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Letters to the Editor

New standards

February 7, 2007

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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,

Lawrence

Comments

gr8dane 7 years, 2 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".

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gr8dane 7 years, 2 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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purplesage 7 years, 2 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.

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gr8dane 7 years, 2 months ago

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

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gr8dane 7 years, 2 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

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gr8dane 7 years, 2 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.

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i_tching 7 years, 2 months ago

Science is challenging, and therefore sometimes unable to provide comfort and consolation for those among us who become agitated without those things.

Rational thought in and of itself is very irritating to many people. Our current president is one such person, and this dysfunction resonates with a lot of his supporters.

Hence "The Republican War on Science," so well explored and documented on many issues and levels by the author of the book of that name, Chris Mooney.

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75x55 7 years, 2 months ago

Hmm.... so, a little scientific 'debate' and 'conflict' scares some people, eh?

LOL!

Have a great evening.

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Agnostick 7 years, 2 months ago

Good point, right_thinker. I'd forgotten about that one.

So... sailors...being fearful of a red sky in the morning, and being appreciative of a red sky in the evening...

I guess that means that sailors are "libs" during the day, and "neocons" at night... right?

Remember, it's all about politics...

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

"Suppose the sky was red?" -Agnostick

Sailors have had this figured out for years, with volumes of non-scientific studies (up to and including death) and came up with this:

"Red sky by morn'--sailors be warned, red sky by night--sailors delight."

Sometimes just saving your own ass gives you some good answers.

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Agnostick 7 years, 2 months ago

"'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's not science. That's dogma."


Oh, I see...

Ssoooooooo...

10 scientists drive out to the meadow, on a clear day, the sun is shining. They all look straight up...

SCIENTIST #1: "The sky is blue."

SCIENTIST #2: "Correct. The sky is blue."

SCIENTIST #3: "Agreed, the sky is blue."

SCIENTIST #4: "Well, it was grey last Friday, when we had all that rain... but today, the sky is blue."

SCIENTIST #5: "The sky is blue today, and probably will be tomorrow."

SCIENTIST #6: "The sky is blue now, but at night... doesn't it turn black?"

SCIENTIST #7: "Well, yeah, of course sky is blue. I checked with my buddy Phil this morning, the meteorologist. Supposedly, the blue color has something to do with the atmosphere... "

SCIENTIST #8: "You know, my buddy Dave, the astronomer, said the same thing! The sky is blue!"

SCIENTIST #9: "True, the sky is blue--but my minister at church said the sky is blue because 'That's the way God made it.'"

SCIENTIST #10: "The sky is blue? Are you guys sure? Looks a bit purple to me... "

So what's the consensus?

http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/consensus

Seems to me that the consensus is that the sky is blue.

Is that a political statement? I mean, because the sky is "blue"... does that make the sky a liberal Democrat? Or is it the scientists that are liberal Democrats, because they saw blue when they looked up at the sky?

Suppose the sky was red? Would that make the sky conservative Republican? Or would be the scientists that are conservative Republicans, because they saw red when they looked up at the sky?

6 seems to think that the sky is blue half the time, and black the other half--does that make him morally ambiguous? A secular progressive? Maybe we can automatically assume that scientist #6 is a woman, because she can't make up her mind?

4 brings up a grey sky, and rain. Maybe #4 has something against the sky, bringing up all that negative rain. Maybe #4 is a "hater"... a "sky hater?"

Like you said... "consensus" is all about "political correctness."

:rolleyes:

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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Clint Gentry 7 years, 2 months ago

You "traditionalists" really got that science "problem" figured out. Don't study it, don't understand it, but you sure know what is wrong with it. If rational thought and open discussion aren't going to sway you, nothing is, and therefore your opinion is null and void. But you wear your ignorance on your sleeve as card carrying "traditionalists", and luckily your ilk have proven inept at running things, therefore we only have to deal with your "thoughts" in forums such as this.

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75x55 7 years, 2 months ago

By using the idea of "consensus" you are automatically placing an onus on any scientist who disagrees with that "consensus" opinion.

Just the thing that is happening now with scientists pointing out the various and numerous flaws in the 'man is the cause of global warming' "consensus" that is being pressured upon any non-conformist scientists.

As for those who cannot forbear bringing religion into the equation - you can stop now. We speaking of science, which is relatively isolated view of the natural world and it's discovery, investigation, et. al., and need not include 'religion' as a component.

How is the value of science maintained and strengthened by pushing the concept of "consensus" over the pursuit of knowledge via the scientific method - which may or may not validate the "consensus" view?

