20 August 2005

What the Hell is up with Kansas?

Kansas moves to stem role of evolution in teaching
By Carey Gillam

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (Reuters) - After months
of debate over science and religion, the Kansas
Board of Education has tentatively approved new
state science standards that weaken the role
evolution plays in teaching about the origin of life.

The 10-member board must still take a final vote,
expected in either September or October, but a 6-4
vote on Tuesday that approved a draft of the
standards essentially cemented a victory for
conservative Christian board members who say
evolution is largely unproven and can undermine
religious teachings about the origins of life on

"We think this is a great development ... for the
academic freedom of students," said John West,
senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, which
supports intelligent design theory.

Intelligent design proposes that some features of
the natural world are best explained as products of
a considered intent as opposed to a process of
natural selection.

The dark ages are back! And we can thank our good
friends at the Discovery Institute for pushing the
students of Kansas just a little further behind the bell
curve by adopting this pseudo-science curriculum.

And what exactly is the Discovery Institute?

It’s a conservative Republican think-tank founded by
Bruce Chapman, former deputy assistant to President
Reagan. Here is the mission statement from their

"Discovery Institute's mission is to make a positive
vision of the future practical. The Institute
discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense
tradition of representative government, the free
market and individual liberty. Our mission is
promoted through books, reports, legislative
testimony, articles, public conferences and
debates, plus media coverage and the Institute's
own publications and website.

"Current projects explore the fields of technology,
science and culture, reform of the law, national
defense, the environment and the economy, the
future of democratic institutions, transportation,
religion and public life, government entitlement
spending, foreign affairs and cooperation within
the bi-national region of "Cascadia." The efforts
of Discovery fellows and staff, headquartered in
Seattle, are crucially abetted by the Institute's
members, board and sponsors."

But where are the scientists? Surely there must be
some scientists at a place called the Discovery Institute.

"Discovery's Center for Science and Culture has
more than 40 Fellows, including biologists,
biochemists, chemists, physicists, philosophers
and historians of science, and public policy and
legal experts, many of whom also have affiliations
with colleges and universities."

But none mentioned by name.

"The Center's Director is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who
holds a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of
science from Cambridge University."

Hmm... philosophy of science. That’s sort of like
being a scientist, right?

"The Center's Associate Director is Dr. John G.
West, who holds a PhD in Government from
Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in
Communications from the University of

But he probably took a few science classes too. I mean, I
was an English major and even I had to visit the science
lab once and a while.

So... if I were a parent in Kansas, I guess I shouldn’t be
too concerned that my child’s science ciriculum was being
influenced by a political P.R. firm in Seattle. After all,
they do mention the words common sense in their
mission statement. Maybe if they had complete contol
over the schools, tragedies like this would be avoided:

Tiger kills Kansas teen
Mauled while posing for pic

By Corky Siemaszko

A Kansas teenager who was posing for her senior
year photo with a Siberian tiger at an animal
sanctuary was killed when the big cat suddenly
clamped its jaws on her, police said yesterday.

Haley Hilderbrand was unable to escape once the
7-year-old animal pounced on her Thursday.

"The handler pulled it off of her," said Sheriff
William Blundell of Labette County, Kan. "The
tiger was later killed."

The 17-year-old from Altamont, Kan., was rushed
to a nearby hospital and died of her wounds.

Blundell said no charges have been filed against
Doug Billingsly, owner of the Lost Creek Animal
Sanctuary in Mound Valley, Kan. "We're still
trying to figure out what caused the tiger to
attack," he said.

On Monday, all 1,000 residents of Hilderbrand's
hometown are expected to attend her funeral at a
municipal auditorium in nearby Parsons, Kan.

"It's a terrible tragedy," Altamont Mayor Herb
Bath said. "Everybody is friends and family here
whether they're related or not."

For years, Labette County High School seniors
have gone to the 80-acre animal preserve to pose
for pictures with the tigers. Hilderbrand was
carrying on the tradition when she was attacked.

Like I said, what the hell is up with Kansas?

You know, someone should really should write a book.