The Texas State Board of Education stood up for science and the future of Texas, voting overwhelmingly to approve all the biology textbooks up for adoption, none of which suggest, falsely, that there are any scientific doubts about Darwin's theory of evolution. In the first vote on Thursday, the Board voted 11-4 to adopt all the textbooks--the 4 "no" votes being the Texas Taliban faction on the Board, all Republicans. Kudos to the 5 Republican Board members who voted for good science and education, including, I'm pleased to say, my representative Cynthia Thornton.
On Friday, the Board then voted unanimously to approve all the books; the 4 dissenters apparently gave up.
Credit for this great victory goes to the terrific team at the Texas Freedom Network, and the many scientists who helped educate the Board, including UT biologist David Hillis, who spent countless hours talking with Board members, and helping them sort through the reams of sleazy propaganda turned out by the Discovery [sic] Institute.
Indeed, conversations with Board Members and with those who've been involved in the process reveal that the pathological liars at the Discovery [sic] Institute succeeded in alienating several of the Republican Board members, who sized them up for the conmen they actually are.
But the Discovery [sic] Institute conmen kept lying to the bitter end, with its President, trying to put the best face on the stunning rebuke they got from one of the more conservative states in the U.S., noting that, "We were also hoping that the Board would require textbooks to include coverage of the peer-reviewed scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory." But since there are no such peer-reviewed scientific articles, the Board, of course, did the right thing. (Sidenote: throughout the process, the Discovery [sic] Institute swindlers have tried to confuse the issue by (a) referring to articles in non-science journals attacking evolution, and (b) referring to science articles dealing with the various ways in which the theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is incomplete, but none of which impugn the validity of the theory or lend any support to "Intelligent Design" as an alternative.)
Meanwhile, while every major newspaper in Texas editorialized in support of real science in school textbooks, the Dallas Morning News sided with the cause of ignorance, to its lasting shame. The Discovery [sic] Institute couldn't con the State Board, but they conned the know-nothings in the editorial office at the Dallas Morning News.
Finally, a sidenote to the real debate and the great victory: Don McElroy, a State Board of Education member who was one of the 4 "no" votes on Thursday, came to see me last Wednesday (since, as he said with good humor, I ought to meet "a real live member of the Texas Taliban."). It turns out his son had been a stellar student in my Evidence class two years earlier! We had a pleasant discussion, and while, needless to say, there was not a meeting-of-minds on evolution, it did turn out that we shared the same view about the deleterious effects on public education of the standardized testing that is a legacy of Governor Bush.
For a selective history of this struggle, visit the "Texas Taliban Alerts" category on the menu to the left.