Search Results for "don mcleroy"

May 31 2013

Final Response from Don McLeroy

Here is it.


We agree that historical sciences like evolution are “tested” by the evidence. My key insight from our discussion is we disagree about the amount of evidence needed to demonstrate evolution. I want to see significantly greater evidence than you do.

I admit that I do not have the time to read all the technical articles and read all the links you have referred to, but I do not admit that I am unable to judge the adequacy of the evidence evolutionists have presented for evolution. I have read the popular literature of highly acclaimed evolutionists; I have thought about how much evidence is required to demonstrate evolution. And, I have found it unconvincing.

Of course our major disagreement is that I am a theist and you are an atheist. I wonder how much that “colors” our view of the sufficiency of the evidence for evolution.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be interviewed on your podcast and to have this this continued dialog. I have truly enjoyed our discussion; you are the proverbial “scholar and a gentleman.” 


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50 responses so far

May 28 2013

Don McLeroy Replies

Two weeks ago I wrote a four-part post analyzing the claims of Don McLeroy, former chairman of the Texas Board of Education, based mostly on an interview I did with him on the SGU. The posts also included some responses from Don. Don has been travelling, but has now returned and had time for a thorough response to the entire series of posts. Here is his response in its entirety, with my reply following:


For me, the main topic under discussion is the strength and weakness of the evidence for evolution. My entire argument in 2009 and today is that the evidence supporting evolution—the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor due to unguided natural processes—is weak.

Again, the key criterion for science is testability. Evolution is overwhelmingly tested historically by making observations—finding evidence. The more evidence found the stronger the case; the less evidence found the weaker the case.

I have read your comments and the comments of others posted on your podcast and NeuroLogica blog posts. Here is the summary of actual evidence that I gleaned from these comments. I probably missed some, but I do not think it invalidates my argument about the weakness of the evidence for evolution.

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46 responses so far

May 17 2013

An Interview with Don McLeroy, Part IV

This is the fourth is a series of posts analyzing the claims of Don McLeroy, former chairman of the Texas School Board of Education and young Earth creationist. I recently interviewed Don on the SGU about his successful insertion into the Texas science textbook standards language requiring books to address stasis and suddenness in the fossil record and the complexity of the cell.

In parts 2 and 3 I addressed Don’s stasis and suddenness arguments. They are classic denialist fallacies – focusing on lower order details as if they call into question higher order patterns (they don’t). In this case, Don is arguing that the fact that many (not all) species display relative morphological stability in the fossil record, with episodes of (geologically) rapid speciation events, calls into question the bigger picture of the change of species over time in an exquisitely evolutionary pattern.

The former is a reflection of the tempo of evolutionary change and an artifact of the fossil record, while the latter is home-run unequivocal evidence for common descent and evolutionary change. Don has not provided any explanation for why the pattern of change we see in the fossil record presents any problems for evolutionary theory.

In this post I will address Don’ other main point, which he feels is the greatest weakness of evolutionary theory – the complexity of the cell. His premise seems to be that, if evolution were true, then evolutionary biologists should be able to provide detailed evidence for the specific evolutionary history of many biochemical pathways and cell structures. He argues that they cannot, and therefore the evidence for evolution is weak.

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29 responses so far

May 16 2013

An Interview with Don McLeroy, Part III

This week I am posting a discussion with Don McLeroy, a young Earth creationist and former chairman of the Texas Board of Education during the recent controversy over the science textbook standards. This is a follow up to an interview I did with him on the SGU.

Don has been traveling a bit this week, so our e-mail conversation has been slow, but we have had a few exchanges. For today’s post I want to simply reprint that exchange and then add a few thoughts, before I go onto new territory, which I will do in tomorrow’s post.

Here is Don’s response to my prior posts:


I do have time for one reply.

First, you keep bringing up creationism while I do not; I am only discussing the evidence for evolution–the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor as a result of unguided natural processes.

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25 responses so far

May 14 2013

An Interview with Don McLeroy, Part II

In part I of my analysis of a recent interview with Don McLeroy on the SGU I discussed his assertion that those of faith are more free to accept or reject the evidence for evolution, while strict materialists can only accept it as it is the only materialist option. I mentioned in that post that I would invite Don to respond – I did and he did.

In this post I will include Don’s response and then my further analysis of his response. I will then extend the discussion to other points that Don raised during the SGU interview.

Don McLeroy Responds to Part I


Thank you for this opportunity to respond.

We are mirror images of each other. I see you as you see me-as “an excellent example of the power of motivated reasoning,” as “firmly in phase 2,” and as someone who might be considered “embedded” in a culture of their own publications, institutions, and websites.

At least we both agree to follow the evidence where ever it leads.

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36 responses so far

May 13 2013

An Interview with Don McLeroy, Part I

Published by under Creationism/ID

On the SGU this week we did an interview with Don McLeroy, the former chairman of the Texas School Board of Education, famous for his (successful) attempts to insert wording into the science textbook standards that would open the door for creationist arguments.

The interview was very enlightening. In my opinion it was an excellent example of the power of motivated reasoning – if we have a conclusion in mind, people are very good at finding a mental path to get there.

