One big reason to never visit Kansas

The Kansas Board of Education has approved new school standards that promote and teach so-called “intelligent design.” Wow; I don’t even have the words, so I’ll quote the article…

“This is a sad day. We’re becoming a laughingstock of not only the nation, but of the world, and I hate that,” said board member Janet Waugh, a Kansas City Democrat.

You got that right, sister.

Via Slashdot.

36 thoughts on “One big reason to never visit Kansas”

  1. my aunt lives in kansas and LOVE it because she’s also a right wing republican so that might explain it.

  2. Why is it in the information age the United States is becoming dumber while every other country in the World is becoming more enlightened?

  3. Oh yay, a whole new generation of the religious right being raised in Kansas. I guess that will leave more openings at MIT for my kids.

  4. What really bothers me is the amount of time, energy, and money people poured into this campaign. Are there no homeless people in Kansas? No poor people? No starving children? No battered wives? We do not live in a perfect world, and "teaching" religion to children instead of proven SCIENCE certainly is not the answer.

    Makes me sick.

  5. What is your problem with intelligent design? Are you telling me that you don’t see evidence of design in life? What about Irreducible Complexity, can you explain to me how it can exhist without intelligent design? I’m tired of people who just believe whatever they are taught in school. How about thinking for yourself.

  6. …well, Josh, the problem with Irreducibel Complexity is that it basically represents a surrender strategy. It can’t exist without intellegent design because that is the predicate for it’s very existence as a proposition of the complexity of biological systems. That, unfortunately, becomes a circular argument. There are arguments to be made for the idea of an intelligent hand guiding the development of the world we see around us, but "intelligent design" as fronted by religious conservatives isn’t the right game to play, and science classes aren’t the right place to play the game anyway…

  7. Jack, science classes are already playing the game of religion. They have been pushing the religion of secular humanism for years. I think that the public school classroom should be a place where both "theories" should be presented. The theory that life came from nothing by chance, and the theory that life came by design. To present just the first theory in the classroom seems like an exercise of the thought police.

  8. At the risk of "not thinking for myself," Jack is correct with Irreducible Complexity. It’s a circular argument and you answer your own question: it would not "exist" without ID to argue for it.

    Let’s avoid the obvious trolling.

  9. I actually think a public school classroom can be an appropriate place to teach and discuss various theories as to the origin of life–as long as the class itself is dedicated to such. Of course, to be fair there would have to be time allowed to discuss the various other origin theories out there besides Evolution and Biblical Creation. As such, a science class is not the appropriate venue for that.

  10. Jon, I would hardly call my posts trolling. I live in Bend and am excited to see people talking about an important subject, I just happen to be the only person in the discussion who isn’t an athiest. Why can’t you celebrate diversity? πŸ™‚

  11. Josh- the statement, "How about thinking for yourself" is what I found baiting and trollish. If it had been an anonymous post I absolutely would’ve called "Troll."

    (But, there is a point there. I suppose it was really no more trolling than some of the other comments here, or even my original post.)

    Hmmm. I have a feeling at this point that a dam is getting ready to burst. πŸ™‚

  12. But Josh, this is NOT an important subject, at least it shouldn’t be. Should we teach children FACTS, that have been proven with experiments by the world’s greatest thinkers, or should we teach them an idea that has no scientific basis what so ever? There is a reason why it is called "science" class.

    I went to Catholic schools my whole life, even Catholic college. I am a scientist. I have a degree. My freshman biology teacher was a nun, as was my chemisty teacher. Both taught me that Creationism or ID is bogus, and that evolution is real. They then taught me why.

    And as I said earlier, I can’t believe this is even an issue, especially when there are so many other more pressing issues (that are easily solvable) negatively impacting the world today.

    In fact, I can’t believe I have wasted this much time writing this. Arrgggh.

    Have a great weekend everyone. And by the way, I love this blog.

