Monday, August 14, 2006

Is our children learning?

Lawrence Krauss, who gave a great talk at KU last spring, has an essay in today's Times about How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate, paying special attention to Kansas, of course. Speaking of creationist veterinarian and Board Chair Steve Abrams, he writes:
A key concern should not be whether Dr. Abrams’s religious views have a place in the classroom, but rather how someone whose religious views require a denial of essentially all modern scientific knowledge can be chairman of a state school board.
Abrams, of course, was not up for re-election, and has pledged to keep fighting his reactionary battle against, well, reality. And he won't be alone. Kathy Martin will still be around, and if we aren't careful, so will Ken Willard and John Bacon:

Another member of the board, who unfortunately survived a primary challenge, is John Bacon. In spite of his name, Mr. Bacon is no friend of science. In a 1999 debate about the removal of evolution and the Big Bang from science standards, Mr. Bacon said he was baffled about the objections of scientists. “I can’t understand what they’re squealing about,” he is quoted as saying. “I wasn’t here, and neither were they.”

This again represents a remarkable misunderstanding of the nature of the scientific method. Many fields — including evolutionary biology, astronomy and physics — use evidence from the past in formulating hypotheses. But they do not stop there. Science is not storytelling.

These disciplines take hypotheses and subject them to further tests and experiments. This is how we distinguish theories that work, like evolution or gravitation.

As we continue to work to improve the abysmal state of science education in our schools, we will continue to battle those who feel that knowledge is a threat to faith.

But when we win minor skirmishes, as we did in Kansas, we must remember that the issue is far deeper than this. We must hold our elected school officials to certain basic standards of knowledge about the world. The battle is not against faith, but against ignorance.
Jack Wempe finally has a website to support his run against Ken Willard, and Don Weiss is fighting the good fight, with Harry McDonald lending a hand.

Help them out, and do your part for the fight against ignorance.

Update: Don Weiss link fixed.