If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60 percent of their vote.
Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.
How well this plan will work is debatable, but in the meantime, these shenanigans present the very real possibility that public school students will graduate without a proper education. To make it worse, many of these attempts to rewrite school curriculum are happening in Texas, which can set the textbook standards for the entire country by simply wielding its power as one of the biggest school textbook markets there is. With that in mind, here’s a list of 11 lies your kid may be in danger of learning in school.
Lie No. 1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute reviewed the new social studies standards laid down by the right-wing-dominated Texas State School Board and found them to be a deplorable example of conservative wishful thinking replacing fact. At the top of list? Downplaying the role that slavery had in starting the Civil War, and instead focusing on “sectionalism” and “states’ rights,” even though the sectionalism and states’ rights arguments directly stemmed from Southern states wanting to keep slavery. There’s also a chance your kid might be misled to think post-Civil War racism was no big deal, as the standards excise any mention of the KKK, the phrase “Jim Crow” or the Black Codes. Mention is made of the Southern Democratic opposition to civil rights, but mysteriously, the mass defection of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party to punish the rest of the Democrats for supporting civil rights goes unmentioned.
Lie No. 2: Joe McCarthy was right.
The red-baiting of the mid-20th century has gone down in history, correctly, as a witch hunt that stemmed from irrational paranoia that gripped the U.S. after WWII. But now, according to the Thomas B. Fordham report, your kid might learn that the red baiters had a point: “It is disingenuously suggested that the House Un-American Activities Committee—and, by extension, McCarthyism—have been vindicated by the Venona decrypts of Soviet espionage activities (which had, in reality, no link to McCarthy’s targets).” Critical lessons about being skeptical of those who attack fellow Americans while wrapping themselves in the flag will be lost for students whose textbooks adhere to these standards.
Lie No. 3: Climate change is a massive hoax scientists have perpetuated on the public.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been hard at work pushing for laws requiring that climate change denialism be taught in schools as a legitimate scientific theory. Unfortunately, as Neela Banerjee of the L.A. Times reports, they’ve already had some serious success: “Texas and Louisiana have introduced education standards that require educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position. South Dakota and Utah passed resolutions denying climate change.” Other states are taking the “teach the controversy” strategy that helped get creationism into biology classrooms, asking teachers to treat climate change like it’s a matter of political debate instead of a scientifically established fact.
The reality is that climate change is a fact that has overwhelming scientific consensus. In 2004, Science reviewed the 928 relevant studies on climate change published between 1993 and 2003 and found that exactly zero of them denied that climate change was a reality, and most found it had man-made causes. To claim that climate change is a “controversy” requires one to believe that there’s a massive conspiracy involving nearly all the scientists in the world. So, your kids are not only not learning the realities of climate change, they are also learning, if indirectly, to give credence to conspiracy theory paranoia.
Ken Ham doesn’t think we should worry about things like asteroid impacts because the Bible tells him so. Recently on his ridiculous “Answers in Genesis” blog, he wrote,
What you believe about the Earth’s past doesn’t just influence how you view it—your belief also determines how you view the future! Because of their beliefs about the past, many evolutionists are concerned that somehow mankind will be catastrophically wiped out and life as we know it will end on Earth. One of the most popular versions of this apocalyptic tale is that a massive asteroid, or several asteroids, will strike Earth and obliterate life.
Can you see where he’s going with this?
The Discovery Channel even recently made a video simulating what it would look like if a 500-kilometer (310-mile) asteroid smashed into the Pacific Ocean. According to their simulation, such an impact would destroy Earth and vaporize life.
And why shouldn’t we take them more seriously than someone like you? As bad as the Discovery Channel may be at times, they’re still far better when it comes to science than Ham, and that says a lot.
Why is it that evolutionists are so concerned that humanity will someday be catastrophically destroyed? Well, according to man’s ideas about the past, life arose naturalistically and the universe is governed completely by the merciless laws of physics. According to their worldview, evolutionists contend there isn’t anyone upholding or sustaining the universe. We are simply at the mercy of naturalistic processes. Also, according to one evolutionary idea about the supposed dinosaur extinction event, a massive asteroid impact wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. If such an event happened once before, what’s to stop it from happening again and wiping out humanity this time?
Man’s ideas about the past? You mean what real science tells us, as opposed to your fundamentalist religious views that you try to pass off as “science” to the uneducated masses? Also contrary to what people like you seem to think, evolution is not incompatible with a belief in God. Being an “evolutionist” doesn’t make you are an atheist or mean that you believe that everything is governed by natural forces alone. You can be a Christian and not reject science, you just can’t be a creationist of any kind, and not reject science. Even if God exists through, he ( or she ) would have to have created the Universe through the same processes that science says the universe was created. If not than why do scientists, regardless of their religion come across all this evidence that shows us a universe vastly different than the one you believe in? Is God a liar?
