The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Index

Last week, the National Center for Science Education reported
Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal signed Senate Bill 733 (PDF) into law, 27 years after the state passed its Balance Treatment for Evolution-Science and Creation-Science Act, a law overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. Jindal's approval of the bill was buried in a press release issued on June 25, 2008, announcing 75 bills he signed in recent days. Houma Today reports (June 27, 2008) that the bill "will empower educators to pull religious beliefs into topics like evolution, cloning and global warming by introducing supplemental materials."

Louisiana’s descent into a distorted “science” education curriculum mirrors earlier attempts in Kansas, Florida, and a number of other states to introduce Christian fundamentalist beliefs into the public school curriculum. After proponents of “creationism” were thwarted by separation of church and state issues, they cynically rebranded their belief system (it is not, nor has it ever been, “science”) into something they call “intelligent design.”

Jindal’s genetics professor at the University of Louisiana asked Jindal to veto the bill (hat tip: LGF), but to no avail:
In a press release from the Louisiana Coalition for Science, Governor Bobby Jindal's college genetics professor asks him not to "hold back the next generation of Louisiana's doctors." The press release introduces an open letter from the group calling for Jindal to veto SB 733, a bill which opens the door to creationism in the classroom,

Professor Arthur Landy, University Professor at Brown University who teaches in the medical school, taught the then-premed. Landy says "Without evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldn't make sense. In order for today's students in Louisiana to succeed in college and beyond, in order for them to take the fullest advantages of all that the 21st century will offer, they need a solid grounding in genetics and evolution. Governor Jindal was a good student in my class when he was thinking about becoming a doctor, and I hope he doesn't do anything that would hold back the next generation of Louisiana's doctors."

Jindal passed up medical school for a Rhodes scholarship studying political science. Politics thus took him away from promising careers in medicine, law, or exorcism.

Right-wing, fundamentalist ideology is as dangerous as its counterpart on the Left. Facts and evidence don’t matter, rational discussion goes out the window, arguments are distorted so that even the most understanding critic throws up his hands in frustration. And yet, the fundamentalists peck away at sound science and in some cases (e.g., Louisiana), achieve small victories.

If you’re a technologist or a scientist and have a need for an excellent resource for refuting the ridiculous claims of the “intelligent design” crowd, Mark Issac has assembled an extensive Index to Creationist Claims.
Creationist claims are numerous and varied, so it is often difficult to track down information on any given claim. Plus, creationists constantly come up with new claims which need addressing. This site attempts, as much as possible, to make it easy to find rebuttals and references from the scientific community to any and all of the various creationist claims. It is updated frequently; see the What's New page for the latest changes.

Since most creationism is folklore, the claims are organized in an outline format following that of Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. Sections CA through CG deal with claims against conventional science, and sections CH through CJ contain claims about creationism itself.

If you find yourself in a debate defending rationality against the onslaught of the irrational, the Index is the place to begin your research.