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Totalitarian impulse present in repeal of education bill

I’m not sure what the pathology is here – paranoia, delusion, some combination, or maybe something entirely different – but it’s not healthy to become fixated on an imaginary fear. Especially when it can be exploited for political purposes to stifle open societies.

Once again, the opponents of free inquiry and critical thinking are trying to make Louisiana look stupid, spearheaded by state Sen. Karen Peterson’s SB 374 as another attempt that would repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. This law mandates that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education “shall allow and assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Yet Peterson and her supporters seem to be against supporting this idea of encouraging critical thinking, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories because, they claim, this opens the door to teaching “creationism,” the view that some kind of deity formed Earth and the life upon it. This leads one to wonder just how good are the reading comprehension skills of her and her ilk.

For the law plainly reads that it “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.” Meaning, while you can demonstrate the flaws and unanswered questions regarding evolution, you can’t teach creationism as it has a religious basis. That what it says and means, period, end of story.

Not that any of this is new; the law’s been on the books for about four years and BESE has promulgated standards in science teaching that full comport to the law. Still, there is this persistent, willful ignorance about the law among its most strident opponents, and if we can’t chalk that up to problems in reading comprehension, or psychological difficulty in accepting facts contrary to ideological predisposition, what remains as an explanation for this behavior is much more worrisome.

In a free society such as America’s, and especially as the ideas of the open society continues to gain slowly but surely across the globe, it’s easy to disregard the totalitarian impulse that lurks in mankind, and stays at a low boil on the political left. This tendency’s greatest enemy is the ability to think for oneself, the entire purpose of this law. Even if its repeal would have little more than symbolic value, its presence is a statement of principles on which this country was founded and thereby is valuable as a sign of commitment to intellectual freedom, which leads to promulgation and protection of individual liberties.

Especially any educator should be appalled at this attempt to invite groupthink and to elevate orthodoxy over inquiry, but the public also should feel offended. Likely that attitude also exists among a large majority in the Legislature, which will relegate this bill to the dustbin of ideas that increasingly attracts similar totalitarian refuse.


Bob Mason said...

Like “Teach the controversy” before it, “critical thinking skills” is a disingenuous code phrase of the intelligent design creationism, IDC, movement which hopes to get IDC introduced into the high school biology classroom. The “science” one learns from IDC is “God did it, I believe it, that’s that (Gdiibitt), and there is no reason to propose the next hypothesis, run the next experiment or gather new data”. The stated mission in life of the IDCist is to replace the methodological naturalism of the scientific method with the oxymoronic “theistic science” of Gdiibitt. For those who wish to understand what is really going on in the background, I suggest reading Ken Miller’s book Only a Theory and Creationism’s Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross. A good historical perspective can be found in Ron Numbers’ The Creationists, second edition. Zach Kopplin and Senator Peterson are doing the right thing in getting the IDC language removed from the Science Education Act. It is the only way to assure that Louisiana high school graduates will truly be able to do science, should the wish to pursue such a career path.
Robert Mason, PhD
Research chemist, retired

Therese Chappuis said...

Clearly, Mr. Sadow, your PhD is NOT in English composition. Evidently, you work form a limited vocabulary base, have little understanding of grammatical and rhetorical nuance, and leave the reader wondering how, and from where, you could ever claim to have any advanced degree.

Therese Chappuis
Baton Rouge

Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

The commenters here fail to see the humor throughout Jeff's post. Jeff, the ultra right-wing blowhard who spends his days fretting of black nationalists and radical muslims infiltrating government, has taken a moment to warn *us* not to become "fixated on an imaginary fear." And he argues that it's the liberals who are "paranoid" and "delusional." Yet even his blog post title about the evil liberal "totalitarian impulse" betrays that it is he who is King of Chutzpah. Not to mention that he hilarious indicates that it is the left-wing that "elevates orthodoxy over inquiry." In Jeff's fearful world, Shreveport is a bastion or capitalist righteousness surrounded by marauding legions of "islamists," liberal totalitarians, and, presumably, death panels. Yet he tells us that it is not him, but rather these weird liberals who uniquely fall victim to "imaginary fears" of paranoia and delusion.

I have a message to Jeff's readers: yes, he is a shock-jock peddler of hysteric henny-penny-syndrome, and yes, I suppose it is an outrage. But I do hope that you can also appreciate his blog as a fantastic source of unintentional humor.

Bob said...

Who knew? My first time here. I don't mind being made the butt of a joke, if it is a joke.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Ms. Chappuis.

A true embarrassment for LSU-Shreveport and, of course, Mr. Sadow.