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Ignorance Wins In Oklahoma

February 27, 2013

Last Tuesday, the Oklahoma Common Education committee considered HB 1674 — a House bill that would prevent teachers in science classes from penalizing students who contest evolutionary principles with untestable, faith-based claims.

It passed, 9-8.

Writes Dana Liebelson for Mother Jones:

Gus Blackwell, the Republican state representative who introduced the bill, insists that his legislation has nothing to do with religion; it simply encourages scientific exploration. “I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” says Blackwell, who previously spent 20 years working for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. “A student has the freedom to write a paper that points out that highly complex life may not be explained by chance mutations.”

HB 1674 goes further than a companion bill under consideration in the state Senate by explicitly protecting students, teachers, and schools from being penalized for subscribing to alternative theories. It does, however, say that children may still be tested on widely accepted theories such as anthropogenic climate change. “Students can’t say because I don’t believe in this, I don’t want to learn it,” Blackwell says. “They have to learn it in order to look at the weaknesses.”

“They have to learn it in order to look at the weaknesses.” The sheer ignorance in that statement is hard to believe. I’m sure that it is followed in logic by, “Evolution is just a theory…”

In Oklahoma, faith-based explanations can get you an

Article and image via

As I have said many times on this site: There is a qualitative and quantitative difference between ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’. There is such an important distinction between ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’.

We can ‘believe’ a great deal of things that are nothing more than conjecture and speculation; we can ‘believe’ some things are ‘true’… and yet still be quite wrong! However, because I can have wrong beliefs it does not mean that I cannot pursue better categories for understanding; and gain real, actual, useful knowledge about the world around me and the universe I live in.

And of course there will always be those who want to engage the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate by trying to obfuscate and move the goal posts. This from James McGrath:

If the last couple of hundred years have demonstrated anything to humankind it is this: belief will always lose to knowledge. Speculative superstitions will always prove less effective than actual knowledge.

But apparently, in Oklahoma, God is a sky ignoramus trying to make sure that he can pull people backwards several hundred years and make sure they remain in ignorance and stupidity.

Just for fun they should add an addendum to the bill that demands students be taught how Washington and Jefferson flew pink unicorns through space and shot laser beams from their eyes to blow up asteroids to prevent them from destroying the earth. (to an Aerosmith soundtrack *of course*)

If they “believe” it: it’s true!

One theory accounts for the data over a variety of different disciplines, and can be used to make accurate predictions. The other begins with a conclusion and randomly selects ‘data’ to support its already made conclusions.

Figure out which one might comport with reality.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2013 12:18 pm

    On the flip side of choosing to believe is: Doubt is not knowledge, but we treat it with equal weight as fact, as though doubt is a fact. It is common in the fallacy of “proving a negative.”

  2. phil_style permalink
    March 1, 2013 3:59 am

    Bah! If it doesn’t confirm to the methodology of the topic area (in this case science) then it’s out of scope to discuss it in that class. I wouldn’t use musical harmonics to teach football so how can use the un-testable to teach empiricism – except as a counter example?

    There’s just not enough time or space in science class to discuss “faith” issues, there’s not even enough to get through all the science.

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