Academic Freedom Act Dies In Committee

Brogdon, a Republican from Oklahoma, said science teachers in his locality fear retribution for bringing up alternative theories on a wide range of subjects, not only on evolution but stem cell research as well.  The “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” SB 320, barely didn’t make it out of committe. A vote of 7-6 prevented the bill from coming out of committee for a full vote by the House.

The bill is suppose to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” This applies not only to evolution but other scientific theories as well.

Brogdon said he did not mandate anything in his legislation, other than to allow teachers and students to have “an open dialogue on many types of issues.”

Here is what SB 320 says…

“Directing State Board of Education, district boards of education, and certain administrators to create certain environment within schools; permitting teachers to help students understand certain information about scientific theories; disallowing State Board of Education, district boards of education, and certain administrators from prohibiting teachers from helping students understand certain information about scientific theories; providing for evaluation of students based on understanding of course materials; prohibiting penalizing of students for holding certain position on scientific theories; prohibiting certain construction; directing State Department of Education…”

The bill obviously undermines the dictatorship which is currently going on in America’s method of teaching science because it allows more freedom in learning scientific theories.

In another part of the country, Mississippi wanted to put a disclaimer in text books, which stated, “evolution as “a controversial theory.” This idea also died in committee, but government officials in Mississippi plan to try and pass an Academic Freedom bill of their own next year.

One really wonders the effort of trying to put a disclaimer, it’s quite obvious, that evolution is a controversial theory. Officials in Mississippi should focus more on allowing strengths and weaknesses to be taught in all scientific theories.

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24 thoughts on “Academic Freedom Act Dies In Committee

  1. Scientifically, evolution is not controversial at all. You’ve tried that before (“teach the controversy !”), and that did not work. This won’t work either, because there is complete academic freedom already. The problem simply is that creationism is not science.

    Creationists are simply changing tactics all the time, now crying that “there is no academic freedom !”. I think this is really pathetic, and laughable. The US has perfect academic freedom, and is one of the reasons it does so well in science. You want to take that away ? The rest of the world will be more than happy to take over scientific leadership …

  2. Actually, there is a huge problem with academic freedom. See the book “Slaughter of the Dissidents” for instance (this is only the first in a 5-book series on the topic).

    But honestly, I think the way these bills have been persued is not helpful. I think a better law would be to tie science discussions to papers indexed by the National Library of Medicine. Something to the effect of – “anything discussed in a paper indexed by the National Library of Medicine is considered a reasonable topic for discussion in class.”

  3. No, there is no problem with academic freedom at all. Not in the US or Europe or Japan etc., anyway.
    Creationists just *pretend* there is, to get religion into the science classroom. Which is a pretty nasty tactic, I think.

    Just teach religion like creationism in religion class. Is that so hard ?

  4. of course you eelco2 would say “No, there is no problem with academic freedom at all. Not in the US or Europe or Japan etc., anyway.”, his world religion is being taught already.

    Slave masters never saw anything wrong with slavery, it was the slaves that knew they where being suppressed.

  5. Dear mcoville,

    I am not a religious person, so which world religion would that be ? I guess you mean science – which makes it a pretty odd statement.

    Your last line I consider to be very insulting, if you call me, or my science colleagues, a “slave master”. I might not agree with Michael, but he remains courteous, and so do I. That is the reason I am still sending comments to this blog. So I hope you can keep your insulting comments to yourself. And I have no idea who you consider to be suppressed her.

    If you comment was meant differently, then explain yourself.

  6. My last line was a analogy. I did not mean for you to take it as I was calling you a slave master. What I was trying to convey was that those in control rarely understand the point of view of the ones be suppressed.

    I would have to ask though, why do you have such a guilty conscience?

  7. Why should I have a guilty conscience ? Guilty of what ? I have no idea what you are trying to imply here …

    Your analogy is a pretty nasty one, if that’s all you meant it to be. Slavery is one of the darker chapters of human history.

