February 19, 2008

Will Science Education in Florida Evolve Today? Some Get It...

An example of someone who "gets it" appears as an editorial by Daniel Ruth in today's Tampa Tribune:

A Canonical Evolution Kerfuffle

...Florida's Board of Education, a title treaded upon very cautiously here, is set to vote on adopting new science standards for public schools.

But what should have been a relative no-brainer for the board to rationally acknowledge that evolution is the scientific cornerstone when it comes to the study of biology and its extended disciplines, instead has become a canonical kerfuffle among various Bible thumper groups who want to treat Charles Darwin's research with all the legitimacy of a race track tout sheet...

Recently, the Florida Family Policy Council and its head vicar John Stemberger argued there was no factual basis to support evolution, insisting Darwin's work be explored in classrooms as merely a "theory" on the origin of Man, along with other concepts.

By any coherent, established measure, evolution is the settled science of biology among the Bunsen burner, microscope, test tube crowd - otherwise known as the grown-up eggheads in the room who know about this stuff.

You don't need to be a political scientist to figure out the agenda of the Stembergerians is to eventually supplant teaching real science like evolution with the Fundamentalist theology-based study of creationism, which is often presented under the guise of "intelligent design..."
Note that nowhere in the editorial does this author pretend to knowledge that he doesn't have. He never hauls out a bunch of $10 words in bizarre contexts. He never has to redefine anything. His contention is really quite simple; look at who is saying what and what they're concerns are, then line them up with the question at hand.

If you want to get quality religious education, you don't ask a shoe salesman. You go to an expert on religion, and the religious expert sets the curriculum that you follow if you want to learn about religion. In exactly the same way, if you want to learn about science, you go to a scientist. In any context other than science education, nobody has a problem working this way. Nobody takes investment advice from the mailman, no one asks their plumber to remove their tonsils, and nobody asks a dog groomer to tutor their children in math. Unless there is some special circumstance (e.g., a particular dog groomer got a doctorate in mathematics but decided he just liked bathing Fido better as his life's work), it would seem crazy to most people to do things any other way.

When it comes to science, though, it seems that a lot of people are open to asking some clergyman for advice. If I were these people's mailman, I'd start leaving them bills for financial counseling. It makes every bit as much sense.

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