published Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Tennessee House OKs bill shielding teachers who doubt evolution, global warming

NASHVILLE — The House voted 70-23 today for a bill backers say shields teachers from being disciplined if they discuss alternatives to evolution and global warming theories with students.

The debate ranged over the scientific method, “intellectual bullies,” hair spray and “Inherit the Wind,” a 1960 movie about the 1925 Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tenn.

Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said the bill’s intent is to promote “critical thinking” in science classrooms.

Critics contend it’s a shield to allow the teaching of evolution alternatives such as intelligent design and creationism.

Bill supporter Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, said that “since the late ‘50s, early ‘60s when we let the intellectual bullies hijack our education system, we’ve been on a slippery slope.”

“This is a common-sense bill,” Floyd said. “Thank you for bringing this bill to protect our teachers from the other intellectual bullies.”

Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said when she was in high school, “we gave up Aqua Net hair spray” because of fears “it was causing global warming.”

“Since then scientists have said that maybe we shouldn’t have given up that aerosol can because that aerosol can was actually absorbing the Earth’s rays and keeping us from global warming.”

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, recalled the film “Inherit the Wind,” about the trial of teacher John Scopes for teaching evolution.

“I remember ... where Spencer Tracy at the end, he had that book called ‘Origin of Species’ and looked at it in one hand and had the Holy Bible in the other. He glanced back and forth and he put them both together and walked out of the room.

“This has never been a problem for me,” Fitzhugh said. “So I guess I’m having a little bit of a problem in wondering why we’re doing this.”

See complete story in Friday’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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EaTn said...

I personally agree, but I wouldn't want my kids being taught the origin of species according to Bubba, a cult religion the teacher just recently discovered.

April 7, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Protection from intellectual bullies?

Is that a stupid persons way of saying "I'm afraid of people that understand things."

Aren't teachers supposed to be the ones that are.. um.. intellectual??

Do we not go to the teachers to ask questions like, "how does photosynthesis work?" and how are earthquakes caused by the tectonic plates?"

It is a true shame that we have science and history teachers needing "protection" from the facts and figures that we are paying them to "teach" to our children.

April 7, 2011 at 4:11 p.m.
Leaf said...

Too bad we don't have some of those "intellectual bullies" in the state house, instead of the superstitious mouthbreathers we apparently do have.

April 7, 2011 at 4:29 p.m.
MsReasonAddict said...

Stupidity rules in Tennessee. All that is needed now is a bill to shield children from superstitious lies with no basis in fact and totally lacking in evidence.

April 7, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.
una61 said...

Hopefully, this Anti-Science Education piece of crap will be challenged and revoked.

April 7, 2011 at 7:29 p.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Perfectly said Wildman. I'll bet they still believe the Earth is flat!

April 7, 2011 at 8:19 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Dumb! Thank God our kids aren't as concrete as our politicians.

April 7, 2011 at 8:45 p.m.
rockman12 said...

The minute a teacher says "God" created us and the world I will see the teacher, the school district and any state representative in Federal Court for violating the Constitution. State law will not protect anyone there because the federal law strictly states that there will be a separation of church and state. Public school is a part of the state NOT part of the church. If you want your child taught to believe a fantasy then send them to a church based school. It is the parents right and responsibility to teach religion to their child.

April 7, 2011 at 10:01 p.m.
Oz said...

Liberals are the most inclusive people in the world until you disagree with them. If a liberal teacher was forced to teach Creationism or an anti-global warming agenda. You guys would whine all the way the Supreme Court and blame it on the Tea Party.

April 7, 2011 at 10:23 p.m.
NoMyth said...

Wow. Dunn, Floyd and Butt must be stupid or something. Any good teacher can apply critical analysis to physical and social sciences. Butt's comments are especially comical...she is confusing the propellant in an aerosol can (which historically trapped heat in the atmosphere) with "aerosols" (another word for particulate matter) in our atmosphere that actually reflects sunlight away and cools our atmosphere. It has nothing to do with scientists changing their views, as she states. She was probably educated by the fools in the Tea Party.

April 7, 2011 at 10:50 p.m.
7Seventeen said...

Teach the controversy! In the beginning, Flying Spaghetti Monster created a mountain, trees, and a midget. He has touched me with his noodly appendage and I DEMAND that other people's children receive education on Pastafarianism's creation beliefs.

April 8, 2011 at 12:12 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

If a liberal teacher (or any teacher) were forced (or allowed) to teach creation as science, they are teaching a lie. Creation is not science; it's religion. If this becomes law, TN will have another Dover; if you think the budget is tight now, wait until we lose a lawsuit when in violation of the constitution. Should be real interesting.