  13. Jim said – "this is NOT an important subject, at least it shouldn’t be. Should we teach children FACTS, that have been proven with experiments by the world’s greatest thinkers, or should we teach them an idea that has no scientific basis what so ever? There is a reason why it is called "science" class."
    Here are a couple of FACTS that have been PROVEN by science that I learned in school.
    β€’ The earth is several billion years old. How was that proven again?
    β€’ We are here by chance, not by design. How was that proven again?
    β€’ Apes are our ancestors. How was that proven again?

    You say this topic is NOT important. I’ll tell you why I think it is. Where we came from and why we came into being are the two fundamental (I hope that’s not considered a dirty word!) questions that must be answered in order to find out where we are going and why we are here. I belive I was created for a reason. That believe shapes everyething. It IS important.

    Someone said that ID and IC are circular reasoning. If you believe in macroevolution and that the earth is billions of years old, I have to say that that is the skunk calling the grass stinky. (Does that make sense? I just made it up.) What I mean is how does the paleontologist know how old the earth is? He bases his findings on what the geologist knows. How does the geologist know this? He bases his findings on what the paleontologist knows. Now that is circular reasoning.

    Thanks for the discussion all, this is fun.

  14. Shannon said – "I’m not an athiest and I think intelligent design is BS"

    So either you believe that your deity evolved out of nothing or that he/she did design all living things, but just didn’t do in intelligently. Or do you believe something else?

  15. I meant to write "do it intelligently" not "do in intelligently." Is that ironic? Ever since Alanis Morissette’s song I have been really confused about what’s ironic and what isn’t.

  16. The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, proven by radiometric dating of minerals and rocks found in the Earth’s crust, which has nothing to do with paleontology or fossils.

    Whether we are here by design or chance hasn’t been proven either way, and frankly, can never be consclusively proven unless someone builds a time machine. πŸ™‚ The body of evidence, however, points much more convincingly toward the theory of evolution.

    Apes are NOT our ancestors; early primates are. Apes and humans (and monkeys, for that matter) are "related" via a common primate, but there has since been much divergence. This ancestor primate would not be considered an ape by modern standards, I imagine.

  17. β€’ 4.5 billion years is a long time! And you have to admit that dating (especially dating that goes back that far) makes some major assumptions. Untestable assumptions.
    β€’ Being here by chance can’t be proven, yet it is the only acceptable thing that can be taught?
    β€’ My apologies to the apes. How again was it proven through science that are ancestors are PRIMATES?

    Jon – what’s up with getting up before 8 am on a Saturday?

  18. Good point, I didn’t point to any proven evidence that our ancestors were primates. There is no definitive proof, of course. The evidence we have, consisting of paleontology (the fossil record, for instance), archaeology, biology, genetics, and so on point towards a theory of evolution as to human origins. Which I believe.

    Unfortunately, this is why these turn into circular arguments, in a larger sense; each side goes around and around trying to demand proof against what are ultimately unproven arguments (which is why we develop theories).

    And I didn’t say it was unacceptable to teach alternative origin theories; there’s just an appropriate venue for teaching them. I wouldn’t recommend teaching Descartes’ philosophy in a math class, either, even though Descartes was also a mathematician.

    And yeah, with kids, I haven’t slept past 7 (7:30 at the latest) in years.

  19. Jon, you said it yourself, you believe in the THEORY of evolution.

    Jim Bob wrote earlier "Should we teach children FACTS, that have been proven with experiments by the world’s greatest thinkers, or should we teach them an idea that has no scientific basis what so ever? There is a reason why it is called "science" class."

    It would be great if we could just teach facts in school. But we don’t! We teach theories like evolution (in science class). So doesn’t the theory of ID belong in that same science class? There is good science that leads to that theory, for example irreducible complexity.

  20. Jon, you believe that Intelligent Design is worthy of being a β€œlaughingstock” if presented as a scientific theory for the origin of life. However, you do accept evolution as such.

    One question:

    What is the probability of evolution (without ID) being responsible for the origin of life?

    I’ll give you a hint: British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle did the calculations. (He’s the guy who wrote the rules for about 600 different card games that we play.)

