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Category Archives: Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution

Blinding You With Science Class

french modelLet’s be very careful here. At first glance, this horrifying story brought to us by an alert but anonymous reader, looks like a trap.

As we know, sometimes the French model you met on the Internet is not a French model, and often snippets shared on Facebook can backfire on you. We all snap it up as evidence that someone (Sarah Palin, President Obama, the NRA, the Catholic Church) has said or done something unbelievably stupid, and then it turns out that the snippet is false, and now we’re the ones who look stupid for sharing it.

Like the other day I saw someone post a three year-old image of the Obamas saluting the flag with the wrong hand over their hearts. Further evidence that Obama hates America, was born in Kenya, wants to take your guns, and eats babies, yes?

No. All you have to do is google a couple of key phrases and you end up on Snopes.com, where the photo was debunked years ago. Apparently a similar photo was done of Tom Daschle back in 2003, but with less effort – his wedding ring was on the wrong hand, his buttons on his coat were on the wrong side – and so it was easy to see that it was simply a mirror image of a real photo.

The Obama image was also doctored, but far more carefully. They moved the ring, moved the buttons, and were in general very, very careful in putting together their destructive, anti-American lie which they then distributed around as evidence that the Obamas were destructive anti-Americans.

But they missed a few things – medals on a soldier’s coat in the background, the part in Michelle’s hair – and it became very easy to see that the image was mirrored and then photoshopped from a real picture of the Obamas with the correct hands over their hearts.

At a ceremony observing 9/11. That’s the level of reverence the photo-fixers have for America, dudes. They took a photo from a 9/11 ceremony, made a lie out of it, and then tons of Republicans snapped it up and made their hilarious Republican noises while they humped its leg.

Anyway, not too hard to get the truth out of it. Like taking toast from a hamster, one might say. So on that note, let’s be careful about this image, yes?

Science Quiz

Already I’m suspicious. I would expect a 4th grade science quiz to say the teacher’s name, or the chapter number, or practically anything except “4th Grade Science Quiz.” So my first impression of this was, “Probably not.”

Well, let’s see what Snopes has to say. Here’s their article on it, which has it still up in the air. They had the same obvious problems with it, but then they were contacted by someone who said he was the father of the student who took the test. This guy even provided the hilarious second page – which I got from google, not from Snopes, because Snopes sort of yells at us there about not taking their stuff. Calm down, Snopes, it’s not your quiz either, right?

Scienc Quiz page two

The questions and answers are face-palmers, that is for sure. The parent declined to reveal the school until the end of the year, for fear that the student would get suspended, or hollered at, or possibly burned at the stake as a witch, and I don’t blame him. But again, we’re suspicious, aren’t we? The mystery source of the mystery test from the mystery school.

Sure, but, I don’t think that we’re worried about this particular student; her dad already said he corrected the error – or ball of errors. I think that if you’re alarmed by this photo, you’re alarmed that it represents a real trend playing itself out in some rural schools like a live action Simpsons bit. Whether or not this particular test is real barely matters. What matters is, do people teach this at all?

In particular, that last question – What do you say when people claim the Earth is billions of years old? The accepted answer is “Were you there?”

Notice that the kid got a 100% but she forgot the question mark. Back in my day, we rode buses to school as opposed to dinosaurs, and we lost a little credit if we forgot punctuation marks. Still, one has to wonder – does anyone really think that’s a reasonable reply to someone claiming the Earth is billions of years old?

Yes. Ken Ham, for example – president and CEO (which cracks me up) of Answers In Genesis – US. That’s all he does is go around reminding people to ask scientists if they were there billions of years ago to verify the Earth’s age. And if you weren’t there, then I guess you’ll have to take Ken Ham’s word for it that it’s only a few thousand years old, even though you also weren’t there thousands of years ago, and neither was Ken Ham.

I love how Mister Ham gets defensive right off the bat on his website. The first Frequently Asked Question is Can Creationists Be Real Scientists? Mister Ham’s reply:

“Many secular and atheist groups mock Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum for not being scientific. However, some of the most influential scientists past and present have been and are creationists (see below).”

Comes right out and says he’s used to getting mocked, which is nice, and not just because it’s good to hear that folks are appropriately mocking him.

mad scientistIt’s also nice because there is only one type of scientist known for saying things like “They mocked me, thought I was mad, but I showed them, I showed them all!”

