the censorship excuse

When there is worry about science education in the US, reasons for that worry are not hard to find.

Polls show that the vast majority of Americans reject the theory of evolution, as have great scientists such as William Thomas Kelvin and Louis Pasteur. But that does not stop an intolerant minority from trying to impose a belief in the ape-to-man theory on everyone else. [Phyllis Schlafly. Darwinists Top the Censorship Food Chain. Human Events. 29 December 2004]

Uh, science is not a popularity contest. The merit and value of ideas in science is not determined by popularity but rather by measures such as usefullness, intelllectual integrity, testibility, and aesthetic criteria such as Occam’s razor.

It is long past time for parents to realize they have the right and duty to protect their children from the intolerant evolutionists. Hooray for courageous school boards that are finally rejecting censorship and allowing debate. [ibid]

Protect? Censorship? Debate? It is difficult to have a debate of any value unless there is a common ground in reality. As a contrast to Schlafly, Simberg identifies the subject and its issues but still misses the critical question.

I understand that this is not a science discussion, but a science (and philosophy) metadiscussion. That is, a discussion about how to discuss it.

I (unlike many scientists and evolutionists) recognize that science is a philosophy in itself, and one that is faith based. I don’t know if anyone followed my link to my previous discussions on this topic, but it would have been helpful if they had. Particularly if they continued to follow the links back to this post and this one.

My own gripe about science education in this country is that it’s not taught as a philosophy of how to attain knowledge, but rather it’s simply taught as a compendium of “facts” that must be learned. Given that it starts out with this fundamental misunderstanding (promulgated, unfortunately, by many incompetent science teachers), it’s not surprising that many take umbrage at the teaching of “facts” that are not in accordance with their religious beliefs.

[Rand Simberg. More on ID. Transterrestrial Musings. 29 December 2004]

I’d take issue that the teaching of facts stems from “incompetent science teachers” and rather place the blame on parental pressure, but that is a quibble. The fact is that science is taught in schools because of the fruits of its philosophy and value system and this seems to be Simberg’s primary point. It contrasts with the skills development mantra so often found in schools and suffers in measurability. The fundamental reason for teaching science also diverts the issue from the immediate question about the curricula for a biology class.

The problem is that the school boards must be accountable to their mission. Teaching biology must provide the student with concepts and ideas that are held in high esteem by those who “do” and use biology. By doing otherwise, they cheat their students and deceive them about the proper identification of their studies.

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