Public “charter schools” in Texas lie about evolution and push creationism

In a new article at Salon, former fundamentalist Jonny Scaramanga examines some shenanigans around the teaching of evolution in Texas’s charter schools. I wasn’t sure what “charter schools” really were in Texas, but they turn out to to be a form of public school that is more loosely regulated than “regular” public schools (the latter are government schools for you Brits), but which are funded by the state. The Texas Educational Agency explains:

To further promote local initiative, the 1995 revision of the Texas Education Code established a new type of public school, known as a charter school. Charter schools are subject to fewer state laws than other public schools with the idea of ensuring fiscal and academic accountability without undue regulation of instructional methods or pedagogical innovation. Like school districts, charter schools are monitored and accredited by the state.

At any rate, Scaramanga’s piece reports that at iSchool High, a charter school in Houston, students in science classes are reading textbooks containing stuff like this:

[Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

Now we’ll learn in a few hours, when I post about a new book on the history of science, that this is a patent lie: Darwin had virtually no influence on either Hitler, his minions, his racial policy, or his acts of genocide.  Chalk up one more lie told to the kids.

Further investigation by an outraged parent showed that the curriculum used in this school, “Responsive Educational Solutions,” (“ResponsiveEd”) was basically a disguised program of Christianity:

It emerged that ResponsiveEd was founded by Donald R. Howard, former owner of ACE (Accelerated Christian Education). ACE is a fundamentalist curriculum that teaches young-Earth creationism as fact. Last year it hit headlines because one of its high school science books taught that the Loch Ness Monster was real, and that this was evidence against evolution.

More on the Loch Ness monster in a second.

After Howard left ACE in the 1990s, he founded Eagle Project charter schools, which became Responsive Education Solutions, or ResponsiveEd, in 2007. ACE’s selling point was that it integrated Bible lessons into every academic subject. ResponsiveEd planned to do the same, but without the explicitly religious basis. Howard told the Wall Street Journal in 1998: “Take the Ten Commandments ­– you can rework those as a success principle by rewording them. We will call it truth, we will call it principles, we will call it values. We will not call it religion.” But in Joshua Bass’ mind, at iSchool High, his son was taught religion in class.

. . . ResponsiveEd says it has 60 schools in Texas, with an extended charter to open 20 more by 2014. It also has facilities in Arkansas, and plans to open in Indiana. Amazingly, it isn’t the only charter school curriculum based on Accelerated Christian Education’s format.

This sounds like “scientific creationism” and its descendant “intelligent design”, both of which try to hide the religious motivation and content of their so-called biology so they won’t be challenged in court.  In other words, these organizations are lying for Jesus.

What about the Loch Ness monster? The Raw Story gives an excerpt from another ResponsiveEd textbook:

“Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.”

This piles idiocy upon stupidity.  Not only do we have some transitional forms between fish and amphibians (Tiktaalik for one) and between amphibians and reptiles (Proterogyrinus for one; go here to read about more transitional forms in vertebrates), but there’s no evidence for Nessie at all. In fact, there’s precisely as much evidence for Nessie as there is the for the Master Craftsman. If they want to use such an example, why not use a real one: of amphibians like frogs living in areas that harbor alligators and fish?

But wait! There’s more:

ResponsiveEd’s teaching on evolution promises that students will, among other things:

  • Explain the difference between microevolution and macroevolution.

  • Describe the theories concerning the origins of life.

  • Discuss theories of human development.

  • Express opinions regarding evolutionary theory in general and human evolution in particular.

  • Describe controversies regarding evolution.

If you know anything about how creationism is pushed in the U.S., you’ll see that this is all normal anti-evolution fodder, including the bogus distinction between the processes involved in microevolution and macroevolution, a distinction completely erased by looking at the fossil record, while “the origins of life” is a standard way to dismiss all of evolution because scientists don’t yet understand how the first replicator evolved.  And I doubt that the “controversies regarding evolution” are about the role of genetic drift or sexual selection!

