Archive for Friday, March 17, 2006

Series to focus on science standards

March 17, 2006


Hume Feldman gets hot under the collar when he thinks about the Kansas State Board of Education's changes to the definition of science in the public school science standards.

"Redefining science?" the Kansas University professor said. "Who are you? Where do you come from? The arrogance is just unbelievable."

With the backing of a slew of KU departments, Feldman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, has organized a series of lectures calling in several scientists to explore the ramifications of the state board's actions.

"My main concern here is the redefinition of science," Feldman said. "I think people don't really understand what it means. They just kind of put it somewhere in the science standards and nobody really pays attention to it much."

A conservative majority of the state board late last year adopted science standards, proposed by intelligent design supporters, that enable criticism of evolution.

Feldman has invited four scientists who will speak in separate events in April and May.

Lawrence Krauss, physics professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, will talk about what he views as the assault on science and how educators and policy makers can react. Krauss is the author of "The Physics of Star Trek," which explores how the laws of physics apply to the television show.

The second speaker will be Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor who served as a witness in the Dover, Pa., intelligent design trial. Forrest is a faculty member at Southeastern Louisiana University.

She will be followed by William Schopf, a University of California-Los Angeles paleobiologist and author of "Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth's Earliest Fossils."

The final speaker will be KU's chemistry department chairman, Joseph Heppert, who also serves as director of the Center for Science Education.

The series, set for the Dole Institute of Politics, is sponsored by KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost's Office, Kansas Geological Survey and the KU departments of chemistry, geology, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biosciences, philosophy, political science, religious studies, anthropology, psychology and economics.

"I wanted to make sure that everybody supports this," Feldman said. "It was very easy. All I had to do was send a couple of e-mails."

Feldman called the changes to the standards dangerous.

"If we are going to introduce all kinds of bizarre notions into the science curriculum and say that's legitimate science, we're just going to dilute what science is," he said. "I think that's very dangerous."

John Calvert, director of the Intelligent Design Network and a lawyer, said the changes were meant to remove existing religious implications in the standards. He said the old definition said science can only be explained by material causes - a definition which favored atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism and other beliefs. But he said the new standards don't favor any religion.

"Yes, they are religiously motivated," he said. "They're motivated to get a religious problem out of the standards and replace that problem with scientific objectivity."

Calvert said such actions are the antithesis of arrogance.

"I'm not asking that a religious bias be inserted in the science standards," he said. "I'm asking for objectivity."

Robert Goldstein, chairman of KU's geology department, said the lectures are a way to combat the bad reputation the state is getting.

"We're hurt by the outside perception of the deliberations," he said. "There is this strange phenomenon that is occurring where non-scientists are trying to define what science is."

Goldstein said he and others made a conscious decision not to attend the hearings over the standards in Topeka last year, but that doesn't mean they weren't watching or taking a stand.

"We're on stage," he said. "Just on a different stage."


Ragingbear 12 years, 1 month ago

Welcome to science 101-

Today, we will learn how a being created the world in a week 5000 years ago. Later on, we will discover that most illness is caused by a small toad or gnome living in the stomache. We will then go into detailed discussion on how women are physically and mentally inferior to men.

Don't forget next week when we have sex ed. What we do, is beat you for a day telling you how pathetic and worthless you are, and how bad it is. The lesson will convene at an all night co-ed slumber party in the Drive in Theatre....

Shardwurm 12 years, 1 month ago

Welcome to Intolerance 101 -

Today, we will learn how faith is for fools. Later we will discuss how easy it is to explain everything in life with math and science and only fundamentalist nutballs believe in anything else.

Don't forget next week when we discuss the inferiority of certain races. What we do is sit around and discuss how not everyone is equal at all and only people who see things the way we do are worth anything. Then we go to a clan meeting and burn a cross...

Solti 12 years, 1 month ago

Sure, omit creationism in your "science" classrooms since it doesn't fit the curriculum. But then you must also omit teaching the lie of evolution. It is not science at all-just several creative "ideas" of what might have happened. Creation is so much more believable-deep down in we all know there is a God-and His powers are probably even greater than any of us can believe.

Stop brain-washing our american children with lies. If we can't decide then let's not teach it at all!