  8. I am not a psychologist and would not know how to help address your issue, but I am a father and when I ask “who did this?” the first kid to say “she did it” is usually the guilty one.

    And I do agree with you, any time one group holds power over another and refuses to see the impact of their decisions on that lesser group, it is “a pretty nasty one”.

    Too often evolutionists hide behind things like “peer review” to discredit those that do not believe as they do, in order to push their agenda. Evolutionists control the “peer review” process and then say that you can not call anything not published in an evolutionists journal science. How is that not suppressing ideas and free thought? Then they go to school boards and threaten lawsuits if the school board goes against their definition of science, how is that rational? It is intellectual slavery.

  9. You were implying that I have a guilty conscience. So what should I be guilty of ? I have no idea, and you are not telling me.

    And your statement about peer review is nonsense: you can publish all you like. But science journals only publish science papers, not religious ones. Creationism is religion, so does not get published in science journals. Pretty straightforward. You can publish it in lots of other places, so your complaint about suppressing ideas and free thought is complete nonsense.

    Your term intellectual slavery is completely unwarrented. You can teach all the religion you want. In religion class ! Why on earth is that such a big deal ?? Why do you insist on teaching religion in science class ? Should we teach French in science class as well ? What else ?

  10. Eelco, I was asking if why you had a guilty conscience because you where acting guilty. I made an analogy about suppressing people and you responded defensively.

    Intellectual slavery is a good word picture of what is happening to the youth of the world, with a focus on American children. Darwinists want to push their religion in science class with out any opposition. The gospel of evolution is taught as truth and anyone that says differently is labeled a heretic and cast out.

    “And your statement about peer review is nonsense: you can publish all you like. “, not true. Only papers that back up evolution will get published. The “peer review” label is one of the tools used by Darwinists to suppress free thought and the advancement of science.

  11. OK, if you feel I was acting guilty, so be it. I am not feeling guilty myself, though.

    But as for your statements on evolution being a religion: that is clear nonsense. I cannot find any other words for that. Free tought is not suppressed at all, and the advancement of science progresses just fine. Darwinists do not exist, of course, but I am repeating myself endlessly there.

    You can say anything you like in this blog, right ? So what is suppressed ?? Just go to China for free tought suppression, the US is nothing like that, and neither is Europe and Japan.

    Again, religion should be taught in religious class, and science in the science class. And you are just trying to redefine science to become religion too. That is just silly.

  12. “And your statement about peer review is nonsense: you can publish all you like.”

    I believe eelco, you like to disagree for the sake of disagreement because the other person is a creationist. Scientists cannot publish what they like. If they conclude an intelligent design cause, like the Stephen Meyer paper (2004) did. The editor of the editor of the Smithsonian’s magazine at the time, Dr. Richard Sternberg was pushed out, but not being editor as he quit to move on to other things, rather he was pushed out of the research he was conducting since he didn’t directly work for the museum. His work was being sponsored. I read the congressional record in 2006 which contained e-mails. It was revealing and telling. They were accusing him of being a creationist, they were checking his background for any religious connections, it was a witch hunt going on. So no, scientists can’t publish what they want. The only way ID gets mentioned in a peer review publication is generally in a negative light, not a positive one.

  13. No, any scientist can publish anything he likes, as long as it is good science, original, and suitable for the journal in question.
    Stephen Meyer, being the ‘Discovery Institute boss’, is a religious person writing religious papers, which have not place in a science journal.
    Is that so odd ?

    Even if Stephen Meyer likes to tell you he is a scientist, he is not. It would be like my trying to tell you I am a priest. Would you believe me now, after my postings ? Not really …

    My papers would not be accepted in the Journal of Creation, for example, as their editors subscribe to a ‘statement of faith’, which is as dogmatic as one can be.

