Jul 03 2017

Eroding Science Education in Florida

periodicFlorida just passed a bill designed to challenge the teaching of evolution, climate change, and other “controversial” science in the classroom. This represents the evolution of such laws promoted by those opposed to the teaching of evolution.

In the past century there have been a number of such state laws passed in the US, most of which have been struck down by Federal courts, including The Supreme Court, as a violation of the separation of church and state. These including banning the teaching of evolution, requiring the teaching of “creation science”, teaching the controversy, and teaching creationism’s alter-ego, Intelligent Design.

Essentially these are all attempts to force or allow schools to determine what is taught in the public school science classroom not by the current scientific consensus but by the prevailing religious beliefs of the community. The string of legal defeats has not stopped efforts to oppose the teaching of evolution. Rather deniers have simply tried to craft laws to get around the pesky first amendment.

This latest Florida law is one such attempt. The law states that any resident of a county in Florida, whether or not they have a child in school, may challenge educational material used in their school district. I actually don’t have a problem with this part of the law. Let anyone formally express their concerns. I don’t think you have to have a child in the school system to have an legitimate interest in what the state is teaching children in publicly funded schools.

It is the second part of this law that is problematic. The law calls for school districts to appoint an “unbiased hearing officer” to hear the complaints. The Washington Post reports:

If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question.

This may just be my ignorance of legalese and procedure, but the law states that the county must, “conduct at least one open public hearing before an unbiased and qualified hearing officer.” It then concludes:

The school board’s decision after convening a hearing is final and not subject to further petition or review.

It is unclear to me from reading the bill if the hearing officer makes the final decision or the school board. But let’s say that the Post’s interpretation is correct, that would indeed be very bad. It would be putting far too much power in the hands of one appointed person, whose decisions are not subject to further petition or review.

The fear, which is justified by the comments of proponents of the bill, who clearly want to use it to challenge the teaching of evolution in public schools, is that this will constitute an end-run around existing procedure.

I also challenge the notion of an “unbiased” hearing officer. What does this mean in this context? Is there anyone who isn’t “biased” when it comes to the question of evolution vs creationism? What would an unbiased person look like? In this case, there is only one scientific position, that the theory of evolution is a well-established scientific theory and there are no valid competing scientific theories for the development of life on Earth. Any other position is demonstrably wrong. That would be the position of an unbiased and qualified hearing officer.

I suspect, however, that this is not what those who crafted the bill intended. “Unbiased” could mean that they accept creationism as a valid alternative, or are sympathetic to the alleged “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution. Such positions would not make a hearing officer “unbiased”, just unqualified.

The very notion of bias here is problematic. It makes it seem like a scientific conclusion is a matter of opinion. It also can be interpreted as assuming there is a middle ground between science and pseudoscience. This gets back to the fact that there are some topics which are controversial in the public sphere, but not controversial within scientific circles. Evolutionary theory (the basic parts that would be taught in a public school) is backed by a solid scientific consensus. There is no controversy.

The point of this and similar bills is to craft a law that will not be ruled unconstitutional because it does not specifically target any theory or support any religious belief, even though the intent is clear to anyone paying attention. This strategy may, in fact, work. I do wonder if the effects of the law can make it vulnerable to legal challenge. If it is consistently used to promote a clearly religious agenda that might render the law vulnerable to legal challenge. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Clearly those who care about the integrity of science education need to remain vigilant and politically active.

43 responses so far

43 Responses to “Eroding Science Education in Florida”

  1. Willyon 03 Jul 2017 at 10:01 am

    Pretty damned sad.

  2. DickKon 03 Jul 2017 at 11:29 am

    Acting on “belief” as if it were true could be a definition of insanity, especially when observation contradicts the belief. Astonishing what the human brain is capable of doing.

  3. bachfiendon 03 Jul 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I had a look at the legislation, and it seems as if the school board decides. If that’s the case, then it’s important that parents ensure by voting in elections that the school boards are scientifically literate, and not religiously or otherwise ideologically motivated.

