg for their advice? With tax dollars? The original article does not mention payment at all, only that they had been invited “to advise the school reform oversight agency”

He is paying their expenses through his own campaign money, from what I’ve heard. I have no idea if that’s ethical or even legal.

Even if the politician pays with his own money remember that they “two scientists” are brought in as advisers to work (explain?) some aspects to the board of education. At the least that is a conflict of interest and unethical.

Comment #74111

Posted by Greg H on January 20, 2006 2:22 PM (e)

I have no problem with the bible being taught in public schools, as long as it’s in the proper context. That being a study of the bible, or a comparative religion class. Where I draw the line is when the bible starts being taught as the absolute truth, so help me god, amen. If they want to cover what the article seems to indicate, that’s good. An understanding of the Bible’s influence on society isn’t a bad thing. If nothing else, it might help some people understand why the arguments seem to be so pervasive these days. If, on the other hand, it’s just a forum to advocate Christianity, then I expect it will get yanked quickly enough. As it should.

Comment #74117

Posted by NotVeryBright on January 20, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

They’ve now been identified.

Comment #74121

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on January 20, 2006 2:56 PM (e)

An understanding of the Bible’s influence on society isn’t a bad thing.

No, no! We want to make sure delicate ears never hear things like, “Kill them all; God will recognize his own.”

Seriously, could such a curiculum (sp? I don’t want to look it up) be limited to the Bible’s positive influences? Who would decide which influences were positive and which were negative? After all, isn’t this all about students having their faith challenged by learning the truth? That the Radical Religious Right would oppose such teaching doesn’t surpise me in the least.

Comment #74126

Posted by Steve Reuland on January 20, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

Even if the politician pays with his own money remember that they “two scientists” are brought in as advisers to work (explain?) some aspects to the board of education. At the least that is a conflict of interest and unethical.

Indeed, the whole process is unethical. Fair is inviting two people from out-of-state whose views he knows ahead of time, in order to “advise” the subcommittee to take the course of action he already knows he wants to take. At the very least, this subverts the basic purpose of asking experts to testify, which is to elicit objective, non-politicized advice. At the worst, it’s just a sham, similar to the Kansas Kangaroo court. Fair simply wants political cover by pretending, falsely, to have the approval of scientific experts.

As for funding the airplane tickets and hotel accomodations of Sternberg and Keller out of Fair’s campaign funds, this is a seperate issue. As they say, “follow the money”. I’m curious as to where these funds came from, and whether it is acceptable to use campaign contributions for this purpose.

Comment #74134

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 20, 2006 3:22 PM (e)

(sp? I don’t want to look it up)

There’s a button right under “Preview” and “Post” that says “Check Spelling”. It really does that.

Comment #74152

Posted by qetzal on January 20, 2006 3:54 PM (e)

Greg H. & Bill G.

I don’t think a public high school class on the Bible’s influence on Western culture is bad in principle. It may or may not be workable in practice, but that’s another matter.

What I found interesting was that in this case, it’s the Democrats that are being accused of religious pandering, and the Republicans who are rejecting the whole idea as completely inappropriate for public school.

I also noted that today’s paper has a number of letters to the editor in response. Every one opposed the idea.

Of course, some opponents may not object to the Bible in public school per se. Maybe they just don’t want to see it taught as secular literature.

;^)

Comment #74160

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on January 20, 2006 4:12 PM (e)

Of course, some opponents may not object to the Bible in public school per se. Maybe they just don’t want to see it taught as secular literature.

Not just as secular literature, but in any way that conflicts with how their particular church teaches it on Sunday.

Comment #74171

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 20, 2006 4:51 PM (e)

So you think they wouldn’t want to include analysis of the Bible by Voltaire, Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll?

Comment #74177

Posted by Alexey Merz on January 20, 2006 5:33 PM (e)

How will we know whether a given witness is a bona fide scientist, or the Unknown Comic? If the latter, can the witness’s testimony be terminated by striking a large gong?

Comment #74236

Posted by Greg H on January 20, 2006 10:03 PM (e)

Bill Gascoyne wrote:

Seriously, could such a curiculum (sp? I don’t want to look it up) be limited to the Bible’s positive influences? Who would decide which influences were positive and which were negative? After all, isn’t this all about students having their faith challenged by learning the truth? That the Radical Religious Right would oppose such teaching doesn’t surpise me in the least.

Actually, I think it would be just as important to also illustrate the negative effects. If nothing else, it might make those Sunday school classes more lively.

Comment #74246

Posted by Jim Harrison on January 20, 2006 10:55 PM (e)

Teaching high school kids about the Bible is perfectly defensible in the abstract. In the real world, however, it’s a dreadful idea, just another way of working towards the re-establishment of religious orthodoxy by the America is a Christian Country bunch.

