Uh-Oh. Politics turns Personal

As reported by the Associated Press, “the Kansas State Board of Education has started internal personal attacks over the issue of science education standards”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050615/ap_on_sc/evolution_debate;_ylt=Aq5Y1YhEiEiFnO2zSr2eYQUPLBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl.
Some personal venom is being exchanged between the subcommittee members, who held their sham hearings on the Theory of Evolution, and those who would maintain the current science standard that keep science in the science classroom and religious beliefs or personal opinions in non-science classes. Yoinks. When politics implodes and get personal, you know the issue is divisive.

Kansas Board of Education slams it into reverse

Well, “it looks like the Kansas State Board of Education is gearing up to revise state science education standards to try to make the theory of evolution look weak”:http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/061205/sta_20050612013.shtml. The subcommittee that held the hearings has made this recommendation, and the board is set to vote on the proposal to revise the standards. The subcommittee members have also pulled off their sheepish guise and revealed their true fundamentalist wolfishness, proclaiming in press releases and newsletters that evolution is a theory in crisis, that evolutionists are in panic mode, and that the “fairy tale” of evolution is coming to an end.

This incident makes many points. The first is that you can’t always trust those at the top to make the right decision. This board, entrusted by the public to set guidance for schools on how to best educate students, has failed. They are willing to weaken the principles of the scientific method, which as a process has given us so much insight into nature, to advance a political or religious agenda.

The second is that, much as in Galileo’s time, America seems to be reacting at the state and local levels much as the provinces of Italy responded to the Protestant reformation: looking to the Vatican for guidance, as the Vatican pronounced strict enforcement of doctrine and the routing of heretics. Couched in the language of skepticism, these state board subcommittee members appear to be promoting inquiry through doubt. Underneath this thin veil is the reality: they hold a point of view, based not in scientific evidence but in spiritual belief, and they wish to force the public school system to advance that belief in favor of teaching that scientific truth is based on evidence, not the lack of evidence. We live in times when the President says that his faith informs his policy [1], which means that a narrow interpretation of a many-times-translated text may, in the face of modern understanding, set us back centuries in ethics and progress.

Well, that for now is a close on this Kansas issue. I only hope that teachers see it as their civic duty to disobey the proclamations of this biased state body and teach the scientific method, and the theories born from that method, rather than teaching that gaps are the foundation of science.

I’ll close this entry with a reading from the Book of Costello:

“Monkey to Man”
by Elvis Costello

A long time ago, our point of view

Was broadcast by Mr. Bartholomew

And now the world is full of sorrow and pain

And it’s time for us to speak up again

You’re slack and sorry

Such an arrogant brood

The only purpose you serve is to bring us our food

We sit here staring at your pomp and pout

Outside the bars we use for keeping you out

You’ve taken everything that you wanted

Broke it up and plundered it and hunted

Ever since we said it

You went and took the credit

It’s been headed this way since the world began

When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man

Monkey to Man

Every time man struggles and fails

He makes up some kind of fairytales

After all of the misery that he has caused

He denies he’s descended from the dinosaurs

Points up to heaven with cathedral spires

All the time indulging in his base desires

Ever since we said it

He went and took the credit

It’s been headed this way since the world began

When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man

Monkey to Man

Big and useless as he has become

With his crying statues and his flying bomb

Goes ’round acting like the chosen one

Excuse us if we treat him like our idiot cousin

He hangs up flowers and bells and rhymes

Hoping to hell someone’s forgiven his crimes

Fills up the air with his pride and praise

He’s a big disgrace to our beastly ways

In the fashionable nightclubs and finer precincts

Man uses words to dress up his vile instincts

Ever since we said it

He went and took the credit

It’s been headed this way since the world began

When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man

.. [1] I recall learning in my “60’s and Beyond” high school class that one of the challenges John F. Kennedy faced in his bid for president was that he was a Catholic. The opposition tried to sow the belief that Kennedy would, as a faithful Catholic, be forced to answer to the Vatican and the Pope for any policy decisions he made, thus compromising his ability to lead. How odd that 40 years later we as a nation seem to swoon at the idea that the President’s faith informs his policy (does he answer to God?), and that he shuns periodicals reporting current events. What an odd reversal.

Headin’ for a Weddin’

Well, it’s vacation time for the Cooleys-Sekulas… er… Whatever that family name would be in the era of hyphenated names. Anyway, we’re on a Frontier Airlines flight over Iowa, on our way to Milwaukee. My brother-in-law’s wedding is on Saturday, and then we’re taking a few days to just travel randomly around the Midwest to get some needed R&R.

Tonight we get to eat with my sister-in-law (one of them, at least) at my favorite Midwestern burger joint, Kopps! Ah, this is a rare meat-treat for me and a good way to begin our 2005 epic Midwestern Odyssey. This is the life: TV map glowing on the back of the seat in front of me, Morrissey blasting on my PocketPC, blog in hand, and best friend at my side!