Idiotic Comment of the Day Award!

December 9, 2008

We’ve been getting a lot of comments lately on many different posts.  I haven’t taken the time to blog for too long.  The wealth of comments, both positive and negative, tell me that it is time to start blogging again.

I enjoy both positive and negative comments.  Positive comments help us all to feel like we’re appreciated and part of the larger atheist community.  Negative comments are great for sparking debate and thought.  But sometimes, negative comments are just plain idiotic.  Here’s one of those:

The comment is a response to the post, “Sorry Children of Texas, You’re Fucked,” from August 8, 2007.  The post is about the appointing of a evangelical creationist to head the Texas BOE.  Tammy Polio says:

I attended a private school in Michigan, received a much better education-oh yes and even learned Darwins theory. Not teaching science as you see it is not the problem with Texas schools you morons. The fact that they do not teach, and spend the whole year teaching kids how to pass tests instead of teaching them to read. I doubt you are a parent but a stupid liberal who never even learned words from the dictionary based on your f-ing language. I have a child in school who has been assisted on assessment tests so our school keeps their exemplary status.I now have to be in the room with him to make sure he is not assisted. The whole system is corrupt and pathetic. Do you really think it is more important that your theories are taught over just the basics? If you have a problem-move. In case you weren’t taught in your public school we still pledge to one country under God. You sound angry. If you want to know the truth God can reveal it. I would know that,because no matter what we are taught it cannot be just because someone is speaking it in front of a class. WE have to embrace because we beleive it to be true.

Let’s look at this one part at a time!

I attended a private school in Michigan, received a much better education-oh yes and even learned Darwins theory.

Okay – good start, Tammy.  Let’s first congratulate you on attending a private school and receiving a much better education.  Better than what?  To what are you referring?  And of course you learned Darwin’s Theory if you attended any sort of accredited school because guess what?  His theories are the basis and springboard for 98% of the study of biology.

Not teaching science as you see it is not the problem with Texas schools you morons. The fact that they do not teach, and spend the whole year teaching kids how to pass tests instead of teaching them to read.

First off, this isn’t about teaching “science as I see it.”  This is about teaching science as 95-99.9% of scientists see it. There simply isn’t any sort of widespread support for Creationism in the scientific community.  This isn’t about idealogy.  It’s about facts and evidence.  Science is, by nature, non-subjective.

Regarding your point here about teaching how to pass tests – we agree on this fact.  George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” act forces teachers to “teach to the test” as opposed to giving them a valuable real world education.  Most of my friends who are teachers despise this, but it is unfortunately their job now.

I doubt you are a parent but a stupid liberal who never even learned words from the dictionary based on your f-ing language.

Apparently Tammy Polio would like to personally attack me here.  That’s fine.  She’s right about two things in this sentence – I’m not a parent and I’m a liberal.  My 3.5 GPA and graduation with honors isn’t important for understanding how the education system should work in this country.  It doesn’t mean much.  And Tammy would probably discredit it, since I went to a state university and not some fancy private school.  My “f-ing laguange” is a demonstration of emotion.  Sticks and stones, Tammy.

I have a child in school who has been assisted on assessment tests so our school keeps their exemplary status.I now have to be in the room with him to make sure he is not assisted. The whole system is corrupt and pathetic.

Again – I agree.  This is horrible.

Do you really think it is more important that your theories are taught over just the basics?

These theories ARE the basics.  What about the theory of gravity?  Should that not be taught either?  Please read earlier posts on the different semantic understandings of the word “theory.”  The theory of evolution is overwhelmingly supported by scientists worldwide and it is essential that it be taught as “the basics.”

This is where the comment gets kind of psycho-crazy-like with rants in a couple different directions.

If you have a problem-move.

That’s absurd.  I believe in the America that the founding fathers envisioned — one in which religion was not forced on its citizens.  Maybe a brief jog down memory lane will bring up a history lesson from your private school.  You might remember that one of the things that brought us to this country was the desire to live in a country without the establishment of an oppressive religion.  This country is about freedom.  Freedom is NOT “If you have a problem-move.”  That’s the opposite of freedom.

In case you weren’t taught in your public school we still pledge to one country under God.

We did pledge to “one country under God” in schools, but this is unconstitutional.  This type of thing never bothered me though, because most children don’t have enough life experience and smarts to make up their minds about religion yet.  The indoctrination of these children with the idea that this is a “christian country” is wrong, however.  Study the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, Tammy.  Again, I’ve already covered this in earlier posts.

You sound angry. If you want to know the truth God can reveal it.

I was actually starting to think the negative comments on my blog are sounding much angrier than anything I have to say.  And this is an atheist blog, we don’t believe in God here.

I would know that,because no matter what we are taught it cannot be just because someone is speaking it in front of a class. WE have to embrace because we beleive it to be true.

Someone is not just “speaking it in front of a class” to make it true.  The theory of evolution isn’t something someone just made up, Tammy.  It’s the accepted and agreed upon theory for the origin of species according to more than 95% of scientists worldwide.  Why would we give equal time in schools to a theory of Creationism that only a tiny percentage of scientists believe?  Imagine this – imagine no one went to school for 2-3 generations.  After this, when everyone decided to start going to school again, half the population believed that the moon was made of swiss cheese.  Maybe there was support in the holy book for it, I don’t know.  99.9% of scientists dispute it – but since half the population believes it – we now have to teach that the moon “might be” made of swiss cheese.  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

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Sorry, Children of Texas – You’re Fucked

August 8, 2007

The Atheist Experience has a story [via Texas Observer] about the future of students in the state of Texas.