Another widespread curriculum in Texas’s charter schools is “Public Accelerated Curriculum, or PAC. It’s even worse (textbook quotes in italics):

Like ResponsiveEd, PAC teaches that the theory of evolution influenced Hitler to create the Third Reich. It also relies on the traditional creationist argument of “gaps” in the fossil record:

Darwinism claims that humans gradually and mysteriously evolved from non-living materials. Some critics humorously claim that evolution proposes a philosophy of “from goo to you by way of the zoo.” […]

Evolutionists insist that their theory must be right and that missing fossil evidence is merely the result of a flawed fossil record; the catastrophists insist that evolutionists have not exercised the scientific method of discovery and therefore have little real scientific evidence to prove their theory.

In another chapter, the PAC science materials use examples in history where science has been wrong – geocentrism, phlogiston, an obsolete theory that attempted to explain burning processes, and ancient Egyptian superstitions (such as using fly excreta to treat tumors)  – to undermine the authority of science in general:

Many other historical blunders of science could be mentioned. What we need to keep in mind is that scientists are human beings. The assumption that they are completely objective, error-free, impartial, “cold machines” dressed in white coats is, of course, absurd. Like everyone else, scientists are influenced by prejudice and preconceived ideas. You should also remember that just because most people believe a particular thing does not necessarily make it true.

This “science-can-be wrong” trope, one I’ve encountered frequently even in books on sophisticated theology, is just a way to drag science down to religion’s level.  And yes, of course science can be wrong, but it also contains ways of checking and righting itself.  That’s why some scientific truths, like the formula for water, the age of the cosmos, and the existence of evolution, are very unlikely to be changed.  In contrast, while science gets some things wrong, religion, which has no way to check its truth claims, gets nothing right.  I wonder if they tell the kids that, too.

The sickest part of all this is that even Bob Jones University, an infamous fundamentalist school in South Carolina that teaches young-earth creationism, finds the ACE curriculum is so deficient that it can’t even prepare students for that mockery of a University.

Educators at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University also criticized ACE’s academics, says historian Adam Laats, “According to BJU writers, the ACE and A Beka curricula failed to adequately educate their students academically or spiritually by neglecting … higher-order thinking skills.”

Adults have the right to be as stupid as they want, but I don’t think they have the right to tell lies to children. Those lies include not only religious dogma, but the antiscience attitudes that come with it. How sad that a group of bright and curious children can become ignorant, superstitious ideologues simply because they were born into the wrong families.

And have I mentioned that teaching creationism in a public school—even a charter school—seems blatantly illegal? Why hasn’t this been challenged in Texas? After all, Texas’s taxpayers are funding a form of “science” that’s really disguised religion.

h/t: Barry

78 Comments

  1. ladyatheist
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    “Adults have the right to be as stupid as they want, but I don’t think they have the right to tell lies to children.” … and at the university level, to people who are interested in learning.

    This just goes to show how creationists are evolving… finding more and more ways to fly under the radar and infest the educational system. I hope this crap gets expunged.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Funny, I thought the same thing and unfortunately, they’ll find their “adaptions” ill suited for the world at large when they cannot compete with others who are properly educated.

  2. Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    //

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      2

  3. John Taylor
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    From dirt to you by way of… Kazaam!!!

    I think “from goo to you by way of the zoo” has a better ring to it. I like it.

  4. steve oberski
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Or perhaps the concept of “charter” schools should be challenged.

    It seems as if the basic conditions under which they run are designed to circumvent church/state separation and that this is the only reason they were created.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Looks like there is a lot to challenge too since there are mounds of evidence suggesting they are teaching religion. Moreover, I’d challenge the existence of these schools as financial drains on the government because they effectively duplicate what the government is already providing (i.e.: another school system that needs to be funded). If people don’t care about the wrong facts, they’ll care about money.

    • Michael Ross
      Posted October 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Not all charter schools are like this-my kids go to a college-prep charter school that has the highest standardized testing scores in our state (yes, they teach evolution). Nor do they drain resources- schools receive the same per-student amount as regular public schools, but the state does not pay for facilities or school lunches; charter schools must make up the difference on their own. It’s a pity that ignorant parents choose to cripple their children with lies and nonsense and put a black mark on the charter school movement.