April 8, 2011 at 7:13 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Evolution cannot be true, the retrograde monkeys in the Tennessee legislature prove its falsity.

April 8, 2011 at 9:07 a.m.
CBDunkerson said...

The incredible thing about this bill is that its proponents don't seem to recognize that it is a double-edged sword. Right now if a science teacher walked into class and started giving the scientific proofs as to why creationism (for instance) is false they'd be fired in a heartbeat. If this bill passes they would have ironclad protection because the bill states that they cannot be punished for pointing out the weaknesses of 'opposing theories'... the fact that something is provably false being a fairly significant 'weakness'. Basically, this bill allows a teacher to tell students anything they want to... but if those students / their parents don't agree that what is being taught is TRUE it will inevitably wind up in court. Teaching 'weaknesses' which are not TRUE won't stand up in court because there are standards of evidence (c.f. Daubert standard, Frye standard, Federal Rules of Evidence) which would exclude all 'scientific' testimony which is not considered firmly established by the scientific community. At which point we get a replay of the Kitzmiller Intelligent Design trial... the 'alternate theory' is shown to be outright lies and science prevails. Best case scenario for 'conservatives' would be this bill not passing. Second best would be the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional (which it clearly is) before it is ever enacted. If it ever goes into effect and actually gets applied in the classroom the inevitable court case(s) will inevitably eviscerate the false beliefs they still cling to.

April 8, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Hmm, I hadn't thought of it that way CB.

I appreciate your perspective.

April 8, 2011 at 9:33 a.m.
yaffay said...

Once again, the Tennessee legislators provide fodder for the late night comics. I guess they have solved all the truly pressing issues facing the citizens of our state like joblessness, substandard roads and bridges, children without access to proper health care, etc.

April 8, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.
Stewwie said...

If our kids are taking a class on biology (the study of life), why limit those discussions to only what "science" can explain or attempt to "prove?" Teaching about Intelligent Design would not be a violation of the Constitution because it does not endorse a religion, despite what some of you may say. Also, evolution is a THEORY, nothing more, nothing less. Thus it is imperative that at least one other viable theory is also taught to ensure critical thinking and learning.

By the way folks, it is possible to believe in Intelligent Design without being a Christian...Thomas Jefferson, anyone? Maybe if you liberals had your way, Jefferson would have been inspired to write the following:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are evolved equal, that they are endowed by their Big Banged monkey forefathers with certain unalienable rights..."

April 8, 2011 at 10:46 p.m.
Humphrey said...

now wait a cotton picking minute. Hang on. I thought teachers had all this tenure and freedom of speech and you couldn't fire them no matter how much you wanted to, so I don't get why they need this "shielding?"

April 8, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Stewwie, your ignorance is showing. Google Dover PA Trial. (Plaintiff was Kitzmiller)A conservative GWB appointed judge found Intelligent Design to be Creationism. Religion. Teaching it in science class is not only a bad idea because it isn't science (why would you teach other things besides science in science class?) and it violations the constitution.

This has made us the laughing stock of the scientific community, and opens us up to lawsuits that we can't afford. Evolution is the only scientific theory that explains the diversity and distribution of life on earth, and it is one of the best supported theories out there. Want to find evidence that refutes it? Good luck-there's a Nobel Prize awaiting.

April 9, 2011 at 7:06 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Ikeithlu, has it ever occurred to you that judges can be wrong? As I noted above, Intelligent Design, is not "religion." Christianity is so much more than just the creation of the world. It is possible to believe in a created world without being a Christian. That said, schools wouldn't be "establishing a religion" just by offering this other viable theory inside the public classroom.

You asked, "Why teach other things besides science in a science class?" Because if you're going to learn about the study of life, then why just be limited to only what science has to offer? We're doing our kids a disservice by forcing them to believe this theory of evolution simply because it's the best science can come up with.

Just another reason why some parents have given up on public schools.

April 9, 2011 at 10:57 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

"As I noted above, Intelligent Design, is not "religion."

Yeah, actually, it is. And it's a religiously motivated and dishonest attempt to wedge religion into public schools. It is not a scientific theory, nor is it "viable", whatever that means. No one is "doing ID science".

The theory of evolution is not only the best scientific theory that science has to offer for the diversity of life, it is the ONLY one, Stewwie baby. And yes, you should teach only science in science class. Philosophy, religion, metaphysics, etc belong in the humanities.