Alyosha 12 years, 1 month ago

Even better, let's teach and follow these words of an American President:

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear."

And these:

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes."

Oh, and he wrote the Declaration of Independence, so his words can reasonably be seen to carry the most authoratative weight of any President or other American.

He is, literally, one of the authors of America.

james bush 12 years, 1 month ago

The anti-fundies are on the march again! Maybe this guy should just teach more and organize less. Perhaps all these professors should spend more time in the classroom. Maybe Horowitz is correct about our elitist universities.

Shardwurm 12 years, 1 month ago


So you're saying that because Jefferson said that I should believe it?

Here's one to ponder from Teddy Roosevelt:

"Personally I believe in woman's suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it... I do not think that giving the women suffrage will produce any marked improvement in the condition of women."

How about this one?

"What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ." --George Washington in a speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs May 12, 1779

Thomas Jefferson you say?

"It [the Bible] is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus." [Jan 9, 1816 Letter to Charles Thomson]

John Q Adams:

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." [July 4th, 1821] we quote dead Presidents or not Alyosha?

Alyosha 12 years, 1 month ago

I'm saying that Jefferson in fact and in deed -- writing the Declaration of Independence -- has far more insight into what American was intended to be than you or I or anyone else.

Except James Madison.

Shardwurm 12 years, 1 month ago

Guess I should throw in this one from Lincoln:

"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office,"

Alyosha 12 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but we're talking about science and religion.

Red herrings about other topics are good ways to confuse the issue, nothing more.

So let's stick to science and religion.

athene 12 years, 1 month ago

Sure. And science is not another form of religion. It is, rather, a separate sphere, different in kind as well as substance. Many GOOD scientists also identify themselves as adherents of christianity, judaism, islam, hinduism---many of my friends and colleagues are such people. But they don't act out their religious views and practices in their scientific work, except insofar as their awe for the beautify and complexity of the universe motivates them---in my experience many scientists are very spiritual people, though they take guidance from something different from a several-thousand-year-old collection of texts.

Science is a place to find out what happened and what is happening now--with a particular set of methods developed since the European Enlightenment to derive these hypotheses and facts.

If you feel in your heart that there is a supernatural being or force that guides your life, that's fine. Live your life as you see fit. But don't try to erase boundaries and redefine areas that don't concern these matters. Don't try to define the entity "science" according to something different from what scientists agree it is. Of course, if you'd like to live without the benefits of the Enlightment and its methods, you can do that too. You could become Amish--except, of course, you'd have to forgo the benefits of 21st century medicine, which they certainly do choose to accept. You could move to New Guinea and see if some tribe there would let you live with them and pound yams all day. You could move to some remote farming village in Turkey or Africa, if there aren't any that utilize modern steel tools. But in any case, you'd have to live a medieval, preindustrial life, because that's the world from which religious fundamentalist thinking derives--a time before science as such, when religion and theocracy was primary and hypothesis-testing didn't shape our lives in myriad ways.

I bet you don't want to really live like that, tho. So what that suggests is, you want your cake and eat it too---to benefit from the heritage of the Enlightment and all the modern inventions developed by its scientific methods, but without copping to that.

dex 12 years, 1 month ago


arrogance? objectivity? what is this article about? is it about science standards? about redefining science? about an attack by religous fundamentalists? danger? does la prima taza need to put a coffeeshop in the library just so the reporters will do a little research before writing a story?

how about including a brief summary of the existing science standards and the proposed change to those standards? how about a comparison to similar standards in neighboring states? how about a clearly marked link to a previous article containing any of the above? how about a clearly marked link to "offical" sources containing any of the above. am i going to read any objective and useful information by reading all the articles linked to in the "evolution in kansas" box? or will i just read people's interpretations of "studies" with the actual facts thrown out for the benefit of the idiot readers?

judging solely by the reporting of the ljworld on this ID nonsense, i'd infer that lawrence and KU together is a villiage of idiots. what's the point of an amazing online presence if you're not going to use it? (to do anything but sell ads)

james bush 12 years, 1 month ago

Feldman is professor of physics and astronomy and he's supported by "slew" of departments. Is this another bunch of liberals deciding to use the university and its curriculum to further "progessiveness?"

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