Missouri bill redefines science, gives equal time to intelligent design

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Each year, state legislatures play host to a variety of bills that would interfere with science education. Most of these are variations on a boilerplate intended to get supplementary materials into classrooms criticizing evolution and climate change (or to protect teachers who do). They generally don't mention creationism, but the clear intent is to sneak religious content into the science classrooms, as evidenced by previous bills introduced by the same lawmakers. Most of them die in the legislature (although the opponents of evolution have seen two successes).

The efforts are common enough that we don't generally report on them. But every now and then a bill comes along that veers off this script. Late last month, the Missouri House started considering one that deviates in staggering ways. Instead of being quiet about its intent, it redefines science, provides a clearer definition of intelligent design than any of the idea's advocates ever have, and it mandates equal treatment of the two. In the process, it mangles things so badly that teachers would be prohibited from discussing Mendel's Laws.

Although even the Wikipedia entry for scientific theory includes definitions provided by the world's most prestigious organizations of scientists, the bill's sponsor Rick Brattin has seen fit to invent his own definition. And it's a head-scratcher: "'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy." The faith or philosophy involved remain unspecified.

Brattin also mentions philosophy when he redefines "hypothesis" as "a scientific theory reflecting a minority of scientific opinion which may lack acceptance because it is a new idea, contains faulty logic, lacks supporting data, has significant amounts of conflicting data, or is philosophically unpopular." The reason for that becomes obvious when he turns to intelligent design, which he defines as a hypothesis. Presumably, he thinks it's only a hypothesis because it's philosophically unpopular, since his bill would ensure it ends up in the classrooms.

Intelligent design (ID) is roughly the concept that life is so complex that it requires a designer, but even its most prominent advocates have often been a bit wary about defining its arguments all that precisely. Not so with Brattin-he lists 11 concepts that are part of ID. Some of these are old-fashioned creationist claims, like the suggestion that mutations lead to "species degradation" and a lack of transitional fossils. But it also has some distinctive twists, like the claim that common features, usually used to infer evolutionary relatedness, are actually a sign of parts re-use by a designer.

The bill eventually defines "standard science" as "knowledge disclosed in a truthful and objective manner and the physical universe without any preconceived philosophical demands concerning origin or destiny." It then demands that all science taught in Missouri classrooms be standard science. But there are some problems with this that become apparent immediately. The bill demands anything taught as scientific law to have "no known exceptions." That would rule out teaching Mendel's law, which has a huge variety of exceptions, such as when two genes are linked together on the same chromosome.

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/02/missouri-bill-redefines-science-gives-equal-time-to-intelligent-design/

Here's the part I love. They "redefined" scientific theory. Now instead of the arduous process of hypothesis, experimentation, peer review, it's "...an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, who's components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy".

Yeah. They're saying science is based on faith. Not reproducible results, not extensive peer review, not by arduous experiments to get those reproducible results.

Cue the "I don't want to live on this planet any more".

Captcha: Forget this. Spot on.

As a regular watcher of ancient aliens I demand that equal treatment of intelligent design be given to extraterrestrial and god based theories!!!

If the science books in Missouri do not include a section to Scientology I will have to write to my congressman!!!(you know even though I don't live in Missouri)

If they want to systematically excise education and technology from their economy this badly then I'm done trying to stop them.

Bye bye, USA's former leadership in science, research and innovation.
If you try to train a generation of scientifically illiterate theocrats, you might just get a generation of scientifically illiterate theocrats.

And, no, it's obviously not just because of this. When even extremely basal science like evolution is so in contention, this is just another symptom, another nail in the coffin. It's about a general rejection of science because it and reality are perceived to be ideological in nature. It's been going on for way longer than this and while people do fight back, it's frightening how often these kinds of things aren't just proposed but actuall get through. But then it tends to affect particular sections of the USA more than others, so I'd assume the results will also similarly be distributed.

Now, who will take their place? Europe? China? India? I sure hope it's us, but then we have plenty of liberal politicians trying to cut education (especially free access to higher education like universities). I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Captcha: fairy godmother
Hm. Seems relevant.

Dryk:
If they want to systematically excise education and technology from their economy this badly then I'm done trying to stop them.

Yeah, that's where I settled in the end. Maybe in a generation or two they'll realize this is a bad idea while the rest of the world leaves them behind, and come back around, only having ruined the lives of a couple generations. But hey, lesson learned, huh?

Okay, on a more serious note, this is a bill, so it's still flammable. Or inflammable. So maybe it still gets burned. Wishful thinking? Most likely, but why do I keep getting this nagging feeling in the back of my skull that tells me how there seem to be less and less things that are holding USA together as opposed to dividing the country?