BTW: parents have given up on public schools for a variety of reasons, including the poor state of science education. Most schools spend a minimum of time on evolution at best, even though it is the foundation of modern biology, for fear of pissing off fundamentalists.

April 10, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.
CBDunkerson said...

Stewwie, the problem with your formulation is that Intelligent Design is NOT a viable theory. Every single argument advanced by the Discovery Institute is provably false.

It doesn't matter how many times they claim 'there are no transitional fossils'... scientists can still point to Archaeopteryx, Mesohippus, Ardipithecus, and thousands of others to prove that it is a flat out lie.

It doesn't matter how may times they claim 'eyes are irreducibly complex and thus must have been created in their final form'... scientists can still point to life-forms with simple photoreceptor cells and clusters of such to prove that it is a flat out lie.

Et cetera. When all is said and done the biggest problem with Intelligent Design isn't really that it is 'religion'... it is that it is LIES. Some would say 'religion IS lies', but there are aspects of many religions (e.g. existence after death) which still cannot be proven one way or another. The problem is that when a belief held by members of a religious group transitions from 'may or may not be true' to 'provably false' some then choose to worship lies rather than adjust their thinking... regardless of whether the belief really has anything to do with the core of their religion or not. What's shocking is how many Christians are now fervently devoted to the worship of lies... and their inability to see what that makes them within the structure of their own belief system.

April 11, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.
NikFromNYC said...

Global Warming theory (runaway greenhouse based on water vapor feedback) is Creationism. It's Scientology. It's a god damned religion!!!

In other news, actual thermometer records carry back 350 years and they show NO SIGN OF TREND CHANGE IN THE MODERN ERA:

Do click, it's just a single glance, this one too, the much vaunted Global Average:

He who has eyes let him see.

April 11, 2011 at 4:01 p.m.
CBDunkerson said...

NikFromNYC, I haven't heard >anyone< suggest that human driven global warming is going to lead to a runaway greenhouse effect based on water vapor feedback. That certainly bears no resemblance to the IPCC position.

Thus, in a sense, you are correct. That is complete nonsense. It just doesn't have anything to do with what most people are talking about when they say 'global warming'.

Like 'Intelligent Design' most 'skeptics' of global warming advance an agenda founded upon falsehoods... like the ridiculous notion that we have viable worldwide thermometer records going back 350 years (decades before any remotely accurate temperature scale even existed).

If this bill makes it into law and people start trying to teach 'Intelligent Design' and/or 'global warming skepticism' they are going to be sorely disappointed when this immediately results in court cases which find that there is no truth to the claims commonly made by those movements.

April 11, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.
rolando said...

Nor is there there truth to claims about evolutionism or global warming either, CBD. It is all guesswork and assumptions without confirmation.

All this bill does is prevent teachers' unions, closed-minded administrators, et al, from taking punitive action against a teacher who presents alternative, equally supported, ideas and concepts to students who should be taught to think on their own and not parrot erroneous or limited thinking-in-the-boxism.

May 15, 2011 at 11:57 p.m.
mosfet74 said...

Well now we need to be able to discuss alchemy in chemistry class, magic in physics, astrology as opposed to astronomy and so forth. This is utterly embarrassing! These sick, credulous people would love to see mankind slip back into the dark ages. When the church ruled with an iron fist, poked their nose into your private life, and was able to convict you of thought-crime. This is what happens when we allow hicks and hay-seeds to hold government office.

March 23, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
allegedthemovie said...

For those interested in the REAL story of the Scopes Trial as contrasted with the Hollywood history in "Inherit the Wind," see the website or download the original trial transcript. For starters, contrary to what's stated in the above article, the State of Tennesee never outlawed teaching the theory of evolution in the public schools or anywhere else; it DID outlaw the teaching in the public schools that ONE SPECIES (out of an estimated 2,000,000) evolved: namely that mankind evolved from a lower order of animal (monkeys). This aspect of Darwinism was contained in the biology text that John Scopes allegedly (but never actually) taught from where the races of mankind are ranked from the lowest (Negro) to the highest (Caucasian). Sick stuff to teach kids but very popular at the time. The biology text also contained plenty of "eugenics" -- the idea that mankind should be bred to weed out the weak and purify the strong. You might want to also look at the 2010 movie on this trial starring Brian Dennehy as Charles Darwin, Sen. Fred Thompson as William Jennings Bryan, and Colm Meany as H.L. Mencken. Fun!

June 7, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
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