Evolution Vs. Science, The Deathmatch: Part 3 (Updated)

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We're semi-liveblogging the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st Century -- today's meeting of the State Board of Education, which is discussing science standards. Here's the first report, the second and here's the third:

And out come the Californians!

Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland gave a poised lecture -- keeping with the three-minute rule -- on the merits of evolution before the board.

"Strengths and weaknesses is a way to sneak creationism through the back door," Scott said.

(You could almost hear a few board members making a mental note, "Great idea! Remember to make a map of every back door at every public school in Texas. Then, find sneaky-bandit costume.")  

One board member asked Scott if she supported teaching any examples of challenges to scientific theories in the classroom.

"Sure," Scott said. "Just like you can teach examples of political chicanery."

Boo-ya, the crowd goes wild. Wild for this crowd, at least. Then she had to semi-ruin it by hedging to the board, "That wasn't an editorial comment. Please don't take that the wrong way."

Dr. Scott, you should have just let it be. It was the best line of the day and you retreated!

OK, it's now 12:22. And only one board member has really challenged the strengths-and-weaknesses doctrine. So far, if anyone testified against evolution, the members either respond with fluff or silence. But member Rick Agosto of San Antonio has climbed out of the echo chamber to challenge a creationist. Agosto questioned whether the high-school classroom is the place to "study, ponder and deliberate" theories when biologists are taking care of that.

"This should really be done at the classroom level?" he asked.

OK, Agosto, I'm glad you're brave enough to "stand up for science" as so many cheerful stickers on hideous tweed blazers around me say. But you may want to refrain from language that hints high school students shouldn't be studying, pondering, or deliberating. That could get you in trouble.

Update: It's over. The board votes tomorrow on the guidelines.

-- Karie Meltzer

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