In his very first term in office as Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal signed the nation’s most absurd and most regressive “science education law” in modern America, the misnamed and misguided Louisiana Science Education Act. Ostensibly, the law is merely about introducing supplementary materials in public school classrooms in order to undermine the validity of both the fact and the scientific theory of evolution, offering impressionable school children with an alternate explanation of the nature and origins of our vastly complex universe by attempting to teach kids that the observable, repeatable, and peer-reviewed knowledge and data that the world’s brightest minds have perfected for hundreds and hundreds of years are merely metaphors to be forcibly, painfully implanted into a choice series of 2,000 year old oral history books.
That’s why you’ll hear Creationists claim that Dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark. Apparently, he even drew up a little model to support his thesis. They’d be baby dinosaurs, because, no one in their right mind would argue Noah would have been able to fit the adults inside. It reminds me. I took this photo last week of a dinosaur at the Perot Museum in Dallas:
He’s not fitting in any ark. He could barely fit in a museum. But besides that, according to New Earth Creationists, Noah’s Flood occurred only 2,500 years ago (and remember, they also believe the entire universe is only 6,000 years old). One major problem: The big guy I photographed lived 65 million years ago.
If it’s easier, blame Ross Perot, with his numbers and his graphs and his stubborn allegiance to the observable and verifiable universe.
Or blame the Catholic Church.
Or the Dalai Lama.
Or the vast and overwhelming support from the world’s leading Nobel laureates in the sciences.
Or the tens of millions of educators who belong to professional academic organizations.
Or blame Zack Kopplin. Or State Senator Karen Carer-Peterson. Or, if it is easiest, just blame me.
In Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana, thinking stupidly and ignorantly was given an extreme makeover by corporate, self-interesting marketing firms (pretending to be “think tanks,” yet churching out the same drivel the junior high Baptist kids could have assembled during the course of a pizza-themed lock-in with an endless supply of office supplies).
Despite the fact that there is not an iota of peer-reviewed data to verify their claims, they shamelessly embrace the idea that “critical thinking” means ignoring science and believing in the most oppressive, most unoriginal, and most vindictive ideology imaginable, because, lo and behold, Jesus warned his believers would be persecuted.***
*** To be fair to Jesus, though, he never warned them that they would be persecuted for being intransigent, narrow-minded idiots who blindly refused to pursue or acknowledge the splendors and the great majesty of human thought, empathy, and ingenuity.
So, after four consecutive years of these repeal bills, things have only gotten worse: Former State Senator Julie Quinn, armed with her law degree from Loyola, set the bar pretty high, dismissing the dozens of Nobel laureate scientists who supported the law’s repeal as nothing more than “people with little letters behind their names.” The next year, Senator Mike Walsworth attempted to prove his expertise by butchering the word “molecular,” and then asking, seriously, how the bacteria “e. Coli” “evolves into humans.”
The next year, when it was his turn to defend the Louisiana Science Education Act, Senator Elbert Guillory (R- Chicken Boxing) ranted about being diagnosed with an undisclosed disease after a tourist encounter with a “half-naked African man” tossing bones nearby. This was the Louisiana Senate Committee’s defense of the Louisiana Science Education Act.
To be fair, opponents of this year’s repeal were slightly more sophisticated. Their star witness was Don Ewert, who just so happens to work for the organization, the Discovery Institute, that wrote Louisiana’s law. Quoting From the Encyclopedia of American Loons:
Don Ewert is a standard creationist talking head and oft-quoted “expert” on subjects related to evolution insofar as he does appear to have a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. Indeed, Ewert used to operate a research laboratory at the Wistar Institute, and has in fact coauthored some publications in not entirely unrelated fields back in the days – though even his coauthors deny that the publications show what Ewert really wants them to have shown. Given his qualifications Ewert is a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, and he was called to testify before the Texas Board of Education during their 2009 evolution hearings.
Currently he preaches creationism to anyone who can be bothered to listen, as well as defending the Discovery Institute’s Orwellian take on Academic Freedom before various school boards and legislative bodies, and lamenting the outcome of the Dover case. You can read a summary of his presentation “Comparative Immunology and the Quest to Understand our Origins” here. Short version: the immune system couldn’t have evolved, and to prove it Ewert quotemines some papers, though none that are less than 20 years old (there is a good resource on creationists take on the immune system here). He is not a physicist either, as evidenced by this quote.
Admittedly, Ewert is really just one of many minor opponents of science and reason when science and reason conflict with religion. Among Baptist creationists in particular, we also need to mention Wade Warren***, described here.
Diagnosis: Standard fare; like most crackpots Ewert is able to cook up some objections to theories he don’t like (by going for a questionable level of representational accuracy), which he uses to … do scientific research to test an opposing theory? No, of course not
**** If you care about Louisiana College, please note: Wade Warren is on the short-list to become the college’s next President.
The opponents of the bill then put up a child, a 14 year old, and a strange 19 year old who bombastically asserted that he spoke for all of Western civilization.
The real winner here was Senator Dan Claitor, who destroyed Gene Mills:
Here are our voices of reason:
State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson: