Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm For Academic Freedom Bills!

There comes a time when one wastes their valuable time fighting a never ending fight. This sounds awful coming from a staunchly entrenched educator, but I've succumbed to the chloroform that Academic Freedom Acts are a good thing. Why? Not because they are good for our country or planet, no way! I like them because if scientifically illiterate America, from politicians to pundits to Joe Six Pack, is so sure that this is a good idea, then we're already screwed. Let's face it, American K-12 science education has been circling the drain for two decades, so maybe it would be more fun to just play along and watch from a lawn chair with a full cooler. Humor me here.

My plan is to extend Academic Freedom to all realms of the classroom, not just keeping such a wonderful idea trapped in the disciplines of biological science and targeted toward evolution. Academic freedom should have no bounds and should permeate all of scholarly thinking. Academic Freedom in Astronomy will teach children that the earth is in the center of the universe and that we've never been to the moon. Heck, it's just cheese anyway. We can use the concepts of Academic Freedom to enforce new “Geological Freedom” and talk about 6000 year old earth. Many would love to hear that! When we apply academic freedom to history we can show the evidence that Ronald Reagan was a zombie (there is pretty good evidence).

Academic freedom in English class will be great, because kids will nev-r b inkorreKT no matr how bad dey right. After all, if there are no rules for what is admissible, a creative and critical analysis of our current linguistic limits should be a welcome challenge. Children should be allowed to decide for themselves in the name of academic freedom!

Why use English at all? Maybe we can just challenge the whole concept of English communication with the freedom to teach in Spanish. Most people in our hemisphere speak Spanish, so maybe students should have the freedom to decide for themselves what language they like best. That should go over really well with those that lovvvve that academic freedom!

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There is something satisfying about being in a fistfight and then beating someone senseless with their own arm. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em-- then beat 'em. Scientists are much more clever, much better communicators and have a habit of getting things done. Be careful of what you wish for when you ask for extra academic freedom. With infinite freedom comes no rules, and with no rules comes no framework to remind future generations of reality. With this we lose tradition, lose scope, lose our handle on physical nature and reality. Children will need a strong coupling to modern science and reason to compete in a new millennium of science and technology. It is indeed sad that absurdity by simple extrapolation is likely more effective than fighting the honest fight.

4 comments:

island said...

In conjunction with the science standards, Academic freedom bills are typically worded specifically to preclude religion, creationsim, "creationists facts", creation science" and ID, so prove to me that IDists can use this to get ID or any of the above into the classroom, and I'll believe that you're position is built on anything more than your heightened sense of paranoia.

Simple as that... Prove it, and I'm on your side.

Kevin M. Folta Ph.D. said...

The bills do target, in no uncertain terms, evolution. Period. From SP Times:

In voting against the new standards, board member Donna Callaway said the proposed standards should acknowledge that there is a debate about evolution - and give teachers and students the academic freedom to pursue alternative theories.

First, there is no debate among scientists. What are her alternative theories? Well, none technically. What are the alternative concepts that creationsists have been trying to ramrod into classrooms for decades?

You say that it is not about ID?

Also from SP times:

Storms writes...that many Florida teachers (should be allowed to teach) a "full range of scientific views" regarding chemical and biological origins.

What are those views? ID and creation. Period.

So, either you are dishonest or completely fooled. This legislation can't say "creationism" or "ID" on it because the courts have decided time and time again that those topics are inappropriate for a science class.

By putting away the cross and putting their concepts in a plain vanilla wrapper, Academic Freedom proponents have duped the public as well as our representatives. That does not make it good science.

island said...

Your assertions don't prove anything.

1) The bills are designed to give teachers legal protection from persecution for presenting real scientific information that is critical of evolutionary theory. They single out evolutionary theory in this proposed law, (not in the science standard), because teachers don't have to fear persecution for being critical of other branches science like they do if they challenge current assumptions about some of the less-understood mechanisms of evolutionary science.

2) Donna Callaway lost her bid to force alternative theories into the classroom, and nothing has changed that.

What I did see, however, was proponets of evolutionary theory fighting tooth and nail to keep the phrase, "scientific theory" out of the standard because creationists wanted it, which was totally bizzare to me considering that this effectively made evolutionary theory stronger in the science standard, since teachers are required to explain the difference betweeen a scientific theory and "just a theory".

In other words, what I've seen so far is neodarwinians doing everything that they could possibly do to hurt science, because they let their paranoia interfere with their reasoning.

You say that it is not about ID?

No, I say that ID can't be taught per the *typical* wording of science standards and the freedom bills.

What are those views? ID and creation. Period.

No, I think that the standard and the law will enforce that it can only be the kind of scientific evidence that I have been presenting to you here, which carries implications that can and *most apparently* do indicate that we may not be here by accident. This is all that they need to do to set neodarwinians off, because it is they who will wronlgly find god in this. It should make for a good battle for what constitutes scientific information, but evolutionary theory will be the real winner because scientific information can NEVER *legally* include creation science so why wouldn't I most naturally conclude that neodarwinians are allowing their personal paranoia to aim their guns at their own feet... AGAIN!?

This legislation can't say "creationism" or "ID" on it because the courts have decided time and time again that those topics are inappropriate for a science class.

This was my fault, as I used the wrong word.

"i" should have said:
In conjunction with the science standards, Academic freedom bills are typically worded specifically to PROHIBIT religion, creationsim, "creationists facts", creation science" and ID...


By putting away the cross and putting their concepts in a plain vanilla wrapper

Which is still an unproven assumption that screams out your fear of the unknown, and this is my observation:

It very strongly appears to me that the DI has changed its tactics because they know that they cannot afford to lose in high court, and Ronda Storms gave away that she thinks that ID will eventually become a scientific theory in the future, at which time it would be a permissible "complimentary criticism" of evolutionary theory, not a refutation of it.

Rhonda can believe whatever she wants to.

I think that this is the new tack that the DI has taken, and it DOES NOT violate any laws, nor does it enable them to introduce creationism into the classroom, so we'll have to wait for one of these states to actually pass one of these bills that's worded similarly to the Florida bill, so that we can see what happens. But until then, I don't see it...

I have no doubt that some loonie creationist will try it, but I have every confidence that you guys will eat their lunch and have their heads given the tiniest little faupaux... as this will be enforcable via the clear violation of the wording of the science standard and the freedom bill that will necessarily occur when this happens.

Paranoia will destroy ya, but the law is on the side of science until somebody proves otherwise... ;)

Academic Freedom proponents have duped the public as well as our representatives.

Oh, please... nobody's vote has ever been changed by anything that anyone on either side of this debate has ever said, and my own concern is strictly scientific.

Kevin M. Folta Ph.D. said...

Wow, I wish I had the time to offer a complementary thoughtful response. I'm sorry that I can't deal with this tonight, but for starters, could you help me understand this?

"because teachers don't have to fear persecution for being critical of other branches science like they do if they challenge current assumptions about some of the less-understood mechanisms of evolutionary science."

Like what? I'm sure there are ideas batted around graduate courses and journal clubs that debate facets of specific mechanisms within the framework of evolution. What is a less understood mechanism that would be appropriate in a grade school classroom?

Thanks. I hope to think about your comments more later.