Custom Search

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Science" heroine? Or just another example of "Darwinists think the rules never apply to them"

Texas science education administrator Chris Comer is a Darwinist heroine, if you go by the legacy media hype mill. The story was, she was fired last year for political interference to promote Darwinism in education. However, according to John West at the Discovery Institute, there is way more to the story of how she and her employer went separate ways:

- Multiple findings of “insubordination” and “misconduct[.]”

- Reference to possible violation of the Texas Penal Code over payments made to Comer from entities receiving TEA [Texas Education Authority] money under contracts she administered.

- Comer received three separate disciplinary letters spanning at least eight separate incidents. Seven of these eight incidents had nothing to do with evolution.

- Comer had been disciplined and charged with “insubordination” because she repeatedly disregarded the TEA’s strict rule that staff must remain neutral and silent regarding unsettled curricular questions. Comer was charged with insubordination for violating this rule on issues that had nothing to do with evolution. In her last year alone at the TEA, Comer was found by superiors to be guilty of “insubordination” or “misconduct” on three separate occasions, including one incident where she disparaged the TEA leadership publicly.
West provides a whack of supporting documentary material here.

My take: If you are a civil servant, you get paid regular and you keep your mouth shut. If you are an activist, you get paid sometimes and you say whatever advances your cause. Comer seems not to have understood that she had to make a choice in this matter.

And if she really dissed the Texas Education Agency (which pays her salary) in public, she was a Goner, not a Comer, for sure.

And just when I thought I had heard all the news I could stand from Texas, this falls into my in bin. Apparently,
AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Chicken Littles at the Texas Freedom Network (TFN) are ranting that the sky is falling because two of the six experts selected to review the states science standards co-authored Explore Evolution, a textbook that examines both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution (

What the TFN doesnt reveal is that another of the expert reviewers co-authored a one-sided, Darwin-only textbook! David Hillis, a biology professor at UT Austin co-authored the 2008 edition of Life: The Science of Biology, a textbook whose previous editions have been approved for use in Texas high schools. Hillis also serves as a spokesman for a pro-evolution lobbying group that is trying to remove language in the Texas science standards requiring students to study the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories. Gerald Skoog, another expert reviewer, has signed a statement issued by the same pro-evolution group, and he too has been a science textbook author and has a long history as a pro-Darwin activist.
Well, sure, but there's no surprise in any of this. Darwinists merely assume that the story of evolution has only one side, and it is theirs. And it is not to be questioned. That is what makes them scientific. Memorize. Repeat. Believe. Rinse. Repeat.

The big question: I wish Ontario were as popular as Texas. We could be if anyone ever tried to buck the system here.

Labels: ,

Darwinism and popular culture: Why so many conservatives will not vote for Darwin

In a recent post, "Darwinism and popular culture: Darwinian conservatism means "disintegration of morality"?", I addressed a recent critique of Larry Arnhart's "Darwinian conservatism" in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Arnhart thinks that American conservatives are wrong to doubt Darwin, and proposes an "emergent" theory of mind. Meanwhile, I came across this passage in Jonathan Wells's Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, which offers a bit of background:
In 2005, Arnhart wrote: “Many conservatives fear Darwinism as promoting an atheistic and materialistic view of human life that is morally corrupting. Such fears should be dispelled by seeing how Darwinism actually provides a scientific understanding of the natural roots of morality and religion. . . . Instead of fearing science as the enemy of liberty, Darwinian conservatives can learn from science how liberty is founded in the nature of the human animal. That’s why conservatives need Charles Darwin.”7

Of course, many conservatives would respond that they don’t fear science—far from it—but that they are skeptical of Darwinism’s scientific pretensions. Since science is a good thing, and Arnhart equates science with Darwinism, it is not surprising that he wants to show how “modern Darwinian science helps us to explain” how human nature “was formed as a product of natural evolution.”8 In order to do this, Arnhart relies on one of Darwinism’s newer offshoots: sociobiology.

The most noted name in sociobiology is Harvard’s Edward O. Wilson (who claims the word “Darwinism” was invented by creationists to discredit, well, Darwinism). Wilson defines altruism biologically as increasing another organism’s ability to pass on genes at the expense of one’s own, and he calls it the “culminating mystery of all biology.”9 It is a mystery because Darwinian evolution favors individuals who out-compete others to leave more offspring, so it is difficult or impossible for Darwinism to explain the existence of individuals who deliberately sacrifice for the sake of strangers. Yet if Darwinism cannot adequately explain altruism, how can it provide a foundation for morality and ethics?

