A science teacher responds

Scott Hatfield replies to my post supporting his call to reject a proposal to further federalize education:

Vox’s reply is interesting and wide-ranging. I can only touch on a few points (in fact, three) that might be said to fall in my area of knowledge. Vox writes:

“I’m curious to know how Scott would prefer to see teachers evaluated.”

This is a thorny question, in that there are political realities at work. Most teachers are affiliated with teacher’s unions which tend to resist objective measures tied to student performance on standardized tests, for reasons that Vox acknowledges. Unfortunately, many unions tend to resist objective measures in general, and many educational professionals in administration and in government are so wedded to ‘standards-based reform’ that considering a different approach is unlikely to occur during my teaching career. I’m not punting, you understand, just acknowledging that there are practical reasons why we have the impasse that presently exists in terms of assessing instructor performance.

One of the things I enjoy about discourse with Scott is that unlike so many other evolutionists, he is open to the possibility that skepticism about TENS is not intrinsically related to one’s religious faith; this happens to be a position that is also in accord with the observable fact of numerous irreligious evolutionary skeptics. Nevertheless, I have to take some small exception to Scott’s belief that I misread the 8a of the California standards, specifically the second sentence quoted: “Students know how natural selection determines the differential survival of groups of organisms.” Because there is insufficient scientific evidence to indicate that natural selection even exists beyond the tautological level, I don’t see how anyone, let alone students, can presently know how it determines the differential survival of anything, including groups of organisms.

And in the interest of forestalling all the poorly read evolutionists who will be tempted to claim that I don’t understand the science due to their failure to keep up on the latest research, please note that the erroneous basis of most of the evidence presently cited in support of natural selection isn’t something you should take up with me, but rather, with Masatoshi Nei, Shozo Yokoyama, and Yoshiyuki Suzuki. And yes, I know they still believe in natural selection despite their criticism of the statistical evidence, but then, their personal opinions are neither science nor the point.

Political science

The UK attempts to whitewash Climategate:

The first of several British investigations into the e-mails leaked from one of the world’s leading climate research centers has largely vindicated the scientists involved.

The House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee said Wednesday that they’d seen no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming—two of the most serious criticisms levied against the climatologist and his colleagues.

In their report, the committee said that, as far as it was able to ascertain, “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact,” adding that nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mails, or the controversy kicked up by their publication, challenged scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity.”…

Lawmakers stressed that their report—which was written after only a single day of oral testimony—did not cover all the issues and would not be as in-depth as the two other inquiries into the e-mail scandal that are still pending.

Translation: we found nothing too terribly damning… mostly because we were careful not to look very hard. Please, please, please be sure to notice all the qualifiers we were careful to insert so we don’t look like we were covering anything up when more in-depth investigations reach opposite conclusions.

The stonewalling didn’t work. Neither will the whitewashing.