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July 16th, 2006

KCFS Responds to accusations of “denigration of theism.”

This past Tuesday (July 11, 2006) KCFS president Jack Krebs and KCFS Board member Douglas Phenix spoke at the state BOE’s Citizen’s Open Forum, and Phenix also submitted a letter from KCFS Board member Keith Miller. The three were responding to accusations being made by John Calvert and the Intelligent Design network that KCFS has the goal of promoting “a materialist world view that seeks to demean the idea of creation” and of “denigrating theism.”

These accusations are utterly false. Given that Calvert’s accusations are being made in support of the Board’s science standards, we felt that making our objections publicly known in front of the state BOE was reasonable.

Below is a text copy of Krebs’ speech and Miller’s letter. Also, here is a link to a news story the next day entitled Scientist decries ‘smear’ campaign. [Note: I am not a scientist, and I've emailed the reporter about that. I'll also point out that I didn't use the phrase "smear campaign" in my remarks. At some point in my after-speech interview the reporter asked, "Is this a smear campaign," and I assented to her characterization.]

Jack Krebs’ speech to the state BOE, July 11, 2006

Jack Krebs, President, Kansas Citizens for Science
June 11, 2006, jkrebs@sunflower.com, 785-840-5113

Hello. I’m Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science.

Last month Kathy Martin handed out an article entitled “The Truth of Science and of Revelation” from the Catholic magazine “Columbia.”

I would like to thank Mrs. Martin for distributing this article, because it supports a major point that we at Kansas Citizens for Science believe: that there is not a conflict between accepting the theory of evolution and believing in God.

Here is what the article says about Catholic doctrine:

“Believing that God designed the world doesn’t mean you have to reject Darwinism or any other scientific explanation… The Church has always taught that natural processes and the laws that govern them are themselves part of God’s design. … It is quite acceptable to say that evolution by natural selection is the way God did it.” (1)

However, the Intelligent Design advocates such as John Calvert claim that one cannot accept both evolution and God. In a new pamphlet entitled “Character Assassination and Denigration of Theism,” Calvert says that Kansas Citizens for Science has been a “tool” used to “promote a materialist world view that seeks to demean the idea of creation, … effectively promoting non-theistic religions and world views over traditional theistic views.” (2)

This is categorically false. Kansas Citizens for Science does not promote any particular religious view. We do not promote materialism, nor do we promote non-theistic over theistic religions.

Board members of KCFS include an evangelical Christian, a Presbyterian minister, and other Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Unitarians, agnostics and atheists. Science can and does accommodate all those religious beliefs, and more. We believe that science is a limited form of knowledge, and that many essential matters of morals, values and spiritual belief fall outside the realm of science.

Calling us materialists and atheists just because we support mainstream evolutionary theory is a blatant falsehood, and those of us with other religious beliefs object to being characterized as such.

John Calvert has been instrumental in developing and promoting your science standards. Therefore, I want to go on public record here, in front of you, in asking that Calvert quit making these false accusations that those of us who accept modern science and evolutionary theory can’t also accept God. Many tens of thousands of religious Kansans would be offended, I am certain, to find themselves being called “tools of atheism” because of their support of science.

Kansas Citizens for Science firmly believes that science, as the “activity of seeking natural explanations about what we observe in the world around us,” (3) is both the best way of learning about the physical world and is fully compatible with a wide diversity of religious beliefs, including traditional Christian beliefs about God.

Footnotes
1. “The Truth of Science and Revelation,“ Columbia magazine, June 2006
2. “Character Assassination and Denigration of Theism to Promote Belief in Unguided Evolutionary Change,” Intelligent Design network, June 17, 2006
3. Kansas Science Standards Writing Committee’s Recommended Standards, January 21, 2006 [Note that this sentence was removed in the Board’s science standards.]

Keith Miller’s open letter to the state BOE

Keith B. Miller, Board member, Kansas Citizens for Science

Open Letter to the Kansas State Board of Education

A pamphlet has come to my attention that makes blatantly false statements about Kansas Citizens for Science (KCFS) and its advocacy for quality science. This pamphlet is being distributed by John Calvert, spokesperson for the science standards “Minority” group, contributor to and advocate for the state BOE’s science standards, organizer of the Boards May 2005 “science hearings”, and director of the Intelligent Design network, Inc. (IDnet).

