How an Evolution Denier Shaped Texas Board of Ed's Science-Book Decisions Yesterday

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The State Board of Education met yesterday to debate which supplemental materials the state should use to update its outdated science textbooks. To make things easier, before the meeting, the board's choices were narrowed down by allegedly reliable panels of stakeholders.

But when it came to a biology panel making its recommendations, an evolutionary skeptic named Dr. David Shormann -- who happens to run a Christian math and science education software company and authored the book "The Exchange of Truth: Liberating the World From the Lie of Evolution" -- appears to have had a lot of input.

Proof, you say? Well, how about a series of challenges the biology panel made Thursday to a biology supplement submitted by publisher Holt McDougal, a division of publishing giant Houghton Mifflin? The alleged errors in the textbook submitted by the panel happen to be pointed out by Shormann in a separate review. Verbatim.

Take, for example, an online lab activity where students compare hominid skulls. In identical language, the panel and Shormann note that, genetically, there's a 30-percent difference between humans and chimpanzees. The activity, they recommended, should thus be dropped. Between the lines, you'll find some of the classic bristling about "common ancestry" and insecurity about our place as God's special creatures.

Here's the problem: They're flat-out wrong.

Shormann misinterpreted a study in the journal Nature that found a 30 percent difference in "the makeup of the male-specific region of the Y chromosome." Overall, the genetic difference is less than one percent.

Next, Shormann and the panel take aim at the evolving morphology of whales from land mammals to sea-going cetaceans. First, he points out that there is no complete skeleton of the long-extinct creature known as "the walking whale." Because, as all paleontologist know, if a complete skeleton doesn't exist, it's impossible to render an approximation using our knowledge of contemporary whale morphology and the existing fossil record. Shormann contends that there's no evidence establishing an evolutionary bond between it and a swamp-dwelling land mammal with (layman alert!) whale ears. You can see where we're going with this: Nothing changes. God spoke, and it was.

These are just a couple of the more entertaining challenges. Check out the panel recommendations, the publisher responses and Shorrman's own review, courtesy of the Texas Freedom Network. It raised the question: Why is an admitted evolution skeptic dictating the terms of biology textbook content? Holt McDougal must now work through these "issues" with the state education commissioner.

The Shormann Class in Misinterpreting Peer-Reviewed Research aside, it wasn't a total wash down at the B of Ed. Remember that wacky New Mexico outfit with the fourth-grade approximation of PowerPoint slides as teaching tools? In an uncharacteristically sane moment, their offering was not added to the board-approved list.

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29 comments
Dr. GS Hurd
Dr. GS Hurd

The publisher responces from Holt are well worth the few minutes it takes to read them. The objections raised by young earth creationist Dr. Shormann are thoroughly demolished.

http://www.tfn.org/site/DocSer...

BTW, graduation requirements for a PhD vary quite a lot between universities, and even schools within a university. I found two scientific papers with Shormann as co-author, which suggest he is capable of working in a group on topics not related to evolution.

"The effects of benthivorous smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus) on water quality and nutrient cycling in a shallow floodplain lake" Shormann, DE, Cotner, JB, Lake and Reservoir Management [Lake Reserv. Manage.]. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 270-278. Oct 1997. Kirk O. Winemiller, Soner Tarim, David Shormann, James B. Cotner. (2000) Fish Assemblage Structure in Relation to Environmental Variation among Brazos River Oxbow Lakes. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 129:2, 451-468 Online publication date: 1-Mar-2000.

But, that's not all, this loony is Christian Dominionist. These are dangerous fanatics that plan to impose "Christian" government on America. They make the Taliban seem normal.

"It is their prayer that the DIVE math and science courses will be a blessing to you and your family, allowing your children to excel in math and science and preparing them to be servant leaders who take dominion for Him."(Google "MidWest Homeschool Convention, Cincinnati, Ohio")

Yep, burn them witches, humanists, and evilutionists!

(Google "Rushdoony" Read Kevin Phillips, "American Theocracy" (2006 New York: VikingPress). Be afraid).

Jay
Jay

A prime example of why the Second Amendment is so damned important.

Dr. GS Hurd
Dr. GS Hurd

You cannot kill ignorance with guns.