    Not allowing appeal to a court would be a plus if the school board makes the right decision regarding a complaint, which can be from either a single parent or a single resident (which is of concern to me – why should a resident with no child in the school have the right to lodge a complaint?)

    The school board in Dover, before the Dover court decision, would have been able to use similar legislation, if Pennsylvania had it, to smuggle Intelligent Design into the curriculum. But not after the decision when the electors voted most of them out of office because of them wastefully incurring large costs for the town.

  4. michaelegnoron 03 Jul 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Looks like the atheist creation myth indoctrination and the agw apocalypse fable are getting even more pushback. Good. You’ve used state power to force your fake science down people’s throats. Its getting harder to censor questions. I love this legislation. About time.

  5. chikoppion 03 Jul 2017 at 5:00 pm

    “Atheist creation myth.” “Fake science.”

    You are precious.

  6. bachfiendon 03 Jul 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I was wondering how long it would take Egnor the Troll to appear. The answer is – not very long at all.

    The thing I dislike about the legislation is that it will waste a considerable amount of time and energy.

    The Ignorant (such as Egnor) will be able to lodge any complaint, regardless of how illinformed or baseless, about anything they dislike in the school curriculum, and the school board will have to hold a hearing. And this can be repeated as often as they want.

    Eventually the school boards will decide to remove anything objectionable to the ideologically motivated for a quiet life.

    I can see that this will become a weapon employed to defend ideologies against truth, in the same way that FOI demands are used by AGW deniers against climate scientists.

    The schools is not the place to debate established science.

  7. Lightnotheaton 03 Jul 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Looks like Egnor’s false equivalencies (“atheist creation myth”) and straw men (“agw apocalypse fable, “fake science,” censorship) are getting another airing. Good. It’s getting harder all the time for him to hide how ideologically driven his arguments are. I love this opportunity to present more textbook examples of logical fallacies.

  8. Willyon 03 Jul 2017 at 6:12 pm

    “FAKE SCIENCE” LOL

    But wait, remember that Dr. Egnor is a neurosurgeon and that he told us that the smartest med students often selected surgery as a career. Gee, maybe being a self-professed bright surgeon (despite HIS lack of expertise and education in other areas of science) means he has a deeper grasp of truth than us deluded “Darwin Youth”, “monkeys”, and “Anglicans”.

  9. bachfiendon 03 Jul 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Willy,

    I once had a physician tutor who noted that surgeons are good with their hands but not great thinkers.

    Egnor’s claim that the smartest medical students often select surgery as a career path (or my physician tutor’s claim) may both be examples of motivated reasoning.

    I suspect that they both display the ecological fallacy in assuming that the characteristics of the group also apply to individuals of the group. Even if generally surgeons are the smartest, it doesn’t mean that Egnor as an individual neurosurgeon is amongst the smartest.

    And on the basis of his continued comments on this blog, he demonstrates that he isn’t anywhere near the smartest. Success in any career demands on much more than native intelligence. It also depends on motivation and persistence.

  10. Willyon 03 Jul 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Bach–well said.

    i HAVE A VERY GOOD AUTO MECHANIC, BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW SQUAT ABOUT THERMODYNAMICS, METALLURGY, HEAT TRANSER, ETC.
    \

  11. Willyon 03 Jul 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Sorry about the caps–I type looking at the keyboard, plus hitting submit was accidental.

  12. Kawarthajonon 04 Jul 2017 at 10:25 am

    These are the seemingly unimportant decisions that, over time, add up to a disaster in science education that will put states like Florida further and further behind – less students will make it to college with an even basic understanding of science. This is why a separation of state and religion was proposed in the first place. Overall, this one piece of legislation may not seem like a big deal, but it will erode America’s leadership in science and, therefore, it’s economy. This is being supported by all of the terrible decisions regarding science being made in the White House, Congress and the Senate.