  21. Actually I told Dan that we were having an interesting discussion on the topic, so he jumped in. I don’t know what benefit it would be to me to post under a different name.

    If by BUSTED you are telling me that you are an artist and intend to make a bust of me, that’s a nice offer. πŸ™‚

  22. My wife’s earlier comment underscores the point I was making about circular debates. Neither one of us will be able to convince the other that he’s wrong.

    Having said that…

    ID is not/should not be taught in science classes because the claims of ID can’t be tested by experiment, aren’t consistent, aren’t falsifiable, aren’t correctable, aren’t open to the possibility of being wrong–in short, don’t qualify as science by standards adhered to the world over.

    Teaching ID in school (specifically in science) as a "theory" for the origin of life is worthy of a laughingstock because the notion that extraterrestrial aliens designed and populated the Earth with life not very long ago ranks right up there with Von Daniken’s "Chariots of the Gods" and Sitchin’s "Twelfth Planet" New Age claptrap. They don’t teach Atlantis in science class, either (or at least they didn’t when I was in school), even though there’s a "theory" for it.

    And according to Fred Hoyle, the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 10^40,000. Which is pretty funny, since Hoyle was an astronomer and not a biologist, and I’d be curious as to what set of assumptions and criteria he used to come to that number. Besides that, life wouldn’t start with enzymes, it would start with amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of peptides, proteins, enzymes, RNA, DNA, and so on. That changes the equation. Amino acids have even been detected in meteorites; do what you will with that knowledge.

    But, I know no one is going to flip on their ideas, so ultimately this is a fruitless debate. Kind of like one definition of insanity πŸ˜‰

    I don’t mind the traffic this is generating to my blog, either. πŸ™‚

  23. When I said "Not Important", I was referring to the roll that government is taking is this matter. Think of all the money, time, and effort put forth by lawyers, lobbyists, activists, religious fanantics, etc for any form of US Government to pass a resolution of any kind. If all that energy was channeled in to something solvable….well, wouldn’t that be nice.

    And please do not use the word "Theory" to describe ID, if you are using it to describe Evolution. Scientific Theory is regarded as fact for all intents and purposes. Evolution is a scientific theory, therefor regarded as fact by the free thinking, educated world. ID is an idea with no factual basis. Actually, ID is the Devil’s Advocate (no pun intended), it takes the 1% of unproven "holes" in the theory of evolution (which makes it a theory, that 1%, else it would be a Law) as its entire basis.

    What offends you about evolution? Are you uncomfortable being related to apes? Its not like you have to buy them a Christmas present or anything.

    Evolution does not mean that there is no God or Higher Being or anything like that. So I don’t understand why it offends people so much.

    And yeah, this is beginning to be a fruitless debate. But fun in that sort of insane, tedious, banging your head against the wall kind of way (hmmm, maybe evolution is bogus!)

  24. This has been an entertaining read (especially so because I know most of the folks above — Jon, Jon’s Wife, Josh, Shannon, etc…). I’m going to stay out of this, as I’m just fairly neutral on all of this (that, and my wife’s family is Baptist, my mom’s family Catholic, and I’m in the middle not really giving a rip either way for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here).

  25. I am worth it. I am worth it. I am worth it. Now I feel much better. (Just kidding) πŸ™‚

    Jon said -"ID is not/should not be taught in science classes because the claims of ID can’t be tested by experiment, aren’t consistent, aren’t falsifiable, aren’t correctable, aren’t open to the possibility of being wrong–in short, don’t qualify as science by standards adhered to the world over."

    That is a bold statement! And I would have to say a biased one. To say that the believe in macroevolution is based on science that can be tested and that I.D. absolutley can not be tested with science is a pretty authoritative statement.

    As far as this being a fruitless debate, it hasn’t produced a smoothie, but I can see some fruit. (I might be the only one.)

    Jim Bob asked me "What offends you about evolution? Are you uncomfortable being related to apes? Its not like you have to buy them a Christmas present or anything."

