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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Monkey trial redux: The Kansas State Board of Education is preparing to put the theory of evolution back on trial

The Scopes Monkey Trial could be up for a 21st century replay in Kansas.

Sometime this spring, three members of the Kansas Board of Education plan to hear testimony from proponents of evolution and intelligent design, in a trial-like hearing with a court reporter and cross-examination of witnesses.

The result could change how science is taught in Kansas schools.

"Nothing's on trial, except maybe evolution," said Kathy Martin, one of the three board members -- all conservative -- who will hear the evidence.

Steve Case, a Kansas University research professor, has been asked to provide 10 scientific witnesses to make the case for evolution. He has resisted, saying that the proposed hearing would be more about rhetorical style than scientific substance.

"I think there's potential in an oral hearing for a big marketing-type event," Case said. "That's what the Scopes Monkey Trial was. It was set up by the business community in Dayton (Tenn.) to attract tourism. It wasn't set up to decide national issues, and it didn't very effectively."

Case has asked, instead, that the subcommittee solicit papers from the Kansas higher education community to provide answers on the topic.

Intelligent design proponents, however, want a full-blown debate.

"The last thing a Darwinist wants is to have debate over this issue," said Intelligent Design Network president John Calvert, who advises conservative members of the state board. "There is a scientific controversy, and the other side will say there is no controversy."

In fact, some evolution proponents are suggesting that scientists shouldn't participate in what they say will be an unfair hearing.

"The deck is completely stacked," said Liz Craig, a spokeswoman for Kansas Citizens for Science. "I don't believe anybody's going to participate on Calvert's terms, because it's just ridiculous." ...

Craig, meanwhile, criticized the proposal to have 10 witnesses from each side. There are vastly more scientific proponents of evolution, she said, than of intelligent design.

"If you put 10 scientists up there and 10 supporters of intelligent design up there, it makes it look to the public like it's equal," she said.

Abrams has, so far, resisted Case's suggestion to skip hearings and solicit papers.

There are "papers all over the place," Abrams said. "There's not been a forum to allow scientists to question scientists."

Resistance among scientists may change the plans of the subcommittee. But Martin said she hopes the hearing could convert a few skeptics of intelligent design.

"Maybe the public -- or the press -- will realize there are scientists who have doubts about evolution, that there's an authentic reason for having this discussion," she said.

Case, who chairs the board's science standards revisions committee, said he would rather not participate.

"Our mission is to serve the kids of Kansas," he said. "A big show trial, show hearing, to decide national issues probably doesn't serve the students."


Sham, show trial, stacked deck, kangaroo court--is there any other way to describe this nonsense? Three creationists are going to listen to and decide the issue based upon a "debate" between scientists and... creationists? I know where I'm putting my money.

There are "papers all over the place," Abrams said. "There's not been a forum to allow scientists to question scientists."

This one comment sums up the entire reason why these backwards prairie-dwelling hick fucks shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a discussion about science. There's no forum where scientists get to question each others' findings? Those "papers all over the place" might be a good place to start looking for such a forum. Scientists don't stand at podiums and "debate" their research. They publish. They go through peer review. The crap gets weeded out, the most accurate findings stick around for a while. Where is the forum where creationists are allowed to question other creationists?

I do sense this is a losing battle. If I'm right, I sincerely wish upon the victors all the consequences of their victory.

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