  13. michaelegnoron 04 Jul 2017 at 1:37 pm

    And it’s b.s. To claim that academic freedom legislation will “kill” science education. America is the most creationist nation in the West, and it leads the world in science. The experiment of combining creationism with science has already been done, on a massive scale, and the most creationist nation is the leader in science. But facts dont matter to atheists and AGW hysterics.

  14. chikoppion 04 Jul 2017 at 3:03 pm

    [michaelegnor] America is the most creationist nation in the West, and it leads the world in science. The experiment of combining creationism with science has already been done, on a massive scale, and the most creationist nation is the leader in science.

    America is also the most overweight nation in the West. The experiment with combining obesity and scientific research has already been done. How’s that for irrelevant correlation?

    National scientific accomplishments aren’t the product of high school students. Whatever extent we excel in technological and scientific advancement is better attributed to our comparative wealth, competitive research investment, and strong organizations of higher education.

    How about general science literacy? Where do we rank?

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science/
    http://www.businessinsider.com/pisa-worldwide-ranking-of-math-science-reading-skills-2016-12

    An uninspired middle of the road. Still want to correlate “combining creationism with science” to performance? Sad.

    Scientific accomplishments don’t accrue because of the petulant protests of mythology proponents attempting to interfere with high school curriculum – but despite of them and despite the poor scientific literacy of the general public.

    But facts don’t matter to mythology hysterics. They can’t accept that the rest of society has no interest in entertaining nor responsibility to play along with their devotion to story time. Science curriculum is for science.

  15. BillyJoe7on 04 Jul 2017 at 5:08 pm

    ME: “And it’s b.s….academic freedom”

    Yeah same old BS.
    Creationism -> “Intelligent design” -> “academic freedom”

  16. BillyJoe7on 04 Jul 2017 at 5:29 pm

    But, talking about design, here is design of the natural variety…
    (and, hey, much more interesting!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDtlvZGmHYk

    Does Portia get to spend an eternal afterlife genuflecting to little baby Jesus? 😀

  17. bachfiendon 04 Jul 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Egnor persists in committing the ecological fallacy. And anyway, he’s wrong. America isn’t the ‘most creationist nation’ in the world. That ‘honour’ goes to Turkey, and America has second place. Turkey also has the disadvantage of having an increasingly theocratic government, which Egnor would love to inflict on America.

    It might be true that America has a large number of creationists and also has a large number of scientists performing very good scientific work, but it’s a logical fallacy to assert that the two groups significantly overlap.

    There will be individual scientists who will have creationist views, but their creationist views won’t inform their particular field of study.

    Undoubtedly Egnor will persist in claiming that science relies on the concept of God as lawgiver, conflating physical laws with religious moral laws, but that’s nonsense. Scientists study regularities in nature, and scientists (and the rest of us) wouldn’t be here in the universe if there weren’t regularities able to be discovered and studied.

    Individual scientists may claim that their work is premised on God as lawgiver, but that’s just sophistry. Their work relies on regularities in nature, nothing more.

    Egnor is a major tool.

  18. michaelegnoron 04 Jul 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Here, i ll lay it out clearly.

    Hypothesis: creationism correlates with poor science, nationally.

    Test: US is most creationist Western nation. US is most scientifically advanced and productive Western nation.

    Conclusion: hypothesis is not supported by data. The obverse seems to be true.

    Bottom line, morons: you just dont like creationism, which is your perogative, but the argument that creationism impairs science nationally is refuted.

    Reality is strange, huh?

  19. chikoppion 04 Jul 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Your sophistry is sophomoric.

    [michaelegnor] Hypothesis: creationism correlates with poor science, nationally.

    Test: US is most creationist Western nation. US is most scientifically advanced and productive Western nation.

    Conclusion: hypothesis is not supported by data. The obverse seems to be true.

    The general public is not responsible for scientific advancement. Let’s look at support for “creationism” among the actual people responsible for those advancements…

    http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/public-opinion-on-religion-and-science-in-the-united-states/

    Huh. Looks like the people who produce those advancements are the same ones who aren’t looking to mythology for answers – by an excessive margin.

