Letters to the Editor

New standards

February 7, 2007


To the editor:

On Feb. 13, the Kansas Board of Education will vote on adopting new science standards based on the recommendations of the Science Standards Writing Committee, replacing the intelligent-design-influenced standards passed by the previous board in November 2005.

As a member of that committee and as president of Kansas Citizens for Science, I strongly encourage all state board members to vote "yes" on this important issue for two compelling reasons.

¢ First, the committee's standards represent the mainstream scientific consensus on the nature of science and on evolution, and the current standards do not.

¢ Second, the committee's standards were developed according to the proper process, and the current standards were not.

The committee, appointed by the board in 2004, followed established procedures, including addressing all minority views democratically by requiring a two-thirds vote on all content. The previous board badly abused established procedures. They allowed members of the intelligent design movement to subvert both content and process based on their entirely false belief that mainstream science is atheistic.

Adopting the committee's standards now is simply finishing the proper process: restoring mainstream science to our standards and credibility to our state.

New board members Jana Shaver of Independence and Sally Cauble of Liberal ran on clear platforms of replacing the current intelligent design standards. I encourage all Kansans to join me in supporting them and their fellow board members in fulfilling this campaign pledge.

Jack Krebs,



Richard Heckler 11 years, 3 months ago

If we don't Kansas will make nationwide headlines once again for the wrong reasons.

Good advice Jack

KS 11 years, 3 months ago

I thought science was based upon fact and not consensus!

crono 11 years, 3 months ago

Scientific inquiry is limited to repeatedly observable phenomenon.

The origin of life on earth happened once and none of us saw it happen.

Hence, the origin of life falls outside the epistemological bounds of the scientific method.

Hazel Ripstra 11 years, 3 months ago

55 x 75 writes,

"Consensus" implies a cession of discussion and debate - to claim "scientific consensus" is to suggest that the 'science' no longer requires discussion and debate, that there is no need for further inquiry."

That is wrong. Consensus just means that at the current time this is what the scientific world as a whole in general thinks. Science is always exploring a topic, and the consensus can change.

Hazel Ripstra 11 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm. It's interesting that "how funny" and "snicker" are your responses to my comment - that's not very specific.

For instance, the science standards include consensus views on atom structure, continental drift, etc. If we don't teach the current consensus of the scientific community, what do we teach?

Kodiac 11 years, 3 months ago

"How do I know they aren't peddling a bunch of fairy tales?" -- Right_thinker

That is a very revealing statement.

gr8dane 11 years, 3 months ago

There is a clear consensus among scientists (especially those in earth and life sciences) that the earth is old and that evolution is a factual ongoing process, based on clear and overwhelming evidence, and none against.

Those scientists who don't agree with the consensus generally have a religious bias behind it, not evidence. Many also don't know how strong the consensus is (and the evidence behind it), because it's not their field of study and they haven't looked into it, so sometimes even scientists will say unfortunate and ignorant things that the creationists glom onto and put in their Big Book of Anti-Evolution Quotes, right beside the out-of-context quotes mined from scientists who DO understand evolution (quotes that make it seem they're saying the opposite of what the full quote actually says).

One of the dishonest tactics creationists use is to try to manufacture "controversy" where none basically exists. Mocking the existing strong consensus is seen as an important first step. Mocking any consensus building in science at all as "dogma" or claiming it "implies a cession of discussion and debate" is extraordinary zeal! :)

Agnostick's humorous blue sky analogy demonstrated what it ACTUALLY is in science. An agreement by scientists that X does indeed seem to be true, based on all available evidence.

It does NOT mean they are claiming it's ABSOLUTELY true, or cannot be shown to be wrong. (so much for it being dogma)

Nor is it a binary thing, one day no consensus, the next, a full consensus that everyone agrees completely on. Many things in science don't have a strong consensus, not enough evidence for scientists to all agree it seems to be true, or evidence that supports and confirms it, but to different degrees.

And they are usually honest enough to phrase things to show their level of sureness, based on the evidence. Especially when it's not their OWN theory or work in question (because face it, scientists ARE humans also, and can get caught up in the excitement of their own explanations).

Although on the other hand, good scientists tend to criticize their theories more than anyone else, and show the possible "weaknesses" of it. Even Darwin did in "Origin of Species". Unfortunately, creationists use misquotes of those as if they are still weaknesses TODAY when most have been solved since Darwin wrote them, as new evidence and research came in.

Other things have varying degrees of how strong the consensus is, and most scientists tend to be pretty honest about how strong a consensus it is (even when it means admitting the consensus isn't as strong as they personally believe it should be).

The consensus among earth and life scientists that EVOLUTION HAPPENS (and did in the past) is one of the strongest, though, based on the great body of evidence and observation and yes, repeatable testing and confirmed predictions supporting it.

gr8dane 11 years, 3 months ago

The only people who don't share this consensus on evolution do so (1) because they haven't studied evolution and why it's so strongly accepted as a core theory of biology and thus remain neutral (as any honest scientist should) while still being able to admit those who DO study it do seem to have such a consensus,

or (2) because of religious/political biases (even though they try to manufacture scientific sounding reasons for rejecting it, like "irreducible complexity" and "intelligent design theory") and act like they have secular, scientific reasons for rejecting it, and evidence supporting them. They clearly don't.

