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Steve Abrams editorial, Wichita Eagle

May 12, 2005

Posted on Wed, May. 11, 2005, Editorial, printed in Wichita Eagle. (link to Eagle.)

Steve Case responds to this editorial.

Hearings were about good science


It is a sad commentary on the state of public affairs that persons as learned as reporters and editorial board members of The Eagle still have no clue as to what is happening with the Kansas science curriculum standards.

The Eagle editorial "Fringe: Evolution hearings push religious agenda" (May 8 Opinion) claimed that these hearings have "everything to do with sneaking religious views into science classrooms." That is absolutely incorrect. At no time have I stated or implied that I wanted to insert creation science or intelligent design into the science curriculum standards. On the contrary, I have stated that I would vote against inserting either one into the science curriculum standards. Further, I have repeatedly stated that my objective is to get as much empirical science (defined as observable, measurable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable) into the science curriculum standards as possible.

In addition, I have stated that I want to remove the dogmatic fashion with which neo-Darwinian evolution is taught. When a subject is discussed using words such as "always" and "fact" and "no controversy," when in actuality, it is not always, nor factual, and great controversy is involved, then by definition it is being taught as a dogma.

The dogmatic approach is what is being advocated in the majority draft of the Kansas science standards.

The point of the science hearings is to show that, indeed, among scientists with many degrees, having received many research grants, having published many peer-reviewed papers and books and having accomplishments great and small, there is great controversy about biological evolution being taught as dogma. They presented testimony that there is controversy about the "factual" nature of biological evolution. They also presented testimony that there is controversy about the very definition of science as used in the majority draft.

These hearings were not about my religious views; they were about what is good science. There was a huge amount of science testimony over three days last week. But to read the editorial and the article "Anti-evolution hearings end" (May 8 Local & State), a person would be hard-pressed to know that science was the main topic of discussion.

One had to read the editorial and article closely to find that 23 people testified, but one might get the opinion that indeed there weren't many scientists that testified. In point of fact, of the 20-plus witnesses, only two were not actively involved in science research or teaching science. Of course, the article quoted both of those who were not active in science research or science teaching.

We invited evolutionary scientists from all across Kansas and the United States to testify. But they have all decided to boycott. Now, a thinking person would ask: Is it because the hearings are rigged? Is it because of arrogance of the majority scientists? Or is it because what the majority proposes is actually full of holes?

The editorial stated that the case against the conservatives of the state board should be for "educational malpractice." I find it amazing that you would say this in the face of the testimony of the science teachers who testified that they were reprimanded, fired and generally put on a short leash when they discussed -- not brainwashed, but discussed -- scientific tests that seemed to contradict the "fact" of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Further, the article referred to Jack Krebs, vice president of Kansas Citizens for Science, as a "mainstream scientist." In fact, Mr. Krebs does not have a Ph.D. in science, but instead is a high school math teacher. This is not meant to demean math teachers, but generally, most high school math teachers do not consider themselves "mainstream scientists."

I have made no secret of my faith or the principles upon which I stand, nor what I would like to see in the Kansas science standards. Yet The Eagle persists in stating that I intend to do something that is categorically opposite of what I state. I would urge Eagle writers to become well-educated about the issues.

Investigate the claims of those witnesses (with lots of pedigrees) who claim there are significant problems and mainstream science does not stand up to investigation.

Investigate the claims of Kansas Citizens for Science, which has sought to target uneducated moderates with propaganda and proclaimed the conservative state board members as political opportunists, unprincipled bullies, etc.

Investigate my claims when I state I do not want to insert creationism or intelligent design, but instead want to rely on empirical science.

I have tried to speak forthrightly with every reporter that comes along, but it seems that most of them (or at least their editors) are either wannabe mind readers or have an agenda of their own.

As Thomas Cooper said, only fraud and falsehood dread examination. Truth invites it.

Steve Abrams, who owns a veterinary practice in Arkansas City, is chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education.


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