I will only address two of the false charges made in Calvert’s flyer. Calvert states:

“During the science hearings in May 2005, KCFS was the primary tool of the opposition and has been used and supported by national organizations to promote a materialist world view that seeks to demean the idea of creation. This effectively promotes non-theistic religions and worldviews over traditional theistic views and causes governmental institutions that employ the strategy to engage in religious discrimination.”

Such a portrayal of KCFS is both false and a personal insult. I am a current and founding Board member of KCFS. I am also an evangelical Christian, a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation (an association of Christians in the sciences) and an officer in the Affiliation of Christian Geologists. There are a number of other Christians on the KCFS Board, as well as members with other religious views. Calvert knows this, and yet he persists in portraying KCFS as advocating a materialist worldview and denigrating faith. KCFS has worked consistently to oppose this false portrayal of science and evolutionary theory as atheistic, and to combat the utterly false “warfare” view of science and faith.

It is Calvert and the Intelligent Design (ID) proponents who believe that science is atheistic, not Kansas Citizens for Science. The ID proponents believe that just because science is limited to investigating natural causes, it implies philosophical materialism or atheism. This is why they eliminated the word “natural” from the definition of science. This association of the method of science with atheism is utterly wrong.

Science is a limited enterprise and can only ask and answer certain types of questions. It only has the tools to study and evaluate natural causes and processes. Science simply cannot say that there is no God or that God is not actively involved in the natural world. It is completely erroneous to state that somehow science provides an argument against God.

Science also cannot be used to prove God’s action. I believe that God is always creatively active in the natural world and that the very existence of physical reality is dependent on God’s continual action. But that is not a statement that science can demonstrate or prove.

Calvert and the Intelligent Design proponents use the term “methodological naturalism” (limiting science to seeking natural explanations) are being equivalent to philosophical naturalism and thus atheism. However, this is the exact opposite of the reason the term “methodological naturalism” was coined. The term was first used in 1986 by an evangelical Christian philosopher named Paul deVries at Wheaton College in order to specifically argue against philosophical naturalism by emphasizing that science cannot make claims about the existence or non-existence of God.

So the Intelligent Design supporters use the term “methodological naturalism” in exactly the opposite way that it was intended. The understanding of science as described by Paul deVries is widely recognized by the scientific community, and was the basis for the description of science in the standards as proposed by the writing committee. What the ID proponents have done is to essentially agree with atheists like Dawkins and Dennett that science does promote an atheistic worldview.

So look at the irony: KCFS and the standards committee support an understanding of the nature and limitations of science advocated by an evangelical Christian philosopher, while Calvert and the ID supporters promote an atheistic interpretation. Who is here supporting an atheistic and materialistic view of science?

In this same pamphlet, Calvert charges that KCFS has a strategy to promote “unguided evolutionary change.” He states,

“… the very idea they seek to promote, unguided evolutionary change, can not be defended in a truly scientific way that involves legitimate scientific critical analysis.”

But the science writing committee’s Recommended Standards, which KCFS supports, does not say that evolution is unguided. It is Calvert and the ID proponents who added the word “unguided” to a statement about evolution. The science writing committee rejected this change, correctly understanding that such a religious statement is beyond the reach of science. However the word was reinserted by the state Board.

Science simply cannot state that evolutionary processes are not directed by God or without divine purpose. The addition of the word “unguided” by the ID proponents is meant to reinforce the false popular view that evolution rejects meaning and purpose in the universe. The ID supporters have taken the arguments of atheists like Dawkins and Dennett as if they were representatives of the scientific community, rather than as advocates of their particular religious views. What they do not do is listen to the counter-voices of the many religious scientists such as myself; and thus they refuse to understand that people of very different religious views support the same conclusions about the validity of evolutionary theory.

As a parent, I do not want my child told in science class that evolution is a meaningless and purposeless process that God has nothing to do with. Ironically the current Board standards ask that teachers do just that. In their misguided attempt to make God a part of science, they have instead instructed teachers to teach that evolution is a Godless process. How very sad!

Sincerely,

Keith B. Miller
KCFS Board Member
1740 Fairview Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66502

Links to downlaodable Word docs: Krebs speech and Miller’s letter.