Unfortunately there is abundent evidence that an asteroid really did wipe out the dinosaurs, who were thriving all over the world before it hit. It would not have been pleasant to be on the Earth’s surface for a long time after it hit either, given the fact that it plunged the planet into a the equivalent of a nuclear winter, minus the radiation. We have tons of data to back up the claim that asteroids have hit the Earth in the past, unlike the mythical Noah’s flood, that biblical fundamentalist like Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis insist happened somehow. I really hope his stupid “Ark Park” crashes and burns.
Asteroids, meteorites and commits on the other hand have hit the Earth throughout the planet’s history. There is nothing to stop it from happen again, unless we take action to protect ourselves. Extinction level events have occurred in the Earth’s past, multiple times. They’re as real as anthropogenic climate change, which I’m certain that Ham also denies or at least doesn’t think is a threat to human well being because of what he thinks the Bible says.
Even if there is a God of some sort out there, he/she doesn’t seem to answer prayers consistently, since people all over the world suffer through horrible natural disasters and die in horrible ways, regardless of how good or bad they were, and their faith, didn’t seem to matter much either.
Those who start with the Bible, however, get a completely different picture of Earth’s future because we start with a different picture of Earth’s past.
Yes, Mr. Ham, and one that is contrary to reality.
According to God’s Word, the universe is not here as the result of naturalistic processes. God created the universe and has imposed order on it. The universe is not strictly governed by unfeeling natural laws. God upholds and sustains the universe that He has made (Hebrews 1:3). And we don’t need to worry that an asteroid will obliterate life. The Bible has already told us how things will end—with judgment from God when Jesus Christ returns to Earth (2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 20:11–15).
Okay, and why should we believe the Bible over any other religious text when absolutely no evidence exists that supports things like a six thousand year old Earth, or a talking snake? Oh wait, you don’t want anyone to do actual science and you don’t care about evidence do you?
I have to agree with youtuber WildwoodClaire. It would be so much better if people like Ham, wouldn’t try to spread their delusions. As if we needed another reason to not let creationists destroy education. The long term survival of our species may literally depend on it. I for one do not want to go the way of the dinosaurs!
Update : 3/17/15 at 6:06 PM
Skip Intro has posted an excellent question for Mr. Ham, that I don’t think he’ll be able to answer!
Where did the moon come from, and why does it have all of those craters?
I went out to the post box and found the latest issue of Nat Geo, March 2015, there with this cover photo:
And the headlines:
THE WAR ON SCIENCE:
Climate Change does not exist
Evolution never happened
The Mood Landing was fake
Vaccinations can lead to autism
Genetically Modified Food is evil
It was a relief to see that this old, respected & sometimes stodgy journal take a strong stand against the deniers & other idiocies of our day. Even better was the discussion of why people doubt and deny what science tells them. It starts with the classic comedic example that has come full circle of late:
There’s a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s comic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove in which Jack D. Ripper, an American general who’s gone rogue and ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, unspools his paranoid worldview—and the explanation for why he drinks “only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure grain alcohol”—to Lionel Mandrake, a dizzy-with-anxiety group captain in the Royal Air Force.
Ripper: Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water?
Mandrake: Ah, yes, I have heard of that, Jack. Yes, yes.
Ripper: Well, do you know what it is?
Mandrake: No. No, I don’t know what it is. No.
Ripper: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?
The movie came out in 1964, by which time the health benefits of fluoridation had been thoroughly established, and antifluoridation conspiracy theories could be the stuff of comedy. So you might be surprised to learn that, half a century later, fluoridation continues to incite fear and paranoia. In 2013 citizens in Portland, Oregon, one of only a few major American cities that don’t fluoridate their water, blocked a plan by local officials to do so. Opponents didn’t like the idea of the government adding “chemicals” to their water. They claimed that fluoride could be harmful to human health.
Actually fluoride is a natural mineral that, in the weak concentrations used in public drinking water systems, hardens tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay—a cheap and safe way to improve dental health for everyone, rich or poor, conscientious brusher or not. That’s the scientific and medical consensus.
To which some people in Portland, echoing antifluoridation activists around the world, reply: We don’t believe you.
The article goes on from there and talks about the whole range of denial on the Right & Left wings - from evolution to GMO’s. It’s a good cross section of the crazy that has infected the majority of the nation.
You can read the whole text online at the link above. I would, however, suggest finding the magazine at your favorite retailer as they deserve the support for taking this stand.
Mark Strauss debunks some serious right wing, anti government, anti science, nonsense.
Over the last five years, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has published an annual Wastebook, documenting what he considers the 100 most wasteful federal projects. This year he got a lot of media mileage by ridiculing several science grants—which, in fact, were among the cheapest and most worthwhile projects on his hit list.
Coburn and his staff spend time every year ferreting out which research projects will sound the most ludicrous. Their descriptions include enough accurate information so that they can’t be characterized as lies.
But they leave out so many facts that they can’t be characterized as truth, either.
Nonetheless, media outlets got a good laugh by parroting the talking points, without putting any effort into looking at whether any of these projects were more than they seemed. Coburn’s Wastebook often didn’t provide any specific critiques, beyond bad puns about government waste.