    • Jeff Metz
      Posted December 8, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Not necessarily the only reason. Anti-government types and anti-union types also climb on board.

      • Michael Ross
        Posted December 8, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        In our case, the local public schools just suck. The college-prep charter school we chose draws highly-motivated students, teachers & parents and provides an outstanding educational opportunity. This charter school scores higher on standardized tests than any school in our state, public or private, and students have a college entrance rate of over 90%. Don’t generalize!

  5. Chris
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Please don’t lump all charter schools in Texas into the same basket. My kids attend a Texas charter school, one of the highest rated public schools in the country, and they teach standard biology. No creationism or ID. It offers an IB curriculum and develops strong critical thinking skills in their students. It’s not a place for every kind of child, but for certain children (like my own) there is no place better.

    I’d hate to see the good that charter schools can offer be sacrificed due to some bad apples.

    • Notagod
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      It’s more like many bad apples and a couple of good ones. In any case, I’m not convinced that public money should be used to fund schools that are exclusionary, except in very specific cases. If by their very nature charter schools must allow for creationist schools I’d be in favor of dumping all of them.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      It offers an IB curriculum

      “IB” = International Baccalaureat? I bet that goes down well with the redneck element. Do you teach them foreign languages too, and encourage them to travel abroad?

      and develops strong critical thinking skills in their students.

      Oh boy, they’re going to be really popular!

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted October 28, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      You don’t need a charter school to use the IB curriculum. One of our public schools in Wichita Falls, Hirschi, has an IB program.

  6. Rebecca Harbison
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’d assume that the best way to challenge it would be to find a parent who was pissed off that their kid was getting sub-standard education. I know at least some population of charter school parents are doing so out of the belief that the schools will better educate their kids, so hopefully one would turn up.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Trouble is, parents bright enough to recognize that it’s crap are most likely bright enough not to elect to send their kids to schools like that.

    • Marta
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Excellent strategy, actually. Worked for Kitzmiller v Dover.

  7. Ken Pidcock
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    You should also remember that just because most people believe a particular thing does not necessarily make it true.

    Man, you’d better hope you’re neglecting higher-order thinking skills.

  8. John Harshman
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    …normal anti-evolution fodder, including the bogus distinction between microevolution and macroevolution, a distinction completely erased by looking at the fossil record

    Quick, somebody tell Steven Stanley that the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution is bogus. He’ll probably need to retitle his book.

    • Posted October 27, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      It’s not bogus when used as a synonym for large-scale vs small-scale. It is bogus when used to imply that there is a sharp division between the two concepts and that macroevolution is impossible.

    • Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Yes, yes, I was writing too quickly. I’ve fixed it. Try to dial down the snark there, though, Harshman!

      • John Harshman
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        I will make an attempt, but of course I had no choice.

      • John Harshman
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        Oh, and I think the correction still has some problems. My point, and I did have one, was that at least some biologists think there are distinct macroevolutionary processes that are not reducible to allele frequency change within populations. Species selection, if it exists, is one such. There are several definitions of macroevolution, but if I recall the one Stanley used is “evolution above the species level”, by which he meant evolution by processes not reducible to within-species variation. Anything that results in variable rates of speciation and extinction that isn’t the result of allele frequency changes in populations would count. And by that definition, there is indeed a fairly sharp dividing line between micro and macro.

        Mind you, creationists know nothing about this and are merely misusing two common terms. But I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone claim that “micro” and “macro” are purely creationist inventions, when they are in fact in current use in real biology.

  9. Rick Fetters
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Jerry, Exposing the surreptitious attempts by the Christian hegemony to indoctrinate our youth is the most important work you do on WEIT. I can not adequately express how much I appreciate your efforts in the regard. Not only do you raise awareness of the existence of these blatant unconstitutional and anti-science programs, but your bulldog-like tenacity sees the issues through and makes you and your blog real agents of change.

