Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mississipi wingnut sounds off on evolution

The great state of Mississippi which blessed the country with the likes of Trent Lott, is back in the news because of its godly take on evolution - that "controversial" theory.

Gary Chism is an independent insurance agent and a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Now he may be a great insurance agent, but he's no scientist and has not a clue as to what evolution is all about. His ability to think logically is also challenged as you shall see.

Representative Chism has introduced a bill into the Mississippi State Legislature that would mandate all textbooks that teach evolution include the following on the inside front cover of the textbook:

"The word 'theory' has many meanings, including: systematically organized knowledge; abstract reasoning; a speculative idea or plan; or a systematic statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations of the natural world and assumptions about the scientific world. They are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations.

"This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things. No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered a theory.

"Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced living things. There are many topics with unanswered questions about the origin of life which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: the sudden appearance of the major groups of animals in the fossil record (known as the Cambrian Explosion); the lack of new major groups of other living things appearing in the fossil record; the lack of transitional forms of major groups of plants and animals in the fossil record; and the complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body possessed by all living things.

"Study hard and keep an open mind."

There's so much wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin. As others have said, it represents gross ignorance about scientific "theory," and especially the theory of evolution. Evolution is not "controversial" except in the minds of biblical literalists. And it's not correct to say "some scientists present [evolution] as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things." All but a few wingnut "scientists" accept evolution. And, as usual, Mr. Chism does not understand the meaning of "theory" in a scientific context. But there is humor, too. As State of Belief blog puts it:

"This is pretty sad - this public official has so little understanding of how science works that [he] thinks that scientists can only make conclusions based [on] events they personally witnessed. Think of the implications! It it snows today in Chicago, and I fly to Chicago tomorrow, I can't conclude that it snowed in Chicago the day before because I wasn't there to see the snow fall. If we take this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, no one was present when God created the universe, so any statement in the book of Genesis 'should be considered a theory.'"

Finally, none of this has to do with a desire to be more "scientific" or more accurate or to help the students in Mississippi schools obtain a deeper knowledge of the true origins of life. It is a blatant christianist attempt, once again, to impose their literalist biblicism upon captives in the public schools. All christianist statements pretending to give "both sides" a hearing are blatant lies!

A more detailed deconstruction of this Mississippi nonsense is here.


Bob Poris said...

Another ignoramus. How does he figure out what insurance to sell unless he personally knows how long someone will live, or what can happen to a home or car based on his personal experiences? How about using medicines or procedures based only on personal experiences?

I guess his state deserves him, if they voted for him.

Tengrain said...

I wonder what sort of evolutionary path that creature is on? I mean, how does natural selection favor a neck with a mouth and eyes on it? Creepy.



Jacob said...

Hey Tengrain...

Maybe there are cases in which natural selection doesn't work. When the deity becomes aware of such a case, she steps in to help and in the process makes a few mistakes. Voila!

I mean, if it could happen anywhere, it could happen in Trent Lott's state.


Regards to you, too.


Distributorcap said...

i am certain most lawmakers in mississippi have evolved -- from what i am not sure, but they have evolved

and besides Lott, they have Haley Barbour - enough said

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