Captcha: Rubicon crossed
Yeeeeeah, I doubt this one will go the way the crossers want it.

"'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy."

Funny, I think I've seen approximately that definition thrown around on this forum. And not by creationists.

Skeleon:
Bye bye, USA's former leadership in science, research and innovation.
If you try to train a generation of scientifically illiterate theocrats, you might just get a generation of scientifically illiterate theocrats.

It's just Missouri. And it probably won't even pass, apparently.

More and more, I wish the US would just run the ultimate scientific experiment. North half is Democrat, south half is Republican, remake the laws according to whatever you decide, and see what happens next. Not sure what would happen, but it would be a good solution.

NameIsRobertPaulson:
More and more, I wish the US would just run the ultimate scientific experiment. North half is Democrat, south half is Republican, remake the laws according to whatever you decide, and see what happens next. Not sure what would happen, but it would be a good solution.

More and more I wish politician wasn't a career and we could get more people in office that don't have "law" as a degree. Sure, we do need people that study law in congress, but we also need people that know how the country actually works. We need computer science majors, engineers, doctors, artists, a much wider array of people than just LAW.

Also if somebody refers to a common technology or everyday item used by more than 70% of the populace in such a wrong manner that everybody laughs, gone.

NameIsRobertPaulson:
More and more, I wish the US would just run the ultimate scientific experiment. North half is Democrat, south half is Republican, remake the laws according to whatever you decide, and see what happens next. Not sure what would happen, but it would be a good solution.

It'd be like the Partition of India...

Not that I necessarily object to more federalism and local control in many circumstances, but that is a bad way to do it.

That's painfully stupid.

Maybe a teacher should get a legal backing, teach science, ask someone to report him to the police and provoke a test trial though. It certainly wouldn't hurt US education if someone could challenge such theocratic laws and get them ruled unconstitutional.

Such a shame the republicans and overly religious democrats probably make it impossible to legislate secularity on a federal level. Making a bill that bans teaching religion as fact outside of religion classes would be a great way to throw a wrench into the machinations of creationists, and protect children from individual teachers who try to indoctrinate them with religious dogma like it was science.

Finally, the glory of Satan may be taught in a scientific classroom. For too long our faithful community has been oppressed under the mighty boot of scientific rejection.

Now I may finally teach the children of the USA the glorious wonders that Lucifer have giveth upon us!

OT: I encourage everyone to write to the Missouri senate and let them know that christianity isnt the only religion around.

If they insist on playing ball, everyone gets to....... EVERYONE.

Jayemsal:

If they insist on playing ball, everyone gets to....... EVERYONE.

Yeah. I want to be taught how the great Prometheus created us out of clay and than how the Gods ordered Hephaestus to create a woman to punish us.

Seanchaidh:
It's just Missouri. And it probably won't even pass, apparently.

Yeah, I really wish the article would have listed the name of the bill and its status, as it's hard to discuss its political impact without those two things.

Lilani:

Seanchaidh:
It's just Missouri. And it probably won't even pass, apparently.

Yeah, I really wish the article would have listed the name of the bill and its status, as it's hard to discuss its political impact without those two things.

The bill is called the "Missouri Standard Science Act", listed as HB 291.

http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB291&year=2013&code=R Quick link.

Vausch:

Here's the part I love. They "redefined" scientific theory. Now instead of the arduous process of hypothesis, experimentation, peer review, it's "...an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, who's components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy".

Yeah. They're saying science is based on faith. Not reproducible results, not extensive peer review, not by arduous experiments to get those reproducible results.

The thing is that they're partly right. Science is indeed a process of inductive inference of incompletely understood phenomena based on limited knowledge, and said knowledge is a mix of metaphysical and epistemological faith (albeit very common-sense faith- that the external world is directly perceivable), data, and a logical process. Such facts are the whole reason the scientific method is as it is.

I do not appreciate the intent of these appeals, though. It's certainly not to raise the bar of the scientific method to better cope with the latest wave of unknowables.

The bill demands anything taught as scientific law to have "no known exceptions."

What? Thats insane. They all have exceptions, there's not that many that don't.

Are we not going to teach Ohms law anymore?

Jayemsal:
Finally, the glory of Satan may be taught in a scientific classroom. For too long our faithful community has been oppressed under the mighty boot of scientific rejection.

Now I may finally teach the children of the USA the glorious wonders that Lucifer have giveth upon us!