Well, that’s just mad scientists, right? Who else opens with that?

To be fair, he does show us a list of people who have degrees, and I think a list of people on your website is as good as peer review, isn’t it?

No, it’s really not. And also, you don’t find a lot of respected, peer-reviewed scientists headlining their work “Am I really a scientist? Or am I a hilarious nut case? Here’s a list of folks I know who will vouch for me.”

“Were you there?”

That’s the new Inherit the Wind moment? That’s your modern, philosophical stance?

SCIENCEWe don’t know because we weren’t there? Hell, we barely even know if there was a Holocaust by that version of the scientific method. Shit, you guys know there was a Holocaust, right? I’m not even going to google Mister Ham and The Holocaust, although if you’re starting a band, that’s what you should name it.

As for the specific test, I’m going to make a prediction, and we should find out more in June, when the Mystery Source reveals the Mystery School. I think the quiz is real, and that Mister Ham or someone like him has a general curriculum book out there with general tests and quizzes for anyone who wants to teach Christian Science, Ham-Style, and I think that’s why it’s so general – 4th Grad Science Quiz.

Do I think it’s a big deal? Not to me, I haven’t been writing checks to the Mystery School. But I’ll bet it’s a big deal to the Mystery Source. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Earlier: Kirk Cameron and the Art of Asshattery

 

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Onward Christian Science Teacher

On the surface, it looks like an inspiring story about a Mount Vernon science teacher sticking up for his Bible, here in the 10tv piece  Student Backs Teacher In Fight To Keep Bible On Desk.  The teacher’s name is John Freshwater, and recently a parent complained that he keeps a Bible on his desk, and he was told to remove it.

No way, said Freshwater.  That would violate my First Amendment rights.

My first two thoughts were, no, it wouldn’t, and then, say, what’s the problem with keeping a Bible on your desk?  I mean, that’s not the science text-book, right?

I’ll tell you what I wasn’t curious about at all, and that’s “Gee, I wonder what a student of his from fifteen years ago thinks about this?”

10tv goes ahead and tells me anyway.  She says that it was nothing unusual even fifteen years ago for Freshwater to have Bibles and other religious stuff displayed in science class and that she supports him.  Which is wonderful, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works in terms of district policies.

Much more relevant would be the following two facts gleaned from this story:  That the Ohio Department of Education leaves the decision about religious articles up to the individual school districts, and that this individual school district has a rule against “devotional exercises or displays of religious character.”

So as delighted as I am to hear about Freshwater’s former student and her wonderful experience fifteen years ago in his religious-themed science class, it turns out that the Ohio Board of Education does not make Previous Student Voucher Allowances for breaking district rules.  I know, it hardly makes sense.

No, just like students don’t get to debate you about whether or not they are allowed to wear hats, Freshwater doesn’t get to debate us about whether or not he can keep a Bible on his desk. 

Personally, I don’t care if he has one on his desk and I would never complain about it, but rules are rules.  I assume the district is concerned about a slippery slope – if he can keep a Bible on his desk, how about a stack of Bibles, or a statue of the Virgin Mary, or a six-foot crucifix on the wall behind him?

Very quickly, I’m starting to think, okay Freshwater, you want to climb down out of the Loony Tree and teach science or do you want to spend a bunch of time and money on hearings defending your right to keep your Bible on your desk?

Well, he wants to spend time and money on hearings defending his Bible.  Which is weird, because a subsequent article he’s featured in – Board Hears Comment On Teacher’s Religious Views – we start hearing about other allegations, in particular that this guy was teaching creationism in science class, and has been for a long time.  So it’s really not about his Bible at all.

Not surprisingly, Freshwater still wants to talk about the Bible on his desk.  But keeping a Bible on your desk is considerably less troubling than teaching the opposite of science in science class.  He’s also accused of holding spiritual “healing” sessions, which again sounds awesome, but probably violates that same district rule that’s giving his Bible so much trouble.

And then of course, there’s the cross he burned on a kid’s arm with an electrostatic device, detailed in Report: Teacher Burned Cross Into Student’s Arms.  I have to tell you, I liked this guy better about six paragraphs ago when he was a beleaguered man of God who only wanted the comfort of his Bible by his side, to help him through the day.