    To answer the second part, I am a very hairy person and so being related to apes wouldn’t make me uncomfortable, were there valid proof that I was.

    To answer the first part, the basis of this argument really comes down to the exhistance of God. And if God exists, can we know who He is. My problem with evolution (as the origin of life) is that it contradicts what the Bible teaches about God creating man. Yes as you might have guessed, I do believe the Bible to be true.

    So I’ll end with a thought that I can’t take credit for, but I believe it is a very important one to think about. If you guys are right and I am wrong, than we are basically in the same boat. When we die, that’s it, or whatever. But if I am right and you guys are wrong, yikes! You are clearly smart enough that I probably don’t have to tell you what the Bibles says the difference between us would be.

    Peace out,
    Josh

  26. Oh boy, I think I am taking the bait here. I have thought about letting this one go….but I just cannot resist.

    Do you believe the Bible word for word? Especially the creation story in Genesis? Consider:

    A. The Bible has been written and rewritten several HUNDRED times over the years, mostly by kings and rulers to impose there own will/ego upon their subjects.

    B. That creation story in the Bible, the 6 day one, "Let there be Light..", is very very similiar to many other creation stories from tribes and cultures around the Middle East. Could the creation story have been "borrowed"?
    Most religious texts, events, ceremonies, etc have been borrowed from other neighboring cultures. If you don’t believe me, research the origin of Christmas. Please do not be offended, because Christmas started out as a Roman pagan ritual to the sun doesn’t take away from the sanctity or meaning of the day. It just means it was borrowed.

    C. OK, so god (I am not capitalizing on purpose here) takes SIX whole days to create earth, the universe, etc. SIX. Why the hell does it take him so long? And then why, when he is done, DOES HE HAVE TO REST? Is this God we are talking about? He’s tired? God gets tired? Why didn’t he just say, "Let there be…EVERYTHING".

    D. And then, after taking a whole week to create entirety, he creates ONE man. ONE. Realizes his mistake when that ONE man is lonely. And creates ONE woman. Certainly makes for a good story but it also has some flaws. God makes a mistake! Hmmm, that sort of goes against Christian dogma, don’t you think. And lets not even get into the whole snake story (very sad, indeed).

    OK, now I am certainly not trying to rip to the Bible, or offend anyone. I am just pointing out that the creation story is just that, a story. And in no way should be read or taken literally.

    Religion and Evolution can be symbiotic! Chistians,have you considered that Evolution is part of God’s perfect plan? Evolution is such an awesome theory, because it strives for perfection in nature. A lesser being will lose out to the greater being. Survival of the fittest. This is God’s plan. For the earth to evolve and change. Consider the philosopher Hartshorne. He states that God cannot know the future, becuase if the future is already determined than God cannot have free will, ergo an imperfect God. Evolution ensures an ever changin, ever creating world. Evolution as a whole will not stop. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

    If you think of God as the Greatest Scientist, then Evolution is the perfect experiment.

    Creationism and Intelligent Design, in my mind of course, contradict most religious teachings.

    Thats what I truly do not understand about the debates raging across the country led by so called religious-minded people. They are wrong. And they are using their religion as a shield. Saying you are religious does not make you right (well, it makes you "right" in the political sense I suppose), especially when you are contradicting the very religion you are basing your platform upon.

    Then again, after reading you last part about our potentinally different fates after death, I think you maybe mislead in many areas of your religion and probably should re-read your bible. Just not so literally.

    Thanks for providing the digital soap box to air my views. I hope that no Christians were harmed by this post. That’s not my intent.

  27. Bold statement: Science can’t actually prove anything.

    I know this sounds like a heresy, but it’s true. It comes from a very fundamental observation concerning the scientific method — its means of establishing true statements.

    First we make an observation and collect so-called data.

    Bias must enter now, since the mystery is being invoked — one, zero, infinity!

    We accept these strange concepts as being somewhat understood, despite the fact that they are enigmas by definition.

