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Dr Jonathan Sarfati Caught Out Again!

Larry Kurka

Not long ago the publication of Good Science, Bad Science: Teaching Evolution in the States by Lawrence S. Lerner, Professor Emeritus at California State University, Long Beach, made the news. The report is from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and follows two earlier studies by the same organization and the same author. The two previous studies evaluated the state science standards. The actions of the Kansas Board of Education prompted the Foundation to commission a more specific study asking, " how adequate are the state standards for the teaching of evolution?"

Well, AiG couldn't let this pass without comment. The response was written by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, noted for his ability to reach conclusions without actually having considered the evidence, or so it seems to me. Did he actually read the study? Apparently not. Either that or he is telling the readers exactly what they want to hear without any consideration for what is true.

First I should point out that in the lead in to the article AiG felt it necessary to point out that "Professor Emeritus" means that the subject is retired and allowed to retain his (long standing) affiliation with the University. They point out that the title does not imply "merit". (Duh!) An indication of the sophistication of the intended audience?

From Sarfati's article with my responses in italics:

Lawrence Lerner is a Skeptic and a retired professor of condensed matter physics.

Smart guy.

His recent report, supposedly on US State science teaching, has grabbed news headlines for its grades of all 50 state curricula.

The first lie. The report makes it very clear in the first few paragraphs that it does not deal with science teaching or state curricula. It is an evaluation of the state standards as they apply to the teaching of evolution.

One would think that an assessment of "good science" and "bad science" would assess real science like physics, chemistry, experimental biology, etc., on how effectively their important concepts were learnt by the student.

Very misleading. The report does not purport to be an evaluation of how well the students learn. It is an evaluation of the adequacy of the standards from which teachers are expected to take guidance. And again, quite clearly, the first few paragraphs indicate that this report deals only with those aspects of the standards that deal with evolution. The overall standards were evaluated and graded in two previous reports. Also notice that Sarfati indicates that "experimental biology" is "real science," thus implying that evolutionary biology is not.

But no, these "science teaching" grades are based solely on how favourably each state deals with biological evolution in the curriculum guide.

Sarfati must not have read the report. It deals with the concept of evolution that creationists more usually push, that of change. The report evaluated and assigned points for the treatment of evolution by the following criteria:

Is the E-word used?
Is biological evolution treated?
Is human evolution treated?
Is geological evolution treated?
Is cosmology treated?
Is the connection between historical sciences treated (paleontology, archeology, geology, cosmology)?
Is creationist jargon used (subtract)?
Is there a disclaimer? (Alabama - the Oklahoma AG killed an identical disclaimer as unconstitutional)

Ten states scored "A", meaning (in Lerner's opinion) "Treatment of evolution is very good or excellent";

So can we presume that Sarfati considers the treatment of evolution in these 10 states to be below par?

... the grades drop as evolution is treated les dogmatically, while one state (Kansas) received an "F-" for allegedly "removing all references to biological evolution".

No! The grades drop as evolution is treated less adequately. Sarfati bases his opinion on religious dogma (mythology) and them claims that treatment based on evidence is dogmatic. And Kansas did remove all meaningful references to evolution, along with all references to the big bang and the age of the Earth. Notice how Sarfati uses the word "allegedly". The official postition of AiG is that evolution was not removed - there remains a single definition of evolution and 9 references to "microevolution".

As documented below, Lerner's report contains much in the way of rhetoric and logical fallacies and little of real science of the type that put men on the moon, cures diesease, etc.

What crap! It doesn't claim that it is real science or that it will put men on the moon. It claims only to be evaluate the standards as they apply to evolution. Sarfati goes on and on about definitions of evolution, creationism and their importance, and even includes a section that claims that the Kansas standards are an improvement, as well as a discussion of morality (whatever that has to do with scientific theory?).

All in all, Sarfati tries to deceive. He attempts to distort the purpose and the conclusions of the report. I wonder if he actually read it!

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