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August 20, 2005


Faith based scientific method for a faith based world economy.
Shouldn't someone start explaining to the rest of the world that our students are better prepared for competing in the global marketplace because they aren't hindered by empiracal evidence?
Hope they buy it.

It's despicable as a betrayal of our children's educational needs, and also despicable as a transparent attempt to put himself back in good graces with the American Taliban.

This guy has such a tin ear for politics, I'm really hoping he gets the Republican nomination in '08. He makes Al Gore look like a political natural.

Bill Frist has about as much chance of getting the Republican nomination in '08 as Pauly Shore does--my guess is that he's trying to line up a post-Senate job and wants to accentuate his ability to cave in to whoever the Powers That Be are for his new employer.

The Democrats have been fortunate that the Republicans have been "blessed" with weak Senate leaders since Bob Dole resigned in 1996--it should be interesting to see who replaces Frist and whether he comes equipped with a spine.

You may be right that Frist has little chance (I'm assuming that "Pauly Shore" names someone with little chance).

But has Frist gotten the memo yet? I don't think *any* employer requires that degree of craven servility. Other than the American Taliban, of course.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the Senate may have exactly the majority leader that the Bush gang wants it to have, spinelessness and all. Legislatures that take their Constitutional obligations seriously can be a real hindrance to an imperial presidency, you know.

"I'm assuming that "Pauly Shore" names someone with little chance)."

I admire and envy anyone who doesn't recognize the name "Pauly Shore". There images, sounds, entire movies I wish I could forget.

M. Scott,

Whether Frist has any chance or not, his statement on this subject, like the President's, is revolting.

This "issue" is a no-brainer, and these kinds of statements do real damage. They cannot be dismissed as harmless bones thrown to some supporters. Do Bush - who is not even running for anything - and Frist utterly lack any integrity at all?

"Do Bush - who is not even running for anything - and Frist utterly lack any integrity at all?"


Is there anyone on this board who would defend Frist or his comments? I would think that even those of the more conservative persuasion must be grimacing in pain today.

Thomas Reeves

Accidentally clicked on History News Network in bloglines, HNN is a reliably boring leftish site, and hit this. Weird, and not particularly smart.

Is there anyone on this board who would defend Frist or his comments? I would think that even those of the more conservative persuasion must be grimacing in pain today.

My guess is that said conservatives are still grimacing over Frist's change of position on stem cells a few weeks back. He's managed to offend just about everyone lately.

Thinking with my keyboard.

The solution here is easy.

Anyone of serious Christian fatih should pull their children out of public schools and send them to private schools, so both sides can be happy teaching what they want (like members of Congress who almost never send their children to public schools, but for different reasons).

In most of the country (or at least the Red states) the public schools would collapse, but maybe charter schools could pick up the slack.

A benefit might be killing off the NEA, the most anti-education organization in the country.

Just a few thoughts.

I think one of the resident loons on Redstate referred to it as "going for the trifecta of offending America", or something along those lines.

I just have a real problem understanding how anyone who conflates ID with actual science can retain any credibility whatsoever on scientific matters. I know that if I were responsible for teaching economics and someone challenged me to give equal time to the possibility that leprechauns wielded a unseen but mighty hand in the stock market, I'd expect them to be laughed out of the district.

If we give equal time in the classrooms to the IDers, we should give equal time to this guy.

Or, of course, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Perhaps the true agenda here is to degrade science education to the point where our medical researchers won't be competent to conduct stem cell research.

I don't really so much have a problem with "equal classroom time" to the ideas of evolution and creationism (intelligent design being a dressed up version). But, creationism isn't science, by definition. It's rightful place would be in a course covering religious beliefs and/or religious history. Further...if anyone would actually pay attention to the "theory of evolution" they'd recognize that it should not be taught as "fact" but, rather, the best explanation we have right now based on what we know and what we've found (fossil records, etc.)

Frist is totally comical at this point. He diagnosed Terry Schiavo via video tape, he 180ed on stem cells and now this lovely bit of spew. Even if anyone wants to promote the "teaching" of creationism Frist isn't the guy they're going to point to as an ally.

One last note...the theory of evolution is a nuanced scientific theory with a lot of layers and possible objections to consider. How long does it actually take to teach the idea of creationism? Equal time doesn't seem like it ought to be the barometer here.