Comment #74271

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 21, 2006 2:35 AM (e)

South Carolina is peopled overwhelmingly with bumpkins, hillbillies, and rubes, and I have no doubt that the threat of legal action, and financial consequences for local school districts, or the state as a whole, will do nothing to dissuade these backwards, bible-thumpers from exploiting any flimsy excuse to preach about the “Lord Jaysus,” in the science classroom.

and

Anecdotally, I do have hope. About 5 years ago I was in SC for about the 10th time to collect some fossils called Belemnites. After collecting a couple of dozen of the little guys, I headed back to the main road. Even though I’d been in this area several times before, I managed to get lost. I stopped in at a little country store for directions, and talked to a group of 3 or 4 locals. After giving me directions, they asked what I’d been doing (I was pretty muddy) in a friendly sort of way. I talked about the fossils, their age (at least 65 million years old), their behavior and appearence when alive, etc. All of these gentlemen were polite, understood the concepts, and seemed receptive to the ideas. So at least in this area, even though it was an extremely rural environment, some of the people are not “hicks” when it comes to modern science.

This nation has achieved great things because time after time, the hicks and rubes that we all are have risen to the occasion and created education systems that provide better educations for our children than we got ourselves.

I regret momentary lack of focus on the part of entire states, sometimes; I have faith that South Carolinians can and will pull themselves out of the little backwater eddy they seem to have got stuck in on science education.

Sometimes we overlook the amazing: The Scopes trial in 1925 took place because good citizens rose to the occasion and defied a stupid law, by teaching science. Who says there are no miracles?

Comment #74272

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 21, 2006 2:45 AM (e)

Keller said that the changes made in New Mexico included revisions of wording like “students will know” to “students will critically analyze” or “understand.”

Well, evolution is one of the dozen or so great ideas of Western civilization. South Carolina probably doesn’t want kids to uncritically accept the notion of free markets and democracy, either, do they?

I mean, fair is fair: If kids in South Carolina get a full instruction on Marxism, they should also get a complete instruction on Marxism’s brother in biology, creationism.

But if kids in South Carolina are not told that Marxism offers valid criticisms of capitalism that should be considered, and that should be considered closer to godliness, then they shouldn’t get ID philosophy like that, either.

Comment #74343

Posted by Ediacaran on January 21, 2006 10:31 AM (e)

RBH posted a link to http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/local/12320837.htm which included the following revelation

Associated Press wrote:

The three-day conference addressed whether schools should teach only Darwin’s evolution theory, or if students should be exposed to ideas like intelligent design.
The legislation filed by Fair in June calls for public school students to be exposed to the “full range of scientific views that exist” on topics like evolution.
Fair attended Friday to learn about the intelligent design concept.
“This has been an area of interest for me for years,” he said. “If you listen to these speakers, you learn that we really need to teach students what it means when you use the term evolution, when you talk about the complexity of organisms.”
Fair said his bill wouldn’t prevent teachers from discussing evolution, but would require them to present other theories like intelligent design to students. He acknowledged that his Christian beliefs play a part in his desire for other theories besides evolution to have a chance in the classroom. [Emphasis mine]

Keep that one to use at the trial.

Comment #74347

Posted by steve s on January 21, 2006 10:40 AM (e)

Casey’s searched the phone directory as we speak

Comment #74418

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 21, 2006 2:04 PM (e)

Keep that one to use at the trial.

It sure is a good thing for us that IDers are so bone-crushingly stupid that they STILL haven’t figured out why they lost at Dover …

Like I’ve always said, IDers are their own worst enemies. Just let them talk long enough, and they will shoot themselves in the head every single time. (shrug)

Comment #74427

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on January 21, 2006 2:22 PM (e)

Greg H wrote:

Actually, I think it would be just as important to also illustrate the negative effects. If nothing else, it might make those Sunday school classes more lively.

I would, of course, agree, but I fear our point of view is entirely too rational to be enacted into real policy.

Comment #74739

Posted by Greg H on January 22, 2006 10:25 AM (e)

Bill,

Unfortunately, you’re right. That sort of class would be shot down by the fundies for violating the right to not expose their children to anything of the sort.

Of course that sort of argument never works when it runs the other way, but then Logic never has been as important as The AgendaTM.

Comment #76486

Posted by wt on January 31, 2006 1:29 PM (e)

South Carolina is my home state, I love the state but it is and always has been a racist state. The white population in my early years were the most racist and now the blacks are the most racist. The elected people in the state government are crude dishonest left wing ass kissers, without concern for anything but their own sorry butts. They have moral values of a Bill Clinton or a Barbara Striesand. I am a black free thinking man and people like Jessie Jackson make me sick, why do you dumbass people fail to see him for what he is…..God help us all…..