The Ego of Man

I should start by saying that I mostly like all of James Joyner’s new guest posters over at OTB And so far, I’ve liked Steve Verdon. I’m sure many people find him (like me) often a tad caustic, but I admire someone who will stand up and call a dimwit a dimwit.

Having said that; He blew it…. a mile high.
(He gave no link for his excerpt, so I have none)

Dover High School Administrators: Dimwits

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, “Of Pandas and People,” is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.

[Steve’s words]
Well it isn’t as bad as it could be. At least they make the tautological statement that a theory is just a theory instead of saying evolution is a theory (i.e., evolution is a fact, the theory of evolution is “just” a theory). Of course, this is true of all theories. The statement that theory is just a theory is like saying, rain is just rain. It is an obvious truism that contains almost no information.

There are gaps in a great many theories. All theories have controversies. These two facts do not render theories false, meaningless nor does it mean that alternatives are to be considered on equal footing. Such views underscore either an empty-headed understanding of science or it is a sign of dishonesty. …

Also, I think it is misleading to simply say that students should keep an open mind about any scientific theory in general. Science does not work that way. Theories are ranked according to how well the theories fit the data. If a theory does not fit the data as well as another theory why should we opt for the theory with less explanatory power?

Excuse me? Did he just say, “I think it is misleading to simply say that students should keep an open mind about any scientific theory in general.” WOW! The ego of man on proud display.

Considering he prides himself on being a scientist, I’m quite stunned he said that. I guess Steve would have thrown rocks at Copernicus.*

The guidelines were extremely well thought out and well worded. It covered all aspects fairly. (and that’s hard to come by nowadays.)

In case Steve was asleep in 9th grade, the Sun does not rotate around the Earth, the planet is not flat and angels do not dance on the heads of pins. If there is one truism in science is, it is that the more man is convinced he is right, the more often he is proven wrong. And every generation thinks theirs’ is enlightened – immune to such folly.

If there is a ‘dimwit’ to be castigated, it is Steve himself for unfathomable hubris.

When you fail to question a theory, you have officially made your beliefs into a religion.

Clarification: I get his point that “there are theories and then there are theories.” In rereading my post it looked like that was my only problem with it. It was not. I disagree strongly with refusing to teach another theory because “we all know” which one is right. History should have taught us the danger in that.

I tried very hard to NOT talk about the merits of one theory over another and perhaps I was unclear.

I’ll stop now, lest I change the discussion from one of the scientific method to one of the origin of man. (which I’m not discussing, but I’ll put a further comment in the comments)

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*Postscript: Contrary to the (modern) legend, Copernicus was not stoned to death. His work was actually published just a few weeks before his death and he never knew the stir it would cause.

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