    So no surprise that a paper by Meyers does not get published in a science journal. The peer review process is aimed at testing whether a paper is original, honest, and suitable for the journal in question. I would also not get my cosmology papers published in a biology journal … no way. There is astrobioogy, of course, but that is not cosmology.

    So no, I still do not buy your statements *at all*.

  14. Eelco,

    Indeed, your papers would not be accepted in the Journal of Creation, because it’s privately owned with a specific purpose. However, in Journals owned by taxpayers such as like we have in the United States, it’s different, then a diverse limited amount of opinions should be allowed in those publications…You say, the US has a religious clause. Well if the government favored one religion over another then that would be breaking the clause.

    Benjamin Franklin once said in 1787, “I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and it’s blessing on our deliberations, he held in this Assembly every morning…” It’s a practice that still holds today, so you can have a prayer in the US Congress but you can’t publish in a tax funded science Journal because the origin is intelligent design? You guard these publications like they are religious texts…By the way, the religious clause which you most likely you are aware about, wasn’t until 1941. Previously US supreme courts ruled against it. Unlike past rulings, only 8 words from a letter was their evidence for the ruling. Previous courts used the whole letter of Thomas Jefferson. There was no written law, just a mere interpretation. All it says, government shall not establish a state religion. But one is not establishing a state religion by allowing other opinions to be published in science journals…

    Now the Stephen Meyers paper which did get published in a peer review publication…The topic does in fact fit in one of the science journals you mentioned, but unlike these, the paper was published at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. The paper was about…

    The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories

    This isn’t a religious paper. It does however challenge neo-Darwinism like selection/mutation mechanisms facing probabilistic obstacles and other things like self-organizational models. Then he argues about CSI…

    “The Cambrian explosion represents a remarkable jump in the specified complexity or “complex specified information” (CSI) of the biological world. For over three billions years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999). Then, beginning about 570-565 million years ago (mya), the first complex multicellular organisms appeared in the rock strata, including sponges, cnidarians, and the peculiar Ediacaran biota (Grotzinger et al. 1995). Forty million years later, the Cambrian explosion occurred (Bowring et al. 1993). The emergence of the Ediacaran biota (570 mya), and then to a much greater extent the Cambrian explosion (530 mya), represented steep climbs up the biological complexity gradient.”

    There is no religious doctrine in his argument against evolution in this paper at all. The conclusion is what you disagree with. But you are right in your implication, there is no alternative which one can conclude is natural, this is the only secular theory(evolution) in science which you can say if one aspect cannot work, the whole thing falls apart and what’s left is the supernatural. So faith is needed to believe in this theory of evolution and you have indeed displayed precisely to me in one form or another in previous replies.

    Have you ever gotten any of your papers published in a peer review publication on cosmology?

  15. Michael says: ” there is no alternative which one can conclude is natural, this is the only secular theory(evolution) in science which you can say if one aspect cannot work, the whole thing falls apart and what’s left is the supernatural.”

    Why would the supernatural be left ? That is ridiculous. If one aspect does not work, you build a new theory, which is perfectly natural. And remember that we human beings are not as clever as we sometimes think we are, so why should the supernatural be the explanation if we cannot come up with the answer yet ?

    There is not faith needed at all in the theory of evolution. There are unknown bits in the theory, which is why people are still employed to work this out. And if the whole thing fails anyway, then fine, we start with another sientific theory.

    This is how science works !! This is what happened with most theories ! Newtonian physics has been superseded, etc. etc.
    In fact, Darwin’s version of evolution has also already been superseded by the current version of evolution. He gots lots of things right, which is why he is famous, but not everything, obviously. He was just a human being, after all. And he missed lots of information (genetics, for example).

  16. Oh, and yes, I have about 35 refereed papers published, and I’ve been peer reviewing myself for many years now. The peer review process is not definitely not perfect, but filters out most of the crap. But people can still publish whatever they like somewhere else, like in the privately owned Journal of Creation, which as you say serves a special purpose (mission work, not science).