Republican Rick Perry, who replaced George W. Bush as Governor of Texas is a pretty good representation of the religious right. (In 2003, he condemned the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas striking down sodomy laws and called Texas’s last such law “appropriate.”) Recently, Perry appointed Crazy Creationist Don McLeroy to be the Head of the Texas State Board of Education. Since then, there have been outcries from citizens calling him on his misinformed and dangerous view of science.

creation

One angry citizen writes:

I received a message from a Texas Citizens for Science supporter about an email message from SBOE member Don McLeroy that he received on October 30:

As an educator, I strongly dislike this trend. Are you doing things to combat this? Here is the email…

I replied as follows:

I share your disdain for McLeroy’s irrationality and contempt for science. I didn’t elect him. I am doing everything I can to prevent him from accomplishing his goals. Many other scientists and science educators are also involved in this effort.

In a perfect world, individuals such as McLeroy would not be elected to the State Board of Education. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in Texas.

I can assure you that many people organized months ago to oppose this nonsense. McLeroy is not even the worst one on the board.

If we fail in the vote, a court suit will surely follow.

Best,

Steven Schafersman

I reprint McLeroy’s recent letter below. It apparently was sent to his fellow SBOE members. It is mindboggling in its ignorance and contempt for science. McLeroy’s ranting deserves the widest possible exposure and publicity. Citizens should realize what kind of individuals they elect to an important public official position. I won’t bother to comment on his ignorant misrepresentation of scientific methods knowledge, since I have done so elsewhere at great length. Instead, I want to discuss his newest and latest excess.

It is clear that McLeroy’s strategy is to play one publisher against the others, hoping that if the others see that one biology book will be put on the conforming list, they will quickly agree to revise their books to also be adopted to that list. The reason for this is because adoption on the nonconforming list greatly reduces sales. This is the insidious power that the SBOE possesses to compel publishers to censor their books.

His statements that, “This action would approve all the books up for adoption, plus reward the book that most closely follows our standards. It does not negatively single out any book but fulfills our responsibility of standards conformity,” are untrue. It approves all the biology texts–except one–for the nonconforming list, thus negatively singling them out for ultimate rejection. The lucky one (Glencoe) on the conforming list will garner most of the sales due to widespread adoption by the state’s school districts.

Nonconforming books–while often perfectly good and scientifically accurate–will nevertheless be chosen far, far less than conforming books by the school districts. Putting textbooks on the nonconforming list greatly reduces their sales There are two reasons for this:

1. The adoption of nonconforming books by districts requires that every parent must be informed by letter that such books are being used. This obligation is SBOE policy that has been communicated to all Texas school districts. The only reason for this paperwork policy is to make it extra tiresome and difficult for school districts to adopt books that the SBOE decides do not meet its standards (such as scientifically-accurate biology textbooks).

2. Books adopted as conforming by the SBOE are completely free to requesting school districts. Nonconforming books, however, are not totally free. School districts must pay a percentage of their cost (I believe this is 20%, but I will have to research this to confirm).

The difference is certainly worth many tens of millions of dollars to a publisher on the conforming list, especially if you are the only one on the conforming list. Adopting only one textbook as conforming would be extremely unfair to the other texts, especially when they are just as scientifically accurate–perhaps more so–as the lucky book and the reason for their nonconforming adoption is due completely to the personal ideology and politics of the SBOE members. Remember, the TEA textbook review panel found that all the biology books were 100% conforming to the TEKS. If McLeroy’s motions were to pass, all the publishers whose books were adopted on the nonconforming list would have major grounds for litigation.

Don McLeroy’s strategy–to succeed in his aims by using a publisher’s legitimate desire to make the highest profit and attempt to play one off against the others–is cynical and contemptible. Such conduct is completely unsuitable for an elected public official who is supposed to place the education of Texas students above his own personal agenda. Don McLeroy’s conduct should be condemned by all rational and ethical Texas citizens who value the education and welfare of their children.

Read more information here.

According to The Atheist Experience:

The Observer has unearthed (now this is journalism, people!) a recording of McLeroy addressing a sermon to his church, Grace Bible Church in College Station, on the subject of ID and evolution. The real battle, evidently, is against liberalism and naturalism. McLeroy sees ID as this glorious “big tent” that brings together religious pseudoscience of all stripes to unite against evil liberal naturalistic…uh…all that stuff. I can imagine the flacks at the Discovery Institute groaning over this one:

“Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.”

I especially love this passage from the Observer article.

McLeroy counsels fellow travelers to publicly battle evolution on the merits. “We must know our subject — facts and evidence are crucial,” he said in his sermon. But he acknowledges that this strategy has proven an utter failure.

Great work by the Texas Observer here.

To the citizens of Texas. I’m sorry. You’re fucked. If your Governor insists on making decisions like this, the future of your state is in jeopardy. Why would a student in Texas want to grow up to study geology if its a useless endeavor? After all, there’s no sense in studying what we know God made, right? So look forward to a generation of people coming out of Texas with absolutely no ability to grasp scientific reasoning.

And thanks Texas, for your contribution to our ever-growing reputation in the world for being a country who no longer leads in education; a country in which more than half of the population reject the theory of evolution. I was just saying the other day that what this country needs is more fucking lunatics. And it turns out, Texas has proved its ability to provide exactly that.