"Finally, and the reason Harvard should demand their degree back, Frist is equating "faith" with either "science" or "fact" (depending on how you read that). "

Yeah, at first when I read this I marveled at the clever scripting which manages to suggest, but not quite claim, that faith is a fact or something of the sort.

But the more I think about it, the more it seems that Frist has really bungled the code-words, even by the Creationists lights.

I mean, the whole point about this round of the con is to say that ID is *science*, full stop. They already tried getting religion taught in science classes with Creationism; they got hooted out, so this was their next dodge: we'll say it is *science*. Not faith, not religion, just pure science. Just like evolution. All science. honest.

Now Frist comes along and lets the cat out of the bag: teaching ID in schools is a matter of teaching faith. Not science.
The ID people are probably gnashing their teeth again: "Darn it! He gave away the plot! He said it was faith, and that's just what he is *NOT* supposed to admit!"

And this is what he is advocating: teaching faith in public schools. No matter how you parse the "fact, of science, including faith" jumble, it boils down to this: Frist is advocating that we teach faith in the public schools.

Well how about that: ID exposed once again for what it really is.

People get so over-excited about this issue.

Having taught science, quite recently, in the public schools, I can say with some confidence that *it simply doesn't matter* whether or not the next generation of textbooks includes a sidebar or two - or even a whole chapter - about I.D., alongside the current sidebars about the contributions of women and minorities.

It's not like the kids are going to read it, or pay the slightest attention in the (unlikely) event that their teacher actually tries to teach it.

It'll be about as effective as the current "minute of silence" substitute for school prayer in Virginia (where I taught) - which is to say, about as effective as a "cat-flap in an elephant house."

Like school prayer, this is a purely symbolic issue. The fundies want in on the same anti-scientific, anti-historical racket that interest groups on the left have been plying for years. And it will do them no more good.

ID exposed once again for what it really is.

Pathetic? Indefensible?

Or, um, "Creation Science" in a poor attempt at disguise?

I had in mind: exposed for being a matter of faith, and not science at all.

But I'll sign on to your three suggestions as well.

As usual, The Onion puts it best.

hilzoy: re: the FSMists post you linked to - i loved this little (but important) add-on:

"You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature."

Now that's what I call science!

Yes, now if we can only overcome the eyepatch shortage...and I think we can push through a parrot subsidy.


Nick Danger on RedState has the best one-sentence sum up to this:

Frist Backs 'Intelligent Design' Teaching completes 'alienate everyone' trifecta, goes down tubes[.]


Ed, of course, has the best take that's longer than a sentence.

Meanwhile, ral owes me a new keyboard.

Slart: Or, um, "Creation Science" in a poor attempt at disguise?

Like Jumbo Shrimp, those are two mutually exclusive terms.

steve burton--

"It's not like the kids are going to read it...."

What's the argument here? Kid's don't learn anyhow, so it doesn't matter what goes into the curriculum?

Okay, that lets Intelligent Design into the Biology class, alright. Now how about including Santeria in the Chemistry Class? Tarot readings into Physics?

You know, I'll happily admit that students do not hang on our every word, but I think it still matters what we put into our textbooks. And I just have this thing against teaching religion in Science class.

"... the same anti-scientific, anti-historical racket that interest groups on the left have been plying for years..."

Ah. Well, as soon as you encounter any of those anti-science, anti-history lefties among the readers of this web-site, I hope you will give them a good smack on the ear, and I'll give them another from the other side.

Until then, this sounds a lot like "Ward Churchill runs the Democratic Party!" "Clinton did it too!" "Michael Moore is fat!"

I'm having bad-acid-trip flashbacks to when my sister thrust a whole set of Ken Hovind tapes into my hands. The horror. The horror.

My 'Touched By His Noodly Appendage' coffee mug just arrived yesterday...

By the way, Edward, fabulous title for this post. I truly L(ed)OL.

'Touched By His Noodly Appendage'


tad brennan - alas, yes.

"...it doesn't matter what goes into the curriculum."

Precisely. At this point, it doesn't matter at all. Not even slightly.

"...how about including Santeria in the
Chemistry Class? Tarot readings into Physics?"

Whatever. It just doesn't matter. Honestly, I'd be more *impressed* by a student who actually knew something about Santeria or the Tarot, in any detail, than I am by most of the students I actually get these days.