As I pointed out - "consensus" is no friend of real science, only political correctness.

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scenebooster 7 years, 2 months ago

"I know you look to me for all the answers, Scenebooster, but I just flat do not have them all. I'll try to help you out the best I can."

The only thing I look to you for is a factual basis for any of the crazy s**t you say.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

You can find Noahs Ark just outside of St. Louis, in St. Charles, on the south side of I-70, by the Missouri River bridge on the west side---you can see it from the road---sheesh, Scenebooster!

That was WAY too easy.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

Maybe the bible IS a fairy tale----hell, I don't know....I know you look to me for all the answers, Scenebooster, but I just flat do not have them all. I'll try to help you out the best I can.

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scenebooster 7 years, 2 months ago

Yea! Another nonsensical post from the winger.

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

I'll get right on that as soon as you produce Noah and his ark.

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Kodiac 7 years, 2 months ago

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

That is a very revealing statement.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

".....repeatable experiments......"

Good, let's repeat the dawn of man (please include all the different races) ---get crackin'!

Move the continents back in place too while you're at it; I have always wanted to see how that worked.

And for that matter, I'll expect a full live, real-time review of the Ice Age on my desk by 5 pm today.

Oh, and don't forget to include some live wooly mammoths and sabre tooth tigers--I always thought they were very cool.

Ready, set, repeat!

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scenebooster 7 years, 2 months ago

You are perfectly entitled to put your kids into a school that espouses your view of the world, or to home school.

Otherwise, your statement makes no sense. I should "provide some evidence to the contrary that 'consensus' of what 'sceintists on the whole think in general' is not going to be debunked by the same outstanding scientists"???

Um, you do get the concept of "progress"? Whereas science is based on evidence and repeatable experiments, religion is based on stories which cannot ever be proven.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

No, I don't need to, you need to SB, provide some evidence to the contrary that 'consensus' of what 'sceintists on the whole think in general' is not going to be debunked by the same outstanding scientists....how do I know they aren't peddling a bunch of fairy tales?

You don't have to believe in the bible, do you? Who's forcing you to? Should I demand no science is introduced to my kids because they can't seem to get it right the first time?

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scenebooster 7 years, 2 months ago

"yet it's deemed by this same fabulous bunch of intellectual superstars that Christians and their beliefs or any other religion for that matter are based on a butt load of fairy tales? "

Just provide some evidence to the contrary...that's your strongpoint, right?

I'm sure Newsmax has some proof of the validity of the worlds religions...

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

Not very specific? OK.

Why do scientists have so much wiggle-room and parameter for their previously 'concrete findings', yet it's deemed by this same fabulous bunch of intellectual superstars that Christians and their beliefs or any other religion for that matter are based on a butt load of fairy tales? Dad gum it! Why can't I be that smart? I want to spend a summer chinking around in the same 5' square area of dirt and come up with some new science!

How funny.

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Hazel Ripstra 7 years, 2 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?

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75x55 7 years, 2 months ago

"scientific world as a whole in general thinks."

Snicker. Science is definitely in trouble with they agree "in general" with anything.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

"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." -jkrebs

How funny.

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Hazel Ripstra 7 years, 2 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.

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crono 7 years, 2 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.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

Yes, 75x55, and they have a 'mandate' because they're scientist, like GWB has no 'mandate' because he lost the popular vote....

he he ha ha ho ho

la-di-da-di-da-di-da.......................

It's all so wonderful.

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75x55 7 years, 2 months ago

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

Nothing politically loaded about this statement, is there?

Consensus is about 'politics', and anyone that doesn't see this whole 'standards' debate as one of politics is deluding themselves.

"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's not science. That's dogma.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

what is up with the time stamp at LJW?

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Agnostick 7 years, 2 months ago

It's based upon a consensus of the data, as a result of the organized gathering of said data via research, the scientific method, etc.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

'Consensus' .......reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon years ago, when this 'team player' line of crap got so popular in corporate America.......the cartoon humorously referenced the 'team' concept as a means to be able to'diffuse the blame' when things go wrong......looks like all our scientists with their 'consensus' will always have a back door, eh?

Don't you Christians say a word and don't wander off your path of righteousness one iota though, 'cause your dealing with fairy tales, not scientific 'consensus'.

Again, ya'll SP's are super! Helping build a stronger America!

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 2 months ago

'Mainstream science'.......used three times.

Ya'll are terrific!

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KS 7 years, 2 months ago

I thought science was based upon fact and not consensus!

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Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

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

Good advice Jack

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