Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Here we go again.

Some guy in Nevada is proposing a state constitutional amendment that children must be taught about several perceived flaws in evolutionary theory. He only needs about 83,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot, and it must pass this year and in 2008 to be added to their constitution.

There are so many things wrong with this it's ridiculous. First, it obviously takes more than 2 years to pass or change such an amendment, and the pace of science moves faster than that. So even if the requirements are true now (which I don't grant), it risks having inaccurate science be ingrained in the Nevada constitution in the future. Things that change go in the bylaws (i.e. laws), not the constitution.

Second, why single out this particular topic? Economic theory has tons of holes in it, as does the theory of how to deter crime. Why don't we teach our children that we don't know how effective the punishments that are law in our system really are. Let's single out history. After all, we know that "history is written by the winners." So everything we know about the past is skewed and can't be trusted. Even the laws of physics have been changing, so put that in the constitution, too. We don't know anything about physics and alternate theories should be considered. After all, there is so much extra time in high school, we can waste it on conceptual dead ends in our children's educations.

Third, it'll get struck down by the US Supreme Court anyway as religiously motivated. So why bother. Come to think of it, maybe this guy is really against ID. Maybe he knows this and is just trying to tighten the noose by getting another more restrictive federal precedent set. Who knows.

Of course, it may pass. Between that and the Hamas election, I wonder if it's really a good idea to let a bunch of religious fanatics vote.


Anonymous said...

I am of the idea that people should go through sanity checks before they vote, just as, for example, my linear algebra library goes through extensive testing before its code is allowed to participate into any of my programs.

The best idea, however, would be to allow these wackos to live out their own convictions. Don't like evolution? Well, no modern medicines for you. The laws of physics are wrong? We'll cut you off the electric grid. That should kill a few of them off and make us all a lot happier.


Nate said...

Fede--- Your blatant line drawing fallacy would be more believable if modern medicine depended on the correctness of evolution, which it doesn't, or if these people said that the laws of physics are wrong, which usually they don't, especially not the ones dealing with electricity. Do you have better examples?

The wider point is that statements about the specifics of cirriculum do not belong in constitutions. All that most state constitutions say about education is that schools must be established and that the state can run colleges. So I'm with you, Jeff, that proposing a constitutional amendment that picks on one concept in one academic subject area is a stupid thing.

Anonymous said...


Of course it does. If evolution was wrong, then pathogens could not adapt to medication, I guess except for divine intervention. In any case, I was just being slightly vocal about my desire for all these people to die somehow. Quickly, but with pain, if possible.

Obviously I think you and Jeff are right. Politicians and "concerned parents" don't usually know much about science. Why not just let it up to the scientists to do their job? A constitutional ammendment is just insanity.


Nate said...

I see. Most of them wouldn't be meaning that when they say "evolution," though. On the subject of origins, miscommunications do abound. I think there are more ideas around than words.

Just so you know, I'd like to slap a few of those people around myself.