    If the peer review process rejects a paper, it is not because the reviewers disagree, but because the paper did not contain details on methods, fails the reference other work, is written badly, etc. etc., or because the topic is not covered by the journal. Two weeks ago I rejected a paper because it did not lay out the methods used, which makes it hard to assess the results. And this paper was written by well-established researchers, some of which are in the building next door.

    Nature is a little different, as it is a ‘scientific newspaper’, so it rejects lots of good papers simply because they are not ‘newsworthy’.

  17. Eelco,

    You state; “Why would the supernatural be left ? That is ridiculous.”No, it’s not in fact, it’s logical…Let’s take the hypothesis of aliens helping creation of our Universe, it’s still a form of naturalism, because it assumed those beings could have evolved too like it is assumed of humans so the questions about origin would still exist rather than having been answered. In other words, it would open up more gaps to the same problem. So no, I don’t believe the theory of evolution which has a grasp on many in the scientific community as Newtonian physics did at one time for hundreds of years, would eventually be replaced by another scientific theory.

    You state; “There is not faith needed at all in the theory of evolution. There are unknown bits in the theory, which is why people are still employed to work this out.” Yes, I agree here, the theory of evolution is a money maker which keeps people employed due to it’s many imperfections, but it also doesn’t help in new discoveries like the discovery of transcription of RNA. What in the evolutionary theory would predict RNA transcription? None! So science is not so reliant upon evolution, it can still function without it and yet still make excellent progress and new discoveries which also keeps people working.

    You state; “There is not faith needed at all in the theory of evolution. There are unknown bits in the theory, which is why people are still employed to work this out. And if the whole thing fails anyway, then fine, we start with another sientific theory.”There are many unknowns in which you state you are positive about being answered someday. This is faith in evolution, because there is no absolute that it will be. Even Gordy Slack who is a science writer and an advocate for evolution admits…

    “I think it is disingenuous to argue that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution. It is no less relevant than the Big Bang is to physics or cosmology. Evolution should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes. And to understand that organism fully, we would simply have to know what came before it.”

    “And right now we are nowhere close. I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My faith is well founded, but it is still faith.” (The Scientist June 2008 reposted in CMI)

  18. Michael: “due to it’s many imperfections”

    No, it does not have many imperfections.

    Michael: “There are many unknowns in which you state you are positive about being answered someday. This is faith in evolution, because there is no absolute that it will be. Even Gordy Slack who is a science writer and an advocate for evolution admits…”

    There are not many unknowns, there are a few. And I am optimistic about these being answered someday, not definite. This is no faith, but just optimism, and backup up by previous progress in science, where many unknowns were indeed resolved.

  19. As complex as nature is, it’s arrogant to say, your just a few questions away from knowing all…Take the study of snippets of DNA“Evolution is a lot of fun,” Gill Bejerano, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology and computer science said., who plans to continue the investigation into what the ultraconserved segments might be doing. “You answer one question, and five others pop up.” Does this sound like evolution is really that close to solving the unknown in the snippets of DNA? It doesn’t to me, when you answer one question and five other mysteries pop up as a result, it surely is not getting any closer to narrowing it down.

    This isn’t the same as comparing classical physics with modern physics. Classical physics (1900 and before) is still applicable today, either engineering a skyscraper, or things like planetary motion. Modern physics (1905-1930s mainly by Einstein) describes very tiny phenomena leaving strict determinism behind. In other words, statistical probabilities are more important than certainties.

    Even so, it’s not the same as the fossil record depicting one story while on other hand biological molecules tell a different story in evolution which has lead some to dismantle using Darwin’s tree. That is not to say, those who believe in evolution are abandoning it, rather they don’t see Darwin’s tree useful anymore as the data is not matching it. Other militants of evolution do not want to abandon the concept of the tree saying that life is too complex to be charted on a tree to help their understanding of evolution would be giving in to the creationists.

