Republicans fart in science's general direction - again.

Since Indiana state senator Dennis Kruse apparently can't take a hint after his last few attempts to pass a bill to allow/mandate Creationism be taught in science classes in his state went nowhere fast, he's now introducing what he's calling, in classic Republican spin style, a "truth in education" bill.  It would require teachers to produce proof on demand any time a student challenged or disagreed with the scientific subject being taught.

First of all, isn't that basically what school is?  Maybe it's different in Indiana, or maybe schools have changed since I was there, but I don't remember much by way of truly rote learning in science, aside from basic things like the periodic table and the laws of thermodynamics.  When we learned about evolution, it wasn't just "We evolved.  End of story."*  It was a whole subject, complete with an age-appropriate rundown of the discoveries and theories and reasoning that support it.  No, we weren't reading anyone's dissertations or scientific journal articles, but we had the cliffs notes from them.  If you challenge what the teacher's telling you, perhaps you should just read through your textbook and get your "proof" that way?  (Hmm.  On second thought...bad idea, actually.)  Everything they teach in science classes is supported by evidence to at least some degree.  We're not the ones who just throw ideas together and call it truth - you're thinking of Creationism.

I almost hope they do pass this.  I'd love to see some self-righteous student stand up and challenge the teaching of evolution, and have the teacher cite research, then turn around and ask them "So what's your proof, then?"  I mean, fair is fair.  Also, I move to have Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye put together "Teacher's Proof Kits" for common questions so that teachers don't have to waste time on some evangelical kid trying to disrupt everyone else's learning with inane debate - just chuck a booklet at the kid's head and move on.

The one thing that would concern me is how they're defining "proof".  The bill hasn't been introduced yet so I don't have the text to look at, but I'm wary, because Republican-led legislation around science issues tends to be vague as fuck or have really weird or totally wrong definitions for things.  What's the standard for proof here?  "9 out of 10 dentists agree"?  Every single article on the subject in every single scholarly journal for the last 20 years must agree with this conclusion?  Or are we trying to use the actual scientific definition of "proof"? Because that'll go nowhere fast.  Since science is a constantly moving, changing, self-refining field, the standard for "proof" is set extremely high - hell, even gravity is just a theory in scientific terms.  Make it so you can only teach 100% "proven" science, and science classes will get a hell of a lot shorter - and students will lack important information and background in the field, simply because some asshole in a suit willfully misinterpreted scientific notions of "proof" and "theory" in order to undermine science and get Creationism a toe in the door.

*Although my favorite super-simplified explanation of evolution ever came from my senior year environmental science teacher.  When we began that unit, he started class by saying "Evolution can be summed up in four words: dead things don't breed."  It's stuck with me for ten years now.  Clearly this is an effective teaching tool.


Sonneillon said...

... This is going to backfire on them SO HARD if it gets passed.  Like... SO hard.  Say it in Jean Claude Van Damme's accent... that's how HO-ARD it will backfire.  Granted, some little shit could disrupt the entire thing by demanding the teachers PROVE the second law of thermodynamics right there, but like you said, this is where we involve the experts in anticipating those questions and providing easy-to-understand information o them.

Jadelyn said...

Yeah, I really can't see any possible way where this comes out a win for them.  

CaitieCat said...

 I have the answer.

The requester must submit their own body for the proving.

So, if I'm the teacher in physics, and the little snot questions the Second Law of Motion, we get to use HIM to do the scientific proof.

Here, Jimmy, step up into the cannon. Now, these bags of gunpowder are what we call "forces", or they will be when I introduce this source of ignition. You, in this case, are "the mass". We will shortly prove that "acceleration" is produced when "forces" act on "the mass".

There will then be a VERY BRIEF demonstration of the FIRST Law of Motion over here by the classroom wall. I encourage you other kids to get behind the "slop shield" over there, this one is frequently messy.

Okay, Jimmy, would you please sign here, saying who gets your locker and PS Vita? Thank you for your services to science.

Jadelyn said...



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