The anti-science circus continues in Louisiana. Thanks to Zack Kopplin and others, the bill to repeal of the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA) almost got out of committee (a 3-2 vote against). It’s an insidious bill that allows public school teachers to use “supplementary materials” to criticize “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.” I wonder what those topics have in common? Why not quantum mechanics or plate tectonics?
The Act also contains an unbelievably duplicitous and weaselly disclaimer:
This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.
If you believe that, I have a levee in New Orleans to sell you.
The LSEA, by the way, was supported and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal, who seems determined to make Republicans, and Louisiana, look ridiculous.
Well thank Ceiling Cat for small favors. But the shenanigans continue in the State of Huey Long. According to a new Slate piece by Kopplin, one Louisiana senator thinks that maybe faith-healing should be taught in schools, too:
Evolution is not the only scientific theory that is controversial to Louisiana politicians. Apparently, modern medicine is also subject to debate. Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory had a novel argument in defense of LSEA: It should not be repealed because he doesn’t want to “prematurely” declare that faith healing is “pseudo-science.”
During this year’s state Senate hearing to repeal LSEA, Guillory explained that he wouldn’t want to keep the “science” behind an experience he had with a witch doctor—who “wore no shoes, was semi-clothed, used a lot of bones that he threw around”—out of a public school science classroom.
Guillory said he is worried that repealing Louisiana’s creationism law will “lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures.” Have no fear, Sen. Guillory, there is a great place for ideas from many cultures: history class, or philosophy or comparative religion classes. Faith healing and creationism are not science, though, and do not belong in a public school science classroom.
Here’s Guillory defending the LSEA by arguing that a half-naked witch doctor throwing bones on the ground helped him medically, even though what the shaman purveyed seems like pseudoscience. This is unbelievable:
Kopplin gives two more videos showing the embarrassing ignorance of Louisiana legislators about science. Here’s Sen. Mike Walsworth reacting to a description of Rich Lenski’s work on bacterial evolution, asking whether those bacteria evolved into a human! Clearly, if they didn’t, then evolution is wrong:
Finally, here’s Kopplin, an indefatigable and courageous young man (now an undergraduate at Rice), testifying at LSEA hearings and enduring the ignorance of Senator Julie Quinn:
Tired of hearing that the campaign to repeal LSEA had been endorsed by 78 Nobel laureate scientists and multiple major science organizations representing tens of millions of scientists worldwide, Quinn explained that the scientists whose discoveries had built our way of life were just people with “little letters” behind their names whom she had no interest in hearing from.
Fortunately, Louisiana senator Karen Carter Peterson is at the table defending all those “little lettered” Nobel Laureates as well as the many science organizations opposed to the LSEA.
Is there any hope for America, or at least Louisiana, with people this ignorant at the helm of government? I’d send them my book, but I doubt it would help. It’s religion that’s putting on the blinders here.