Sociobiology suffers from other serious problems as well. Except for some rare pathological conditions, it has been impossible to tie human behavior to specific genes. (The “gay gene” that was much hyped a few years ago turned out to be a mirage.) If human behavior cannot be reduced to genetics, then according to neo-Darwinism it cannot be biologically inherited; if it cannot be biologically inherited, then it cannot evolve in a Darwinian sense. Still another problem with sociobiology is that it has been invoked to explain just about every human behavior from selfishness to self-sacrifice, from promiscuity to celibacy. A theory that explains something and its opposite equally well explains nothing.

It’s no wonder that sociobiology and its latest manifestation, “evolutionary psychology” (called “evo-psycho” by some wags), are held in low regard even by some evolutionary biologists. Stephen Jay Gould once called sociobiology a collection of “just-so stories” in which “virtuosity in invention replaces testability as the criterion for acceptance.” And in 2000 evolutionary biologist Jerry A. Coyne compared it to discredited Freudian psychology: “By judicious manipulation, every possible observation of human behavior could be (and was) fitted into the Freudian framework. The same trick is now being perpetrated by the evolutionary psychologists. They, too, deal in their own dogmas, and not in propositions of science.”10

Attempts to explain human behavior and values in Darwinian terms have been criticized not only by evolutionary biologists, but also by historians and political scientists. According to Oregon State University historian of science Paul L. Farber, biology “has been singularly unsuccessful in solving social problems or providing moral guidance,” and efforts to base human values on evolutionary theory have “a dismal track record.” University of Nebraska political science professor Carson Holloway contends: “Darwinian political theorists themselves cling tenaciously
to moral aspirations—for nobility and universal justice—that cannot be adequately defended on the basis of their evolutionary naturalism.” Holloway concludes that Arnhart’s “Darwinian political theory. . . provides the basis for no useful moral teaching at all.”11 (pp. 160-62)


Intellectual freedom in Canada: Free speech activist MPs re-elected

Ezra Levant (yes, he's back and he explains where he was, too) tells us here:
Two of Parliament's key freedom of speech activists have been re-elected. Conservative Rick Dykstra of St. Catharines was re-elected handily, and Liberal Keith Martin of Esquimalt Juan de Fuca squeaked back in, by a margin of less than 100 votes. Dykstra is the MP who proposed a resolution before Parliament's Justice Committee to have a full-bore review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, its operations and its censorship provisions in particular. Martin is the MP who really got the ball rolling early in the year, with his private member's motion to repeal that provision altogether. Of course, many other MPs made very encouraging public statements about reforming the commissions, such as Jason Kenney who chaired the "war room" in which I worked this past month.

Labels: ,

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Deborah Gyapong on the effects of last night's Canadian election

At least it won't get worse, Gyapong, of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, says:

So Stephen Harper returns with a strengthened minority government. Is that
a good thing or a bad thing? From the freedom of speech point of view, Mark
Steyn has this to say:

Mr Harper's failure to sweep the land probably means that this inherently cautious politician will be unlikely to champion any serious reform of the country's ghastly "human rights" commissions that consumed so much of my time and money this last year. He was awfully non-commital when I spoke to him about it back in the summer, and I'd imagine he'll be even more so now.

I agree with Mark on this. We cannot expect any changes, at least
on the surface. Whatever changes, if any, will be so subtle and so incremental
that they will escape detection by any but the most diligent observers.

For example,
The big difference we are likely to see is what we've already been seeing: an attempt to define the hallmarks of hatred according to the Supreme Court's Taylor decision, signally a move away from the vagueness of the "likely to expose" thought- crimes provision in the Canadian Human Rights Act, section 13(1) that is so dangerously open to interpretation, and so free of any recourse to truth as a defense.

No, it is not good enough. It is also a great disappointment that the Justice Minister (who got relected) continues to have his department intervene on behalf of that horrible subsection. But believe me, having this Tory minority government is far better than having a bunch of ideologues with the ability to define hatred any way they choose, and targeting Christians and conservative dissent with impunity.
Read the rest here.

Labels: ,

Who links to me?