Before you can teach you must first learn. The two most important Amendments to the US Constitution are the First, and Fourteenth.

The Young Earth creationists, and the Dominionists are as grossly incompetent, and false both in science, and theology.

For example, I recommend reading;

Frye, Roland Mushat (editor)1983 "Is God a Creationist?: The Religious Case Against Creation-Science" New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Inc.

Hyers, Conrad1984 “The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science” Atlanta: John Knox Press

Young, Davis A., Ralf F. Stearley2008 "The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth"  Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press

These all are written by Christians, largely for the benefit of Christians.

dallasmay
dallasmay

The place where Austin made their mistake is not the Creationis­m vs Evolution non-sense. Their mistake was trying to tell teachers exactly what needs to be taught. They tried to get too precise. That is not TEA's job. They should set large and broad standards, and allow the Profession­al Teachers to interpret those standards and teach the students on a personal level. 

If the standard read something like, "Students will demonstrate an understand­ing of the debates within the scientific community and how those disagreements are resolved" then I don't think anyone would have any problem with it. But digging down to exactly what every teacher needs to teach was the real mistake.They made the same mistakes last year with History. TEA needs to stay away from specifics and keep the standards nice and broad. Let the Professional Teachers do the jobs we underpay them to do. 

Montemalone
Montemalone

So long as the religious fables are confined to Sunday school.

dallasmay
dallasmay

All extremist should be taken out and shot. 

Il5Guidv
Il5Guidv

@dallasmaythat is such a paradox. That affirmation by itself is extremist and therefore implies that you should be shot...

Michael C
Michael C

You need to run for State Board of Education

pak152
pak152

Glad to see the microscope being turned on these folks. will look forward to future postings where you turn the microscope of skepticism on environmentalists, AGWers and the disciples of Algore

cp
cp

Microscope? That's just another one of your modern day "evolution" as you call it tools.....

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

If they (creationists) do not believe in evolution then those people will be happy having the old penicillin the next time they get an illness.   After all many diseases and viruses have "evolved" and no longer are treatable by penicillin.  Take TB for example.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I wonder why DISQUS is forgetting who I am and why I am having to re log in all the time and consolidate my gripes?   Go on vacation for a week and the whole thing goes to hell.

steveh73
steveh73

it must be because DISQUS is a darwinist group. only some survive.

Jay
Jay

B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas

Masters Degree in Marine Chemistry from the University of Texas

Ph.D. in Limnology from Texas A&M University

Limnology is the study of inland waters. Who knew?

RTGolden
RTGolden

His degree plan itself seems to stretch the limits of suspension of disbelief... What thread links any of his degrees?

Doug
Doug

The study of inland waters?  Like, "this is a lake"; "this is a puddle"; "this is a BIG lake"?

TimCov
TimCov

What is Doctor Shormann's doctorate in? Is it theology, biology, underwater basket weaving or something else?

zobzerto
zobzerto

Hey, don't insult the underwater basket weavers. That shit takes a lot of skill. And fucking huge lungs.

Montemalone
Montemalone

How does a moron, or maybe he's just an idiot, get a PhD?

TimCov
TimCov

You can get a PhD for almost anything. You just have to find an institution willing to give you one (and they are out there).

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Why is it  those who promote intelligent design are the poster children for the opposite ? 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Dinosaurs built the pyramids, God got angry with them because they violated the Ten Dinosaur Commandments, he wiped them out, and then he started over with humans. I thought everyone knew that?

I fully expect to be invited to join the panel shortly.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Educators, students and parents would be screwed if Kathy Miller and Texas Freedom Network didn't exist.  Here's hoping 2012 brings more moderates to the board and a futher reduction in the Evangelical anti-sanity voting block.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

An evolution denier prefacing his name with "Dr.", what irony. Ignorance truly is bliss.

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

An old friend's father-in-law is one of those. Dude had a PhD in cellular biology, and is a lecturer for a major "creation science" organization. He also had a hand in that ridiculous Creation Museum that has so sullied my home state of Kentucky's already hideous image.

Never underestimate what beating the love of God into a kid can do later in life.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

"God and I have a great relationship, but we both see other people."  Dolly Parton

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