    As a former science teacher of 13 years I thank you.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Oh noes, you compared Jerry to a dog. Here, how about a nice Scottish Wild Cat instead? The MacPherson’s belong to the cat clan so I think this will work. 🙂

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        You’re familiar with your Chattan Confederation overlord’s motto of “Touch Not The Cat Bot A Glove“? (“Don’t touch the cat without wearing a glove,” in more modern English.)
        I had a friend, also a MacPherson, who introduced me to that motto a few years ago. Buried her a couple of months back.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Yes, and Wikipedia has an even better translation of the motto:

          Touch not the cat bot a glove. ‘Bot’ means without. The ‘glove’ of a wildcat is the pad. If the cat is ‘ungloved’, its claws are unsheathed. The motto serves as a warning that one should beware when the wildcat’s claws are ‘without a glove’. It is a reference to the historically violent nature of the clan and serves as a metaphorical warning to other clans that they should think twice before interfering with MacPherson business.

          • Posted October 27, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

            Several clans have badges of this sort.

            /@

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:46 am | Permalink

              Yep, that’s the cat clan badge that MacPherson is part of.

  10. Faustus
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    It sounds similar to “Free Schools” that have been introduced to the UK. Funded by the taxpayer, however they are free from much of the usual government intervention. They do not even have to hire trained teachers.

    The result has not been free from mischief:
    http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/16/faith-school-dammed-by-ofsted-dysfunctional

  11. Mattapult
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    [Hitler] has written that the Aryan (German) race would be the leader in all human progress. To accomplish that goal, all “lower races” should either be enslaved or eliminated. Apparently the theory of evolution and its “survival of the fittest” philosophy had taken root in Hitler’s warped mind.

    If it is wrong for Hitler to kill and enslave, it is wrong for God to kill and enslave.

    The Old Testament tells the story of God’s Chosen People going to war, at the direction of God, and killing all their enemies. The Chosen People were frequently commanded to keep the land and treasure. Or keep the survivors as slaves, if God permitted survivors.

    But they they loose faith, and God wanted to punish his Chosen People. So, he used their enemies to kill and enslave the Chosen.

    This same story repeats 15-20 times, as if God was expecting different results. Apparently omniscient beings can still meet Einstein’s definition of insanity.

    Of course Hitler wasn’t all-knowing, all-powerfull, all-good.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Actually new religions meet the DSM5 diagnostic criteria of psychological disorders. The old ones are still protected because such is a mass delusion, i.e. it has enough social acceptance. (For now.)

    • colnago80
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Given the fact that Frankenberger rejected common descent in Mein Kampf, it is ludicrous to blame Darwin for the events that took place in Nazi Germany. Rejection of common descent was a staple of Nazi philosophy. It is my information that Origin of Species was banned in Germany and copies were burned, along with other books.

    • John Taylor
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Once in a while they didn’t make out so well and that seemed to irritate god a bit. What are you going to do when the other guys have chariots of iron?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      If it is wrong for Hitler to kill and enslave, it is wrong for God to kill and enslave.

      Didn’t that high point of moral authority, Dicky the Tricky, explain where you’re wrong with his dictum that “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

  12. Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This would be another example of why I find the legal principle of “standing” so problematic. If something so blatantly unconstitutional or illegal is brought to the court’s attention, the court should be able to rule on it regardless of who it is that brings it to their attention.

    Our entire society suffers when children are taught lies. Why should it be up to the parents of the particular children being lied to to be the ones to object — especially since, in so many cases, those parents are the ones doing the lying?

    We also see the problem at the other end. By now it’s obvious that the NSA is spying on everybody, yet we can’t object unless we can somehow spy on the NSA in such a way as to demonstrate that we as identifiable individuals are being spied upon. And, of course, that loverly Catch-22 means you’ve now violated state secrets and are yourself guilty of espionage….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 29, 2013 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear re “standing.”

  13. GC1000
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    A bit of a quibble, but I thought it was slightly unfortunate that your response to the claim about Hitler was that he and his minions were not, in fact, influenced by Darwin. This seems to imply that had they been so influenced, it would be a strike against evolution. But of course that’s nonsense.

    • Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Well, of course I didn’t mean to imply that: the misuse of a scientific theory such as evolution doesn’t invalidate that theory. That, of course, is the misunderstanding that creationists make when they link Darwin and Hitler. What I wanted to dispel was the fact that Darwin did influence Hitler, which throws the whole argument out the window at the outset. But in the article by Bob Richards that I’ll highlight later today, he makes your point clearly at the outset.

  14. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    How sad that a group of bright and curious children can become ignorant, superstitious ideologues simply because they were born into the wrong families.

    And have I mentioned that teaching creationism in a public school—even a charter school—seems blatantly illegal?

    So, not only “lying for Jesus”, but “crimes for Jesus”.

    Ironic how it composes to “crying for humanity”. (O,_O,)

  15. MNb
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    “the age of the cosmos”
    actuall has changed. According to physics more than 100 years ago (Lord Kelvin) it was about 100 000 years. Thirty years ago, I remember it well, it was between 10 and 20 billion years. Now it is 13,7 billion years.
    That’s called progress, something you won’t find in any pseudoscientific theory.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Both Jerry and you are correct, the difference being that the progress has been mostly theoretic. Well, the precision observations of the cosmic microwave background was pivotal of course.

      It meant the 10 billion year figure and the 20 billion year figure was merged (and of course refined). And the problems with measuring the Hubble “Constant” was transformed into data merging.

      A lot of progress, in other words. Back to creationism then. I hear they still attempt “tired light” even though it doesn’t work out. =D

      • Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        I hear they still attempt tired light even though it doesnt work out.

        Well, if they’re running their light rail on pneumatic tires, that would explain why it’s so slow! Even if you can’t afford to go all the way to maglev, steel wheels beat rubber ones hands down.

        Sheesh. Isn’t it obvious?

        Cheers,

        b&

      • Ritchie Annand
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        I find that creationists don’t particularly care whether a(n) hypothesis actually supports the creationist cause – even tired light of the Zwicky variety doesn’t lend any credence to the Genesis story – but rather, they simply use it to show that there is disagreement, therefore science is unreliable.

        I’m pretty sure I’ve seen MOND and plasma cosmology used in this manner as well.

        It also fits in well with the “mere plausibility” approach that creationist scientistoids tend to use in their writing: here’s a thought, it sounds pretty good, you can think about how it would happen, the details don’t matter, therefore it’s just as good as mainstream science.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    while “the origins of life” is a standard way to dismiss all of evolution because scientists don’t yet understand how the first replicator evolved.

    Not to quibble, but I note that in a low resolution fashion we may understand “how” now. (Which type of geochemistry that we evolved from.)

    But that leads me into the observation that it seems to have been more useful to place the genetic machinery as a trait among others. It takes away the drama involved. After all, how can we point to a specific point of evolution and say “life arose here” anymore than we can point to the fossil record and say “a species arose here”?

    If a specific locale of geochemistry was not only the nursery but the root of the evolution that led to life, it may terribly difficult to tell where chemical evolution was specialized to biological evolution. Many of those could have spread traits to fixation, say new branches of metabolism, long before genes appeared. Not exactly population genetics, but perhaps not exactly an absence either.

    By the way, I’m not saying that the search for replicators is stalling. I hear the limit against self-replication has been broken in RNA, using ice pores as a lab environment. I.e. not even shooting for the earlier catalyst enhancement that an oxygen free, reduced iron rich environment brings RNA chemistry. [ http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/10/quest-for-self-replicating-rna-edges-closer-to-origin-of-life/ ]

    That is also a form of low resolution, poorly constrained, “how” answer.

    And unfortunately I’m not saying that knowing “how” would make much inroad with creationist’s “standard ways”. At best it could make people less credulous around fundamentalists.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      The limit against self-replication, as in copying more nucleotides than the copy molecule consists of. Which should amount to less than the ~ 200 nucleotides now copied. [Disclaimer: Haven’t read the paper yet.]

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I find this stuff so annoying! It’s exhausting dealing with such ignorant people – it’s like they’re from the past….the distant past. These people are so out of it that they are still teaching the Nessie crap that Christian publishers removed! Are they using the old Christian books? You know it’s bad when a publicly funded school is more radical than Christian ones!

