Science In Schools? Not In My State Proclaims One Kentucky State Senator

Kentucky is in the process of updating its educational textbooks. Normally not a cause of contention (outside of Texas), this week it was brought into the spotlight when State Senator Mike Wilson wrote an op-ed against the new educational standards. In it, he proclaimed that the new educational standards are nothing less than an attempt by the UN to force control onto the population of the United States. To support this, he wrote:

There are those in the scientific field who question the beliefs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A statement signed by 16 scientists listed several stubborn scientific facts contradicting the Intergovernmental Panel’s beliefs.

Hold on a second, 16 scientists signed a statement! Obviously, climate change must be false, right?

Sorry, but that does not work, as Peter Hadfield explains here:

These 16 scientists which are being held up by Senator Wilson can be found in the Wall Street Journal piece titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” At the end there are, indeed, 16 people listed. However, they are not climatologists, and many are not scientists at all. We have Claude Allegre (geochemist), J. Scott Armstrong (marketing and advertising), Jan Breslow (medical doctor), Roger Cohen (physics), Edward David (engineering), William Happer (physics), Michael Kelly (engineering), William Kininmonth (never got his doctorate, only achieving a masters in public administration), Richard Lindzen (atmospheric physicist), James McGrath (chemist), Rodney Nichols (physics), Burt Rutan (aerospace engineering), Harrison H. Schmitt (geology), Nir Shaviv (astrophysics), Henk Tennekes (aerospace engineering), Antonio Zichichi (nuclear physics).

Of them, only three have the bare level of skills needed for meteorology or climatology. None of them are experts in the field. You would not go to a dentist for brain surgery, although both occur in the head. None of them have peer reviewed papers explaining their arguments against climate change. In short, they are not experts, their opinions remain just that, opinions. It has as much validity as their opinion on which beverage they prefer, Coke or Pepsi. In short, not experts.

This is, of course, not the end of it. Oh no, the Senator continues:

Another area of contention is evolution. The standards make it clear that evolution is fundamental to understanding the life sciences.

Then he goes on to act like this is a controversial thought. But, in fact, it is well established that the study of evolution is critical to understanding biology. Without an understanding of evolution, understanding biology is nearly impossible.

Ultimately, this long, and rambling letter, is coming down to an argument against science itself. He does not understand science, so he cherry picks his sources, citing non-experts to validate his preconcieved viewpoint, and wants to sabotage his states future in order to punish science. Unfortunately for him, science exists, belief is not required. This is well explained in song form by They Might Be Giants:

Those of a religious slant have issues with this. They function in a world of superstition and belief, and cannot comprehend that science requires doubt, and skepticism to function. But nothing to do with belief. The doubters and skeptics must be willing to put their own numbers, their own data, on the line in their arguments against the scientific theory presented. In a religiously driven world, willingness to put their belief on the line to be nit picked and torn down just does not exist. And that is where Senator Wilson falls short. Of course, his audience for WCVK Christian Family Radio may not realize this. Instead he proclaims that climate science and evolution must be banned in order to encourage critical thinking, a thought so laughable it is almost sad.

Of course, this is par for the course from the religious right. Their fight to dismantle the scientific excellence in this country, and to turn us into the new religiously driven taliban-like state is relentless. The founding fathers put the wall of separation between church and state into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

If Senator Wilson did care about children, and education, after his ill timed, and public statement, he would resign his position on the Kentucky Senate Education Committee, and apologize to the citizens in his state, for being a religiously driven fundamentalist.