Thursday, November 10, 2005

Devolution in Kansas: the Triumph of an IDeology

I take it that Kansas isn't exactly known as the "Athens of the Midwest":

Kansas education board downplays evolution
State school board OKs standards casting doubt on Darwin

TOPEKA, Kan. - Risking the kind of nationwide ridicule it faced six years ago, the Kansas Board of Education approved new public-school science standards Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for “intelligent design” advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics of the new language charged that it was an attempt to inject God and creationism into public schools, in violation of the constitutional ban on state establishment of religion.

All six of those who voted for the new standards were Republicans. Two Republicans and two Democrats voted no.

“This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that,” said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat.

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, said the decision would encourage school districts in Kansas and elsewhere to make similar moves, distracting and confusing teachers and students.

“It will be marketed by the religious right ... as a huge victory for their side,” she said. “We can expect more efforts to get creationism in.”

All six who voted in favour were Republicans? Heavens, no!

Just to get things nice and sparkling clear, in most of the rest of the world science is defined (in a nutshell) thus: the search for natural explanations for natural phenomena (the supernatural being outside its purview). Not so, any longer, in Kansas, where a new definition of science has been formulated by the Board of Education in red ink, declaring that
Science is a systematic method of continuing investigation that uses observations, hypothesis testing, measurement, experimentation, logical argument and theory building, to lead to more adequate explanations of natural phenomena (emphasis added).
What, pray tell, might constitute a "more adequate" explanation of natural phenomena? For Scientific American's John Rennie:
Any sort of explanation, apparently. Pixies, ghosts, telekinesis, auras, ancient astronauts, excesses of choleric humor, they all seem to be fair game in the interest of "academic freedom." Oh, and God, of course.
You can keep up with all the fun and games at Panda's Thumb.

And before we cry "Only in America," let's not forget that this kind of bullshit has been mandated by no less august a personage than our Federal Education Minister.

Update: Via Panda's Thumb:

You can now bid for your very own handmade Flying Spaghetti Monster plush doll on eBay!