OT: I encourage everyone to write to the Missouri senate and let them know that christianity isnt the only religion around.

If they insist on playing ball, everyone gets to....... EVERYONE.

This reminds me of when Lousiana passed a law allowing school vouchers to be used on religous schools. The "problem" was apparently Christianity isnt the only religion in the US, so a few lawmakers were horrified to find that their law also benefited other religions.

The quotes may or not be out of context in this article, but they are hilarious. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/valarie-hodges-lawmaker-retracts-support-for-bill_n_1655249.html

Comocat:

Jayemsal:
Finally, the glory of Satan may be taught in a scientific classroom. For too long our faithful community has been oppressed under the mighty boot of scientific rejection.

Now I may finally teach the children of the USA the glorious wonders that Lucifer have giveth upon us!

OT: I encourage everyone to write to the Missouri senate and let them know that christianity isnt the only religion around.

If they insist on playing ball, everyone gets to....... EVERYONE.

This reminds me of when Lousiana passed a law allowing school vouchers to be used on religous schools. The "problem" was apparently Christianity isnt the only religion in the US, so a few lawmakers were horrified to find that their law also benefited other religions.

The quotes may or not be out of context in this article, but they are hilarious. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/valarie-hodges-lawmaker-retracts-support-for-bill_n_1655249.html

God dammit I love the blatancy with which they admit their corruption.

Knight Templar:
What? Thats insane. They all have exceptions, there's not that many that don't.
Are we not going to teach Ohms law anymore?

Not just that, but urban planning will no longer be able to teach that travel time affects your ability to get somewhere. After all, there are some theories which assume that space is isotropic.

And germs? They can't be taught any longer. Filthy heresy. After all, some 'scientists' also claims the generetio spontanea is correct.


I'm thinking though that they'll make an exception when people start throwing theocratic conservatives off tall buildings because, after all, gravity is just a hypothesis, based purely on faith.

We'll make our OWN science! With blackjack, and hookers! And bronze-aged nonsense!

Blablahb:

Knight Templar:
What? Thats insane. They all have exceptions, there's not that many that don't.
Are we not going to teach Ohms law anymore?

Not just that, but urban planning will no longer be able to teach that travel time affects your ability to get somewhere. After all, there are some theories which assume that space is isotropic.

And germs? They can't be taught any longer. Filthy heresy. After all, some 'scientists' also claims the generetio spontanea is correct.


I'm thinking though that they'll make an exception when people start throwing theocratic conservatives off tall buildings because, after all, gravity is just a hypothesis, based purely on faith.

Considering that Newton's theories don't function at light speed and the like, I guess we won't teach children about the basics of gravity, either. Too controversial.

This sounds fantastic. Finally there's space in science classes for phlogiston, bloodletting and chemtrails!

When are we going to allow time for a lesson that explains how my hamster Bubbles was the original creator of the universe? It's a really interesting story. He ran around on his wheel so fast that it caused the Big Bang.

But will schools let kids be educated about The TRUTH? Noooo.

boots:
When are we going to allow time for a lesson that explains how my hamster Bubbles was the original creator of the universe? It's a really interesting story. He ran around on his wheel so fast that it caused the Big Bang.

But will schools let kids be educated about The TRUTH? Noooo.

I have no evidence that proves you're lying, so I have to accept it as fact. What a crisis of faith I'm having right now...

Is this a Missouri thread?

I was just rafting down the miiiiiiiiighty Mississippi river when I heard tell of this fancy bill rite here.

Anyways, our states education system has big problems. Like failing Kansas City schools that lose their accreditation.

Danny Ocean:

Vausch:

Here's the part I love. They "redefined" scientific theory. Now instead of the arduous process of hypothesis, experimentation, peer review, it's "...an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, who's components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy".

Yeah. They're saying science is based on faith. Not reproducible results, not extensive peer review, not by arduous experiments to get those reproducible results.

The thing is that they're partly right. Science is indeed a process of inductive inference of incompletely understood phenomena based on limited knowledge, and said knowledge is a mix of metaphysical and epistemological faith (albeit very common-sense faith- that the external world is directly perceivable), data, and a logical process. Such facts are the whole reason the scientific method is as it is.

I do not appreciate the intent of these appeals, though. It's certainly not to raise the bar of the scientific method to better cope with the latest wave of unknowables.

That I'm willing to agree with for certain things that we can't yet completely observe, but that isn't the scientific theory. The scientific theory a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Redefining the theory so poorly is just a slap in the face.

Vausch:

That I'm willing to agree with for certain things that we can't yet completely observe, but that isn't the scientific theory.

