SMU Prof Laundry Lists Errors Made by Creationist Reviewers of High-School Biology Textbook

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Creationists wield outsized influence in the shaping of textbooks in Texas. In the past, they've worked to burnish history's less-than-glowing view of Joseph McCarthy and to bring to the classroom Intelligent Design -- creationism gussied up with the thinnest patina of science.

And because the State Board of Education has boasted in the past a chairman and Bryan dentist who proclaimed evolution "hooey," some unqualified, ideologically driven folks get appointed to review textbooks and suggest recommendations to their publishers. Since Texas is such a huge market, publishers have been known to take heed of the reviewer's complaints, however ill-founded they may be.

In the estimation of a Southern Methodist University anthropology professor, they're gobsmackingly ill-founded at times. Dr. Ron Wetherington took a deep dive into the reviewers' quibbles into Pearson Education's high-school biology text and found, not surprisingly, that the quibbles themselves -- not the text -- were riddled with errors and thinly veiled jabs at evolutionary theory. "Since I teach much of this material in my university classes, and have for almost 50 years, I have felt it my responsibility to reveal the biases and shortcomings in this official review, which resulted in a recommendation for rejection to the Texas Educational Agency," Wetherington writes.

When the panel criticizes the text for noting that some mutations lower the fitness of organisms, while others are lethal and still others conversely improve its ability to survive and reproduce (which is accurate), the reviewers recommended that it be changed to reflect the idea that all mutations are simply bad. "The recommended correction itself is false," Wetherington writes.

At another point, the panel challenges the text's assertion that, so far, scientific tests in embryology, paleontology, chemistry and other fields bear out the essential thrust of Darwinism. You can practically hear the incredulity in Wetherington's response: "This is still another rant that is irrelevant to the referenced page and certainly is no 'factual error'! The reviewer(s) have a personal bone to pick with the authors and want to use this to wedge a concession and a change."

In this uncontroversial passage, which is certainly not going out on a limb, the text points to complex protein structures found both in bacteria with and without flagella (the little whip-like structures they use to move) are evidence of common origin. A no-brainer, right? Wrong, say the reviewers.

I think I just heard Wetherington's face-palm: "It most certainly is an indication of a common origin! Is there a more reasonable interpretation? The passage states: 'Nearly every protein in the flagella of Eubacteria resemble proteins that are used for other purposes in bacteria that lack flagella. ... In fact, a group of 10 such proteins so closely resemble a channel structure in the cell membrane that the channel structure and the flagellum may share a common ancestor."

This is what happens when you let the former dean of Dallas Baptist University and a guy who makes his living traveling through the country presenting "biblically based scholarship" review textbooks.

H/T Texas Freedom Network



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20 comments
tcufrog
tcufrog

And so many other liberals think I'm bad and selfish for sending kids to a secular private school instead of a public school. I recently had a conversation with my older son's science teacher and asked him if he uses state of Texas approved textbooks.  He said he would never do so because they're so bad.

MissMacy
MissMacy

This state is such a damn embarrassment.

rusknative
rusknative

all committee members of the textbook review should be required to take and make high grades on the ACT, SAT, AND LSAT TESTS.

rusknative
rusknative

all committee members of the textbook review should be required to take and make high grades on the ACT, SAT, AND LSAT TESTS.

rusknative
rusknative

ALL MEMBERS OF THE TEXTBOOK REVIEW COMMITTEE SHOULD BE REQUIRE TO TAKE THE SAT, ACT, AND LSAT EXAMS TO QUALIFY FOR THEIR JOBS.

lebowski300
lebowski300

" ... creationism gussied up with the thinnest patina of science."

So thin the logic has no place to hide.

(H/T to Kramer and his meat slicer)

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

" ... creationism gussied up with the thinnest patina of science."

That patina is so thin that it has only one side to it.

observist
observist topcommenter

" In the estimation of a Southern Methodist University anthropology professor, the answer is: very."

I looked and looked, but could not find the question to which the answer is: very.

I'm guessing the question is "how ill-founded are the reviewers' complaints?"

Greg820
Greg820

Never let facts get in the way of your beliefs.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

Yeah, but what good does it do to have an actual scientist rebut bible beaters? They don't believe in science, only babyjeebus.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@rusknative I would be satisfied if they could just prove that they are cognizant of the difference between science and religion.  Let's start there.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Montemalone Or for that matter what good would it do to have one of the countless professed Christians who have no trouble with evolution argue with these ninnies? Their argument is no more based on religion and the Bible than it is on science. It's based on an atavistic fear of what might happen if they discover they're wrong. Their faith must be very shallow.     

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