Well, surely it was an accident, right?  I mean, this guy didn’t really grab a kid and brand him with the cross of Christ right in the middle of a public school, did he?  Is he a small town science teacher or the albino nut job from Angels and Demons?

That’s in fact the most baffling statement in the report:  “Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement that he simply made an ‘X,’ not a ‘cross,’ all of the students described the marking as a cross and the pictures provided depict a cross.”

Simply?  Mr. Freshwater’s statement that he simply made an X?  So, we’re going to sit around arguing about what exactly the guy burned on to a student’s arm?  

Please tell me that the school district with a rule against keeping a Bible on your desk also has a rule against burning things – anything at all – into your students’ arms?  Please, please tell me this, for I wish for my skull to remain in one skull-shaped piece.

It’s really hard to find a place to start talking about all the various things I don’t like about this series of articles – there are actually about ten of them, chronicling two years of this batshit craziness – but I think most troubling to me is the subtle spin the writers keep putting on it.

They keep wanting me to think of this guy as Wacky Robin Williams, the Eccentric but Dedicated Teacher With A Good Heart.  Why else would they trot out a student from fifteen years ago, with nothing interesting to say except Mr. Freshwater Was Cool?  Why else would I get a quote from Freshwater’s pastor, regarding his uninformed and irrelevant opinion about Freshwater’s teaching skills?

Well, not totally uninformed.  The pastor tells us that he’s observed Freshwater in class, and surprise, he supports him fully. 

My question is, if the Bible was causing problems in class, then what the hell was the pastor doing there?  Was he sitting on Freshwater’s desk, too?  I’ll just bet that pastor really objectively thought this through before coming down on the side of the Bible, right? 

Even the article called Report: Teacher Burned Cross On Student’s Arms makes sure to let me know that “When asked about their favorite subjects, some students answered, ‘Evolution because we always had debates about it,’ and ‘I liked debating about creation and evolution, because it’s always fun to debate.’

Why are you telling me this?  Am I supposed to think, oh, that’s nice, debate is healthy and the students are engaged, what a great teacher?  Because that’s not what I think. 

I think creationism is not in the curriculum, and that it’s therefore not going to be on the test.  And so yes, the students love to “debate” evolution because they can bait their religious nut teacher into blowing the whole day on it.

And as far as science class goes, there is nothing to debate.  You teach, students learn – it’s not Philosophy or Political Science or the Debate Club.  Should we let them debate chemistry as well?  Listening to a bunch of teenagers “debate” this would be about as helpful as listening to them debate Bigfoot or the polarizing question of the Earth’s roundness. 

Throughout the series of articles, here’s what I keep seeing.  First someone says, Hey, this guy burned a cross into his student’s arm.  Then Freshwater says something like, “Other teachers were allowed to keep Bibles on their desks.”  He wants so bad for that to be the issue, and I don’t blame him, but it’s not.

I mean, let me clear the whole confusing topic up, since it’s apparently so hard.  Burning anything at all onto your student’s arm ought to be grounds for termination.  Freshwater is extremely lucky that he isn’t currently plucking his teeth out of that Bible with a pair of needle nose pliers while an ER tech removes his electrostatic device from his rectum.

You can’t keep the Bible on your desk because it isn’t your desk anymore.  How’s that sound, Crazy Town?

And although they didn’t quite word it that way, the State of Ohio agrees – they recommend his termination in this article.  And the court system agrees, too – they just awarded $450,000 to the parents of the student with burned arm.

Which naturally leads to Freshwater filing a lawsuit against the school district, for a cool million.  Because he’s such a great, caring teacher who loves his Bible and his students and his job. 

That is, after all, what Jesus Would Do, right?  File suit against a public school district after physically assaulting one of his students with an electrostatic device?

I have to say, I thought at first that the Bible on his desk was harmless, but thanks to this unintentionally stellar teacher, I have now learned why such rules are necessary.  If this guy had kept his Bible by his bedside, and brought his brain into science class, he might have been able to remind himself that religion and science are two separate things.  Then an entire school could have avoided an appalling media circus, and stayed focused on educating children instead of defending against lawsuits. 

Onward, Christian Science Teacher, to some other job.  You never deserved to teach these students in the first place. 

 

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