Normally, I’d shrug it off as just more spin. But, the Wastebook got a lot of publicity at a time when Congressional Republicans have made science grants the scapegoats for out-of-control government spending—when, in fact, they represent barely a fraction of the billions of dollars spent on projects that actually need oversight.
So, here are some fixes in the Wastebook, by providing actual information on three of the science grants that got a lot of attention.
According to Michael Slezak, evidence now confirms what many paleo-anthropologists and Paleontologists suspected, that modern humans interbred with our Neanderthal relatives.
When humans hooked up with Neanderthals, we could have wooed them with music and fancy jewellery.
The oldest DNA of a modern human ever to be sequenced shows that the Homo sapiens who interbred with the Neanderthals were very modern - not just anatomically but with modern behaviour including painting, modern tools, music and jewellery.
Some previous estimates had placed the first interspecies liaison much earlier, before the emergence of these features. The new DNA sequence shows it actually happened in the middle of an age called the Initial Upper Palaeolithic, when there was an explosion of modern human culture.
About 2 per cent of many people’s genomes today is made up of Neanderthal DNA, a result of interbreeding between the two species that can be seen in everyone except people from sub-Saharan Africa. The so-called Ust’-Ishim man, named after the town in western Siberia where he was found, carries a similar proportion of Neanderthal DNA in his genome as present-day Eurasians, and a combination of radiocarbon and genetic dating shows he died only about 45,000 years ago.
Plant scientists have discovered some interesting facts about the coffee plant, and about how other plants use caffeine as a survival mechanism.
Good for us humans. Good for the plants. Good for BEES!
Sometimes creationists claim that a series of genetic mistakes can’t add up to make plants or animals more complex, or in any way improve them. This is wrong, and the coffee genome shows exactly how evolution can make a plant more complex and, to human tastes, improve it.
Flowering plants appeared around 160 million years ago. Once they arose, said Albert, they quickly spread and divided into an array of forms fantastically diverse in their chemistry and appearances.
What the DNA reveals, is that early in the history of plants, the entire complement of DNA - the genome - doubled. That is, instead of making a typo, some plant simply got two copies of everything. “With all these duplications you have an opportunity for the duplicates to take on new functions and make progeny that are more adaptive,” he said. It’s like getting new blank canvasses upon which evolution can start innovating.
It turns out that the double DNA sped up the synthesis of caffeine, which turns out to be a useful survival mechanism for the coffee plant, the tea plant, the kola nut tree, and many others.
Caffeine in nectar gives visiting bees a buzz (sorry!) so they keep coming back for more.
Think about that over your morning cuppa.
Image via io9.com
Mark Strauss has posted a story over Io9 that should embarrass creationists everywhere, including a former actor turned creation “scientist.”
A few years ago, ex-teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron went on Fox News as a pitchman for young-Earth creationism. Claiming there were no transitional fossils, he ridiculed evolution saying that, if it were true, we would have duck-crocodile hybrids. Ha, ha—oh, wait, scientists found a dinosaur that’s half duck, half croc.
Cameron appeared as an “expert” on Fox News prior to the airing of an ABC Nightline segment, featuring footage of Cameron participating in a debate on the existence of God.
Zack Kopplin is a young man who has testified in front of many a school board in the Deep South advocating proper science education (especially evolution) and has been vocal about the separation of church and state. He’s done remarkable work with those things, and he’s only 21 years old.
That said, he attended the Texas Department of Education’s “social studies” textbook adoption hearing today, where the public can speak in front of the board. He live-tweeted the event, and I’ve collated a lengthy collection of tweets he sent out during the proceedings. It is a cornucopia of right-wing bad craziness, right out of The Twilight Zone. Regular readers of LGF who scroll through the tweets will find many MANY instances where your jaw will simply drop to the floor.
As John Timmer at Ars Technica points out, we may have found not only a new species, but a brand new type of animal! This is big news for the science of biology, and zoology in particular!
/ D. enigmata on the right, with the three larger samples on the left representing D. discoides.
Over the past few years, studies of genomes have confused what we thought we knew about the origin of animal life. Instead of the simple sponges being the earliest branch off the animal tree, a group of relatively complex organisms, the ctenophores, seem to be the earliest branch. That finding has some serious implications, as it suggests that a nervous system evolved twice.
Now, some more traditional biology may upset the family tree even further. Old samples taken from the seabed near Tasmania contain examples of two different species that may belong to a phylum entirely unknown to us—one that split off near the base of the animal tree. The strange creatures also have features that suggest they may be related to remains from the Ediacaran, a period in which the first animal life appears in the fossil record.
The samples actually date from a research cruise taken nearly 30 years ago, where a “sled” was dragged along the ocean floor and samples returned to the surface. The new species weren’t recognized as interesting when they were first found, so they were left mixed in with the rest of the collection, which was fixed with formaldehyde and then dumped in 80 percent ethanol. The samples suffered a bit of further abuse when one of the authors wanted to refresh the alcohol and was given 100 percent ethanol instead. (The paper actually notes, “Unfortunately absolute alcohol was provided without comment instead of the requested 80 percent ethanol.”)