There are a few (a very few) kids in any given class who might possibly go on to meaningful careers in, say, population genetics, or related fields where a background in evolutionary theory wouldn't hurt.

But what holds them back is *not* the curriculum. It's the institutional priorities, which treat the real achievements of the top 10% as nothing and the squeaking-by of the bottom 10% as everything.


Just curious what your thoughts are about the LNCB testing. I saw a round table of pundits complaining that everything (and I mean everything) is now geared toward testing, and as a result, there's no time for students to appreciate learning for its own sake. Results. Results. Results.

The problem I see with that, is studying for a test and learning something are not one in the same. I, for example was an excellent crammer. I could ace any test in virtually any subject because I knew how to anticipate what would be on a test, but ask me the same questions a month later and I'd have forgotten a good chunk of it.

Shouldn't the emphasis be on what a student accomplishes, not how they score on a test. Not sure how to measure that, but I suspect a written test is not the best method).

Slarti, speaking of Hovind, did you see the Flying Spaghetti Monster challenge?

Edward: The tests required by No Child Left Behind (I assume that's what you meant by LNCB) are absurdly easy - except for the dimmest and/or least motivated 10-20% of each year's class.

In the old days, one could just smile at those kids and wave them through. But now they actually have to pass the test. And that means the teachers have to focus on them with "laser-like intensity" - at the expense of the smart kids, who end up sitting in the back playing video-games on their calculators while their teachers repeat the basics over and over again.

...'cause that bottom 10-20% is just as determined *not* to learn anything as their teachers are to teach them something.


I don't want to sound snarky here, but I graduated from a public high school not too long ago, and what you describe doesn't particularly resemble the experience which I and my high school peers had. Is it possible that your experience had more to do with the particular circumstances of where you taught than of the situation as a regional or national whole?


I can confirm Steve's experience w/ NCLB from what is supposed to be one of the premier public school systems in the country, sc. Evanston, IL.

All of the attention, time, focus, resources goes to the bottom 10%. None to the rest of the class. It's a catastrophe, and it's why we reluctantly pulled our kids out of the public schools.

My only gripe w/ Steve is that this catastrophe tells us *nothing* about whether ID should or should not be included in the curriculum. It just isn't relevant to this discussion at all, though it is a good basis for a depressing thread some other time.

It's not relevant because Steve's point could be made about any possible inclusion in the curriculum. Should we teach long division? Nope--they're not going to learn it. Should we teach the story of Thanksgiving? Nope, they're not doing to learn it. Etc.

No real gain in analytical clarity about the topic at hand, namely whether ID deserves to be in public school science classes.

Mark: All experience is particular. I was teaching in a small, poorish rural high school - so small that I had to teach *everybody* in the Eighth Grade, with each class running the gamut from hopeless sp.ed. cases to budding geniuses.

No doubt things are different in larger, wealthier districts where they can separate out the "honors" students and offer them classes - or whole schools - of their own (which is why people knock themselves out to move into such districts).

Those of my colleagues who had taught elsewhere always assured me that things could have been a lot worse.

Tad Brennan - you're quite right, I'm just indulging myself in some off-topic belly-aching. In the high-school of my dreams, they are not teaching I.D. in science class. But I think the whole issue is (like school prayer) way, way overblown.

I suspect that the ID debate is mostly for the base, to get the single issue voters out. The real harm of it isn't the effect on the schools--it's the effect on electoral politics. We end up with people like Frist who are terrible on a whole spectrum of issues getting into office because of the fanatical support of a core of single issue voters. It is intended to work the same way "pro-life" works, where people choose candidates for office through their local candidate selection process based on one issue without thinking about their position on taxes, environment, health care or whatever.
Not to dump on Mark, but I am a public school teacher and I do think NCLB has had the effect of gearing the whole school system toward the bottom 20% . I don't think those children don't want to learn, but I do think that the forces which interfere with their learning may be forces that the schools can only mitigate somewhat, not overcome.

tests required by No Child Left Behind (I assume that's what you meant by LNCB) are absurdly easy

See, that proves my point...I didn't learn enough at school, despite my grades...


Pastafarianism? Hee!

I think Hovind's got even less chance of collecting the reward than anyone did collecting a reward from Hovind. Still, I'd pledge another quarter mill just to see him try.

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