July 16th, 2006

Part I: The KBOE science standards DO include Intelligent Design

The Discovery Institute, the Intelligent Design network (IDnet), and the Kansas state Board of Education (KBOE) are making the false claim that the KBOE science standards do not include Intelligent Design.

All three are primarily basing their claim on this paragraph from the “Rationale of the State Board for Adopting these Science Curriculum Standards.” (KBOE Standards, page ii)

We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.

The KBOE recently published a pamphlet which asks the question, “Do the standards include Intelligent Design?” They answer the question by bolding the first sentence in the paragraph above: “We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design.” (See here for the whole story.)

John West of the Discovery Institute remarked here, “Which part of ‘do not include Intelligent Design’ can’t opponents of the standards understand?”

And the Intelligent Design network’s FAQ pamphlet about the KBOE standards says this:

Q: Did the Board insert Intelligent Design into the standards?

A: No. It expressly excluded ID from the standards.

The Discovery Institute, the IDnet, and the KBOE are all wrong. They are all clinging to the assertion that Intelligent Design is not included in the standards even though the evidence shows otherwise. A central part of their strategy in Kansas is supposedly to be “just teaching evolution honestly,” so it is important to them to disassociate themselves from Intelligent Design. However, they are not being honest: not about the standards, teaching, Intelligent Design or the theory of evolution.

Let me explain.

The Kansas Science Standards DO include Intelligent Design (ID)

The standards include Intelligent Design in two ways. First, the rationale statement taken as a whole clearly does say that students should learn Intelligent Design. Secondly, a number of Intelligent Design concepts and claims, all rejected by mainstream science have been inserted into the standards.

In this post, I will explain why it is true that the KBOE standards do expect students to learn about Intelligent Design, and that Intelligent Design content has been added to the standards.

Part I: The rationale statement DOES say that students should learn about Intelligent Design

— The Board’s rationale statement

Below are the second, third paragraphs and fifth paragraphs of the rationale statement. I have bolded certain key phrases to help discuss this statement:

Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory. These curriculum standards reflect the Board’s objectives: 1) to help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist on this topic, 2) to enhance critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method by encouraging students to study different and opposing scientific evidence, and 3) to ensure that science education in our state is “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.””

Evolution in accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them.”

We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.

— So what does this statement say?, and what conclusion can we reach from it?

First, students are expected to “understand the full range of scientific views that exist” on the topic of biological evolution. They are to “learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory,” and “to study different and opposing scientific evidence.”

Secondly, the Board believes there “are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory,” and that “it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them.”

So what “scientific debates” should students know about? What scientific criticisms and opposing scientific evidence should they learn about?

Well, the only alternative “theory” mentioned in the rationale statement is Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design is defined as “the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion”; or in other words, Intelligent Design is defined as the scientific agreement with the claim that design is real.

Given all the statements in the rationale about students being expected to learn about the “full range of scientific views” and “scientific criticisms” of evolution,” and given that Intelligent Design is the only such criticism mentioned, it is absolutely clear that students are expected to learn about Intelligent Design.

This seems like an inescapable conclusion based on what the Board themselves has written.

— So what about the Board’s disclaimers about Intelligent Design?

One of the Board’s disclaimer’s can be dismissed immediately. The Board writes, ““While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.”

This is a statement without consequence. State science standards are not mandatory, so of course they don’t mandate any curricular topic. As the introduction to the science standards say, standards assist local districts in developing curricula, provide the foundation for state assessments, and “represent high, yet reasonable expectations for all students.” Standards are not mandatory, and therefore they do not mandate Intelligent Design any more or less than any other topic.

Similarly, standards don’t prohibit anything either. Standards are an outline of core, fundamental learning objectives for students. They are not a complete curriculum. All teachers, as part of their local teaching responsibilities, teach a great deal more than what is outlined in the standards. Just because something is not mentioned in the standards doesn’t mean it is prohibited.

The above statement is an empty statement that might make it look like the Board is being neutral about Intelligent Design to those who don’t understand what standards are. But they are not being neutral, as I have shown: they do express their intent for students to learn about Intelligent Design and for the standards to contain Intelligent Design content. My opinion is that they clearly added this explicit disclaimer as an counterpoint to the obvious implicit endorsement of teaching about Intelligent Design.

