Sunday, March 08, 2009

Texas Republican Advocates Making Children Dumber

How's that for a dog bites man headline?

Blue Texan has an update on Don McLeroy, whom we've noticed before.

Reading the Statesman story that BT linked to indicates that McLeroy is more than just a moron. He appears to be quite the slippery character, able to cloak his creationist urges in nice "concern for science" talk. If you remember nothing else, remember this: if you hear someone say "gaps in the fossil record call the theory of evolution into question," you know that person is either stupid, lying, or both. (A) The theory of evolution is based on a lot more than the fossil record, (B) there is no reason to expect that every animal that died turned into a fossil, (C) absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and (D) no matter how many transitional forms are found in the fossil record, the trained wingnut will only see each one as introducing two more gaps. And this guy is the chairman of the Texas State Board of Education, and what he says will likely affect textbooks sold throughout the country.

Also from BT: sign the Texas Freedom Network's Stand up for Science petition.

Just in case department ...

• For a discussion of the "gaps" claim that creationists so love, see TalkOrigins; e.g., section CC200. You might also visit the biological section page and search for "fossil."

• For a quick overview of the other bases upon which the theory of evolution rests, there's a nice introduction at Palomar Collge's site. Berkeley has a more comprehensive site. Start with the page titled "What is the evidence for evolution?."

• Want more? PZ Myers is happy to discuss evidence and talk about the gaps. And here is an excerpt from one of his posts with links to still more:

The world of blogs is full of information on evolution. In addition to The Panda's Thumb and Pharyngula, there are quite a few blogs out there that discuss the science of and evidence for evolution, and that are often written by highly qualified scientists themselves. Try browsing Aetiology, Afarensis, All-Too-Common Dissent, Ask The Scientician, The Daily Transcript, De Rerum Natura, Evolgen, Evolution 101, EvolutionBlog, Evolving Thoughts, Good Math, Bad Math, The Intersection, Living the Scientific Life, The Loom, Mike the Mad Biologist, The Questionable Authority, Recursivity, The Scientific Activist, Stranger Fruit, Thoughts from Kansas, and Thoughts in a Haystack, just to get you started. The advantage of weblogs is that you can engage the author and other readers, leaving comments and having a conversation about the subject.

If you don't trust web sources, there are plenty of books to help you out. I've made a long list of evolution books suitable for kids and general readers.

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