    The general public is measured by scientific literacy. Do we lead nations in scientific literacy? NO. We barely make the curve. But hey, Turkey is more into “creationism” and they’re in the lowest literacy quartile. Maybe we can race them to the bottom?

    Bottom line, morons: you just dont like creationism, which is your perogative, but the argument that creationism impairs science nationally is refuted.

    It isn’t.

    Neither mythology nor religion has any place in the science curriculum. I also don’t want tarot card reading or Vedic Yoga taught in the science class.

    Reality is strange, huh?

    Not really. You should give it a try.

  20. bachfiendon 05 Jul 2017 at 12:10 am

    Michael,

    ‘US is the most creationist Western nation’. No, it isn’t. Turkey is the most creationist Western nation.

    Turkey is a Western nation because 1. It’s a member of NATO. 2. It’s an associate member of the Western European Economic Union. 3. It has territory in Europe. 4. It was a fully Western secular state until its recent theocratic turn.

    If you’re claiming that Turkey isn’t a Western nation, then you’ll also have to claim that Israel isn’t a Western nation either. Israel’s claims to be a Western nation are less than that of Turkey’s. It’s not a member of NATO or any sort of member of the European Union.

    And you’re still persisting with the ecological fallacy, as chikkopi also notes. The scientists in America doing the world-class work aren’t typical of creationists within the general American population.

    And our hypothesis isn’t that creationism correlates with poor science, nationally. Our hypotheses are that good science correlates with funding (which is supported by the data – America spends the most on science and produces the most science too) and creationism correlates with poor science understanding in the general population (again supported by the data – including you personally with your Egnorance).

    Bottom line, moron, reality is strange, huh?

  21. Kabboron 05 Jul 2017 at 10:00 am

    I figured out a solution to the ‘unbiased’ person problem. You need to recruit a young child that is unfamiliar with both religion and science. Then you give said child full unalterable control of the school curriculum. There is no downside to such an arrangement, school children will become very knowledgeable about things more relevant to their needs: TV, snacks and nap avoidance strategies.

    Sometimes it seems like Florida is trying to lower it’s perceived value so no one will care when it declares independence.

  22. MosBenon 05 Jul 2017 at 10:25 am

    It seems like Egnor isn’t even trying any more. I hope there’s nothing wrong.

  23. Willyon 05 Jul 2017 at 10:46 am

    Was that a piss poor demonstration of logic by our self-professed expert in philosophy or am I missing something here???

    Lemme try it:

    Hypothesis: Production of pornography correlates with poor science.

    Test: US leads the world in the production of porn. US leads the world in science.

    Conclusion: Hypothesis not supported by the data. The obverse seems true.

    Golly be shucks, this logic stuff is so simple! I’ll bet I can do this by comparing tax code complexity by country, too!

    “Morons” indeed.

  24. edamameon 05 Jul 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Egnor should study Simpson’s paradox.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson%27s_paradox

  25. MosBenon 05 Jul 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I was really hoping that the Simpsons paradox would turn out to be the relationship between the existence of an employer-provided dental plan and the need of braces in young girls.

  26. Willyon 05 Jul 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Am I seeing the Egnor Evasion????? Where is the little prick that jumps out with idiotic claims and then responds selectively or not at all?

    C’mon, Doc, we KNOW–fer shure, fer shure, Valley girl–you are there. DEFEND your pathetic “logic”.

    Hypothesis: Creationism correlates with production of pornography.

    Test: The US is THE world leader in the production of porn. The US is THE Western world leader (we’ll ignore Turkey, OK, Doc?) when it comes to the portion of its citizens that are creationists.

    Conclusion: Hypothesis supported by the data.

    Moron.

  27. michaelegnoron 05 Jul 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Looks like i stirred up the monkey cages again. I merely pointed out a simple and obvious fact: the most creationist Western nation leads the world in science.

    If you were real intellectuals, instead of atheists pretending, you’d ask why. Its an interesting observation, and quite counterintuitive.

