Someone needs to tell Texas textbook reviewers what “critical thinking” is

Because they have some warped and insane ideas about it.

Recall that we told you about anti-science sentiment in Texas over selection of science textbooks. Here is an update.

Creationists on Texas Panel for Biology Textbooks – NYTimes.com.

As Texas gears up to select biology textbooks for use by high school students over the next decade, the panel responsible for reviewing submissions from publishers has stirred controversy because a number of its members do not accept evolution and climate change as scientific truth.

In the state whose governor, Rick Perry, boasted as a candidate for president that his schools taught both creationism and evolution, the State Board of Education, which includes members who hold creationist views, helped nominate several members of the textbook review panel. Others were named by parents and educators. Prospective candidates could also nominate themselves. The state’s education commissioner, Michael L. Williams, a Perry appointee and a conservative Republican, made the final appointments to the 28-member panel. Six of them are known to reject evolution.

Some Texans worry that ideologically driven review panel members and state school board members are slowly eroding science education in the state.

The panelists review the 14 books submitted for consideration, make comments and the publishers are then allowed to revise the book accordingly. How ridiculous is this? Well, it wouldn’t be if the reviewers either had credentials in biology. But they consist of people who have a religious agenda to push. While there is no open talk of creationism, it is easy to see them targeting certain aspects of science by appealing to the idea of “critical thinking” and fair assessment of alternative explanations. This is such a red flag that is pathetically obvious what they are doing. Only misinformed people would call evolution a questionable theory that has alternatives. It just does not.

But there seems to be some good news on this front. Texas is not the powerhouse it once was to dictate adoption of textbooks across the nation. And, parents are starting to speak up about the degradation of science education in the state. It’s simply unfair to roll ideas back because you find them distasteful. Science doesn’t care what conservative parents think about nature.

Also, case law is pretty clear that Creationism and Intelligent Design, so called alternative ideas to evolution, are not only NOT scientific, but they are religious in nature and thus violate federal law to be taught in schools.

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  12 comments for “Someone needs to tell Texas textbook reviewers what “critical thinking” is

  1. Bob
    October 1, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Critical thinking means that you worship Satan and Obama. Or am I doing this wrong?

  2. October 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    I’ve always believed that creationism should be taught in the public schools alongside evolution… but only as a way to show the difference between real science and pseudoscience or, if you prefer, critical thinking vs. religious faith.

  3. gewsin
    October 1, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    I wish my teachers had the courage to teach Jainism as a valid alternative to multiplilcation.

  4. Eve
    October 1, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Bob,

    Yes, you are doing critical thinking wrong. Critical thinking was created by God 6000 years ago. At that time, critical thinking was perfect, like its creator; however, Adam and Whathername wanted to learn about good and evil. Learning about stuff is NOT critical thinking. Critical thinking involves doing what you are told. Duh. As with everything else, critical thinking became a victim of the Fall and Original Sin (which was in no way God’s fault). As a result of all this unpleasantness, modern critical thinking is imperfect and may cause people to accidentally look at evidence and to assume wrong things.

  5. Chris Howard
    October 1, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    I think what people need to realize is that the Texas Republican Party has officially denounced critical thinking. Anti-critical thinking is a part of the republican platform in Texas.

    They don’t want critical thinking taught in schools, much less evolution, or climate change.

  6. Peter Robinson
    October 2, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    The title of the post raises an interesting question. Is there an organised campaign to put a stop to this back door creationist nonsense in Texas?

  7. spookyparadigm
    October 2, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    http://ncse.com/

    The problem of course is that a great deal of this has to do with populist anti-“elite” sentiments, summed up infamously in an earlier version of the Texas School Board a few years ago with the phrase “Somebody has to standup to the experts”

  8. Chris Howard
    October 2, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    There is a growing number of people who are starting to organize against it, here in Texas.

    People from other states need to become involved, because the decision here (I live in central Texas) will effect the text books in their states, as well.

    @ spooky

    It’s always amazed me that populist movements, primarily right-populism, confuse elite professions (professors, doctors, scientists, etc), with elitism.

  9. spookyparadigm
    October 2, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Considering that actual elites like the Koch brothers bankroll such movements, that we get used as distractions from their massive wealth is not a big surprise.

  10. Peter Robinson
    October 3, 2013 at 2:48 AM

    In response to Chris Howard comment, glad to hear that efforts are being made to combat the creationists. Regret that as a limey might not be much help, but a few ideas which I hope may be of use:

    1. Is RDF U.S. involved? Perhaps they could organise some cross State support? Or some lobbying?

    2. A petition on change.org? Particularly target some big names (understanding that there is an anti-‘elitism’ element, big names can still get media coverage). E.G. Sam Harris, Steven Weinberg etc etc.Maybe there are some Hollywood rationalists (there must be some ;-)

    3. JREF support?

    Sure there are plenty more but a bit early in the morn to get the brain fully functioning.

    As for the anti-‘elite’ thang, think it is more an anti-intellectual tendency, partly at least because numbskulls are embarrassed by their lack of learning and lash out at being shown up for what they are. Funnily enough, better education might diminish this problem. Kind of ironic in this context.

  11. Blargh
    October 3, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    It’s strange how often people who appeal to critical thinking fail to apply it themselves (it’s not just evolution; you hear it from creationists, you hear it from climate change deniers, you hear it from antivaxers).

    It’s almost as bad as people who tell you to follow the money (pick any altmed proponent).

  12. EvilTwinSelf
    October 3, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    If you are interested in this topic, you may want to check out last year’s film “The Revisionaries”. Not a great quality documentary, IMHO, but it does give you an interesting view of what goes on in these reviews. Some of the discussions are frustratingly inane.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2091398/?ref_=sr_1

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