Friday, February 18, 2005

Details of the new Monkey Trial

From the Johnson County Sun via Red State Rabble: This Just In...:

“John Calvert, head of the Intelligent Design Network, who is acting as 'counsel' to the eight ID proponents on the science standards writing committee, has proposed a sort of 'trial' scenario in which 'witnesses' for and against including ID in the Kansas science standards would testify before three creationist BOE members.”
And Steve Case comments at length on the proper forum and format for this “trial.” He makes several salient points. Interested parties should read this through, but I'll summarize the major points.
  • The science standards committee is not divided in two, it has a diversity of views
  • Their rejection of the minority report is driven by extensive expert testimony and debate
  • The minority report was generated outside the process
  • The committee itself is composed of experts in science and science education
  • There are copious other experts in state who can discuss the material in depth
  • Oral debate is a poor format for resolving scientific disputes
  • Because the committee has already spoken, it would be inappropriate to have individual members testify to the Board
  • People addressing the Board should clarify whether they are offering opinion or informed opinion
  • The Board should set standards for evidence and for qualifications, to prevent this from degenerating into petty squabbling
  • The Board should examine science teaching at the universities for comparison
In particular, he proposes:

As the State Board seeks more information to facilitate informed decisions around the standards, I would recommend that the Board develop a very specific description of the topics they would like discussed. A call for position papers should go out to faculty members in the relevant departments of Kansas's state colleges and universities to write to the different positions on these topics. This would give the Board the opportunity to review the credentials of those individuals and review brief proposal abstracts of position papers. After the papers have been generated and read then the Board could bring in individuals representing both sides of any issue on which they would like to have further discussions.
This sounds similar to what the committee already did, and it also sounds like the right way to resolve this.

And if they want outside experts, why not check out what these guys think?

Letters to the Board would be appropriate, as would a thank you to Steve Case, for standing up for science.

In other news, a resolution is going through the Kansas House to support “teaching the controversy” or some such thing. Letters to your legislators never hurt anything.

Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” by Talking Heads from the album Remain in Light (1980, 5:49).