    Over the years of debating atheists, this trait is what i have been the most struck by: the absence of genuine intellectual curosity among atheists.

    Its a willful ignorance, and quite remarkable.

  28. Willyon 05 Jul 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Since the MOST creationist nation in the West is Turkey and since Turkey is not especially prominent in science, why don’t you defend your position, Dr, Egnor? I’ll tell you why: because cheap shots and bias are all you have. You have a puny intellect and no real intellectual honesty with regard to debate at all. You are a MECHANIC, not a thinker.

    “Quite remarkable”. And “willful”. Say “hey” to Jonathan Wells, who thinks Moon is, er, was, a prophet. Imagine, Mikey, Jesus and Moon on the same plane.

    MONKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. bachfiendon 05 Jul 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Michael,

    ‘Looks like I stirred up the monkey cages again. I merely pointed out a simple and obvious fact: the most creationist Western nation leads the world in science.’

    What actually ‘stirs’ us up is your enormous gaps in logical thinking and your ignorance of facts.

    Not only isn’t America not the most creationist Western nation, but it’s only one data point. Why don’t you compare other Western countries and try to compare the rate of rate of creationist belief within the general population versus the production of science on a per capita basis?

    If your hypothesis was true, then you’d expect that countries with low levels of religious belief (as in the Scandinavian countries), and as a result by definition low levels of creationist belief, would have low rates of production of science on a per capita basis. You’re making the claim. What does the data show?

    I can’t be bothered looking for the data – I’m too busy reading ‘Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell’, which is an account of how George Pell not only ignored clerical child sex abuse, but also engaged in it himself (he’s been summonsed by the Victorian police to appear in the magistrates’ court later this month to hear the charges – if his health allows him to travel to Australia from the Vatican).

    Not only that, but there are other explanations as to why America produces so much science. It also spends a lot of money on science too.

    You persist with the ecological fallacy. No one has claimed that the level of creationist belief within the general population has any relationship to the level of creationist belief within scientists, who are actually producing the science. You’re claiming that the characteristics of the group is the same as the subgroup (which is the ecological fallacy).

    You’re also making a straw man argument.

  30. chikoppion 05 Jul 2017 at 9:27 pm

    [michaelegnor] * backpedals *

    Sure thing, man. Sure.

    Whatever it is you think you’re doing, keep it up. It’s working.

    In the U.S. alone, the Christian population decreased by nearly 8 percent between 2007 and 2014. Over that same time period, the Muslim population showed a slight increase.

    But unlike the global projections, the U.S. has seen, and will continue to see, a rise of the “religious none.” A larger portion of the nation’s population describes themselves as religiously unaffiliated, jumping up 7 percent from 2007 to 2014. And unlike other countries, religiously unaffiliated people in the U.S. tend to be younger than those who belong to a religious group.

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2017-04-11/americans-are-becoming-less-religious

  31. bachfiendon 05 Jul 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Chikkopi,

    An interesting link. Even more interesting were some of the other stories on the same page, such as the one about the 35 year old man found dead in a Mississippi prison, who was serving 30 years for multiple offences, none of which to me sound particularly violent or warranting a very long prison sentence.

    I wonder if this is another sign of American exceptionalism in having the world’s largest prison population (on a per capita basis), exceeding even the Soviet Union in the gulag days?

  32. chikoppion 05 Jul 2017 at 10:39 pm

    [bachfiend] I wonder if this is another sign of American exceptionalism in having the world’s largest prison population (on a per capita basis), exceeding even the Soviet Union in the gulag days?

    I merely point out a simple and obvious fact: the most creationist Western nation leads the world in incarceration rates.

    If you were real intellectuals, instead of atheists pretending, you’d ask why. Its an interesting observation, and quite counterintuitive.

    (See what I did there?) 😉

  33. RickKon 05 Jul 2017 at 10:41 pm

    ” I merely pointed out a simple and obvious fact: the most creationist Western nation leads the world in science.”

    Yes, where would we be without all those immigrants.