The second Rationale statement says, as has been already quoted, “We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design.”

I will address this statement in Part II of this post. There we will have to look at the critical issue of the nature of science: the Board has made changes to the definition of science statement for the purpose of allowing supernatural causation into scientific explanations. We’ll also have to consider what “Intelligent Design” really is so that we can see if it is really in the standards. To do this, we’ll look at a number of the specific changes the Board made to the content of the standards.

End of Part I

[Added later - there turned out to be no Part II]

July 16th, 2006

KBOE’s Rationale statement

Here is the rationale statement from the Board standards (November, 2005), followed by a picture of the page about the Board Rationale statement from their recent pamphlet (July, 2006). The pamphlet is inaccurate and misleading because it editorializes about the question “Is Intelligent Design in the Standards” by the way it formats and bolds the material.

From the KBOE standards:

Rationale of the State Board for Adopting these Science Curriculum Standards
We believe it is in the best interest of educating Kansas students that all students have a good working knowledge of science: particularly what defines good science, how science moves forward, what holds science back, and how to critically analyze the conclusions that scientists make.

Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory. These curriculum standards reflect the Board’s objective of: 1) to help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist on this topic, 2) to enhance critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method by encouraging students to study different and opposing scientific evidence, and 3) to ensure that science education in our state is “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.”

From the testimony and submissions we have received, we are aware that the study and discussion of the origin and development of life may raise deep personal and philosophical questions for many people on all sides of the debate. But as interesting as these personal questions may be, the personal questions are not covered by these curriculum standards nor are they the basis for the Board’s actions in this area.

Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to the science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.

Finally, we would like to thank the Science Standards Committee for their commitment and dedication in their work toward the standards.

From the pamphlet:

KBOE Rationale from pamphlet

July 16th, 2006

State BOE aligns itself with Intelligent Design campaign in saying “No ID in standards.”

The Discovery Institute, the Intelligent Design network (IDnet) and now the Kansas state Board of Education (KBOE) have all recently published material that claims that the Board’s science standards do not include Intelligent Design.

They are wrong about this: the KBOE standards DO include Intelligent Design, and the KBOE standards DO say that students should learn about Intelligent Design. I provide thorough support for this statement here at KCFS News: The KBOE Standards DO include Intelligent Design. But first I want to describe what the KBOE did this past Wednesday (July 11, 2006) at a Board meeting to join the Discovery Institute and the IDnet in their campaign to deny the Intelligent Design content in the state standards.

The KBOE pamphlet “Summary of Changes”

At the Board meeting, Board president surprised the Board with a hot-off-the-press glossy pamphlet entitled “Kansas Science Standards Summary of Changes.” As he handed them out, he said, “As you will see most of the discussion is quotes from the science standards themselves. There is not a lot of editorial comment,” and he went on to say that if the Board approved, the Department of Education (KSDE) would publish as many as were requested.

But there is significant editorial comment. On the first page, the pamphlet misleading breaks the Board’s Rationale statement for adopting the standards into two parts. (Click here to see the Rationale page compared to the actual Rationale statement from the standards, and here to download a pdf of the whole pamphlet.) The pamphlet

  • entitles the second part “2. Do the standards include Intelligent Design?,”
  • adds the subtitle “The following statements are found in the science standards,” misleadingly making it look like the following statements have a different status when in fact they are just part of the Rationale statement, and then
  • bolds the statement “We [the Kansas Board of Education] also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design.”

But the Rationale statement taken as a whole does say that students should learn about Intelligent Design and that information about Intelligent Design should be in the standards. The Board, by highlighting this one sentence and separating it from the rest of the Rationale statement disengenuousuly misleads the public about the standards.

Just saying something doesn’t make it true: the assertion that the standards don’t include Intelligent Design is flatly contradicted by the facts.

Kansas Citizens for Science objects to the KBOE pamphlet

Kansas Citizens for science strongly objects to the KBOE’s expenditure of time and money to print this pamphlet. Considering the timing, the content, and particularly the editorializing about Intelligent Design, this pamphlet inappropriately aligns the KBOE with the Discovery Institute and IDnet’s disinformation campaign about the intent and effect of the science standards.

