Joice, then re-joice. Both the House and Senate in Tennessee have passed versions of Sen. Bo Watson’s anti-science “Monkey Bill.” Get your cameras ready for the celebratory chest-pounding and slinging of leafy branches.
. . SB 893 permits teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” Subjects that might invite such debate, according to the bill, include “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning.”
If the Sons of Breitbart can vet the President, Tennessee surely can double-check science. By all means, let’s have educators engage teens in serious discourse on the scientific strengths and weaknesses of “human cloning.” To be fair, maybe they could invite an expert “cloning” technician to defend the field.
“Mr. Johnson-Honson, have you become aware of any strengths or weaknesses in your cloning of Jeffrey Dahmer?”
“Well, Jeffie just started kindergarten, and he’s eaten the teacher’s hands.”
“Thus, ‘strength’ . .”
(fascinated crowd:) “. . rhubarb-rhubarb. .”
We’re adults here. Let’s us take Tennessee seriously, ‘cuz this is serious grown-up lawmaking. These legislators, who so care for evolution, are trying to make it better. They’d encourage every butt-scratching teen and Jesus yahoo to throw things at it, just to see what sticks. Once it’s a hundred-foot ball of wadded Epistles and jock spit, teachers should locate it in a practical place for everyone to laugh at. This is how public education makes sense of a complex subject.
Imagine if you encouraged the same of mathematics education.
“The distance, class, between Town A and Town B is 100 miles. If a train is traveling from A to B at 40 miles an hour, how long will it take . . ”
“Harry Potter could do it. I saw him walk through this shimmering blargh, and he went to another place. That’s, like, zero hours. Is zero a possible answer?”
“Oh No . . (*pulls legal binder from desk, checks Apples-and-Oranges law*) . . crap. Off the top of my head, Timmy, there are perhaps three metaphysical ways that zero is possible, and one thousand ninety-nine reality ways it’s unlikely. None of this will be on the test, class, so the rest of you can sleep or fart, or what have you.”
(all:) “Yay!” *poot*
This is the destruction of science by rendering it a cloud of nonsense. When students by the tens of thousands can graduate thinking that science accommodates any and all thinking, it becomes as random as anything else. Soap operas, pop culture, greyhound racing.
Science accommodates only the narrowest of thoughts: scientific ones. It’s supposed to be that way. To the uninitiated, it is a vicious, uncaring discipline, but thank Jehu. That’s how it has managed to be so productive — by throwing out anything that stinks even remotely of laziness and stupidity. And look at the results: human beings live far better today than they did even fifty years ago.
But Tennessee wants to break it down, make it more accepting of the Bible, and funny notions, and ‘What if Superman had been on the side of the Nazis?’ This is tragic and brutally stupid.
Hopefully, good Science teachers will save their classes by seeing the scientific in the bill’s “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” language. That’s its Achilles heel. Because there’s not a molecule of “Creation Science” or “Intelligent Design” that is scientific, in any way, by any perspective, by any means, for all time. Thus, a proper classroom discussion, even after the bill is amended and passed, goes this way:
“Umm, Mrs, Vance? About that thing with the finches. Creation scientists say their beaks were meant to. .”
“Timmy, I can only discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory. As Creationism builds a system of thought around an unobservable assertion — that a rational god exists — it is a system of mythology. Please refrain from violating Tennessee law by bringing it up again.”
And that’s that.