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      “A Christian education publisher based in Tennessee has removed references to the existence of the Loch Ness Monster from a biology textbook.

      According to Scotland’s Sunday Herald, Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. has opted to remove a statement from a textbook used in Europe and will likely do the same for American textbooks.”

      Jerry’s post seems to give the background to that, ACE being Howard’s forerunner to his creotardry of today. (“Creotardry” as in organizing illegal activities that prey on children.)

  18. Anthony leet
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Sub

  19. ridelo
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    No doubt the floor of Loch Ness is littered with plesiosaur bones. Did they forget to look there?

    • Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Nessie may be a one-of-a-kind, like Behemoth and Leviathan. Probably immortal, until slain by God during the end times:

      In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

      (Isaiah 27.1)

      I can’t help it, I love the KJV sometimes.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      The bottom (i.e. deepest part) of Loch Ness is over 700ft deep. With a full saturation dive spread with 2-3% oxygen in hydrogen as bottom gas and 5% oxygen in helium as travel gas, it’s now reasonably routine to dive to such depths. Obviously, you’d need a full life support spread, which means a working crew of about 20-30 people. You shouldn’t have any intolerable problems getting the spread to the site, because you’ve got the Caledonian Canal running through the loch. Expect very little change from $400,000/ day (of which your divers fees would only be around $10,000/ day)
      Ah, I think we now know why the searches for plesiosaur bones have been less than intense. Even if you whole-heartedly accept the extremely flimsy evidence that has been adduced for there being something weird in the loch.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        I (somewhat reluctantly) accept that the existence of Nessie seems unlikely. I would hasten to point out, though, that Nessie could quite happily exist without infringing one biological or physical law, unlike G*d. If Nessie were discovered tomorrow, not one biological principle that I’m aware of would need to be rewritten. But wouldn’t it be exciting for biology if a Nessie was found?

        I’d always assumed that the (putative) existence of Nessie, like that of dinosaurs and kangaroos, would be a strike against the Bible, since nowhere in it are any of those creatures mentioned. I’m pissed off that some fundy-creationists are trying to drag Nessie into their arguments. Get your sticky fingers off my monster!

        • Posted October 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

          Ecological laws, maybe.

          /@

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:00 am | Permalink

            I suspect those laws would be mainly statistical and logistical, in other words nowhere near as precise or clear-cut as most physical laws. In other words, I think it would be hard to prove conclusively that a creature the (alleged) size of Nessie couldn’t live in the loch by that means.

            Admittedly (vide Wikipedia) concerted efforts to find Nessie have failed so her existence is unlikely. But if a Nessie was discovered the laws to which (I assume) you refer might need a slight tweak but I doubt if they would be completely falsified – Nessie wouldn’t be a ‘rabbit in the Precambrian’.

            And I still maintain Nessie is orders of magnitude more probable than G*d 😉

            • Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:57 am | Permalink

              Well, Im not so sure. What’s the minimum viable breeding population for a similar creature? Can a single loch sustained such a population? Or turn it around: Is there any large lake that supports such a large endemic creature?

              I don’t disagree with your last statement however!

              /@

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

                Can a single loch sustained such a population?

                Don’t forget that only about 12-13 kyr ago, this loch basin was completely filled with ice.

  20. Max
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The response to the “science can be wrong” trope should always be: “But never as wrong as religion.”

    • RFW
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      A better response: “But religion is always wrong.”

      • Max
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        True.

  21. Notagod
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    No christian, no honest.

  22. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    There’s actually some evidence that what is called “Social Darwinism” had some indirect influence (among many other things) on Naziism, making them a few degrees of separation removed from Darwin. This has been argued by Jewish historian Hannah Arendt in her book “Origins of Totalitarianism”.