The pamphlet also completely ignores the work of the Board’s own duly-appointed standards writing committee. The pamphlet omits the last sentence from the Rationale statement, which says “Finally, we would like to thank the Science Standards Committee for their commitment and dedication in their work toward the standards.” In fact, throughout the pamphlet there is no indication that the changes mentioned in the pamphlet are changes made to the committee’s draft and not changes to the 2001 standards.

Writing committee chairperson Steve Case, when informed about the pamphlet, said,

The new board information contains significant misstatements about the material in the Kansas Science Education Standards. This is clearly an effort to mislead the public, yet again. Last May, the State Board of Education Chairman Dr. Steve Abrams claimed that a primary purpose of the three days of “Scientific Hearings” was for “public education” about the Kansas Science Education Standards. The Board spent $30,000 of taxpayer money on these hearings in an outrageous display of pseudoscience and misinformation. The public has seen through the phony information of the hearings so the State Board of Education is producing more marketing material at taxpayer expense. This is wrong.

So there are two issues here. The first is that indeed Intelligent Design is in the standards, as I explain here. Secondly, it is inappropriate for the state Board to get involved in editorializing about this issue, spending more money to produce pamphlets that will undoubtedly by used by the Discovery Institute and IDnet: as Connie Morris said at the Board meeting, “When it comes from the Department of Education it validates the truthfulness of it.” (See addendum below for more about the discussion at the Board meeting about the pamphlet.)

Contact Information

For more information about the pamphlet and KCFS’s objections to it, contact Jack Krebs, president of KCFS, at either jkrebs@sunflower.com, 785-840-5113, or Steve Case, chairperson of the writing committee at stcase@ku.edu, 913-488-8787

Addendum: Discussion about the pamphlet at the Board meeting

The ensuing conversation at the Board meeting cast further light on this situation. Board member Sue Gamble immediately objected: “Mr. Chairman, I rather strenuously object to having this just dumped on us without having the opportunity of reviewing it.” However, other Board members supported the document. Connie Morris said, “I appreciate having something from the department that is not editorialized, but is strictly what’s in the standards that we can hand to people and is a summary that they can read quickly…. When it comes from the Department of Education it validates the truthfulness of it.”

Board member Janet Waugh wanted to know who wrote the pamphlet. KSDE science consultant George Griffith said, “The information I put in here – I would only put in anything that came directly from the standards. … I didn’t do the actual design, but I’m the one responsible for putting in the content.” Commissioner Corkins added, “George collaborated with me throughout his drafting of this, and I approved of it.” And last, Board member Ken Willard said, “This appears to be just quotes from the standards – reflections of the actual changes that were made.” Williard moved to adopt the pamphlet, Iris Van Meter seconded, and the pamphlet was approved on a 6-2 vote, with Gamble and Waugh voting no, Carol Rupe abstaining because she was participating by speakerphone, and Bill Wagnon was absent.

April 1st, 2006

Evolution Benchmark, ST3, BM3, GR 8-12

Grades 8-12


STANDARD 3: LIFE SCIENCE
– The student will develop an understanding of the cell, molecular basis of heredity, biological evolution, interdependence of organisms, matter, energy, and organization in living systems, and the behavior of organisms.

Benchmark 3: The student will understand biological evolution.

Read the rest of this entry »

April 1st, 2006

The Nature of Science, ST 7, BM 2, GR 8-12

From the Recommended Standards

Grades 8-12

STANDARD 7: HISTORY AND NATURE OF SCIENCE – The student will develop understanding of science as a human endeavor, the nature of scientific knowledge, and historical perspectives.

