Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Thu Mar 26 2009 - 06:48:22 EDT

I stand by my comments, Glenn. The pre-clovis habitation case is a great example, in fact. There is a very important distinction between consensus around a set of theories that have widespread, independently corroborated data and those generally accepted assumptions which have no evidence supporting them. This is particularly true in cases where assumptions are based on lack of evidence. Anthropologists assumed there was no pre-clovis habitation but largely because they had no data otherwise. This was a widely held assumption and not a scientific conclusion or data-based consensus. It is right that it is hard to get new data published. The scientific process must set the bar high enough to minimize being jerked around by unsubstantiated or uncorroborated thinking. Is it too high sometimes? sure. Is it too low sometimes? sure. No one here has argued for perfection in the process. This is not censorship but effective evaluation of new ideas by those best able to judge. Your examples are in fact excellent ones that show the process does work. Too slowly for those who had a hard time publishing it but that's part of the value of the system. Any system with too high gain in the feedback is unstable.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Glenn Morton
  To: Randy Isaac ;
  Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:58 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

  Bull roar, Randy. You wrote:
>>Well said, Rich. You said "Until they get published in a peer-reviewed journal in the area of question they have not earned the right to be listened to and definitely not the right to be included in a science class at the high school level."<<<

    This is elitism at its best. Do you have any idea how hard it was for anthropologists who believed in a pre-clovis habitation of North America to be published? Yet they turned out to be correct. Science didn't used to be done via peer review. People earn the right to be heard by being human not by passing some conformance test set up by funding groups who won't allow anyone with a differing view to be published. Below is a set of peer review stupidities and places where the scientific consensus of the day was wrong. it is long, but you can read what ever of it you want to read. Scientists arrogantly think they have the right to censor other people's thoughts and ideas.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Randy Isaac
    Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 7:20 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] The fight in Texas over evolution training in schools

    I agree that getting published in a peer-reviewed journal is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Peer review only means that less than a handful of peers thought the paper contained some data or concepts that the broader community working in that field should consider. It doesn't mean they agreed with it or thought it was right--just worthy of note or of a response. To warrant inclusion in a high school class room means independent corroboration and acceptance by more than just a few other experts. On the other hand, I would also suggest that there are areas of frontiers in science where there is no consensus established and much of the data are not understood. These are valuable lessons in how scientific research is done and these could be included in some way in a high school classroom. What must be clear is what fields are in the frontier stage, which ones in a controversial stage, and which ones have consensus. In the right context, innovative ideas have a vital role in science education. Even here, those innovative ideas are the ones being contested in the literature.


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Received on Thu Mar 26 06:48:42 2009

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