Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tennessee critical thinking skills

An evolutionist blog complains:
Here’s a summary of the bill from the Tennessee General Assembly:

Bill Summary

This bill prohibits the state board of education and any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or principal or administrator from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warming. This bill also requires such persons and entities to endeavor to:

(1) Create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues; and

(2) Assist teachers to find effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reports on the opposition:
Among those expressing opposition to the bill are the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, and the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, whose president Becky Ashe described (PDF) the legislation as “unnecessary, anti-scientific, and very likely unconstitutional.”
There is a war going on to define science. The establishment scientist activists want to define science in such a way that the folks in Tennessee have to accept scientific authority without question. They want uncritical acceptance of evolution because that undermines religion, and uncritical acceptance of global warming because that promotes environmentalism. That is not science. Real scientists are not afraid of scientific evidence on controversies.

Update: Coyne complains that anyone would mention this Tennessee bill without explaining that religion is behind it. I do not know that religion is behind it. It seems plausible to me that some legislators in Tennessee are against alarmist global warming policies that have nothing to do with religion. Whether that is true or not, I favor evaluating escience with scientific data, regardless of suspected motives of politicians wanting an open and honest debate of the issues.

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