Fw: Arkansas Anti-Science Bill

From: Don Munro (don@asa3.org)
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 13:45:32 EST

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    Date: Thursday, March 22, 2001 1:20 PM
    Subject: Arkansas Anti-Science Bill

    This is to notify you of a situation that has come up in the Arkansas House of Representative, and what we, a small group of people are trying to do to stop this. This email contains a letter to all concerned about the Arkansas House of Representatives and their consideration of HB 2548 brought forth from Representative Jim Holt. If you need to see the original bill, please go to www.arkansas.gov and look under the House of Representatives for original amended verbage.
    Thanks you,

    Patrick C. Carr

    Dear Representative:

    I would like to take this opportunity to express my opposition to HR2548 which was approved in committee yesterday. I believe that this bill is currently, and will be judged by a court of law, to be unconstitutional. In addition, when our state educational system already suffers from being considered one of the poorest in the nation, said system can ill-afford the derision which I adamantly believe will arise if this bill is voted into law in the State of Arkansas. Furthermore, this bill appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to bring creation-science into the classrooms by a back-door route disguised as truth in textbook purchasing.
    This bill places educators in the difficult situation of having to decide who should reasonably know "truth" from fraud, or fact from ill-advised and religiously contrived efforts at pseudo-scientific insight. In addition, this bill has no penalty or enforcement clause and is, in effect, unenforceable and ludicrous. Why have a law that has no stipulations attached for penalty or guidelines for discerning who reasonably should have known what was truth or what was fraud.
    I am a Christian, but I believe that this bill has no right to speak for other Christians, especially those who do not share these creation-science views, since these views are in conflict with the basic Protestant notion that all truth is God's truth. I also believe that this will be, and is, a violation of the implied separation of church and state as the U.S. Constitution so eloquently and wisely provides. Since this bill speaks to all government agencies and associations, how will our museums and universities embark on any research, especially the research that is federally-funded, when it deals with areas that are covered by this bill, such as cosmology, creation, evolution and the geologic column. For example, to state as an official position in this law, that the geological column exists only in textbooks smacks in the face of over 200 years of conventional research and scientific opinion. Anyone interested in this type of information, has only to go as far as Texas, Arizona or New Mexico to see the evidence of this so-called geological column. How can anyone embark upon research at the University of Arkansas or through our museums or zoos if they must deny in the first place that geological columns even exist.

    I spoke with Mr. Holt on Monday night concerning this bill, and after an hour-and-a-half I told him that I would be meeting with other Christians in the realm of science and research to prepare a better, and much more palatable and constitutional bill, more fully representative of classic orthodox Christian beliefs. I do not think that the state should be speaking to the subjects of religion and religious-based pseudo-science. After submitting our revised bill to Mr. Holt, I was surprised and disheartened to find that in this morning's paper the originally amended bill was passed, with only one dissenting vote, and had none of the references that we had recommended.

    Please find attached a copy of this recommended bill. If I can clear up any questions that you may have, please do not hesitate to call me at (501) 524-0322 or e-mail to thecarrs@tcac.net.

    I will be sending copies of this e-mail to all state house members, state senate members, the governor, of Arkansas, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Northwest Arkansas Times, the Morning News, Time, Newsweek, Sky & Telescope, CNN, Fox News Network, ABC, CBS, NBC, The American Scientific Affiliation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Scientific American Magazine, National Geographic Society, the National Education Association, and others. We can ill-afford to ignore this bill. It should be defeated, and I urge you in that direction.

    Thank you for your interest in this matter, and your considerations.

    Patrick C. Carr
    CASE (The Christian Association of Stellar Explorers)

    Sample of Bill Attached:

    Here are our thoughts and considerations on House Bill 2548. Thank you for your consideration of these items.

        1.. The title of the bill, which uses the verbage "Information which has been proven false or fraudulent" has some flaws in itself. Who will be the final judge of which of these scientific claims, presented therein, are, in fact, factual or false? The big problem is that this can be used on almost any scientific theory, fact, or fiction. Most so-called scientists that would use this bill to refute or deny the education contained in the textbooks may not be qualified in the fields of study that are represented. There may not, and probably will not, be a paleontologist, astronomer, physicist, or cosmologist on staff at most area schools to talk about these items that the bill would place in dispute.
        b.. In the title, how can we, the people or the government, say that anyone "should have known" what is false or true? This is a legal statement that may not hold up in a court of law. We should place ourselves in the shoes of a high school teacher, deciding whether or not to talk of the scientific evidence to date on the age of the universe or even on the big bang theory. How would we respond to students asking questions on what has become common public and scientific knowledge in today’s society and culture? I think we need to stick with the facts as they are represented, until a reliable, qualified source of refutable evidence can be obtained. This verbage is confusing, at best. Who will set theses standards for the educators in the case of "Should Have Known"?
        d.. Section 1. No state agency, city, county, school district, or political subdivisions shall use any public funds to provide instruction or purchase books, documents, or other written material which it knows or should have known contain descriptions, conclusions, or pictures known to contain false evidences as judged by leading scientific experts engaged in the study on which the evidences are derived from.
        e.. (b) State agencies, public school districts and political subdivisions of the state shall only provide information that is as accurate as possible, as judged by independent scientific experts engaged in the respective field of study or research that said information is derived from.
        f.. Strike section c-1 from bill.
        g.. (c ) (2) During classroom instruction conducted by state agencies, public schools and political subdivisions of the state, when any statement in instructional materials is identified by the instructor to be a theory, the instructor shall present said statement as a theory to the class or participants.
        h.. c (3) Examples of such theories include, but shall not be limited to:
        i.. (A) the theory of evolution as pertaining to macro-evolution;
        j.. (B) the theory of the origin of life;
        k.. (C ) Strike C
        l.. (D) Strike D
        m.. (E) Strike E
        n.. (F) Strike F
        o.. (G) Strike G
        p.. (d) the General Assembly finds that:
        q.. (1) Authentic Science is a way of knowing, based on descriptions of the world obtained through the human interpretation in natural categories, of publicly observable and reproducible sense data, obtained sense interaction with the natural world and contains and is advanced by both theory and the collection of facts and observations;
        r.. (2 ) Science is a discipline that employs theory building, skeptical peer review and experiments attempting to falsify ongoing and prior scientific work to ensure the validity and integrity of results;
        s.. (3) Some scientific ideas and evidences of prior research work once believed to be true have been proven false or sometimes fraudulent in various situations and cases;
        t.. (4) These finding noted above emphasize the necessity for all state agencies, public schools and political subdivisions of the state to carefully compare the content of materials provided for educational purposes with the best scientific expertise and opinion available at time of said decisions.
    Thanks for your time. We appreciate all of your hard work to make this the best educational scientific bill before the state legislature today. We think these revisions will make this a much stronger and better bill, which will insure that our students in the state of Arkansas will have the best access to the best scientific theories and facts available in the world today. We also think that a bill re-written along these lines will shelter the state from exposure to undue ridicule and controversy.

    God Bless,

    Patrick C. Carr and David A. Cater, Ph.D.

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