It is though. The point is that there's nothing we can completely observe. Until we can observe every point in space and time simultaneously (assuming we actually observe the external world) there's nothing we can completely observe. All we have is our frame of reference.

Skeleon:

Blablahb:

Knight Templar:
What? Thats insane. They all have exceptions, there's not that many that don't.
Are we not going to teach Ohms law anymore?

Not just that, but urban planning will no longer be able to teach that travel time affects your ability to get somewhere. After all, there are some theories which assume that space is isotropic.

And germs? They can't be taught any longer. Filthy heresy. After all, some 'scientists' also claims the generetio spontanea is correct.


I'm thinking though that they'll make an exception when people start throwing theocratic conservatives off tall buildings because, after all, gravity is just a hypothesis, based purely on faith.

Considering that Newton's theories don't function at light speed and the like, I guess we won't teach children about the basics of gravity, either. Too controversial.

It gets worse: we aren't entirely sure how gravity really works, whether its a geometric distortion thing, or quantum exchangy thing. Therefore, no law nor theory linking to gravity can be taught. Ergo, basically no physics can be taught.

I am kind of glad this happened.

A billion lawsuits are going to follow, and the Supreme Court may have to decide weather or not intelligent design is just repackaged creationism, end bring a final end to the insanity.

Seanchaidh:

"'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy."

Funny, I think I've seen approximately that definition thrown around on this forum. And not by creationists.

That's because ultimately, it is correct. But it is correct in such a wide and vague fashion that it is pointless ('faith-based philosophy'? What the hell is that? Oh, you mean like in the fact that EVERYTHING we do needs to be based on some part of 'faith', due to the Problem of Induction? Yeah, that's not the same as 'faith' in a creator. Equivalence-fallacy ahoy).

Sorry, nipping this one in the bud. We are not having this discussion again, we JUST had it, less than a week ago.

"'Scientific theory' if a philosophical theory based on inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe and limited knowledge, whose components are empirical data, logic and the scientific method" - I have no problem with this definition. What I do have a problem with, however, is that they probably didn't phrase creationism in the same manner. And that they even felt the need to redefine 'science' in order to define 'creationism'.

These debates always seemed pointless and dumb to me. My particular origins(e.g. creationism or evolution) aren't going to change how I live my life, or the decisions I make. If one idea being true doesn't cause you to behave differently than another being true, then you might as well believe whichever one you want because its a moot argument anyway.

Of course, I always assume that when these debates bring up evolution they specifically mean the theory in which man evolved from some non-human species. The simple fact of creatures evolving to adapt to their environment is an absolute fact and should have a large focus in the classroom. Much larger then creationism and the theory of evolution combined. Those last two should just be a footnote.

Additional note:
I think there is too much confusion on definitions of words in these arguments. Most people seem to be confused over the difference between evolution and the theory of evolution. There is also confusion by the "faithful" on the term "faith based philosophy". All science relies on faith. But that's confidence in the possibility of a yet to be proven idea. It's not religious faith. Those are two different things.

Time to make a donation to the National Center for Science Education....they're gonna need it.

cthulhuspawn82:
These debates always seemed pointless and dumb to me. My particular origins(e.g. creationism or evolution) aren't going to change how I live my life, or the decisions I make. If one idea being true doesn't cause you to behave differently than another being true, then you might as well believe whichever one you want because its a moot argument anyway.

I'd say it makes a huge difference if you base the decision of vaccinations or throwing out antibiotics like M&Ms on your belief that life is unchanging instead of adapting.

Quaxar:

cthulhuspawn82:
These debates always seemed pointless and dumb to me. My particular origins(e.g. creationism or evolution) aren't going to change how I live my life, or the decisions I make. If one idea being true doesn't cause you to behave differently than another being true, then you might as well believe whichever one you want because its a moot argument anyway.

I'd say it makes a huge difference if you base the decision of vaccinations or throwing out antibiotics like M&Ms on your belief that life is unchanging instead of adapting.

That is a different issue entirely. Vaccinations and antibiotics are necessary and vital for our health and survival. That holds true whether mankind was made by an invisible creator or evolved from primates. Your view on creationism vs evolution should have no impact on your use, or non-use, of vaccinations and anti-biotics.

I understand where your argument comes from. The stereotypical Christians who refuses medicine because he thinks its God's will that he get sick and that god will cure him if he wants him cured. I think those people represent a vast minority. For the vast majority, belief in god or evolution has no impact on how they feel about medical treatment. This relates back to my original statement about either fact being true should not cause a change in most peoples life.

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