But they put more effort into slick propaganda campaigns aimed at the less scientifically literate general population than they put into doing actual scientific research, and their sneakily phrased pseudo-science and made up evidence SOUND good to the average person, especially if they are a religious believer raised in a climate of distrust for science and "intellectuals", as has been the case in many areas of the USA for over a century now.

They also use political manipulation: for example, using the patriotic love of "democracy", with their "teach the controversy" and "be fair and teach both, let the kids decide" attitude. Even though it's like teaching the controversy between (consensus theories on) sexual reproduction and "stork theory" to the kids and letting them decide, after tarting "stork theory" up with scientific terms.

Confusing the kids this way is criminal negligence, as is slipping creationism in as science. If you want them to learn about creationism (or "stork theory" for that matter), do it on your own time, at home and church. Keep it out of the public school science classes.

Even most of us Christians outside of the USA (and many within) have no problem accepting and agreeing with the scientific consensus on evolution, if we are honest and have studied it even to a basic degree. Even the wealth of information available on the Internet about evolution can teach you a lot, if you are critical of sources and try to stick to valid scientific ones.

Hint: going to a creationist site to learn about evolution is like going to a KKK or neo-nazi website to learn about Black history or the Jewish Holocaust or racial harmony in general. People usually only expect to learn about those topics there if they already have that bias and want to have it validated.

Mind you, more and more creationists are putting up websites cunningly designed to LOOK like they represent mainstream science and follow the scientific method and the evidence. And again, if you have that bias already, you'll be more willing to take them at face value. smirk

gr8dane 11 years, 3 months ago

Sorry for being my usual long-winded self. Another insomnia bout. :-P

purplesage 11 years, 3 months ago

The science standards which allowed for the consideratin of intelligent design encouraged open minded thinking and an evaluation of evidence by the students. The evolutionists are a close-minded group who want a no questions asked policy.

Have we forgotten where "science" got its start? Men who saw the universe as evidencing the handiwork of God sought to investigate and explore the evidence. They upset the status quo of their day and some paid the price. Today, the very suggestion of "design" gets much the same result from Mr. Krebs and his cronies. Witness the howling and demands of removal from the shelves of a non-evolution based book sold in the NPS bookstore at Grand Canyon National Park!

The State BOE has 2 items on its narrow-minded agenda, one of which is accomplished. 1) Bob Corkins had to go; (Thank you, Mr. Corkins, for graciously stepping aside and sparing the KSDE the black eye of firing a director over ideology.) 2) Evolution - with no questions allowed.

gr8dane 11 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps in that usage, I should have said science is "methodologically naturalistic", in keeping with the rest of the statement about it seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena. I think the two terms are interchangable, but it sounds better.

And science is methodologically naturalistic, not philosophically so. That means it looks for natural explanations, but it's not saying there ARE NO supernatural causes. Just that it must remain neutral to them without evidence.

That's why most of us Christians can accept evolution just fine, and all the other parts of science that fundamentalists/evangelicals take as an attack on their faith. We don't see it as such. We see science as our attempts to understand the natural world, as we believe God set it up to work. Evolution included.

That's why the majority of Christians are classified as "theistic evolutionists".

gr8dane 11 years, 3 months ago

"Intelligent Design" creationism does not encourage asking questions. It stifles it. It says "your secular explanations can't be the cause, God must have done it, and we can't understand how so don't look. Just accept."

How science got its start? Science got its start as an offshoot of philosophy, which was itself an offshoot of religion. But it has "evolved" completely apart from both by this point. It was early scientists, most of whom WERE THEISTS (Christians specifically) who decided science needed to be "methodologically materialist" (look for natural explanations to natural phenomena) instead of citing the supernatural as a cause.

The "non-evolution based book" (good way to change the subject, by the way) isn't non-evolution, it's non-science, anti-science. It's against many fields of science, including GEOLOGY, which clearly supports an old earth and no global flood as facts, based on the overwhelming evidence.

The book has factual FALSEHOODS in it, religiously motivated ones. So it doesn't belong in a government-run park store supplying SCIENTIFIC texts about the Grand Canyon. People who want such scientifically disproven myths can get them from fundamentalist churches and bookstores.

Lastly, that's another fallacy of the whining creationists. "You evolutionists don't want people to question your dogma." The irony level of you guys saying that is amazing.

Question all you like. You have that right. NO ONE is saying you can't. What you DON'T have is the right to come into public school science class and question accepted science to OUR kids, when your "questioning" is not only unsupported by evidence, but clearly DISPROVEN by the scientific research, many times and long ago.

If you want to change what is taught in SCIENCE classes, you don't get it changed POLITICALLY. You go and DO THE RESEARCH, change SCIENCE first, using the proper scientific method. Then it gets into the schools.

Creationists know you can't do that, so you use politics instead.

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