Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Teach Them Science", Not 'Junk As Science' - NCSE, CFIA, CLP 2009:

here, I describe a 'high science standards educational advocacy' as reported by the National Center For Science Education [NCSE; see 001., below], a partnership between the Center For Inquiry Austin [CFIA] and the Clerical Letters Project [CLP] called "Teach Them Science" [see 002., below], and in keeping with this blog's mission, I compare this to the science standards of naturopathy [see 003., below]:

001. the NCSE states in "Teach Them Science":

"two organizations — one secular, one religious — have joined forces to produce a new website, Teach Them Science [TTS], in order to advocate for a twenty-first-century science education for the students in Texas's public schools. Sponsored by the Center for Inquiry Austin and the Clergy Letter Project, the Teach Them Science website is intended to empower parents, educators, and concerned citizens to rally in support of the new standards, which treat evolution as the central and unifying principle of the biological sciences that it is."

Note: evolution -- and its genomic basis -- is so important that it is regarded as the central theme of biology: e.g., "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution." As such, actually, the understanding of evolutionary and genetic mechanisms did something that seems to be lost in science and biology textbooks today, since it is such a 'discarded concept' not even worthy of mention because it is SO DISCARDED historically -- evolution and genomics are regarded as two of the FINAL NAILS IN THE COFFIN for the concept of vitalism:

a) Richard Dawkins writes in in "River Out of Eden"(1996; ISBN 0465069908):

"after Watson and Crick, we know that genes themselves [...] are long strings of pure digital information [...] the genetic code [] a quaternary code, with four symbols [...] the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like [...] this digital revolution at the very core of life has dealt the final, killing blow to vitalism -- the belief that living material is deeply distinct from nonliving material [p.017...] there is no spirit-driven life force, no throbbing, heaving, pullulating, protoplasmic [p.018], mystic jelly. Life is just bytes and bytes of digital information [p.019]."

b) Stephen Dutch writes in in "Historical Background of Evolution":

"one of the last holdouts of supernaturalism in science was the nature of life. Many thinkers held that there was something special about life that required a vital force or elan vital that was different from the laws governing inorganic matter. It was once held that chemists would never synthesize organic chemicals, but beginning in the mid-19th century that defense collapsed. The idea that life is driven by some sort of special force is termed vitalism. [But] Lightning is just electricity. [And] Life is chemistry and physics [...] the important thing to realize here is that hard-core supernaturalists weren't simply trying for a simple explanation of complex phenomena. They were desperately hoping for some phenomenon that would forever be inexplicable in conventional scientific terms, where nonbelievers would be compelled either to acknowledge the existence of the supernatural, or be put in a position of blatant intellectual dishonesty [this is what ID is trying these days, often through schools' science standards]."

002. "Teach Them Science" itself states:

002.a1. in "Science Education At Risk":

"got science? Not in Texas [...] the Texas State Board of Education [SBOE] will soon determine the science curriculum standards that will be in place for the next ten years. An SBOE-appointed committee of teachers and scientists has drafted new standards, which they recommended that the SBOE adopt to give students in Texas a 21st century science education. However, nearly half of the SBOE hold worldviews [that is, beliefs / ideologies] that are at odds with the recommended standards. To sway children towards their worldview [I term this 'science as the sword of sectarianism' - politically or curricularly redefining science, as an end-run around scientific-consensi and peer-review mechanisms], they prefer that the standards teach rhetorical arguments against evolution. These false arguments have no basis in science and actually teach students to think unscientifically."

Note: we're told of false antiscience arguments masquerading as legitimate science, miseducating tomorrow's citizens while promoting a particular sectarian agenda through political muscle / curriculum revision end-runs [see 003., below].

002.b. CFIA states in "What is the CFI of Austin":

"CFI provides an ethical alternative to religious and paranormal worldviews. In this time of rising religiosity, anti-intellectualism and political turmoil on ethical issues, it is critical that rationalists and freethinkers join together to protect civil liberties, defend reason, and work toward increasing scientific literacy."

Note: here, here.

002.c. CLP states in "Background":

"for too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith."

Note: it is rather absurd to deny what we know about the world in the name of faith's figmentations [see 003., below].

003. naturopathy's archaic and absurd 'science', when figmentations profoundly NOT 21st-century are labeled scientific fact:

while organizations like NCSE, CFI, and CLP do not conflate the knowledge domains of science and faith -- because they are vastly different, epistemically -- naturopathy, overall, claims that an unevidenced article of faith and even the science-ejected IS THE SAME THING as a scientific fact. Such a conflation is not anything like the knowledge-fidelity and high-caliber intellectuality that has historically delineated those domains incrementally over the last few hundred years, wherein 'the supernatural without evidence and science-ejected irrational' is considered VASTLY DIFFERENT from 'that which has scientific support'!

I have termed 'naturopathy's knowledge-blending unreason' "epistemic conflation nonsense" per:

"it follows then that naturopathic statements of being 'scientific, science-based, science, and a branch of medical science' are nonsense since they have radically unlimited the definition of science to such an extent that science and nonscience are indiscernible."

To borrow two labels from Susan Jacoby, this is 'intellectual quackery' and 'junk thought.'
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