    Of course, American-born kids are woefully equipped for science in most of our red states. That’s ok – I’m sure the brilliant and accomplished Ms. DeVos will do wonders for those PISA scores.

    And with the cuts made to research funding by our science-hating president, there will be even less reason for the world’s best and brightest to come here.

    The Christian- and Alt- Right didn’t make America the greatest in science, but they seem to be making the most out of their opportunity to knock us out of first place.

    Creationism is just a tiny drop in an ocean of willful reality denial by your tribe, Michael. But hey – staying in school, staying off drugs, and keeping a job are all hard. Denying facts and blaming other people are so much easier.

  34. Willyon 05 Jul 2017 at 10:59 pm

    Dr. Egnor

    “Monkeys”. LOL

    I notice that if any topic can lead to you changing it to evolution in some guise, you’ll jump at it. Just like chimps (that aren’t monkeys) will fling turds at any provocation, you will turn any topic you can into an irrelevant discussion of your favored topics–and prejudices.

    I used to dislike the term “troll” because it is so often applied to anyone who disagrees with another’s opinion (check out the Wall Street Journal threads), but I have come to realize that you, Dr. Egnor, are indeed a troll. You post with the intent to disrupt, not to make a meaningful contribution. Jesus would be embarrassed by you, but Rev. Moon would likely approve. Say “howdy” to Jonny Wells for me. Remember, he may well recognize one more savior that you do, but he does oppose evolution.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend…

  35. bachfiendon 05 Jul 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Chikkopi,

    ‘I merely point out a simple and obvious fact: the most creationist Western nation leads the world in incarceration rates.’

    I hadn’t actually thought of that, but it’s a hypothesis which is actually testable. If you were able to compare the incarceration rate for American states (which is readily available, for 2013 the states ranged from 350 per 100,000 adult population for Maine to 1420 for Louisiana) and relate it to the level of belief in creationism (which doesn’t seem to be readily available, I couldn’t find it anyway), it would be possible to determine if there was a correlation.

    Which obviously doesn’t mean that there’s causation if there’s a positive correlation. Although there would be a possible explanation for a positive correlation, if it exists (unlike Egnor’s iffy correlation between creationism and science output); people who believe in the literal truth of the Bible (which includes God’s punitive and often lethal punishment of minor transgressions) would also agree with legislators who institute harsh punishment for crimes, Republicans and Democrats alike.

  36. michaelegnoron 05 Jul 2017 at 11:31 pm

    BTW, Turkey, which is rapidly becoming an Islamist theocracy, isnt a Western nation.

    By Western I mean (obviously) a nation with a substantial Christian heritage.

    Regarding the comment about the incarceration rate in the US, it would be wrong to assert that creationism leads to a low incarceration rate, because the US is an obvious counterexample.

    The logic is straightforward. If you claim that, at the national level, creationism correlates with X, then the state of X in the most most creationist nation is highly relevant.

    The US is a hotbed of creationism and a hotbed of science. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but an honest man would see that it tells against Stevens assertion that academic freedom bills impair science.

    “Honest man…”. Heh.

  37. chikoppion 06 Jul 2017 at 12:00 am

    [michaelegnor] The logic is straightforward. If you claim that, at the national level, creationism correlates with X, then the state of X in the most most creationist nation is highly relevant.

    The US is a hotbed of creationism and a hotbed of science. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but an honest man would see that it tells against Stevens assertion that academic freedom bills impair science.

    Wow.

    By the same statistically illiterate logic then “creationism” does impare SCIENTIFIC LITERACY.

    The people who actually go on TO DO THE SCIENCE are the ones who overwhelmingly reject “creationism.”

    Address that correlation.

  38. bachfiendon 06 Jul 2017 at 12:09 am

    Michael,

    ‘The US is a hotbed of creationism and a hotbed of science. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but an honest man would see that it tells against Stevens (sic) assertion that academic freedom bills impair science.’

    Where did Steven write this, either in this thread or elsewhere? I would think that it’s reasonable to assert, as I’ve heard Steven state in the past, that ‘academic freedom bills’ impair science education.