We rarely do confrontational interviews on the SGU, but the few we have done I am generally happy with. The risk is that the tone of the interview will go sour. I have only done such interviews when I feel that the person being interviewed will be able to stay calm and professional even as we dismantle their position. Another risk is that the interviewee, who likely is a passionate and eloquent defender of their fringe position, will make it difficult to get a word in edgewise, resulting in a Gish Gallop.

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26 responses so far

Jun 26 2012

Protoscience vs Pseudoscience

I was recently pointed toward an upcoming conference called, “1st Global Conference: Protoscience, Health and Well-Being.” The e-mailer was concerned, correctly, that the conference represents the tendency within the humanities for, “positioning the sciences as just one of the possible world views that is not ‘privileged’ over any other world view.” I completely agree that there is this persistent post-modernist view in some corners of the humanities. Further, this view has been enthusiastically adopted by some proponents of sectarian health methods (so-called CAM). Anything that undercuts the role of science in determining the legitimacy of a medical intervention is welcome to those who wish to promote unscientific methods.

Here is part of the introduction of the conference:

The popular experiences of alternative healing, DIY and free and open source technology are everyday experiences of the contemporary individual. These experiences are being conceptualised by Fuller (2010) as ‘anti-establishment science movements’ which tacitly challenge the highly socially positioned ‘scientific expert’, the social agent of the establishment science. In the field of health, these movements are challenging the biomedical domination in the field. One of the responses to deal with the authority challenges has been the absorption of selective alternative healing practices (such as acupuncture, homeopathy) into the established health systems while reasserting the central place of biomedicine with continued usage of the referents ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’.

There is a tremendous amount of spin and historical revisionism in this short paragraph. First, I disagree that homeopathy and acupuncture are being absorbed into mainstream medicine. (Homeopathy remains firmly on the fringe, while acupuncture is making some headway.) Rather, these and other modalities are being pushed into mainstream medicine by political maneuvering and general deception. Advocates in influential positions, like Senator Tom Harkin, and pushing their agenda past individuals who are largely uninformed and apathetic. In the last century homeopathy was pushed through for FDA approval by Senator Royal Copeland, a lone advocate. Acupuncture is being pushed into the US military by one or two vocal and tireless advocates. There is no movement among mainstream scientists or physicians to absorb any of these methods – they are just being effectively promoted by advocates while the mainstream reaction is mainly that of the “shruggie.”

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16 responses so far

Mar 15 2010

The Texas Textbook Hubbub

Published by under Education

Texas is becoming a recurring spectacle of the triumph of anti-intellectualism and ignorance over science and reason. The substance of this spectacle is the Texas Board of Education (BoE) and the standards for public school textbooks. This is a local triumph, but it has widespread implications, as Texas is a major purchaser of textbooks, and so the industry generally caters to the Texas standards.

Last year our attention was drawn to the Texas BoE over the science standards, with particular attention to evolution. One member in particular, Don McLeroy (who was chairman but was removed) entertained (by which I mean frightened) us with phrases such as “someone has to stand up to those experts.” The particular controversy was over whether or not to insert language into the standards that opens the door for teachers to “question evolution,” meaning to insert creationist propaganda as science.

The new language that was put in includes that students must “analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations” based in part on “examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific experiments.” Language was also put in to specifically question the age of the universe, the nature of stasis and change in the fossil record, and the complexity of the cell and information in DNA.

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27 responses so far

Apr 02 2009

Texas Science Standards Update

Published by under Evolution

Many science bloggers have been writing about the clash between creationists and scientists in forming the Texas state science standards for the next decade. Now that the votes have been cast and this phase of the conflict is over I wanted to give a  brief recap. Also, I interviewed Paul Murray from Texas Citizens for Science for the SGU last night (this episode will be up on Saturday) and he provided some keen insight.

To review, the fight was largely over whether or not to put the “strengths and weaknesses” language back into the standards that had been removed in January. This was voted down. But the young earth creationists on the board (there are 7 out of the 15 members, with at least 1 swing vote) managed to recover from that defeat by getting equivalent creationist code word put into the standards.

The new language that was put in includes that students must “analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations” based in part on “examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific experiments.” Language was also put in to specifically question the age of the universe, the nature of stasis and change in the fossil record, and the complexity of the cell and information in DNA.

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14 responses so far

Nov 30 2007

Intelligent Design Fight Brewing in Texas

Published by under Creationism/ID

A few months ago I reported on the appointing of creationist Don McLeroy to head the Texas State Board of Education, and predicted we would be seeing trouble in the lone star state. Well, here comes trouble. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has forced to resign Chris Comer, the head of the state science curriculum. What was her offense? Quoting the article:

“Ms. Comer’s e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral,” the officials said.

The speaker referred to Barbara Forrest, author of “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse.” The book is about the politics of Intelligent Design (ID) and takes the position that the purpose of ID is to instill religious creationism into public schools. Comer sent an e-mail announcing the upcoming speaker which “implied” she had a favorable disposition toward the author and her book. Egads!

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8 responses so far

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