    Zero is a point of reference, but then another Zero in relation to that is called a One, and what lies in between is called Infinity. And it’s between the Two Ones or the Two Zeros (depending on Perspective) that we find Negativity and Positivity.

    Replacing these symbols with synonyms yields interesting results — Nothing, Something, and Transformation; Context, Content, and Information; Transmitter, Receiver, and Signal; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    Profound Mysteries! These things have puzzled philosophers for many centuries.

    Leaving this thorny issue aside for now, we come to the main "tools of the trade" — Induction and Deduction.

    Induction — data collected in the past allows us to make statements regarding the future. For example, the sun came up yesterday, and the day before, so it will come up today as well.

    Such statements make good sense, but we can never be too confident about their veracity. After all, perhaps a hidden variable will change and the entirety of human perception will be modified. It’s not absurd to assume that this could happen.

    We should remember that any statement coming from the mouth of induction depends on its own testimony for support. Induction is like a man speaking as a witness in his own murder trial.

    Deduction — Socrates is a man and all men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal.

    The truthfulness of the implication is without question true and irrefutable, but what about the first two statements of "fact"? After all, Socrates may not be a man and all men may not be mortal.

    So long as our foundation is accepted as being stable, we can build houses all day. However, when a strong wind blows, will the houses be left standing?

    Coming back to our concept of measurement and perception — these are something like a raw material which we work into shape with the tools mentioned above. The question is, do we taint the material with those tools?

    Furthermore, the previous statement brings another dichotomy to mind, and that is the problem of concept vs. reality.

    If reality (i.e., Truth) is one thing, indivisible, immutable, how is it that it can be two things? In other words, why does it need another thing known as a "concept" in order to establish itself?

    If we bring a man from the jungle into the city he will have a tough time judging perspective. Why is this?

    The human eye operates a bit like a pinhole camera. Light is inverted as it passes through the pupil and strikes the retina. The brain then magically decodes all of this information (although some studies have suggested that even the eyes "color" the information in various ways, i.e., deciding what and what not to send to the brain for processing!).

    Video game programmers use a mathematical model of this in order to represent three dimensional game worlds on a two dimensional surface (i.e., a computer screen). They use an operation called a projection.

    As it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to project 3 dimensional information onto a 2 dimensional plane…

    http://download.macromedia.com/pub/devnet/downloads/supersamurai_ch2.pdf
    http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/rbf/CVonline/LOCAL_COPIES/MARBLE/low/fundamentals/geomet.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformation_matrix
    http://medialab.di.unipi.it/web/IUM/Waterloo/node47.html

    Obviously, for video game programmers trying to simulate the appearance of the "real world", a projection that accounts for perspective is going to be ideal.

    In the last link given above, there is an image of a truncated pyramid (frustum) that is often used in computer graphics calculations. This pyramid comes out of the imaginary eye of an "observer point" in the model.

    Is it interesting? I don’t know. Maybe.

    What is interesting to me, is that we see 3D stuff on the computer screen all of the time, yet we know that it is all an illusion. We know that it’s just a bunch of numbers which have been presented to us in a particular fashion by the person who developed the game.

    This is the point — there are many ways to present the same information. However, depending on the way that information is projected, it will be experienced in different ways, since our experience is inextricably bound to our perception.

    So why will the man who lives in a jungle have problems judging perspective in the same way a westerner judges perspective? Could it be that our software programs are running a bit differently?

    Perhaps another algorithm is being used to project the same information onto our "imaginary eye?" Now we must wonder, whose frustum is the most inclusive? What happens to perspective if the frustum is turned into a sphere?

    What of all these spirits and elementals referred to by shamans and the like? What about the Catholic saints who speak about demons appearing out of nowhere in order to beat them, etc.? Is it our "layer of interpretation code" that is incorrect or is it theirs? Who can say?

    There is evidence to suggest that we don’t actually see reality. We see, touch, taste, and smell what the Greeks called epiphenomena, or the shadows of the greater reality (phenomena), and what the Hindus called Maya, and the Christians called the fallen world, etc.

    God bless,
    Denny

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