    ‘By Western I mean (obviously) a nation with a substantial Christian heritage’.

    If that’s what you meant, then you ought to have stated it specifically. ‘Western’ is a rather nebulous concept. It has been applied even to the G20 group of nations, which includes India.

    It’s good to see that you don’t regard Israel to be a Western nation. I don’t think.

    ‘Regarding the comment about the incarceration rate in the US, it would be wrong to assert that creationism leads to a low incarceration rate, because the US is an obvious counter example.’

    Michael, that was the entire point of the comment. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but to determine whether there’s a possible causation, first of all you have to determine whether there’s a correlation, examining as much data as you can (and allowing for other variables). And even then, it’s necessary to find if there’s a possible mechanism to get from correlation to causation.

  39. Lightnotheaton 06 Jul 2017 at 3:13 am

    Michael,
    Um, “confounding variables,” is what they’re called. Surely you have heard of them. In not accounting for them in your examples of levels of creationism and science in different countries, you come up with some of your worst reasoning yet.

  40. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2017 at 3:26 am

    Perhaps Michael is referring to the fact that the US leads the world in creation science, which no doubt is related to the number of creationists. And where would we be without creation science? Oh wait — exactly where we are but with fewer attempts to hijack the school science curriculum.

  41. MosBenon 06 Jul 2017 at 12:52 pm

    It’s good that Michael admits that his correlation between creationism, but it simply isn’t true that it “tells against” (whatever that means) the assertion that academic freedom bills impair science. Two correlated things need not actually have any connection. The United States high high rates of many things. Simply putting two of them together is not evidence that one is not impairing the other. Maybe it’s the case that despite high rates of creationists and high rates of quality science being performed there would be EVEN MORE high quality science if the rates of creationists were lower. Or maybe high rates of creationists encourage more high quality science, or maybe they’re not in any way related. Simply dropping a single data point of vague correlation isn’t proof of anything. What it is is lazy, even by Michael’s standards.

  42. Willyon 06 Jul 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Dr. Egnor, you said: “Over the years of debating atheists, this trait is what I have been the most struck by: the absence of genuine intellectual curiosity among atheists.”

    That claim has no basis in fact; it’s horsepuckey and it is, quite frankly, the conclusion of a man with an apparently very closed mind. Read the posts on this blog; it is clear that almost everyone here is quite curious, well-read, and well educated. This blog covers a wide range of topics and many of the same posters have thoughts and comments on most of the topics AND their comments reveal a good understanding of the topics they choose to comment on. I for one am almost obsessively curious and I suspect that is true of almost all posters here.

    Consider that most atheists were born into believing families and had to reason their way out of belief in God. That takes curiosity and intellectual honesty and your likely disagreement with that does not nullify it. I hope your world view isn’t so simplistic that you think atheists “choose” atheism so they can feel justified in “sinning”, or that deep down all atheists know there is a God. Dr. Egnor, I CANNOT believe and I’m sure that’s true of manty others here. It isn’t a choice I make; it is who and what I am. I can be a believer no more than you can be a non-believer. I see no evidence, so I can’t believe, period. To use an old cliché, I simply believe in one less God than do you. Nonetheless, you believe in a deity, the so-called “Prince of Peace, who will condemn me to eternal misery for an honest opinion.

    The most charitable view I can offer of you is that you are so convinced of your opinions that it is inconceivable for you to imagine that anyone else could have a different opinion. Your positions of being a theist and a dualist; however, are held by a distinct minority of philosophers. For you to claim that your beliefs are the only acceptable ones and that those who disagree with you aren’t intellectually curious is silly at best and is not supported by the evidence. Do you really believe that you are that much smarter and more curious than the majority of philosophers who disagree with you?

  43. bachfiendon 07 Jul 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Willy,

    You won’t get an answer from Egnor.

    ‘Genuine intellectual curiosity’ Egnor defines as agreeing unthinkingly with whoever conservative theologian he’s currently parroting.

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