Scientific Inquiry Discouraged in South Dakota Legislature

scienceIt’s amazing how closed-minded the supposedly “open minded” can actually be. We got an example of that from the South Dakota Legislature last week as the Senate Education Committee looked at SB 83 is intended to assist teachers in “helping students understand, analyze, critique, or review in an objective scientific manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses.”

As we’ve seen from a recent Argus Leader article, some so-called “open minded” people of “science” are terrified at the thought of facing a little opposing information which proves the fallacies of their ideas.

The bill is an effort to protect educators who offer a different school of thought on some of the subjects outlined in the state’s science standards, Monroe said.

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But science teachers don’t need the protection as long as they’re working with theories based on factual evidence, said Julie Olson, a science teacher in Mitchell. Olson is president of the South Dakota Science Teachers Association.

“Science has got to be fact-based, it has to be evidence-based,” Olson said. “Intelligent design isn’t evidence-based, so it isn’t science.”

She’s obviously never looked at the scientific evidence behind intelligent design…or she has, and it so threatens her worldview that she can’t even bring herself to consciously deal with it.

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Her faith, which is apparently in the religion of evolution, is what is unscientific.  Naturalistic evolution is flatly contradicted by science at several key points, and is impossible according to empirical science. But that doesn’t stop Olson and others like her from promoting their faith in school.

The bill was presented to the committee by prime sponsor Senator Jeff Monroe. He said we have unidirectional teaching in areas of science where there is a great deal of social and scientific debate, and while there is a great deal of talk about expanding minds, when the rubber meets the road, the standards require that students only consider one set of assumptions. Monroe said it was clear from the language of the educational standards that students were presented with the assumption that things like the “Big Bang” and anthropogenic global warming are actual fact. The truth is, such things are not only not established fact, they are fundamentally contradicted by scientific evidence.  Strengths and weaknesses of these theories and assumptions are not pursued in the classroom, according to the standards.

The bill was also supported by testimony from Terri Jorgenson of Concerned Women For America Legislative Action Committee; Jorgenson is also a retired military officer who worked in missile and space warning systems, and taught undergraduate space training during her military career. She said two of her children have also attended the Air Force Academy, so it is clear her family supports education and science. Jorgenson said teachers should have the freedom to teach both sides of controversial scientific subjects in the classroom. She said this bill would not protect the teaching of creation science or intelligent design since they are not part of the established curriculum; the bill would only allow the examination of the strengths and weaknesses of material already in the curriculum, and since evolution is in the curriculum, it would allow the examination of the strengths and weaknesses of evolution (which is what scares evolutionists, since even they know on some level what a house of cards it is). She said similar laws have been passed in other states, and there have been no lawsuits over them.

Norman Woods of the Family Heritage Alliance Action also spoke in support of the bill, as did Ethan Weinheimer, a student at the Lake Area Technical Institute in Onida.

The bill was opposed by Wade Pogany of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota who said the bill is “looking for a problem.”  Pogany said you can’t open the door to teachers teaching what they want and don’t want, according to their belief systems. Pogany said you could detect in this bill and from those supporting it that there was a “faith based component” in what they hoped to achieve (with no acknowledgment of the “faith based component” involved in protecting the teaching of the religion of evolution).

Bobbi Rank of the South Dakota Department of Education testified against the bill, stating that she agreed with what Pogany said, and that there haven’t been any problems with teachers not being able to teach strengths and weaknesses of pro-materialist/naturalist dogma (even though Jorgenson had testified about a number of teachers who had stated they supported bills like this, but wanted to remain anonymous in their support).

Munroe testified during committee discussion that he had received several emails from teachers who supported academic freedom bills like this, and he had read several of them into the record during the committee hearing on a similar bill last year.  He stated these teachers wanted to remain anonymous because they feared reprisals from administrators if it became known that they wanted to discuss strengths and weaknesses of some of these controversial subjects.

The bill was killed on a 4-3 vote, which made pro-evolution groups like the National Center for “Science” Education (aka “Defending the Teaching of Evolution and Climate Science”) happy.  And well they should be: their scientifically unsupported religion was once again protected from any challenge in academia.

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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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  • DCM7

    Legitimate science doesn’t need special protection from questioning. Period.

    …In fact, legitimate science usually doesn’t even have a significant number of people questioning it in the first place.

    • aj

      “Legitimate science doesn’t need special protection from questioning.”

      I remember debating somebody about a study highlighting the genetic changes produced in a melangastor over quite a long period of time, essentially the experimenter was able to reconfigure the DNA a bit so that its structure was tweaked and if I recall it was not in a very progressive matter….. He was very proud of the lofty lingo and the notable evolutionary insights…… As for I, at the end of the day, it was still an F’n fruitfly, lol ……aj

      • A Clarke

        You assume too much. I’ve examined the “evidence” for a young Earth, such as it is. I have a background that includes astronomy, wherein the conclusive evidence against it lies. We know a lot about stellar physics, and can calculate what happens in a supernova. The brightest one we have seen in a century is now in the southern sky. As the inverse-square law of luminosity and parallax (it’s simple geometry plus measurement) proves the distance and size of many stellar objects, we know that the Universe is far more vast than the young Earth theories can account for.

        DCM: “Legitimate science doesn’t need special protection from questioning.”

        But right-wing crazy-talk sites seem to…. I got banned again, and not for any reason other than my point of view. I had to answer you here because I can’t answer you there any more.

        You Christians just LOVE your censorship….

        • DCM7

          “I’ve examined the ‘evidence’ for a young Earth, such as it is. I have a background that includes astronomy, wherein the conclusive evidence against it lies.”
          Such claims are easy to make — they’re a dime a dozen, actually. Your claims about your background (however much there may actually be to them) basically amount to an appeal-to-authority fallacy. What you have is not “conclusive evidence against” anything, but impressive-sounding speculation meant to reach a pre-determined conclusion. There is simply too much fatal evidence against the whole evolutionary scenario (which is why the “long ages” explanations are sought after in the first place) for any given authoritative-sounding claim in favor of any aspect of it to carry much weight. The distance of stellar objects does happen to be one of the things that is hardest to explain from a “young-earth” standpoint, but that in and of itself doesn’t go very far toward countering it as a whole — especially when the most basic and crucial questions about evolution routinely get NO answers from evolutionists. And if you’ve examined as much as evidence as you claim you have, you should know why certain astronomical phenomena are JUST as hard to explain from an “old-earth” standpoint.

          “But right-wing crazy-talk sites seem to”
          That statement right there shows that there’s more to your being banned than just your “point of view.”