Benchmark 2: The student will develop an understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »

April 1st, 2006

The Nature of Science, from the Introduction to the Recommended Standards

From the Introduction to the Recommended Standards

Nature of Science
Science is a human activity of systematically seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us. Throughout history people from many cultures have used the methods of science to contribute to scientific knowledge and technological innovations, making science a worldwide enterprise. Scientists test explanations against the natural world, logically integrating observations and tested hypotheses with accepted explanations to gradually build more reliable and accurate understandings of nature. Scientific explanations must be testable and repeatable, and findings must be confirmed through additional observation and experimentation. As it is practiced in the late 20th and early 21st century, science is restricted to explaining only the natural world, using only natural cause. This is because science currently has no tools to test explanations using non-natural (such as supernatural) causes.It is important to note that science cannot answer all questions. Some questions are simply beyond the parameters of science. Among the conditions that help define the boundaries of scientific explanations are the following:

  • Scientific explanations are based on empirical observations or experiments. The appeal to authority as a valid explanation does not meet the requirements of science. Observations are based on sense experiences or on an extension of the senses through technology.
  • Scientific explanations assume cause-effect relationships. Much of science is directed toward determining causal relationships and developing explanations for interactions and linkages between objects, organisms, and events. Distinctions among causality, correlation, coincidence, and contingency separate science from pseudoscience.
  • Scientific explanations are tentative. Explanations can and do change. There are no scientific truths in an absolute sense.
  • Scientific explanations are historical. Past explanations are the basis for contemporary explanations, and those, in turn, are the basis for future explanations.
  • Scientific explanations are probabilistic. The statistical view of nature is evident implicitly or explicitly when stating scientific predictions of phenomena or explaining the likelihood of events in actual situations.
  • Scientific explanations are limited. Scientific explanations sometimes are limited by technology, for example, the resolving power of microscopes and telescopes. New technologies can result in new fields of inquiry or extend current areas of study. The interactions between technology and advances in molecular biology and the role of technology in planetary explorations serve as examples.
  • Scientific explanations are made public. Scientists make presentations at scientific meetings or publish in professional journals, making knowledge public and available to other scientists.

Hypothesis, law, and theory are frequently misunderstood terms used in science. A hypothesis is a testable statement about the natural world that can be used to design experiments and to build more complex inferences and explanations. A law is a descriptive generalization based on repeated observations. A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of the natural world that incorporates observations, inferences, laws, well-tested hypotheses and experimental findings to explain a specific aspect of the natural world. Theories drive research because they draw attention to areas where data or understandings are incomplete, suggesting additional directions for research.

Because all scientific explanations depend on observational and experimental confirmation, all scientific knowledge is, in principle, subject to change as additional evidence becomes available and/or as new technologies extends our abilities to explore. This open-endedness of science is its greatest strength, and allows for constant refining and improvement of explanations. Although all scientific knowledge is in principle tentative, science has a high degree of confidence in explanations that have been repeatedly tested and shown to be valid. The effect of these criteria is to ensure that scientific explanations about the world can be modified or abandoned in favor of new explanations if empirical evidence so warrants. The willingness of scientists to change explanations based on evidence, actually results in more reliable information. The early 21st century is a time of quite rapid scientific advancement, characterized by a high rate of both discovery and accumulation of knowledge. Rather then developing “new” theories however, the current explosion of knowledge has greatly expanded the basic and well-accepted principles from physics, chemistry, earth sciences, and biological sciences. Scientists recognize that there will always be new frontiers of science.

April 1st, 2006

Final Recommendations of the Science Standards Writing Committee

In November, 2005, the state Board of Education adopted science standards which included most of the suggested revisions made by the Intelligent Design Minority on the Science Standards Writing Committee. In response, the committee voted to have their names taken off of the state standards, as the standards no longer represent the views of mainstream science nor of the majority of the committee.

The committee then continued to meet privately, without the blessing or endorsement of the BOE, to work on finishing the standards by responding to suggestions made by McRel and the Fordham Foundation. A copy of this set of final recommendations for the standards can be downloaded here.

The committee, as well as KCFS, encourages school districts to use these Recommended standards rather than the state standards. If you are interested in discussing having your school district adopt these Recommendations, please email us at kcfs@kcfs.org and we’ll get back with you.

March 10th, 2006

Download the *Recommended* Kansas Science Standards

Download the good standards here

These recommendations are the recommendations of the majority of the appointed (Science Standards) committee and reflected the recommendations that would have been made to the State Board of Education if the process had been allowed to continue.

More

January 28th, 2006

Are the KSBOE’s Science Standards Unconstitutional?

Yes.

And, you can download this powerpoint presentation to read Jack Krebs’ take on it.
(Presented by Jack at KU on Jan 28th, 2006)