Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Battle Over Florida Public School Science Standards

The vote on the new Florida science standards for public schools comes down today, and the religious wing-nuts have been busy flapping their arms in protest of the fact that the new standards use the word "evolution" (WARNING: that link leads to painful stupidity).

While it looks like the standards will pass, the language is likely to be changed to insert the words "scientific theory of" in from of every occurance of the word "evolution". So if the standard is proposed:
Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying the biological sciences.
The new version would be:
The scientific theory of evolution is the fundamental concept underlying the biological sciences.
Some ET proponents have complained that this compromise, in specifying the word "theory", will allow creationists to use the tired old "theory, not a fact" argument to perpetuate their fraud about the reality of evolution being debatable. I would argue that they would continue to do so anyway. It's not like they've abandoned the SLOT or moon-dust arguments, and those were blown to kingdom come a long time ago.

No, I'd say let the compromise go through if necessary, and concentrate on teaching the students the difference between the scientific and vernacular definitions of the word "theory". This kills two birds with one stone: evolution is presented as factual (as it should be), and any other theory that fundies might want to try to smear (e.g., Big Bang), is buttressed as well.

Update: it appears the revised standards have been approved, albeit narrowly. Welcome to the 20th century, Florida! only one more century to go, and you'll be caught up with South Carolina!

Now if we could just drag Wisconsin out of the Teddy Roosevelt era...

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