    Since nature is so complex because it was made by God who is more advanced than we can imagine, there is a lot of speculation in evolution to try and fill in those unknowns but find out later as science progresses there are more questions than answers. There are many things we do not know about nature (much to study), and a few more questions isn’t going to solve the gaps in evolution.

  20. I don’t think it’s arrogant, I really think optimism is the word I used. If it turns out to be quite different after all, then I was wrong, and so be it!

    I think stating nature was made by a god (whichever one, and however that happened) is arrogant, as you claim to have all the answers without any evidence. Or it is plain lazy: “I don’t know, so I’ll just make up an answer”, or even better: “I believe an answer that was made up by others.”

    And don’t start again about Darwin’s tree: that was a metaphor, a sketch in Darwin’s book. It was not meant to be a complete theory in one drawing … and things have moved on considerably since Darwin.

  21. I agree with you to a certain point, Evolution is a philosophy trying to explain everything without God which is why I have applied the word to other areas of science like Darwin’s tree, oops (a little humor there) I mean astronomical origins which not surprisingly hasn’t shown any progress at all. The existence of galaxies has proved to be one the more troublesome observations in terms of trying to explain it’s origin in your field of cosmology. Because galaxies do not fit the naturalistic prediction in the way these galaxies are grouped together.

    Cloud dust another aspect that doesn’t fit the prediction, are unable by themselves collapse to create stars, they basically need outside help to get started. In other words, the need for other stars to be present would be required and if that’s the case, stars could have never formed originally because there were no other stars to help collapse the cloud dust.

    The big bang is assumed to make only hydrogen and helium and from these two elements, it cannot create different molecules apart from H2 which could be destroyed by the presence of ultraviolet light. So the general response here in terms of naturalism to these observations not matching up with the hypothesis, is we don’t understand the fundamental formation of stars but have positive thinking (faith) about it’s future explanation.

  22. Sorry Michael, but there is no problem with galaxies, and how they group together. That’s one of my research topics, and there is no problem there. It all fits quite well: no fundamental problems, just trying to get the details right. It is getting a bit boring, really, which is why I am looking for other topics to work on now.

    As for star formation: no *fundamental* problems either, but we do not understand the details. You don’t need other stars to trigger clouds to collapse, even though that *helps*. But it is not a requirement for stars to form.

    As for nucleosynthesis (not big bang): it is *mostly* H and He that gets formed, but other elements are not excluded. Abundances are predicted to be really low for anything more massive than He, but these elements are easily made in the first (and subsequent) generation of stars (which form from H and He mostly, which are also still the most abundant elements in our sun !)

    All this you can read in standard astronomy text books: you are inventing problems that do not exist, or do not exist anymore. Of course astronomy has unsolved problems, and positive thinking (which is *not* the same as faith !!!!) brings people to spend their time trying to solve these problems.

    And this is not easy, but good fun. And much more fun than just copying someone else’s ideas, especially when these are really old ones ….

  23. Such enormous structures (galaxies) in only a few billion years, indeed there is a problem there. Also, Hubble was programmed to view an empty part of the sky with keeping the shutter open for about 11 days. The purpose was to take a look at the deepest parts of space. What did we find? Did we find young galaxies or even galaxies in part not fully formed yet? No, when the distant images of the Universe by Hubble were blown up, there were many mature galaxies. The further you see out into space, the younger the Universe ought to look, right? But if you have faith, and you can use vast amounts of imagination then it’s not such a problem seeing conflicting observations. Just like trying to explain the origin of matter itself.

  24. I’ve already commented on the Hubble Deep Field before (but you have not read my reply then, I guess): these ‘mature’ galaxies are not *that* mature, and Hubble did also not look *that* far out. If you do look farther out, galaxies
    do get younger, and you do seem them forming. That’s what I do for a living, so read the literature !!! There is no fundamental problem there at all.

    And galaxies are not that big – plenty of space for them.

    You are trying to invent problems that are not there.

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