    However, Arendt !*also*! notes that Darwin has been used to rationalize all kinds of pacificist and cosmopolitan movements as well!!!!
    “Darwinism has led to all kinds of pacificism…as well as to the sharpest form of imperialist ideologies” (OT, p. 178)

    Furthermore there were many other influences on the Nazis, Volkisch nationalism, the now discarded evolutionary theories of LaMarck. the historical theories of Spengler (who became a major opponent of Naziism) and really weird version of Christianity called “Positive Christianity”.

    However, the influence of Darwin on the Nazies is massively overstated in the film “Expelled” which led the Anti-Defamation League to issue a statement “Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry….Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler’s genocidal madness” http://www.adl.org/PresRele/HolNa_52/5277_52.htm

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      What’s important to understand is that Social Darwinism was the misapplication of the Theory of Evolution within a social context to justify eliminating the weak (whoever they were at the time – proletariats, ethnic groups, women). In this way, it is hardly a consequence of evolution. In other words, understanding evolution doesn’t lead to totalitarian genocide anymore than reading The Odyssey leads to pathological lying.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        In other words, understanding evolution doesn’t lead to totalitarian genocide any[ ]more than reading The Odyssey leads to pathological lying.

        Whereas reading the Buybull (*) is strongly associated with pathological lying.
        (*) Buybull seen recently here, but I forget who from.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Ironically, in most cases the same people pushing this creationist trash are pushing social and economic policies that are little different from those of Social Darwinists.

    • Notagod
      Posted October 27, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Animal husbandry was around long before Darwin and is the process that Hitler was intending to exploit. Suggesting that Hitler was inspired by Darwin is nonsense when clearly Hitler’s goal was strictly a re-purposing of animal breeding techniques that had long been practiced. Darwin’s scholarship was in understanding species, that isn’t what Hitler intended to do.

  23. Richard Olson
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    ‘Charter schools are subject to fewer state laws than other public schools with the idea of ensuring fiscal and academic accountability without undue regulation of instructional methods or pedagogical innovation. Like school districts, charter schools are monitored and accredited by the state.’

    This thread is about education, and it is not my intent to derail it, but it is also a canary in the coal shaft of the conservative zeal for deregulation and privatization.

    In education deregulation may permit, and in this instance (and others) also subsidize the insertion (and thus governmental institutionalization and concomittent authority) of personal faith beliefs (and only a limited set of those, to boot, one thereby simultaneously state endorsed/privileged) into our public, secular sector. Our commons, unrelentingly pursued by interests determined to privatize all we do not protect, is insulted, fouled, further diminished.

    It is a benefit to society to direct attention to rules and regulations that serve no purpose, are harmful, or want useful revision. Beware the example of (some) charter schools, though, and carefully evaluate any demands for regulatory rollback and privatization of public goods. Efforts directed against religious incursion into public education need to be matched elsewhere.

    My Sunday sermon.

  24. mikespeir
    Posted October 27, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    “In fact, there’s precisely as much evidence for Nessie as there is the for the Master Craftsman.”

    I don’t know about that. I’ve seen pictures at least reputed to be of Nessie. I haven’t even seen one that anybody claimed was of this so-called “Master Craftsman.” I’d say the evidence for Nessie is better.

  25. Posted October 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    “Adults have the right to be as stupid as they want, but I don’t think they have the right to tell lies to children.”

    QFT

    I understand this is Texas here, but does anyone know the legality of these shenanigans in charter schools?

  26. rainbowwarriorlizzie
    Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN POLITICAL JOURNAL.

  27. John
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    The raw article states that the excerpt about the Loch Ness monster is from An ACE textbook not the ResponsiveEd curriculum.

  28. Richard
    Posted May 3, 2014 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    How strange it is that these institutions of “learning” go to such an extent to distort and twist the image of science in order to make the side of Creationism and Intelligent Design seem more credible. For people of such fanaticism they show an immense lack of faith in the credibility of their beliefs by not allowing students to pit them against evolution and form their own opinions on which is the most plausible. But then again critical thinking never really bred Creationists in the first place.

    From what I understand these “charter schools” are a blend of what we in South Africa call “public” and “private” schools. This to me is an odd concept as surely if state funds are being used by the school then the school has legal obligations to conform to the state’s public school curriculum?


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