Monthly Archives: March 2011

John G. West’s Cognitive Deficit

Discovery Institute big-wig John G. West took time out of his day to excoriate Lauri Lebo for a recent article. Her putative sin? Not crediting the DI with coming up with innovative obfuscation prior to the Kitzmiller v. Dover case.

Lauri also rewrites history by suggesting that the focus on the critical analysis of Darwin’s theory (rather than the teaching of intelligent design) is somehow a post-Dover development:

As always, since intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the introduced bills rely on such creationist code words as “teaching the controversy,” “academic freedom,” or “critical analysis.”

Discovery Institute articulated the same critical analysis approach two years earlier in Ohio, and it did the same in Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and other states… all before the Dover lawsuit.

Swing and a miss, John. Lauri’s statement wasn’t about the ontology of DI word-smithing, but rather about the content of proposed legislation. Whether the DI had already cottoned on to the fact that “intelligent design” was past its sell-by date as early as 2002 doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t tenable to introduce legislation pushing “intelligent design” explicitly post-Dover. Do try to keep up.

Oh, and the folks in Ohio did figure out that “intelligent design” arguments were the content of “critical analysis” and deep-sixed the sham back in 2006. Call it what you want, John, but if it is always the same shoddy ensemble of arguments, it doesn’t make it good enough to teach students.

Canon Loyalty Program 2011/02/22

I have owned several Canon digital cameras in the point-and-shoot through prosumer range. Something Canon has offered for a long time is the Canon Loyalty Program. This allows one to obtain a refurbished Canon digital camera at a discounted price when one trades in a Canon digital camera. Unfortunately, I’ve never had much luck finding current offerings via Canon’s website. So a little while ago, I asked on the phone what refurbished cameras are currently available and at what price. I will provide the list in a table. I wanted to collect all the ancillary information, but my life is still pretty hectic now, so I’ll put up what I have and add to it as I get time (if I get time).

Camera model Price Remarks
SD1200 $87 CanonDirect price = $125.99, 10.0 MP, Image stabilization, 35-105mm (35mm equiv.), CHDK ready
SX120 $120 10.0 MP, 36-360mm (35mm equiv.),
G11 $260 Amazon price: $548.99, CHDK beta only
XS $320 w/18-55mm lens
7D $1088
T1i $480 w/18-55mm lens
T2i $576$511 (per comment) w/18-55mm lens
50D $665.99 w/28-85mm lens (not positive about the end of the zoom range)

To take advantage of the program, call Canon at 866-443-8002.

Florida: This Year’s Antievolution Bill Appears

As predicted by Joe Meert, Florida’s legislature is once again considering antievolution legislation. This particular attempt is done as a change to a law rather than as a standalone effort.

And the strategy in this one is to label it “critical analysis”, like Ohio did in 2002.

1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to required instruction in the public
3 schools; amending s. 1003.42, F.S.; requiring that the
4 instructional staff of a public school teach a
5 thorough presentation and critical analysis of the
6 scientific theory of evolution and certain
7 governmental, legal, and civic-related principles;
8 revising the curriculum of the character-development
9 program required for students in kindergarten through
10 grade 12 and requiring school districts to annually
11 inform certain personnel of that curriculum; amending
12 s. 1006.148, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference;
13 providing an effective date.
15 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
17 Section 1.?Subsection (2) of section 1003.42, Florida
18 Statutes, is amended to read:
19 1003.42?Required instruction.
20 (2)?Members of the instructional staff of the public
21 schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education
22 and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and
23 faithfully, using the books and materials required to that meet
24 the highest standards for professionalism and historic accuracy,
25 following the prescribed courses of study, and employing
26 approved methods of instruction, the following:
27 (a)?A thorough presentation and critical analysis of the
28 scientific theory of evolution.

Of course, what Ohio got was a lesson plan whose specifics were falsehoods about evolutionary science and recycled religious antievolution arguments, including those associated with “intelligent design”, which the “critical analysis” advocates (falsely) swore up and down would not be presented to Ohio’s students.

No, people opposed to bills like Florida’s SB1854 are not against “academic freedom” or even actual “critical analysis”; they are opposed to using the power of government to force teachers to tell lies to students, which is all that the ensemble of long-rebutted religious antievolution argumentation is. While the bill doesn’t explicitly mandate that crap like what was delivered in Ohio will have to be used in Florida classrooms, the track record is clear that we can expect only that.

Floridians should tell their representatives that there’s too little time and definitely too little money in our education system to spend any of either telling kids narrow sectarian religious antievolution lies. The folks pushing hardest for this are not generically for religion; they are for an exclusionary view that aims to undercut not just atheism and agnosticism, but also any Christian denomination that accepts “theistic evolution” or “evolutionary creationism”. Besides the unconstitutional implementation that we can see coming from light-years away, there is also the small issue that the way that “critical analysis” gets done by the religious antievolution crowd is that students get told, explicitly or implicitly, that both scientists and the scientific method are untrustworthy. Science doesn’t get legal protection from bad science or anti-science, so if you sit back and relax over this, don’t be surprised when Florida’s school-kids turn out not to either have the motivation to take up careers in science or the training.

Tune into the Florida Citizen’s for Science (FLCfS) blog, which will be covering developments and giving advice on how to take action on this. FLCfS was an effective part of the push for Florida to adopt sound science standards in 2008, and will be involved now in defending the standards and what they represent. Please consider joining or donating to show your support.

Update: The religious antievolution effort is not the only legislative offering going to 11 on the Wacky-Meter. There’s also a bill to make it a felony to photograph a farm without written permission. Apparently intended to discomfit animal rights activists, it’s an example of a problem that someone is proposing a highly unreasonable — and facially unconstitutional — solution for.